Hawks Soar


When we moved to Melbourne in 2004/2005 I was still crazy about United. I still am. However, slowly but surely the lure of AFL has staked front and centre attention.

It’s near impossible to miss the enormity of the code to Melbourne. In my first job at Sharrock Pitman, the boss was an Essendon fan. A colleague was a Pies man and I forget what the others went for. I remember though, barracking for St Kilda that year simply because it was the last Melbourne side in the finals. All the while though – having heeded Uncle Marloney’s counsel that if we wanted to go for a “local” side it was the Hawks – I wanted the Hawks to win. Sam Mitchell looked really good even then but Shane Crawford was the star. I was wanting the Hawks to succeed from that time on.

So by the time Hawthorn won it in 2008 (the first time since we moved to Melbourne), I found myself cheering on and feeling rapt. Shane Crawford’s reaction on receiving his medal was one for the ages – at least for me, a newbie AFL fan. From that time on however, I started watching more Hawks games than any other team but I was still watching them on tv.

Last year I watched as many Hawks games on tv as I could and went to a a couple of games at the G. More importantly however, we kept September free and ensured each finals game Hawks was involved in was respected. I held a couple of footy parties at home for the preliminary final as well as the Grand Final against Fremantle.

This year, our AFL involvement came came of age. Tress and I went to the G for Hawks’ games several times, including 2 in the finals series. We kept Grand Final day sacred – did a barbie and set it all up nicely. Like almost everyone else I was expecting a close game and had hoped for Hawks to just scrape through. The first 10 minutes of play said Hawks could probably scrape through. The hunger was immense and they jumped in first at every turn. Sharper, quicker, more efficient and demosntrably hungrier, they soon had the Swans rattled and it was a fabulous first quarter, followed by continuing and relentless domination by the Hawks midfield. Sydney was shell shocked, and despite expecting to see some reaction at the start of the next 3 quarters the outcome was soon becoming clear. Some 10-15 minutes into the last quarter, I started celebrating.

We continued the celebratory theme well into Sunday. After church and Madam K, I went for the party at Glenferrie Oval where players and the trophies were presented for fans to wallow over. Some fireworks and streamers were let off which caught some power lines that resulted in trains being cancelled. I had to walk from Glenferrie Station to Camberwell station and was told on arrival, that even trains from there had been cancelled. Tress came to the rescue – she drove to Camberwell and picked me up. It was good however to have walked through the 2-3km of streets in Hawthorn and get a feel of the happy mood in this part of town.

We got home, we did our usual cooking for the week, prepared lunch etc and then settled down to get ready for life in its usual cycle again. It was a magical weekend for our growing love affair with AFL and Hawthorn.

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“Turmoils”


Grand Final Week.

Notwithstanding the social norms surrounding the looming “One Day In September“, there’s this to contend with. And so what some term WWIII commenced, with aerial attacks by US and its allies, on the Islamic rogues in Syria and Iraq. Some argue it is necessary military action. Some warn against the danger. Whether inaction is equivalent to appeasement in the days leading up to Nazi Germany’s WWII is something to be seen I guess. The atrocities committed by these Islamic rogues certainly seem to be driven by the same agenda of self aggrandizement albeit based religious instead of racial grounds and the systematically dealing of others unlike the perpetrators.

Then there’s the announcement by the management today, that the company has been sold. The new owners may or may not re-employ everyone, according to an FAQ issued by management. The art of corporate speak – saying nothing with a lot of words – is as infuriating as political talk. What can they do I guess.

Internal and external turmoil and the uncertainties they bring… such is life, so said Ned Kelly…

Ever lighter days


Climbing up the stairs from the underbellies of the Parliament station this morning, it was great to be greeted with light. The days are starting earlier now. It makes such a difference to once’s state of mind. The photo on the left was taken a few days earlier, the one on the right was taken this morning.

Parliament Station Tree 2 Parliament Station Tree

 

Not that I needed a positive state of mind. The weekend we just had has provided ample ammunition for that.

Tress and I got busy on Sat morning. After brekky at home we shopped quickly and then returned to cook the week’s soup dinners. With 3 dinners done and ready for the freezer, we headed to Madam K’s before coming home again for some gardening. All done at a frantic pace. We wanted these chores out of the way before we headed into the city.

Just before 4pm, he got into the G to soak in the pre-match atmosphere. The second prelim final between the Hawks and Power was about to get under way and we were seated in a section which was sandwiched between 2 Power fan infested sections. They were loud and well organised. We got walloped early on, and they ran us around in the first quarter. We edged them in the second quarter to go into half time with a 10 point lead but steamed ahead at the 3rd. It was the 4th quarter however which gave many of us near heart attacks. In the last 10 mins or so they kicked 4 goals to edge towards a near Hawks elimination but we held on (thanks to a brilliant Hodgey smother) to earn a 3rd consecutive Grand Final.

It was a happy train ride home from Richmond and we got home to again watch the game on tele – and realised what sort of drama the last few minutes provided. Being in situ was priceless however and I’d do it all over again in a heart beat. GF tickets would be hard to come by however…

After church on Sunday, it was lunch at MK’s again before we headed into the city again, but for a very different sort of entertainment. Les Miserables provided culture on the other side of the spectrum which this wonderful city offers (although geographically both the G and Her Majesty’s Theater are on the east). It was a brilliant display of a different genre altogether. It was mesmerising all the same and I was transfixed for the entire duration – all 3 hours of it.

We got home around 7, and settled down for another week at work. It is Grand Final week however… United’s overnight capitulation (losing 3-5 to Leicester City) was hard to take but I’ve had a wonderful weekend to amply cushion that pain. I’m sure Van Gaal will take us out of the underbellies of this transition into a new dawn before too long. Short dark days dont last forever. Neither do long light days granted, but it’s good to know light will almost always return.

Weekend at Warrnambool


We watched both semifinal matches on the plush (but kind of old) couch in the B&B on Logan’s Beach in Warrnambool. They were very good games and the weekend was wonderful.

We left home early on Friday morning and drove through rush hour traffic to get on to the Princess Highway, headed out of town towards first Geelong and then Lorne. We had coffee and a quick brekky in Lorne, walked around the town for a bit and then pushed on along the coast past Apollo Bay and then stopped at Port Campbell, having taken the long way around the Otway National Park.

The 12 Apostles were as magnificent as when we first saw them, maybe in 2005. We had Kiddo with us that time. This time we had with us, the little black jedi instead. It would have been brilliant to have Kiddo with us again as well but he’d have to do for now.

After Port Campbell we pushed along and headed to Warrnambool, stopping only at the Loch Arc Gorge.

We got there around 3pm, checked into our B&B and then went into town to get some money, before heading back to our B&B which was right next to Logan’s Beach whale viewing platform. It was only about 100m walk for us. That evening we had dinner in town, at the Logan Café and Restaurant. Then it was back to watch the first game, when the Roos overcame the Cats – first upset of the semi finals.

The next day after a quick brekky at “home” we headed out to the platforms. I took the little fellow for a walk along the beach, then went up to the platforms to try and catch some whale sightings. We were there for a couple of hours but saw nothing despite some reported sightings.

At noon we headed into town, had some coffee and then drove around, stopping first at the Fletcher Jones building which has been turned into an odds and ends shop, selling memorabilia’s from all angles. We then went to the Proudfoots Historical Boathouse and had a late lunch there. The ambience was wonderful. The food was again good and the environment was lively.

After lunch we drove up to Richie’s Point, then went back to get the little fellow and drove across town to the Breakwater Walls and walked through the Promenade on the foreshores. We stopped by the viewing platforms again to see if anything was sighted but were not in luck. Back home, we caught the second semi-finals, which was another exciting game of footy. This time, Port came back to overhaul a big Fremantle lead and won the game. The Hawks await them at The G on Saturday arvo. I got the tickets and can’t wait.

The next morning, after another quick brekky at home we packed up to leave. Just before pushing off however we went to the viewing platforms again. This time we were in luck. We caught sight of the baby which was only less than a week old, having been born just 3-4 days before we got there on Friday. Satisfied, we left and headed back to Melbourne, reaching in time to get to Madam Kwong’s just before they closed.

When we got home we quickly did some shopping before going to cook (soup again), wash (Tress did the laundry) and get ready for the working week again.

We took quite a few photos and in one of them, I had felt really good. The weather was great, the sights gorgeous and we were really relaxed. I thought, not for the first nor last time, how I missed kiddo. We’ve had a number of good excursions into different parts of Victoria this year.

In January after dropping Kiddo off in Sydney we drove down the coast to Gippsland and stayed a the Lakes Entrance. In March we spent a weekend in Dromana in Mornington and in April we drove to the high countries and stayed at Bright. We went to Singapore in July and in August we spent a weekend in Flowerdale near Strath Creek. Then it was the Great Ocean Road and Warrnambool this past weekend. Each trip was special because the geography, food, air and season were all different. The constant was Tress. The constant missing peg was Kiddo, but ironically it is precisely because with her away I felt the need to spend more time with Tress and wanted to see more of Victoria with her. It would have been so much better to have had Kiddo with us, although I know her time now is in the far east, in such different surroundings. I want to see even more of Victoria but hopefully when we make the next trip, I’d have one added constant.

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Ramen, Footy and True Grit


The legal team has had a few lunches in a laksa place about a block away from the office. Earlier last week someone suggested another visit for Friday. I suggested a ramen place instead. I had stumbled onto Fukuryu Ramen in Chinatown several weeks ago and liked it. The team had a go and really liked it too so my taste isn’t too far off the mark then. Good to know.

A couple of them had the large bowl and were absolutely stuffed so the arvo was a bit slow. Just after 4 the boss suggested drinks and so at about 4.30 we adjourned to “The Fringe” at the northern end of Madam Brussel Lane and finished the working week there.

I later came back to the office, to wait for Tress who was making her way back to the city. We were heading to the MCG for the big game to kick off footy finals. Hawks v Geelong is always a highlight but a place in the preliminary final with all the advantages it offers, was high stakes footy. I had gotten the tickets pretty early and had been looking forward to the game all week.

Hawks won, the walk to Richmond Station and platforms 9&10 were shoulder to shoulder and when we got home just after 11pm it felt like a ripper weekend had well and truly started.

Next morning Tress and I tried out a new joint on South Parade in Blackburn. Urban Zinc is a keeper and we would likely return whenever we felt like a treat on a Saturday morning. After brekky we went back home and I worked the garden, Tress vacuumed and did other errands and Scruff had the groomer visit. The day was so gorgeous I didn’t want to come into the house.

Our lemon tree stopped fruiting about a year ago and I had slowly pruned the tree back. We’ve now decided to get rid of it so on Saturday I started on the larger branches. The old tree had thick branches and trunks and the pruning saw felt inadequate but we don’t have many trees so investing in a chainsaw felt a bit over the top. It was a really nice day anyway – sunny, about 20deg – so I worked away slowly. It was well past 1pm when Tress reminded me we had to start getting ready to be at Gerry and Jesslyn’s place for the birthday party of their younger daughter.

After Sheryl’s party we came home and walked Scruff before catching up with the Hippos again, together with the Chews. They wanted dinner so we caught up at Pancake Parlour – a joint all of us haven’t been to for the longest time. We came home and saw North Melbourne overturn a big deficit to defeat Essendon. Sydney had won earlier, leaving Fremantle to battle it out with North next week. The Tigers got mauled by the Powers last night and so Geelong would meet Port Adelaide. Or maybe I got the cross over wrong…

So no footy for us this weekend – we’d be heading to Warrnambool.

Sunday at church we had Stephen and Ruth Devenish give a quick introduction to the work they would do in Thailand next year. Ruth worked in the same building as me when I was at Steer but we didn’t talk very much but I knew she had wanted to do work in Thailand, where she grew up. Tress and I talked about helping them in our tiny way so we’ll see how that pans out.

After church we headed to Madam Kwong and after lunch we did some grocery shopping but this time in the Burwood One location. I had wanted to look for a new dry cleaner as our regular dry cleaner had been sold to a Chinese owner who was rather unpleasant to deal with. I might still return to them – maybe give them a second chance…

We then walked the little fellow again – the day was as good as the day before and it was far too gorgeous to just stay at home. When we finally got home and stayed home, I did my usual weekend cooking but Tress couldn’t resist going outside again to potter around the front garden.

We ended the weekend with a DVD Tress borrowed from the new public library in Docklands. “True Grit” with Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon turned out to be thoroughly enjoyable. The main character was a 14 year old girl, played so very effectively by someone whose name I need to find out. It was a wonderful movie. The end credits explained why – the Coen brothers made it, with Steven Spielberg as the Executive Producer.

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Friends, Relatives and Homelessness


It was raining when I headed out for my usual lunch hour walk. It was a little strange perhaps, for a first day of spring. The rain made the walk a short-burst sort of a walk. It was a bit of a contrast with the moods over the weekend. Friday night we had dinner at the HD Café with Jason and Mel, where we whiled the evening away with good conversations. Likewise on Saturday night there was no sense of rush as we spent the evening at Pat Sie and Joo Kuan’s home, catching up with a bunch of ex-OCFers (from Sydney). Ken and Jenny were visiting from Canberra and also there were Ing Tung and Chin Moi, Margaret Ruhl, Chui Boon and Catherine. We lingered the night away in reminiscence and also updating each other on what our kids were up to, occasionally comparing our respective tragedies that are out mid-drifts. There wasn’t any sense of rush. Unlike my walk.

Then on Sunday night we caught up with Caleb my cousin from Sydney, who came down for a work conference. Dinner in the New Shanghai at the Emporium, followed by a walk along the Yarra outside the Crown. No rush, unlike my walk.

The shortened and rushed walk covered only a couple of blocks and lasted only 10 or so minutes. In that very short window, I walked past 2 homeless men. Both were sleeping. Curled up in nooks between buildings, seeking a cleft to hide from the wind and rain. It wasn’t cold but that was me. They looked cold. At HD Café sipping alternately between a Rose and a Shiraz, I wasn’t cold. Unlike those men. In the dining room in that large house on Saturday night the warm company kept any trace of cold well away. The atmosphere was very warm. I doubt those two men experienced any such warmth.

The food. All of it. That was the only thing wrong with it. There was too much. HD Café, Pat Sie’s home and last night at New Shanghai. We had to tread carefully and not eat too much. I don’t think either of those two men were starving but abundance of food wasn’t a problem they had to deal with.

The company. The sense of belonging in a community of sorts. Friends or you can call on to have a chat. To check out how they’re doing. To keep them in prayers. The company which makes you feel in some ways, purposeful or meaningful. That’s probably the biggest hitting issue against those 2 men. I wanted to stop and alleviate that a little bit. They were asleep. They looked like they had wanted to shut the world out. I don’t know what they want or need.

A couple of blocks, a couple of homeless men. I notice them more these days.