Visitors from the west.

Bernard is a cousin who lives in Perth. He’s a talented architect and I’d always recalled his wonderful talent in drawing. Earlier last week, he sent Alex and I a message to say he’d be in Melbourne for a few days later in the week. He asked if we could catch up.

We organised our usual Friday night dinner at a local joint (Enrik’s) but this time, with very different companions. Alex and Li Har, Bernard, Tress and I had dinner and it was a wonderful time of catching up. We chatted about our work, families and of course, the common bond amongst all of us that night, the Klang Chinese Methodist Church (“KCMC”).

The next day was unusually warm and sunny so after the usual morning routines of coffee and toasts, walking the younger fella, and grocery shopping, Tress and I busied ourselves by cleaning up the outdoors. The lawns hadn’t been looked after through winter so I trimmed the overgrown edges and flowerbeds and mowed and tidied up the place, getting them ready for some TLC over the coming warmer months. I also swept up the mess of tiny leaves that had built up in the driveway and pavements. The day was so beautiful that I found myself looking for things to do outside. Tress did too – and did a load of laundry of miscellaneous items. The sheets over the couches and the doggies’ beds and blankets felt and smelt so clean fresh.

Early Sunday morning, we did our usual things before Tress drove to Syndal station. Her cousin’s son (Seong Yi) and his wife (Yee Sin) were in town for the latter’s business here in Melbourne and SY had messaged Tress a couple of weeks prior, to catch up. They had been to several cities in Australia and Melbourne was to be their last stop before they returned to Malaysia. Tress picked them up from the station and brought them home, before all of us headed to St Alf’s. The auditorium in St Alf’s is a lot smaller than the KCMC hall so maybe (hopefully) our guests felt a bit warmer and cosier. Yes, they too are KCMC members. After the service, they chatted briefly with a couple of people before we took them for a pub lunch at the Blackburn Hotel. We continued chatting about family, work and KCMC. We also chatted about SY’s granddad’s old house in Ipoh – where Tress and I visited many years ago and swam in a river nearby. That’s all gone now, with heavy development polluting the river and housing estates popped up.

Later that arvo, having dropped our guests at Glen Waverly station, I did the usual weekend cook. It had remained warm and sunny so Tress took the little fella for an extended walk and I joined them later.

The next few weekends would be peppered with weddings etc. I guess the current run of catching up with families and friends would go on for a bit yet. I’m grateful for that.


Conversations about Climate Change and Wither the Groundhog Day Wheel”…

“Groundhog day” is an often used remark in small talks. I have certainly felt this way for a while. Every day, every week, just whiz past and it really does feel like one is running on a wheel like a little mouse.

So, another week passed by and Tress and I went to a local diner on Friday night for a TGIF time. We then came home and watched a really good movie. “Thirteen lives” was about the Thai boys’ soccer team that got trapped in a limestone cave that was flooded out. The story of resilience and persistence, on both the part of the boys and their coach as well as on their rescuers – made up of the Thai navy seal teams and a group of British/Australian cave diving experts – is a compelling and gripping one. Colin Farrell and Vigo Mortenson put in understated but effective and really good performances, as did Joel Edgerton, the Aussie actor who played the Aussie anesthetist that managed the soccer teams’ sedation as they were rescued.

On Saturday, it was very wet and when we took the little fellow for a walk, we got caught in the rain and were drenched. That fellow than had his quarterly grooming by Amber in the mobile unit while Tress and I did some housecleaning. Several hours later, after both the little fellow and the house looked and felt cleaner and tidier, we went and got lunch and did the groceries and a little shopping. Then we came home, walked the little fellow (the day had dried out and the sun gloriously appeared) and we just soaked in the rest of the beautiful day. It was the last weekend of “home and away” rounds of footy matches but all the talk was about Clarko going to North Melbourne as their new coach. It was very big news and dominated front pages when it happened on Friday arvo. The other focus was on the big game on Sunday arvo, between Carlton and Collingwood. The Blues had to win to play finals and the Pies had to win to get into Top 4 and the double chance that comes with that. These 2 big clubs, with such a big game, were going to fill the MCG and so it proved – nearly 90,000 packed in to see a very exciting game, which we watched on TV. The Pies clawed back from a 20+ points deficit in the 3rd quarter to get up. I messaged a mate and his family (Alex and Li Har and the boys) who were Blues folks to say I cheered for them but what do you do – they lost by a single bloody point, which is another blow 2 weeks in a row, having lost to the Dees last week by a final kick.

I had done the week’s cooks (for ourselves as well as for the boys) earlier just before the game, so the rest of the evening was just us unwinding, to get back on the wheel to run again, and emerge for another Groundhog day.

At St Alf’s on Sunday morning, someone from Tear Fund had spoken on Climate Change and at the Q&A after the talk, it was obvious that the folks at St Alf’s aren’t convinced we should jump of that wagon. We caught up with the Maurys at the car park after the service. Matthew is the head honcho of Tear Fund Australia so we spoke a bit about the work that needs to be done before better engagement or traction can be had. On my part, I feel that inevitably, conversations about climate change must be tied up with policy responses and that’s where the sting is. For Australia as a country that contributes such a minute amount to global emission (less than 1%), policy changes that mean drastic changes to local livelihoods and quality of life but little or no impact on global emissions, such conversations are always going to be had up the proverbial creek without the pedal. That’s the challenge Tear Fund and others like it will have. Yes, we must talk about it, but it must not come with the presupposition that Australia must act to “do more”, if “doing more” doesn’t actually do anything to alleviate the problem. It may be a problem that may mean some day, one will wake up and the wheel wouldn’t be there to run on anymore. It wouldn’t be a groundhog day then. It remains however, a problem that still isn’t Australia’s to shoulder. For the most part anyway.

Tress and I chatted about that on Sunday night. We do our bits – we drive very little now, avoid plastics, eat very little meat, recycle, compost, avoid air travel as much as possible etc. We can do all that but I can’t accept the country as a whole must “do more” if that means livelihoods and quality of life is adversely impacted, with zero or near zero impact to alleviate the problem.

GAFCON leading the way

This is a really crisp piece on what Anglican churches in Australia is going through. Well done to Murray Campbell.

A game of AFL is taking place on a local oval when a small group jump the fence and start kicking a round ball along the ground. The game stops. Players approach the group and ask them to desist.

They retort, ‘we’re also playing football.

The players answer, ‘no, you’re playing a different game. Different ball, different shaped ground, different goals….if you’re interested, you can join us but first of all, get rid of the soccer ball’.

The group insist, ‘no, we are playing football. We can all play together at the same time.”

In trying to point out the obvious, someone again speaks up, ‘hang on, look…the balls are a different shape. The goals are different. You’re wanting a completely different sport.’

Ignoring the self-evident, the group gaslight the footy plays and again insist,

“We’re going to use this ground. Let’s talk about it. Let’s arrange a series of…

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Kiddo’s visit

One of Kiddo’s mates from years ago, will be getting married next month. She lives in Melbourne. Saturday was her hens night so Kiddo flew in on Friday night. We got out to Tullamarine, picked her up and came back to some soup that I had made earlier. It is always good to catch up and chat, which we did a bit of the whole weekend.

On Saturday morning, we slept in a bit, then we walked the little fellow, together with Kiddo and chatted some more. We then got home and had some pork rib congee I cooked. We then did some quick shopping before we headed to South Melbourne. The hens event was to start at a “sip and paint” place. We drove there, and Tress and I (along with the little fellow whom we brought along) went to the market and wandered a bit, had coffee and a couple of little hot jam donuts, before coming home to walk the guy at the usual spot – the oval across the road.

We then settled down to watch some TV and the Melbourne v Carlton game was riveting. The Dees edged the Blues at the very end, with their small forward kicking the winning goal with some 15 seconds to spare. After the “sip and paint” exercise, the hens party was to head to Chapel Street for dinner in some fusion Japanese place, and then to bar hop after that. We waited for Kiddo and when she finally got home about midnight, we had some “Tang Yuen” soup – a dessert of glutinous rice ball stuffed with peanut/sesame in a soup of ginger and palm sugar syrup. It was comfort food that Kiddo always enjoyed so we sat around the dining table, way past midnight, and chatted some more.

Sunday morning, we decided to skip St Alf’s, so we took our time and followed the live streamed service for a bit before heading out to Box Hill for a noodles lunch at a Malaysian place (“Malay Kitchen”). Then we got home, Kiddo packed and we headed out to Tullamarine again. As we approached the drop off point, we received news that a gunman had discharged firearms at the Canberra Airport. We could see Federal Police pulling up at the Tullamarine airport too so we started to think the flight may be delayed, if not cancelled. Thankfully, it was only slightly delayed and it then turned out her flight was the last one out to Canberra, with several flights after hers cancelled. I was very grateful for that. I think we were all a bit tired last night, but it had been a wonderful weekend of just spending time together. It’d be some 5 weeks before she and Mic visit again, this time for the wedding. It should be good again then.

Cost of Investments (in People), etc…

It felt like another week of hard slog. As the week approched its end, I felt the body battery draining with each passing hour.

On Thursday night, after a bit of too-ing and fro-ing, Tress and I decided to just get up and head for the St Alf’s growth group meeting at the Longs’ home. As we were preparing to leave, we got a ping from the leader and we soon found out he wasn’t well. So the meeting was a casual chit chat and I guess it provided a bit of a refreshing reprieve that stemmed a bit of that body battery drain. It still meant however, that we went to bed later than usual.

Friday was the usual slog and there was to be a catch up dinner with Jason and Mel and the Hipos later that night. As with normal dinners on Fridays with the Hipos however, it started an hour later than we normally did, as their kids had activities that only ended after 7pm. It was good none the less, that we caught up. Jess had organised the event and we went to a Korean barbeque place, as many things Korean are the Hipos’ favoured flavours.

When the dinner came to a close, I got a bit annoyed when no one looked eager to go pay the bill. It was a substantial amount too. We often divvied up the bill anyway but very often, I’d be the one fronting up first and they’d pay their share to me later. I was annoyed because, I was tired of fronting up. After all, it wasn’t a night I had organised so I wasn’t sure why I was the one expected to front up. I’d always end up short as the rounding up process always favoured the later payers and I just hate chalking up big spends on my card. Also, often I’d add a tip but leave that out of the shared bill as I wasn’t sure they’re the tipping types. I later ranted to Tress that I’d been annoyed that no one got up to pay the bill and that Tress had asked for contributions that fell short of the total I paid. They all knew the amount I paid and yet, accepted the amount Tress suggested. I thought that was just poor form. The friendship angle prevailed however so I chose to just forget about it after having ranted to Tress on the way home.

On Sat, we did our usual thing but I then had the Steer AGM. That lasted some 3 hours but thankfully it was all online so I still got to walk the little guy before coming home in time to just change into something that I thought would be just about presentable on screen for the meeting. The older little guy also had his grooming session so for a few minutes, I turned off the camera, put myself on mute, and headed out to engage with Amber the groomer, before returning to the meeting.

The rest of the weekend was filled with our usual activities. At St Alf’s on Sunday, Tress made it a point to stay behind after the meeting, to catch up with others over a cuppa. I often struggled to make small talks so I normally just skip the tea/coffee time and head off. Small talks however, annoying for me as they may be, can be essential starting points to build relationships. It is an investment in people that I know I need to make. So, I gave in and had a cuppa, made small talks, including with Wilson, an old acquaintance who has been coming to St Alf’s in recent weeks. Those small talks are perhaps like fronting to pay the bill when dining out with friends, I guess. Prices we pay to invest in people and relationships. Annoying as it is, they are things I need to do more of, probably.

Later in the day, I did my usual cooks for the week’s meals for both Tress and I as well as for the little guys, and then walked them some more. It had been a beautiful day and it was very pleasant to just stroll around at the oval with other dog owners. We later messaged Kiddo about her visit to Melbourne for a friend’s hens night. She’d been planning to visit from Friday night and leave on Sunday arvo. That’s something to look forward to.

Busy catching up, duties and… (yay)…

When I first landed in Sydney back in early 1985, I had some help from the folks at OCF (Overseas Christian Fellowship). I remained in contact with OCF’ers and their activities right through my stay in Sydney. When I left in 1990 however, I stopped having any contact with most people from that cohort. We re-established contact when we returned to Melbourne in 2004. Ing Tung and Chin Moi were very helpful to us then. We had attended their wedding in Kuching, Sarawak in 1993 (I think).

Last Friday night, a bunch of us from OCF days in Sydney got together at Patsy’s. Andy and Lisa, who live in Sydney, were visiting Melbourne. Andy’s sister has a daughter living in Melbourne, who has given birth to their second child so the sister left Malaysia to be with her daughter. Tress and I bought a dish from Flavours of Mekong and drove to Patsy’s, and we had a wonderful time of catching up with all the wonderful people we had known so long ago. Patsy’s facebook post later confirmed that was some 35 years ago.

Some time on Saturday morning, I got a ping on my phone. Graeme, who was to lead the corporate prayers at St Alf’s the next day, said he had come down with a cold and asked if I could fill in. We were just heading out for a walk with the little fellow so I thought I’d think about it when we walked. Not long into the walk, I thought I couldn’t turn down a request for help simply because I may feel uncomfortable doing the task, so when we got home, I responded to Graeme. A short while later, I retrieved a copy of the last one I did – some 3-4 year ago now – and worked on it. I told Tress the good thing about this was I only had less than 24 hours to be anxious and nervous, compared to when I last did it, when I was anxious and nervous for weeks!

Later that arvo we headed out for our usual grocery shopping and some lunch, before coming back to take those two out for another walk. It had been a warmer and sunnier day and we wanted to make the most of it, before a busy Sunday comes around.

We were also on communion duty on Sunday, and we were going to head out west to Point Cook for a kiddy’s birthday party. Tress’ cousins’ kids were turning 1 and 12 and both were going to have their birthday parties at their grandparents’ home, which was where we would be heading after St Alf’s, but not before picking up some “ang kuh” near the Glen as our contribution. We had also bought gifts for the kiddies and the drive out west was going to be costly too – the toll alone was about $20 – so this kiddies party was going to give our wallets a bit of a thump.

I read from my prepared/scripted prayer, and after the communion, we headed out to pick up the “ang kuhs” and then headed out west. It was great catching up with family again. Alden, the 12 year old has grown, as has April his sister, who is 10. We also met Alana (5?) and Remy (2?), David and Jessica’s 2 little girls, for the first time. Everyone who were there looked well. Chris, Nat’s partner, teaches in Blackburn High and Nat is working with Marsh, the insurance company. Adam continues to work on his durian business, and treated us to durian ice cream which was really nice.

We came back in time to give the two furry fellows another walk, before settling down to finally put our feet up, for the first time, for the weekend. I rang my mum and had a good chat. She told us Nic has landed a position as an intern. I later messaged Nic and she said it would be a role in a NSW hospital up in Northern NSW. That’s a wonderful piece of news. We then messaged Kiddo and Mic to let them know the good news. The chat with my mum, along with this piece of news, was a wonderful way to finish the weekend. A busy weekend. Busy but good? I guess…