TGIF! (An etched one)


It had been a busy week, with a Steer 60th anniversary kicking it all off on Monday night. It went on for just over an hour and when it was over, it was almost 9pm. It had also been a busy work day so there wasn’t much room for a Monday Blue kind of start to the week. We also caught up in the St Alf’s small group over dinner on Thursday. LB, who was also the Youth Minister, had resigned to join the Navy as a Chaplain so that was the small group farewell thing for her. Tress and I had brought a long a fried rice to accompany the roast dinner that Ros and Mike had prepared as hosts. It was a wonderful small group event.

We had also teed up a dinner on Friday night with Ing Tung and Chin Moi so as we worked through Friday to plumb worrying depths in the body battery department. I decided to knock off early and from about 4.30pm, I joined Tress at the oval to walk the little one.

A little after 5pm, we got a ping from Kiddo asking if we were still working. I said we were at the oval but could talk on the mobile. We did a video call there in the oval.

We often remember the moment we took a call that would pivot our lives – or at least our thoughts and emotions – and send it on a different trajectory. I later said I was glad that call happened on a Friday arvo (TGIF!) as it gave us the whole weekend to process what it will all mean. I haven’t felt so excited and hopeful for a very long time. And happy. Not for us, but for Kiddo and Mic.

We went through the rest of the weekend in a bit of a frenzied but clear minded surge. We spent a wonderful evening with Ing Tung and Chin Moi over dinner at the Flavours of Mekong, then went home to watch a very exciting Fremantle v Richmond game. The Tigers botched two marks in the final 2 mins. The first went past the 30 second kick time and the other – a mark on the siren – had the young player inexplicably playing on. Either would have won them the game to break the 52-52 scoreline.

On Saturday it rained the whole day so we stayed home. I did some vacuuming, Tress cleaned the toilets and we then went out for lunch and did the groceries. I found a dry window to quickly walk the little fellow and later, cooked the doggies’ dinners. All the while, I had listened in on the Hawks’ decimation of the Kangaroos. Listening to Jack Gunston kick 5 goals the week after returning from his father’s passing, was something else. All those activities on a drab and grey day however, were like blurred background against thoughts and visions of what the future holds – for Kiddo and Mic, and to some extent, for Tress and I too. I haven’t felt so excited and hopeful for a very long time.

On Sunday at St Alf’s we had Tony Rinaudo speak of his work – we (especially Tress) have been deep admirers of Tony’s work in forest regeneration and what that brings to farmers and the environment. We’re certainly not alone, including a guy we stumbled across when we went to a dog park in Ringwood North to check out a relatively new facility the council there had built. That guy was the head of the department Tony worked in and had wanted to invite Tony to speak in his church. We spoke about Tony’s work and about the dog park. Later, we came home and I busied myself in washing and cleaning the Lexus and swapping it with the Mazda for the next few weeks. I also refueled both cars as petrol prices had abated from the recent high prices. Later, I cooked the week’s dishes before again joining Tress at the oval where she had started walking the little guy. It had been a warmer and very sunny day so it was great to just stroll around in the oval, having done all of the chores we had wanted to do over the weekend. Even so, the brighter day and sense of rest were again, like blurred background against thoughts and visions of what the future holds – for Kiddo and Mic, and to some extent, for Tress and I too. I haven’t felt so excited and hopeful for a very long time.

Changes, New Learnings.


Last Friday, we caught up with the Hii’s and Chew’s for dinner. We ventured a bit further and drove down to Clayton for some old-fashioned Malaysian goodness. We had to start later than our usual time (of 6/6.30) as the Hii’s needed to drop their older one off at church.

Jason had announced that he was accepting a separation package – sort of a retirement – so the dinner was to celebrate the occasion. At that dinner, Gerry also made an announcement of sorts – that he too was moving on. Hopefully he finds the new role more to his liking. The Hii’s have had a rough few weeks, as they’ve had visitors staying with them for an extended period and things got a bit hairy. I guess as long as we remain narcissistic, we’d think woe is us – when we focus on others, what little woes we thought we have, take on different shades.

There was another event on Saturday night – we went to the Victorian CMS branch dinner, which had an aboriginal theme. Titled “Deep Roots”, the focus was on the journey of CMS at the top end, and how the aboriginal community accepted CMS and its work. Wei-Han, the Victorian CEO relayed stories about aboriginal people being killed by stock men who were expanding their cattle stations. These aboriginal people found refuge with Christians. These accounts were both shocking and uplifting. The menu for the dinner was also aboriginal – we ate bush food. It was quite an educational event for Tress and I, and we ended up staying the whole night, which ended just after 10pm.

The next day was to be a final MCG home game for the Hawks but we had loads to do and we had been planning how to squeeze a few things in when we drove past Blackburn station and saw that bus replacements were on, so we promptly decided to ditch the game. I came to regret it as it was a better game for the Hawks, who got up well against West Coast Eagles. United did well too – beating Liverpool, Melbourne Victory and Crystal Palace – so on the sporting front, things went well. Yes, those United games were only pre-season friendlies but with United being where they are, it felt good to see a string of wins.

Yesterday, Alex dropped by (I was working from home) to have his son’s passport renewal signed. He had just dropped Li Har at the airport earlier – she’d be in Malaysia for a couple of weeks. We chatted a little bit and I was very happy to hear he’s started a role with an Australian operation of a large Malaysian property group. It’s strange that a friend is finishing a work journey while another is just starting his.

Tress (and Life as I want it) is back…


It was a very wet Saturday morning, again. I tried walking the younger fella and we didn’t get very far. Back home, I did some quick vacuuming as Tress organised the laundry. When that was “done”, we took it out to the local laundromat to use the drying machine. As we waited, we walked into an op-shop and wandered around. I then walked further up the street to a Sri Lankan food shop but it was only half-opened, with some renovation works going on. The other shops were all shut and although it was late in the morning (just after 11am) it felt deserted and lifeless. When the dryer stopped spinning and we headed home, I finished up the vacuuming, got cleaned up and we headed out. Tress had fulfilled the shopping lists of a couple of people so we were to drop off the second shopping harvest at A Hooi’s who had covid and was house bound. We just left the stuff at the front door and Tress messaged Ray, who was going to drop in to bring food for the family (Hooi, Marloney and Justin all had the bug).

The night before, we delivered the first of the two lists. Jason and Mel met us at the Mekong place and we caught up. Jason told us he was offered a severance package, that he accepted. He had been talking about retiring anyway so I guess the package was timely. He looked like he was still processing it but on balance, looked at peace. We were happy for them. It made me think of what I wanted to do, but I still have some ways to go before I’m at where Jason is now. The boss rang on Thursday anyway, and said they were revising my pay, as part of a financial year end adjustment. I wasn’t expecting it as my full year only comes up in about 3 months. My employer has been fair that way – seeing that inflation is the word most thrown around at this point in time, and the adjustment they gave me was a bit over the official inflation rate. I can’t possibly be thinking of retirement at this time, restful as it may sound.

On Sunday at St Alf’s it was a “Going Bananas” Sunday – the Sunday after the end of the winter school holidays program that run every year. Many kid were visibly excited and the atmosphere had a distinct “family” feel about it. So it was a bit of a strange Sunday for one of our old acquaintance to visit. Wilson is 85 years old (he told/reminded us over coffee after the service), and we had known him from our days at ICC (International Christian Community) Church. We bumped into each other a couple of weekends ago and he told me he was looking for a church. It was good to catch up with him.

Later that arvo, we did our usual Sunday things. We did our grocery shopping, I cooked, Tress did some weeding and we then took the little fellow out to the oval. It had turned sunny so it was a good end to the day/weekend. Made even better by a Hawks’ win at the Marvel Stadium, over the Crows. Mitch Lewis kicked 5 inside the first half, so it was quite the performance.

The press had been going on about the Wimbledon Men’s final, but like many Australians, I turned off and couldn’t be less interested, given the distasteful ways a certain Australian finalist had behaved. I told Tress two of the least liked players were involved (the Australian much more than the Serb, yes) so we just didn’t bother following that match. It turned out the usual implosion happened and the Serb went on to win. Next, please.

All that shows how life has returned to normal. It was always going to be great with Tress back.

Winter blues?


The oval across the street from our home is probably the most frequented spot for me at this time. I was having a casual chat with a guy on Saturday, and we did the polite thing and chatted only about the weather. We’re both of roughly the same vintage and we shared the view that it has been a cold winter so far. It’s only early July and it feels like winter has been here for a while. I don’t think I’ve suffered a worse case of winter blues.

I have just been off it – I feel tired, uninterested, restless and listless. I constantly asked the Lord what is it that is causing this and sometimes when I hear a podcast – particularly if I was listening to someone like Tim Keller – I feel I have an answer (of sorts) but soon, the tiredness and emptiness creep in again. May be it really is just winter blues.