Delayed gratification – worth every minute


Tress came up to Canberra on Friday night.

On Saturday morning we drove up to Sydney. Tress treated me to a couple of nights at the wonderful Radisson Blue as a 50th special. It was lovely. The old sandstone building set in the heart of the sandstone precinct of Sydney, it was once home to Fairfax empire media and later, Bank of New South Wales, the forebears of the behemoth that is now the Westpac.

Radisson Sydney
The Radisson Blue Sydney – an old sandstone building and former home to Fairfax and Westpac

Located just off Pitt Street, it was within walking distance to a number of attractions. Southwards lies places like Darling Harbour and Chinatown, and the surrounding spots like Town Hall and the Queen Victoria Building. Walking north, one heads to the Circular Quay area and can within minutes, take in the spectacular views flanked by the Harbour Bridge on the one side and the Sydney Opera House on the other.

On Sunday we walked to the Town Hall area and on peeking inside the magnificent St Andrews Cathedral we realised Peter Jensen was preaching and it was smacked on 10.30am. So we went in and sat through the service. It was a special experience.

Then it was off to the Mamak restaurant on Goulbourn Street for a very good lunch of roti and satay, washed down with kopi tarik for Tress and teh halia for me. We had intended to have dinner there the night before but there was a queue snaking along so we ditched that and came back for lunch the next day. After lunch we walked to Darling Harbour, then up to the newly built Barangaroo Park and then underneath the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. Sydney has probably the unique offering of such spectacular views. Sadly I confided in Tress that the Sydney Harbour is something Melbourne cannot come close to matching.

We stopped by for a drink at a cafe just within a stone’s throw to the Opera House, and then walked to the Government House and Botanical Gardens before heading back to the Radisson. That night we worked out the day’s trek to be about 10.4kms and our limbs felt them.

After breakfast at a nearby cafe on Monday morning, we took another walk to the Quay area before returning to the Radisson to pack and head back to Canberra. On the way out of Sydney, we were stuck in a crawling Sydney traffic and I said to Tress that as we’ve always noted, Sydney is a magnificent city to visit but I’d be thinking extremely hard before I decide to live and work in this city. It is far too congested, the people looked and behaved so hurried it resembles more like an Asian city like Singapore, than a laid back Aussie city.

We stopped at Goulbourn for coffee and pastries and then arrived in Canberra early in the arvo. Later that evening, Kiddo, Mic, Tress LBJ and I did a barbie at Haig Park just across the apartment.

It had been a wonderful weekend.

This morning I received a “save the date” email from Stuart my ex boss, who will be celebrating his 50th later in the year. I hope his 50th celebration turns out to be just as fun and memorable as mine has been.

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Mondayitis Lite


The warmer and longer days are likely the reasons but Mondayitis isn’t as bad this morning.

Maybe it was the thumping victory Hawks enjoyed over the Crows on Friday night, as I listened to the game on the Hume. It was a good 3 hours into my drive before the game started and I had been listening to some podcasts of NT Wright before that so it took some adjustments. Listening to talks that force a re-framing of how one views so many parts of scriptures puts one in state of mind which causes reflection and reconnecting an array of thoughts. Switching then to a footy broadcast soaked in adrenaline fueled descriptions of physical battles, required some mental gymnastics. At least it kept me awake and interested for the rest of the drive. The 74 point margin apparently reinstalled the Hawks as favourites for the flag but we all know footy is filled with superstitions. I reached home to be warmly greeted by Tress – as always – but this time the warmth was spiced with some very delicious noodles which she had bought earlier that night. Home sweet home indeed.

Maybe it was a warm, wonderful Saturday. After brekky I had intended to drop into Bunnings to get some “feed and weed” stuff for the lawn but Tress and I agreed it needed mowing again so we pottered around to wait for the moisture to dry up. Tress had also presented me with a new iPad mini so I tried to set it up and install the new iOS9, and I let the installation process run while Tress and I went outside – it was a sunny morning that was rapidly warming up. She weeded, I washed the car, mowed the lawn and when it was all done it was noon and we headed to Madam Kwong’s.

After lunch we did some grocery shopping – Tress was going to do a fruit platter and I was planning on a salad for dinner at Gerry and Jessly’s that night. We then took the little fellow for a walk, then went to see out optometrist for our eye checks. Tress needed new sunnies and my 3+ year old multi-focals weren’t working well for me anymore. Another reminder I was turning 50 the next day.

It was very good to meet up with that bunch for dinner again, to top off Saturday. Gerry and Jesslyn with their girls were joined by Jesslyn’s brother and his family, as well as Poh Mama – Jesslyn’s mum – who had arrived earlier that day from Singapore for a short holiday. Jason and Mel were there too and it was the first time we had met up since I left for Canberra. The meal and company were very good. I had brought along a bottle of 2000 Penfolds which was thoroughly enjoyable.Hipos

Maybe it was being back at St Alf’s on Sunday morning. Not for the first time, being back there I felt at home again. Maybe the recent church finding experience in Canberra has heightened this sentiment, but just seeing familiar faces and talking to some of them and listening to Peter talk about how God cherishes and love his people in spite of our unfaithfulness, was very settling for me. It sort of informs how I view my relationship with Tress. Maybe this was also swirled by the NT Wright podcasts I had been listening to. In as much as I love Tress, it is only a taste of how much God loves His church. Why the church continues to court the world and tries to please it instead of pleasing God, its more deserving and rightful groom, is just testament to how fallen we are I guess. This is a new world for me – seeing God’s work, His kingdom, the church and its role and responses, all from new perspective. It’s all just opened up and will take a while for the numerous strands to connect, form and settle. I hope to be able to continue reading/listening.

At lunch at Madam K’s after church, I said to Tress I so want to return to Melbourne and I hope I’d find work in Melbourne again soon to let that happen. She said to give it time. I used to advice new migrants to give it time because their comfort in Malaysia was a culmination of years of hard work and making connections. Their new life in Melbourne required the same elements. I’ve not been following my own advice. Maybe it was the 12 month frame which made this more challenging but I really should give it time I guess, before I can cease to look to returning to Melbourne for my fortnightly dose of happiness.

Maybe it was having LBJ next to me on the way home last night. The little fellow was a model passenger, as he lies down on his bed on the passenger seat next to me the whole way from Vicki Street, Forest Hill, Victoria to Watson Street, Turner ACT. When we finally arrived, I took him across to Haig Park for a walk for him to do his thing, before taking him up to the apartment and unloading and unpacking. Kiddo and Mic came back from church earlier than expected and we talked as Kiddo fussed over LBJ. The whole scene was far better than my usual Sunday night returns to the flat – being alone and wondering why I was doing this.

Maybe it was because Tress’s coming up again on Friday. She’d fly up after work, and we’d head to Sydney for the long weekend. That’s something to look forward to.

Whatever the reason – and it is likely all of them – Mondayitis this morning isn’t as bad as it often is.

And oh, United won overnight too – coming from behind to beat the Saints away and get back to No.2 on the ladder. That helped.

Solitary work


English: A photo of a cup of coffee. Esperanto...
Cafe?

Often my work is collaborative. There are however, often long stretches of document review and thinking about issues which involves solitary work.

The screen and I. Starring Dell and Ian.

Quite often these long stretches can be whole day affairs. Like today. I’ve had quick corridor/printer chats with a handful of colleagues but for the most part I’ve been working on my own. Those chats aren’t even chats in any event. I have been alone for the most part of the day.

Just a few minutes ago I decided to go into the kitchen to make myself a coffee. I know it’s nearly 3pm and that coffee can be a mistake which may take me the whole night to make amends. My eyes are bleary however and I feel tired. The idea of coffee was extremely attractive.

I succumbed and I now have a very nice cup of coffee with me. But I’ll take a few more minutes before I return to my work, and write this.

While in the kitchen I had a few minutes chat with a couple of colleagues. Just talking to them made me feel a whole lot better. God really knew it is not good for man to be alone. I know only too well the context is of a life long partner, as having been here in the capital city away from Tress for 4 months now, I really know God really knew what He was talking about. It is not at all good for man to be alone. Even on a microscopic perspective such as withing a work day, God is right – again as always. Fellowship, community, being social … we need it. I need it. Being alone is pretty bad…

The Oz Tribe


Here I am in the capital city, where it all happened. Australia now has a new Prime Minister, no thanks to a mere 100 persons who decided amongst themselves and in the interest of their own jobs, to ignore what the rest of the country decided a mere 2 years ago.

My immediate reaction is that this is all tribal. Malcolm Turnbull moves amongst a demographic who probably think of themselves as intelligent, progressive and know better than the plebs. He identifies with them and wants to be a leader who represents those views held and lived by that group.

The Liberal Party platform only happens to be a convenient platform for the new PM to posture, preach and prosecute his plans to rule. The very likely and widely held belief that most ordinary Australians either don’t care for or do not believe in many of the causes of that tribe – ordinary Australians who voted the Coalition in, did not matter to the new PM. He coveted the position of PM. He always has. And he wants to lead that tribe.

So the outgoing PM who has been persecuted by the urban media and the rest of the tribe which now hails its new leader, steps away, hurt. He is likely hurt not just by the fact of a painful loss. He is likely hurt because causes dear to him will now be reversed. Causes not dear to him will now likely be given priority and be prosecuted.

The new PM is a catholic who scarcely believe – let alone practices – what the scripture and catholic church teaches. His religion is what that tribe believes and lives by. It is counter scripture (such as Romans 12:1, 2) but he would not care for the exegesis which would preclude a “progressive” reading. He is intelligent to contextualize and make contemporary what the scriptures teach, notwithstanding applying such lenses distorts and makes for erroneous conclusions. He probably knows he is wrong but he would also know this pleases the tribe and so would charge ahead. What matters to him (and many of his ilk) is what his tribe approves. As a leader not of this country but of that tribe, that is what dictates policies and decisions from hereon in.

Transient


The Holy Covenant Anglican church in Cook, ACT is a lovely suburban community. It appears compassionate and people are warm. A couple of ladies, who looked like they could well be office bearers of the ACT chapter of the CWA, greeted me warmly and the husband (presumably) of one of them spoke to me about how they occasionally take the service at the nearby Calvary Hospital. The “high church” feel and the focus on topical concerns like migration of Syrians to western Europe and Australia’s action towards its own asylum seekers across the Indian Ocean had me wonder how I was going to enthusiastically engage or be engaged here. Jesus, God’s saving grace and the bible were mentioned only in the liturgical parts of the service. The sermon was on faith in action a la James but given the other messages coming through, that might well have been designed to prompt thoughts and actions on the asylum seekers/refugees front.

Later in the evening I said to Tress – I forget if it was through text, Facebook messaging or the phone – that the search for a church would probably continue.

I guess it is possible I would not have a faith community here in Canberra. Not until it becomes clearer if I was to stay here longer than until this present contract runs out.

I guess many things are and will remain transient for now.

I guess that explains a lot of why I feel so out of it in so many ways. Maybe that suggests the wisdom (or lack of) in taking up this role, nearly 700 km away from home in Melbourne in the first place but I guess the opportunity to engage Kiddo has been a main driver.

On Friday night Kiddo Mic and I met up at the Hamlet in Braddon. I rode there after work and arrived early before them so I walked across the road and picked up some beers. We shared a variety of food – Peruvian, German and Spanish – ate and talked then went back to the apartment where I watched the Hawks go down to a very good West Coast Eagles side.

On Saturday morning I gave Kiddo a ride to the ANU where she was meeting up and working with a group of fellow writers. I then went for a long slow run, did the laundry after that and went out to buy lunch for kiddo, dropped lunch off for her at ANU and then went back to the apartment. I made myself some lunch and just after 1pm decided to clean the apartment. I had thought I’d spend no more than an hour – it’s a tiny 2 bedroom’er – but I ended up cleaning more things than I’d expected. I also used more cleaning chemicals than I’d expected so when it was all done after 4pm, I decided to head out again – it had been a warm and sunny day – and rode to the Lake area again, this time taking a right turn after crossing the bridge at New Acton. That turn took me to the National Museum area and I felt free and the clean fresh air was what I needed to flush the scents of those chemicals out of my system. Back at the apartment that night I watched the Crows v Bulldogs game. The winner was going to play Hawks. It was well balanced, with neither side leading more than 1-2 goals at any point. Crows edged it in the end and it would be them against Hawks at the G this Friday – when I’d be on the road again…

Yesterday after church I went to Belconnen and did some shopping at Westfield. I did some ironing back at the apartment, kept the laundry away and then sat out at the balcony to read (Tony Payne and Phillip Jensen’s “Pure Sex“). It was another warm and sunny day and I was in my shorts and with a glass of chardonnay, reading out on the balcony was very pleasant. Kiddo and Mic later came back from Crossroads and lunch and we chatted a bit before watching another footy game. It was another close encounter between Richmond and North Melbourne. The latter won and would meet the Swans in Sydney. The two Western Australian teams await the victors (Hawks v Crows and Roos v Swans) at the Preliminary Finals. Grand Finals await. As it stands, I’m scheduled to be back in Melbourne on that weekend. But such is my life now that even that is transient. I might be in Canberra watching it on the little TV in the little apartment – alone.

Church roundabout


Some time towards the end of July, I decided to take the next step towards pegging down my tent in Crossroads, in terms of church life in Canberra. So I signed up for the small group introductory sessions. That was probably 19 or 26 July.

When the first meeting finally arrived on 5 Aug I had mixed feelings. On the one hand it was tiring to head out at night mid-week, especially on a cold winter’s evening in Canberra. On the other hand, I thought it was something I had to do, if I was to have a better fellowship with believers here in Canberra.

The introductory group met 3 consecutive weeks, each week seeing me battle the mixed feelings and ended with me being glad I went. So on 19 Aug – the last meeting – the pastor said in the next few days we’ll be contacted with information about new groups we could consider joining on a longer term basis.

3 weeks on, I haven’t heard back from anyone. 6 weeks after making the first move and some 2 months after deciding to do this, nothing has come out of it.

I’m suddenly reminded of how crappy church and Christian organisation admin can be. Maybe there are other priorities. Maybe there are extraneous issues. Still, 3 weeks to simply facilitate connections? Potentially it could well be October before it happens and by then it’s close to year end break up stuff.

So last night I decided to cut my losses and move on. Sure, waiting can yield results but this is waiting for nuts reasons. There is no reason to hold on to this thread and allowing the frustrations or disappointments to continue. I have had enough of frustrations and disappointments. What I need is hope, promise/source of more hope and something to look forward to with less prospect of disappointment.

So it’s back to the drawing board for me. It could be another Anglican church somewhere in Canberra or if that fails, then it’d just que sera sera. Numerous Canberran Anglican churches have causes such as inclusiveness, gender equality, indigenous reconciliation, refugees rights etc as core concerns. Sure they’re all important but somehow they don’t strike me as what a church is about in terms of core focus. Only 1-2 says preaching the word of God is a core focus so I might give those a go, though they’re not near enough for me to ride my bike to.

I guess in so many ways, church life in Canberra is but another moving feast/target at this point in my life. Still in a roundabout of sorts I guess.

Sunday arvos – the difference


I was in Melbourne again last weekend. 2 consecutive weekends of drives on the Hume sounds punishing but it didn’t feel that way. It was a scheduled trip anyway – Tress and I had drawn up a schedule of visits to Melbourne/Canberra by either of us, which goes on till October.  I was saying to her on the phone somewhere on the Hume yesterday, that while physically tiring, trips home to Melbourne is always refreshing and restful for me emotionally and mentally.

Especially this past weekend when I spent the better part of Saturday tidying up the garden.

As always, winter sees the garden more neglected and when spring finally arrives, the neglect begins to show and the longer and warmer days also meant it was more inviting to be out there doing the work. So I got out the hedge trimmer, the step ladder and did those James Sterling hedges in – trimming and clipping so that they looked like freshly cropped heads of schoolboys in school on the first day of term. The lawn mower got worked too and thankfully the 3 month old petrol still fueled the machine sufficiently to keep it all looking better. Next trip should see some “feed n weed” worked in.

I miss spending Sunday arvo at home in Melbourne. Time was when I could maybe cook on Sunday arvos – doing soups for the week, or taking the little fellow on long walks. I now leave Melbourne right after lunch and spend the whole arvo on the Hume. Or if I wasn’t doing that I’d be at the flat on Turner, doing some ironing and then maybe also going for long walks through Haig Park or towards Lake Burley Griffin. But I’d be doing that alone, instead of with Tress and I guess it isn’t so much the activities as it is who they were done with. I guess that’s the single biggest factor of why I have felt so strangely “off” these past 4 months.

Aussie Spring


Today is officially the first day of spring. On the way back from Melbourne on Sunday, I noticed the golden wattle – the Green & Gold of Australia – littered on either side of the Hume. It’s shades and hues vary little and as one drives through, the unmistakable change of season lifts its colours, inviting one to look, smell the air and feel the coming of warmer and longer days.

Golden Wattle

It used to get dark by 5pm and when I hit the Yass Valley it would have been pitch dark. On Sunday however, it stayed light till just before 6pm. It made a difference to my mood. It could be I was simply getting used to this routine but the pain of leaving Melbourne on a Sunday arvo has alleviated.

Locals tell me Canberra gets pretty hot and dry in summer. We’d visited kiddo several times in summer in past years so we sort of know what the heat can be like but to have lived here through winter may make a difference to my experience of the warmer months ahead. I’m certainly looking forward to the change.

Yet this morning, as I rode in on the push bike, it was still very cold. The “feels like” read -2.7 degrees and I had to don the usual gears – the beanie under the helmet, coat, scarf, ski gloves etc. Riding home should be better though.

My lunch walk yesterday proved the Golden Wattle has well and truly welcome spring. I couldn’t resist taking the photos. I’m with the Green & Gold – I very much welcome spring and the warmer days ahead.

GW4 GW3 GW2 GW1