A dramatic composition of aluminium

Over the last few months, I’ve been getting more and more into photography. A friend of mine is working professionally, and I went with him to one of his gigs, just to help out. While I was there, though, I started getting really interested in what he was doing – the intricacies of the whole thing – and so I got him to show me a couple of things afterwards. After a lot of experimenting, I’ve found the most incredible new aesthetic. I think I could really make it my signature look and, miraculously, I stumbled across it almost completely by accident.

I was walking to work about two weeks ago when I sauntered past two utes parked, one slightly further forward than the other, parallel with a brick wall. Immediately, I saw something special about the composition of those aluminium trays. Melbourne has lots of different things that are all incredible in their own right that I guess I could have chosen to photograph, but I didn’t. Instead, looking at the way they were set up – thoughtlessly yet strikingly. I grabbed my camera and began to take pictures of the aluminium trays, hesitatingly at first and then with more confidence.

The scene before me was thrilling. After that moment, that bubble in time where my creative energy took control. I went about my day at work, but spent every moment waiting until I could get home and have a look at the pictures properly, on my computer. The result was beyond my wildest hopes. With a bit of editing, the pictures looked amazing. With just a glint of the aluminium toolboxes showing from inside the ute, the composition and contrast between the metal and the brick was almost overwhelmingly indicative of the proletariat society we’ve moved away from in recent decades. A remnant from a time we’re in danger of losing. A transition through time, captured forever in my lens.

Crazy Kids in Canberra

Why did we decide to drive via Canberra again? I can’t remember. It was something to do with wanting to check out an exhibition at the national gallery, but that prospect now seems dwarfed by the inconvenience of the extra hours in the car with the kids. Am I a bad mum for saying that? 

Anyway, here we are in hotel room. It’s raining cats and dogs, and the kids couldn’t care less about viewing large-scale light installations. They’re also climbing the walls, due to having been boxed into a car from Sydney for hours. There’s only one thing for it, as far as I can see, which is to take them somewhere where they’re officially sanctioned to tear around indoors. Alright, then, inland capital – what have you got for me and my kids? Indoor play centres in Canberra, show yourselves. And maybe batten down the hatches in preparation for the particularly fierce tornado that is three year-old Belinda.

Seriously, the kids get beside themselves with excitement about going to these play centres. To someone who’s not a parent, they might just look like germ-riddled, hyped up gymnasiums, but there’s a hidden genius to the whole thing. They really come into their own as children’s party venues. In Sydney, we’ve been to more than a few of these places for birthdays. You wouldn’t believe what a lifesaver it is to a have a crew of four year-olds going nuts together somewhere other than your house.

Perhaps you can tell that I’ve done this before. As a mom of five, I do have a bunch of experience in dealing with situations of just this nature. That experience has taught me a few things, not least that most capital cities have at least one set of giant indoor play equipment safely nestled behind some form of security system that prevents your kids from running off into the suburban wilderness.


A Frosty Reception

My brother’s acupuncture clinic has just relocated, and I’ve been recruited for purposes of kitting out their new space with a bit of vibe. I’ve actually never done a job quite like this before – I mean, I do have experiences with coordinating spatial decor solutions, but not for this type of operation. The aesthetic they plan to push is very clean and crisp, yet not corporate per se. It must have their spiral-centric logo featured and splashes of translucent blue in the mix for good measure. The brief is all fairly specific.

I think I’ve got the solution, though. Their new treatment rooms are to be framed by glass dividers, and there’s an opportunity here to leverage the dual needs for privacy and branding. I believe we can meet these needs with some custom glass frosting. In Melbourne, this stuff is pretty common in offices and clinics. It’s kind of a film that attaches over the glass, and you can have designs digitally cut or printed into it – a logo, for example. Colours can be added to the mix, too. Perfect.

Alright, that’s sorted. I suppose if that’s what’s happening, we might as well look into tinting the windows while we’re at it – I’m guessing the crew wants the clinic to be some kind of cooling oasis that feels distinct from the outside world. I know that, here in Melbourne, window tinting for commercial spaces is pretty standard, so it should be easy to find a company that can make it happen just way bro and co want it. Who knows? Maybe there’s even such thing as a blue tint. That’d be nice.

If I’m not mistaken, window tinting is done with films that are similar to the ones used for glass frosting. If we’re lucky, we can get one company to do both jobs. But yeah, apparently this tinting film rejects something like 99 percent of UV rays, which keeps the indoor temperature low even when it’s hot outside.

Bro is lucky to have me on board! Time to go and badger him for a free exercise ball or something.

A Touch of Glass

There’s something about a beautifully designed office space that really speaks to me. Maybe it’s something to do with having worked in fairly dull medical centre offices for the past few years, but I seem to be developing a real appreciation for thoughtful details and custom finishings that make the space feel special.

For example, I recently visited a retail store in Hong Kong that opened my eyes to the power of natural light in showing people in, well, their best light (literally). It was a designer clothing boutique, and I was struck by how the glass skylight over the change rooms made me look everything look unusually flattering in the well-angled mirrors. And their glass display units were tastefully lit from within – I couldn’t quite figure out how it was done, but it made the glass appear sort of invisible.

I don’t know how this would translate to an office, but I’m willing to bet there are glass-specialising designers who are in with the whole retail architecture thing, and would be able to install interesting features like these. At the very least, there must be some half-decent commercial glass installers in Melbourne who are capable of repairing the cracked bathroom mirrors at my office (not that you’d guess, given how long things like this seem to take to get repaired).

Perhaps my preoccupation with spatial design has something to do with wishing the managers of the building I work in would lift their game. I mean, not to this boutique’s level, necessarily, but just to one that’s a bit less depressing. The stairs, for instance, could do with a new handrail, but apparently it’s not deemed a hazard… yet. Why not just get in now with the glass balustrade installation and be done with it, instead of waiting til that flimsy beam gives way?

I guess I’m probably in the wrong industry to be demanding an up to the minute, aesthetically oriented work environment. Having custom glass fittings isn’t exactly a primary concern of medical administrators. I’d probably be happier to go in to work if it was, though.

Reno Madness

I’ve had it up to here with these godforsaken kitchen cupboards! I’d like to think I’m a reasonably chill person – I’m not usually too fussed about this kind of thing – but this shoddy old cabinetry is driving me up the wall. To elaborate, the shelf above the sink that I keep the mugs on has just collapsed, leaving me with a whole lot of broken ceramic to deal with. I really don’t have time for this!

Clearly, it’s high time I dialled in a pro kitchen designer. I’ve been putting it off because renovating seems like a massive hassle, but it’s getting to the point where it would be less energy than leaving things as they are. So, to cut to the chase – who should I go to for custom kitchen renovations in Melbourne? I don’t have the foggiest idea of where to start. Someone tell me what to do!

I’m getting in a bit of a tizzy about this, I know. But what else do you do when the layout of your kitchen cupboards is fast becoming diagonal? I love my hard-earned kitchen appliances, and I don’t want them getting damaged. Not only that, but the taps are so old that the water comes out everywhere except where it’s supposed to. I just want my kitchen to be a place of relaxation and retreat – that’s not too much to ask, is it?

I’m going to take charge of the situation and ask my brother who did his bathroom renovation design. I’ve been avoiding the topic because I know he’ll use my enquiry as an opportunity to badger me about my kitchen (as if I don’t know it needs replacing), but at the end of the day, his bathroom does look super schmick. Is it reasonable to ask a bathroom installation company if they do kitchens?

One good thing about this is that, once the process is complete, I’ll have survived my first ever reno situation. There’s plenty to be done on the rest of the house, after all.

Quite the…Electrifying Finale

I sometimes wonder if the scheduling people are having a bit of a joke. They have ‘Jack of All Trades’ on at 6:30, followed by ‘The Great Australian Trade Off’ at 7:30. So you get an hour of everyone being snippy and awful to each other in a game show, followed by another hour of everyone being terribly lovely and sportsmanlike. I should just be glad they’re aired in that order, so you don’t go to bed mumbling and raging at the indecency of some folks.

Still, it WAS the grand finale of JoAT, so people were a bit nicer. They had to go into a building under construction and basically fix everything in there, turning it into not only a finished product, but a building that would be cutting edge. They each had fifty workers assigned to them, with a number of eliminated contestants on both teams to act as sub-project managers.

Nathan was the most interesting, going instantly for the idea of commercial energy monitoring and storage. He gave this speech where he said that energy-usage was going to decide the future of the company that inhabited the building, and they were going to secure that future by giving them the most efficient energy usage possible. And actually, I almost welled up a little bit. Nathan was SO low-energy in the early stages, so much so that the judges nearly kicked him of for not having enough passion for the process. And of course, let’s not forget his many gaffs in electrical week. Now he stands here, burning with life and drive, talking about energy storage, commercial LED lighting solutions for Melbourne companies and directing like a champion. It’s exactly what he needed to be, and he’s shown that he managed to get there with his own moxey.

And then there’s Lucille, who made a big song and dance about how there needed to be proper insulation and then managed to fill the whole building with asbestos, all due to an ordering error. So yeah…not the closest finale. It had its ups and downs, certainly.


Fixing Boats, for AUSTRALIA

I remember back in the day when it all used to be about patriotism.

I mean, I don’t, because I’m only 26, but I’ve read about such times, and it’s obvious. People used to do basically everything because they were doing it for the glory of the country. So not just going to the Olympics, either; you’d sell fruit, and you’d do it for AUSTRALIA. Or you might teach children, for AUSTRALIA.

You know, that sort of thing. I miss those times, even though I’ve never actually participated in them. Just think it’d be nice. I wish I could go to get my boat fixed, to have my outboard motor servicing done in Melbourne, and I’d bring it in and they’d say YES, I’LL DO IT, FOR AUSTRALIA. Not in a super dramatic way or anything, so the caps might be a bit misleading. They’d just take it in, I’d say I think the outboard motor needs to be checked out, and they’d say something like ‘no problems, we’ll have that sorted out for you, and also we’re doing it for Australia, as we always do. Because patriotism is just a regular part of our day.’

Yeah, that sounds really nice. Nowadays, people don’t really know why they do anything. I go to work, and I work to get…money? Not money for Australia; it’s money for me, so that I can live and eat food. That’s why I think we need to bring back this blessed age of true patriotism, so that every tiny thing- from outboard motor repair to fruit selling- is done for a greater purpose. Like, you can go to other countries and say “Hi, I’m Carl, I do outboard motor servicing in Melbourne, which is in AUSTRALIA, the greatest nation on Earth, thus it is my driving motivation.”

And they’ll think it’s totally cool, because they also feel the same way about their country, and we’ll all be happy loving the place in which we live. So nice.


The Wallpaper of Love

I know I’m just a lowly teenager, and my whole life is ahead of me…but I don’t think I can take it anymore! I showed the art I’ve been working on to my crush, Lucy Park, in the hopes that it would finally make her love me and it did not go well.

I’ve been trying for two weeks, but nothing has worked. Seriously, she’s so…pretty. And her Dad is totally rich. But I’ve done like, five things for her, and she just said thanks each time. Man, what’s a guy gotta do to get a girl to fall in love with him?

I thought the art would do it, because girls like that kind of thing. Maybe I should have written her poetry, that’s kind of art. Anyway, I got her a roll of forest wallpaper, and covered it in unicorn and flower stickers, all the stuff that girls are supposed to like. I might not do so great in school, but my art game is strong.

I even have a little design studio setup at home, so that I can just make whatever I feel. Pretty much all my friends love my design skills. Just last night I made a wallpaper for Wally with all his favourite gaming characters, and that guy LOVES me. So why can’t Lucy just come around?

Maybe if I went over to her place and set it all up, she would finally realise that I’d do anything to be with her. And I bet her current wallpaper is super boring. She probably has pale pink walls to match her golden hair. Maybe she’s covered her closet with pictures of famous good-looking guys. Well, that can change. My vintage wallpaper is awesome, and I’m gonna prove it. I may suck at poetry, but it’s the thought that counts. I’ll write Lucy a poem and frame it so that the whole school can see it. Then she’ll realise that she feels the same way about me.

Boats Don’t Come Cheap, Apparently

The eternal problem with new hobbies is that they’re just so expensive, every time. I wanted to be a film buff for a while, you know, until the cost of expensive cinema tickets started racking up and I couldn’t continue. Thing is, you can’t do anything in half-measures when it’s supposed to be your hobby. There’s no finding cheap tickets in the middle of the day and that’s that. No, you have to go to conventions, buy merchandise, pretend you care about discussions, and I had no time for any of that.

So…why am I trying again, with boating? Maybe because there’s some sort of boating commuter trend on right now, and I like the thought of being at the helm with the wind in my hair? Still the same basic principle: I looked into the prices of plate alloy boats, and like…in terms of plate alloy boats, they’re fine. I’m not saying they’re ‘overpriced’. People who’ve been into boats for years will have no problem just casually picking up a new one, because they’re boat people and it’s what they do. But for someone trying to break into the trend? It’s probably one of the most expensive hobbies to suddenly pick up. Maybe I’ll get myself a nice inheritance from an unknown uncle that’ll help propel e into the world of fishing rod holders and swim decks. Or maybe it can be like in ‘Row, Anna!’ where she uncovers a rowboat in her grandfather’s mansion and takes it to the sea. But I doubt it.

Best I can do right now is get a bunch of fishing and rowing friends, possibly by hanging out in pubs near the docks, and basically mooch off them until I wait for that currently-unknown uncle to die. Then they could teach me all about bait boards and marine welding, and I’d be properly set up by the time I scrounged together enough funds.

Phew…see how much effort there is in picking up a new hobby? If only there were some out there that were zero cost. I don’t think they exist, though.


Weird pets at the vet

We’re an animal-loving family, so it’s nice that we all have something to watch on a Thursday night. It’s the one night when we’re all in, so it’s cups of tea all around and the latest episode of Doctor Leroy: The Weird Pets of Oz.

My only complaint is that the show has been running for seven years and he spends most of his time in Melbourne, so the ‘weird pets’ has extended to things like normal dogs with strange names, or sometimes things that are downright innocuous. Like bad-tempered cats. Still, Doctor Leroy is a charmer, and very good on-screen so he makes it entertaining.

Still, last time I took Benson down to our pet surgery near Bayside I was talking to some people in the waiting room, and they didn’t seem so keen on the show. I was pretty surprised at this- I would’ve thought that the type of person you meet in a vet would be well into Doctor Leroy and his family-friendly pet shenanigans. They said that they find him very silly, and he often tries to make too much of a big deal out of dull pets.

Dull pets? Doctor Leroy’s motto is that there’s no such thing as a dull pet. He can take a story about a fish going to a pet hospital and make it into a heartwarming tale of animal recovery. He actually did last week. And who cares if he’s not a real vet? He doesn’t actually treat animals; it’s just an animal feature show, while ‘Doctor’ is just a fun title.

It was all a bit strange. Sounds like they wouldn’t accept any show about animals unless it was hosted by a qualified vet from a Moorabbin vet surgery with good reviews and perfect teeth.  It’s ALL about the perfect teeth nowadays. Good dental hygiene and cute animals are the new recipe for family television success.