A Jazz In Time

Last Friday, Tress and I had a quiet little dinner in a local Japanese place. She had a big lunch at her workplace – a farewell event for a colleague – so she didn’t want anything too heavy. It was a lovely way to finish a first week back at work after our Canberra escapades.

On Saturday morning, Tress had a ladies morning tea at St Alf’s and I had planned to write up the minutes of the last board meeting of Steer. The meeting was nearly 2 weeks ago but as we had been in Canberra the weekend after the meeting, I could only write it up later. When Tress rang to say the morning tea was done, I had just about finished writing.

Tress then went to the hairdresser’s and I had wanted to meet her there and go to a neighbouring shop to fix my sunnies. We hung around the area for a bit before going home and walking the little guy later in the arvo, as we started to get ready for the night out in town.

I’d first listened to James Morrison some year ago and have always enjoyed his playing. A few weeks ago, Garth at Steer had asked if I could attend an dinner hosted by an investment partner firm of Steer, as he would not be able to. I thought we should be courteous to a wonderful investment partner (Payton) so I said I would attend it if he couldn’t, as I thought it was important that Steer be represented at that event. It later turned out James Morrison was going to be playing at that function so it was a terrific bonus.

Tress and I dressed up, took the train into the city, and walked the short stroll up from Flinders to the Arts Centre. I then realised it was to be a multi layered treat as we weren’t just going to listen to James Morrison but Payton’s charitable foundation was the main host of the event. They are benefactors to a range of charities and a few of those gave speeches and Tress and I also got to speak with some of them. It made me realise that ordinary working folks who chase deals and find profits and who then want to work hard at channelling at least some of those proceeds to worthy causes, are almost everywhere to be found. That was a comforting thought. In as much as I thoroughly enjoyed the performance by the virtuoso that was James Morrison (along with his band, 2 of whom were his sons), it was the thought of what Payton Foundation was doing that brought me more satisfaction. I was very grateful to know Steer has a wonderful investment partner in more ways than one.

We got back from the function late, reaching home at midnight. As we waited for the bed to warm up, I had a night cap and we both watched Hitler’s last days in Downfall, before going to bed well past 1am.

On Sunday, after St Alf’s and lunch, we went home and took the little guy for a longer walk. We then got home, did some weeding, and I started the week’s cook. It all got done pretty early and we settled down well in time for the 6pm news, before starting to wind down the weekend with some banal talent show on tv. After a live James Morrison treat, that was pretty ordinary.

As I trekked into the city for work this morning, I thought about the week ahead, and thumbed through some messages including from kiddo. It looks like their lives too, are whirring away in weekly routines and mini highlights for distraction. One of the pieces Morrison played on Saturday night was “Autumn Leaves”. I came to like this piece largely through Miles Davis, but listening to it live by a master was a different experience. This mini highlight would stay with me for a little while.


We’re the Happy Team (at Hawthorn)

From about 1pm yesterday, the drive along the Hume became less boring. The Hawks conceded the first goal to the ladder leader but soon resumed control of the game, as they lead in each quarter and finished off the Cats with a 4 goal margin. It couldn’t have been a better cap to finish the wonderful few days we were away.

We had left Melbourne last Wednesday morning soon after 7am, to drive up to the nation’s capital. It took a while to leave the city and get onto the Hume – some 45+ minutes. We then stopped at Wangarratta for a break and bite and then pushed on, and arrived at Kiddo and Mic’s place a bit after 3pm.

Catching up with them has been really nice in recent months. Seeing them grow to become lively, responsible and engaging adults brings me a level of peace for which I am deeply grateful. Seeing them fully engaged to live healthy lifestyles was a huge bonus. They eat and exercised well, remained fully engaged with their work, and continue to be involved with the church they’ve been part of since their uni days.

Kiddo did a salad for us that first night, as Mic had a work function. It was very satisfying and delicious. The little black jedi also perked up from the time we got into the house, as Milo, Kiddo and Mic’s toddler labradoodle, reacquainted himself with LBJ, particularly his sumptuous ears. LBJ tends to get a yeasty ear and Milo seems to enjoy lapping up what must be a vegemite type of flavour as he gets stuck into each cavity.

The next few days were filled with walks, coffees, meals and conversations that helped us reconnect with them, temporarily beating the tyranny of distance. I used that last phrase as a clumsy segue to Blainey’s new book, which I was gifted with by Kiddo. “Before I forget” is Blainey’s latest book – a memoir that may be a first of two volumes. I had read a review (not unbiased) of that in The Oz and had thought of getting it, so it was a pleasant surprise to have it in my hot little hands.

On Saturday, when Mic could at last join us in the daytime activities, we took a drive into the city and took a walk through the Australian National University. The main grounds of the campus had been rebuilt and Mic and Kiddo wanted to show us what they looked like. We walked through the area, including a town hall/auditorium type of space that used to be the Manning Clark theater, where the 50th anniversary of the landing of the moon was being celebrated.

Later that morning, we caught the new-ish light rail on Northbourne Avenue and traveled towards Gungahlin. We stopped to have a big lunch in a Singaporean styled café, which has become a hit amongst Malaysians and Singaporeans in that area (Gungahlin). When we walked through the Marketplace in Gungahlin town, I said to Tress it kind of felt like Point Cook. Certainly, the demographics felt similar. We returned to the CBD on the light rail, drove back to Monash, and took our fur friends for a walk, before going for dinner in a really nice restaurant (“The XO”) in Nurrabandah.

On Sunday morning, it was very cold again (a “feels like” minus 4deg) but we braved it and took our 4 legged friends out for a walk again, before returning to a quick breakfast, pack-up and say our goodbyes. On the way home, just before the footy came on in the radio, Tress and I were again talking about planning for our next catch up over Christmas/New Year. We had talked about it after dinner earlier in the week with Mic and Kiddo and to find ourselves planning for the next catch up as soon as we wound up our current one, says a little. Go Hawks!

Wet and Cold, Busy and Fun… Tampered

At the start of this winter, some weather experts predicted a balmy and dry winter. Like many statement of experts these days, that proved dodgy, to say the least.

It rained all weekend, and it was cold.

We had trekked to Doncaster for a Friday night dinner with Jason and Mel and they said pretty much the same thing – that it has been a wet winter, and the four of us sought solace at a Friday night catch up over some nice familiar food and a bottle of pretty decent red.

The week had been busy as usual, but it was broken up in the middle of the week, when I took a day off to help out with the school holidays program at St Alf’s. I (together with a few blokes) ended up cooking a few hundred sausages for about 150 kids and their parents/carers. That event started at 9 and finished close to 2pm. I had started the day with a work call at about 8.30am.

There was also a Steer Board meeting late that arvo, which finished around 8.30pm. So, while my regular work week was broken up with a day’s break, the “day off” was a busy and long day. That meant the Friday catch up was welcomed as an end of week sigh of relief, the wet conditions notwithstanding.

We stayed in on Saturday and after a bit of a sleep-in, we busied ourselves with some housework. We changed the sheets and after Tress had them washed, we took them to a laundromat to have them dried. Braving the cold and rainy conditions in our trackies and beanies, we had the sheets dried, and we then went home and did some vacuuming, general cleaning and we also gave the little furry jedi a bath.

We then ducked out for a warm lunch, then did some grocery shopping before getting ready for the “Dinner Tonight” duty at New Hope, at 4pm. It continued to be cold and wet outside so being indoor serving a warm dinner to sections of the community, was a winning winter warmer. When we got home close to 7pm, we were tired but contented. Particularly when Hawks got up over Fremantle Dockers in Tassie. We wound down the night by streaming an obscure and rather ordinary movie titled “Edie”, which was a story of a widow who decided, after a long, servile and sterile marriage, to relive a childhood dream to climb Mount Suilven in Scotland. The movie was as dour as the Scottish skies and I fell asleep for a bit, but strange as it was, an unexciting movie was a refreshing change to the usual razzmatazz expected of a good screening.

After the movie, I was surprised to catch United playing the Perth Glory team on a free to air channel and so I watched the whole of the second half. Pogba and company prevailed and it was good to see Pogba play like all the crap news surrounding his desire to move on to a more glamourous team like Real Madrid weren’t his making. One is inclined to think his agents simply wanted to milk more from this client.

At St Alf’s the next day, the “All Age Going Bananas” service provided a warmth that a very good antidote to the continuing wet and cold conditions. The people who were tasked with planning and implementing the weeklong program were evidently gifted, talented, hardworking, dedicated and very abled people. For the umpteenth time, I told myself St Alf’s is such a fount of talent and resource. I wonder if the “return” fits the endowment. It does in so many ways I guess but I also sense some contentment amongst many, not least yours truly. I was asked, the week before, to take on an additional task and I guess it is another way to break out of this contented mode but I’m still not sure at this time, if I’m prepared to perform that task (leading in prayer at service).

After lunch and a bit more grocery shopping for the week’s lunches, we came home and Tress did the ironing while I prepped the veg we bought to roast them up and pack them away. Tress then went for her ethereal pursuits while I cleaned up and watched the Bulldogs beat the Dees. It was another close match, as has been many of the week’s games.

It continued to rain and was very windy and cold, when Tress came back and settled down to wind up the weekend by watching that heart warming cooking competition.

The distractions we surrounded ourselves with – volunteer activities, cleaning and cooking, ethereal pursuits, footy, church, etc. – to deal with miserable weather this past weekend, didn’t distract me from events back in Malaysia. Sim’s medical conditions took a turn and she now faces a long-ish chemo laced months ahead. I relished in the photos of David my brother and Jean visiting them in Penang, spending time with Sim and her  whole family over meals and other activities. It made me want to visit them. I don’t know what is possible now, but for now, prayers are what I can do, and have done. I sincerely hope Sim will come out of this strongly and get well soon.

Henry in town

A cousin of my late father had had a rough year or so. Henry’s wife had died unexpectedly late last year, after a cancer surgery, and not long after that, his son went through a divorce. His other child, a daughter, is single and all 3 now live together. He’s a wonderful family man and always finds time for extended family.

Several months ago when we were back in Malaysia, we met up with him and he said he was going to be in Perth in June, and then in Melbourne on the first weekend of July. We said we should spend some time together when he’s here. I wanted to spend time with him when he’s here, as I wanted him to know that even a “black sheep” sort of member like me, is there for him as part of the extended family that he clearly treasures. It appeared as though the rough patch he’s had in the past 12 months or so, had only flamed his passion as he reached out to extended family in Perth and here in Melbourne.

So on Friday arvo, he trekked into the city and he and I caught up over lunch and chatted for a bit. Later that night, we had dinner, together with his hosts. John ad Siew are his cousins (on his late mum’s side) and they live not far from us. I had known them for a while and they recently started coming to St Alf’s so we’ve gotten to know them better since. We had created a WhatsApp group (named “Henry in town) to keep information and updates flowing. Dinner was in a nice Chinese restaurant near our home and as we chatted, the reach and extent of our respective extended families hit me in a punchy reminder of how closely knitted the communities in Klang was (or is).  We were the last to leave the restaurant, having chatted freely for a little while.

The next morning, we dropped by John and Siew’s home and picked up Henry and John. We were heading to Woodend to catch up with my cousin Ruth and her hubby Jon and their son Micah. Siew had a St Alf’s training but as we drove on the eastern highway, she rang John just in time for us to get off that highway and picked her up from St Alf’s. Her training had finished, and she had read Tress’ message to Henry and John when we were parked outside their home to pick them up. So, all 5 of us reconvened and made our way up north east.

We stopped at Mount Macedon to see the memorial cross, had some coffee, and then headed to Ruth and Jon’s. Siew hit it off with Micah and John hit it off with Jon – they both shared a love for old cars and Jon showed us all his pride, a Mazda 1500SS or something like that. It was a beautifully restored old car – it gleamed and its engine purred with pure beauty.

Ruth and Jon had prepared lunch from their farm’s produce and it was very sumptuous. We only left their property late arvo, for Henry to get back to the eastern suburbs for his final catch up with extended family here in Melbourne.

He left Melbourne early Sunday morning and as we caught up with John and Siew at St Alf’s and they introduced us to their son, daughter in law and grandson, I felt Henry’s cause of ensuring extended families stayed in touch, had already rubbed off on us.

As we spent the rest of the day doing our usual thing – lunch, grocery shopping, cooking the week’s lunches, giving the little guy his longer walk etc., I said to Tress I didn’t feel the weekend had given me much rest. I was only partly right. A part of me found rest. Rest in the peace that comes with knowing the efforts of reaching out to extended families can have outcomes that aren’t too shabby. Like most of my elders, Henry showed me I always have much to learn.

Ugly genesis of Australia

I first read Robert Hughes’ Fatal Shore a few years ago. I read it on Kindle. I saw an old copy of this in an op-shop a couple of months ago, so I picked it up and started reading a few weeks ago.

It’s a hard read. Page after page of how badly the convicts were treated in NSW and Tassie, show how evil man can be.

Read and dig a bit more into Australian history and you’d find racism accounts for only a part of the horrific past of Australia.

The bigger factor is the innate evil of human – the treatment of convicts speaks with bellows of wincing cries on every page of Hughes’ book that show how evil man can be.

2 names to remember for the ending of convict transportation and all the evil that entailed:

1. Alex Maconochie; and
2. William Molesworth (of the Molesworth Committee)



Wet weekend

I remember reading a meteorologist saying it was going to be a mild and dry winter. It hasn’t felt this way so far. Certainly not over the past weekend.

On Saturday arvo, as Tress and I attended the last family friendly scheduled MCG home game for the Hawks, it rained right through. Tress left before the final quarter, to meet up with her ethereal activities’ community. I stayed on for the nail biting but ultimately disappointing finish. I paid the price for that by being caught up in a torrential downpour as the fans leave the G and head towards Richmond Station. I had a waterproof jacket as well as a brolly and a waterproof pair of shoes, but I was still soaked in places. The whole day had been grey and drab and the proper rain was almost like a fitting finale.

It had rained the night before as well, when Tress and I wound down the week at our local Italian. The joint was booked out and while we were contemplating dessert, we noticed they were turning guests away, so we skipped that and headed out. We have been regulars here for the past 3-4 years now and Luigi looked like a decent guy running a business by providing really nice Italian food so it was easy to support his enterprise.

On Sunday we were on communion duty and the order was mixed around a bit so communion was early. We helped out Anita – the service leader – by coordinating the communion duty folks and I noticed Mike M, looked like he had heaps on his mind. I said a special prayer for him this morning; I hope he’s ok.

After a nice walk with the little guy yesterday arvo, I came home to cook the week’s lunches – delectable roasted veges – and pottered around the house. It had been a relatively uneventful weekend, except for the rain.

It may be different next weekend. An uncle will be visiting and just as importantly, the weather promises to be better behaved.