hair of the dog


* Pix by Judy Reinen 1997

Well, the new financial year is already upon us and the household budget is sorely in need of a trim.

What better place to start than expenditure on locks and tresses?

Now I confess it was not so very long ago I forked out $150 to have my hair cut by a well known Melbourne hairdresser.

That’s just cut, not coloured, streaked, extended with virgin hair from the temple of Tirumala Venkateswar or dipped in gold leaf.

The hairdresser – we’ll call him Fronk – tutt-tutted sadly over my head before attacking me with the gusto of Edward Scissorhands.

When he was finished I was too shocked to speak.

Mutely, I handed over the money and fled.

Arriving home, my husband confirmed my worst suspicions.

Nice mullet,” said he.

The next day I went to a nearest barber and had myself de-mulleted.

Having thoroughly learnt my lesson, I’ve never paid any more than $25 for a short back and sides ever since, so don’t be looking at me Mr Bank Manager.

The husband pays even less. And, as he points out, the chemo will soon put paid to his modest $15 monthly outlay.

That just leaves … The Dog.

The dog’s hairdresser, Tru-Dee, sports a pelmet of industrial blonde and I suspect it’s Fronk’s handiwork because she also charges a real clip.

This is the dog’s second stylist. The first one sheared her hindquarters and undercarriage so closely it was like the canine equivalent of a Brazilian.

Like she’s only four – so neither of us were having that.

Tru-Dee, by contrast, seems to groom by Reiki – harnessing the fur’s life force without actually touching a dog.

I drop the dog off and five hours later pick her up smelling like strawberry-flavoured bubblegum, but looking just as hirsute, which always leaves me wondering if I haven’t been sold a pup.

Perhaps, my inner accountant suggested, you could save upwards of $700 a year by cutting the dog’s hair yourself.

Really, a dog’s bowl cut?

Now, that would be a shaggy dog story.

* Image from the New York School of Dog Grooming we’d go there if  it weren’t so damn far away from Australia


the philosopher’s foam


* Coffee art by Japanese barista Kazuki Yamamoto.

The badge on the barista’s lapel featured a hand reaching out of water and begged the question. Are you waving or drowning, I asked.

Giving the milk jug a knock on the bench, he paused to consider me for a few seconds.

I think, most days, it’s a little of both. Isn’t it the same for everyone?” he mused.

The philosopher’s foam, I thought glibly, but found what he said stuck with me through the day.

Take the call, as I left the coffee shop, from a friend who excitedly revealed he was about to have his first short story published.

Owen’s definitely waving, I thought.

Then, in the next breath he admitted he’d never in his life been more anxious. He couldn’t believe it would be well received, much less read, by anyone.

It wasn’t the publication of his work he cared about as much as others’ reaction.

Without approbation would he sink – his writerly ambitions scuppered?

Often it comes down to the individual. Whether you’re a coffee cup half-full-or- empty-kind-of-person will determine if you are lapping up the crema or out of your depth.

Sometimes though it’s not a question of choice. Really, why pretend to embrace a situation as “a character-building challenge” when it’s patently an awful ordeal?

Modern society’s obsession with the positive leaves little room for genuine feeling or emotion.

But our failures, our sorrows, our regrets, our hardships are part of the sum of the human experience.

And even if that outstretched hand is clutching a coffee, it’s probably best never to assume anyone can tread water for too long.

full beam ahead

car headlight

Having not considered he’d ever noticed them, you can imagine my surprise when my brother-in-law suggested he pop round to polish my headlights.

Say what ?

Well, says he, I noticed the other other day your car headlights looked kind of cloudy.

Now, I admit the lacklustre puddles of light that lately seemed to stop short a foot in front of the car had me perplexed. I’d been inclined to blame my failing eyeballs.

But, the old b-i-l knew better and had now apparently bought some special “headlight polish” to fix the problem.

I might have been skeptical, but there was that time my car simply stopped dead on the wrong side of Goondiwindi (Gundi as the locals know it) and the NSW-Qld border.

There were no mobiles then, or at least none that would easily fit in the boot of a beige Cortina.

So with the aid of a cleft stick and a passing motorist someone from the nearest garage was prevailed upon to attend.

After a cursory look at the engine he’d drawled: “It will be the harmonic balancer love, you’ll have to stay the night in Gundi.”

Honestly, I thought he was having a lend of me.

Really? It’s not the one of the chakras of my radiator aura, I’d sniped.

Lucky he didn’t leave me there.

So, I was more than willing to believe in headlight polish.

And, it turned out to be very illuminating.

What’s it called, this special headlight stuff, I wondered, once more able to dazzle more than the smallest rodent.

Toothpaste, says he with a grin, the enwhitening kind.

well, well, well

bendigo atrium_v_Variation_1_smaller

So right after dumping the contents of my purse into the wishing well, I realised that I had no coins left for the hospital car park.


Perhaps my husband had stashed some parking and paper money in the campervan like he does in the ute.

Stopped at lights metres from the hospital entrance, I peered into the ashtray and espied something gold.

Still groping blindly in the little drawer, I turned into the hospital drive.

Drawing up to the boom gate I reached to deposit the coin in the slot and found myself holding a diamond ring … the ring I bought for my husband 19 years ago.

The very same one that went missing a year ago and was presumed forever lost.

It had become a bit loose on his finger in cold weather after he dropped some weight.

We kept forgetting to buy a ring guard.

Meantime he was doing the normal work around the place: chopping wood, mowing, getting rid of rubbish.

He only realised it was gone when he came inside that evening.

We scoured the grounds for hours without success.

Accepting it was lost was one thing, replacing it another. Still, he wore his ersatz ring with pride.

Now, arriving at his bedside, I produced the glittering original.

His face lit up.

We figure he must have slipped the ring into the ashtray for safekeeping when he moved the van to power the battery and forgotten doing so.

To think it might have remained there indefinitely without the investment in wishing him well.

My Lord of the Rings.