In which my parents adopt a pooch

Today my parents are going to visit some animal shelters, with the aim of finding a canine companion to live with. Their last dog, Frederick, passed away about a year ago, and they’ve decided that, even though he can’t be replaced, it’s time to connect with a new furry friend. When I spoke to mum on the phone this morning, it sounded like they didn’t have any particular qualities in mind, but would know they’d found the right pooch.

I was pleased to hear that they’d decided to adopt rather than buy from a breeder or pet shop. Apart from the obvious humane reasons for doing this, there’s also the health of an animal to take into account. Frederick, who was a pedigree red setter, had a number of health complaints, like hip problems, arthritis, and a strong predisposition to allergies. These made his life more difficult than it needed to be and warranted frequent trips to the vet.

Our local vet in Moorabbin was always fantastic with Frederick, but I’ve been suspicious of dog breeding since seeing Frederick’s constant string of mysterious ailments (which I believe were due to overbreeding). That’s why I’m happy that my parents are supporting adoption programs rather breeding ones.

I imagine that for animal shelters in the Bayside area, dog desexing would be the norm. While I’ve always had mixed feelings about desexing, I do acknowledge that it’s kind of necessary to avoid increasing numbers homeless domestic animals. Ultimately, too, I think it’s probably for the best in terms of getting these animals a new home. I would think that people are much more likely to want to take on a desexed animal.

I wonder what type of dog my parents will come home with? It could be anything from an cattle dog bursting at the seams with energy, to a terrified terrier, to a grizzled old mutt that just wants a long nap. Whichever it is, it’s definitely going get spoiled rotten until the end of its days. I can’t wait to meet the new family member!

Disco Dancing for Sport

I’ve just finished helping my little bro get ready for his school disco. I have to say, he’s got a pretty funky dress sense, for a ten year-old. His purple suit is definitely going to make a splash on the dance floor. He was showing me some of his dance moves, too – all I can say is that they’re certainly on the athletic side. For a kid who’s never shown much of an interest in sports, he’s surprisingly agile and has quality high kick on him.

His sporty moves are kind of appropriate, now that I think about it, given that the occasion is a fundraiser for his school’s sports department. They’re raising money to buy soccer goal nets for the school’s new oval. According to my bro, the school is planning to get angled soccer goal nets, and barrier nets as well (they aren’t too keen on losing more balls than they already have to angry neighbours, by the sounds of it).

Apparently, the school also needs dollars to pay for some tennis netting repair services. I’m so clueless on the sports front that I’ve never even heard of such a thing before. They need cricket nets as well, and some new basketballs.

You’d think that these kids don’t do anything other than play sports, wouldn’t you? I mean, surely they need equipment for other subjects too. When was the last time the school put on a disco for test tubes and beakers, or copies of A Midsummer Night’s Scream? It seems like the school is forever investing in sports equipment.

On the plus side, I’m pleased with the fact that little bro is showing an interest in something that involves physical exercise. If he wanted to get into playing a sport, I’d totally support that, and I can see that he’d probably be quite adept at it if he’s leaps and spins are anything to go by. But then, I’d also be interested in seeing him channel his seemingly newfound athleticism into the dancing arena.

Neighbour Needs to Prune

Since I moved to Ashwood a few weeks ago, I’ve been feeling increasingly irritated by my next door neighbour. Not only has she made a series of pointed remarks about my hairstyle, but she’s also got a giant tree in her front yard that’s blocking the light to half my windows. I  asked her directly (and politely, I thought) if she’d mind trimming it back, and she told me bluntly that she won’t be doing that because her son is against it.

I’ve never seen any evidence of this son, but I would be surprised if he turned out to be against quite a lot things that, conveniently, my neighbour herself can’t be bothered to deal with. This tree trimming business, though – it’s not that much to ask, is it? It’s not like I’m demanding that she stage a full-on tree removal. Services in Ashwood are many and varied, and I’m sure there’d be an arborist around who’d be happy to give this tree a trim at a reasonable rate.

In light of her unreasonable attitude, I’m beginning to form the conclusion that my neighbour just doesn’t like me. Either that or she’s like this with everyone. Regardless, I’ve still got this problem a lack of light penetration to the front section of my house. So, what are my options? Melbourne based tree pruning companies presumably won’t be that amenable to the idea of me paying them to work on my neighbour’s tree. What if I just told them it was my house? Would that be against the law?

Don’t worry; I’m not going to do that. But how can I convince my neighbour to arrange (let along pay for) the necessary crown thinning operation? Perhaps there’s some way of going through the council – I could lodge a complaint that her tree is diminishing my enjoyment of my property. This would probably be easier to do if the tree wasn’t in such great health, or was actually leaning over my fence (which it isn’t). She isn’t technically doing anything wrong.

I guess there’s always the possibility that I’m the cantankerous neighbour.

Merry Christmas! It’s Something Useful!

It’s official: Christmas is here. You can always tell, because Byers has their special Christmas window up on display, and strange people are queuing for hours just to see it when you can just stand there and admire from afar. Or buy a pair of binoculars, whatever you feel is more worth it.

But Christmas time in our household is a special time for special things, and there’s nothing more special than buying 100% practical presents. We have a little bit of a competition in our household and close family, and all of us get right into it! Most practical present wins. This year, I’m thinking the orthotics are sure winners. I went all the way to Cheltenham for children’s orthotics, because the ones Jasmine has right now are getting a bit worn. You might say that it’s a natural, parental duty to replace that kind of thing, but that’s the genius of our family Christmas. You keep costs down, and disguise essentials as presents. It’s practical, it’s necessary. It’s NOT  senseless waste of money for the sake of capitalism and feeding the corporate machine by buying into their nation-wide brainwashing campaign that has held this country and many others in a death-grip for decades because of clever and diabolical advertising. It’s practical! And orthotics will always be appreciated. If Jasmine runs without them, her arches get quite sore, and thus she has no reason not to be grateful. I thought taking her to the podiatrist last Christmas was a bit of a splash, but as it turned out, it’s actually set up years of potential and practical presents.

So that’s that sorted. Need to pick up some spare arch supports, Ben needs a new notebook for school (might even splash for some pens) and…well, Neil knows what he’s getting. Socks. It’s ALWAYS socks. Socks are the safe option, since he goes through them every year.


Getting a new pool fence for the new pool

If you were brave enough to attempt to, and succeed in, building your own pool in your backyard, then you have my praise and admiration. The toughest part may well be over, but there is still more to go. Even if you haven’t built your own pool, or you’ve just purchased a new one, you should all take heed. One of the most important aspects of a pool is the pool fence that surrounds it. There is little use for a pool without a fence, as by Victorian and Australian standards, the thing is unfit for use, especially by children. That’s why it’s best to start off a new or improved pool fence sooner rather than later, to fully reap the benefits of your private pool.

Pool fences come in all sorts of styles, sizes and forms, but a few have stood the test of time. When deciding what style of pool fence to get, consider your needs and your requirements.

Perhaps you have small children, pets, or perhaps you live on your own. Perhaps you have a large bird population that will be freaked out be a frameless glass pool fence in Melbourne (however unlikely that is). You don’t want birds flying beak-first into your glass fence while you relax in the pool.

Whatever you choose, the key is to get the fence installed by professionals. I’ve seen too many cases of people overestimating their ability to do everything involved with a project and eschew away from professional guidance in favour of a jack-of-all-trades attitude. This can cost people dearly, as I’ve seen with many a pool fence blow away in a gusty wind. You certainly don’t want to further endanger the health of those around you; make sure the pool fences are done correctly.

With a new pool to add to the home, you should back it up with a new pool fence to match the elegance, the style and the safety that you and your family deserves from a pool fence.

I’ll believe it when I see it, Uncle Jacob

My uncle Jacob is changing careers again… or, at least, so he says. I’m skeptical, since he’s always saying this and rarely following through. It was only couple of months ago that he was all about becoming an DJ. I’ve seen virtually zero evidence of that. Then there was the period earlier this year during which he was hell-bent on becoming an online business coach – fat lot of good he’d be at that. He never seems to get beyond giving lip service to his aspirations.

Anyway, he’s now professing to be keen on getting into trigger point dry needling. There are training courses in dry needling in Melbourne, he says, that will qualify him to administer the treatment in just one weekend. I looked up some of the companies that offer the training, and it turned out that Jacob had skipped over a key piece of information (as I’d suspected). Basically, you’re kind of meant to be a practicing physiotherapist (or a medical doctor, osteopath or chiropractor) before you enrol in one of these courses. The closest Jacob has come to being a physio is in his ongoing refinement of his knuckle-cracking technique (i.e. not very close at all).

I  passed on this info to him, and he responded – I kid you not – that he’d just have to sign up for a physio course. I asked if he realised that that would involve spending several years at university, to which he sort of grunted and changed to subject. Then I felt a bit bad for him, so I investigated a bit further to check that there isn’t some kind of ‘dry needling for laymen’ type of course going around. Turns out that it’s kind of the same deal across Australia – dry needling training is for people already practicing in at least some form of manual therapy.

You know, it’s not that he couldn’t do it if he set his mind to it. His only problem is that he gets attached to ideas quickly, and detaches from them just as quickly.

The Aussie Relationship With Trees

There are some nationalities that just have such a great reputation that I can’t believe they’d do anything truly terrible. Take Nepalese people, for instance. All the ones I’ve met have been lovely. Canadians are so polite. And then you get to Australians, who have this reputation as being a friendly sort who have barbecues and call each other ‘mate’, because everyone is just somebody else’s mate.

Then I get to Australia and…well, I think I always knew it was a normal place, with some friendly people and a small minority of not-friendly people. Now tradespeople…that’s where you find all of that stuff. I worked for a place in Caulfield that does tree removal and the people just seemed to be the salt of the Earth. Maybe something about ripping dead trees out of the ground just means you’re not left with much time for any sort of foolish negativity. It WAS a pretty awesome job, truth be told. So satisfying, going along to a place, setting up the equipment, ripping up those trees by their roots. It all sounded a bit…well, ‘evil corporation’ when I started. We’re ripping up trees! Making way for industry! Nye he he! Whereas it’s mostly just trees that are burrowing underneath the ground and ruining roads, or gigantic dead ones that are taking up space…or gum trees. Which, despite their reputation, can be pretty invasive and hard to get rid of.

I’ve bounced around trades over the years. I’ve never been one to put down my roots, so to speak.  Maybe it’s just because I quickly learned to speak the language, but I always feel at home with that sort of person, even those who are covered in a veil of grouchiness. It’s always skin-deep. And if you lived in Oakleigh and needed tree removal, it’s not like a bit of morning grumblies is going to prevent the job from getting done.


Great Uncle Boris is at it again

My great uncle Boris has always been pretty handy on the ornamental arboriculture front – from pollarding and coppicing to grafting and espalier techniques, he does it all. On the more practical side of things, though, he seems to have a bit of a blind spot. For example, one of his trees if currently overhanging into his neighbour’s yard, and he has been studiously ignoring their increasing frustration with the situation.

The neighbours would, in my opinion, be totally within their rights to ask him to prune the tree back, seeing as it’s beginning to block their window in a major way. I think the only the only reason they haven’t done this yet is that he’s always charming them with homemade jams and pies. Now that I think about it, I doubt he’d be physically up to the task of trimming the offending branches. But he could acknowledge that it’s becoming an issue and dial in an arborist service. Melbourne has been his home for thirty years, but he still feigns being new to the country and not knowing who to call on for this sort of thing.

It’s amusing to me that Boris can be so enamoured of ornamental pruning techniques, and yet have not the slightest bit of interest in things like routine crown thinning, deadwood removal and giving a dang about footpath clearance. This situation with the neighbour is quite a benign situation relative to some of the oversights Boris has pulled off in the past. I remember from when I was a kid in Adelaide that he once allowed a large shrub in his front yard to spill across the footpath and onto the nature strip.

I don’t know what the deal is in Adelaide, but here in Melbourne, tree trimming companies are perfectly abundant, and there’s no reason Boris’ neighbours should have to put up with this. Perhaps I’ll make the call myself; it’s possible that Boris won’t even notice. But I have my suspicions that his apparent obliviousness is actually just his way of entertaining himself.  

We Wish You A Merry Mechanic

Argh! It’s getting to that time of year when my organisational abilities go flying out the window and I begin to resemble a stressed-out chicken on a mission to avoid having its head cut off. Basically, I start putting off essential tasks that I’d normally be quite diligent about. In their place, I begin to prioritise things like explaining to my son why he can’t glitter-bomb the front lawn, and coming up with excuses to get out of going to my in-laws’ house on Christmas Eve.

One of the many things I’ve been putting off is organising an RWC inspection for the hatchback we’re giving Cassie to celebrate her finally finishing that seemingly endless BA degree of hers. It’s a used car, and we’ve had to do a bit of work on it, but I reckon it’s good to go now. It’s just a matter of getting it out of the garage and over to the mechanic without Cass catching wind of it. I might have to wait til she’s in the city with her mates on the weekend, and not at home in Croydon.

I’ll line it up with my next trip into Ringwood. Roadworthy certificates are starting to appear in the slightly stressful dreams I’ve been having lately, which is clearly a sign that I need to cross this item off my neglected to-do list. We can’t get the car re-registered in Cass’s name until we have the RWC, which means we also can’t pick up the new number plates from VicRoads. Note to self: track down an auto service centre in Ringwood.

I hope she appreciates all the running around that’s gone into this gift, although I don’t expect that she will – 22 year-olds in south-east Melbourne tend to be pretty low in the department of understanding the hoop-jumping their parents go through on their behalf. Luckily, I’m high on the spirit of Christmas right now (if I wasn’t, I’d have been to the mechanic already rather than shopping for decorative marzipan balls).


Catch-Ups and Windows

I was recently invited over for dinner with an old pal from high school, Janine. I hadn’t see her for years, and she’s changed a lot. No longer the party animal that I remembered, she’s just bought into the property market in spectacular style. She’s now the owner of a really huge house on the Mornington Peninsula.

When we were at school, if you’d told me that I’d be listening to Janina weighing up various glass frosting installation services in Melbourne (for her poolside cabana, no less), I’d never have believed it. But there we were, doing exactly that. It made sense, too – the house has a whole lot of glass going on. It almost gives the impression of being made entirely of windows.

We must have talked for at least twenty minutes about where to find the best home window tinting services in Melbourne. Janine told me that living in London for the past several years had sensitised her to the harshness of the light here, and she needed to dial back the UV glare and exposure. Alongside that, she had some very beautiful designer furniture, which apparently can become faded through sun exposure.

I had to interrupt this conversation to express my surprise at the turn her life seemed to have taken since our school days. Turns out, it wasn’t all that much of a coincidence. As she went on to explain to me, Janine had taken an interest in interior design after a fateful visit to a volcano-themed nightclub in Berlin, and it all spiralled from there. Years later, she now has a very successful line of business in restoring antique furniture.

Hearing this, it did all start to add up. I remembered that her bedroom as a teenager had always been elaborately decorated with obscure finds she’d tracked down on ebay and at garage sales. More to the point, her windows had always been covered over with a layer of purple cellophane. Now she gets to restore old stuff all day long, plus deck out her dreamhouse windows with specialised solar film. Good on her!