As the year comes to an end, somewhere between the regret of eating too much…
In this edition of Home Stories, Cass and Ashley visit Melanie and Jason’s Holder home that’s a real smokeshow. No, really…
I worked with Melanie Vicary around eight years ago and we became good work buddies during that time.
On the few occasions that we’ve run into each since then, Mel reminisced that those days were a real career highlight for her in terms of a brilliant team culture—a culture that I put it down to the team constantly applying a liberal amount of humour to hard work.
So when Cass and I jumped in the car last Sunday morning for this Home Story and she asked, “Who are we visiting this week?” my answer was short—”An old work friend”.
Mel (or ‘Vickers’ as we used to call her) and her husband Jason purchased their three-bedroom Holder home in 1998. At that point it was tiny but then again, so was their family.
Over the next decades, the house expanded in perfect sync with their growing family, which now includes no less than four children—and a cat. Mel and Jason were living in the house while it was being extended, which they said was doable, but far from easy.
The worst experience was a young plasterer walking in on a pregnant Mel in the shower—which you could imagine involved a lot of screaming from both sides. Mel laughed it off, but the young guy never managed to look Mel in the eye again.
Now, they’ve got the home of their dreams.
“We’re really happy with our home and love everything about it,” says Mel. “Perhaps aside from the main living room’s high-angled ceilings, which does make the TV look like an altar.”
While Mel was saying this, Jason rolled his eyes and I added that Vickers was definitely the right nickname in this instance.
Once the house was finished structurally, the couple began to add in things like a water tank, solar panels, a huge veggie garden and a chook pen to be as sustainable as possible. And once that was done, they started to add the art and the smokers. Yep, art and smokers.
Mel has a thing for art, which she says surprises even her. Mel sees specific art pieces at graduation exhibitions or during trips overseas and they just speak to her. She then instantly hands over cash while Jason gets a twitchy eye.
I’m not sure why Mel’s love of art surprises her—I feel that her appreciation for aesthetics is given away by that denim jumpsuit perfectly matching the new cast on her arm.
Jason on the other hand cares little for fashion or art, but he definitely makes up for it in his mastery of the smoker. I used the word mastery for a reason, because there is a long competition going on between Mel and Jason’s close friends as to who can smoke the best meat ever. They take it really, really seriously.
There are special electronic gadgets and special bits of wood soaked in juices, and voting, and judging, and disqualifications and even a trophy…all followed by a feast. I could just imagine how good it would taste especially with all those home-grown veggies from the backyard.
Somewhere between the chats about their home, their growing family, Mel’s love of art and Jason’s skills of a true smoke master, I realised what was so enjoyable about that workplace eight years ago.
Yes, it was the humour, but it was really the ability to relate on many levels despite having quite different lives. Come to think about it, when Cass asked who we were going to visit I should have dropped the word ‘work’ and just said, “Some old friends”.
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Read all of Ashley’s Home Stories series here.
Photography: Cass Atkinson