No One Expects the Secret Tunnel!!

There’s one thing we’ve been missing from the garden, and it’s a SECRET TUNNEL.

That’s right: a secret tunnel through the garden!

There might be some kind of building regulations that stop me from going underneath the neighbour’s gardens, but I should really look into it because I don’t just want a secret tunnel underneath my own garden. There’s no point in even having a secret tunnel at all if it goes nowhere. And if it turns out that I can’t dig a tunnel deep underneath the property belonging to the neighbours (not like they’re using the space…), then I’ll just have to pour all my effort into building some kind of secret lab instead. That’s where the secret tunnel will lead.

My interest has been piqued by all this talk of aggregate. Carrum Downs is having a tidy gardens competition, and everyone is rushing out to purchase crushed rock and all sort of landscaping supplies to improve their gardens. But the thing is…they’ll all end up looking the same. That’s a massive pain for the people who have to judge the competition, going from one garden to another with perfect pebble formations and little garden beds of sand and flowers. You know, whatever’s in.

You have to do something slightly out-there to really get their attention, and you know what’s totally out-there? That’s right…a secret tunnel. Even if I don’t win, I know I’ll be leaving a good impression on everyone who finds out about my ingenious idea. None of the judges will ever have seen a secret tunnel underneath a garden, possibly one that leads to a secret man cave.

Of course, the upper levels are quite important as well…got to make a good first impression, so I’ll have to follow the trends. Maybe I can buy sand in Cranbourne, make myself a nice little sandy flowerbed. Or however you use sand.

-Son

Enjoying a Hot Property

I’m excited about this new house for a whole host of reasons. But there’s one in particular that stands out, which is that it has central heating. The fact that I won’t have to spend another winter gritting my teeth in a tumbledown shack of a rental property fills me with glee.

I realise it’s kind of ridiculous for Australians to complain of cold winters. A friend of mind who’s from Finland reckons it’s a total joke. But what can I say? It’s all relative. Having grown up in Brisbane doesn’t exactly help my cause, either; the midyear climate in Canberra is a rude shock by comparison.

So, yes – I don’t mind if I do have an effective heating system, thank you very much. Linda wasn’t too sure about the safety factor (something about a horror story her aunt used to tell over Christmas dinner), but I’ve managed to convince her that having it professionally maintained should keep it from turning on us. Now, who can recommend a company that does the most impressive ducted heating services Canberra has ever seen?

I’m convinced that the main reason we’re so soft in this part of the world, when it comes to seasonal climatic fluctuations, is that we get both the hot and the cold. We have legitimate call for both heating and cooling systems in Canberra, because the temps go to polar extremes at different times of the year.

I know that Linda will be down for sorting out a good air conditioning system, at least – she really struggles with high summer out here. The quality of the air is somehow different to how it is on the coast; it can get very dry. As for me, I tend to run on the cooler side, which is why I’m so intent of figuring out this heating situation.

I’m realising that one of the greatest things about owning a house is the possibility of implementing appliances like this without having to hassle a landlord on the subject. This residence is totally our domain, and we will adjust the temperature accordingly.

I Shall Make Music, for the Office…

I like to think that I’ve basically mastered the banjo by now, so I’m trying to diversify into other instruments. I tried the triangle last week, but I really felt like there were an infinite number of nuances that just aren’t for me; not the way I am now. Perhaps I’ll give it a few years and come back to it. Right now I’m struggling with the tambourine, but I’m determined to make it my own! Not that you can really own a musical instrument; it’s more of a symbiotic connection between friends.

Right now I have my sights set on a musical competition where people have been challenged to use only a single syllable to create a song, and the reward is that a company will come and do a full commercial office design for your company! Of course, I don’t have a company, but I’m thinking of gifting the prize to my friend Elsa, who DOES work in an office and has confided in me several times that the bland cubicles and blank walls are steadily sapping her creativity every single day. If Elsa is the one who presents the office design to her boss, that will give her some degree of creative control, and thus she’ll be able to steer her workplace in a more positive direction. Maybe I’ll claim ONE thing, since I won/will win the competition. Perhaps guitars hanging from the ceiling, to remind everyone that the music is inside them?

I have to actually write the song first, however. A single syllable is almost TOO much, as my symphonic poems are often done with a single letter. How can I best appeal to people who would offer premium office designs? What syllable best represents offices? This almost makes me wish I’d spent more time in them…almost.

I’m going to go with ‘UGH’, because that’s the noise I’d make if I had to drag myself out of bed to sit in a cubicle. But for Elsa, once she gets her premium Melbourne office fitout, that will be no more! Open-plan all the way! Complete with dangling stringed instruments.

-Deirdre

Stain Disdain

Oops… that’s one word for it. I just heard a sound from the lounge room which sounded a lot like my housemate knocking over a glass of red wine onto the carpet, and responding accordingly. Now she’s exclaiming at William, her kelpie. From what I can make out, he must have knocked it over with his tail.

Regardless of William’s level of involvement, going to hold Becky accountable. We literally just moved in, and we need the real estate on our side because it’s an ideal house. I, for one, plan to stay here for as long as possible. If that means making Becky shell out for the most professional stain removal , Melbourne resident have ever seen, then so be it. I’m not putting up with careless damage to the inbuilt furnishings like I have in the past.

The annoying fact is that I’ll have to have an awkward conversation with Becky about this, in which I inform her that I see it as her responsibility to wear the cost of the carpet cleaning. Past experience suggests that she won’t be readily forthcoming with an offer to do so (if she was, I might be more inclined to chip in, actually).

Well, maybe I drive a hard bargain as a housemate. But if you’re going to have a puppy, you can’t expect everyone else to take on responsibility for the havoc it wreaks. She should have known better than to leave her red wine on the coffee table, anyway – I mean, it’s precisely at tail-wagging height. Even I can see that, and I’m not a dog person. 

According to another friend I’ve shared with, it was good for his personal development that I forced him to pay for professional odour removal services. His indoor tobacco smoking habit, as he found out the expensive way, is not great for the whole bond retrieval situation. In any case, I’d prefer not to have to deal with that whole end-of-lease cleaning frenzy again.

I just want to get on with living in a clean, stain-free house. Is that so much to ask? The dog can stay.  

Put your back into it… or not

Dang it! I’ve done that thing to my lower back again. I’m pretty sure it happened at the hairdresser, of all places – Marcus asked me to tip my head back towards the washing basin, and I felt that tweak. It’s odd, because I thought I was only moving from the neck. But it appears to be true what they say: the knee bone’s connected to the shinbone and so forth.

So now I’m sitting up perfectly straight on the lounge, doing my best not to bend my back or make any sudden movements. I’m aware that I’m doing what a physio once told me is called ‘bracing’, which is the body’s way of protecting itself from damage but is not necessarily the most effective response to minor tweaks and twinges that don’t actually involve tissue damage. Still, holding myself in this way makes me feel less like I’m about to disconnect that one thread holding everything together.

Alright, so that’s a ridiculous thought. There isn’t one fine thread that’s going to cause everything to unravel if it breaks. But I don’t know enough about anatomy to replace that mental image with something more realistic. I need a professional to tell me that it’s all good. Time to book in for a physical therapy appointment, evidently. Who’s got a Cheltenham physio recommendation?

There are so many different types of specialists around these days, though. Maybe I should try something new. My friend from book club is always telling me about the dry needling and cupping sessions she’s had at her latest myotherapy appointment. Cheltenham is still pretty new to me when it comes to finding services like this, but I can’t be travelling all the way up north every time I need something done.  

I mean, it took me long enough to find Marcus, my hairdresser. It was worth it, though – when I told him I thought I might’ve just put my back out again, he offered me a glass of pinot.

Making Light Work of Renovations

It seems that buying a first house that’s cheap enough to have the stamp duty waived is possible, after all. Success! Turns out, though, that the dollars saved there must immediately be directed into renovations – either that, or one must deal with a somewhat depressing amenities situation. At least, that appears to be true in my case. 

Never mind – I’m fortunate enough to have the spare cash lying around after mortgage repayments. Plus, it gives me the option of finally having the bathroom of my dreams, which is essentially just one that features a bath. But I wouldn’t say no to a glass shower screen and rainfall-style shower head, plus a well-lit mirror.

From the sounds of that, I’m going to have to hook myself up some residential glazing services, along with a designer and builder. No matter – I can put them to work on a glass splashback for the kitchen, too, seeing as that’s also in need of a serious reboot. Oh man, that stove is just terrible. But it’s going to be so good!

While I’m at it… what are your thoughts on glass staircase balustrades, Melbourne? Will they make my home look too much like an office, or will they create a sense of openness and light? In any case, they’d have to be an improvement on the current excuse for a handrail – a wiry affair that looks like it was designed to be temporary.

Honestly, I’m not complaining. This house has many great things going for it, which is why I decided to buy it. For starters, it’s structurally sound, and the location is to die for. Ultimately, though, it’s all about the light – the place is perfectly positioned to catch it at just the right angles. Once I’m able to get started on the garden, that feature is really going to come into its own. I’m thinking a glass solar dome and maybe even an outhouse workshop with a skylight.

If You’re a Fan, Be a Fan!

If you wear the declaration of a fandom, you HAVE to be willing to engage with someone else if they acknowledge it. That’s like…fan law. In fact, it’s the law across many different fandoms, but especially anime, since we happy few are the auteurs, the trend-setters, the avant garde guardsmen. And now I’m all put out because I tried to start a conversation with a fellow fan in a lift, and he brushed me off completely.

He was wearing a shirt with the Aluminium Knight Sorbet-Chan! logo on the front, so obviously, I acknowledged that I was also a fan of the show, in which a little knight tries to defend aluminium toolboxes and ute canopies in her kingdom from evil forces trying to copy the secret aluminium recipe. It’s one of those ones that looks like it should be for kids, but it’s actually really dark and mature when you peel back the layers.

But nah. This guy is full-on wearing the shirt of an anime that not all that many people know about outside of Australia, and when I ask if he’s a fan, he just gives me an irritated shrug and looks away. That is NOT what Aluminium Knight Sorbet-Chan would do. She would make friends immediately, using her quirky smile, peach-blossom hair and irresistible chibi face. Also, her completely master over aluminium and its many products. If this guy wants to wear the declaration of standing with a noble knight who defends aluminium toolboxes and accessories with her life, and many secret clan techniques, then he needs to shape up and start living by the Aluminium Defence Brigade code of honour. Or you could just wear a different shirt.

Maybe he’s just a grumpy sort of person, and doesn’t know that there are others who share his passions, and was embarrassed. We all start at that point. But as Sorbet said as she recently upgraded every toolbox in the kingdom to have toolbox central locking, to protect the contents from the evil Tin Empire: “Tee-hee, don’t worry about it!”

Tee-hee indeed, grumpy elevator man. Do NOT worry about it.

-Dylan-kun

Office Fitouts, and Also…Incense

Dearest followers, whether you follow me for good, ill, or tax reclamation purposes. I welcome you to my humble corner of the internet, where I hope you will find peace, knowledge and enlightenment. Unless you’re here gathering evidence for tax reclamation, in which case I sincerely hope you find nothing.

Anyway! I have once again attended a wonderful conference, this time on the benefits of incense and the importance of focusing one’s mind depending on the scent and flavour. For you see, incense comes in many different varieties, each of them with a different purpose. The fellow taking the course is a guru who works in an ordinary office by day, and by his own admission, he managed to save the company from total annihilation with the simple power of incense. You see, the company had decided that Melbourne’s best commercial office design was the best way to revive the dying business, but only one man saw the truth. He saw the office being converted, the lights replaced, the furniture restored, the sofas swapped out for more colourful sofas, and he knew…incense was the way. Just as he thought, the new office didn’t smell right. It smelt new, which as we all know is the smell of all positive spirits being banished from a place. And so, he brought his own, home-made incense in to burn while the office was closed for the evening, a special blend of his own that was optimised for spirit generation. They came in the next morning to frankincense, mixed with pomegranate and a hint of vanilla, and the entire company was saved, maybe! I suppose the fact that their heating actually worked going into winter did help, but the incense tied it all together. Maybe all office interior design professionals in Melbourne should take note: comfortable chairs, nice carpet and functional lighting are nothing…actually, they’re all quite good, but incense rules all. Nothing is greater!

-Orium

Start-Up Stress

My sister, Stephania, has had a pretty hectic two years. I’m reflecting on this because I just got off the phone to mum, and she was positively gushing about how well Steph has managed to ‘dust herself off’ (mum’s words).

The story is that Steph had developed a rather lucrative start-up, which suddenly lost its footing and went under. That set off a process of Steph having a bit of breakdown in her mental health. She ended up booking herself in at a psychological treatment clinic on the Mornington Peninsula, where she had relocated from Sydney shortly before the fateful crash of her business.

As it happened, she was able to avert a full-on mental health crisis by getting in as soon as she became aware that she wasn’t feeling great. I hadn’t really cottoned to this, but according to mum, Steph had disclosed that the pressure from the business’ many stakeholders had been immense. She’d quite likely have suffered a much more serious breakdown if she hadn’t had psychological support in place while this was unfolding.

Anyway, she’s finally succeeded in cutting her losses and getting a new business off the ground, which seems bonkers to me but is also kind of admirable. She is, at least, likely to be much wiser to the risks and pressures involved than she was last time.

Another thing that mum divulged to me is that Steph has struggled with anxiety for many years – since high school, in fact. I’d actually been oblivious to that, or at least to the fact that it was a serious issue. Apparently, her psychologist has given her a referral to a psychiatrist in Mornington, who is developing a treatment and recovery management plan.

Part of me wants to tell Steph to just stop being so darned ambitious – her need to be the CEO of a software company is surely a key contributor to her anxiety. But then, I don’t think she’s programmed to live life any other way.

Nimble Neighbour (Hopefully)

My neighbour is worrying me a bit. I’m just getting a tad concerned about his safety. Over the past couple of months, he’s been routinely spotted standing on the roof of his two-story townhouse. That’s pretty far above the ground for a 75-odd year old guy to be hanging out.

Don’t ask me how he gets up there (presumably from inside the house), but I can tell you that he’s not just pottering about up there. He’s doing something with his TV antenna. I know he’s complained to my housemate that his reception has been on the blink, so I gather he’s trying to fix that. It’s not like there’s any shortage of people that do professional TV antenna services in Melbourne, though. I can tell you that this chap’s not too poorly in the money department, either.

You need to understand that this fellow is a nut for doing it himself, even when he doesn’t know what he’s doing. I remember when he tried to rig up a home security system – CCTV and all – and ended up with an alarm that went off for no reason at all hours. Then there was the time last year when he thought he’d worked out a DIY way to connect to the NBN using a cheat sheet he’d found online (he got in a bit of trouble from his daughters for that one).

Anyway, I don’t really know what the norm is when it comes TV antenna installation, Melbourne has to be one of biggest consumers of commercial television in the country. I’m pretty sure I’m not going to have a go at it with a pair of garden shears. It’s great that he’s so active, but I’m pretty sure I’ve seen him using a walking stick, so his balance can’t be the best on the block. I don’t want to discourage his can-do attitude, but I’d prefer if he’d invest in the services of a professional in this case.