Monday, October 02, 2023

Window to my past

Facebook “Memories” serve up all kinds of stuff to me, usually just ordinary stuff, sometimes things that made me really happy, but they may also show me memories that now carry some sadness. Today’s FB “Memory” (above) is a little bit of all of that.

The photo was the view looking out from my office window at our house on Auckland’s North Shore (we moved from that house to our last house together in February 2017). That bush-like area behind the house was mostly, but not entirely, reserve (kind of like a park, owned by the city, but, in this case, left natural). Somewhere in there is a creek that led to a bigger creek and so on until it reached an estuary of the upper Waitematā Harbour (none of which was visible from the property).

Every couple of years we’d hire people to come in to cut down the ground level weeds, and in this photo that had last been done a bit less than a year earlier, which is something I know because we unsuccessfully put the house on the market in early 2012 and had the weeds taken care of as part of our preparations for that. That area behind the house was about a third of the land area of the property, but it isn’t really accessible: Either the developer or some previous owners put poorly thought-out “steps” along one end of the house, but it didn’t help—especially because they put “river stone” gravel which, being smooth, provided truly awful footing.

The issue was that our house was built on a slope. My office was roughly in the middle of that side of the house, and it was maybe a bit more than a storey above ground level (the corner of the house to the left of this view was nearly a storey and a half, the corner to the right was maybe just a storey, all because the land sloped away in two directions (which is why flooding wasn’t an issue for us).

A few years before this photo, Nigel and I contacted a company to design a deck to built at floor level along the back of the house—something that would be private, have a nice view, and be cooler on Summer afternoons because it was on the eastern side of the house. We never did that, though, because we’d first have had to get geotechnical reports, soil tests, an engineer's report (and other expensive things I can’t remember) before we could pay to have the deck designed and more money to apply for building consent and permits, then pay thousands more to actually build it. We extended the front deck instead: it was maybe a foot above ground at its highest point, so none of that red tape hassle was necessary.

The old, unexpanded deck out front was where Nigel and I had our Civil Union ceremony in January 2009, but that deck never really made it into photos (the closest was a post in January 2007 in which I introduced the furbabies we had at the time. In two photos, our dog Saibh is sitting on the edge of the old deck, at what was actually it's highest point off the ground out front of the house. In November 2014, I shared a photo with the three furbabies we had at that time all laying on the deck, with our cat Bella’s head pretty much laying right on the corner where the old deck ended.

I also shared some other photos taken from my office window. In fact, a photo I took at ground level was in my fourth post on this blog—and that photo was also the first of my own photos that I published on the blog. I shared another view out that same window, but looking higher, in a post on New Year’s Day 2016, a post that also has a YouTube video I made that day, too (and shared in the same post). I shared other photos, including some taken out different windows, but these are the most relevant to the FB “Memory”.

I loved that house—it was my favourite of all the houses we lived in. I sometimes still fantasise about moving back there, but it’s been a rental for six years and would need refurbishment, and, of course, would I still like it at all without Nigel? Right now, nothing is ruled in or out, but it’ll probably (?) remain a mere fantasy. But the memories I have of that place sure give me great warm fuzzies. Right now, that’s enough.

This is a revised and greatly expanded version of what I said on my personal Facebook when I share the FB “Memory”.


Roger Owen Green said...

We wanted a contractor to build us a deck. He was recommended by a friend. We called, and he came, he was supposed to give us an estimate, but he never called back, despite my efforts to contact him.

Arthur Schenck said...

I don't remember how Nigel found the guy who met with us about the deck that wasn't, but I do remember being impressed how matter-of-fact he was about listing all the hoops we'd have to jump through to build it. I often wonder if we'd have moved away if we'd built that deck, but I think we probably still would've.