Sold!, Dog Fame and Tempo

We went out for dinner with Jason and Mel on Friday night, at the HD Grille just off Burwood Road only a few minutes from home. We took our time, chatted and generally had a good wind down. Tress and I continue to hope this couple turn away from what has been bothering them for over a year now, and head in a fresh and new direction which would do them good.

On Saturday we took the plunge – and bought that investment property we have been thinking about for a while now. We went to the inspection at 10.30, hung around for the auction at 11, and ended up as the highest bidder. Our bid was nevertheless under the reserve price so we were asked to stay behind to negotiate with the seller. We did, and ended up buying it. By the time we finished all the related administrative stuff it was nearly 1pm. We then went about with the rest of the weekend routine – not that buying a house was a weekend routine of course.

Our old friend Alex was throwing a dinner party and Tress had been asked to bring some fruits so we went to get some.

We got home, and while Tress did some housekeeping stuff at home, I took the little fellow for a walk.

There was a soccer match on the Nunawading City FC ground. I had that little fellow off lead as usual when we were on the “second pitch”.

First some background to my story. Mahoney’s reserve comprises some parkland which includes 3 pitches. The whole area is off lead for dogs.

The fenced cricket pitch directly in front of our home is the one most used by dog owners. In winter months it is used for soccer and very occasionally, footy. The next two are open fields (unfenced). There’s a fourth but it’s all fenced in high and the Nunawading City Football Club (soccer). The first of these two open fields is just next to the Nunawading City FC space.

Whenever we take him out while it is still light and conditions are dry enough, we take him first to the cricket pitch, then to these two open fields. He’d bounce and run around, chasing birds and sniffing at everything, sometimes playing with other dogs. So we generally leave him off leash.

On Sat he was off leash on the first of the two open fields when I was watching the football game being played. When I looked around after a few minutes, he was nowhere to be seen and to my horror when I saw him he was inside on the football ground where the match was under way. He was near the sideline. As I ran around the fence to get to him, he ran towards the middle of the ground, to the howls and jeers of the spectators (a couple of hundred people). One of those spectators said to me I better put him back on the leash, now that he has succeeded in stopping a game…so I leashed him up, ran him across the second field and only when we were safely on the third and last field did I unleashed him again…I don’t think he realised he had his 20 seconds of fame.

That night we went to Alex’s and caught up with some old friends again, which was very nice. We came home and I was a touch inebriated and so went to bed pretty soon but woke up early on Sunday morning for that Champions League final which was a very entertaining game. Real Madrid won after extra time. The very good game meant Dr Miriam Kammel’s message in church wasn’t given the attention it richly deserves, but I followed it anyway.

After another long walk with the little fellow on Sunday afternoon, we just rested for the rest of the weekend, getting ready for another week of the work rest routine. Life has taken on a steady tempo.


Varied Weekend

Tress and I had dinner at Enrik’s on Friday night. It was great to unwind in a nice joint without too much hassle – the place is a stone throw away from Blackburn Station and we just walked across after getting out of the city into Blackburn.

After breakfast in a place called Graceland Cafe in Doncaster, I was playing with some rough numbers in my head on Saturday morning, as Tress and I ambled up Jackson Street, a stroll away from where we are. The unit was well built and had a simple layout which we thought would suit our later years. My numbers game landed on a figure and I was disabused of my dream from the opening bid. We laughed it off but the pain which comes from crazy auctions is often difficult to shake off. We saw several other properties later that day but each property confirmed for me that the process of finding a little investment property remains a bit of a dream.

In between property hunting we had lunch at Madam K’s, bathed the Little Black Jedi and tidied up the front lawn a little bit. I then checked out some you tube concerts by Mark Seymour and later that evening we watched a movie at The Chase – Spiderman and his latest battles with cartoonish baddies like “Electro”, badly played by Jamie Fox. After that movie we came home to more superhero stuff, this time watching The Dark Night on tv.

First thing on Sunday morning, I checked out the football news. The Gunners won the FA Cup and Barcelona failed to beat Athletico Madrid, allowing the latter to win the La Liga for the first time in close to 20 years. Man City had won the English league on the last day of the season, battling it out with Liverpool but winning easily in the end. This weekend sees the pinnacle of European club football played out in Lisbon, between Real Madrid and Athletico Madrid – all Spanish final. It has been such an exciting season but Man Utd were just outside looking in, nursing the hurt of being out of Europe for the first time in decades and out of running from all competition weeks ago. For Man Utd, it’s an annus horribilis.

After church and lunch at Madam K’s we bought some food and headed for Uncle Jin’s. Even lighter traffic took us nearly 45 minutes to get there and since we were the only ones there, Uncle Jin and Auntie Pin discussed the matter of their wills with us quite freely. I took away some notes, made some suggestions and after a while, left for home. At home, we worked the gardens further for a bit, then Tress took the little furry black ball for a walk and I cooked some soup for later this week. We then skyped with Kiddo for a bit before getting ready for another week’s cycle of the usual grind.

Political Connections

When I started at my present job 2 years ago, there were 5 lawyers, including my boss. There are now 5 lawyers but only my boss and I remain. The other 3 are “new”.

The only female member of the team then left less than a year ago. We had a contractor fill the role for a few months and earlier this year, another senior lawyer took over the position. She didn’t last long either, as the constant tailspins made the work environment unsteady and often, slightly tumultuous. She left some 2 months ago.

We currently have another contractor, who is one of the most gentle and nicest female lawyers I have come across here in Melbourne.

Laura took a day off yesterday. She said she was going to Canberra. She must have assumed I knew who she was. I didn’t. I do now. Laura is Laura Smyth. When she started, I thought that name sounded familiar but did not investigate further. Laura Smyth was the ALP member for La Trobe. In the last election the Liberals won it back. She held it for a term. She was also prominent for a while, for backing Kevin Rudd to return as leader for the ALP, shortly before the last election.

I have for a long time now, suspected most if not all members of the legal department are on the left of politics. I suspect they are Labor voters, Greens even. One of them – a very likeable bloke towering well over six feet – may be the son of Peter Reith the former Liberal frontbencher and a stalwart of the Howard government but I can’t be sure he (the son) is of similar political persuasion. I understand his father is estranged from his mother and for all you know he might have chosen to cross the floor.

We rarely if ever, talk politics in office or when we’re out having lunch or coffee or drinks so I don’t know for sure and frankly, I care less about political persuasion than about principles, beliefs and practices. The former may well influence and affect the latter but there need not be a causal link between the two.

But there you go – in a legal department of 5, there are 2 connections to the politically prominent.

Malaysians’ Final Weekend in Point Cook

I have had a miserable cold from Tuesday last week but had soldiered on for the rest of the week, relying on “Ease a Cold” capsules. So when Friday came along and Tress came home from Point Cook saying the next day the troop planned to have lunch in Sunshine, I struggled to understand what was going on.

There were like 12, maybe 13 people so at least 3 cars were needed, to ferry the lunch party from Point Cook to Sunshine. For us out in the eastern suburbs, it was a 45 minute drive to Point Cook, followed by a further half an hour to Sunshine. For lunch. In a noisy, chaotic, sticky floored, Vietnamese yum cha place smack in the middle of an industrial hub centre surrounded by car and tyre workshops and the like. Wasn’t there an eatery in Point Cook?

And so I endured a miserable Friday night. Nursing a cold, watching Hawthorn struggling and then losing to the Sydney Swans, and wondering how I was going to go through Saturday putting up with an incomprehensible plan.

What price we pay to keep family harmony unscathed?

What price indeed, as it didn’t stop there. After lunch, the plan was for dinner, we would do a collective swerve of a bearing of approximately 30 degrees clockwise towards the city. The convoy would take off again. This time, from Point Cook to Docklands. To a little restaurant which must have struck a long term bargain to be supplied sugar at bargain basement price. Every dish was sweet, as in sugary sweet. That was a few nights ago when we had trudged there and I circled the Docklands precincts some 5 times before deciding to simply stay put and wait for someone to exit a spot which I could then take. On Saturday night the parking was much better but the dishes remained sweet. We drove from Point Cook to deathly Docklands for sweet dishes – 3 cars. At least we didn’t have to drive them back to Point Cook as the other 2 cars were sufficient.

Those annoying excursions aside, the family time was very good. I guess I have now grown a little older – old enough to be annoyed but to ignore or look beyond these little annoyances and focus instead on the positives of family times, which were very meaningful and fulfilling.

At least on Sunday we were spared the gallivanting across town escapades. We went to Point Cook after church and lunch and stayed there between 1.30 and 8pm, enjoying home cook dinner (Adam’s BKT) which was very good. On the way back from Point Cook last night Tress said she had a great and enjoyable week off. I’m thrilled for her because truth be told – I enjoyed the times I spent with the folks too…

Breaking Bread With Family

Tress and I couldn’t decide what to do for dinner on Friday so we ended up buying some food from Safeway (cooked chicken and some cheese!) and going home. It was a very relaxing (and cheap) Friday night thing. It was however, the last serene session for the weekend for me, and for the next week for Tress.

Early Sat morning we went to Tullamarine (Auntie Hooi came along) and waited a little bit for the group to arrive. They eventually came out, nearly 2 hours later. Tress’ parents, 2 aunts and an uncle are all here to spend some time with Uncle Jin. We picked them up in 2 cars (Tress drove one and I, the other) and went to Uncle Jin’s home in Point Cook, out in the west.

Uncle Jin is still in the Royal Melbourne, and Auntie Pin is in the city with Sherry and Yin Wei, where she’d be closer to the hospital. The house in Point Cook is left wholly to the Malaysian visitors. When we got to the house, Adam was there waiting and the rooms have been gorgeously prepped. We unloaded the luggage, and made them morning tea. Every time I see Tress’ father, he appears to have aged even more but he looked well and other than being cold, was in good health. They saw Uncle Jin later in the arvo. Tress and I drove back to Blackburn late in the evening, and I walked the little fellow, we fed him and packed some more stuff (mainly warm clothing) for them and then drove back into the city to meet with them for dinner at Adam’s restaurant.

We got home late that night and I managed to catch United’s penultimate home game. Sunderland has been in good form and Giggsy’s second game in charge didn’t end well, with United losing 0-1 and any hope of European football effectively gone. Somehow, a loss like that is no longer too hard to take and I went to bed (around 2am) relatively unscathed.

We left home around 9am the next morning to head towards Point Cook, picked up the precious cargo and headed to the hospital again. It was Uncle Jin’s birthday (4-5-54) and it was the reason the Malaysian folks came. The dinner the previous night was meant to be the birthday dinner party, before he fell a week or so before.

We celebrated anyway, in the visitors’ lounge at the 4th Floor South Wing of the Royal Melbourne. There was a cake and other foods, cards, gifts, etc. We sang him a birthday song, took pictures and listened to his touching speeches. He looked better each time we saw him so in spite of the setback, he is making good progress.

The biggest progress was his salvation. Soon after coming out of his sedation early last week, Auntie Hooi spoke to him and he had made the decision to respond to God’s saving grace. He acknowledged that in his speech and it brought a lot of joy to many, if not all of us, He went back to his bed to rest soon after the celebrations, and we returned to the house in Point Cook. Adam and his wife Fay bought some takeaway lunches, so we ate, some folks played mah-jong and the other just talked. We then went to the Point Cook town centre for some grocery shopping and 4-ee, (Dr Mak’s wife) cooked a delicious pumpkin rice, which I packed for lunch to work today. Tress and I made some veg soup, and helped with the cutting and washing.

I left to go back alone, around 6pm. Tress has taken the week off and would spend most of the week with them. I had wanted to walk the little fellow but it was bucketing down when I reached our part of town. It was then just me and that furry ball, with a few glasses of red. It was a busy but really good weekend.

I Lift My Eyes… (Psalms 121)

When I was 18 I had a massive back problem which required extended hospital stay. In the end – after maybe 6 months of being in and out of hospital – I had surgery which fixed the problem. The whole process took some 9-10 months.

Other than the pain and boredom of being in the hospital, the sentiment I experienced was one of depression. I felt depressed. I was enrolled in Taylors’ College in KL, getting ready to come to Australia for my education. The back problem meant that plan was thrown into chaos.

The prolonged process made me wonder if I was going to get well, and what the outlook was going to be like. I wasn’t even sure if I would be able to come to Australia for uni and if I couldn’t, what would be my option? My brother and a cousin had left for the US but I never wanted to go that way. I saw the US as an expensive alternative with no corresponding quality. I didn’t want to head there unless I could make an Ivy League institution which would be far too expensive and I wasn’t sure I was good enough to secure a place anyway.

That sense of “what now”, or “what next” entails hopelessness which was the cause of despair. A prolonged illness and hospital stay often caused that sort of sentiment. I had forgotten that effect, until last night.

Tress came to my office just before 5pm and we both walked up Spring Street towards St Vincent’s where we caught a bus to Royal Melbourne Hospital. Uncle Jin is in the ICU there, after a fall last week which caused a head injury. He has an emergency surgery over the weekend and had been in ICU since.

This is after all the trauma of being diagnosed with cancer and undergoing chemotherapy in recent weeks.

He was responding well to the cancer treatment and we learned last night, that he and Auntie Pin had been traipsing around town to markets, restaurants etc., in anticipation of a birthday party to celebrate his 60th this weekend. It was during a trip to the markets when he fell. It’s a massive setback.

He looked surprisingly well for one who has gone through (and is going through) so much but clearly he was extremely saddened. He wore a gravely saddened look and tears flowed as we talked to him. I asked if he wanted me to pray for him and I did.

Hope and knowledge of where we’re heading, of where salvation lies, are such tonics in life. Other than medical care, Uncle Jin needs both in spades. I’m glad he now has the Holy Spirit in him who can now provide these.