Grandma’s House Extreme

My dear mother is looking to trade up her house for a bigger one – no downsizing for this woman! Her rationale is that her impending grandkids will be able to have the run of the huge ground-level space that she envisages. In the part of town she’s lived in for the past thirty years, backyards larger than a postage stamp are hard to come by, but multi-level townhouses are the norm. So she has her sights set on the biggest on the block.

According to my brother (dad-to-be of said grandkids), she’s been uncharacteristically (and amusingly) preoccupied with indoor climate control solutions. She’s always been a bit of an environmentalist and has never wanted air con or heaters around, but now that there are kids in the equation she’s getting interested in regulating the air temp in her house – a bit of an ask here in Melbourne.

Bro tells me that mum’s been going on about an online news article she saw the other week. Apparently, the city looks set to heat up over the coming years, and the discomforts that go along with exposure to UV rays are going to be increasingly apparent in indoor environments. Of course, mum can’t stand the idea of her offspring being the least bit uncomfortable (let alone literally burning) so she she’s staunchly adopted the platform that window tinting for homes across Melbourne is a necessity.

From the sounds of her depth of being sold on this, I wouldn’t be surprised if she wanted to install full-on frosted glass window films in every opening of her new home. I’m going to try to talk her in the direction of a more transparent option that lets in lots of light. I just know that, left to her own devices, she’ll go for the darkest possible reflective tint and then regret it when she comes down with seasonal affective disorder. Having said that, if this stuff can keep in the heat in winter as well, maybe I’m down with her going hard on it.

Hair and Back Again

My sister, Katrina, got back from her insane European mountain biking expedition last week. I have to say, she’s looking pretty polished for someone who (I assume) has just come from not showering for a good quarter of a year. She’s always been into that sort of thing, and I simply cannot relate. But even I had to admire her understated cut and classy colour job.

Apparently, she’d been called in at the last minute to interview for her dream job at this law firm in the city. She’d therefore done a hurried dash to the first upmarket-looking hair salon she could find. If she’d asked me, I’d have recommended my hairdresser and colourist in St James Place – he’s the best in town – but it looks like she did alright with whoever she went with. By her usual standards, she looked exceptionally sharp.

I know that Katrina doesn’t share my belief that the hairstyle maketh the person, especially when it comes to things like high-end law firm interviews, so I’m not sure why she caved to convention this time. All I can think of is that she must have really wanted that job. Regardless, I’m wondering how long she’s planning to keep up this level of hair game. Maybe I can entice her into my world with some upscale hair products that will accommodate her preference for things to be naturally derived – for example, a hair treatment from Aveda. Stockists and hair salons that work with this stuff exist in the CBD, so I could possible use this move to prod her into getting another pro haircut.

I suppose I could learn from Katrina’s approach, at the end of the day. I’ll acknowledge that it’s not absolutely essential to sport freshly coiffeured hair at all times. But it is a luxury that I like to have in my life. Now to wait and see if Katrina’s got the job… that will probably dictate how this pans out.

Can’t beat ‘em? Charge ‘em. Clean Energy answered our SOS.

“84 PERCENT?” I yelled down the phone. “ Are you for real?”

I’ve never been great on the phone but this was a moment. The guy I’d talked to about saving money for our workshop had just told me how much I can save on electricity by simply switching to commercial LED lighting. Pretty much everyone in the workshop had turned around to stare at me- they’d probably never heard me get this worked up on the phone.

Why didn’t I know about the benefits of getting some sweet commercial LED? Melbourne is the best place to capitalise on finding ways to make business work in your favour, and I know some truly innovative people, but this completely floored me. To save 80% on a power bill seems to be a mistruth- yet the guy from the sustainable energy company is telling me in plain English that yes, I heard right, and YES they can arrange a fit out within just a few short business days.

We use a lot of electricity and out lighting system is in constant use due to the nature of our work. We’re wood turners and cabinet makers, and we are open six days a week for business. A small business like mine is often caught out trying to scrimp a few bucks here or there, and while I’m just ready to go the jugular of the multinationals stealing my trade for throwaway junk, I can’t avoid the fact that I’m a power guzzling business too. Not quite ready to be beaten and join em, I am jumping on the chance to save some money with a more sustainable approach.

I’ve since been in touch with a mate who runs his business almost completely on a solar energy buyback scheme, and i’m getting more an more wound up about her story of feeling ultra smug when the power company buys her stored energy back. I want some of that!

To fell or not to fell

To wed, is to to fall. Not the stereotypical wedding mantra but I think it has a certain ring to it. Brock and I have been engaged for three years, officially together for seven and unofficially for nine. We are a largely unremarkable couple. I am a teacher, Brock is an accountant. We cook together every night, watch documentaries and fall asleep on the couch. It is a lovely and simple existence. When we started wedding planning there were no hurdles in our way. I found a beautiful dress, we agreed on a delightful outdoor garden venue and we designed bespoke invites. Melbourne is an easy city to plan a wedding in, access to wedding vendors is second to none. I was rather surprised when the venue called and said they were looking into tree removal, Ashwood apparently suffers from overgrown non native tree species, I told Brock about the call and we decided to go and investigate.

I didn’t know much about gardening at a basic pots and flowers level let alone when it comes to tree removal! Brock spoke to the tree surgeon who said it wouldn’t cause any damage to the surrounding gardens but it needed to be done because the trunk was infected and they didn’t want to run the risk of the infection spreading throughout the woodland. Brock took a real interest in the whole process, as an accountant he doesn’t get much outdoor action so jumped at the opportunity to be involved in tree felling. Melbourne was starting to warm up as summer approached so I cut his workman’s jeans into shorts and sent him on his way to prepare our marital garden. Apparently tree felling is his calling, he has handed in his notice at work and signed up to enroll in an arborist qualification course. My soon to be husband is a soon to be a tree removal specialist!

NO DEAL- knocking back a trade-in offer that stunk.

We were offered a shocker of a trade in deal when we bought our new car. So instead of giving the car away (practically) we decided to sell it to our daughter, who needs a good reliable set of wheels for her new job as an area manager. She’s got to get to Geelong and Bacchus Marsh from Ringwood three days a week, and it was well and truly time to update her old hyundai knock around. We were happy to see her safe, to be honest, and it felt a lot better than getting next to nothing from her compared to getting next to nothing from the dealership. She just needed to get a roadworthy from a certified mechanic and it was all hers.

We’ve never been happier than we are driving a Renault, but a lot of that confidence on the road is due to finding our great Ringwood mechanic who knows the make well. We have almost always referred to a team in Ringwood who repair and service all makes and models according to the manufacturers specification.

Our daughter will be using them to do the roadworthy on her brand new car, and upkeep all the servicing as they’ve been fantastic in keeping it on the road since we first bought it. Not a bad idea to lay down some conditions with such a great deal.

I remember when we took her to check out her first car, the Hyundai. She’d saved her money for almost three years when she’d reached her goal, found a good option and called us in to help her decide whether to go ahead or not. We’d been incredibly concerned that the car wouldn’t meet safety requirements and we’d wanted to ensure the driver had her best interests at heart. We’d gone in with guns blazing, and realised we’d been too worried when the driver turned out to be a young mother of three who had been as careful with her car as possible, and only decided to sell it so she could upgrade. She looked teary when my daughter drove away, a big smile on her face. I guess we felt nostalgic for similar reasons, me with tears in my eyes too.

Sandrine, Finished by Conveyancing Stress

What we always feared has come to pass: Sandrine has had her nervous breakdown. None of us really liked her before, and after the hostile office takeover she turned into even more of a paranoid control freak. Still, we didn’t want anything horrible to happen to her. Practically every meeting one of us said something to the effect of ‘Sandrine, you need to take a break’ or ‘Sandrine, did you actually sleep last night or did you spend the entirety of your time away from the office rearranging the office kitchen cleanup schedule?’

She had, of course, done just that. I told you she had a chronic micromanaging problem. And now it’s all come to a head, during a meeting without one of our important Bentleigh conveyancing partners. That’s already stressful enough- for Sandrine, anyway- since conveyancers are some of our best clients. I think she was up all night going over her speeches, and all the figures…actually I know for sure that she was, because I woke up to all the emails sent throughout the night. Like, we’re pretty good at conveyancing matters already, since we work with them a lot. Conveyancing is not a challenge. It was a routine meeting anyway, and not something that threatened to snap our two companies in twain or whatever. But then Sandrine breezes in, trying to make it look like she had it all together. She looked really terrible, actually. She starts the meeting, fumbles through her statistics, seems to go into a fugue state for thirty seconds, and that’s it. She just goes quietly off the deep end, can’t respond when talked to and had to be taken into hospital.

I mean, we all knew it was coming. Now we have an interim office supervisor until someone more permanent can be found, and things are a lot more chilled. Oh, and our relationship with the conveyancing people is undamaged, because they all know Sandrine by now. So many emails, to every conveyancing company, Malvern to Mentone. We were all on the Sandrine train together, it seems…


Shopping Online…for a Home

Sometime soon they HAVE to invent holographic imaging technology. And then, we won’t ever even have to leave the house. When you need to go shopping for milk, you just tap a button and it brings up the holographic supermarket. You pick up some holographic milk, pay for it using Bite-Coin, and it gets delivered to your door in minutes by a drone. Maybe we’ll also have special drone slots, so you can get something without even having to leave your chair. It just flies in through the slot and deposits whatever you want into your hand, like a robotic butler.

What a truly enlightened age it shall be.

Pretty much the only reason we’ll ever have to leave the house is to go hiking, and also to buy a new house. And even THAT is being taken care of by buyers advocates based in Melbourne. I think in the future, we’ll think of buyers advocates the same way we now think of confectioners. Necessary for the time, absolute masters of their craft, specialists who do what the ordinary folk cannot: pick the perfect home. To be honest, there’s a good chance that they’ll never actually be replaced. Certain things can’t really be replicated by technology, like eating things and picking out your dream home. You can strap on a VR headset and have it play a perfect roller-coaster experience, or you can image search a pictures of the Himalayas, but you can’t ‘virtually’ buy a home. Buyers advocacy is basically as good as it gets already, people checking out physical locations so that you don’t have to. I guess you could get a VR tour of your new and/or potential home, but then…you have to live in it. You need an assurance that you’re buying the correct goods, and short of going to a place yourself in Melbourne, professional property advocates are the next best thing.

Everything else will be totally digital, though. And if we can’t be sustained on digital food, at least we can project to image of a fancy restaurant to make it a bit more appetising.


Concert on the Water, What a Pain

Sometimes you just run out of ideas, and this year, I’m all out. The show must go on…but at the moment, it’s looking pretty boring. Short, though. Maybe that’s okay.

Whose idea was it to have a concert in the bay, anyway? I know it’s a hallowed Melbourne tradition, and I think we just passed a century of concerts a few years ago, but really. It’s just silly. Back in the day, they just took out their rowboats and a few violins, and that was it. People gathered, listened to a bit of music and a good time was had by all.

Now it’s a massive deal, so we have to organise all the boats to carry the musicians. I’ve learned more about Melbourne’s outboard motor repair industry in this last year than I have about perhaps any other subject, and I studied music at uni for five years. So if any of my friends ever need their outboard motors serviced, or…you know, that sort of thing, I have all the intel AND the business connections. I don’t own a boat, my family have nothing to do with that sort of thing and none of my friends do either, but I’m sure it’ll come in handy.

Thing is, we basically need a fleet to make this ocean concert work, and all the boats have to be perfectly functioning. For example, if the boat carrying the strings section fails to appear, the opening concerto is basically ruined. Unless they play from their starting position, rally loudly. But as with 99% of musical instruments, just playing loudly will make a horrible sound. Oh, and then there are guitarists wondering where they can plug in their amps, so I have to make sure there are available power-points. Or…generators. Still sorting that one out. Apparently my attention is now being called to where in Melbourne quality anchor winches can be found, because the boat assigned to be transporting the percussion section is missing one. This is about 90% more stressful than it has to be. Maybe next time we’ll just hold the concert on a beach.


The Beauty That Is Deeper Than Skin

My cousin, Matilda, is having a midlife crisis. Not only has she bought an electric bicycle, but she’s also taken up swing dancing. Alright, so her crisis is a relatively mild one. But even so, I can tell that she’s been grappling with her identity since hitting 50 a couple of months back.

My sister told me that she’d caught Matilda reading online reviews of an anti wrinkle treatment clinic in Melbourne. That didn’t seem like that big a deal to me, and neither did the bike or the swing dancing, for that matter. It’s the whole bunch of new things in combination, all of a sudden – they seem to add up to a sense of someone wanting to reinvent themselves, and thereby to assuage the aging process.

I guess there’s nothing wrong with that impulse, in itself. It seems natural, at least in the contemporary age, to desire to preserve youth wherever this is possible. The aesthetic industry and its continual stream of new technologies is an interesting one. People want effective, non-invasive cosmetic treatments, and the industry keeps providing them.

Heck, I know plenty of people who’ve engaged with it. My younger brother, Jeremy, used to go to a laser hair removal clinic. In Melbourne, cosmeticians are so on the pulse that you can access almost any treatment under the sun if you know where to look, and he seemed very happy with the results, so good for him. (Just don’t ask me to tell you where he had the hair removed from… because I don’t know either. He wouldn’t tell me.)

My mum, too, has had some kind of cosmetic laser treatment. She was pretty quiet about it (I suppose that’s where Jeremy gets it from), but I understand that it was something to do with reducing the appearance of spider veins.

Maybe I’m from a family of cosmetic heads… I’ve never really stopped to think about it before. I guess it puts Matilda’s new undertakings in perspective. Her approach to anti aging seems like a decent balance between physical activity, fun and cheeky technological assistance.

Termite Terrors

Sharon and Randy are in the market for a house. I went over to their place for dinner last night, and it was the talk of the table. Sharon told me that, now that her pregnancy is coming up to the 6 month mark, they’ve finally arrived at the point of wanting to move on from the old caravan. I was surprised to hear that they’ve been house hunting down in Mornington – turns out, those two are more loaded than I’d given them credit for.

According to Randy, Sharon has a thing about termite infestations – a phobia, almost. Apparently, it has something to do with the ceiling of her childhood bedroom collapsing in the wake of her parents’ refusal to treat their house’s termite problem. Randy thinks she’s going a bit overboard in her efforts to ensure that their prospective property is protected from such a fate, but Sharon won’t be swayed.

Randy told me that Sharon had spent the better part of yesterday afternoon looking up termite control services in Mornington, and had finally come up with list of options to prevent the scenario she fears (i.e. the roof of their dream home falling in on their newborn bub). It all seems to come down to arranging a pre-purchase inspection, wherein a pest control company uses thermal imaging to check for evidence of existing termite infestations, then having regular check-ups to nip any problems in the bud.

I don’t know why this is such a big deal; it all seems fairly obvious to me. Having said that, I’ve actually never had my home inspected for termites. I guess I should probably do that. Who’s good for termite inspections in the Dandenong area? While I’m on the subject, I’ve got to do something about that wasp nest outside the laundry. Maybe I can hit two pests with one stone.