Wherever I Go, the Sugar Follows

There aren’t many people who’d move house based upon an addiction to chocolate, but you don’t know what it’s like. I don’t know why I keep buying it, and I don’t know why I keep eating it after I’ve bought it, but that’s the way it is. I’m caught in a cycle of destruction.

That is, I USED to be. I specifically chose a place where the kitchen window is positioned directly in front of a busy shopping street. I’ve taken down the curtains- because who needs curtains in the kitchen anyway?- and now the fridge and cupboards are in full view of everyone. If I want something unhealthy, I have to go and grab it in front of everyone. Sounds awful, and it IS awful. I haven’t touched chocolate since I got here.

Of course, my brain is grasping for sugar hits in other ways. I had to go into the conveyancing office to sort out my vendors statement, and I ended up by myself for a few minutes in an office with a bowl of breath mints. I took one, hoping it’d be the kind that are far too strong to have multiple at once, but no. They were your garden-variety chewy mints, so very satisfying to eat and perfect for shoving into your mouth.

I tried to resist. But then, my brain plays the most nefarious tricks. ‘This is a property document! You need a sugary jolt so you can look over this vendors statement and make sure everything is okay! Take the mints, take them now, or your property documents may not be in order!!’

I ate all the mints, obviously. And I’d go around to every single of the best conveyancers Melbourne has to offer, to eat their mints, because I have a serious problem. So, the next step is to lock myself in the apartment, only have food delivered, and have my receipts sent to Mum so she can pinpoint anything unhealthy. I’ll detox. But a bit of chocolate might help me look over this vendors statement, because it’s quite important to my financial future NO. Have some self-control, Alex, for heaven’s sake.


Guide to Windows in Melbourne

Melbourne is a lovely multicultural city, and this is reflected in the hodgepodge of architecture you will find. Those interested in architecture, and especially the architecture of windows, will find much to see in the many suburbs of Melbourne. If, like me, you are an enthusiast of sash windows, Melbourne is certainly the place to go.

I have extensive photographs of many of the different windows found in Melbourne. Over the years, I have made three trips there to look at the beautiful building designs. I am even planning to go again within the next two years, though perhaps this time without my wife, as she is not much of a window buff herself. She tolerates my hobby, and has been very supportive by accompanying me on my many trips, but she seems to become ever more irritated with every window fact I tell her.

Looking at various window designs in a big city is a skilled art. I have heard of others in the window appreciation community getting into trouble with the law. Some people think that window enthusiasts are trying to look inside the windows!

My recommendation to those who love window design is to choose public buildings. Private homes are just too risky, in my opinion, even though they often have the most interesting windows. Those who love sash windows can try going to display homes, or to houses open for inspection, to see their favourite designs. While it is a little dishonest to pose as a buyer, there is really no harm done at the end of the day. Remember to always be careful when you are indulging in your hobby, nobody wants to deal with window replacements. Melbourne also has some of the most beautiful stained glass windows in the country. Be ready for an enthusiastic day of window gazing if you’re ever in town.

Just remember to be careful! I have heard of some unruly members of the community actually breaking windows by accident. If you look with your eyes instead of with your hands or with a rock (to probe the strength of the window, of course), you will be in the clear.

The Easter Bunny Arrived Late

My brother Stanley surprised me this morning by announcing that he’d acquired a rabbit. Who’d have thought? I’m sure I have no recollection of Stan ever expressing the slightest bit of interest in any such thing. Then again, he’s always been predisposed to sudden flashes of inspiration, and I guess that’s what happened here. The rabbit’s name is Buster.

Naturally, I had few questions. What do rabbits eat? How do they behave? Are they playful? What’s at pet rabbit’s usual lifespan? All these questions and more, it turned out, were shared with me by Stan, but that’s wasn’t stopping him. He immediately jumped on the internet and reeled off a bunch of facts about rabbits, gleaned from a combination of discussion boards and the website of a random veterinary surgery in Bayside.

For starters, he told me, rabbits are herbivores – well, I could have told him that much. All kinds of plant matter makes up their natural diet, which can be simulated with a mix of vegetables and hay. Stan threw in that Buster seems particularly fond of leafy greens.

Next, Stan read out that rabbits are quite smart and enjoy logic-based toys involving things like boxes, parcels, draws and tubes, with food as a motivator. This was news to me, and made me begin to feel a fondness for Buster (beyond the obvious appeal of his adorable furry noggin). They also have particular behaviours that aren’t shared by cats and dogs, most of them with absurdly cute names like ‘binkying’ and ‘nose bonking’.  

Starting to warm to the idea of a pet bunny, I asked Stan what the go is with pet desexing requirements in Bayside, specifically as they pertain to rabbits. That was where he got a bit stumped and said he’d need to ring to the council to find out.  

He was pretty tight-lipped, too, about where he acquired Buster from. I’m not sure why he wouldn’t tell me. Who really knows with Stan? Fortunately, I do know that commitment is one of his strong suits, so Buster should be in for a pretty good life. 

Heating your home: style vs function

I have travelled all over the world designing people’s homes. It is a real privilege being asked to create the space in which people want to spend their lives. From their most intimate moments to their most public ones, the home is the stage on which life is set. I’d like to discuss a recent job I took in Melbourne, Australia. A lively, successful young couple asked me to assist in designing their dream home in the beautiful setting of Melbourne. There is one constant I have noticed in all my work across Australia and that is Australia’s obsession with cooling and heating. With temperatures ranging from over 40 degrees to nearly freezing, it is essential to any home to have both cooling and gas heating in Melbourne. Between wallpaper exhibitions and vintage furniture shopping I found the time to pull some strings with my connections in the air conditioning world in Melbourne.

In order to not compromise on style I like to take an integrated approach when it comes to providing functional elements to the home such as central heating. Vents can overcome the issue of a large bulky unit however some of the latest cooling units from the bigger brands can be an art piece in themselves. The risk of using an overly fancy system is that when it breaks it can be hard to find a repair company. Luckily I happen to know the best heating service Melbourne has to offer. They happen to service all major brands which is a big plus. It is this very reason that it is important to consult a professional when designing your home. Those small tips on functionality and efficiency that escape the mind of non industry insider can be crucial to enjoying all aspects of your home. In countries like Australia it can be difficult to manage the highs of summer with the lows of winter, as well as equipping your house with the latest tech in cooling and heating I also recommend equipping your wardrobe with the latest parka and goose feather duvet.

Over-Achieving Neighbour

My neighbour, Jamie always seems so together. She seems to have it all going on – not only does she manage to earn a living illustrating pulp fantasy-genre book covers, she’s also halfway through a PhD in fine arts. To top it off, she competes in triathlons in her spare time. I’ve never imagined that she could be feeling the pressure, even though it makes total sense now that I think about it.

Not that it’s any of my business, but her gossipy sister told me this morning that Jamie has been receiving psychiatric treatment in Mornington on a regular basis for several years. I’m not sure of the nature of the condition at hand, but apparently it’s a chronic mental illness of some kind and requires medication. I probably could have found out more details if I’d wanted to, given how much the sister seemed to be enjoying reeling off this rather personal information, but I didn’t care to pry.

Of more interest to me is the realisation that successful high achievers can have problems too. It’s really not surprising to me that someone as creatively prolific as Jamie might also be prone to high anxiety or something. Or maybe her thing is entirely unrelated to what she does in life. Who knows?

I remember seeing a psychologist as a kid. It was when my family relocated to Melbourne from Alice Springs, and my folks were concerned about me adjusting to city life. I didn’t especially see the point of it at the time but, in retrospect, I’m glad to have been provided with some solid psychological support. On the Mornington Peninsula, where I now spend most of my time, it’s pretty easy to get access to services of this nature, and I’m aware that that’s not the case everywhere in the world. In fact, I imagine it’s most limited in the places where it’s most needed.

Long story short, Jamie seems to be managing her condition pretty well, and I’m glad she’s got a good mental health care plan going on.


No Lights in the Gym = Dangerous

So, according to my calculations, including the protein bar, the shake, the chicken, the tuna, then the eggs and the shake again…that’s, uh…

SO much protein. Like, all the protein. Man, I’m gonna be so buff tomorrow. That’s definitely how fitness works!

Can’t afford to slack off, even though life is just constantly shoving stuff in my way. There’s only nine months left until we hit summer again, so that’s all the time I have to fight that flab and get beach body ready. And I really mean what I said about life, because everything is conspiring to stop me from reaching my goal. Today at my shoddy old gym, the lights went off for the third time this week. Like, get your act together, Power-Up Gym! Get some commercial lighting solutions in there, pronto!

Of course, I tried not to let that stop me. There aren’t any windows, so the place was almost completely pitch black. But I was in the middle of a set, and a bit of darkness isn’t going to make me stop. I went onto finish that set, then felt my way to the kettlebells and just started swinging away like a champ. Clocked a guy on the head, but fortunately I was only using my warm-up weight and he didn’t know who it was. Just dropped the kettlebell (on my left little toe) and felt my way to the left extension machine. The perfect crime. No one ever suspects the leg extension guy.

But seriously, lighting. When people are lifting really heavy stuff, I think some really powerful lighting is in order, and lighting that works. Get some residential energy storage if you have to; we need it more than most other folks do! The lights go out at the hospital…big deal. They’re all just lying there anyway. But I won’t have stupid, old, faulty lighting wrecking my leg day.


The Monster of the Badminton World

Now, I really have to ask myself…how much do I want the grand prize trophy? Badminton has been pretty important to me up until now, but on the other hand, I got into badminton because I thought it’d be less competitive. You know, a sport with such a light little thing that you hit with feathery little rackets, and it flies up and comes right down like a fairy. Everyone has a great time in Badminton, right? It’s like tennis, but exclusively for people who don’t want to get involved in all of that racket-smashing silliness. And less grunting. WAY less grunting.

So that didn’t turn out. Not since I met Samantha and had her as my badminton partner. She’s so competitive, it’s even starting to affect ME. I only learned later that she was kicked out of her last club for savaging the tennis netting every single time she lost, along with her racket and any other racket she could find. Samantha said she took anger management classes with a guru, but they didn’t help in the end. She had one final tennis match where the lost on a tiebreaker, and she was so enraged that she grabbed a lighter from a guy watching and set the tennis nets on fire. Hence…why she was kicked out.

Of course, I found out all of this, as well as her previous nickname (‘The Monster’) after she became my badminton partner. We did pretty well in the early season as well, which was probably why I never saw her unbridled apoplexy until the finals when we lost in a close game against her former tennis rival.

All I can say is that I have now seen attacks against sports netting that I never want to see again, and now I have to find myself a sport even calmer and less threatening that badminton. But WHAT? I don’t think there is one! Though I could just pick one that doesn’t have a net and hope that ‘The Monster’ doesn’t follow me…


Melburnians suffering from fungal fling

Funky times have fallen on Melbourne residents, as a viral foot infection causes victims to have irregular spasms that resemble dancing.

‘Hoptilis Grovosis’ is a rare condition with mysterious origins. It is widely believed that it was carried over by a tainted container of fruit although these reports haven’t been substantiated. The infection, related to to better-known Onychomycosis, is relatively harmless, as it outwardly only infects the feet with a red rash that causes minor itching. However, the condition also confuses the nerves in the feet and disrupts electrical signals, causing random spasmodic outbreaks that last for up to thirty seconds or more. Both feet will randomly push off the ground, with the victim unable to control their actions.

The process has been described by onlookers as similar to the Scottish highland fling; as the electrical signals are so active, it is rare for a person to lose their footing, creating a situation in which a person must dance or purposely tilt themselves over until the spasms are over.

The phenomenon has created a number of viral sensations on YouTube, including one popular case in which the afflicted person had an attack whilst watching a hip-hop street performance. The dancers joined in on the act, breaking into an erratic dance style that has been labelled ‘The Fungal Fling’ by a number of internet groups.

The symptoms vanish within a few days but it’s recommended sufferers visit a prominent podiatrist Cheltenham resident trust. “People who find themselves with this condition should keep weight off their feet as much as possible. Heavy exercise such as running and walking quickly have been known to aggravate it, but it can really be triggered at any time. Plenty of rest and medicated cream is the key to fungal nail treatment in Cheltenham.”

There is, as of yet, no cure for the disease except allowing the immune system time to recover, though test results have suggested that soaking the feet in warm baby oil is a viable method of halting the itching.

“I just want this to be over,” says Sally Ferrell, who has been suffering for over a week. “I started twitching while I was carrying the shopping last night. Ended up dancing all over my eggs. It’s a little bit liberating, but there’s no control.”

Friends who fish together…

My great uncle Rodney is doing pretty well for his age. He had his 80th birthday last week, and we celebrated this with a small family outing on his new boat, which he expertly steered along the coastline while downing imported ginger ale. I hope I’m as full of life as he is when I get to that age.

The new ride was a gift from Rodney’s lifelong friend, Tony, who happens to be a bit of a nerd for plate aluminium boat fabrication. Once upon a time, Tony was into building boats from scratch; now, his eyesight not being what it used to be and welding no longer his strong suit, he pays other people for their services in this field. He did do a bunch of the fitting out himself though.

So it’s a pretty extravagant birthday present, for sure. But when you get to that age (and have as much cash to throw around as Tony and Rodney do), it’s not that big of a deal – especially when you consider how long they’ve been mates, boating and fishing together. The two of them could talk bait boards and bow rails for hours on end, then switch to analysing their relationships and dreams for hours more.

Tony didn’t get to come out on the boat for Rodney’s birthday party, though, because he’d hurt his ankle tripping over a random cat while on his way to buy snapper racks in Melbourne the day before. Knowing him, he was probably talking its ear off about custom stainless steel accessories. I think Rodney was probably a bit miffed that Tony had managed to hurt himself the day before his birthday, but didn’t show it too much.

Perhaps bonding over marine fabrication is one of the keys to long-lasting friendship and good health into your 80s. If it is, I’ll sign up right now. Just point me to the fishing rod holders – I don’t know what they look like, so I’ll need some help.

Cirque Du Ute

I might not look like your average tradesman, but that doesn’t mean I can’t have the most utilitarian work vehicle on the block. At least, that’s what I’m telling myself as I wait for my new custom ute canopy to be finished. Finally, I’m going to have a place for the mats that’s separate from the juggling knives.

My job, in case you’re wondering, consists of running a travelling circus. Yes, you heard me, and yes, that is a real job. Instead of packing everything down into a rickety old caravan convoy, I move it from A to B in a van. At least, I did until I learned that I could have an aluminium tool box built onto a ute tray, along with drawer systems, hatches, fold-out surfaces and lighting, all to my specifications. Now I’m determined to own the coolest aluminium ute tray and canopy in Melbourne – or at least the best suited to my very particular purposes.

As it happens, though, my purposes aren’t all that particular. You’d think that running a circus would have virtually nothing in common with being an electrician or a landscaper, and you’d be right – except when it comes what’s needed in a work vehicle. Or so I assume, judging by the fact that I was able to have all my needs met without the guy I spoke to batting an eyelid.

I’m accustomed to having eyelids batted in my direction, to be honest. I think I’m considered the local fruitcake, on account of some of the things that I’ve routinely loaded out of the van in the past. The cool thing about the service body set up is that it makes for secure storage – the tool box central locking and security system looks pretty solid, compared to the van. So maybe I’ll be able to get away with not unloading three bullwhips, a novelty canon and a PA system at 3am.

From my perspective, my job is just as normal as that of the bricklayer next door. He stacks bricks, and I stack humans – up to ten at a time, I’ll have you know.