Chaos Around Tax Time, Not My Fault

tax returns MelbourneIt’s not MY fault the office is facing fines and is basically in the toilet. People keep accusing me of being bad with email. Have you ever tried trying to deal with that stuff while you’re keeping an entire family of kookaburras alive in one of your desk drawers? I have a responsibility to nature which I have to divide between that and this job. I can multitask, but there’s a lot of work involved in keeping kookaburras happy. If they start to make noises I could get fired.

Oh, and then there are the business tax returns. Melbourne has really strict rules when it comes to that sort of thing, almost ridiculous. You have to get them in by a certain DATE…how silly is that? Tax returns are the pinnacle of human civilisation; they show how we’ve grown as a people. They shouldn’t be bound by rules and regulations regarding time, because they transcend those limitations.

And don’t even get me started on the rest of the office. The fact that our IT person only speaks German is the tip of the iceberg, as is the fact that Stacey lets her little hellhound run wild. Our CEO recently developed an addiction to yellow tea, which he says improves mental function and bodily health. Nobody can go near his office because the stench is like…well, imagine freshly mown grass left in a pile for about a month, and you’ve got it. I have to hold my breath when I’m dropping off files.

And THEN there’s Bernice, who is just straight up nuts. She keeps sending everyone gifs of pig farms, derails every staff meeting to lecture us on the benefits of the meat industry and asking if we’ve had our protein intake for the day. If you say no, you get a lecture of why the human body needs protein to survive, and she’ll make you one of her specialised protein shakes and watch you drink it. They also taste like pork. And Melbourne’s business accounting practices are a problem? That’s nothing compared to what I deal with every day.


Rewriting my will after divorce

succession planning MelbourneIt’s been a tough few months. My husband and I have been getting a separation and then ultimately a divorce. It was a hard decision to make because we have two teenagers and we realise that they need a loving and supportive family behind them at this stage in their lives. However, we decided that the fighting, tension and lack of love between us would be far more harmful to them than living in two separate homes. Now that the paperwork for the divorce is completed, I have to reconsider my will. Melbourne has some good attorneys to choose from though so I should be okay.

Now that the headaches are coming to an end, the remorse is starting to set in. I’m starting to enter the mourning stage. Bill and I were married for fifteen years and that’s no walk in the park. It feels a little like all the effort we put in, all the hard times we persevered through were for nothing.

My best friend has been an enormous crutch throughout this whole thing. I couldn’t be more grateful for her support. Not only has she been there for me to cry on her shoulder, she’s also helped with all the practical things. She’s very clever and has experience with legal stuff because she’s worked as an assistant to lawyers in the past. She’s the one who suggested a couple of lawyers to me because recently in her company they’ve had to do some succession planning. Melbourne companies, like my friends, sometimes hire lawyer plan the future of leadership within the company. They lawyers that my friend’s company got were particularly good apparently so I’m going to try them.

Bill’s calling me now so I need to go. It’s still hard to hear his voice but we have to work together and sort everything out for the kids. Even though we’re divorces we’re still going ot be part of each other’s lives, there’s no escaping that.  

Window repairs gone wrong

window frame repairs

I’m a bit of a handyman, and so I like to do things myself. From simple things like changing a lightbulb to more complex things like rewiring the microwave. Yep, you heard me, I fixed the microwave. I am the man of the house after all. The missus is always complaining because she reckons I do a shoddy job of all our home repairs, but she doesn’t know what she’s on about. I do a darn fine job of fixing things around here. This place would be falling apart if it wasn’t for me. Í go to her, ‘If you don’t want me fixing things then you pay for them to get fixed our of your own pocket!’ This she was not too pleased about.

When our windows started falling apart I realised I could do the aluminium window repairs. Melbourne companies probably charge a fortune, I thought, so I’ll just have crack at it myself. How hard could it be, right?

Anyway, I gave it my best go but it didn’t exactly go as well as I’d hoped. It’s totally not my fault though, it’s because the timber house doesn’t support aluminium frames. The missus wouldn’t have a bar of it though, she blamed it all on me. ‘What have you done? Now you’ve made it worse. We have to call the professionals in.’ Ra Ra Ra.

I gave in and called the company to do our timber window repair. In Melbourne, the company I called were very sympathetic. I explained that it wasn’t my fault the window repairs went wrong the first time and they smiled and nodded in understanding. I tried to use this as evidence to show my wife that I’m actually a good repairs man and also in the hope that she would pay for it. I need my money for more important things like men’s mags and beer. Plus I gave it a shot myself so I should get paid too.

Caring for my hubby with dry needling

NZ dry needling

My poor hubby has been suffering chronic pain since his motorbike accident. He was okay mentally but then started developing dementia too. Needless to say, he needs around-the-clock care.  I’m on government payments myself because I have to care for him full time.

The worst thing for him is his back and muscular pain. It makes him really tired and irritable, as you can imagine, it totally sucks. I used to give him massages but it got to the point where the messages weren’t helping but actually making the problems worse. We really can’t afford a physiotherapist or any fancy specialist doctors – they are sooooo expensive. So that’s why I’m not looking into dry needling courses, NZ and across Australia. We actually live between the two countries so I can decide where I want to do the course.

If you haven’t heard of trigger point dry needling, it’s this technique that is used to relieve muscle pain and myofascial pain. I figure that if I do the course than I can treat my own husband without having to pay for expensive therapy and all of that. Dry needling is becoming more and more recognised as a treatment for these kinds of conditions. A lot of conventional medical practitioners like physiotherapists and orthopaedic surgeons are now integrating the treatment into their practice.

I’m thinking that this dry needling course in Adelaide might be the way to go because we’ll be spending the next couple of years at my husband’s parents house just outside of Adelaide. IT’s a beautiful city but there isn’t much to do and we like to alternate between there and New Zealand which is where I’m from. I’m really looking forward to the course and I hope I can relieve some of my hubby’s pain.

Re-enacting horror movies during fridge repairs

broken washing machines

When my sister and I were kids we got up to a lot of mischief. We’d climb up onto the roof and light our dad’s underwear on fire, and when they brought Nanna over to babysit, we’d swap her heart medication for Pop’s.

The trouble didn’t let up even well into our teens and early twenties. Our dad owned a reception hall and had a catering service based there as well. This place was like a wonderland for us as kids, and even returning in our later years was an adventure. The place had an industrial sized kitchen with commercial refrigeration and all the rest. One day, the freezer started leaking and we overheard Dad making a call to get a Sydney fridge repair. We glanced over at each other and smiled slyly, later sneaking into the laundry room to conceive of our plot.

Our aim was to give the repairs guy the shock of his life. Dumb, I know, but hilarious too. The commercial fridge at the reception centre looked a lot like the one from The Shinning. We always used to make jokes about it and imitate Jake Nicholson’s voice shouting “Danny Boy!” while chasing after each other and miming axe-wielding gaits. We decided that we’d put on a proper show and re-enact this scene for the fridge repairs guy.

As you can imagine, when Dad called him back a few weeks later for the broken washing machine repairs in the laundry room, the guy was professional about it, but reserved. After what he’d seen at the reception centre, he was clearly unimpressed — and who can blame him? While he was crouched down with his head buried in the fridge, spanner in hand, we dimmed the lights. He popped his head out curiously and then resumed work, only to jump to his feet in fridge when we ran in there, my sister dressed as Danny and I as the blood-thirsty killer. You should have seen the look on his face!


Custom made is better made

work platforms

As a builder, I know exactly what it’s like to know what you want. When I’m getting the designs for people’s houses, a lot of the time they’re very fastidious about what they want. It’s easy to make a mistake by assuming something is generally wanted when in fact everyone has their own quirks and whatnot. For example you may assume that someone wants the space under their front porch filled or boarded up, but no, I made this fatal assumption once which nearly cost me that gig. Anyway, back to the point, le like their houses custom made and I like my work tools custom made, especially work platforms. Around Melbourne, you get a few companies producing ladders and adjustable or portable planks and trestles for all types of building and construction work. Some companies are better than others. One claimed that they customise your platforms but then they didn’t listen to my specifications carefully and botched the job.

Aluminium work platforms, when made correctly can make or break the job. Seriously, you can do an exceptionally accurate job with the right folding platforms, and I also love the way you can pack them into the back of the truck because if you don’t pack up your equipment it can get nicked.

Moral of the story is that everything is better when it’s tailored to your needs. Other stuff that is better when you have it done your way include burgers and suit. With burgers, basically  you want the lot in there except for pineapple but including egg, maybe some beetroot. With suits, you want them to show off your labourer’s pecs.

Flowers for All Your Romantic Needs

standard rose

They say romance is dead. Well, I’m not going to judge, because it’s not like I spend most of my time hiding in bushes and observing romantic couples. That’d be so weird! And I definitely don’t hack into phone networks and read texts, or intercept flower deliveries and read the cards, because that’d be even stranger. Yep, just a whole tidal wave of strange, that’s what that is. Nope, I’ve just been participating in nice, normal discussions on forums such as Geddit and Tweeter, and my online friends and I have come to the conclusion that romance is a dying art.

It’s like just don’t know there are standard roses for sale on street corners, and also online, because sometimes I’ve seen (or heard) about guys showing up for dates holding a bunch of pansies or something. Pansies are nice, but not date material, clearly. It doesn’t always have to be roses, but for the important occasions…yeah, it really does have to be roses. They’re the international symbol of love across all the world, and if you can’t dig up your loose change and buy her a beautiful, single rose, you don’t deserve a fulfilling romance. FACT. Or it could be the girl giving the guy a rose- times have changed, roles can flip flop a bit, and it’s really just an exchange of flowers. Maybe they can go dancing and he can put the rose in his teeth while they tango, so it’s functional. And did you know, I once saw a guy bringing a girl daffodils. What an amateur!! They’re supposed to be for the kitchen table. Might as well have just pelted her with daffodil flower bulbs, for how romantic that was. Even a cutting of the bush I was hiding in at the time would’ve made for a better gift.

Not that I do that. I’m normal.


Nursing Badges and Silversmithing

name badges

My grandfather used to make a living as a silversmith. It’s not exactly a career I plan on following because…there’s no money in it nowadays, basically. But I’d still love to pursue it, because it sounds like an interesting hobby, and if there’s one thing that I find interesting it’s going against the grain. I even tried my hand at it a few weeks ago, when I took a tour of Grandpa’s old workshop. The guy working there now (he does something for some museum) let me work the machine for a small project, so I thought I’d make my sister a name badge! It’s only three letters, and I thought it’s help her stand out. Turns out nurse name badges have pretty strict limitations and rules, but she said she’d keep in on her desk, which is okay. Too bad my parents had to go and give me a really difficult name, otherwise I’d have just made one for myself, but whatever. I was HOPING that the silversmith guy would recognise me as a promising pupil and take me on as his apprentice, full-time, with holidays and superannuations benefits. I guess money must be tight around the museum business, or maybe he just likes working alone. It’s cool, I guess.

I’ve seen those nurse name badges, though, because Mia always stresses out whenever she puts it in the wash or loses it in the laundry basket. I mean, wow…those patients she treats must really be hot on knowing your name. I guess when you’re giving them sponge baths and…other stuff, you really shouldn’t be an anonymous stranger. It all sound so intimate. But I guess that’s what name badges are for in the first place: bringing us all together, and making us all a little bit more human.

I mean, it would’ve been a little bit more ‘human’ to take me on as an apprentice, especially after I did an amazing job making that silver magnetic name badge. The institutions of nursing and silversmithing just don’t appreciate my skill, clearly.


I told you to get your motor serviced

outboard motor servicingWomen, can’t live with them, can’t live without them. My missus is always telling me “I told you so” and it’s grating on my nerves. Just last week she was nagging me to get the speed boat serviced. I told her we didn’t have the money at that time and she said, “Well get the money!” Naturally I ignored her. Especially since she’d just purchased a pair of Gucchi heels with my hard earned dosh. And then she wants to go on a boating trip to show off how loaded we are in front of all her friends. The plan was bound to fail: we’re not loaded.

So we get on the boat with our fishing rods, ready to get pissed and catch us some lunch. I got to show the boys my nifty boatcatch, and the girls had a giggle while climbing up the ramp and onto the bobbing boat. We were just a few minutes into our ride when suddenly the motor started sputtering. I pulled the start up cord several times hoping to rectify the failing engine but that didn’t seem to work. In fact, it had the opposite effect and the motor totally gave out. We had to get another boat to tow us back to shore!

Not only was my wife embarrassed in front of all her stuck up friends, we’d ruined and wasted  perfectly good day, and couldn’t even put our rods to good use. Worst of all, she was giving me an earful for the rest of the day, telling me that I should keep on top of the outboard motor servicing. In Melbourne, we live near the water, so there are plenty of good places that can do the maintenance, but we just didn’t have the funds at that time. I hate it when she grills me like that. There was nothing I could do!

Obsessed with packaging

food packaging designersThere are a lot of misconceptions about hoarders. People think that we’re filthy slobs but actually there’s something seriously wrong with our brains and we should be treated like anyone else who is experiencing mental ill health. Society should help us with out hoarding issues, rather than vilifying and isolating us. Usually, we’re left alone until the situation gets out of hand and then it’s too late; diseases, pests and lonely deaths are all too commonly associated with the hoarder.

I was one of the lucky ones who got help early and I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for food packaging. Australia is a pretty small country but nevertheless we have all of the same fast food chains as Europe and the US. Actually, hoarders like me never realise there’s a problem with hygiene when we’re collecting things. That part in the brain which usually tells you that something is dirty or too full is blocked for us. A friend of mine came over and said that the place smelled bad and that the stacks of junk everywhere had to be taken out to the trash. This of course sent my brain into meltdown mode.

I wouldn’t have survived the clean up if it wasn’t for the packaging company that I discovered. What I did was I substituted my collections of used fast food containers for clean containers which I ordered and had shipped over. This then spawned an obsession with different types of packages including tamper evidence bags and secure bags. I have piles and piles of them in my living room. It looks just the same as m hoarder house before but it’s clean and doesn’t smell, apparently! I find the environment very soothing so I’m thinking about starting a club called HA – or hoarders anonymous. I’ll use my living room as an example of how hoarders can change their lives around by simply ordering packaging in bulk.