Drenched Fete, Used Wheels

Tress and I had an early start – for a Saturday – to a diabolically wet and dirty day. We were up just after 6, and headed out the door by 7am. We stopped at Macca’s for a dirty brekky and (surprisingly pleasant) coffee.

The Manningham Salvos were having their annual fete and Tress and I were there as volunteers. The day was a washout however. It was one of those cold, grey and diabolically wet day where the rain just belted down, dumping up to 30-40mm in some parts of Melbourne. 

At the vast car park of the Manningham Salvos I was about to start the engine of the 12 seater “bus” when I thought I’d better check my phone. True enough there was a text. The student volunteers I was meant to pick up from Blackburn Station were running late. So Tress and I stayed behind to help the others set up. Tress helped in the kitchen to set up meals and snacks for sale, I helped move a barbeque, marquees, and generally cleared space for stalls to be set up.
My principal duties as a volunteer however were around driving. I picked a batch of students at 8.30am. When I dropped them off at the parish it started to rain. I did odd and ends and then drove to Vermont South to pick up some balloons for a clown who was coming later that morning. It may all be in the eastern suburbs but it takes a full 25 minutes from Doncaster to Vermont South, one way. Balloons picked up and dropped off, I was off again this time to an elderly’s home in Box Hill.

 Elgar Homes looked old and tired and a few of its residents were excited to be out for a day, away from what was probably a monotonous ground hog experience. They were elderly and looked and behaved in a way that could only be described as frail. Getting up the two steps into the bus a painstaking, laborious and time consuming task for most of them. I tried to help as much as I could but I very quickly learned I was not trained to do this job and I had to keep adapting and thinking how best to meet their needs. I wanted to make it as pleasant an afternoon as possible for as many of them as possible. 

As challenging as it was I have to say it gave me immense satisfaction when I heard them chatting amongst themselves, as I drove them up Elgar Road towards Doncaster Road, up Victoria Street towards the parish on Taunton Street. They were saying how good it was to get out, what a trip it would be and they were looking forward to eating different foods at the fete. I had a quiche and a sausage and while it was a good feed I have to say I need to re-check my values as I had said to Tress they were very ordinary fares. When I dropped them off back at the home later that afternoon it was again bucketing down and I could tell they were appreciative of the day out they had. It was probably the most satisfying part of my day.

When we left the parish Tress felt knackered and back home, she made us both some toasts and eggs – she wanted a nice meal at home and feel at rest – and we then just sat and rested.

 On Sunday, in dealing with chapter 4 of Exodus as a part of a new series on that book, Peter gave a very good sermon, particularly that but about making a connection between Exodus and oppression and social justice. It was more about God and His work around a covenantal relationship with Israel – a specific story – than it was about oppression in general.

After church we went to Glen Waverley to look at a car. Kiddo had wanted the Camry and I was happy to look for a small used car, just to get to the station and back every day. We found this old but low mileage easy maintenance car. The owners were a very mild mannered elderly Indian couple who had bought the car new when they migrated from India more than 10 years ago. They had kept the car all these years, as we have our Camry. We agreed to get it from them and then went home to do our usual Sunday cooking. 

Back home I said to Tress that last week we bought another house, in Canberra. This week we bought another car. I hope that is the last of our big ticket item purchases. I feel like we’re only taking the first steps of what looks like a long but interesting journey with Kiddo and Mic.

Why Tram 12 didn’t show

On most days a bit after 5 I’d take that short walk up Ross Street, turn left at Clarendon and walk towards tram stop 127. Tram 12 takes a few minutes to arrive to take a hoard of workers into town. The tram heads to Victoria Gardens but I get off at Collins/Spencer and walk up to Southern Cross station to take the commuter train out east.

Yesterday however, Tram 12 didn’t show. It was blowie, a bit warm and I have had a long day so I didn’t feel like walking into town. A cab showed up before long and I hailed it down. I invited the colleague I had met at the tram stop to jump in that cab with me. It turned out to be very informative ride.

The cabbie casually asked if I was catching the sky bus into the airport. It must have been the suit I was wearing. And that big backpack. I said no, just suburban train back home and I asked if he was a Punjabi, thinking we could have a quick conversation about faith, as the Sikh temple in Blackburn is often a talking point. He said he was a Pakistani. I said that means he is unlikely a Sikh and more likely a Muslim. He said he was a Muslim. He wasn’t interested in religion however and in a flash, he started talking about Chinese investments in Pakistan.

The Chinese Pakistan Economic Corridor is a 50+ billion-dollar infrastructure project. It takes one from Gwadar, purportedly one of the deepest ports of the world and a Pakistani gateway to the Arabian Sea and beyond, deep into western China in the regions of the Uighurs in Xinjiang. I listened with great curiosity as no one had ever told me about the “CPEC” with such passionate enthusiasm. I said to him it sounded like a modern day silk road and he nodded vigorously at me to signal his approval that this oriental gets it as he continued talking about how the Americans and Indians hate this project but the Iranians and Afghans love it.

This morning I had been working for a couple of hours when that colleague who was in that cab with me, got in and we chatted for a bit. She asked if I looked up CPEC as I promised the cabbie I would. I said I did and she said she too, jumped on Google last night and checked it out.

I had said to the cabbie, just before I alighted from his cab, that there was a reason why Tram 12 didn’t show up and I had to take his cab. It was so I know about CPEC. That cab fare was worth every cent.

Earning one’s sleep

Tress’ new workplace is in a really nice area. On Friday night we had dinner at the Café Oggi, which is in the commercial corner of Springvale and Burwood Highway. As always, it was lovely to just sit and talk over some good food and a bottle of wine to finish the week.

It has been a big week of sorts again. We signed up to purchase that townhouse Kiddo liked, which is only a 5-7 minutes’ drive to the Caroline Chisolm secondary college. This means our back burner plans of getting a smaller property – ideally a 3-bedroom unit in a 2-unit development – is taken off the stove altogether. This purchase completes in 60 days so a couple of weeks or so before Christmas, Kiddo and Mic can start to plan their new abode and we’d have a temporary place to stay if we visit before April next year.

With that big week sort of tied up, we took out time on Friday night and after dinner we walked through the pathways along the lakes and ponds surrounding the Vic Roads, World Vision and various other offices.

We did a bit of gardening on Saturday morning. The tiny bits of hedges on our eastern side of the property had grown terribly tall on the neighbour’s side for a while now. So I took some tools and asked permission to get into the neighbour’s backyard. Sharon was not anywhere to be seen and her daughter looked like she was in a hurry to leave the house but she worked out how to open the side gate eventually and so I didn’t have to go through their lounge and dining areas to get to the backyard.

I later said to Tress I wonder how one can accumulate so much stuff and leave so little real estate to walk through. The house is teeming with clutters and they even had a little rabbit in the lounge, all kitted up with a rabbit home and fence around him, all in the middle of the lounge. In the backyard, I had trouble with finding a footing for the ladder as again it was littered with stuff. I did what I could and got most of the overgrowth trimmed. I later did the front hedges on the western side too. It was a warmish blowie sort of a day so just around noon, having put in a couple of hours of work I decided it was enough so we cleaned up and headed to Madam K’s for lunch.

After lunch it was grocery shopping. We took our time. Back home I marinated the chicken which I’d cook the next day for the week’s lunches for both Tress and I. I then took the little black jedi for a walk – it was still very gusty but it was warm and a bit sunny so the walk was nice. Later that night we watched a Netflix documentary. It was about an old Japanese sushi chef named Jiro. His story is a reminder that expertise and perfection is often a result of repeated detailed practice of one’s craft or work. Too often we ask what appears to be important questions – about making a difference, about passion, about chasing one’s dreams – when the truly important thing is probably just putting your head down to get on with the work, day in and day out, week in and week out, and year in and year out. Honest persistent work appears to have been traded in for the promise of passionate excitement of chasing one’s dreams.

We went to bed early as the day’s outdoor work made sleep a very welcomed activity.
On Sunday it was an “all-age” service and after the service we caught up with Stephen Sim who had been unwell but showed up in church anyway. Stephen again said to some people (Peter Fagg and Tanya) that we helped him by mentioning St Alf’s to him when we first met a few years ago. He had also said this to Peter MacPherson before and Peter mentioned it to us. I honestly do not remember that but if that is the reason he has been to church then I guess God does work without us knowing about it or being conscious of it. We then sat in for a Q&A on some proposals for joint activities with another parish (St Luke’s on Canterbury/Mitcham Roads). When that was done we caught up with Jason and Mel at Wai Heng’s and spent a couple of hours over a very delicious prawn noodles by Wai Heng and we talked. It was very good catching up with old friends and listening to their experiences and their acknowledgement of God in their journey.

When we came home I planted some iris which some folks had left in church for anyone to pick up. The front eastern side had a couple of dead plants and we have been thinking about replacing them so the iris looked like a good option. We later learned iris needs lots of sunlight and that front side of our house doesn’t have the best light so we’d have to see how the plants go. Plants in the ground and watered, I went in and we did the cooking for the week’s lunches. We later watched some TV (The Block) before going to bed, early again. I think all week we have been going to bed around 9pm. I wonder if that has to do with us getting older or simply grinding through each day and feeling the need to hit the sack as early as possible for a good shut eye.

KL – Old House(s) and Canberra – New Home (for Kiddo)

I often say to people I don’t like travelling for work.

Once upon a time I did.

It was exciting when I travelled for work for the first time, even if it was just a trip to Singapore. I was with a law firm who was asked to travel with a property developer flogging high end condos to rich Singaporeans. We went down for the parade and there were some sales clogged up so I guess that was a successful trip.

Later when I was with the fledgling investment banking outfit that was Phileo, I travelled – to South East Asia, UK and the US. I continued travelling to Singapore intermittently through my entire work life in KL. That was then.

Since uprooting from KL to replant in Oz, I have not liked travelling for work. I had to travel to Sydney and Adelaide in my previous jobs but never overseas. So a couple of weeks ago when I was asked to travel to an overseas branch operation, I had mixed feelings. I still didn’t like travelling for work but I was asked to go to the Malaysian operations of my employer. I was asked to visit KL. Such irony.

So last week I left Melbourne on late Saturday night. Tress dropped me off at the airport around 9pm. Night flights aren’t my thing but my boss had approved business class travel so it made for easier path. I got into KL the next morning – Sunday morning. After managing an early check-in to my hotel in KL I took a commuter train down to Klang and caught up with the family.

Jean Mih picked me up from the Klang train station and we caught up with the rest of the Chew clan in their favourite Sunday restaurant, the Hai Tien Lou. Uncle Mak and wife and their son Lawrence and an old auntie (Lau 3 Kim) were there with Tress’ parents, sister and nephews and niece. We talked, ate and went back to the house in Berkeley and later that arvo Jin Mih dropped me off at my mum’s.

Mei’s younger boy, Yu Jie, was unwell when I got there and not long after, mum, Yu Yang (Stanley) and I took him to the doctor. He was nursing a fever and with fears of dengue and zika, they did a blood test for him. Thankfully he was clear and later that night David, Jean and Nicole our niece joined us at mum’s for dinner. As always, it was good to talk and catch up. It was the first time I saw my brother since he was taken ill on New Year’s Day this year. He and Jean then dropped me off at the hotel before taking Nicole back to Subang Jaya, where she had commenced a matriculation/foundational course of studying. Nicole had done really well for her O Levels and aspires to study medicine.

It was then work for me from then on. I stayed at the Aloft Hotel in KL, which was very convenient. It was a 5-10 minute walk to the office, a 5 minute walk to KL central station which was a hub connecting the city monorail, commuter trains as well as the airport express rail service. I had taken the rail service coming in from the airport and found it very convenient. Malaysia, KL have come a long way in that sense. The hotel is also only a 5 minute walk to an adjoining shopping centre (the Nu Sentral) as well as a further 10 minute walk to a local hawker stalled coffee shop. I went there every day for my hawker fares and felt thoroughy satisfied each time. I would also swim every morning on the rooftop pool before heading into the office and it was warm water so that was terrific.

During that work week I caught up with a couple of ex colleagues and then again with David my brother who was a frequent visitor to that hotel, working on the benches in that hotel lobby’s funky connected hub concept.

The talks with the family, particularly with my mum and brother, were mainly focused on Kiddo’s recent announcement of her wedding with Mic. They were all very excited about coming down to Oz for that occasion and we discussed very broad plans for April next year.

I left the office on Thursday arvo, checked out of the hotel and headed to the airport late on Thursday and got back into Melbourne on Friday. By the time I got into Blackburn it was late morning/towards noon. I unpacked, did my laundry, fussed with LBJ and impatiently waited for Tress to return from work. She had started with World Vision a week before and was still relatively relaxed so when she got home early we went to our favourite local Italian, the Via Matta, for a different sort of dinner. Italian is probably the closest European cuisine to Chinese so it was a wonderfully pleasant transition back to local fares for me 

On the day before I left KL, Kiddo, Tress and I had been exchanging messages and emails with a real estate agent in Canberra. Kiddo found a house in Monash in the ACT, somewhere close to the school she would be teaching south of Tuggeranong. Tress and I made an offer for that house, which was accepted and as I write, Tress and I are awaiting the contract for our first little investment property outside Victoria. It would be the second time Tress signed up to but a property before seeing it…

Grand Final build up (in more ways than one)

Some weekends are mundane affairs. Most are. Sometimes however a weekend feels so full-on that on Monday morning, the alarm clock goes off with a jolt to the system, the weekend’s activities having produced a deep sleep. This morning was such a Monday morning.

Friday night had started pretty quiet. I have had another busy week at work so I didn’t mind a quiet Friday night at home. Tress was away for a dinner in the CBD with some ex-colleagues and she had bought a curry puff and some delicate desserts (“onde-onde”)from MK. So I had those for dinner as I watched the Swans trounce the Cats. Seven unanswered goals in the first quarter put paid to the Cats’ aspirations for a Dangerfield inspired Grand Final appearance. I had the little jedi with me and I pampered him excessively while we waited for Tress to come home. When she got home, she said Kiddo asked if we could talk some time over the weekend so we thought we could do that on Saturday night.

The next morning we went to Simon our hairdresser for an early appointment. Hair done, we got home and got stuck into the garden. Three months of wet winter left the garden with minimal attention and the James Sterling hedges, lawn and other parts of the front, side and back gardens have been crying out for some attention.

Half way through trimming the hedges Ruth and Jon came around with little Micah. We chatted on the side lawn. We didn’t invite them into the house and felt a little awkward but we had said to them we would be busy with the gardening work and they only wanted to drop something off on the way to Doncaster Westfield so it was fine. It was good to have a quick catch up and after about half an hour to forty minutes they left and we resumed our work. The little jedi was just hovering around and it was one of those sunny cool balmy days so it was great to just have all three of us outside the whole time. Tress had done a whole bunch of laundry earlier in the morning and they were all on the Hills Hoist soaking in the sun and breeze.

Around mid-day we decided to stop for a lunch break and headed to the Honey Thief on Canterbury Road. We continued working after that and by the time Tress went out to pick up the dry cleaning (and got some beer!) late in the arvo I had started the sweeping and cleaning. I noted some green algae building up on one side of the car port – it has been a very wet winter – I and said to Tress afterwards we might think about getting a pressure jet water cleaner.

I hit the showers in time to clean up and get ready to watch the Doggies’ game against the Giants up in Western Sydney. The cold beers Tress got were perfect as I rested my tired body on the couch, watching a very well contested match. The Doggies were dogged and thwarted the very talented young guns of the Giants team. We had to leave home at half time and went to a quiet little Cantonese place in Burwood for dinner with A Hooi/U Marloney and Jason/Mel.

As always it was very good catching up with the two couples and we talked about our grown families, with the children’s respective partners as well as holiday plans etc. The champers Ruth and Jon brought me was expertly opened by the restaurant staff. That restaurant has a quiet, unassuming but dignified presence about itself. It is an example of how a joint can be classy without being ostentatious. A Hooi has heard about the place but hasn’t herself eaten there and I’m glad she introduced it to us. I’d very likely return. All through the night we checked on the Doggies’ score and we were thrilled when they got up. Having an all Sydney Grand Final was unacceptable (Swans’ South Melbourne affiliation notwithstanding) and the conundrum was, as all Hawks fans will attest, it was always better to have someone other than the Cats at the Grand Final, if we weren’t in it ourselves. So the Doggies’ triumph is to be celebrated.

We got home and before starting on the United – Fox game, we talked with Kiddo.

It has been an eventful week. On Tuesday Tress accepted a role with a major NFP. Two days later Kiddo was accepted in a school in South ACT, under the Federal Government’s TFA program. She would be in Warnambool and Geelong for a couple of training stints from Nov – Jan and would start teaching in that school in the Woden Valley area soon after. With that “in the bag”, Kiddo wanted to progress her plans with Mic.

We landed on a tentative mid-April date and we talked about how we would communicate with the family. We agreed on some broad milestones and my tired and aching body was soon matched by a daunting emotional and psychological challenge. United’s scintillating first half performance distracted and soothed at the same time. They were expertly orchestrated by maestros Pogba the Frenchman and Mata the Spaniard, and romped home with four exciting goals and numerous delightful moves. The only question that performance raised, against the reigning champions, was what now for Rooney, who was left on the bench at the start and only came on late in the game. It finished 4-1 and Tress and I went to bed with loads on our minds.

At church on Sunday morning, we heard Sam Oldland a trainee minister give the final segment of the series on Romans. We talked briefly with a couple of members after the service and bumped into Ronald and Cat at MK again. Then it was off to grocery shopping and we went home for a bit more work in the garden – it had been a weekend of wonderful weather – before we went in and I did some cooking for the week’s lunches. We also spoke with families in Malaysia. I spoke with my mum and Tress spoke with hers. We conveyed the news and followed up with some social media type communications.

By the time we could put our feet up and unwind by watching The Block, we were tired and ready for bed. It was barely 9pm when we agreed we had to hit the sack.

It’s Grand Final week and I could already feel the build-up. In so many ways.

Footy – it’s history

It was a weekend of wallowing in a winless wallop. Out contested in contested possessions saw the Hawks ousted and deposed of its mantle as the team to beat. Out of the competition in straight sets for the first time in years, face book reminded me of my attendance at the preliminary finals game against Port Adelaide in 2014. No preliminary finals for the first time in 5 years. Then overnight United crashed away to Watford. Wat bloody ford. It was 0-1 at half time when I retired to bed, not heartened by the performance I witnessed but certainly too tired to soldier on, with the spectre of another busy week staring at me.

In the train on the way home after the game on Friday night, Tress and I, along with every other person on that train out of Richmond into Hawks country, were quiet and looked for tunes to whistle past the graveyard of football ignominy. It was good to read in the papers this morning, that any suggestion of an end to the Hawks dynasty ignores a number of factors. There’s hope yet in this old bird and I am already thinking about 2017 membership for another year of fantastic flights of fancy in the fiefdom of footy fealty.

Sandwiched between the twin defeats was a very lovely day at the Yarra Valley. Tress’ schoolmates from last century visited from Klang. On Saturday, Melbourne turned on its clear-blue-sky side and set up a weatherwise wonderful day for us to entertain our visitors. We drove into the city on Saturday morning, picked them up from their temporary abode in Collingwood, and headed back east into Victoria’s wine country. Both bachelors, Tress’ ex-schoolmates were contrasting characters. Both were pleasant and fun, Malaysian idiosyncrasies notwithstanding. Alex rang while we were at the chocolatiers’ joint and invited us to his home for one last weekend dinner party of sorts. They would be moving out of their present home to rent for a year while they build their new home in Balwyn.

They said it has been 10 years since they moved into their Doncaster home. I remember the December weekend when it was steaming hot and he had gone and bought a barbeque set from Bunnings for his new home. His pool was magnificent and it needed a barbie to complete the picture. Being a hot day – we had been freely imbibing on some silly brown liquid and by the time we thought we should start to put the barbie together we were barely able to read the instructions. We somehow managed to put the thing together and had a barbie but it was something to remember (or forget?).

Ten years hence, I’m at that house again, standing on his deck as he cooked for one last weekend. It was an unusual dinner party because Tress and I were their only guests. Their parties are usually adorned with more and better looking guests (Tress exempted) but it was good to just talk. We continued to imbibe but this time it was an 18 year old offering from a beautiful looking bottle, not freshly brewed brown liquid from browner and squat VB bottles dunny men used to skip over.

Michael Bird’s preaching on Sunday morning managed to just about jolt me out of my overnight acquaintance with a very good scotch. This rising superstar of a theologian – the heir apparent to continue the work of the likes of NT Wright – delivered without disappointing. How fortunate we are, to have such a talent in our midst, a member of our very own congregation.

The presence of the likes of Mike Bird in St Alf’s means I have had no urge to continue what I left off at MST. Access to Ridley College would be so much more pervasive for me now, but with teachings like what we had on Sunday morning, I could spend my reading hours on other stuff. Scrutton, Blainey and now Clark fill my reading hours now, interspersed by stuff from Tim Keller and occasionally, a novel or two. Even then, my next novel – once I get past Clark and maybe Henry Reynolds – would be Scrutton’s.

For sound theological exegesis from Romans 8, I could simply tap into local top notch offerings. Re-reading the text with Mike Bird’s sermon notes ringing in my head gave me fresh understanding of God’s grace and my required response. And this understanding informed my reading, including the clear allusion to Manning Clark’s disposition on celestial matters, even as I started to leaf through his “History of Australia” in the train this morning. The book I picked up from Nunwading library when Tress and I dropped in yesterday arvo, has already promised much.

A Dhal (Certainly not Dull) weekend

I have always loved dhal curry. I had it for the first time when I was in primary school. A very friendly classmate (Gunasegaran) often brought some thosai which is topped with loads of that stuff. Until yesterday, I never tried cooking it.

On Saturday morning we went to look at a unit on Surrey Road in Blackburn North. We liked it a lot and now await the Section 32 statement to check out all relevant details. After that we went grocery shopping and I had a list of spices and other stuff from a couple of websites, saved as pics on my mobile. I checked them off, wondering if I’ll manage to cook one of my favourite dishes, the wonderful dhal curry.

After lunch at Madam K’s we walked the little fellow and then watched the first 30mins or so of “12 years a slave” – a DVD Tress borrowed from the local library. At around 3pm, we headed to the Manningham Salvos to help out with the “Festival of Community Voices” event later that night. The Camberwell Chorale, the Melbournaire Harmony Chorus, the Australian Girls’ Choir and the Biralee Primary School choir were participants in a community fund raising event. It was a part of our first steps into community volunteer work and it was loads of fun.

I particularly enjoyed the Camberwell Chorales’ rendition of Verdi’s Va Pensiero – a chorus from Nabucco which I had liked from a few years ago.

Tress helped set up the pre-event barbeque, sold drinks and generally made herself available for anything needing doing. I drove a couple of batches of students to and from the train station and helped out at the barbie. The students were from Melbourne Uni and they were volunteers too – doing stuff like ushering, stage help hands and selling tickets.

The event finished just after 8 and we finished our tasks around 9.30. We headed home and I caught United’s game against City. United played poorly in the first half and was a bit lucky to trail only one goal at 1-2. City held out to win. It was the second disappointing sporting outcome.

On Friday night Tress and I had been at the G to watch a sensational Geelong v Hawthorn classic. The game was a brutal see-saw and Isaac Smith ran close to 100m to hold a mark about 40m out, just before the siren. He kicked a behind and Hawks lost by 2 points. The exciting but disappointing loss means we play again this Fri– against the Doggies – and we get to watch another Final game at the G, which is a bit of a consolation to missing out on a preliminary final spot with a week’s break.

This morning, sitting at my desk trying to crank up the work day after a very contrasting weekend – community choirs and footy at the G, spiced up (literally) by a dhal experiment, was indeed a rich tapestry of a weekend – I enjoyed the fruits of my labour. For a first time stab, the dhal curry is, if I say so myself, a delectable success.


This past weekend was very quiet. The AFL home and away season had been completed the week before and for the first time, a bye was inserted between the home and away and finals seasons. Coupled with a European football internationals weekend which meant no EPL games, life resumed some non-sporting normalcy.

Tress had a lunch date in the city with some of her ex-colleagues on Saturday so I spent the arvo in soon to be closed Masters, hardware shopping in anticipation of the coming warmer days. I also gave the wagon a wash, as Tress would be using it to help the Hipos ferry their little ones when Gerry goes away on a business trip for a few days this week.

Yesterday arvo as we were pottering around the house while waiting to join the Hipos and Jason and Mel for dinner, Tress and I decided to watch a couple of videos. We had watched a mindless Alex Cross offering earlier the previous night and the movies we watched were a bit different.

The first was a French film titled “Of God and Men”. It was about a little monastery in Algeria at the throes of fundamentalist Islamic insurgency of sorts. The monks were Frenchmen who have worked in a remote Algerian town for many years before the fundamentalist arrived with their guns. Their struggles ended when they were killed, having decided against leaving when they could. It made me think again of what we are living our lives for.

We all die some time. I have often wondered what we could do before the inevitable happens, in order to look back and not think we have merely trudged along and drifted with the tide of what everyone else is busying themselves with. Those monks chose to help a community and paid the ultimate price. It made me think of the invitation from the Northern Territory Christian Schools (Woolaning College) last week, to apply to become house parents in a boarding school for indigenous children. Tress and I have parked that at the remotest periphery of our thoughts but it has bobbed up every few hours in the last few days. I wondered if this was an opportunity to re-examine what we’d like to do with our lives, for our remaining days or years.

The second movie was about two young women entangled with broken families and lives. “Every Secret Thing” told a dark story showing yet again, the depraved human condition. It was a story of two little girls who were excluded from their peers at a birthday party. On the way home, they abducted a baby.

Alice, the smarter one, manipulated Ronnie, the other quieter girl favoured by Alice’s mum, into killing the baby. They both ended up in a juvenile detention centre. Alice became pregnant while in the centre and her mum gave the baby away. Alice became obsessed with finding that baby and when released from the centre, stole another baby. The movie revolved around the search for the second baby, spearheaded by a policewoman who had found the body of the first baby years earlier.

It had been a cloudy, grey afternoon and watching those two movies – good as they both were – did little to brighten things up. The dinner with our friends would not happen till 7.30pm (only us Asians would celebrate a 3-year old’s birthday by going to a Chinese restaurant at 7.30pm on a Sunday night) so there were a few hours to fill. Tress decided to do some weeding and I went out to play with our little fellow. He has been showing signs of losing his sight and we both tried to make things better for him and I was showing him loads of TLC. So I sat at the deck, played with him and just whiled away the afternoon, deliberately resting.

I thought about Kiddo when she was 3 years old and remembered an article I wrote for The Star paper back in Malaysia. That paper had a regular “Fathers Figure” column back then and as a relatively freshly minted dad at that time, I often thought about how to bring up a little child. I had read some of those columns – contributed by readers – and thought I could write something too.

I wrote a lengthy piece and the article that was published looked significantly different from what I wrote. I would have thought they would send me a copy of their edited version for my consent for publication but I guess in those days of less instant communication such a process would have made life a lot harder so they simply published the edited version without my knowing. I only found out they did this when I actually bought and read that paper on that day in October 1997.

That was 19 years ago now. Since it was Father’s Day yesterday, and I had seen numerous wishes on WhatsApp and face book posts, I thought I’d put that article up on face book.

At that dinner Jesslyn said she saw that article and I looked at Sheryl the birthday girl, and said Kiddo was that age then – 3 years old.

A weekend without footy made for a contemplative mood. Invariably one looked back as much as wondered what lies ahead.Both those movies affected my thoughts, as did the dinner with our friends.