1 down, another to go


I’ve survived a whole week alone, with only the wonderful company of our little harry boy. He’s been such a sweetie I’ve wondered how I’d cope without him, while Tress spends time with her family back in Klang.

On Friday night, I caught up with Jason and Mel for dinner and while it’s different to our normal Friday night dinners in that it was just 3 of us, it was still very good just talking and eating at the end of a busy week at work for all of us. We caught up in a little local Italian restaurant near our home and spent well over 3 hours talking – about Tress’ mum, their nieces’ weddings, their plans to build their new home and their search for temporary abode, we just talked and caught up.

Seeing it was a weekend with little planned, I indulged myself by watching the world cup games in bed, and slept in till about 8.30am. After a slow brekky I did some house cleaning – vacuuming and wiping down surfaces etc. It was a gloomy day with splatters of light rain and after a leisurely morning of cleaning, I got cleaned up myself and headed out for some grocery shopping. I then dropped into the local library to look for a replacement book, as I found it hard to get into stride with Richard Flanagan’s book about fish. I didn’t find any so I came back and just spent the late arvo and early evening reading and watching tele. More world cup games followed but I couldn’t keep up with the night games. I did however, catch the magnificent Germany v Sweden game and Kroos’ goal at the death which saved the Germans, was a spectacular finish to a thoroughly entertaining game. I’m far more engaged with this world cup – most probably because I’m alone and looking for the familiar to be engaged.

Wei Han spoke at St Alf’s – the only Asian ordained minister amongst our community – and as usual, delivered something that I found hard to simply say “good teaching”. His material usually leaves one either quickly moving on or thinking so what do I do now. I went back after St Alf, fixed myself another toastie, then took the little guy for a walk. It remained very grey but it was dry so I took the opportunity to walk him. I then went back to the library again and this time picked out the Aussie classic, “Eucalyptus”. I guess the series of Winton books I got into has whetted my appetite for Australian work but somehow Richard Flanagan didn’t do it for me –not the way Winton, Keneally, Hughes, Clive James, Blainey and others did.

I got in this morning, early as usual but “beaten in” by a colleague who got in for the start of an annual ISO audit that would go on all week. My boss also returned to work after about 3 weeks away and was this morning telling us about some of his experience. He had been to Europe and Morocco and it sounded like a very good holiday, although (and I am pleased to say as I feel vindicated) he also told us of the usual predicaments – long immigration queues, being ripped off by shady characters in airports, train stations and hotels, lost luggage, currency mix-up’s etc.

I’ve another week to survive without Tress. It should be a busy week at work and there are many more exciting world cup games coming up so I hope I’d come through ok again.

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Tress away


Tress left for Malaysia early yesterday morning. The weather was diabolical – the winds, heavy rain and the very cold conditions made an early start even less appealing than it already was, and it felt like this awful weather was providing me with some kind of solidarity. Tress was heading home to be with her mum for a more substantive form of “solidarity” – her mum will be checking into the hospital this morning, and would undergo surgery tomorrow.

When we arrived at Tulla, the queue was interminably long and a couple of group check-in’s made the wait even longer than it usually is. I waited with Tress and when we finally (after over an hour) got her boarding pass, we grabbed a quick brekky before we walked towards the departure gate and I saw her walk into the belly of the processing cauldron that is the immigration and customs black hole. I had told Tress this is exactly why I have had very little inclination for overseas travel.

As I headed back to the car, I was wondering how I’d survive the next couple of weeks. At the back of my mind, I was thinking the notoriously expensive parking at Melbourne Airport is going to provide a bit of a rude shock. The $24 I was charged felt like a blow but I was expecting worse so that always works to soften the blow. The traffic was still very light, with most Melburnians wisely staying at home, away from the awful weather.

I got home, gave the little guy a hug and let him out, warmed up the coffee I brought back from brekky with Tress, and got ready for St Alf’s. Tanya, Graeme and Maree asked about Tress but as I arrived late and left early, I wasn’t sure if anyone else noticed I was sitting at our usual spot all alone.

After St Alf’s I went home to fix myself a toastie. Then I headed to the library and picked up a book (Richard Flanagan’s book – Gould’s Book of Fish). It continued to rain so I took my time with the grocery shopping and only got home in time to follow the footy on radio. As I prepared brekky for this morning and made a sandwich for lunch, I was very grateful for the very good dinner I had with Tress on Friday night. We were at a joint called the Abacus All Day and as usual, dinner on Friday night just talking and eating, was really good.

Saturday was filled with Tress packing and getting ready and not much else – we were (or mainly I was) thinking about two games happening at around the same time that night. Hawks were playing the Crows at the G and I had wanted to go and watch them but it was very cold and the other game was too big to miss – Australia was taking France on in Kazan in Russia. Australia lost (as expected) but put up an admirable performance and the French were poor.

Last night as I settled down for the night, I got a call from Fay, who was going to help with taking the little guy for walks while Tress is in Malaysia. So I went over and made arrangements with her. This morning I had to make sure I got the little guy prepped up so I was late and in an attempt to make up time I drove faster than I normally did and such was my luck a mobile unit was on the prowl and I got pinged. One demerit point and a couple of hundred bucks down the gurgler and I ended up even later but I still came in earlier than almost everyone else, so writing this made it all feel less painful – both about Tress being away as well as that blooming 10km/hr over… (boo hoo). The thought however, of Tress’ mum’s experience over the next few days and weeks kind of puts things in perspectives…

Weekend Capers, Events in Malaysia


There’s a long gap between the Queen’s Birthday public holiday and the next public holiday, which would be in November (Melbourne Cup). To make the most of it, Tress and I decided to go away for the long weekend. We booked in this trip many weeks ago and about a couple of weeks ago, Kiddo said they’d like to join us. The house we booked has three rooms so that wasn’t a problem.

We trekked Phillip Island way on Friday morning, and pushed on towards Inverloch. Our weekend abode was to be at Cape Paterson, a tiny town just before Inverloch, south of Wonthaggi. We got there a bit after noon, unpacked and took a walk to the beach just across the road, and a few hours later, Kiddo and Mic showed up. It was an 8-hour drive for them. Canberra is so far away…

We made the short drive up to Wonthaggi for dinner that night and then went back to the villa in Cape Paterson and talked and played cards.

The next day, it was very cold (-0.2 deg)and I took the little fellow out for a walk. LBJ at CP. After a leisurely brekky we drove to Inverloch and spent the day there, doing a lot of walking and watching locals and tourists take to the waters, even though it was winter.

On the way back we stopped at the State Coal Mine in Wonthaggi. Later that night we headed back to Wonthaggi again for dinner before going back to the villa.

Kiddo and Mic left the next day, and Tress and I (and the little guy) left a couple of hours after that. We got home, unpacked, went out to lunch. Tress then did the laundry and I did some grocery shopping and got a haircut, before settling down for the new week ahead.

It was a wonderful time of being away and catching up Kiddo and Mic. Yet throughout, we – especially Tress – mulled over a piece of news we had received before the long weekend began. Tress’ mum has been diagnosed with a pretty bad illness and will need surgical treatment soon. Tress would probably need to travel to Malaysia again.

We were talking last night about how the year has been peppered with family stuff back in Malaysia. Tress’ Dad was unwell in January and then just before we went back again for my mum’s surprise birthday party, we received news of Sim’s illness. She has barely gotten past her treatment and now this. It looks like the big events happening back in Malaysia aren’t just to do with politics. Like I have come to accept, a “mundane” and “ordinary” life is to be celebrated.

Blood Centre, Ian Harper


Friday nights are always a little bit more special when friends get together to catch up over a meal. Tress and I caught up with the Chews and Hipos, over a meal in a restaurant that is closest to us (because we organised it…). We got there a bit after 6.30pm and the Hipos were already there. The Chews showed up a little later and we ate, chatted and only left after 9pm, when there were hints the restaurant was starting to close for the night.

The next day, I got up early and headed for the men’s breakfast at St Alf’s. Paul O, the speaker, was visiting from Kenya and he was a beneficiary of Compassion’s child-sponsorship program. He now works in Kibera, a very big slum in Nairobi. He was very eloquent and engaging and I had to restrain my self from responding impulsively to sponsor yet another child. I probably will do it however, so compelling was the talk. After helping with a quick packing up, I went home and a little later, drove out to Ringwood with Tress for my Red Cross Blood Centre appointment. It was a plasma donation so it took a little longer and we then had lunch in that area, before heading back to walk the little guy.

St Alf’s on Sunday was a little special. We had Ian Harper, a Reserve Bank Australia Board Member, come and speak to us, in a sort of Q&A style, with Peter asking questions and providing the platform for Ian to provide his thoughts, mainly on workplace experience. He’s got such clear thoughts and was very articulate so we learned a lot, and it affirmed for us we probably chose well to stay back for the extended session of Q&A after the service. I’m quite sure we weren’t the only one glued to Ian’s every word as we tried to soak up his experience as a Christian in a leadership position in an increasingly hostile (anti-Christian) workplace environment. His role as Dean of Melbourne Business School and a Board Member meant he is often asked to provide his views, in spite (or because) of his having publicly professed his faith on numerous occasions. His profiles openly state his roles in Ridley and the Anglican Diocese in Melbourne.

So we left for lunch later than usual, but we got home in good time to walk the little guy anyway, before I went back home a little earlier to start cooking for the week. Tress came back a little later and did the ironing, as we finished up the weekend and started to prepare for the coming week. It would be, hopefully, a little more restful but no less compelling, next weekend…