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!

Celebrating With A New Kitchen

The divorce papers have finally been signed! Hallelujah. Now, here’s the really exciting part – I’ve been planning this for a while, so bear with my excitement. I’m celebrating by (drum roll, please) installing a new kitchen! It’s going to be epic: the gas stovetop I’ve always wanted, heaps of bench space – maybe even an island! – and a walk-in pantry. Best of all, I’ll get to have all this in the exotic colour scheme I’ve always been into (Michelle was all about the neutral colours).

In light of this, I’m currently on a mission to unlock the best kitchen renovation in Melbourne. This is a celebratory investment, remember, which means I won’t settle for anything less than my personal idea of perfection. As much as this might be an unattainable ideal in a marriage (as Michelle discovered, to her dismay), I think I can capture it in my kitchen paradise. I’m picturing all the surfaces, hardware and finishings being perfectly integrated, with a tailor-made place for everything, from appliances to waste.

So, here’s a question for all you design-heads clogging up the fabric of Melbourne: kitchen design. Talk to me about it. What are your non-negotiables? Is there something I need to incorporate that I haven’t thought of? I should mention that I’m an avid home cook, and the kitchen has always been my sanctuary in any house I’ve lived in. It’s really the heart of my home. That’s why I’m going all out on this renovation. I deserve it, after all those years spent married to someone who wound up having the bare minimum of appreciation for me or my passion for cooking.

I suppose I should keep my head a little; we had some good times. And I don’t need to go too crazy trying to reinvent the wheel and create a totally innovative kitchen experiences. At the end of the day, I’m set on a luxury kitchen, but I also want something classic and, ultimately, functional. It’s a delicate balance, much like the combination of spices in a truly mind-blowing rogan josh.

Today, the Ultimate Hair Smoother

It’s not the most glamorous life, being a guinea pig. But then…I knew what I was getting into. I signed a massive document that I had to read in detail, and it described all of the horrible things that could happen if something went wrong during the testing process. Because…well, that’s the point of being a guinea pig. But then I’m getting paid stacks to just show up, press some buttons, sometimes just have something sprayed in my face. One quick survey later and I can take the rest of the day off, which is occasionally extra-great because my head has swollen, or I’ve been infected with a mild-to-moderate strain of the black plague. Eh, occupational hazard.

So yeah, fun. Today’s invention was the Ultimate Hair Smoother. Supposedly it’s going to be trialled in a few hair salons in the Melbourne CBD before they roll it out worldwide, but of course, I’m here to make sure it’s totally safe for even the trial process. I even got a bit of a pitch this time: it’s a helmet, of sorts, that makes all hair types into a single type. Just pop it on, and you’ve got the smooth, wavy look that just falls into place by itself, regardless of how many hats you wear or jumpers you take on and off. I think the aim is for people who go and get a haircut, but don’t know how to look after it afterwards. They can just take a spin in the Hair Smoother and they won’t have to worry about the day-to-day maintenance, for a little while at least. So for the first time you can go along to a hairdresser and say ‘I’d like THAT look, please’ and they don’t have to just give you the closest thing possible for your hair type. Of course, it can only give you the one, wavy look, but it’s better than wanting to look like a movie star but having hair like a broom.

Interesting results so far. My scalp sort of feels…tingly. Like a thousand ants with little knives are stabbing me repeatedly. I’m also experiencing tunnel vision, migraines and I think telekinesis. Just gonna tick the ‘unsure’ box on that last one. Along with the ‘cannot currently recommend for Melbourne best hair salons’ box. But hey, big pay day, AND my hair looks fab.


Preparing your home is about preparing the details

The devil is in the details, as the old saying goes. That means that the most important part to the whole is the collection of the parts, and making sure all the parts are working correctly is the most important thing you can do when preparing for a big day. If you are looking to sell your home, you need to maximise the number of offers, as well as the price those offers give. This is achieved by making your home look as appealing as possible, and this is done with the parts.

One of the parts that’s most important to the success of an open house, an auction, or any house related venture, is the windows. They give a great representation of the home in general, and can be a great way to make sure that you get the best sale price for your home. Windows can be easily damaged or broken if they aren’t properly maintained and can suffer serious hardship. This is not only bad for sales, it can cause injury to yourself, your family, or the next owners of the house. That’s why it’s so important to keep your windows as well maintained as possible, and make sure that window repair companies based in Melbourne do a flawless job in repairing damage.

Some say that windows are the heart and soul of any home. I’m not so sure if that’s true, but they are certainly important to the style of a home. If you want your home to get the most from your window replacements, be sure to find out the best aluminium or timber bi fold windows in Melbourne. If you are planning on selling, it’s best to get a professional to come to the house to check over the existing windows. That way they’re able to repair or replace any broken or worn out windows that turn away buyers with a keen eye. Together you can decide how best to showcase your home to potential buyers.

There Was An Old Woman From Toorak

While I was on the train this morning, I couldn’t help eavesdropping on the conversation being had by two guys sitting across from me. From the fact that one of them was scribbling notes in the margins of a paper entitled ‘Taxation Issues Relating to Deceased Estates’, I was able to deduce that they were estate planning lawyers based in Melbourne.  They’d flown in to help with the preparation of a will for an eccentric and extremely wealthy elderly woman.

The stories they were telling about her sounded made up, to be honest. Apparently, she has 12 pugs living with her in her Toorak mansion, every interior surface of which she’s had painted or tiled or carpeted in various shades of purple. She also, purportedly, owns millions of dollars worth of contemporary art. But the real weirdness kicks in with the fact that (according to the lawyers) she intended to have her body preserved in formaldehyde by a high-profile British artist, and presented to the beneficiaries of her estate. She would, in effect, become part of her collection of personal assets.

The lawyers sounded a bit concerned about the legal implications of this, as well as about her proposed nomination of beneficiaries: her pugs. As a minor aside, there were also some questions on the table regarding the effects of marriage, divorce and re-marriage on how the distribution of her questionable assets would pan out. Somehow, through one kind of administrative oversight or another, she’s managed to end up officially married to two people at the same time, neither of whom know about her being married to the other.

However much these lawyers know about the technicalities of probate, Melbourne is probably looking like a pretty strange place to be right about now. It’s hard for me to believe that all this is true, though. Could it have been some kind of lawyerly in-joke? Or maybe they were actors doing a training exercise? I’ll never know.

Act II, Scene 3, Nothing Exciting

If life were a musical, then this would be the second number of the second act. The opening number of the second act isn’t usually anything special- although sometimes it can be a sleeper hit- so the one after that is usually pretty lacklustre. The audience is warmed up, and if they haven’t left during the intermission then they’re usually pretty invested in the story. So the second number? Pretty dull. Name any musical, and I’ll show you by example.

Things are just…dull. But they feel like they COULD get better, if I had the will to do something about it. My own brother just got his own Melbourne property with a buyers advocate because he’s marrying the girl of his dreams. A fancy house he can afford because he has a fancy job, I might add. Things picked up a bit last month when I went to that seminar on saving for your dream home today, but you know how those things can be. You get all pumped up on emotion, they tell you that you can achieve anything, they shower you in graphs and charts that show that you, too, can be a homeowner if you put in some hard work. Everyone holds hands, closes their eyes and repeats a solemn promise that they are an achiever and they can do anything. And then you’re left with a pamphlet and a bunch of empty promises as you go back to wherever it is you currently live and feel flat. Obviously you feel flat. You can’t summon a circle of people every time you want to feel enthused. And who has the property advocate? My brother. And he didn’t go to any conferences at all. He’s just the firstborn golden child who got the good job and the beautiful wife and the dog that could be some kind of dog model on the front of a bag of dog food. And here’s me…with my pamphlet. It’s a pretty nice pamphlet, though. Very glossy. Plenty of home buying tips.

The Great Fishing Battle of 2017

Have you ever been hit over the head with a fishing rod? I have. I didn’t think I’d ever be admitted to hospital with concussion from a fishing-rod related incident, but there you go…life is just full of surprises.

The Annual Book Club Fishing Trip has always been a time of great peace, much like actual book club meetings. I suggested it years ago as a way to get the club outdoors, but also not have anyone shy away due to intense physical activity. I figured…well, I know about fishing rod holders and boat types and the whole industry, and everyone’s just going to spend the whole time reading anyway, so why not? And it was a success! It actually brought people into the book club, since everyone wanted a piece of the action. Not much ‘action’, but…well, i think it became pretty far known that we were a book club with a twist. I got all my book friends into fishing, the club grew, and so eventually we had over seventy people lining up for the fishing trip. And all I did was suggest we study ‘Catch of the Day: A History of Rod Holders’. I just thought everyone would like to learn more about the industry, you know? But someone started a massive argument over whether plate alloy boats were a better and more efficient option than traditional wooden ones. Things flared up, and to be honest, I think there was a lot of tension this year after the whole coffee spill incident. The fuse was lit…and then Anthea just blurted out that  she’d always thought that ‘To Kill a Mocking Nerd’ was THE worst book ever written. You know, the most polarizing book in the club’s entire history. There was no going back. The battle raged across boats. I tried to stop it, but 92-year-old Bert Willsby smacked me over the head with his fishing rod and sent me to hospital.

I just…wanted people to learn about fishing, snapper racks and the joys of reading on the water. I never wanted this.