A Tennis Match for the ages


The usual Australia Open tennis competition which peaks on the weekend following Australia Day, is for this year, anything but usual. The two grand old masters of the modern era, Federer and Nadal, each hacked and mowed down 6 opponents to reach the final and last night, watched by a legend in his day whose name crowns the tennis venue in the marvelous Melbourne Park, served up the feast everyone hoped it would be.

It was a match few in Melbourne would miss, whether in situ in Melbourne Park or elsewhere on television. So Tress and I got with the program. It had been a warm day and after church and Madam K, we had dropped by Alex and Li Har’s home to give them Kiddo’s invitation card. They had been travelling for 6 weeks and had just returned a couple of days before. We then went grocery shopping and I had spent the arvo cooking. We had planned to do more letter boxing but it was still very warm when we were “ready” at around 6pm and I didn’t like the idea of walking around for over an hour in that heat.

We had done over an hour of that on Saturday morning, when it was much more pleasant, before heading into the city. We had planned to visit the food (durian) stall of Adam, Tress’ cousin, at the Crown Riverwalk. When we got into the city, we decided to first go visit the shrine put up by dozens of flowers and teddy bears on the corner of Bourke and Swanston Street. It was very sad just looking at the cards. We decided to have lunch at Tim Ho Wan before going back to Bourke to see the other end on Elizabeth Street where the shrine was far bigger. The sadness was overwhelming.

We finally made our way to the Crown esplanade area and mingled with a vibrant Chinese New Year. We caught up with Auntie Pin and just milled with the crowd before leaving late on. Back home, we took the little furry fellow to the oval and he had a wonderful time, as did we. We had spent the day walking a fair bit and didn’t feel like any walk but the little fellow was just visibly happy to be there, playing with the other dogs. His blindness appeared to have interfered little with his social fun.

That night the ladies’ tennis final was on and even though the Williams sisters’ final were also a memorable event, the “Fedal” of Sunday night was on another level. Federer’s momentous achievement deserved more viewing time – the speeches and trophy presentations were just as much compulsory viewing as the match proper. So I only crawled into bed around midnight and my usual wake time meant I only managed less than 4½ hours’ sleep. Coffee has been a close friend today…

Bourke Street Mall Tragedy, Stridency against Trump


Soon after I started my current role, I was introduced to AL, one of our service providers. As our conversation progressed and we peeled away our present, we realised we were school mates back in Klang. We’ve caught up many times since and on Friday, we caught up for lunch at a local Vietnamese joint, as well as coffee after.

While walking back to the office just after 2pm, I started getting messages about an incident which was apparently brewing in the city. Before long, the tragedy of the Bourke Street Mall driver hit me, like everyone else, with a sledge hammer.

On the way out of the office later that day, I said to a colleague to hug her two kids the moment she gets home. Driving from the station back home, I heard on the radio that one of the victims was a 3 month old baby. That baby was undergoing surgery but was to later die. When I got through the front door, I gave Tress a hug.

Life can be so fleeting. A walk through Melbourne’s CBD on a glorious summer afternoon can very quickly spiral into an ugly scene of the dead, injured and mayhem. 5 dead, and over a dozen injured, many seriously. At church yesterday, Mike McNamara started the morning service with a prayer for the victims.

On Saturday Tress and I spent the day cleaning and washing. She vacuumed and did tons of laundry. I cleaned the outside of the house and washed our cars. It was such a beautiful day and we had started a bit after 10, having been out to do some grocery shopping earlier. We didn’t finish till nearly 7pm and while my arm ached from lifting the hedge trimmer all afternoon, it felt good to just sit and watch the tennis later that night, confident and relaxed out home is cleaner and neater – at least for now…

It will be a short week, with Australia Day breaking up the week on Thursday. Many, including my boss, will be taking Friday off for a 4 day weekend. We’ll be having some people over for a traditional Australian Day barbie. I think for me it will again be a time of trying to get my head around what makes our present day psyche – the random acts of violence and the prevalent stridency we’re seeing these days, principally from across the Atlantic where Donald Trump’s ascendancy appears to have sparked so much vitriol and hatred from people who in recent past seemed to have made loud noises against such attitudes against certain minorities. People seemed to have put aside the willingness to speak nicely – giving others the benefit of the doubt – and objectively.

St Andrew, & Hazy Start


St Andrews market is one of those places you don’t forget easily. Certainly when Tress and I went there the first time, some 2-3 years ago, it left an impression. The obvious herbal smell wafting through the markets (marijuana), the occult bend, the hippy feel to the whole place was unforgettable. It felt like one was walking through some aspects of the 60’s or 70’s. I clearly remember enjoying a pint just before 11am – and not feeling odd or guilty about it!

On Saturday we took a drive there for a repeat visit. Ruth and Jonathan had texted to meet up and we said we were driving there so we suggested we met there. It must have been quite a drive for them – it took us over 45 minutes – but we met up and it was very nice. They’ve bought a large property on the western fringe, at Woodend, and as they described the property (5.5 acres, paddocks, sheep, alpaca, chooks, ponds etc…) I felt a heavy tinge of envy.

I’ve always cherished the vast swathes of space that Australia affords and could never come to terms with choices to live in apartments or townhouses. We live in a small house ourselves but at least directly across the road there are parklands, ovals and fields and playgrounds. 2-3 neighbours either side of us have no home opposite ours across the street so the strip of parklands was wide enough to give us a sense of space.

In any event, that catch up with Ruth and Jonathan made me think about living amidst even more spacious surrounds. Little Micah looked well, happy and I think he enjoyed a jazzy band which was busking and also enjoying themselves right through the whole time.

Later that night we went to dinner in Bayswater, with Jason and Mel and the Hipos. The Hipos had suggested we try out this funky hawker joint out there and it was nice. We then adjourned to their (Hipos’) home for drinks.

As always it was nice catching up with friends and relatives.

Before we headed out for dinner Mike McNamara,the minister in charged of the 10am service, rang to ask if I can do communion duty the next day, as someone couldn’t make it. So on Sunday we were mindful to be on time. After church we went Madam K’s. They had been closed a few weeks and it was the first time back since they came back from their holidays a few days earlier. We saw some very old friends from our hometown church and we shared a table, talked and caught up. We then went to YWAM at Surrey Hills to pick up some flyers for letter-boxing in the next few weekends before heading to Shoppo in Doncaster.

Last night as I thought about the coming week, I felt a tinge of tiredness. It’s only the second week back so feeling this tiredness doesn’t bode well. Maybe it’s the extra early start, with the level crossing works at my (temporarily closed) local train station making me drive out to the next station in. I’ve had to push my morning schedule even earlier so wake hour feels oppressively early (4.20am). It was however, cooler this morning (about 10deg) and I felt more alive as a result so for a Monday, I am a little more energized that a warm, hazy hot day would have allowed. I’m again grateful…

Cool Change- Back to Work


It was cooler this morning, when I opened the front door and walked towards the car. Dawn was just breaking and while it took some planning and mental preparation the night before, the early morning routine seemed to have worked back into its groove fairly smoothly.

It had to be an earlier start too, as Blackburn Station will be closed for at least a couple of more weeks. I had to drive a little further out into Box Hill station instead. At least there’s covered parking there. A train had pulled up just as I walked towards the platform and as I got on and sat down, I started to read “God’s Big Picture” (Vaughan Roberts). I hadn’t read very much these past 2 weeks and it felt good to read again.

I had with me, Gerard Henderson’s book on BA Santamaria, when we went away but I didn’t get to read much of it. It was very hot for most of the 2 weeks. We were at Point Lonsdale for a few days and then drove straight up to Canberra from there. It remained hot in both of those places, and even when we returned to Melbourne the heat was unrelenting.

I think I felt relief for the first time last night, when the cool change drifted in, maybe from 7pm onwards. Tress, Kiddo, LBJ and I have just had a lovely home barbeque dinner and we all went out to the oval across the street to enjoy the cooler conditions, along with many other pooches and their owners. Everyone was just glad the heat left us for a little while. As we milled with others, played catch with LBJ’s toy ball and generally mucked around, I was very grateful for such moments.