Announcement: Introduction To My Blog, My Family and My Interests

Posted By on September 23, 2010

Jeff with Todd

Hi my name is Jeff O’Bree and this is my first attempt at blogging.  I intend just adding things about my family  Shirley and Todd, as they happen and things I’m interested in. My interests are wide ranging starting with my occupation as a lawyer. After 21 years in the profession I still enjoy it. Of course my family is my #1 interest and pastime and we spend as much quality time together as is possible. Keeping fit is important to me as it keeps my mind clear and gives me a sense of well being.  In winter the gym is a good place to go but when the weather is better you’ll find me out on my bike, or walking in the countryside.  I am also a keen gardener which is an activity we share as a family. Diet is also important to me and while I really enjoy my food I am careful to buy as much organic produce as I can and avoid processed products. Having a large garden area is perfect for us as we grow some of our own vegetables. There’s nothing like eating your own produce and the flavors are amazing. Sometimes when I have to have a business lunch with clients and I’m served a salad, the tomatoes are tasteless! Any wonder they add so much dressing these days!

Red wine is also a love of mine. I don’t drink a lot but really love to try different wines especially when I travel to other countries or regions. I have a cellar and collect wines I like. I store my wine based on it’s variety and the recommended drinking time. This way I can compare how the wine has aged. To remind myself I keep notes, nothing too elaborate just my impressions.  Overall my favorite style of wine is Shiraz, particularly Australian Shiraz from their Barossa Valley. It’s not easy to get a good Aussie red here but I have managed to find a supplier who ships to me when required.

Music is another passion. I’ve always got some music going when I’m at work, at home relaxing or in the garden. My iPod must be due for it’s million mile service! My taste is fairly broad but I do like Trad Jazz, especially New Orleans style. I was in New Orleans back in 1997 and had a fantastic time. I can listen to country music, the classics, 60′s rock and roll and some of the latest hits as long as it’s not rap or heavy metal!

Over the years I have done a lot of travel to all parts of the world. Most of it when I was single and had just left university. I have great memories of my times hitch-hiking through Europe, I guess it’s not done so much these days. Hitching seems to be discouraged and I suppose that’s fair enough. The worlds not as safe as it was 20 years ago. My favorite places are quite varied, as I guess it’s the people you meet that provide the experience and the memories. London was great fun and it was easy to meet fellow travelers. Of course Amsterdam was something so different from anything I’d come across before ! Another place with fond memories was Ireland. The O’Bree’s are Irish and I set off to find my ancestors, I’m not sure I did but I had a fantastic time with these most hospitable of people. I found several families with the same name and maybe we are related but we had no way of knowing! That didn’t bother them, they just took me in and introduced me around as their cousin from Canada! One day I’ll get around to doing some family history research the correct way!

One of my trips took me to Australia. Those guys, especially in the country towns love to drink beer. We’d spend days ‘boozing’ and then days recovering! The Aussies really know how to have fun. The place I was working had a river so we’d be swimming or water skiing at every chance. In the winter months, which were really very mild we’d go ‘bush bashing’ in our utes (A ute, short for utility, is a pick-up). My favorite Australian City is Melbourne. Most people in North America know of Sydney but for my money Melbourne is the best. It’s big yet feels small and relaxed. So many parks and gardens to walk in and if you like sports then it has it all. They get huge crowds to all types of sport, because Melbourne people are mad on sports!

Well that’ s me. I’m not sure anyone will ever read this but I guess it gives me an outlet to express a few things. I’ll keep updating as the urge grabs me and time permits.

Goldilocks the Gold Fish

Posted By on May 7, 2012

Todd had been after me to start a small aquarium at home.  He has always been fascinated with ornamental fish and is pretty sure that he can take care of the aquarium on his own.  But, Shirley and I are convinced that he will lose interest after a few days and it would become one more responsibility that we will have to take on.  So, we reached a compromise and agreed to get just one gold fish to start off with and he has to show us that he can take care of ‘Goldilocks’ yeah that’s what Todd calls her!

So here I am gazing at Goldie swimming around in the fish bowl while Todd fusses around her. It’s been a week now.  Let’s see how long she will hold his fancy.  In the meantime, Shirley and I are also hooked and are reading up on caring for home aquariums and wondering if we should go in for a proper fish tank and fill it up with some of the beautiful little fish we saw at the pet store.


Short Days and the Dentist!

Posted By on April 20, 2012

Since Daylight Saving stopped the days here in Melbourne are closing in. It’s amazing how you get used to the longer days in summer and then suddenly they are gone! Of course back in Canada, being further away from the equator than Australia we had very short dark days in winter. The weather here is very mild compared to home, but you get used to it so fast and when it turns a few degrees cooler you really notice it.

Life has been going on as per normal, mostly work for me and school for Todd. Shirley has been doing some study and hopes to pick up a PA’s job when she’s done with that.

Easter was a short break for us and we went to Echuca. Big mistake going up on Good Friday, the traffic was horrendous! Apart from that we had a very nice time and went for a ride on a Paddle Steamer down the Murray River.

Yesterday I had to go and have my teeth cleaned by the hygienist at my dentist in South Yarra. I really hate them poking about in my mouth but I guess it’s necessary! I recently had a check up at the same dental clinic and got the all clear!

Well it’s Saturday and we have to head off to Prahran Market to visit Gary’s Quality Meats where we’ll stock up on his fantastic dry aged beef and then do our vegie shopping. Until next time……

Todd is Fussy!

Posted By on March 29, 2012

Todd seems to be at that age where the way he looks is becoming the number 1 priority. Not that I think that’s a bad thing! I guess it’s a sign of growing up and maybe being part of his peer group. Mind you it can be expensive! he knows not to push it too much but we do like to keep him up with his mates in the latest fashion stakes – only to a point ! It’s a balancing act. Anyway the latest thing is his hair! He has become very fussy about who cuts his hair and has been very disappointed with his last two stylists. He says they don’t listen and I know what he means. I find it so annoying when the hairdresser just runs off at the mouth and you know they haven’t heard a word you’ve said. The result is almost always poor and you have to find another salon. Well finally we came across a hairdressers in Malvern who Todd loves, and now I’ve had him cut my hair and I’m impressed too. Shirley has made an appointment and I’m hoping she’ll be just as happy.  It’s so good when you can find someone or even a product that you just love and can stick with it.

American Politics

Posted By on March 26, 2012

Everywhere I turned online I was running into news about the Republican Primaries that I got curious about the American election process.   To add to this, I am reading a very interesting book on American history.  It is funny really that I never gave the US much thought when I was in Canada!  Interestingly, when I mailed an American friend thinking she might be able to put me out of my misery in trying to figure out how they elect their President, all she could say was that she wasn’t into politics and that she was fairly sure that Obama was a Democrat!  Guess I am on my own on this mission.  Yesterday, Shirley and I watched ‘The Ides of March’ and it only served to make American politics more complicated and shady!

Other than this new found obsession, I have been leading a fairly normal work-home-work life.  Todd is busy with school and his other friends but yesterday he did show some interest in politics when he saw me breaking my head over it!



Weekend woes

Posted By on March 4, 2012

What could be worse than having to go to the dentist on a weekend?  Well, that’s what I had to do.  I really hate going to the dentist so I avoid going for routine checkups.  Shirl is very brave that way and never misses a dental appointment.

I had been neglecting my teeth for awhile and the pain got really bad at work on Friday and I had to break off early.  I get home and try to keep it quiet but Shirl notices and gets on my case.  She quickly calls the dentist and gets me an appointment for Saturday and all plans for a lovely, relaxing weekend go flying out the window.  She is very kind and never rubs it in but she can’t help giving me those ‘I told you so’ looks!

For a change, this dentist was quite an outgoing personality so by the time he chatted me up, I wasn’t as strung up as I was when I entered his office.  Had to get a root canal done and trust me, it isn’t something I ever want to go through again.  And no way am I missing my next check up!


Posted By on February 21, 2012

Since we’ve been living in Melbourne we have been exploring all the great places to buy fresh food. We have always believed in buying as little as possible at the supermarket and getting as much as possible from fresh food and farmer’s markets. Our local market is the Prahran Market and while it does seem to a be more expensive than some of the others there is no denying the variety and quality. Recently we discovered Gary’s Quality Meats who sell organic and free range meats. They are not full on organic butchers but cater for all needs. Many people are happy with ‘conventional’ meats but for us the free range and organic taste way better and come with the added benefit of being chemical free.gary’s Meats carry a range of organic lamb called Dorper, which I believe is a South African cross breed. The lamb comes from the Flinders Ranges and is called Saltbush Dorper because the sheep graze on the wild saltbush. This gives the lamb a great flavour. We just love the cutlets and the loin roasts.

On  a Sunday I’m in charge of lunch and I either roast some Dorper lamb cutlets or a Dorper lamb loin roast. I add garlic, tomatoes and onion to the pan and in another pan I do potatoes, carrots and pumpkin. The family love it!!


Valentine’s Day

Posted By on February 14, 2012

I had quite forgotten that it was Valentine’s Day till I logged into Facebook!  I can imagine what Shirley would have had to say if I had let the day go by without doing anything! I frantically made plans and surprised Shirley at work and dragged her to this awesome restaurant South Yarra.  I had gone there for a business lunch a few weeks ago and had meant to tell Shirley about the restaurant but forgot … it was good that I had forgotten as it was a pleasant surprise for Shirl and we had a terrific time.  I guess sometimes it is better not to make elaborate plans.

Now we are planning a quiet dinner at home .. just the two of us.  Todd’s gone to his friend’s place and will be staying over.  It turned out to be a not so bad day after all!

Some Gardening

Posted By on February 7, 2012

Shirl and I thought it was high time we paid some attention to our garden so we donned our gloves and grabbed some tools and set out into our much-neglected garden.  Weeding, I must admit, is not something I am very keen on as I nearly always end up straining my back.  I try to pass on that job to Shirl as she has more patience and a definitely more flexible and strong back!  We had picked up quite a few plants at the local nursery and I went around finding the best location for the newcomers.   We did quite a bit of weeding and planting and are happy to say that the garden actually looks good now!  We have also placed an order for some neat garden furniture and when that arrives, we can hang out more in the garden.

Caesar loves to dig so I had to pick out places that are set a little back for the new plants to take root otherwise I knew they wouldn’t last a day.   The lovely new rose plant that we had bought had quite a few new buds and so I decided to put it in a pot for the moment away from Caesar’s paws.  The leaves were so fresh and the buds were just slowly opening out.  It took a couple of days of watering and careful nurturing before the first bud opened.  It is a lovely yellow rose and the other buds look like they will open up soon too.  It is now ready to transplant to our little rose garden that is still going strong.  I am now pestering Shirl to make another trip to the nursery to pick out some more rose plants.  Shirl says it’s too much work and it should wait for another long sunny weekend.

Carpet Cleaning

Posted By on December 19, 2011

All the bedrooms in our house have carpet. Luckily the main living area is tiled which can seem a little cold in winter but that’s preferable to having to be so careful with everything so you don’t stain the carpet ! Over the weekend  we had a mishap in our main bedroom. Todd was watching the TV in the living room so Shirl and I decided to have a quiet drink together in our bedroom. We picked out a good bottle of Heathcote Shiraz and decanted it into a carafe which I had just rinsed out. As I was carrying it into the bedroom it slipped out of my hand and smashed on the end of the bed. The wine went everywhere and of course created a large stain on the carpet. We quickly grabbed some soda water and patted it in. Unfortunately it didn’t come out completely. I was so annoyed with myself. What a waste of great wine! But not only that I was stupid to not dry the outside of the carafe properly!!

Anyway we waited until Monday morning and started looking for a carpet cleaner. We searched online and found a few that serviced our area. I’d never thought about it before but there are different types of carpet cleaning and I had no idea which is best. There’s ‘dry’ and of course ‘wet’. But which one? We decided to go with the dry cleaning as it seemed to make more sense to be able to walk on the carpet soon after it was cleaned. I searched for carpet cleaning Melbourne and soon found someone who could do the job that afternoon. Now our bedroom is back to normal, in fact better than normal! We actually decided to have all the bedrooms done as the guy explained that dust builds up and can be a health hazard. So now all our bedrooms are fresh and clean!

Todd’s new hobby

Posted By on December 3, 2011

I never thought I would be able to get Todd interested in stamp collecting but he has taken to it like fish to water.  I used to be an avid collector of stamps from all over the world and my mom found it exasperating that I always had my face burrowed in my stamp albums.  I mentioned this in passing to Todd and he wanted to know everything.  He finds it very fascinating as he hasn’t see many stamps considering hardly anything comes by snail mail these days.  So I dug out my old albums and also taught him how to remove the stamps from the few envelopes that were lying around.  He is convinced that he will stumble upon a rare stamp sooner or later.  It feels like a return to my childhood days watching Todd organizing his stamp collection.  Shirley says she too dabbled in philately when she was in college and seeing Todd so interested brings back a lot of memories for both of us.