Tender Loving Car

Cars: so convenient, yet such a pain in the rear end. Honestly, sometimes it’s like having a temperamental child – granted, one that you can leave out in the driveway and only wash when you feel like it. That’s been my experience, anyway, up until now. I’m super grateful to have a car that’s dependable, resilient, and up to the task of everything my lifestyle throws at it.

The poor thing has had a couple of injuries in the past week, though. First, I discovered a big scrape in the paintwork after parking in a narrow street, which I’m pretty sure wasn’t my doing. Then, I somehow managed to clip the left side mirror on a pole, causing the glass to smash. I guess it’s time for a trip to see a mechanic. Ringwood people, tell me who’s good for getting this sorted in a hurry.

That’s the thing about cars. You become reliant on them, and then your whole schedule gets thrown out of whack when you don’t have access to one. Things stop running like clockwork when you’re exposed to the realities of public transport, which I suppose is kind of healthy. It’s not my style to be utterly dependent on a machine to run my life, and it’s good to remember that there are other ways of managing things.

I might as well think about if there’s anything else that needs doing on the car if I’m going to take it in to Ringwood. Automotive services aren’t something I’m great at keeping track of, and it’s possible that I’m due for one right about now. If so, that’d actually be pretty handy – gotta love a bit of efficiency. 

My elderly neighbour did ask me if I could talk to someone about RACV inspections and roadworthy certificates, although I’m not totally sure what he has in mind. I assume he’s looking to sell his ute. But I think looking out for one car child is about all I can deal with right now.

Family Values

There’s no finding the sweet spot when it comes to creating a comfortable environment for the whole family. That may be a hard pill to swallow, but it can’t be denied if you’ve ever attempted to manage the climate control preferences of at least three people at a time. You’d think genetic relationships would make it easier – like, that at least one of the kids would have similar preferences to at least one of the parents. I can confirm that that’s not necessarily the case.

The best solution I’ve arrived at is to continually toggle the thermostat up and down until the next round of complaints. I have to say, adults do some of the worst of the worrying, partly because they’re concerned about the kids getting the chills, overheating or simply being exposed to too many fluctuations in temperature. Then they start getting in a flap about how they haven’t booked their ducted gas heating repairs. Melbourne might be getting cold, but there’s still time before winter – settle down, will you?

Honestly, it’s a luxury to have any form of heating system, let alone ducted heating and cooling. Melbourne is an extremely fortunate place to call home – much safer for your kids than a good many other places in the world. So how about relaxing a little about those tiny imperfections in your home environment?

Besides, here’s the thing: the kids are going to have to get used to fluctuating temperatures, no thanks to our love of climate controlled comfort. You might as well let them get accustomed to it early by letting it be a couple of degrees off that elusive perfect air temp. I’m sorry if that seems a bit dark, and I’m not trying to make you feel bad. It’s not your personal fault, and I know that I’m sure as heck not going to hold back from heating my home over winter. It’s just some food for thought next time you start obsessing about whether your kids are in their optimal growth setting.

Dad’s Day

It’s my dad’s birthday in a week, and I have no idea what to get him. Without fail, I get to the same point each year at a complete loss as to what he’d like. Christmas is generally not a problem because we have a family secret santa, and mum always rigs it so that one of dad’s brothers gets his name out of the hat. And for Fathers’ Day, I just take him out for lunch. On his birthday, though, there are expectations that I’m perpetually unprepared to meet.

It’s not my fault. He’s not clear in communicating what he likes, although he’s always been happy to pontificate at length on what he doesn’t like. He’s always hopping between hobbies, too, swaying like grass in the wind between woodwork, restoring old motors and building ponds.

His current thing is boats, so I should probably just get on with it and buy him something related to that. But he has a habit of expecting would-be gift givers to know as much about his current area of interest as he does, despite the fact that he’s useless at communicating about it. It’s infuriating!

I know what’s going to happen. I’ll spend ages finding a store that sells, say, stainless steel snapper racks. He’ll find something about them that’s not quite right – even if they’re top of the line and selected as per the make of his boat. Then I’ll have to find someone to fix them to his liking, and traipse out to a place that does custom marine welding. Melbourne might not be that hard a place in which to find such a service, but it’s not on my usual circuit, that’s for sure.

If dad just told me straight out what he wanted, I could save myself a lot of fuss and bother, along with my father’s rejection of my gift in its original state.  I guess it’s easiest if I just think of it as me giving him the gift of something to complain about.

The Handbag’s Tale

Personally, I see nothing wrong with a novel from the perspective of a handbag. For as you see, novels can be from the perspective of anything. I wouldn’t expect anyone in this group to have read something with such graceful prose, but Confessions of an Icicle by Natalie Dusky is written entirely from the point of view of an icicle, and we get to read about all the many and interesting things it sees before it melts.

Sorry, spoilers. Anyway, no spoilers for Brown Leather Bag on Tour, my upcoming self-published novel for which cover art has not been finalised, but here’s a minor spoiler: it’s a brown leather bag. A really nice looking leather bag, and based off one that I own. As a matter of fact, I got the idea when I realised that I take my handbag with me everywhere I go, it sees everything I see and maybe even more, so in a sense this handbag is living a life just as full and rich as mine. And what would it say, if it were able to talk? What stories would be told? These are all the questions that inspired me to write my epic.

Of course, coming up with a complication in the tale was difficult, and so was the process of crafting a villain. I decided that my bag probably has a rival in Irene’s black leather bag, because we see each other all the time and work and coffee, and we lay down our handbags next to each other, and I’m creating an interesting contrast between me and Irene’s friendship and the intense rivalry between my brown leather bag and this black leather bag.

I mean…leather slouch bags in general are items that are designed to look good, as fashion statements. Makes sense that they’d have their own strengths and insecurities. And that they’d see these outings as wacky adventures with beginnings, middles and ends. Right?


Lucky Schmuck

Does bad luck always come in sets of three? Please tell me it doesn’t… I’m on two strikes already today, and I really don’t have the wherewithal to deal with anything more.

First, my toaster exploded, which I hadn’t known was a thing. Did you know that that can happen? Well, it can, and I’m here to tell the tale. There’s not a huge amount to said tale, but it was a bit of a stressful start to the day. Then, my car broke down on the motorway, and now here I am waiting for roadside assistance instead of nailing that property deal down on the coast.

What’s the third thing going to be? The client thinks I’m flaky and backs out on the whole meeting? I find out that my engine has conked it? Or perhaps something completely unrelated, like tripping over a stray brick and twisting my ankle?

Whatever. Right now I need to focus on getting hold of a decent car mechanic. Mornington locals, who’s good for this type of thing? I suppose I should wait for the RACV person to point me in the right direction. I just feel like I don’t have that much time to wait around for them to get here.

While I have very limited knowledge of Mornington, car repair workshops included, I do know that my client isn’t going to be stoked about the delay, even though it’s clearly not my fault. I mean, maybe it is – I have put off having an annual car service for a couple of years now. But the client doesn’t need to know that. 

Maybe I need to put a different spin on this. Maybe I’m actually having a bout of good luck. The toaster exploding when and where it did might have been the difference between my house burning down or not, and I got away with barely singed eyebrows. Similar logic could apply to the car breakdown – the outcome could have been a lot worse.

Be Safe Around Electricity

Back when I was a lad, my parents always said to me: “We have no son, and we renounce thee.”

Yes, they were quite the old-fashioned sort, may they rest in peace. However, there was another thing my Dad said to me once. He was fixing the fuse box behind the house, or attempting to. It was during a thunderstorm, the power had gone out and he and mother were quite determined to watch the re-run of the moon landing. Removing all the swearing, after his multiple failed attempts to fix the box he came back and said “Always, ALWAYS hire a commercial electrician for the big jobs, because it’s not worth your life.”

Then he fell down, and…well, those were his last words, but I learned the valuable lesson that you don’t mess around with electricity if you’re not a trained professional, or wearing special gloves. I wonder what point of your electrician training you have to get to before you can forego the special gloves? Maybe never; it’s not like you receive a qualification one day and become immune to electric shocks. You don’t just go rewiring a house without protective equipment because you’re shielded by the power of your TAFE qualification. My mother didn’t even have a TAFE qualification; she just thought she’d start rewiring the house anyway, out of anger, possibly at how she could have had a childless existence and she took a different path. Anyway, she joined father on that day. And that’s why you always wear gloves.

I’m no electrician, of course, so you don’t need to listen to any of the silly old words coming out of my mouth. I’m just assuming that all the electricians Bayside area locals would normally think to hire must go to work fully protected – with clothing AND knowledge.


Ever-Changing Rooms

Ever since I cast an enchantment on my kitchen and bathroom, I’ve been very happy with this new home. The place just felt so…static before. See, I’m used to a degree of change, due to my quarters in the castle being under the same spell of transfiguration. This meant that the place looked completely different every single time I walk in the room, and it’s the same here now. Today I went to the bathroom to do the regular bathroom things, and it had renovated overnight to give itself a nautical theme. Porthole and all. It was quite nice.

With that in mind, I can see why people are so into the idea of kitchen and bathroom remodelling in this realm…albeit without magic, so it becomes time-consuming and quite costly. Still, worth the wait. Sometimes I wonder if I could get into the kitchen renovation business instead of my current position helping out with children’s parties, which I despise. But then, even banished wizards are taken to task if they use their magic to interfere, or especially if they use magic to garner fame and fortune for themselves. This is meant to be a punishment, after all. Besides, I already have to cast subtle twisting spells to make the appropriate balloon animals for the demanding children, and that in itself is skirting the edges of the law.

Just imagine, though…someone would ask me to create them the perfect bathroom, and I would be able to do it in any number of ways. I could animate their drawing or plan with a life-projection spell. I could astrally project the image of the perfect kitchen renovation onto the minds of anyone who walks into the room. I could cast a complicated enchantment of longing upon the room, so that it transforms into the shape one wishes for.

Bit risky with that one, though. At least with conventional, non-magical renovations, the room stays as it is. People might notice if they thought it’d be nice to have a dishwasher and one suddenly sprouted from the wall.

The Royal Wheels

You want to know why there are more wizards getting banished to Earth than witches? Because witches don’t think they’re better. Sorceresses just aren’t powerful enough to cause much trouble, but witches go about their daily business, roaming the land and just keeping to our own business.

Alright, that’s a straight lie- meddling is literally our job- but we don’t make big screw ups in front of the king and his courtiers, so we can get away with it. Well…most of us don’t. I just had to challenge the status quo. Bet the king was pretty surprised when a witch came in front of him and promised him a horse that could outstrip all other horses!

See, I’ve been coming to Melbourne for years. Got myself a nice apartment and I go out for brunch on Thursdays. The other day I had some car problems so I booked myself in for a car repair. Malvern isn’t too far from home so I ricked driving over.

I had a stray thought on the way over. I could use this knowledge. No one I know has ever even seen a car, let alone them being aware of how one of them works. And here’s me having passed my test, gotten through my P-plates, and I can even sometimes fix minor electrical faults. I only need proper auto services when something really goes wrong, or my car needs a roadworthy certificate. Paying insurance is kind of annoying, particularly when I can prevent myself from having accidents with a few simple spells and potions, but police are a thing…

Anyway, thought I’d conjure up one for the king, an automatic so nothing could go wrong, and finally gain a place as the first official court witch.

So yeah. He…kind of reversed into the lake, through a wall, even with me telling him to take his foot off the gas. His aids pulled him out, sopping wet and with the ducks fighting over his crown, and I knew where I was going. Guess I’m booking in some intensive auto repairs, in Malvern maybe. At least I know how to do that.

Trash Neighbour (Me)

If the eyes are the windows to the soul, then mine could probably do with a bit of a wash. You see, for the past year or so I’ve been secretly chucking my green waste over the back fence into my neighbour’s jungle of a yard, thinking they wouldn’t notice. Well, this weekend they confronted me about it, saying that they’d known all along and have had enough of the various invasive plants that keep popping up in their food.


How was I to know that they’re running a highly curated operation back there? Now I’m kind of ashamed to show my face to the neighbours, but there’s not much I can do to avoid them short of staying inside and investing in some serious window frosting. Melbourne residents, have you had neighbourly interactions of this nature? They’re so smug over there, with their rooftop solar, film camera collection and paleo coffee.


There was a situation kind of like this at the office one time. Pierre from accounts thought he could get away with sneaking yoghurts from the fridge, even though he sort of knew they were Belinda’s. He was doing this for about two months before Belinda came out with it and asked him to stop.


There was a bit of awkwardness after this, in large part because Belinda had waited so long to say something, although she shouldn’t really have had to. Again, there wasn’t much that could be done by Pierre to block out the harsh rays of judgement from HR, beyond lobbying for office tinting services to be engaged, thereby creating an impervious partition between departments. Obviously, neither of these situations are a very big deal; in fact they’re pretty insignificant in the scheme of things. It’s just a case of the way people look at you differently when they know you’ve been up to something at their expense, and they know that you know. Their gaze takes on distinct notes of disdain and pity. And the worst thing about it is that you’ve brought it upon yourself, knowing full well what you were doing the whole time.

Steeling My Heart

I just went on the most interesting date, and feel compelled to tell the internet about it. I mean, it was ultimately nothing to write home about. I’ve just never met anyone with such a high level of enthusiasm for metal fabrication before.

 This guy – let’s call him Barrie – builds interactive metal sculptures. If he’s to be believed, he exhibits these at events internationally, presumably transporting them by sea. He claims he’s currently working on a 10m tall steel frame shaped like a skull, which can be climbed using an internal staircase and exited via slides extending from the eyeballs.

 Sounds elaborate, right? My question is, where does one even begin with building a structure like that? Well, apparently, it’s done with the involvement of an industrial crane, along with a small army of steel fabrication specialists. Melbourne folk have surely seen works like this underway. Do you reckon Barrie is telling tall tales? Or do you think he could he really be building giant noggins from structural steel plates?

 He didn’t have any photos to show me, which I found to be mildly suspicious as far as supporting his story goes. Apparently, the social media account through which he promotes his metal structures is down – again, sounds a bit fishy, but Barrie claims it should be back up as soon he manages to convince the site that his profile photo really is of a giant metal banana.

The only verification tactic I can think of is to contact all of the custom metal suppliers in Melbourne, and see if any of them have done business with Barrie. Yes, I do realise that that’s a bit of a crazy notion, but what can I do? I need to know now whether I should ask him to Sheree’s wedding, and I only want him to come if he really is a large-scale artisan metalworker.