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Children Are Everything. End of Story/Poem

indoor play centre MelbourneProse makes for a fine line between poetry and story, but I think I’ve successfully found a way to marry the two. Like pretty much everything I create, this one is to do with my children. They ARE my world, you know. The writing group may tell me to move onto something new, but I say no, because I’m a good mother. I’m interested in their lives, I want the best for them…and if that means they’re all I talk about, well so be it. I, personally, think they’re pretty interesting.

This latest piece of mine is called ‘Ode to the Ball Pit’, and I wrote it while I was at my local indoor play centre. Friendly staff in Melbourne are hard to come by, but they’re paramount for me when I’m looking for a play centre. That’s when I take a little bof of a break from my mothering duties and let my kids be free to discover. They climb over the frames, dive into the ball pit, slide down the slides, create imaginary worlds…they’re creative like their mum, clearly. Here’s an extract, because I feel the internet at large will appreciate my artistry far more than this group of neanderthals.

‘Ball pit. Ball pit. BALL PIT. So full of balls. Colourful balls, of smooth plastic. Diving. Diving. DIVING in the ball pit. Child is gone, child emerges. I drink my herbal tea, unconcerned.’

Alright, I don’t want to spoil the whole thing. I have an anthology book coming out soon and you need something to give your relatives for Christmas. If they like ball pits or kids birthday party venues, Canberra or the surrounding areas, would work. On sale in a few days, maybe!

I’ve given up taking this group’s opinion on anything really. I mean, half of them aren’t even parents, and even the ones who are talk about things other than their children. What’s the point of being a parent if you can’t even talk about your kids all the time?


Moth vs Me: The final straw

termite control DandenongI’d just binned the fourth moth-eaten garment from my wardrobe in just a few weeks. I was fed up and contemplating a move when I remembered that my neighbour had made a recommendation for a  pest control company in Mornington.  I may sounds like I’m overreacting but it’s not like they’d eaten just any old woollen coat. I’m an antique clothing collector and dealer, and they ate right through the most incredible beaded head dress from a stage production my grandmother was in in the 1930s. This means war.

I have always had to be careful in my house, it was  susceptible to bugs as lots of the old houses in our street are, and like them, we had to resort to termite control. Dandenong has some wonderful living to offer, but the house I fell in love with was old, and somewhat compromised and nevertheless I took the risk and moved in knowing full well that moths and termites and rising damp could be my new enemies.

I’ve lost some incredible garments to silverfish and moths, so I guess getting onto pest control was something I’d been putting off because I desperately didn’t want to have to leave my house or move all my garments for a long period of time. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the treatment could be done in a day, and I made doubly sure to protect my important stuff in plastic bags.

I’ve recently purchased some really special pieces, and I’m desperate to keep them in great condition until the next auction comes up. I guess the curse of loving old things is that you have to love what comes with them, dust, fluff and the decorations of old age.

I won’t quit collecting because it’s such a huge art of my life- but at least now I don’t feel like my work is disappearing as soon as I find it. I love preserving these special pieces!

Remembering the Old Chandelier

designer lightingOla friends!

It’s pretty different here in Australia, but I really like it. All the forums I read said it was a country where people didn’t like those who weren’t like them, but I haven’t seen any of it. People seem really interested to hear that I’m from Mexico, especially when they hear that I’m studying home design.

Okay, so they do seem a bit TOO surprised when I say that, like they think I should be doing something more…stereotypical? Nah, it’s fine. I’m teaching my classmates Spanish, and they teach me Australian slang. It’s tougher than you’d think.

As for class, I’m learning loads there too. There’s a lot to know about home design, especially in Melbourne. They really like their designer lighting, for one thing. Oh, that’s, like…lights for you home, but ones that look really good. A bit like the ones that my grandpa had in his home; chandeliers, they call them. It’s funny, but that’s one of the things I remember the most about visiting grandpa. No one else had a home like him, but then, he had a good job. I think that was where I became interested in home design, even though things have really changed, and homes in Australia are totally different to his.

I’ve had a few assignments where we have to submit designs, and grandpa’s house has always stayed with me as I’ve been drawing. Of course, I’ve put in a lot of my own style. Done a bit of research on Melbourne’s commercial LED lighting and combined what’s in my head with some real facts! That’s what my friend always used to say.

“Your head is like a home. Only invite someone inside if you’re planning on entertaining.”

I think he’d be really proud, although he’d probably think all this lighting talk was stupid. That was my grandpa, alright. Always practical.


People Here Need Orthotics

arch supports CheltenhamHi Mom and Dad,

To answer your question…no. It’s not as hot here as everyone thinks. I think if I’d taken that job in Brisbane it’s be different, but Australia is so big, it has different climates depending on where you are, just like America. So Melbourne is like…Seattle, I think? Anyway, it’s winter here. Not much sun, loads of clouds.

Big spiders, though, so you can tick that one off the list. Apparently you see more of them in summer, so not looking forward to THAT. Oh, and people really love their sport, so tick that one off as well. The most common foot conditions in Melbourne are athlete’s foot and Achilles tendinitis, which seem to mostly be caused by that thing they call ‘football’. Oh, and netball. That’s really popular here, and it’s really hard on the feet and the ankles. Often we get people coming in with conditions bad enough that we can’t just give them orthotics and move them on. There are podiatry clinics around the place, like in Cheltenham and other places, so we send them there.

Seriously, if I had a dollar for every time some teenage girl came in having sprained her ankle real bad, or with some kind of fungal nail condition from just not treating her nails properly, I’d be able to buy an apartment in Manhattan. Sports is tough on the feet: fact. Gives me a bit of faith every time someone comes in and says they’re about to start playing Aussie football or netball or whatever, and they want orthotics to make sure their feet are fine.

So that’s life here at the moment. Handing out all kinds of custom orthotics, and sending them onto a podiatry clinic somewhere when it’s too bad. Some friends from work want me to join a local Aussie football league, which I’m still not sure about. But I know I‘m getting myself some arch supports before I go anywhere near that sport.


I’m Still Just the Net Guy

cricket netsHey family,

Australia suits me, I think. It’s been a big change, going from living with all of you in the English countryside to being by myself right in the heart of the city, but I think I’m starting to enjoy it. Things are open later, there’s always sushi when you want it (that’s like, rice with stuff inside, wrapped in seaweed…it’s really hard to explain) and I’m discovering a lot of stuff as I go.

Work is pretty cool as well, though being a ‘pom’ in a sport environment leads to a lot of ribbing. Like, people just can’t shut up about cricket, even though I don’t care and never will. If the indoor cricket nets need replacing they always send me to do it because…I don’t know. Something about the Ashes and having to make up for it. I’m REALLY hoping we win next time they roll around, because I want to rub it in their faces. Maybe hand my boss the cricket nets and tell him to do it himself.

Actually, don’t get me wrong; they’re really good people. Aside from the cricket thing,w e get on really well. I even got invited to the pub last night, and it’s pretty much the same as an English pub, except without all the good food. People mostly do the same things, though. Like, they still all make that one sound when someone breaks a glass. I had been wondering, so that’s good to know.

Otherwise, it’s just a lot of work at the moment, inflating various sports balls and setting up nets. If I’m good, they’ll let me set up the AFL nets for the big pro games. Apparently they think that’ll be some big honour for me, but I’ve seen at least one game, and I know they don’t even HAVE nets. So…that’s suspicious. Maybe it’s a prank.


Explosive report on residential subdivisions

Melbourne conveyancerRising land prices are driving an increase in subdivision of properties, with conveyancing companies reporting that they are working through weekends in order to keep up with demand.

Subdivision is a simple process when organised through a conveyancer in Melbourne, according to resident Steve Peterson, who sold off his backyard.

“We had this big backyard that we weren’t using, so we split the property into two titles with the help of a conveyancer, and sold it off to a property developer,” he said.

“They’re building a small house out the back, and with the money we were able to pay off our loans and take a holiday.”

The previous year has seen a record surge in land value, with many Melbourne suburbs enjoying growth of over ten percent on the previous year. Following unbroken upwards trends since recordkeeping began, many Australians are unable to afford the large properties enjoyed by previous generations.

In turn, homeowners with large backyards are taking advantage of the strong property market by selling their backyards to property developers.

This is a particularly appealing option to those with grown-up children, who no longer require the expanse of a large backyard.

Young families are among those most likely to purchase a house on a subdivided property.

Single parent Katrina Lewis, who has three children under five years old, is one such new owner of a unit of a subdivided block of land.

“I never thought I would be able to afford a house, but I think the places I was looking at were just too big,” she said.

“We don’t have much of a yard, we just have a small courtyard, which is not ideal but at least I am finally out of the rent cycle. It’s a modest place, but I am so glad it’s mine.”

The trend towards subdivision is not unique to Melbourne, property conveyancing professionals operate to subdivide properties in other cities with high land costs.

Scaffolding that Practically Builds Itself

aluminium scaffoldingAnyone remember that movie, Ledge of the Moro? I honestly don’t remember much about it…something about people cliff-diving while eating terrible off-brand chocolate. Also, aliens. Creepy CG aliens that didn’t move like normal living creatures, which I guess was a deliberate design choice to make them seem even more unsettling. Hard to describe, but they were all shifty and warpy, like they were characters in an online game with loads of lag.

That was how I felt going into work today. Jim brought along that new set of mobile aluminium scaffolding that he’s been raving about for so long, he empties it out of the box and it just…sets itself up. It landed in a huge pile, all loose and higgledy-piggledy. Just a pile of metal. Then it starts to hum and sets itself up, this massive bit of scaffolding assembling bit by bit until it’s absolutely huge. Honestly? Really unsettling to watch. Not sure why this was necessary either, because the guys and I don’t usually have any problems setting up the scaffolding. It’s not exactly the hardest puzzle in the world once you’ve done it a few times, and then you get the satisfaction of knowing you’ve handled every piece of the thing you’ll be walking on.

Unfortunately, the boss was totally fine with the weird moving metal thing, and we had to spend most of the day on top of it. Can’t say I was too happy about climbing that thing, and even less about spending time up there, but it at least felt okay. Definitely didn’t feel like a flimsy thing that just assembled itself but…still makes me uneasy. I like my custom ladders to be just that: custom, set up by me. I don’t even care if Lawrence Corp brings out a construction bot that does our job for us, aluminium platform setting up and all…it just makes me nervous.


A Terrible Shade of Puce

folding platform stepsI know everyone has their preferences for things. Up until I was fifteen I used to tell everyone that my favourite colour was puce, purely because I thought I was being unique and edgy. So…that was embarrassing. I once dated a guy whose favourite type of music was catchy elevator tunes; he had CDs that he played in the car and everything. Weird relationship in general, not that I think about it. Should’ve been a warning sign from our very first car ride together, when he put in the tape and excitedly told me that it was a jazz version of ‘Hey Jude’. That’s not a jazz song, in case anyone had the slightest bit of doubt.

But yeah, everyone has their thing, and I’ll allow it. But my husband wanting to paint one side of our house purple? Where did he even GET the idea? I only went along with it because I thought it was relatively easy to reverse. Him and my father-in-law showed up on Saturday with their folding platform steps and a whole set of mobile scaffolding that can’t possibly have fit inside his tiny garage, and they went to work. I had to climb that mobile scaffolding to bring them lunch, I’ll have you know. I actually became a part of this madness, no matter how small that part was. So then I go inside and wait for them to finish with the tentative air of a soldier hiding in the trenches and waiting for the bullets to stop flying. All I can see through the kitchen window is the metal of the mobile scaffolding, so I’m trying to keep busy whilst wondering what my house is going to look like afterwards.

Terrible, is the answer to that question. I thought we were going for a dark purple, something classy that would mark us as distinct but still stay subtle. Nope. In the bright light of the sun, that thing shines like a puce beacon, like our house has a skin coating.

So, they’re coming back this Saturday, mobile scaffolding and all, to do it right. This time, they can pack their own lunches.


A window into vandalism in bizarre overnight thefts

timber window repairsAn epidemic of vandalism has left an entire street requiring window repairs.

Overnight on Sunday, a number of letterboxes and windows were removed from houses in a quiet North Melbourne street.

“The most urgent action to take is for the affected residents to organise for window replacement, Melbourne citizens should be vigilant about further vandalism that may occur,” said police spokesperson Timothy Carpenter.

It is believed that the thieves only removed open windows and older style windows that do not lock.

The current whereabouts of the removed windows is not known, however all stolen letterboxes have been recovered. The letterboxes had been dumped in the centre of a nearby roundabout.

It appears that no items were stolen from inside the houses, suggesting that the incidents were not motivated by an attempt to rob the houses.

“At this stage we believe that the acts were undertaken as a thrill rather than to harm or steal from residents,” said Carpenter.

It is suspected that a local gang of teenagers is responsible for the spate of attacks. The attacks were believed to be conducted without the aid of a car, as marks consistent with dragging letterboxes have been sighted throughout neighbouring streets.

This is following similar acts of vandalism last month, in which several shops on a neighbouring street had their awning removed during the night.

It is not known if the same perpetrators are behind both incidents, or if Sunday night’s events were a copycat act of vandalism following the extensive media coverage of the awning thefts.

Most of the affected residents are seeking timber window repairs, Melbourne regulations stipulate that the windows must be replaced in line with the original appearance of the house.

Several of the affected houses are heritage listed. Owners have sought permission to install timber casement windows due to the security benefits of having lockable windows.

Residents that believe their letterbox or windows have been removed are urged to contact police.

Old buildings in dire need of pest inspections

termite treatmentsThere’s an abandoned warehouse just down the road from me that I’m interested in buying. No big deal. I discovered it the other day when I was searching for a place to get some milk. In fact, it towers over the landscape so I’m not exactly sure why I haven’t seen it before. It’s old, and derelict, and in need of some care. Okay, a lot of care. And sure, yes, I know I promised myself that I wouldn’t do this kind of thing anymore, but I had to go and take a look. For old time’s sake.

I fancied myself a full-fledged pest inspector back in the day. Sure, you actually need qualifications for that sort of thing, but that didn’t matter to me. I thought my extensive experience would be enough to know what to look for during a termite inspection. Mornington for some reason has the perfect climate for termites to thrive. I’d plumbed around plenty of old warehouses, factories, even mansions. Even the mansion. Still makes me shudder. But you get my point, I thought because I walked around old places a few times, I was at the top of my game. Right up there with the best ! I was indestructible.

I was delusional. The factory I spent so long renovating was knocked down after some real property inspectors took a look and decided that it wasn’t fit to be left standing. They wrote a damning building defect report. Melbourne has strict rules when it comes to buildings. Yeah, a bit gutting. Still, I think it was the right decision. In hindsight, probably. Now I focus my energy on worthwhile things, like my very sweet sort-of girlfriend. Except…well, just this once, the warehouse and it’s termites were calling to me. You know what they say about old habits, and it was just so…derelict. Derelict is my favourite way for things to be, because it means boundless promise. So one more time, I got in touch with a company for a quote on termite treatments. Mornington isn’t exactly the cheapest place in Australia for property, but termite damage can lower prices significantly. In the end I thought it was worth a look. As I thought, the cost would be astronomical. Still, I did a few calculations and made up my mind. I’m going to take the place, termites and all. I can look past the damage and see the potential.