Grand Final Long Weekend at San Remo

Some years ago, Daniel Andrews, the Premier of the State of Victoria, made the AFL Grand Final eve a public holiday. Traditionally, a parade of the competing teams through the streets of Melbourne CBD on the eve of the Grand Final, is quite an event. The idea is to let more Victorians be part of that parade so Dan Andrews made that decision.

The Queen’s recent passing also lead the PM to declare 22 September a day of mourning and a national public holiday. That day happened to be the day before the AFL Grand FInal Parade day, so most Victorians conveniently found themselves a 4-day long weekend.

We had planned to go away to San Remo for a couple of nights. That became a 3-night away event, so on Thursday arvo, after Tress and I did some work to clean up the gardens, we headed there with both the elderly LBJ and the youthful Padawan. There was a really bad traffic snarling crawl as we approached Phillip Island. That last 10km was a “first gear” type of congestion. We had the radio on and there were callers who relayed their experiences of large crowds, horrendous traffic and stupendous waiting times. The tulip festival at Silvan and the Melbourne Royal Show at Flemington were the worst spots, with hours of wait time and food and beverages running out.

Eventually, we made it to San Remo and checked into our accommodation at nearly 4pm. The views of that lodging however, made us forget that long crawl. They were magnificent, looking out across a paddock and into the Bass Coast, with the brilliant blue Bass Strait.

We had dinner on the first night at the San Remo hotel. It was pub food but what pub food! I had a porterhouse steak and Tress had some salt and pepper calamari. Both dishes came with a large amount of very well done chips so we doggy bagged most of it. The next day, we drove into Phillip Island and walked around Cowes, joining thousands of other folks who were also taking advantage of the special occasion. We had the younger one with us. It was his first trip away from home and he soaked up the new experience. It then started to rain and we headed back to San Remo. I had brought my weber GA with me so we did a home cooked barbeque for dinner later that night.

The next day we took a walk into town, went to the jetty to see the well-known pelicans, bought some fresh seafood from the co-op, had coffee in town and then went back to get ready to watch the game. We were tossing between going back to the San Remo hotel to watch it, or just watch it at the lodging. The lodging had a pretty decent large screen HD TV and we had all the grub and drinks ready and we couldn’t book a table on late notice anyway so we watched the game “at home”.

The Cats took off at the first bounce and very soon, goals rained. Isaac Smith, an ex-Hawks champion, was on fire and kicked 3 in that blistering start of the first quarter. At the end of that quarter, it became apparent it would be uphill all the way for the Swans. At half time, it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that Cats would win the 2022 premiership. I even started to read the book I had brought along and had been reading. Gerard Henderson’s accounts of “media pile-on” of the George Pell trials were very compelling and it was easy to read it and sort of follow the game at the same time.

Well the Cats won it easily in the end, and Isaac Smith won the Norm Smith too. I said to Tress those Geelong players are decent folks, and I’m kind of happy for them. I risk being stoned by other Hawks supporters but in a week where Hawks have been accused of terrible racism, it felt right to accord some humanity across the bow. That night, we cooked up the rest of the seafood we had picked up, for dinner. We had earlier in the arvo, pan friend the scallops we bought and they were delicious.

We came back late Sunday morning and after unpacking, we headed out for lunch as one of our usual joints before returning for some grocery shopping. I then got the car washed and later, we walked the little one at the oval.

The days are longer now and it made so much difference. Maybe the getaway also recharged my batteries but I felt somewhat refreshed. Thanks to Dan Andrews and the PM, the 4-day long weekend has been really good. It was a much needed break for me and I am truly grateful.

2 weddings and a (royal) funeral

Kiddo and Micaiah came down to Melbourne on Friday night. We picked them up from the airport and we spent Saturday together, with a lunch at a nursery cafe at Warrandyte. It was a lovely spot, albeit with some very ordinary weather. I got treated to an early birthday meal – Kiddo and Mic bought the food and Tress got the coffees and some cakes.

We also had dinner at a local Chinese place just down the street, but then had to retire early as Kiddo had to be at the Chews’ residence from 5.30am the next morning. Samantha, Jason and Mel’s “little” girl, was going to be married on Sunday, 18 Sept.

I woke up early on Sunday just as Kiddo did, and I dropped her off at the Chews’ as planned. The house looked busy even at that hour and I as reversed out of their driveway, others were also making their way there. I got home, tried to get back to sleep and later that morning we dropped the little fellow at Heather’s and then pottered around the house before getting ready for the wedding, which was to be have a 12.30pm start. Tress, Mic and I made our way there soon after 11.30pm, and the weather threatened all day, with dark clouds hovering over us, heavy rain expected.

The wedding went well, although I said to Tress that Mel looked tired and stressed. During the wedding, we heard heavy rains on the roof and the rains continued into the night. We had planned to drop Mic at the Langham in the city, where the reception was going to be held, and where many will stay for the night. Kiddo and Mic had also booked to stay a night. The Hippos kindly offered to give Mic a lift as they too were heading into the city. So Tress and I drove home, changed out of our wedding attire and then went to get coffee at the local food court. We had a couple of hours to chill out before heading into the city for the reception so that was really nice, as I had started to feel how long the day was going to be.

The reception was a formal/black tie affair so guests (most anyway) were decked out really well. Brendon, the groom, is a Vietnamese Chinese guy and I don’t know Vietnamese culture too well so I assumed the full-on lion dance in the guts of the Langham must have been a Chinese influence. It was spectacular and made the occasion rather special.

We got back late, and I decided I wasn’t well enough for work so I took the day off today. We’ll give Kiddo and Mic a ride to the airport later this evening. What a month it has been – 2 weddings and later tonight, a (royal) funeral. Queen Elizabeth II died some 10 days ago and her funeral will be on tonight, going into tomorrow morning. We’ll watch the proceedings on tv, at least the early bits. The occasion would be too historic to miss entirely.

Ray’s Wedding, and tax season again…

Tress and I took Friday arvo off, and headed to the Yarra Valley. Ray, Auntie Hooi and Uncle Marloney’s eldest, was getting married to Lesley. We dropped the little padawan at Heather’s, and then got home, got dressed and drove towards the wine country for the occasion.

The wedding was a simple but beautiful event. Lesley was fashionably late, arriving some 40 minutes after the scheduled time of 3.30pm. She looked really happy, as did Ray.

The reception that followed, at the same location (Rochford Wine vineyard), was also very lovely. The Ng family was raucous, but good naturedly so, and was certainly the loudest group of the night. Many of them would stay the night in Yarra Valley but Tress and I drove home. We got home a bit after 11pm, and after checking to ensure LBJ, who had been alone at home, was ok, we went to bed.

The next day was wet so we didn’t go out. We were going to keep an appointment with our tax agents to prepare and submit our tax returns so it wasn’t going to be fun morning anyway. I was again aghast at the amount of tax we were paying – Australia is almost certainly one of the highest taxed country on earth. Kerry Packer’s comment that anyone who paid more tax than he has to should have his head examined, never rang truer. I recall a leader of our local church once said she didn’t mind paying more tax if that meant more people could access support and aid. I would certainly rather we paid less tax and use the saving to directly contribute to more charities.

With the tax meeting over, we picked up the Padawan, spoiled him a bit, and then headed out for lunch and some grocery shopping. I had also wanted to see if I could pick up a new suit for another wedding that is coming up next weekend. Jason and Mel’s Sammi will be getting married next Sunday and theirs was going to be a formal black tie thing. I thing I can get away with using one of my existing suits but thought I’d check out the more formal stuff. Buying suits is such a pain so after browsing around in a couple of outlets (Peter Jackson and David Jones), I gave up.

We got home, I did some vacuuming, then walked the dogs. At the oval, an acquaintance became visibly upset and complained to me that other at the oval often mistreated her and said mean things about her. She was bawling her eyes out and was practically yelling at me when I told her I didn’t think others were saying anything bad about her. She said she was suicidal and that disturbed me greatly. I rang the “R U Ok” line to check out what I should do but then others at the oval told me she has been seeing someone to get therapy so I left it at that.

We got home and I cooked some fish and veg on the Weber GA. After dinner, Tress and I settled down to watch the footy and I prepped the next day’s cook for our lunches this week.

At St Alf’s the talks on Genesis 1 & 2 continued and we chatted with a Melbourne fan and commiserated with her. The demons were knocked out in “straight sets” (2 consecutive matches) so were out of the finals. Collingwood prevailed against Freo so will play Sydney at the prelim final next week, at the SCG. Brisbane, who beat the demons, would play the cats at the G. Winners of both matches will square up for the big dance on Saturday week. Tress and I have planned to go away that long weekend so we’re kind of really looking forward to that.

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.