Bye, Bob

When I first came to this big brown land, Bob Hawke was PM.

Bob died yesterday.

Somehow, the country I came to love when he was PM, has died in so many ways too.

I hope you found peace with your maker.


Rained on

Heavy rains were forecast for last Friday, so I asked Tress to drop me off at the station that morning, to save MyJedi from being drenched all day. At the end of that day, the rains caused some delays to the trams, so I walked to Southern Cross to catch the train home. The intermittent rains as I walked the 2km or so, didnt feel like much.

On Saturday morning, I had sweeping duties at St Alf’s and towards the end of the sweep, it rained again but as I was well protected, I kept on and finished the task and got home. Back home, I started on the work to cut back the shrubs along the driveway. They had been impeaching on and became a nuisance to, the driveway and we’ve had to so a right-and-left swing to bring our cars in without having the cars scratched too badly. As I cut those thick shrubs back and cleaned up the undergrowth as much as possible, the light showers persisted and the hot shower, after the cleanup etc., felt great. By then however, I suspected I was already picking up a cold.

That night, we had dinner with the Hipos and Jason and Mel. It was Sheanne’s birthday (she turned 9). We went to the Old Kingdom at Surrey Hills. It was always great catching up with these families. Tress and I picked up a Disney Monopoly Set (Frozen themed) for the birthday girl.

Sunday after St Alf’s we planned to get a quick lunch, a quick grocery shopping, and then head out to the MCG for the Hawks v Giants game. When we got to the Blackburn Station however, we saw that the trains would stop at Camberwell, with replacement buses to ferry us to the MCG. It was already close to first bounce and the thought of lining up for buses on the way back, coupled with a deteriorating cold, sent us back to the shops for a coffee, more grocery shopping for the week’s lunch cooks and just to chill out. At the coffee shop, I saw that the game was going to be on TV anyway, so we went home and I had the game on as I roasted some veges for the week’s lunches. The Hawks played a disciplined and focused game to shut out the Giants, and won the game by some 40 points. The Giants were 3rd on the ladder and we were well in the bottom half, so the win was terrific.

The cold deteriorated and I didn’t want my colleagues to think I was an ass, so I stayed home yesterday. I slept a bit, streamed stuff, and with the little guy next to me, it felt much better. I took him out for a long walk later that arvo. The cold was still getting to me and as I got in this morning, a sneezing spasm seized while I ascended the escalator at the Southern Cross station. That caused me to trip up, and I ended up with an Adidas-styled 3 striped graze. I got into the office, opened up the first aid kit, and washed the wound, sprayed some antiseptic spray, and bandaged up the damage.

It has been that kind of start to the week. Sick and wounded. I hope things get better from hereon in.


Crocked Hawks. Crocked Colleague

I was at home watching the Collingwood v Power game on Friday night and was in awe of the Pies’ first half performance. Ryan Burton stood out for the Powers as a calm, efficient and smart player. As I watched Hawks struggle through a terrible game of football at the G on Sat arvo, particularly with Chad Wingard having a stinker, I wondered if Hawks did the right thing with that trade swapping Burton for Wingard. Hawks were the more crappy team in a crappy game between two crappy sides. The less crappy team won and the best thing on that wet and cold arvo on Sat was the early start (1.45 start) and the meat pie. The rest was totally forgettable.

With United also playing poorly to earn a draw against the lowly (no offense) Huddersfield, it was another weekend to forget, sports wise.

We didn’t do much else for the weekend. We were on duty at St Alf’s but thankfully we are more confident now with what to do.

After St Alf’s yesterday, we went to Shoppo, which we hadn’t been to for a while. We were looking for a pair of shoes for Tress’ dad for his birthday in about three weeks or so. I had also wanted to look for a pair myself, and maybe also a daily go-to jacket. We wandered around, did some grocery shopping and then went home. I took the little fellow our for a longish walk and then went home for a cook.

It was one of those quiet minimal commitments type of weekend so I felt rested. Well, as rested as I could have felt.

Last week was a big week at work, with a senior staff being let go. He was a Malaysian and I had worked reasonably close with him, and I was even scheduled to attend a client negotiation meeting a day after his departure. He wasn’t a particularly well-liked figure around the office and I had also found him less than warm to work with but even then, his departure affected me. He has a young daughter so I’m sure she was foremost in his thinking in recent days.

Winter has started to creep in on us. It’s still officially autumn but importing a calendar based cycle to the year’s seasons always sits awkwardly here Down Under. The official season of autumn doesn’t mean much when I stand at the tram stop on the corner or Spencer and Collin Street at 6.30am, with the Docklands winds blowing in single digit temperature. The cold meh though. As is the footy season thus far (speaking as Hawks fan of course).

Missed birthday, Wimber past, Hawks hanged on

Micah is a beautiful 4-year old boy of my cousin Ruth. Last Saturday, it was his birthday party. Tress and I had wanted to be there, but we only got back from Canberra late on Thursday and there was work to be done around the house. Ruth, Jon and Micah live in Woodend, a pretty little town out yonder at the Macedon Ranges. The 200km round trip requires passing through the CBD and so it takes up to 1½ hours each way. Any event with them would mean a whole day sectioned off.

So we stayed home, and did the work. The overgrown hedges were trimmed and the green bin was so filled I had to “mince” the clippings to pack it all in. After the mowing and sweeping and after Tress had done the weeding and vacuuming, it was close to 2pm when we headed out for lunch.

Back home late arvo, we walked the little fellow. Or rather, I walked him. Tress had gone for her ethereal pursuits but joined us at the oval when she was done. Later that night, we settled down to watch an old Marvel film, trying to catch up with the background of the exhilarating Endgame movie we watched with Kiddo and Mic in Canberra.

On Sunday at St Alf, a speaker named Ken Fish spoke. He was with John Wimber’s ministry many years ago and I remember reading Phillip Jensen’s articles on the issues with those teachings. I sort of thought St Alf is sufficiently (very strongly, in fact) grounded so any “peccadilloes” that may have existed in that stream would probably be well managed. It turned out however, that other than a few claims which sounded extraordinary, Ken was pretty grounded and orthodox in most ways.

After some grocery shopping yesterday arvo, I did a quick wash of the little miata while Tress did some ironing. We then watched the Hawks v Blues game. The first half was distressing but an amazing third quarter display, coupled with the solid O’Meara who was very good through the entire game, we clawed our way back to get ahead by some 17 points, which were chipped away to 5 at the death. A booming punt was marked by a Carlton forward just seconds after the final siren, so we just managed to hang on.

Last night, given how the newly washed MX5 looked so shiny, I took a few pictures and then as I looked at a message from the carsales site, I decided to put those pics and the MX5 in the “for sale” section. It’s officially on the market now…

Easter and Anzac Break in NSW

Easter fell on the same week as Anzac Day this year, so by taking a couple of days off work, we had an extended period of break. We finished up last Thursday and on the morning of Good Friday, we drove up to Canberra. On Easter Sunday, Kiddo and Mic joined us, both our dogs in tow, for a drive up to Bowral. We spent 3 days there, in the beautiful Southern Highlands of NSW. F Falls

We visited the Bradman Museum, took in the towns of Bowral, Moss Vale and Berrima, and went to the beautiful Fitzroy Falls. Most of all, we spend really good time together. It was wonderful to note Kiddo and Mic have slowly but surely built a home, family and life for themselves in the capital city.  We also spent some time with Mic’s parents while we were in Canberra.

We trekked back to Melbourne on Anzac Day, reaching home just after 5pm to watch the final quarter of the very exciting Anzac Day game between the Bombers and the Pies, which finished with the Pies narrowly hanging on to a  slim win.

On the way home, as I ploughed through the very dull Hume Highway and as Tress was asleep, my mind toggled amongst various scenes. The settled lives, both of Kiddo and Mic and of Tress and I, slipped in and out of thoughts about what lies ahead. I thought our lives in Melbourne would be a little bit more complete if Kiddo and Mic somehow moved down here. But I was wrong. Their remaining there completes our lives too. In fact, seeing how settled and happy there, made me wonder if being in Melbourne would be any better for them. Being settled and happy is what matters. It didn’t matter where that happens. I’d rather they be away in Canberra and be settled and happy, than being here in Melbourne and being less settled and happy. Being with us matters less than being settled and happy. As I reassured myself of that, listening to the Bombers climbing back to challenge the Pies became more enjoyable. All that mattered then was that we got home safely…


Long catch up, Funeral and Quest


We caught up with Jason and Mel on Friday night and even in that little hole-in-the-wall local Thai place, we chatted away until about 10pm. I felt bad for the proprietor, as we were there for over 3½ hours for a very modest bill. But that place was as friendly as ever and coupled with quite delicious food, it has become a favourite local joint for us.

On Sat I had sweeping duties at St Alf’s, and Tress did some vacuuming at home. Later that arvo we drove up to a café in Doncaster for a very good Malaysian feed – the pork noodles I had (offal and all) were quite delicious. We then did some grocery shopping and Tress then went on one of her ethereal group activities. I was going to just either lounge around or stream something but the little fellow kept pawing me so I took him out for a long and slow walk. That night, we lazed around at home and got in and out of the Kangaroos v Crows match, and went to be early.

On Sunday, after St Alf’s we went for a funeral of a distant relative. My late grandmother’s brother in law brought his family over to Melbourne some 30 years ago and he died over a week ago. The funeral home was close to our home. We caught up with a range of friends and relatives there, including some who happened to be travelling through Melbourne. My late grandmother had a really big extended family, with her father having had 4 wives. Good thing during my childhood, I was exposed to that Malaysian thing about meeting and greeting every relative no matter how distant, so I had a good memory of many of them. It wasn’t so difficult remembering most of them when I met them yesterday arvo. Unfortunately, it takes a funeral to remember we have a wide network of family and friends if we choose to invest time and tap into that.

This morning, as I was doing my push up’s and stretching exercises, I watched a clip on tele which asked why people cull their circle of friends when they age. I found myself agreeing that that was the case with me. I guess a whole range of reasons come into play as to why we lose contact with friends over time and it gets increasingly difficult to cultivate new friendships.

At St Alf’s yesterday, we sat next to a friendly elderly lady. Laura is a sweet lady and as we were invited to discuss Mike McNamara’s message to close out the 1 Cor 12 gifts series, she asked what my gifts were. I hadn’t thought about that for a while now, and she suggested I prayed about that. I told her I’d do that this week and it made me wonder if I’d keep drifting or if I’d see something that I can or would like to respond to, in combating this inertia. I need to be on a quest of some sort, I guess.

Routine and cretinous family group

It couldn’t have been a more routine weekend. Friday dinner at the local Italian, footy on tele at home thereafter, gardening on Sat morning, lunch and grocery shopping in the arvo, more footy on tele at night, St Alf’s on Sunday morning, footy at the G in the arvo, and back prepping for the week at home on Sunday night.

The details?

Luigi’s pizza is delicious as always and we also had his special gnocchi, which we hadn’t tried before. We doggy bagged the pizza and had it with a couple of eggs for brekky on Sat. It was, somehow, still delicious. The Demons were horrible and the Bombers were better, as the two woeful underperformers battled it out to avoid being the laughing stock after the first couple of rounds.

After the delicious and unusual brekky, I nicked into the local Bunnings to pick up some whipper snipper cords, and quickly did the edging. The flower beds had been messy with overgrown residual grass so the work with the whipper snipper was satisfying. The edges and beds looked neat and after the mowing, it felt much better to see the neat gardens around us.

Our junk food shelf in the pantry was bare so we decided to head to the Glen to pick up some of our Malaysian styled junk food. I had a very ordinary bowl of laksa at the Cinta Ria outlet in the food court, and Tress had some Korean stuff. A bit better, I thought. We took the little jedi for his walk and it was turning out to be a beautiful day so the walk was terrific. The Eagles were machine like perfection in their defeat of the Pies, with the score far less edgy than last year’s Grand Final. It was end of daylight saving so all clocks turned back an hour before we went to bed.

St Alf saw the service changed from its usual format. Peter was preaching in St Luke’s so the communion went on first. It was an all age communion so the liturgy was in much simpler language. It was a bit refreshing, I thought. At the end of his message on 1 Cor 12 (part 2 – of 2 segments) Peter explained why we were doing this stuff. It was to prep for Ken Fish’s sessions later in the month. Ken Fish is one of those healing and deliverance type so frankly, I was a bit surprised he was even coming to give his talks at St Alf’s but I guess that is a testament to the broad church that St Alf’s is. It was really good however, that Peter prepped those talks with the current 1 Cor 12 base.

Tress and I went home after St Alf, and I walked the little fellow while Tress did some laundry, before we headed out for the MCG to watch the Hawks play the Kangaroos.  We got there early, and had lunch there. It had been ages since I had a meat pie – an unadulterated four and twenty  traditional Aussie meat pie – so, having one at the footy, washed down with a good old Carlton, was a terrific feed. Tress had some sushi and we shared some chips. It was still over an hour before the opening bounce, after we finished our grub.

Hawks were woeful in the first quarter with the uncontested possession stats 1:4 against us. 1 goal against their 4 too. That picked up in the second quarter so that we were merely 25% behind. Third quarter saw us fighting back and in the fourth, some magic from Breust (he kicked 5) and Chad Wingard (a Rioli like performance) saw us get up to finish round 3 2-1. Relief.

Over the weekend, a distant relative passed away and we were told via a family messaging group. That family live in Melbourne so there was going to be a wake here. I believe that relative may have attended my late father’s wake so I thought I should return the courtesy. However, when we asked for contact details so we can attend to the wake here in Melbourne, we were given a curt response and basically, given short shrift. I guess we’re so far on the outer in this family group, that we we’re not worth the time to be even provided with mere contact details. I guess the 1 Cor 12 principle of all members of the family being equally important, doesn’t hold in the family group. I have always said to Tress and my sibblings that this group has an inner circle of its own anyway, and more power to them I guess. It’s just strange that even within a family (albeit an extended version) there can be a tribal tendency. Little wonder I have had no wish to attend their once every two years reunion. Just more mutual back patting stuff that flies in the face of hypocrisy.

Other than that little annoying crap from that messaging group, the weekend was just routine stuff.

Woven in

About a year and a half back, Australia changed its law so that a same sex marriage becomes legal.

This beautiful street art (near a well known cafe just off York Street a stone’s throw from my office in South Melbourne) is but one of myriads of examples how it is now part of everyday Australia, that a same sex relationship – marriage – is as normal as teh tarik in Malaysia.

Notice how it is either nonchalant or subtle but it doesn’t make an issue of it – the underlying message, or at least one of the messages in this vibrant mural, is how normal and everyday this beautiful phenomenon is.

The silhouettes aren’t even obviously both females, until one looks closer, as the second image shows.

This is Australia today…

Winter reading?

With the budget having been presented yesterday, the press has been putting out stories about what each of the two major parties’ policies on various matters were going to look like.

The idea of a living wage, now pushed by Labor, has surfaced again. I am reminded again of the Harvester’s case that I first came across vaguely many years ago. That case were pulled into a bit more focus when I read Judith Brett’s biography of Alfred Deakin and then again when I was heard about and then read Professor Ian Harper’s work.

I decided I wanted to read more about the judge – Higgins – who made the ruling in the Harvester’s case and found one written by a John Rickard. It turned out he also wrote on Australia’s cultural history. That has whetted my appetite to revisit the theme of Australian history. Having read several of Blainey’s books a few years ago, along with Henry Reynolds and Manning Clark, I still cannot land on a clear trajectory of that topic (Australian history). What started it all was Robert Hughes’ “Fatal Shores” and I’m now hoping I can read a bit more, but I don’t know what to make of what look like biases on the part of the authors.

I recall reading about a historian in Tassie, one Cassandra Pybus, who had questioned claims of Aboriginality. Professor Pybus is an expert of blacks in Australia who are non-indigenous and she has expert knowledge of Aboriginal communities, particularly in Tasmania. When her claims were raised in a court case against Andrew Bolt, it was clear biases on either side of the fence played a big part on the type of “expert” works generated.

I’m in a good place of sorts – a spot of sweet balance of some kind, that allows me to pursue this interest of reading about the history of this sunburned country. I hope I get a clearer picture before too long. Winter is coming. I hope I get to read some good stuff again.