Au revoir Canberra


It’s just over 9am and I’m writing this at desk 37, on the 2nd floor of the building on 243 Northbourne Avenue, in the suburb of Lyneham. It will be the last day I’ll be seated at this desk. In fact I’ll likely leave by noon. Kiddo and I have teed up lunch. Then, I exit this very large roundabout, and head back to Melbourne. I can be with Tress again, in that house on Vicki Street.

It has been 7 months and 6 days.

I now know – a little better – what Canberra is like. I know enough to be comforted and assured, that should Kiddo choose to put her tent pegs in in this city, it would be alright. She could -would -have a wonderful life here, if she shall so choose.

This is a quaint city but filled with intelligent – very intelligent – people. She’s also in a good church with very good teaching and she has her own community with whom she can experience godly lives together. If – when – she lands that job, life would surely settle for her.

It has taken 7 months and 6 days on this very large roundabout for me to come to this assurance so I’m looking forward to resuming my life in Melbourne. God has been wonderfully providing in recent weeks – from the job in Redflex down to us finding a set of lost apartment keys a week out before my leaving Canberra, so Kiddo’s new roommate will have a proper set of keys.

Au revoir National Blood Authority. Au revoir Watson Street. Au revoir Canberra.

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A Special Week


Tress left work on Friday night and headed straight to the airport. I picked her up from Canberra airport and we headed home to start a magical 10 days.

On Sunday morning Tress and I drove up to Sydney. At the Kingsford Smith airport, we parked and waited at the arrival lounge with excitement. Eventually Sim and Mum appeared. Hugs and greetings exchanged, we climbed into the car and drove back to Canberra, stopping at Goulburn for a bite to eat and take snapshots of the Big Merino.

On Monday after some sightseeing at the arboretum and the old parliament, we bought some groceries and had a home cooked Christmas dinner at home. It felt special and I was very glad we could do that.

Tuesday was the highlight. It was Kiddo’s graduation day and she had successfully earned a PhB so we were very excited. We gave Kiddo her graduation/Christmas present – a dress watch, which was a bit big so we went to Belconnen to have it re-sized, and also got her a bouquet of flowers and a soft toy (a doggie). Later, we started hanging around outside the Llewellyn Hall just after 1pm, excitedly taking photos. The ceremony started at 2pm and when Kiddo had her name called out with a Bachelor of Philosophy (Honours)/Bachelor of Arts (NUS) I felt truly special.

After the ceremony we headed to the Kingston foreshore and had a celebratory dinner at the Wild Duck restaurant, which turned out to be part owned by a Malaysian lady. I had suggested that restaurant because apparently that was the locale for political whispers and Machiavellian manoeuvres, especially by the likes of the present PM Turnbull. The food was good and the service was very friendly and spot on so I had no complaints. I think we all enjoyed the occasion.

On Wednesday morning Tress flew back to Melbourne and for the next 3 days I took Mum and Sim for sightseeing across Canberra. The War Memorial, Parliament, Cockington Green, Brodburger, Fyshwick and Belconnen fresh food markets… I think (hope) they enjoyed the experience.

Tress flew back in to Canberra again on Friday night and on Saturday morning we drove up to Sydney again. We stayed overnight at the Shalom College in UNSW, and took the opportunity to show Mum and Sim the neighbourhood around UNSW, particularly Kingsford. We also drove to Coogee Beach to take in the bustling summer scenes on a Sydney beach suburb. On Sunday morning it was time to bid Mum and Sim farewell as they returned to Malaysia. Tress and I then drove back to Canberra.

It was very warm yesterday when we came back to Canberra. After yum cha lunch with Kiddo and Mic at Belconnen, we returned to keep cool in the apartment.

The bigger/extended family in Malaysia are away in Fraser’s Hill for a family reunion and some have been sharing photos of activities and I was struggling to remember the names of those young people – kids of my cousins. I drew a family tree to map my knowledge of those names and after that I sat down to specifically remember and be grateful for the gushing streams of blessings we have experienced in recent weeks.

Kiddo’s PhB – my new job in Melbourne – Kiddo attending a positive interview for an exciting role – Mum, Sim and Tress in Canberra for that very special week – finding a new roommate for Kiddo in very quick time – me selling my bicycle for a healthy sum – Sim finding the lost bunch of keys to the apartment at the back of the car –Tress finding very convenient accommodation in Sydney (Shalom College in UNSW) –… I said to Tress we are experiencing a period of the 7 fat cows depicted in Pharaoh’s dream in Genesis.

It has been a very memorably wonderful week. I am very grateful for God’s wonderful blessings, especially with the timing of several events. He allowed those difficult months to go through – letting me go through the press – so that this past week becomes so heightened and focus in the overall sense of gratefulness and being blessed.

I thought of the timing especially.

Had I found work in Melbourne earlier, I would not have been here in Canberra during this special week. Being here in Canberra allowed me to “quarterback” logistics involving Mum, Sim and to a lesser extent, Tress. These include the apartment as had I left Canberra earlier we would not have had the privilege of sharing the apartment together through the week. As it turned out, the timing allowed me to see them return to Malaysia and then have a few days to tidy things up before I leave Canberra one last time, to return to Melbourne to start the new year afresh. I am looking forward to the Christmas break with Tress now. It would have been even better if Kiddo was coming along but she’ll have a wonderful time with Mic and his family in Tassie I’m sure. I look forward to being with Tress – and with LBJ of course – knowing we can plan our lives being together from 2016 on. It has been an intriguing 2015.

Special Week


It’s Friday. It’s the last working day before I take a week off. Tress arrives tonight. Mum and Sim arrive in Sydney on Sunday morning. Tress and I will make an early drive up to Sydney to pick them up to then head down to Canberra. From Sunday afternoon onwards, we’d all have a few days together in Canberra, with Kiddo’s graduation on Tuesday being the highlight of the week. We’re all looking forward to this – it will be such a special experience from so many perspectives.

Year drawing to an end


Late on Thurs/Friday arvo Kiddo and I took LBJ for a walk. We were both excited at our own and each other’s prospects – she with her PhB secured and me with the new role to look forward to. It was a corner turning week for us.

I had a terrible back pain on Saturday morning. It was the second debilitating back problem since I started my Canberra role. It is almost as if my Canberra chapter is book ended by back pains.

So I stayed in the apartment, moaning and groaning as I struggled to make breakfast late in the morning. I wasn’t hungry but needed to eat something in order to then take some ibuprofen. By about early in the afternoon I could move more freely and so had a shower and did my laundry. After that it was just a series of attempts to limber up as I ambulated between the couch and the bedroom, making dozens of trips in order to “keep moving”, which is apparently better than bed rest.

That night Kiddo cooked a steak dinner and we talked to Tress on video conferencing. Later we all watched a movie on Netflix. “Naked amongst wolves” was a story about the last days of a Nazi concentration camp. As is the case with movies of this genre, tales of evil regime, depravity are interspersed with demonstration of individual triumphs of courage and humanity. It is a fallen world indeed but the Lord has commenced the work of redemption and will complete it , one day.

On Sunday morning the back pain  was better but stiffness still reigned and it was still very sore. With the help of a couple of ibuprofen pills however I managed to get to Good Shepherd Anglican at Curtin. At the end of the service the musos were signing “Mary did you know”

Back at the apartment after church,   I searched out the Pentatonix rendition on youtube and played it on our tele. It was great and Kiddo was hooked too and we created a playlist of that group’s Christmas carols. Putting away the laundry and ironing was much less painful with that kind of music playing. After that Kiddo went out and I just hung around and tried to do light activities to ease the back strain.

I ended the weekend early and went to bed before 10pm. It would be the last weekend before a flurry of activities leading up to Christmas and 2016. The year is accelerating towards its end, and ironically I’m kind of wanting it to slow down so I can remember what it felt like to have gone through the second half of 2015 in such uncharted territories…

 

Tacks


I took a late flight out on Wednesday night to Melbourne to spend the next day there. A little bit after 7am the next morning, a Facebook messenger “ping” went off. It was the start of a memorable day.

Kiddo got the marks she needed to be awarded her PhB. I was very excited and happy for her. Still am… 

Later that morning I trekked into the city and met some people. Then I caught up for coffee with someone else and then headed for lunch at one of Tress and my favorite places, Nelayan. When Tress and I were sitting somewhere at Spencer Street however, I took a call which stunned the both of us.

The earlier meeting quickly developed into a role and I now get the chance to return to Melbourne on a long term basis.

As excited as we both were, I said to Tress what a trifecta it would be if Kiddo landed that job she is currently pursuing.

I got back to Canberra later the arvo but what a day it was. A day when the winds tacked and did so in a way which tells us God’s grace and mercy has allowed these developments. Grateful? You can’t begin to imagine. 

Melbourne trail


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Last Friday the office had lunch at “The Deck” at Regatta Point. It was the earliest office Christmas party I have ever been involved in – it wasn’t even December. Most of us were there from 12.30 and just before 3pm, I left, went home to pick up the little fellow, and made the drive to Melbourne. That early start allowed us to get into our Vicki Street home before 10pm, which was great.

On Saturday morning, the little fellow had his mobile groomer show up just before 8.30, and I headed to Simon’s for my haircut. Back at home later, I did some gardening while Tress vacuumed the house. I had also planned to wash the car but by the time I was ready to do that a small crowd had gathered at the lawn 2 houses down the street. The auction was scheduled for 1pm. I didn’t think letting the suds and water flow down the driveway would be a good idea with that crowd, so I cleaned up and then stood around to watch the auction. It was sold for $932,000 which is a lot of money for an un-renovated 4 bed roomer so I guess talk of a cooling Melbourne property market is still a touch premature.

When the crowd cleared Tress and I left for Madam Kwong’s. Jean had sold the business and after lunch I said to Tress it may be the last time we ate there, as my next trip back was to be on Christmas eve. She would be shut by then and when it reopens the new owners would have well and truly taken over. We’d miss eating there – we’ve been coming to this place regularly (every single weekend) for almost 5 years now.

After some grocery shopping we went home and got ready for a 50th birthday party. My ex-boss (Stuart) had his birthday earlier in the year but decided to have his 50th bash that night. It was at his home in Hawthorn East. He’s a wonderful human being and working for such a decent person had been a wonderful privilege. Tress and I had planned to not stay so long but the conversations, drinks, and food was too good to leave early and to top it off, the couple of speeches (including my ex-boss’) were terrific. We got home just before midnight.

On Sunday just before church started I got a missed call and voicemail from Andrew confirming the Monday appointment can proceed. My back was strained anyway from the work on Saturday and I wasn’t prepared for the drive back on Sunday so having that meeting confirmed was very good.

David Ratten from the One Community Church preached – it was the annual 3-way pulpit swap together with New Hope Baptist. It’s the first of the series titled “The King” and the text was from Psalm 51.The background of David’s fall on account of his encounter with Bathsheba provided hope of justice, hope and renewal.

After church we stopped by Madam K’s just to pick up a couple of takeaways – we were to meet Gerry and Jason and their families for lunch in Glen Waverley. Tress and I had not been in GW for a long time and to meet with old friends for lunch there was very nice. The food (Dainty Sichuan) was very good, albeit spicy and oily and pricey and the company made it all a very lovely afternoon. After lunch Jason and Mel had coffee at The Glen, and we joined them – again a very nostalgic experience, having not visited The Glen for many years.

It was very good catching up with Jason and Mel again, particularly hearing they were at an early service at the Bridge church in Doncaster. They’re often out having coffee on Sunday arvos as their kids would be home with their friends and their home would be colonised… Tress and I said to them they probably need to renovate to create their own space but as usual, long term capital type investments on account of kids’ activities can be high risk as the purpose would have disappeared in a few short years – they’d move on and the parents would be left with excess capacities and then the circle moves on to downsizing…

We went home late arvo and I felt wonderful for having had a full weekend in Melbourne – the first since I left in May. My mind was however preoccupied with the appointment I had on Monday morning. I prepared for it a little bit.

The appointment went positively and I’m hopeful it would provide me with the way back to Melbourne again – to live and work there and be with Tress, St Alf’s and old friends on a regular basis. If that happens I can only wish Kiddo returns and finds her life in Melbourne too. That would be the absolute icing on this cake that I hope is just beginning to cook…