Sunday, June 28, 2009

Work, Lockey's and my two cents on MJ

Good morning, afternoon, evening. It is Sunday evening here in Sydney and I just finished dinner and am now drinking a coffee. Tonight I will be watching 60 Minutes, also a talk show much like the Tonight Show called Rove, and 24. I'm exhausted from a good weekend of fun and work.

Not a lot has happened in my life since my U.S. Open blogs, but a few things occurred. I thought about doing an individual Michael Jackson blog, but really didn't have all that much to say about it on the day he died. But now I think I've had time to reflect and say a few words.

This must be what it was like when Elvis died. I was too young to be a fan of Michael in the 80's. I was scared to death of the Thriller video for years. Around the time of his Dangerous album, my brother and I were beginning to collect cassette tapes and that album would be where I started to really learn all of Michael's hits. The video "The way you make me feel" I remember watching with my mom. My favorite MJ song would have to be Smooth Criminal, but it is hard to pick a favorite.

Despite all the weirdness, you have to tip your hat to the man. He was a genius. I don't know a whole lot about writing music or dance choreography, but I do know that what he did cannot be repeated. I heard someone on the news say today that as time goes on, the music will be what is remembered about Michael Jackson. That, I hope is true. He's one of those people that I will remember where I was when I heard the news of his death.
I often think of that remade painting "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" that includes James Dean, Marylin Monroe, Elvis and Humphrey Bogart in a small diner. It kind of makes me chuckle when I think of Michael entering that diner. I wonder what Elvis would say to Michael.

Last night, my roommate Steve and I went over to Lockey's again. I found out Lockey's name is Lachlan. Makes sense now. We had another barbie by the fire. Because Lockey is the only person I know with a scale, I like going over to his place to do my weigh in. I lost another five pounds since the previous barbie. So once again, I feasted! Steve's friend Alyese brought marshmallows and m&m's. I couldn't have s'mores with that combination, but I could still have a marshmallow/chocolate combination. Alyese said she bought the biggest ones they had. They were mini! Oh well, I'm used to the American ones. The beverage I brought to the barbie was Michelob Ultra. It tasted like home. When I was buying the beer, I started to give the guy behind the counter a hard time about the beer's born on date being June, 2008. But then I reminded myself, I could have picked a fresh Australian beer if I wanted to and pulled back.
It was my dad's birthday yesterday, Happy birthday dad! Fathers Day and your birthday in the same week! Lucky guy. You're the best.

Today was my first day of work for Peter. That's all I know regarding my employer's name. He picked me up around 10am and we went to Bunnings Warehouse, which is just like the American Home Depot. He bought me some gloves and some protective gear for my face. He had his four year old son Thomas with him. Thomas is a very energetic talkative little guy. Peter has a pretty nice car that has a DVD player in the back so Thomas can watch and not talk for a few minutes. Imagine if we had that as kids? Unfortunately he is also going through a divorce and it is very apparent in his demeanor. He talked about it quite a bit with me throughout the day and it reminded me of some other jobs I've had in the past where sometimes I was the only person around to talk about the tough times for someone else. One sentence he said that stuck with me was "Divorce destroys families." Sad, isn't it?

So Peter's place is beautiful. It sits on top of this incredibly steep hill in Engadine, about 15 minutes drive from my suburb of Gymea. For those of you from Keene, imagine that house we used to live in on 77 Prospect St. Imagine that yard and what a nightmare it was to mow. Now this property here isn't as big as Prospect St., but there is enough work to do here for a couple of 77 Prospect St. properties.

The first job Peter had me do was to weedwack a pretty big area of grass that hadn't been cut in over six months. Knee high or higher basically. I didn't have one of those normal weed whackers, I had one of those industrial metal blade weed whackers, which are called whipper snippers here. I whacked for maybe 40 minutes or more and my arms were about to fall off. The harness I was wearing was just a bit too big, so instead of just hanging off the harness, I had to physically lift this heavy weed whacker. It wasn't the weight that hurt so much as the shaking of the motor. When I finally stopped whacking, my hands were aching! So I gave the weed whacker a rest for the day and mowed and mowed until the grass was pretty low. There is still a ton of grass to be picked up on another day.

Peter's ex wife was actually at the house which made things a bit awkward. Not awkward, but just tense even though there wasn't any fighting or anything like that. I guess you could just describe the feeling as cold. It was one of the most beautiful homes I've seen, but there was no love in that house. Even the dog, a little overweight lab, looked lonely. She did make me lunch, which was great. Roast beef sandwiches, but basically stayed out of sight.

Uncle Daryl would laugh at this next bit. I do consider myself to have the most knowledge of tools in my immediate family, but really that isn't very impressive. My dad might have some skills, but Uncle Daryl is the handy man we call when something needs to be built or removed. The next thing Peter had me do was cut up some bamboo trees with a machete. Yep, Ryan was going to be swinging a machete. My immediate thoughts were not a question of how I was going to chop off a limb, but when. I've never swung a machete before. You're supposed to do a backhand motion so you don't chop your knees up. I did alright with it, but I was being cautious. Not worth cutting my shin off. It would probably have been funny to watch me swing the thing though.

Later in the day I helped Peter make some stairs out of concrete. Again, Daryl if you're reading this, this is the part where I do most of the standing and watching because Peter brought out tools like a power drill and a steel rod cutter. I don't even know the name of the tool. I'm the guy who is supposed to be helping Peter because of his bad back! Anyway, one part of making a step is to put steel rods in the middle where the concrete will go so that the stairs won't slide. After he had me drill a few holes for the steel rods, and then taking over after realizing how slow I was going, he had me hammer a couple of the rods in. If you want to laugh, picture me swinging a hammer, and batting probably .450 while trying to hit the rod. I pounded half of em in, and so did Peter, but I hope he smiled, because it had to of been comical. I did light heatedly mention that maybe my skills were lacking with tools and he laughed and said "I wasn't going to say anything."

Thankfully the rain came soon after that. Peter then showed me what I'd be doing in the next few weeks. A lot of painting is to be done. Part of the outside of the house needs to be painted. There's an overhang up near the top in particular. Because of the incline of the house, he said it is too dangerous to paint with ladders, so instead we will be up on the roof painting over the side. The roof is flat by the way. I'm not really scared of heights,(I'm scared of FALLING from heights, hehe) so it shouldn't be a problem getting up there. For those of you worrying, do not worry. I will not do anything that puts me in danger of getting hurt.

I'm guessing that I'll only be working for Peter for probably 2 or 3 weeks out of the next six, maybe more though as he will allow me to come by the house when he's not there. He is a kind person, he offered me a couple of beers (after handling the machinery) and said if I was able to work more than just six or seven weeks, he would have bought me work boots. He paid me pretty generously too, almost more than I think I deserved. He will be good company. I hope I can be good company for him. It is one of those many short relationships I've collected through the years that will probably be remembered for a lifetime. Looking back on how I just described the day, it wasn't miserable being there and I do look forward to going back.

Alright everyone, I am exhausted. Going to go relax and wait for Jack Bauer to start. Tomorrow I am stepping up my running a bit as I'm preparing for a 11 kilometer (6.8 mile) race at the end of July. Then tomorrow night is another roller hockey game.

Hope to talk to you soon.

I'll try to get a picture of me with the machete, and will leave you with something I hope to have when I return home.

1 comment:

Jon said...

Great stuff here, Ry. I like how you are willing to do anything in the yard, but with a level head that has caution in the back of your mind. Probably makes a lot of us reading back home feel very good, that you are that cautious. Who am I kidding, I'm scared of all that sh*t so feel free to rip me about "caution".

When you really think about the drugs and plastic surgery, I think the surprise with MJ is that he even lasted to 50 years old. His music will hold up, I agree, but it is amazing the pass that people are giving him on the young children stuff....