Olinda in Spring

Tress and I decided to just take a drive to the Dandenongs to look at some flowers, but to first stop at a well known pie shop.








Community Life and Service

We were at a church friend’s new home last night. He and his family moved into their new – their own – home about a month ago. They had moved from Singapore early last year.

While he continues to look for suitable employment, he now works casually in a major supermarket. He often appears cheerful and happy but equally often he lets slip a word or two, which clearly shows he hopes he finds something better, professionally and financially. I know to some extent, what he is going through. I hope he finds something very soon.

There were three other families there last night. It was a very good time of sharing – meal and fellowship. It is this huge factor which is making me think hard about leaving LifeGate church altogether.

I have been made incapable of working with the current pastor in any manner, so I am writing off all avenues of service at my local church. If I can remain a church member without needing to serve in a defined capacity I guess I can just chug along. There are in any case, so many avenues of serving God, although serving in the local church I belong is something I have always believed in, as a first and principal point. If that is no longer possible or practicable it is time to move on.

Pleasure turned dis.*

It’s a warmish and windy day. The sort I don’t really like, unless I’m on a beach somewhere. When it’s a workday and all I want to do is get to my lunch place the combination of warm and wind is unpleasant for me.

Anyway, I met Tress for lunch on Swanston, which is about a couple of blocks or so away. The walk back has a bit of upslope and with the wind in my face and a tummy full of lunch the otherwise pleasant lunchtime walkabout was a bit of a chore.

Life is often like that I guess. What is ordinarily pleasant and enjoyable can change very quickly and become unpleasant and to be avoided, when certain factors combine.

Maybe it’s just a personal preference thing. I don’t like warm gusty air in my face as I walk up a crowded street. That could be a preference thing on my part. Or, it is simply an unpleasant thing to experience for most, if not everyone.

Scruff and the cold

Last Friday we woke up to a 13deg morning and it was wonderful. The weekend too was gorgeous as the sunny and blue skies against a warm 23deg peak made for a near summer like day. So, when it “plummeted” back to just under 6deg this morning, the chill felt sharper. Last night too it was around 8deg so I guess it pretty much stayed that way in the last 12 hours or so. That’s all fine by me as I don’t mind the cold at all, especially when at 5.30 this morning, I could already see the day lighting up. It’s the short days I don’t like about winter, not the cold.

With Scruffy however, it’s a different story. He was lively enough when I took him out for his usual walk last night, after Tress and I got home. When we got back just before 7pm, he was still bouncing around and appeared very happy. Later that night however, he just curled up and stayed in a corner on the couch, closer to Tress who was having a blanket over her. It was the cold. He hates it. It makes him do that – curl up into a furry black ball and sleep.

Apparently this morning, when Tress left home, he was back on the couch, all curled and balled up. He was immobile in similar fashion at the edge of our bed when I left this morning. We often make him go out in the morning, after which we close a door that separates the hallway leading to the rooms, from the rest of the house. He doesn’t get to go back to the rooms so he heads to the couch, and ball up. Scruff and winter. He doesn’t like it.

Great wins but…

Kiddo came back, Kiddo went back. That was last week. She went back on Sat arvo. We went to lunch at a restaurant called Treasure, just around the corner from our home. We dropped her off at Tulla close to 3pm, then went home and took the little fella for a longish walk. Back at home just after 5, I settled down to watch Hawks fight it out for a Grand Final spot.

We then went to Alex and Li Har’s for dinner towards the end of the game and I watched Hawks crawl over the finishing line for that spot, on that one Saturday in September.

At Alex’s, we caught up over a really good noodles dinner. Alex has mastered it all now. About half a dozen families sat down, ate and talked, and generally enjoyed others’ company. We all have different journeys and different challenges and it was good to catch up and share tender moments along the way.

One family had a child remove his tonsils, and that child has since become much more energetic and responsive. He had been subdued for months and months before that. Another family has a child facing some challenges in responding to an eating disorder, and the family is coming together collectively in support. Yet another family is starting to find a vocation for the mum, who was a successful career woman in a past life and has been trying to find a niche in their new life in Melbourne.

We all shared, talked, offered and took a shoulder, and generally just got together because often, that helps.

We had a really quiet Sunday, and I stayed up to watch Man United struggle but beat the scousers anyway. Theoretically, a weekend that saw Hawthorn earn a spot in the Grand Final and Man United beating Liverpool, would have me delirious and extremely satisfied. Yet I feel like I have been in a contemplative mood, unsure where I’m heading.

Work wise I have been busy, generally productive but not overly stressed. In other words, things have been great at work. Health wise, other than excess weight and dental challenges things are generally good. I continue to run on the treadmill 2-3 times a week, and feel well. So I guess it isn’t health issues either.

Tress and I have found a new level of comfort and pleasure in each other’s company – a level of equanimity that I am cherishing. We’re together a lot now, other than during work hours. We both enjoy the company of the little black jedi – our 3 year old Schnoodle – after work and every now and then, enjoy a good meal out either on our own or with some people who have become dear friends over the last few years. So it isn’t that either.

The obvious remaining candidate is church life and there is no doubting where that is. I have become almost totally withdrawn on that front. I have lost any interest, and unfortunately, my reading and praying times have also been less consistent lately. At church, I remain frustrated at the many things I see but feel pointless or too hard to do anything about anymore. That frustration has been (unfortunately perhaps) successfully tampered. I have chosen to just sit back and let others do it all, and slowly, have turned off my frustration.

It is hard however, to discard something that has been a significant part of my life for the best part of the last 30+ years. I have been involved in church service (or quasi-church) in one form or another since I was perhaps 14 or 15. From just over 3 months ago, I have made a deliberate choice of closing that chapter because I see difficulties working under present circumstances. Some of the entry matters in recent pieces would probably bear this out.

I’m not sure how to deal with this. I have been talking to Tress about sitting things out for the next few months, and then perhaps early next year, will explore the possibility of leaving the church, if this inability to serve in the current church becomes too difficult to live with.

God has His ways of dealing with His children. I have to continue to obey and be faithful.

Meanwhile, I hope to savour the build-up to Grand Final day, and enjoy bragging rights with my scouser supporting friends…

Four Birds in a Cage

2008–present (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Four birds in a cage without a cat. How’s that for a preliminary final scene of this season’s AFL competition? Hawks are up against the Crows, and the Magpies take on the Swans. Two Melbourne/Victorian birds will be hovering against interstate opponents respectively. No doubt the seagulls would make sure it will be an all-birds affair tonight and tomorrow.

Alas, few in my circle are interested in the AFL. Soon after we came here in 2004, it became clear how big the AFL is. It is like for everyone you know who takes an interest in the English football scene, you’d have hundreds talking only AFL stuff. So I decided to pick a team to follow. We live out east, and I’d been to Waverley Park a couple of times and coupled with their history through the 80s and early 90s when I vaguely heard about them while enjoying the NRL in Sydney, I decided Hawthorn Football Club would be my team. 4 years later in 2008 we won our first flag since our move to Melbourne. 2012 could see a second.

Hence, my closer interest. I have been trying to get a barbie going for this and next weekend but there’re already a couple of things lined up for both tonight and tomorrow so I’m just hoping we can do it next Sat, on Grand Final day, and hope that the Crows get sent flying back to Adelaide. Hopefully it would be a Hawks v Swans grand final. Go Hawks!

An Unexpected Present

Last night we went to a restaurant in Templestowe, a leafy north-eastern suburb of Melbourne. It looked, felt and charged like a city restaurant and so while the food and experience was very nice, I was feeling the pain for Tress who footed the bill.

Kiddo has long started to enjoy good food, and was able to appreciate each of the 3 different dishes we had. We also had a very good conversation about contemporary issues like gay marriage, secularism, Christian values etc.

So the “Living Room” experience wasn’t pegged so much on my ageing but more on Kiddo’s coming of age. Seated next to me on that table last night was an articulate, intelligent, robust and passionate young woman who held strong views and argued them well. Tress took it all in stride, chimed in at various points and must have wondered how she spawned and held this family together – one that is perhaps very different to many.

Seeing those two ladies enjoying the food, conversation and each other’s company was a fabulous birthday present. I was really happy.