Cafe, Dolby

Kiddo and Mic ventured out of their house yesterday, and took a walk to their favourite cafe. Cafe Blanco, their local, welcomed them back warmly, we were told. Little Abby was in the pram with them – her first trip to a local cafe. Fabulous.

Later that morning, they went for an assessment of Little Abby’s hearing. She passed. Her sound system (probably better than Dolby Atmos) is great. Fabulous.

We were with them last night, delivering their dinner and a quick chat. Like Little Abby, we listened. Well. I think. Hopefully. We then headed back to our “home” in Chapman. It remains a fabulous journey.


“Incident in Stromlo” Detected

I had a run in Melbourne, through (more or less) my usual route, before we took the drive to come up to Canberra last Monday.

On Tuesday morning, I ran on the Cooleman Ridge Nature Reserve, just at the back of the property we’re staying in Chapman. It is a beautiful spot, with numerous vantage points to take in the sunrise. It was so good I kept doing it every morning.

On Friday morning however, just nearing the 4km mark, I was distracted by a couple of gorgeous looking dogs. I tripped, and stumbled forwards a few meters before falling. As I fell, I could feel a strong pull on the back of my right thigh.

It took me a little while to recover and when I could finally stand up, a lady with those 2 dogs asked if I was ok. I said I wasn’t sure, as I felt blood flowing from my left knee, left palm, and left forehand. I knew something was amiss with my left thigh. It took me a couple more minutes before I could slowly walk away. As I walked a bit more, I could feel the pain on the back of my right thigh getting worse.

The walk back to our temporary home in Chapman was about 2km, but it took me just under an hour. I had to stop about half a dozen times. Several times, I thought I would black out.

When I got home, I sat on a chair and that’s when the dam broke and the pain hit me like a train. I went into shock, felt cold, shivered and sat there just convulsing as Tress tried to ring a few doctors. The host of our home then came around, offered some blankets and cold packs, before suggesting we called an ambulance. Tress did, and about an hour later, the ambos arrived and I went into the emergency department of the Canberra Hospital.

The medical team was very good, as they managed my pain and checked on me. No fractures. No concussion. No nervous system damage. Badly torn hamstring is the suspected cause of my pain. The young doctor who attended to me said she would confirm the diagnosis with a (more senior) consultant and I was left alone for a little while. I was given an array of painkillers and they worked. Several hours later, they said I could leave. Tress picked up more painkillers from the pharmacy at the hospital, we got a pair of crutches, had the wounds washed and dressed, and left the hospital in the arvo.

It has been over 3 days since the incident. The pain remains and I will have to manage it for maybe a week or two (at least, I think). Painkillers help. Of equal help however (if not more) is the exhilaration of holding little Abby in my arms, seeing her held by Tress, Kiddo or Mic. They soothe so well.

Temporary Abode

Tress and I worked ourselves a bit to the bone over the weekend. We tidied the house – inside and out – in preparation to leave it for a little while. We also shopped for stuff we wanted to use in our temporary abode here in Chapman, Canberra. It’s sort of a microcosm of an ante room, a theme of this blog.

We got into Canberra yesterday arvo, just after 3.30pm. We left home just before 8.30am, so it was the usual 7 hour drive. We had left the dogs with Heather the night before, the hardest of several hard things we had to do. I said to Tress all these “hard things” we’d done, should be left aside. The main focus is what counts. We’re in an ante room now, awaiting.

We “checked in” to our AirBnB home here in Chapman, ACT, yesterday arvo. We chatted with Fiona, the host for a bit and then began to unpack and set up our home for the next 5 weeks (at least). I unloaded the Mazda that was packed to the rafters, up and down the beautiful steps that lead to the wing of this lovely home. Tress unpacked, I set up my work desk to replicate my home office as closely as possible, and contacted Kiddo and Mic to let them know we’ve arrived in Canberra. A bit later, we made the 5 minute drive to their home and met them to catch up for dinner. We trekked into the city, had dinner and then caught the “Enlighten” event before heading back home. Our ante room home.

This morning, I went out for a walk/run through the Cooleman Ridge Nature Reserve. It is a much more beautiful spot than my usual run routes back in Forest Hill, so I stopped more to take more pictures that I usually did. I had prayed earlier in the morning, that the wait would not be long. I quietly hoped the arrival would be on time, but acknowledged He makes all things beautiful in His time. So, we await while I work away in this ante room.

Nic’s Squeeze, Day getting closer

Our niece Nicole, who now works in a hospital in Taree, northern New South Wales, has been going out with a bloke who has just started a Master’s degree course in RMIT here in Melbourne. Nicole told us about Jonathan when we visited her back in January. We got in touch with him, and on Saturday, Jonathan took the train from the city to come out here in the east and we picked him up from the station at Syndal. We then headed for Mornington to spend the day there.

We had lunch in a brewery (the “Tar Barrel”). The “Barbeque Board” was good and there was a lot of food so we took some in a “doggy bag”, for Jon to take with him. Jon and I sampled their beers too (I had a couple, he only had the one beer). We then drove to the pier, took a walk there and mingled with the very busy crowd, before driving further to Sorrento to introduce Jon to the famous vanilla slice.

Jon told us he comes from a family of 4. The eldest and youngest are girls, sandwiching 2 boys. He’s the second (the older boy). His dad was from Johore and his mum, Taiping. He had done his IT undergraduate course in Pekan, in the state of Pahang. He met Nicole in the Penang Chinese Methodist Church. I told him Tress and I too, met in church. We chatted throughout the day. He comes across as a fine young man so I guess Nicole has done well.

We got back at about 6, and dropped him off at the Glen Waverley station, for him to get back to the city. Back home, we walked the little fellows before going back home to put our tired feet up.

The night before, we were treated to a wonderful home cooked Sarawak Laksa at the Hippos’. Jason and Mel were there too. We chatted and caught up over the very good laksa. Jesslyn had taken on a new job with MS and would be leaving the Salvos. We talked about the growing pains of their eldest and other stuff that make up our journeys in life. They’ve become close friends and catching up with them and Jason and Mel is almost always fun and heart warming.

On Sunday, we were at St Alf’s and Rene talked about Matt 18 – the part about dealing with someone in church who sinned. I said to Tress, in a “discussion time” after the talk, that I don’t think we have allowed ourselves to be such a part of the lives of anyone in St Alf’s that we will come anywhere near seeing someone with any problems with any sin. Maybe that is what we need to do – simply allowing ourselves to be part of the lives of more people there. It hasn’t been an easy thing to do. Maybe it’s a cultural barrier, maybe it’s just me being tired a lot and not wanting to invest time or effort into taking relationships deeper than superficial greetings. We’ve been in small groups since we started going to St Alf (10 years now) but this remains a difficult thing to do.

Later in the arvo, I did the week’s cook. Our vegetable patch has yielded a fair bit of tomatoes so I had decided to make a pasta sauce and did a vegetarian spaghetti for the week. It tasted good so hopefully the week’s lunches will be good.

It’s now just over a week before Kiddo’s parcel is expected to be delivered. Little A will be here soon. Excitement, trepidation about how I’d manage to work and cook out of a small Air BnB joint , and a sense of wonder – they have been a potent and consuming cocktail of thoughts and emotions in recent months. It will be an experience that is entirely new for Tress and I and I have no clue how I’d navigate this part of my journey. I need to ask for that pillar of cloud by day and pillar of fire by night, perhaps.

Routines and Adam

Routines have indeed returned, with this weekend proving this to a large extent. I did however, struggle with the task of tidying up the lawns. I trimmed the hedge but it was a battle against a strained back. It was delicate and I had to be extra careful and deliberate in my actions, particularly when I was lifting the trimmer above my head. Stepping up and down the ladder also took more care so the whole exercise felt more tiring than it usually did. The warm morning added to the effort so that by the time I was sweeping up a couple of hours later, I was soaked with my sweat. Tress and the little Padawan was with me for the most part however, so that added to the fun and took some of the pains away.

After we got ourselves cleaned up, we headed out for lunch and then took a long drive, out west. We had wanted to go and see Adam (Tress’ cousin) who had taken ill and had been at the Royal Melbourne Hospital. While we were having lunch, Tress sent A Pin (Adam’s mum), A Hooi and Marina (Adam’s sister) some messages to ascertain if he was still at the RMH. We then got news that he had been transferred to Sunshine Hospital. The family wanted that as it would be closer to home, and parking would be less problematic. So Tress and I took the drive out to Sunshine, a drive that took us almost an hour and a bit of dosh in tolls. All that would have been ok if we got to see him. It turned out the hospital has a rule that a patient is only allowed 2 visitors a day. So we didn’t get to see him but A Pin came down from the ward to see us, and spent some time over coffee in the cafeteria to have a chat with us. We gave her the card and magazine we had picked up for him. She told us how it all happened. She’s an incredibly strong person. Having cared for U Jin (her husband and Adam’s father) some 10 years ago through his bouts of cancer and brain surgery, she’s now the primary carer for Adam. She got him on a WhatsApp video call with us on her phone and we saw and spoke with him briefly. He appeared tired but his prognosis was positive, albeit the journey back to his old state of health would likely be a long one.

By the time we got back from Sunshine Hospital, it was past 5.30pm. The cricket was still on at the oval so we let the two boys out on our freshly mowed lawns and played with them there. I was spent by the time the cricket was over, and spent the rest of the night with my feet up, a glass of wine in hand, watching a re-run of Black Panther on TV.

On Sunday we did the usual thing. St Alf’s, then lunch and then cooking in the arvo. It was a much cooler day but the arvo was beautiful so we took the little fellow to the oval. The older one was contented to just be out on the lawns. We have been watching “Poker Face” as well as “Clarkson’s Farm” so we watched an episode of each before going to bed. Routines have indeed returned, and I hope Adam’s return soon too, albeit a bit different so that his life gets back on track.

Routines return

The weekend past felt like Tress’ and my normal routines have returned. We went out to a local diners on Friday night to wind down the week. The Groove Train at the Forest Hill Chase shopping centre is where we go when we want a quick and convenient joint, and when we have not thought about where to go. On Friday night however, I said to Tress we’d probably cross it off as an option, going forward. The food has become very ordinary – stodgy even – and the glass of wine I had, was underwhelming and looked like it was a very miserly pour. I said this to a staff who said they’d take note but nothing was done. We’ll have to find a different “quick and convenient joint”.

On Saturday, it rained in the morning so we stayed indoor and did some cleaning. Tress vacuumed, I wiped down surfaces, and gave the coffee machine, toaster, and other bits and pieces, a good clean up. I also rearranged my home office so that my three screens reflect what I have in the office, as there has been some non-synchronized screen layouts recently. Later, when the rains abated, I cleaned the Lexus to swap with the Mazda as our daily rider for the next few weeks. As I was wiping down the Lexus, I saw a couple of prospective tenants for the new homes next door. One is an Asian male, who looked youngish. That was for the unit further away from us. A NZ family (they looked like Maoris) looked at the unit closer to us. They looked like a friendly bunch – hopefully they’ll be good neighbours.

Later in the arvo, we drove to Wantirna South, and picked up a double-boiler appliance. I had bought it online, and want to use it to double boil some soups for Kiddo. We then had lunch in a cafe nearby, before heading off for some grocery shopping. We bumped into Chin Moi and Ing Tng, and chatted for a little while. We told them about Kiddo and Mic’s expanding family too.

The second half of Saturday turned out to be a gorgeous one, with the earlier rains and dark clouds disappearing. We walked the two boys, and returned to sample the soup I had cooked in the double boiler. It was very nice and we’re excited about using it for more soups for Kiddo and ourselves. We then settled down to watch more episodes of “1883”. This prequel to the Yellowstone series has been even better than “1923”. “1923” was also very good, with Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren playing strong characters to fight sheep farmers from their land, but “1883” tells a tale of a very long and harsh journey. I thought it was very good, with the creator/writer (Taylor Sheridan) making important cameo appearances in key moments.

At St Alf’s on Sunday, it was a service to celebrate the 10 years of service that Mike McNamara had put in. It was his last service, as he’d be moving to another parish in Ivanhoe (St James) to be the vicar there. We had come to St Alf’s soon after Mike started, so Mike had been the minister for the congregation we’ve been part of, the whole time we’ve been at St Alf’s. It was a very good service, with Mike and Jo (his wife) being fully acknowledged and appreciated.

After St Alf’s we did our usual lunch and Sunday arvo cook. I did a vego noodles and Tress got stuck into her ethereal space. By the time I had cleaned up and packed away the lunches and took the boys out to the oval, I felt spent. I was physically tired but I felt I had had a good weekend’s “rest”. As we walked the boys on the oval, I could feel my physical strength sapped but my mental and emotional “batteries” being recharged. I guess that’s not a bad thing. I could feel however, that our routines are well and truly back and for that’s I’m very grateful.

Paddy Teh (6 Chim) – Her take on the TEH Reunion (a gem)

Every few years (3?) my late father’s side of the family organise a reunion where they meet at Fraser’s Hill, a hilltop resort, for a few days. They recall the legacy my grandparents left behind, and sought to “pass the torch” so that the faith journey that my late grandfather started, will continue and continue to flourish.

I have never been privileged to attend those reunions but I’ve followed accounts of what happens there.

It appears my 6 chek and 6 chim (Stephen and Paddy) were there for the recent most reunion that took place end Dec 2022/early Jan 2023. The following is what Paddy wrote, and it’s so heartwarming I thought I’d include it in my journal here.

TEH REUNION 2022 – from a first timer’s perspective

On Thursday 29/12/2022, the sun shyly peeped
after a lengthy rainy spell.
A convoy of cars meandered the bends
from KKB (Kuala Kubu
Baru) to Fraser’s Hill,
after our lunch date
in Restaurant 98.

Members of the Teh clan
made their way to Rumah Methodist,
nestled among the luxuriant greens
for the Teh Reunion 2022.
I wonder what would this Reunion be
to a first timer like me.

It began on a rapturous note
when old ties were reknotted
and threads of new ones emerged,
once the walls of awkwardness
came a crumbling
and in the room, warm joy came a filling.

A huge wave of oneness
swept over us,
and we were swimming – surfing –
in a sea of Belonging.
We discarded our initial nervousness,
when we sang “Lai Sin Ya So Jin Ho”
and later when into the dining room we did go
our Doxology harmonised so melodiously
we sounded like angels – so heavenly!

Oh yes, I was impressed by our “mini mart”
with goodies from near and far.
Pouchy pomelos from Ipoh,
Exotic XO sauce from Singapore,
Tempting Tim Tams from Australia,
Crunchy cookies from Hong Kong,
a variety of gourmet teas
with more varieties of coffee,
and – even our very own
home-grown-brewed Timah
or was it Fatimah?
But do you know what was missing?
Our fruity king!

As an old newbie, what I liked most
As an old newbie, what I liked most
was the intergenerational mix
when in group games, we were thrown in a fix.
What did a serene 84–year old year old have in common have in common
with a bouncy 4–year old?
A zest for fun, frolic, laughter and life
and on a long-awaited-to-be-used adrenalin we thrived
The energetic youngies were sensitively considerate,
they gave the slow poker oldies time to hesitate and re–calibrate

As a first timer, I believe
that the Teh “reunions” were birthed many years ago
when the Teh family gathered in 29 Lorong Duku
when the Teh family gathered in 29 Lorong Duku
to worship in songs,
read the Bible,
share the Word,
every Friday.

Our patriarch Teh Chye Heng and matriarch Quay Ah E
had the spiritual foresight
and insight
to bring the family in unity
to honour our GOD Almighty.
A “vision” that was re–captured by Ryan Lian
who shared on Jesus, our Living Hope
for Jesus is the only One who helps us to cope
in times of trials and triumphs.triumphs.

A timely message about a timeless God!

To me, this Reunion was more than just
coming together.
It was a time of building each other in the Lord
as we shared our lives,
our ministries,
our struggles,
our successes

and being reminded that we have a faithful God,
who is always with us.

Our patriarch and matriarch watched from heaven
and smilled with deep contentment
when after three days, that convoy of cars descended
the Hill.

We thank God for inheriting such a priceless legacy,
God and Family.


Taree and Back Again

Tress and I dropped the boys off at Heather’s on Friday night. Early on Saturday morning, we headed to Tullamarine, and caught a flight up to Newcastle. It’s the closest city to Taree, where we could fly directly from Melbourne. We arrived at Newcastle shortly before 10am, picked up a rental car and drove up to Taree. Or, more precisely, Old Bar. Old Bar is some 16km from Taree. It’s a small beach town, with a population of fewer than 3,000. Our niece, Nicole, has been there for a couple of weeks. She works as an medical intern at the Manning Base Hospital in Taree, and shares a house in Old Bar with 3 other fellow interns.

We arrived at Old Bar around noon, and headed to a cafe, where we met Nicole. It was wonderful to see her again after more than 3 years. After lunch at the cafe, we walked took a short walk to her home for the next 2 years, and were introduced to her housemates and colleagues. Tress and I then checked into a motel some 600 meters away, and then took a drive with Nicole into Taree. She showed us around, including the hospital where she’d be working. Later that night, we went to dinner and a couple of the young interns joined us. We had dinner in a little Thai restaurant in Taree, then headed back to Old Bar for some really nice ice cream in a shop that is just across the road from their home.

Tress and I then went back to the motel. Tired as we were, we caught the ladies’ singles final of the Australian Open, before crashing out in bed.

The next morning, Tress and I took a walk to the beach. It was a little after sunrise but it was beautiful all the same. We then walked to a bakery before heading back to the motel to get ready for church. Tress and Nicole had googled around and landed on one in Taree. It was the “One Life” church. People were really friendly there. After church, we went back to Old Bar, packed and checked out from the motel, and had lunch a fish and chips place (“Blowfish”) at the beach, before saying goodbye. Tress and I then drove back to Newcastle, where we whiled away walking through some parks in the city, stopped at a wharf pub which was heaving with lots of party going patrons. A live band was playing too, so we had a couple of drinks there and something to eat, before heading to the airport to return the rental car and catch the flight back to Melbourne. We got into Tullamarine a bit before 10pm, and got home way past 11pm.

It had been a long and hurried trip (some 2,400km return), but it was very reassuring to see our niece has truly become a wonderful person. She is warm, very smart, articulate, thoughtful and is always respectful to Tress and I. With her colleagues and housemates who all appear to be equally smart and switched on, I was assured she will be fine. She told us about Jon’s plan to come to Melbourne for a Master’s degree at RMIT for the next couple of years. She was the one who encouraged him to do that, and so he’d be here in a little over a week. That sounded to me like she is also forward thinking and planning for the future, which was even more reassuring. Sim would have no doubt been very proud of her, as Tress and I are.

The Rabbit Arrives, the Tiger leaves.

It was another busy week at work last week, so as is often the case, I had started to feel drain on Thursday night and dragged myself through Friday, finishing up a few pieces of work. Tress and I then had some downtime at the Flavours of Mekong place on Friday night, where I felt a bit rested and I even sensed being recharged in some way.

On Saturday, the boys had their clipping/grooming sessions booked in and that finished ay about 10am – the older LBJ started his at 8am, and the little Padawan, at 9am. The groomer has started to be a bit unhappy with how the little Padawan was a bit tricky to work on, and she had also increased her rates rather quickly. When I handed her what I thought was what was payable, she said I was $10 short. $190 for the both of them. Then she and I had a chat about what to do with the next one, as we’re scheduled to be in Canberra then. That too was testy and when that was over, I said to Tress just dealing with this groomer has become difficult and has stressed me out.

We then cleaned up and headed out for some grocery – it was Chinese New Year’s eve and Jason and Mel had invited us over, along with the Hippos. We had ordered a dish from the Mekong place but I had also wanted to cook another dish. So we headed to The Glen, which was just heaving. There was a queue for the roast pork/BBQ meat shop that stretched maybe 20-30m long and the whole place just felt really busy. I guess that also meant it felt festive. If we were in Klang, the wet market would have been filled out from dawn. I guess it’s a bit like Christmas at the Sydney Fish Markets where I’d start work at 1am and by about 4.30am, the first customers would stream in and by about 6am, the crowd would be about 10-12 deep.

We had a cosy and good time at Jason and Mel’s – we talked and ate, and Tress gave the Hippo girls their “angpows”.

The next day at St Alf’s Tress and I donned our red outfits and that invited a few comments and laughs. Many understood it was Chinese New Year and that was why we did that. Or, more politically correctly, it’s the “Lunar New Year”. Some said the Vietnamese version has this year as the year of the Cat! The rabbit takes second slot in Vietnamese communities I guess. Tress and I were also on communion duty and after service, I witnessed some doc signing for someone while we stayed behind for chats. We then left and had lunch at Donvale, at one of our favourite Malaysian joints (Laksa Village).

Later that arvo, I cooked the boys’ meals as well as our own lunches, before we took the boys to the oval. It had been a sunny, warm and still (relatively) day so it was very pleasant. All through the weekend, we’d been looking at WhatsApp messages with numerous pictures of our relos back home, celebrating the new year. I wished I could be there, but I did not miss the will through-the-night fireworks, so I guess it’s a mixed blessing of sorts. Tress had, on Friday night, also decided to come along with me to Taree next weekend. I had made plans to check out how Nic our niece is settling down there and it was really good to have Tress now coming along with me.

This will be a short week – Aus Day on Thursday and then an early night on Fri so we can make an early start on Sat morning to head north. The festive and family times continue, I guess.