Friday 27 March 2009

Pumpkins and Paperwork

It's past midnight and I'm busily tying the loose ends of stallholder coordinating for our Village's annual Pumpkin Festival. (Try saying that with a mouthful of pumkin fritter). My family and I have been involved in the management and Festival committee for three years now, and each year, I tell myself "self, don't get involved next year". But ... I never listen to myself and the truth is - the Festival is such a fun event, that the management thereof becomes an obsession. I just can't let it go. I'm smitten with Pumpkin fever.

As Festival day approaches, things get even more hectic here at home and in our family business, because life doesn't slow down just because there's some additional chores to perform.

For the past two days, I've been moving all administration out of the Machine Shop office and into the Home office, more specifically - the old school room. The Machine Shop office will be used mainly for contracts, projects and designs, and we've attempted to organise it in a way that the Machinist's paperwork life will be smooth and efficient.
What fella doesn't despise paperwork?
On the other hand, the Home office is more involved. The Machinist returned from town with another filing cabinet today, and now I have a cabinet for our Engineering business, a cabinet for our new Metal gallery and cafe business and a cabinet for our personal filing. I have ample stationary and postage supplies and feel extremely blessed.
By the beginning of next week, I hope to have all manner of paperwork completed, our Business Activity Statement done, and all accounting software transferred to my trusty HP Touchsmart.
Then the dusty, dirty manual labour at the Shop begins....
Which hat again?

Wednesday 25 March 2009

Welcome to South Africa; When Reality Hits

It was our first home in a new land. A humble 6 birth caravan, situated several kilometres out of town, on land that was once arable. Within a week of our arrival, a crowd of children were gathered near the ruins of an old stone barn on the grounds of the caravan park. Loud deliberation drew me nearer and as I approached, the sickened bellowing of a terror-stricken beast became audible. I edged through the crowd and before me was a large bull, tied with a chunky rope, yet still squirming. Every so often, the bull would take a lunge for freedom. Then another. And another. Realising that escape wasn't imminent, the bull began to paw the hard ground before him and snort. Cloudy puffs of nerve-breath pulsed from his nostrils.

Suddenly, a loud, authoritive voice behind me. “Move beck, now, ok?”

With this, the stranger motioned with his hand for the crowd to move away from the ruin. A mass exodus inched back, not too far, though, as prevailing curiosity is often a strong need to be filled. Furthermore, the stranger wasn’t telling us to go.. We just had to move back…

“Go on, move beck!” We moved back some more, like a choreographed troupe.

The stranger lifted his other arm and positioned the butt of a rifle, cradle-style in his neck. He aimed at the writhing bull. Silence. The stranger was standing very still. Then, slowly, his finger squeezed the trigger….

It only took one shot. The bull swayed from side to side. There was a gasp, and several cries from behind me. The once whitewashed walls of the old barn drew my attention: splatters and streaks of bright red blood, starkly shocking, defaced the aged patina. Then, as the bovine carcass thudded to the floor, a semi distorted mass of muscle and sinew, I realised what I had witnessed.

I had witnessed a slaughter.

60 Year Old Manual Muscle

You could easily be forgiven for not knowing what this contraption is. For years, it has been banished to the fenced-in-and-hidden back yard of the Machine Shop. It's had a special reserved parking lot between the chemicals shed and a voluptuous willow tree for a long time. Recently, however, the Machinist resurrected it.

Oh, the delight on the Machinist's face as he navigated it around the empty bowels of the Shop.

"Look, Babe - it works - after all this time..."

The contraption is a hand operated 'Pallet Jack' and is primarily used for lifting pallets - encumbered with heavy loads. That's not what we've used it for, though. Oh no. This is our Manual Muscle, used in places where the trusty Forklift cannot nor will not dare to tread.

Case at hand: we had to remove a wooden post, which stood in the middle of the Shop. A lone, unwanted sentry. And yet - a sentry called for duty to hold up part of the ceiling. For days, Number One Son had been working on a 200mm thick piece of channel - at least 6m long to replace the need of the sentry and to house a spaghetti mix of electrical cable, and it was Mr Manual Muscle that saved the day by lifting the channel to the height of the ceiling while the Machinist and Son welded both ends of the beam in place. Naturally, I had the labour intensive job of moving the lever you see in the photo, heightening and lowering the tines, which never even blinked at the weight it had to bear.

Yes, there's much stamina and grunt in sixty plus year olds. Don't ever be fooled about that!

Metabo Love

A tired, dusty servant ..... A bloke's delight.

Paint Supplies

Part of the paint supply, including brushes and rollers. This is mostly external paint. See the little glass dish on top? That is used to hold the nasty burny stuff (paint stripper), which is brushed on to the glass windows. There's loads of 'forrest green' paint splatters from previous owners and previous attempts at dolling the Shop up on the glass. We often declare that said green paint must have been purchased as a 'job lot'.

Another part of the paint supply, surrounded by miscellany. When you're pushed for time, you tend to 'dump'. Let's see ... we've got a crate full of manual tools such as screwdrivers, clamps, chisels, hammers, and a metal saw. Tubs of nails. A box of dust masks. Plastic cups for impromptu bottles of soft-drink. A flood light. Wood preparations. A wooden ladder.

Oh, and see that stainless steel piece of equipment in the top corner? It's an old pie warmer, and came with the Shop. We're not sure if it works, because it needs to be cleaned and tested. That's another job for another day.

Tuesday 24 March 2009

The Outhouses, Now In-Houses

Here is the corridor you will be entering when you go to 'spend a penny'.

Here is the once-external window in the corridor.

This is privy one ...

And this is privy 2

This is privy 3 section A

This is privy 3, section B

Standing looking back into the shop from the corridor. Bob is sulking because he's not allowed in this corridor. Of course, you're not allowed in this corridor, too.


Saturday 14 March 2009

Build It And They Will Come

Time is flying by so fast, people are asking when we will be opening and sometimes, I panic thinking that we won't have the shop ready in time for our village's annual pumpkin festival on the first weekend in May.

The front door, wide open

Perhaps we we will be open and perhaps, we won't. It's hard to give an exact date when you don't even know yourself.

Looking out of the front windows
The simple answer is that we will open when we are - well - good and ready. When all that has to be done, is done.
Looking out of the side windows
I don't say this flippantly, because we are working so hard and there is a lot to do in a short period of time.

Site of the 8 metre cafe serving counter

This evening, I transferred all my notes from a variety of sources to one main, handbag-compliant diary which I bought yesterday. On one of the pages, I have a diagram, which looks like a scientifically depicted molecule; the nucleus is "Metalsmithery", with a number of 'appendages' - (sub-categories) - attached to it, as follows:

General Administration, MYOB, Suppliers, Budget, Legals, Packaging, Insurance, Marketing, Cafe, The Bakery, Printing, Advertising, The Gallery, Finance, Website, Blog, Council and Health.

Site of Gallery hearth

I know there will be more, as I delve deeper into each of these necessary sub-categories. I have to smile, though, because the whole project seems so close, and yet so far away. Soon, very soon, the bricks and mortar building to be known as Metalsmithery, will look beautiful and functional, and not messy and distinctively building site-ish.

The Machinist and Samuel-son... after a hard day's graft.

And I know, I truly know that if we build it, they WILL come.

To be continued....

Wednesday 4 March 2009

We're Moving Inside Now

I've been roller coasting...

Roller coasting mental thoughts. It gets like that when you don't know if you're Arthur or Martha, Coming or Going, Piggy or Twiggy (well, I know what I am in the latter example... oink oink ...). The outside Shop painting is now finished. As a bonus, my balance has improved a hundred fold and I can now scamper-climb like an African monkey on the forklift (and in other places), and so many local folk who pass by, seem to stare, half hanging out of their driver's side car window. It must look like that scene from the Sound of Music, where the Captain and his girlfriend are cruising and they see his children hanging from the branches in the tree-lined avenue. We'd be the children, - hanging - minus the clothing made from old drapery, plus the paint splattered T's and peddle pushers.

This week, I attempted to remove the vinyl tiles from the floor in what was once the outdoor toilets (they are now inside toilets). They are filthy dirty! The porcelain bowls are broken, and the urinal needs new stainless steel. The Machinist, in an effort to satisfy the concerns of the girls who will have to clean said urinal, assured them that he will manufacture a urinal to prevent boastful attempts of high flyers. The design he has in mind curves at the top, which would result in self-saturation.

That should trick 'em!

This evening we drew up a game-plan. The Machinist is to make a grand entrance step, manufactured from checker-plate and flanked by windows which were once doors. The girls and I are to sand the cement floor, ready for painting with a non-slip preparation, and Sam is to manufacture a supporting beam, which will eliminate the need for a pole in the middle of the gallery floor.

I love having a plan.

I'm also a list freak!


 Table talk amongst our children is and always has been, -  a rabbit warren . We start off in one hole and end up in another -  quick smart....