Pedal to the Meddle

My son, Hamlet, is becoming so paranoid. I swear, I make the slightest assertion about anything and the boy thinks I’m trying to control him. It’s all escalated since I commenced a long-term stay at his house right after I told him I was moving back to England, and it’s fair to consider that there might be a period of adjustment needed. I did sort of spring it on him, I suppose.

 

Still, I’ve sprung plenty of things on him before – the gift of life, anyone? – and he’s never gotten all funny about it like he is now. I’ve been trying to do nice things for him, like keep that lovely car of his away from the beach. Doesn’t he know what all that sand and sun can do to a leather interior?

 

I even went to the trouble of tracking down the best European car mechanic in the area, which Hamlet evidently hadn’t been bothered to do himself, but he was having none of it. He said he thought I was deliberately interfering with his daily beach sojourn, all because I myself dislike the beach.

 

Well, that may be all too true, but why should I disapprove of his liking for it? If my only son wants to waste his life engaging in such an inane pastime as going to run around on a pile of sand and swim in shark-infested waters like a lunatic, who am I to stand in the way? I mean, I certainly don’t feel it’s what he should be doing with his life, and I’d much prefer he used that snazzy little car to do other things. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to spend all day trying to book a car service near Seaford in order to keep him away from his beloved beach.

 

Plenty of mothers would do that, mind you, and I wouldn’t blame them one bit. But me? I’d never stoop to that level, or try to bribe my son with the promise of an all-expenses-paid air con regas. It’s simply not my style. I’m just here to offer a bit of motherly direction and support.

Chip In

It’s that time of year again. This is, it’s time to start planning the annual 21-hour drive to visit my family for Christmas. It seems it’s my lot in life to take on this gruelling task year after year, without fail.

Why should it always be me who has to do it? To be fair, all four of my siblings live up in Queensland near my parents, and it was technically my decision to set up shop in Victoria. Still, I’ve done this seven years running now, and I don’t think it’s too much to ask for them to come down here just this once.

One year in eight: that’s all I’m asking. But they won’t do it, and then I won’t see them, and then I’ll feel bad for not going up. It’s a catch 22. I just wish they’d chip in somehow – like, maybe they could split the cost of the fuel with me. Or they could pay for the suspension repair I’m going to have to pay for in a couple of weeks, ahead of the long drive.

You know, given that I have to give up two days of work for each leg of the journey, as well as for the duration of my stay, I think it’s only fair that my family pays a significant portion of my car’s running costs. This is just occurring to me now, as I’m writing it. Maybe this is my ticket to finally getting the air con fixed. I know there’s got to be at least one auto electrician in Underwood, where my parents live… maybe I can feign that the unit conked out on my way up. The truth is that it’s been out of order for months, but it’d be a white lie.

I mean, car air con repairs aren’t exactly the cheapest thing in the world, which is why I’ve been putting it off. And given that I’m going to be driving to Queensland in December with no air conditioning, I think it’s the least my family could do.

Beach Hater?

The beach is my favourite place in the world. Not that that’s anything out of the ordinary – I’m pretty sure there’s not one person alive who doesn’t feel the same way. Well, maybe there are a few, but they’re not the kind of people I’d associate with. You’d have to be a major curmudgeon to have anything bad to say about the beach!

I’m a bit disappointed that Jock can’t come with me and the kids on Friday. Mostly, I’m disappointed for him. After all, he probably hasn’t been to the beach for months, and now he’s missing the chance to go there on a date with me, no less. I realise that some people might not count an outing with kids in tow as a proper date, but I’m afraid that’s just the way it is with me. If anyone has a problem with that, they probably fall into the curmudgeon basket too.

Anyway, it’s a shame about Jock not being able to come, and all because he has to take his car for a log book service. Near Adelaide, apparently, the traffic has been pretty crazy, so it wouldn’t cut the beach time too short to get his car to the mechanics in the morning and pick it up in the evening. I do appreciate the thoughtfulness; it’s true that the kids are going to want as much time at the beach as possible, and obviously I do as well.

Still, I feel bad for Jock having to miss out. He didn’t seem too bothered, but that’s probably just him not wanting to make me feel guilty. I must admit, it’s a little weird because he initially said he needed a brake pad replacement, and then the next day he said it was a car water pump repair. Now, apparently, it’s a log book service, which is why it’s going to take all day… should I be suspicious?

I don’t think so. I can’t imagine why anyone would lie to get out of going to the beach. Unless… could it be that he doesn’t want to go to the beach with me? I have some sleuthing to do, it seems.

Smashed Glass Table

My friends and I have well and truly messed up. We went away over the weekend to this really nice house in regional Victoria, and all got a little bit rowdy. We didn’t throw a party or anything against the house guidelines, but the twenty of us in the one house having drinks may as well be a party within itself. It was a really fun weekend and nothing went wrong, up until the last hour that we were there. 

With one hour to go, my friend smashed the glass table top by knocking the rubbish bag full of empty bottles into it. It was an absolute disaster. Things were going so well. We had just completely cleaned the house and it was all perfect. There was no trace of our misdoings, only for the table top to be ruined in the last hour. We desperately needed to somehow pull off a glass repair within the next hour or we would be screwed. Obviously, achieving that proved virtually impossible, and therefore we got caught. 

Rightfully so, the owner of the home we stayed at was fuming. I mean, it’s not like it was a whole glass balustrade or anything, but it turned out that the table was a family heirloom. This was obviously devastating for them, but it was a questionable decision on their part to put a family heirloom in a home they rent out to random people. As expected, we were responsible for sourcing and paying for a glazier. Close to Melbourne, that would have been more manageable, but out in the country it was a bit of a challenge. That, however, was the price we had to pay for our misdeeds. Fair enough.

I must admit that I do feel really bad about what went down. None of us went to the house with the intention of breaking anything, but I guess it was bound to happen due to how careless we are. I don’t think we’ll be invited back any time soon.

Steamy Bathroom

I’ve always dreamed of having a high-concept, statement bathroom. I can’t say why, exactly, but this has been a cherished dream of mine since childhood. Back then, I wanted wall-to-wall dolphins and whales, preferably with 3D icebergs of translucent blue plastic studded with glitter. The concept has developed over the years, past various maritime themes through to what it is today: a steampunk engine room.

Now my chance has finally arrived. Last week, I found out that I’d won 35 grand in some weird sweepstakes thing a friend had talked me into entering. It’s the ultimate sign from the universe that now is the time to renovate my bathroom to my heart’s content, and realise my lifelong dream.

It’s so exciting. I’ve been scouring the internet and putting together mood boards of custom bathrooms, as well as collecting colour samples and making sketches to communicate my vision. Sometimes people who aren’t into steampunk can get a bit confused about the finer points of the styling, so I don’t want to leave any room for error.

While I’ll admit that it might be a little offbeat for your average bathroom designer based in Melbourne, I can’t see why it should be all that different to a regular bathroom in terms of logistics. I mean, sure, there might be some hard-to-source fittings involved, like the brass toilet with decorative industrial bolts, or the shower screen made to look like a time machine. Then there’s the lighting. But there must be a way of securing those things, surely, for 35 thousand beans.

There had better be, or this whole thing will be for nothing, in which case I’ll probably just spend the money on custom millinery, and perhaps a home entertainment system. For the love of god, don’t tell my mum that. She’d be horrified if she knew I was being so frivolous with my winnings, but fortunately for all concerned she doesn’t know about them.

Sentient Car Chat

I never thought I’d say this, but I think I’m friends with a sentient car. It didn’t happen by choice. Certainly not. I was just at the cafe, enjoying a cup of coffee while working on my stupid bestselling sci-fi series. I can’t believe a couple of books that I wrote with such little effort took off, and now there’s all this pressure on me for a conclusion to the trilogy. I can write the book easy enough, but that doesn’t mean I’ll enjoy it.

Anyway, I’m getting sidetracked. So there I was, working on my third novel, when I heard somebody behind me mention that they are looking for an auto electrician close to Milperra. I had actually just gone to see a really good auto electrician, so I turned around to provide assistance. When the words were already halfway out of my mouth, I realised that this person wasn’t a person at all. It was a sentient car, sitting in the booth beside mine. Naturally, I was appalled by this. I had no idea they served sentient cars in that cafe! 

But I was already halfway through giving some advice, and I didn’t want to make a fool of myself, so I told him that I knew a mechanic who might be able to help. And then this sentient car had the audacity to move around to my booth, sitting across from me! At first, I was completely lost for words. I tried to tell him where he could get an auto electric service, but instead, I simply said that there was a good mechanic near me. Of course, that was of no use to the sentient car, as there was no detail in my words. Nothing that he could look into, based on that.

Finally, I managed to explain what I really meant by it. We started talking, and slowly I began to realise that maybe this particular sentient car wasn’t so bad. He’s almost like a person, like me!

It was a pleasure to meet Samuel C. We’re getting lunch and going bowling later this week.

Spaced Out

Space. The final frontier. Well, it’s not really the final frontier, is it? After all, we’ve barely explored the ocean of our own planet. Personally, I think we’re more likely to have cowboy duels in space than we are underwater, so I’d call the ocean the final frontier. But that’s not really the point.

Space. The second-to-last frontier. It’s mysterious, big and really, really dark. Unless you’re near the sun, then I suppose it wouldn’t be that dark. I’m getting side-tracked, though. Let me get to the actual point here.

I know it’s been a roundabout way of getting here, but I just wanted to talk about how my boss has assigned me the impossible task of the office fitout. Melbourne has plenty of offices and plenty of space, but I doubt it has many space offices. This is a big task I’ve been given, and to make matters worse I’m expected to do it while at home. All I want at the end of a long workday is to come home and feed my thirty-seven cats, then go to bed. I don’t want to stay up designing an office while Mr Cuddle-Bunny complains about my laptop’s light. Not ideal.

Hey, I have an idea. Maybe I can find a Melbourne office design business that will make the space office for me! After all, Mr Sharp didn’t say I couldn’t get help. He did forbid the rest of the staff from helping me, but he said nothing about outsourcing some assistance.

I can’t believe he’s given me this task just because I put too much toner in the printer, causing it to malfunction, explode and almost destroy the entire building. It was an honest mistake.

Well, the joke’s on him because I’m going to make the best space-themed office, and I’m not going to put any effort into it. I just hope it won’t be too expensive.

Prep This

I’ve just spent the past week hauling scrap metal up from a nearby dump on my electric bicycle – a good investment, that, by which I mean the electric bike. There’s no way I could have carted all this metal up the hill on a regular pushbike. And that, my friends, is precisely why I need to build a power station on my property.

My mates say I’m turning into a quintessential prepper, and the truth is they’re not wrong. See, I don’t trust the so-called ‘energy providers’ to provide me with energy into the foreseeable future, and while I’m happy to be involved in an energy descent, I’m not willing to give up my electric bike for tasks such as hauling scrap metal.

You could say that this example is a little circular – as in, I wouldn’t need to haul the scrap metal if I wasn’t building a power station to power my electric bike, which I need in order to haul the scrap metal. Obviously, though, I use the bike for lots of other things, like hauling water and wood and dirt. And I’m using a whole heck of a lot less fossil fuels than if I was moving those things in a ute, which is what most people would be doing.

Don’t get me wrong – I frequently find myself gazing at other people’s aluminium ute canopies, remembering the feeling of knowing that my cargo is safely secured and protected from the elements. Things would certainly be easier if I’d just get a danged truck; I have no illusions about that.

It’s got me wondering if there’s a bike-drawn equivalent to ute trays. Around Melbourne, there are fabricators who might be willing to build such a thing, and if that was possible then the possibilities for installing protective canopies are endless. My only concern is whether, once you get to that point, the weight of the load might become an issue for the bike’s power capacity, and it might just be more efficient to use a conventional motor vehicle.

 

I’ll keep you posted, anyway.

Neighbour Garden Hacks

What on earth is my neighbour up to? I’m watching him out the window as he lugs a large contraption into his garden, and proceeds to wedge it into one of his meticulously prepared beds. It appears to be an inflatable cylinder of sorts, big enough for three people to comfortably fit inside, and seems to have an entry point akin to a very secure tent flap. It takes up the entire patch of soil, which is already surrounded by a complicated rig of mirrors.

Hang on – this must be what I was reading about on his blog the other day. Yes, I read my neighbour’s blog, but only because he takes every opportunity to remind me to do so. I think he expects everyone on the street to up their home farming game so we can have neighbourhood harvest festivals, but he’d probably have more luck if he came at from an angle that was a little more… conventional.

I mean, even though I read his blog post, I still don’t understand what this device is or what it’s supposed to do – either in its intended application as medical equipment, or as garden hack. Let me try and remember what he said about it. I think it was something to do with hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Near Melbourne, apparently, this is an established thing for treating a range of ailments involving oxygen intake issues.

On reflection, I’m pretty sure he made no real effort to really explain how this related to raising tomato seedlings, which is what he said he was using it for. I’m assuming he’s making sizable leaps in logic, conveniently skipping over any kind of biological basis for this approach. That’s totally fine with me – it’s not like he’s not hurting anyone in the process.

It’s just that this thing looks like a fairly serious investment for an undertaking that’s most likely founded on dodgy guesswork. It just seems a little excessive. I suppose time will tell; I shouldn’t write it off until I’ve seen the results. I may come to eat my words in order to eat tons of homegrown tomatoes.

My Day On

In being really good at everything, I’ve discovered that most people are quite lazy. When you know somebody who can get a job done with little effort, why do it yourself or pay someone to do it for you? Why not give your friend a call and guilt-trip him into helping? Sure, no harm done the first time, but you’re not the only one seeking my help. I haven’t had a holiday in years because I’ve always got all these errands to run.

For example, the other day I was going for a walk to my favourite cafe, ready for a nice day where I could finally relax. That was when I bumped into Alex, an old acquaintance from high school. He looked at me and perked up, then said, “Hey, you’re that guy from school who could administer medicine and help better than the school nurses, right?” Of course, here I am knowing exactly where this is going. I tend not to argue these days. I just go along with it to save myself the time.

Alex explained how he had been wounded while playing extreme paintball and the cut along his upper arm was taking a while to heal. He wanted me to have a look at it and see what I could do. Fair enough, I suppose, but why couldn’t he simply contact a business that provides portable hyperbaric chambers within Melbourne instead? That would be perfect for healing a stubborn wound, with the increased amount of oxygen going to the blood. I even suggested as much to him, but he said he was happy for me to take a look at it instead. Well good for him! It’s not like I had anywhere to go or anything to do. I don’t have a life of my own to live or anything.

I get it. To him, he was only asking for a few minutes of my time. But it all adds up. At the cafe, I was asked to fix the lighting and redesign the table arrangement. And suddenly my day off is gone. Thanks, everyone.