DIY stairway to heaven

Staying on top of a hill means you have beautiful sunsets and views of rolling hills that never end…

It also means a loop-run from home ends in tears or swearing, and your yard is gardening hell. We have a three-tier backyard. Getting from the first tier to the second involves planning, hiking shoes and is not recommended for people over 65.

Tier two is the perfect size for a nice thatch lapa and a pool, so we decided to improve accessibility by building flight of stairs.

We weren’t too sure about the structural integrity of the embankment, so we decided to use concrete to build our stairs. With some advice from my handy dad, we decided our stairs should be a comfortable 29mm(h) x 29mm(w) at 45º with a landing or two every five steps. This would give us enough freedom to not cast the whole thing in one batch, but rather do it in sections using the same frame.

We would build a reusable wood frame that we would assemble, cast concrete, disassemble and repeat till the stairs reached the top.

I drew up some plans. We wanted to work out what the least amount of treated super-plywood sheets were that we had to buy.

12We headed to Timbercity and we asked them politely to give us four treated super-plywood sheets, pre-cut into the sizes above, and delivered to our home.

This took quite some time as they had a Christmas/New years backlog.

The wood arrived on Friday while we were attending a wedding. Saturday morning we got started.

3456We finished the frames and we decided to move them to the garden the following morning as it started to rain.

Moving these frames from the 1st floor to our garden was going to be a task as they were bulky and heavy. While we were deciding if we were going to disassemble the frames or not, we discovered that the rain had damaged one of our panels.

This was in fact not treated wood like we politely requested. If we should pour concrete onto these frames, the water would damage them. Our stairs would need a lot of finishing as it would be wrinkled and we would have to throw away the wood after using it only once. We were stressed. A week earlier we had organised two guys to come and help with the concrete on Monday. It was now Sunday.

I eagerly volunteered to go back to Timbercity as I wanted to give them a piece of my mind. My husband said he would start disassembling the frames and carry all the wood downstairs to the garden.

Timbercity was obviously closed because it was Sunday.

I went to the hardware store, and they suggested I use varnish. It would’ve costed an arm and a leg, so I decided to phone handy dad again. He suggested Creosote. The hardware store guy told me it would take 3 days to dry.

I decided that Builders Warehouse was my last hope. A guy there suggested that carbolineum was the answer to all my problems.

7Carbolineum is a blend of creasote and coal-tar. It smells like the stuff they used to make our roads from and is sticky as hell.

89The husband assembled all the parts and we started painting. We even got a friend to help us out.

101113It felt like 45ºC, but the man at Builders assured me that the hot, sunny weather would help our cause.

The beer, I assured everyone, would help for the sunstroke.

12So Monday the concrete started flowing:


14Tuesday it continued but it rained out:



1920Eventually it ended up here:

IMG_0055We’re still not done… 😉


Steamless Blogging – Winter is coming

Winter is coming, my blog is dying

My space for reflection and opinion has met its first autumn. My blog sprung to existence six months ago. It was budding with youth, opinions, polls and endless ideas. There were no expectations. It was my space, it was my place, until summer came…

It was hot. The moon decided to hide behind our blue planet. The lunar eclipse post was my summer solstice. The stats changed me… It wasn’t astronomical, but all the foreign attention felt warm and fuzzy. I wanted to bottle it, and pour it over me when I had cold, lonely days. I wanted it to last forever.

The warm and fuzzy stats sizzled out fast. I tried different topics: serious; funny; listicles; infographics; quote of the day; culinary skills; tech humour; design tips; kids; tattoos; I even got angry about the irrelevant. These posts looked like shadows compared to the shiny lunar post.

The leaves turned red, the posts grew less, and the fear of a cold blog-death consumed me. Nothing I did felt like it put me on the grid and blog-killing excuses came easy: “I’m not a writer, I am a designer and my graphic posts have not been earth shattering” / “I don’t have time” / “I’m doing this for the wrong reason – stats should be irrelevant” / “I have no clear theme, it’s too difficult to please everyone.”

This is not an evergreen blog and winter is coming.

I hope winter slays all my expectations.

“How To Write Good” by Frank L. Visco [1986]

  1. Avoid Alliteration. Always. “Random; Rants; Reviews; Raves; Rigged; Raves” Does blog categories count?
  2. Prepositions are not words to end sentences with. “I don’t know if I do this.”
  3. Avoid cliches like the plague. (They’re old hat.) “Wha’!?”
  4. Employ the vernacular. “I think this might be the only thing I do right.”
  5. Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc. “UX vs User Experience – You choose.”
  6. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are unnecessary. “I had to Google Parenthetical” *Blush*
  7. It is wrong to ever split an infinitive. “I do this when I break Rule #17”
  8. Contractions aren’t necessary. “I hope I do not use too many contractions.”
  9. Foreign words and phrases are not apropos. “Awesomesauce is the shizzle.”
  10. One should never generalize. “GUILTY!” Just broke rule #18
  11. Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.” (I hate quotes) “Except for rule #4 – This might be the only thing I do right.”
  12. Comparisons are as bad as cliches. “Guilty as sin!” – Just broke Rule #3
  13. Don’t be redundant; don’t use more words than necessary; it’s highly superfluous. “I am a superfluous, colourful, weird, designer person!”
  14. Profanity sucks. “Shit.”
  15. Be more or less specific. “Kinda makes sense.”
  16. Understatement is always best. “The English are quite good at this.”
  17. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement. “Americana baby.”
  18. One word sentences? Eliminate. “Meh.”
  19. Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake. “It is the only way to explain myself. It is like painting a picture.”
  20. The passive voice is to be avoided. The Tale of an Epic Fail” = Fail supreme.
  21. Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms. “Well you are now guilty of breaking rule #4 & #8”
  22. Even if a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed. “That is just chocolate-box.”
  23. Who needs rhetorical questions? “Does sarcastic people not need rhetorical questions?”

I think I should take some writing lessons, if I want to continue spamming you. Frank stay away from the internet – There be grammar-dragons!

The Tale of an Epic Fail

It was a cold winter afternoon. ‘The Boss’ visited the design studio and left his water bottle on my desk – This was not the first time. I decided to hold the bottle ransom. I calculated that it would be worth a fair amount of media…
I suddenly remembered that I had some clear gelatine at home, and giggled evilly. I imagined ‘The Boss’ trying to take a sip from his solid water. Yes this would be better than holding the bottle ransom.
home mix
I switched on the kettle, quoted a bit of Macbeth: “Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and caldron bubble”, and concocted my evil gelatine potion. I crossed my fingers that I got the quantities exactly right, for the perfect wobbly consistency. It had to look like solid water. In the morning, I rushed to the fridge to find my super evil plan did not go exactly as planned.
solid junk
k=junk 2
When I got to work I washed the bottle, and decided to confess, in the hope that my good deeds would get me some media.

Technically, I saved ‘The Boss’ bottle. Right? And I washed it…

Lunar Eclipse Photos 15 June 2011

Lunar Eclipse 15 June 2011 © Inge Malan (My Moon My Man - Feist)

Total Lunar Eclipse Photos (15 June 2011 – Johannesburg) ©-Inge Malan (My Moon My Man – Feist)