Neat Gardens Are My Christmas

The Cranbourne Exquisite Homes and Gardens Award isn’t going to win itself, I’m just saying. Everyone in the neighbourhood is getting antsy, and it’s not because this is our last chance to win before…well, next year. I’m fairly certain that most of it is me. ALL of it is me, okay, I admit it. I want our street to be admired throughout Cranbourne, probably a hidden gem. Or it certainly will be once we win the award and people come here just to look at our street. It’ll be just like Christmas, except all year round and with a lot more crushed rock formations.

Speaking of which, there’s a serious deficit of garden supplies in this place, as opposed the garden supplies in neighbouring Cranbourne. I asked the Barnaby family next door if they had a rake so that Susan Gresham over the road could finally do something about that driveway, and they said that they didn’t have much of anything. Apparently some gardener comes to trim the hedge, cut the grass and that’s it. So now I’m having to share my own garden supplies with the whole street, and by share I actually mean that I’ve given away all my good tools and they’re probably just gathering dust.

It’s getting to the point where I’m going to have to start sending anonymous letters. Oh, don’t think I won’t! The passive-aggression will be high, but just so perfectly calculated so as to spur people into action. There shall be curt words about the state of aggregate driveways, and snide comments on how the Iverson family have absolutely neglected the lovely pebble driveway material they moved into and now they need to go somewhere that sells garden pebbles. Cranbourne would be the best area as they’re close enough to do multiple car loads if needed. When your garden is half pebbles that have been tossed up by your flashy, loud sports car, then we have a serious problem.

-Alastair

Posted in Renovations

Taking Charge of Playtime

My seven year-old, Kara, will doubtless be someone who gets her own way in life. She illustrated that brilliantly today on while in the care of her grandma, who had agreed to take Kara to the park. Grandma ended up being unwittingly recruited as chauffeur to the movies, then to the ice-cream shop, and finally on to an indoor play centre in Golden Grove, 40 minutes drive away.

Grandma’s a particularly easy target, but I was surprised that even she agreed to the drive out to the play centre. I can rarely find the time to get out there. Kara goes ballistic for it, though – you’d think it was something a wee bit more exciting than some jumbo-sized play equipment, a colourful paint job and a few bouncy surfaces. But I suppose that, through a kid’s eyes, all this is more than the sum of its parts.

I do remember that feeling from when I was kid. At the local pool near where I grew up, there was a wading zone that featured a slippery dip shaped like an iceberg rising out of the water. I remember being enchanted with this thing, imagining it was real ice. Well, I saw it again when I was a teenager and was amazed to discover that it was only about a metre high.

As for the indoor play centre, we first discovered it while looking for kids birthday party venues for hire in Adelaide.  It turned out to be really great for that purpose, primarily because the kids get tagged with a security wristband that means they can’t leave the premises without the adult they came in with. It’s a huge relief to not have to be constantly eagle eyed while the kids (other people’s kids included) are letting loose, which tends to be what happens when you throw a birthday at a park.

Anyway, grandma had a good time – she wasn’t interested in waiting around in the cafe area, and got stuck in with Kara’s preferred role playing game (pirates versus ballerinas, if you want to know). So it was win-win.

Posted in indoor play centre

Let me give you a tint…

What’s the deal with the sun here in the city? On the days when it’s out in full force, it seems to go way harder than it does down near the coast. Maybe it’s something to do with all the concrete and reflective surfaces; I don’t know. Regardless, I’m sort of struggling with this house-sit I’m doing in the CBD over summer.

It’s actually an apartment-sit, to be precise. The something about the angle of the windows – the sun just smashes the place, and during the hottest part of the day at that. It’s been too hot to hang around outside, so I’ve been hitting up all the museums in the mornings and retiring to the library in the afternoon.

Now, the library, I’ve noticed, has tinted windows in one of the study rooms I like to hang out in. They’re a serious godsend when it comes to dealing with this sun, in terms of both the glare and the UV rays. It’s like full-body sunglasses. I wonder if it’s common for people to get window tinting on residential buildings in Melbourne? Seems like a good move to me.

I mean, a lot of the commercial buildings seem to have tinted windows. I wonder if there’s a explanation for why it’s so common to see glass tinting for office blocks (in Melbourne and elsewhere), but you don’t seem to see it as much on houses. Perhaps people are worried that it’ll make their homes dark and bleak. I’m pretty sure, though, that the process doesn’t make the windows appear very much darker. There’s maybe a minimal amount of reflection going on, but the view to outside remains essentially unobstructed.

I guess it gets cold here, too; I suppose that’s a thing. Melbournites really have to clutch at any and all slivers of available sun over winter, so I can understand that they’re afraid of restricting their access to vitamin D. Still, that possibility seems preferable to me than being cooked alive over summer.

Posted in window tinting

Need To Renovate My Family

I attended a family gathering yesterday, much to my displeasure. I mean, I like my close relatives just fine, but my extended family… well, sheesh, that’s another story. By and large, they’re so self-absorbed that I can barely get a word in edgewise, which might be tolerable if they weren’t as boring as they are talkative.

The one good thing to come out of the event was a tip from my cousin, Hildred, on the subject of bathroom renovations. I’ve been hanging out to get my shower remodelled for a good couple of years now, but never seem to get around to it. Anyway, the gathering was at Hildred’s house, and I couldn’t help but notice her tasteful new bathtub and shower combo – it really ticked all the boxes. That’s how I got into an hour-long conversation – or to be more precise, became subjected to a monologue – about hiring a bathroom renovator.

While she was jabbering away, my attention was drawn to the fact that one of her kitchen cupboards was sporting a hole, presumably put there by her twin five year-olds. That got me thinking about my own kitchen, replete with its own cabinetry issues. It could really do with a custom makeover. I use it a lot, after all – unlike Hildred, who is a notorious non-cooker (yes, there are such people in the world).

Are there any hot new kitchen design ideas, Melbourne, that I ought to know about? Trends, technologies, general tidbits? I shouldn’t even be asking about this, really, until I’ve dealt with the bathroom – that was on my list first, and I like to approach things like this in an orderly fashion. The thing is, though, my end goal is for the house to have a sense of flow – for the bathroom and kitchen to feel like parts of a unified whole.

Perhaps this need to remodel with holistic flow in mind comes from my discordant extended family. Dad says I’m being melodramatic, but he would say that. He always manages to find a way to get out of these gatherings.  

Posted in Renovations

Glassy Renovations

The apartment block that I rent in is getting a makeover, to my mild annoyance. I have zero investment in this building, and don’t really care what it looks like from the outside. Granted, there could be a bit more to the operation than aesthetics – the handrails on the external staircases do look a little wonkier than they probably should.

Currently, it looks like the glaziers are in the process of replacing said handrails with some kind of glass balustrade. Installers in Melbourne seem to have the right idea when it comes to making things look sleek and polished – the frameless glass panels do kind of swank up this dump.

I’m assuming that whoever’s managing this operation is going to do something about the smashed window on third-floor the stairwell. I wonder if this balustrade crew do general residential glazing and glass repairs? Melbourne is the first city I’ve lived in where apartment block residents don’t seem to have rage blackouts when someone puts a football through their window, which is nice. They could probably do with being a little less chill about it sometimes, though – that window has been in that state for a good half a year now. Back in Sydney, the residents’ committee would have gone after the owners with flaming pitchforks months ago.

Come to think of it, there are a few other jobs I can think of for these glaziers, while they’re here. I’d really appreciate a new shower screen, as I can’t help but have my doubts as to whether my existing one is actually of the safety glass persuasion. On top of that, the shower frame and door hands are a fairly gross beige colour – just make them black or silver already.

That’s the problem with renovations: once you pop, you can’t stop. In this case, it’s all out of my hands, but I’m starting to notice things that need doing that I’ve never once considered the whole time I’ve been living here. Maybe I can petition the owner to let me recruit a glazier on my own dime.

Posted in glass

This is Our Business…So it’s the Law

Well, at least we have some professional legal experience round here. People keep using our driveway as thoroughfare, and I watch them from the window, silently judging. I use to be able to force people to leave my front garden back in my old house, just by glaring at them. here I’m all the way up on the fifth floor, so the power of my glare is too diminished. I’ve seen a few people rub the backs of their necks, or glance over their shoulders as if concerned they’re suddenly being haunted by an evil spirit, but that’s as much as I can accomplish short of going down there and giving them a piece of my mind.

Now we have Carlita, who studied law at university before realising that her true passions were in sewing quilts for the homeless. She has all kinds of Melbourne business lawyers connections, though. The law world is terribly well-connected, even if a person didn’t actually work in it. I asked Carlita, and she said that she was sure it was a very serious incident of trespassing and she’ll get onto her lawyer contacts right away.

Well, I’ll see that she does. Certainly, she did mention that they were mostly business lawyers, dealing with business, but this IS business. It’s our business, and the business of people trespassing over it. In a business-like manner. Surely any old lawyer will do when we’re talking about a very basic human right: the right to not have your driveway walked upon by people who have no business being there.

I’d have called the police, but I tried that in my old place and they made it clear that the emergency number was not warranted in that situation. That was their opinion, but right now, I am saying that we need a quality commercial law firm based in Melbourne to bear down on this very business-like crime. The full force of it, to make sure no one ever sets foot through that gap in the hedge ever again! Don’t make me move several floors down just so my glare-range is increased.

-Perdita

Posted in Law

Door Photography project

It’s been several weeks now since I started to take photography seriously. While film has, is, and always will be my first love, there’s something hauntingly beautiful about the silent passage of life as captured in a snapshot. By no means do I profess to be an expert in photography, at the most I’m an amateur with a high quality camera, but I feel that branching out into other fields is crucial for my own personal development.

I know I’ve talked before about taking seemingly mundane things – a leaf on the pavement, a ladder against a brick wall – and transforming them into works of art. As in my ambitions for my documentaries, I want to show the raw and powerful nature of the forces around us that we see passively but largely fall below our collective consciousness.

In a part of what I hope will be my industrialist series, I found a house with the most incredible doors. By that, I mean these doors are completely dilapidated, but for my purposes, it is absolutely perfect. With chipped paint and warped joints, they are in desperate need of an aluminium door replacement. Melbourne homes from the turn of the century are massive. Old doors are so authentic, such a pure reflection of life and so full of unspoken meaning. It’s incredible that a building can capture such a strong sense of abandonment and isolation.

I feel that, if I do it correctly, I can get people to resonate as strongly with these seemingly ordinary objects and sights the way I do. That, through the lens of the camera, I can make others see the wonder and complexity in the world that I see. It’s such power and such a privilege.

I have a problem, though. I have a sneaking suspicion that the house has been sold, meaning that in all likelihood, the new owners will opt for replacement windows. Melbourne could really benefit from preserving relics from the past, like my abandoned house.

Posted in replacement doors

Post-Natal Help

My cousin, Fleur, recently told me that she’s been receiving counselling from a psychologist, as treatment for depressive episodes that she experienced following the birth of her daughter a couple on months ago. She told me that, even after only a couple of sessions, it’s been massively helpful.

I was quite surprised to hear all this, as I’d had no idea that Fleur was struggling. She told me that she’d spent some time ignoring the issue before Jake, her partner, had talked into consulting someone about it. Apparently, she’d assumed that her symptoms weren’t sufficiently severe to be taken seriously in a clinical setting, but she’d been wrong about that.

At first, Fleur said, she wasn’t sure how to go about finding a psychologist on the Mornington Peninsula, having never been to one before. She said it was pretty straightforward, and she was able to refer herself rather than going through a GP (although, from the sounds of it, it’s possible to receive Medicare rebates if you have a medical referral).

The psychologist had explained to Fleur that post-natal depression is not that uncommon, and that there are treatments available, including counselling. Fleur has only had a couple of sessions of this so far, but she said it had helped her to come to terms with her daughter’s sleeping problems not being down to her parental fitness. This, she said, was an idea she’d been secretly harbouring, but when it came to light, she was able to acknowledge that it’s a fairly unreasonable one.  

When I was a kid, as I recall, my uncle Morris underwent a period of visiting a psychiatrist. Services in Mornington at that the time were not as diverse as they are now, and he had to go in to the Melbourne CBD for his appointments. I’m not sure what that was all about, but in any case, it’s handy that Fleur can have her psychology sessions close to home. No doubt, having a baby is hard enough without added logistical gymnastics around accessing mental health support.

Posted in mental health

Trivia cost us big time

It’s safe to say that the majority of us regulars at Trivia night on Wednesday have come home with food for thought. If you’d told me I’d be leaving the pub that night with a far better understanding about everything from LED lights to commercial solar energy, I’d ashamedly admit I might have pulled a sickie. But I’m glad I didn’t.

We’re used to turning up to an evening of relatively non-mind-blowing questions, but the last Trivia session was something else. The hotel manager was new, and apparently had big visions for our local. This guy is from another planet basically, he keeps about seven jobs so he can fund his charity, an organisation in the Philippines, that rescues families in need. Pretty much everything he does, on some level is about making the world a better place. After five minutes of chatting to him- and there are people basically lining up for a few minutes with him, you can’t help but feel a little more optimistic that there are people like him in the world. Apparently managing our bar is his ‘time out’. Everything he does, has a few levels of meaning attached to it. Which is why he chose to use trivia night as an opportunity to school us on clean energy.

Anyway, after some seriously mind-blowing facts were delivered to our tiny mental thresholds, (did you know it would take less that 0.3% of the earth’s surface, covered in solar panels to meet the planet’s energy needs completely?) most of us were able to see for ourselves that there is no way around finding a better alternative to what we’re doing. We’ve decided to look into solar and we’ll definitely be having commercial LED lights installed. We’ll also be looking into the viability of commercial energy storage using those solar batteries.  And we’ll probably never miss trivia again either, as long as this guy is running the show.

Posted in Energy

Anchor Winches Are Actually Very Attractive

I always knew I’d fall for a guy with a boat.

People seem to think that cars are big business, and if you have a flash car then you’re ‘all that’. I guess it means you have a lot of money, which is fine. I mean, it’s okay, but what if you do something totally alternative and choose a boat? Now THAT’S setting yourself up for a life of adventure, with a guy who knows how to have a good time.

I never had anyone to talk to about boats when I was little. Most of the other kids just liked dinosaurs or dolls, and here’s me, trying to cobble together my own anchor winch. Melbourne is a bit more friendly to sea-faring now, I guess. And you’d think people would want to know the way to get some quality, well-rated outboard motor servicing when so much of Australia is based on the coast. We all go on about how our country’s beaches are great, people flock to them in the summer, but they don’t go that extra mile and sail around their beautiful bays. It’s really not as expensive as people make it out to be, and definitely not as elitist. Boating folks are friendly folks. Anyone can see that.

And now this guy just shows up at uni on the first day and he’s got his own boat, and he knows all the lingo. Haven’t plucked up the courage to talk to him yet, but I overheard him saying that he ditched his plans to get a car and went with the boat instead.

What a guy. And we have class in the same building, so at some point I’ll have to confess that I, too, am one of the boating folk. I know where to find the best outboard motor servicing in Melbourne, or even where the best bays are to have a quiet Saturday cruise. At least I know I have a friend. We boating folk are just friendly by nature.

-Ciele

Posted in Boating