Other than a short story I’m buffing, my blog post WIP folder resembles Old Mother Hubbard’s cupboard; bare of anything other than snippets and reminder notes. What is it I do with my time?
Monday to Friday 9 to 5: day job. As mentioned, I’ve had an office desk reshuffle where I came up trumps with a sunny spot and harbour view. I’m 6 months into a role reinvention and a month into rollout of a new technology system; it’s all about tail ends, engaging others and building up muscle memory.
Before and after work… sometimes during if there’s a lull: domestic business.
Thanks to Australia Post I’m getting more exercise as they remove local red post boxes. It feels personal… first it was the red post box near the pub at Taylors Arm which means now the nearest is in town at Macksville 30 kilometres away. The next to go was the red post box I pass each week day on King Street conveniently adjacent to St Peters train station. Sure, most of my correspondence is electronic but I like to send special occasion mail to various family members within demographics diffident to texts and emails, as well as return Quickflix DVDs… some of us haven’t succumbed to pay TV or movie streaming.
And then there’s Telstra… Even Wikipedia’s entry for Taylors Arm warns “There is no coverage for mobile phones in Taylors Arm.” For us it’s been a decade long saga to little avail. We were somewhat heartened by news that “Telstra will build 429 new mobile towers in regional Australia” but the devil in the detail is Upper Taylors Arm will be recipient of one of the “250 Small Cells to deliver high speed 4G data services” rather than a tower so “Customers with 4G capable devices may notice a change in the device’s signal/strength bars, but no change to their voice service“. As far as timing info there has been nada except “We’re currently working with Government on how to allocate them and will have more details coming soon“.
After persistently & extensively contacting Telstra requesting information & assistance I was eventually assigned a Case Manager who promptly & concisely advised “We apologise that your options for internet connection is currently limited because your area is found on a blackspot… We are working very hard in building more towers for customers but we cannot provide a specific date for this… While it is disappointing that we are unable to reach a mutually agreeable solution, Telstra is confident that our investigation and proposed resolution are appropriate and therefore, I’m not able to do anything further to resolve this matter for you.”
My attention turned also to the bank with which we have a small investment property mortgage. Over the years, drop in Australian interest rates has halved our rate but the reduction never applied to our minimum repayment amount… unlike the opposite scenario! Early on we elected to pay extra via fortnightly payments, so we’d never noticed. My first attempt at requesting an adjustment netted us a further rate drop… our Home Loan Specialist didn’t appear to grasp the nature of the request and happily advised us that he had reduced our interest rate in line with other available products. I was grateful, and eventually successful after another equally tedious round of ‘if you don’t ask the right question you don’t get the right answer’ emails.
If that wasn’t enough, I took a look at our landlord and occupier home & contents insurance policies as renewals evidenced price creep. It’s always interesting to understand nuances of other industries. Apparently tenanted property attracts higher risk so it must be covered by Landlords insurance… at double the premium.
As well as usual household dross -food shopping, cooking dinner, paying bills, cleaning- recent undertakings have included futilely investigating alternative mobile phone & internet providers and products, acquiring replacement reading glasses for the G.O. & registering the frames warranty via Oakley’s clunky online process, arranging & attending a smoke detector & fire alarm inspection appointment, rescuing an abandoned
lemon kaffir lime tree, revamping balcony potted plants, upcycling a footpath-find gilt mirror, research ideas & possibilities, so on and so forth. I don’t know how I stand the excitement…
Next weekend is the Labour Day public holiday for NSW. The G.O. and I couldn’t possibly make a trip to Taylors Arm without a laden ute. So last week taking advantage of the G.O.’s no-work Saturday, in between browsing motorcycle showrooms we ticked off a few more home improvement purchases from our list; the back of the ute now jammed with storage and kitchen shelf units, curtain rods and other DIY bits n’ pieces.
However, my salvation in the midst of mundane is books. A welcome highlight of recent office book club selections was Vera: My Story. In the words of Kerry O’Brien “Vera was wild, exotic and utterly outrageous when I met her as a young journalist in Melbourne. When you’ve survived both Hitler and Stalin there’s not a lot more to hold you back. She has a great story to tell.”
Regardless, I’m sure Vera Wasowski attends pragmatically to household matters, such is her partiality to order and pleasant space.
“It is important to me to find a home: a place that welcomes me each day. I can’t be a bohemian nomad all my life. I can’t; no-one can. You need a place where you can sit down in your weariness with a glass of wine and a cigarette and gaze across the room at the books of your life, at the paintings that bring a gladness to your heart each time you look at them.”
Rest assured however, I’m not alone in my household’s domestic endeavours. While the G.O.’s efforts are constrained by his work hours and environment he does what he can and often what I’m disinclined to; oven, window & shower cleaning amongst other things.