Tress Travelling, Salvos (perhaps a little more?)

Tress left last night. This is her 6th trip this year. It has been that kind of year, perhaps expectedly as our parents are at that age where ailments and illnesses creep towards centre stage.

Her dad was taken ill last Thursday, and they got him into the ICU. His cardio-respiratory illnesses have not improved, and this year has been quite poor for him.

For the whole of Saturday, she and I had both been at the Salvos fete in Manningham. We’ve volunteered there for a number of years now, so it has become easier and yet at the end of the day, we were both tired. Tired but happy, probably.

We had left home around 6.30am, picked up the mini-bus from Doncaster, and headed to Camberwell Station to pick up a bunch of volunteers from Melbourne University. We would have picked them up from Blackburn Station but it so happened there bus replacements on so we thought the students could start earlier with the set up if we picked them up from Camberwell instead.

Tress helped with the kitchen and I just did whatever needed doing. Towards 10am, I headed out and picked up some residents of an aged care facility. Some of them recognised me as the driver who’s been picking them up in recent years and so I felt I have a bit more of their confidence this time around. A few of them had wheelchairs/mobility units so other than helping very immobile and elderly bodies up into a mini-bus, I also had to fold and stow those wheelies at the back of the bus. I have acquired a new set of skills in folding, locking and unlocking and unfolding these increasingly complicated wheelies.

It was a gloriously sunny day and so the event was very good. Fete may feel like an outdated fundraising avenue but it helped tell the community the Salvos are still around, and it is still doing great work in and for the community.

Back home later that night, Tress kept the communication channels with her family busy and ended up getting tickets to travel the next day. I had preferred she travelled in the morning but leaving at night meant I got another day with her which was really good.

So Sunday, after St Alf’s we had lunch and did our usual rounds of grocery shopping and coffee, where we bumped into and had coffee with Jason and Mel. It remained a sunny and warm day so when we got home before 3pm, I sent straight into mowing the lawns and snipped a bit more of the back hedges and then swept up, cleaned and tidied and generally soaked up the warmth of the day. I finished with hosing the plants while Tress walked the little fellow. Later, we went over to Fay’s to drop our keys off with her. Fay was going to walk the little fellow so I don’t have to worry about him too much.

We pushed off a bit after 8.30pm, to Tullamarine and this time, I only dropped her off and headed straight back. It was just after 10pm when I got home, to start another week with only the Little Black Jedi for company.

This morning as I got into the office, I saw on my private email, a GC role with an NFP. It turned out to be the Salvos. I couldn’t let this opportunity pass so I think I will tip my hat into the ring. Just a little punt, or perhaps (hopefully) a response to a nudge from He Who Must Be Obeyed.


Weather wise…(as Buble or Old Blue Eyes would say)

There are glorious days in Melbourne when the sun decides to come out and stay a little while. When such days happen, Tress and I are inclined to just do stuff around the house, preferably outside. On Saturday, Tress drew the short straw and did the vacuuming. I felt like I won the lottery as I prepped to continue reducing the height of the James Sterling. The preparatory work for those years when climbing a ladder beyond the first couple of steps would be a no-go zone, is best done on these gloriously sunny Saturdays. So I parked myself along the back fence and cut and trimmed away. Another couple of weekends and those hedges would be completely reduced from the imposing two-plus meters they had been, until this past weekend, standing. I’m a bit more than half way there now.

Tress came out to join me a bit later and we both continued clearing the north-west corner of the overgrown herbs, and Tress continued to savage weeds which had been popping up in different patches over the winter months. I then washed the little miata and around 1.30pm, after nearly 4 hours basking in the sun, we went in, cleaned up and headed out to lunch.

Back home later that arvo, we removed the hard top of the miata. Then we walked the little fellow and ended the day watching some Netflix docos on cooking.

It continued being sunny on Sunday and walking on cleaner carpets that morning, it felt good – Tress had made a happier soul of me. Later after St Alf’s we headed for lunch, then after a quick grocery shopping, Tress and I went back to do our separate things later in the arvo. We bumped into Jason and Mel while shopping and they said for lunch, they went back to the Malaysian restaurant we had dinner in on Friday night, but apparently they didn’t enjoy the lunch. Anyway, we picked up several bags of mulch which were on sale in Woolies and back home, Tress prepped to go shopping for a baby shower happening later this week.

After applying the mulch, I headed out in the miata and took a drive. I thought I’d head to Bunnings to pick up something to plant but with the soft top down and it being so sunny and warm, I decided to keep driving and before long I was up towards the Warburton Highway, heading Coldstream way. It was just a magnificent arvo driving lazily in the little jedi, Creedence Clearwater playing away at the crackling speakers, When I realized my phone (battery) had gone dead, I turned into a slip road and decided to head back home. Nearly an hour had passed, and I would have happily ploughed on – I probably should have…

Back home, I did a quick smoothie for Tress, and I poured myself a glass of a very crisp Pinot Grigio that had been chilling in the fridge. I then sat down to watch a little bit of the Bathurst 1000 while Tress did the ironing and our brekky smoothie and later, we both took the little fellow for a walk. We then came back home and I packed my sangers for the next day, before settling down to watch some tele to end the weekend.

All weekend there had been a flow of emails from a colleague and my boss, about a huge tender coming up. I was loathed to do any work on such a gloriously warm and sunny weekend and my boss had indicated it would be fine for me to just look at it on Monday morning. So here I am, all caught up. The darker (albeit same early start time) morning – daylight savings happened over Sunday night – made starting work this morning was a little bit more challenging but after such a refreshing weekend, I was up to it.

Blood Centre, Grand Final and Alex’s New Home

Some time on Thursday last week, the Red Cross Blood Centre rang me to ask if I could come in the next day (Friday) instead of the scheduled Saturday week, and if I was happy to provide a platelet donation instead of the scheduled plasma. I checked in with Tress and thought why not, since Friday was the Grand Final Parade public holiday here in Victoria.

Thursday night Tress had to work late and I left work early (with imprimatur from the boss) so I went and did some grocery shopping for the long weekend. It was mainly for brekky at home for the next 3 days. Eggs, avocados, tomatoes, smoked salmon (a bit of treat for the long weekend) and some milk. Friday morning after a really good brekky at home, we whiled away some time by packing up some old clothes for the Salvos. We then trekked east to the Blood Centre.

Platelets are needed mostly by cancer patients. Treatments like chemotherapy destroys the patient’s platelets, which are needed to form blood clots which in turn stop bleeding. I’ve done plasma donation numerous times but donating platelets was a new experience for me. I was told it was largely the same process, except it will take longer. Fewer donors have the necessary blood cell component count, apparently, to qualify as platelet donors and platelet shelf life is shorter (only 5-7days) so when there is a need/demand for it, they need donors who can, to respond quickly.

So there I sat strapped down for about 75 minutes and with the prep time it all took well over 1½ hours. It was the first time, over the years I have been a donor, that I felt tired, fatigued even, after the donation. I felt drained. Maybe literally…

We dropped into the Eastland (the Blood Centre was just a street away) after that, and shopped around for a Nespresso machine for Alex and Li Har, who had just moved into their new home in Balwyn North. We then went to lunch a couple of suburbs away.

At lunch, I was still a tired and therefore grumpy person so Tress had to put up with me. We then went home, took the little fellow for a walk, and went home to watch a movie on Netflix. Maggie Smith was superb as the Lady in the Van and it was a heart-warming tale of human frailty and kindness. When that was over I saw that Michael Mann’s “Last of the Mohicans” was on TV and I stayed up a bit more for that.

On Saturday we pottered around the house, had lunch in our now favourite Malaysian place in Box Hill. Penang Inn is just next to Madam Kwong’s and we’ve not been in Madam Kwong’s for a long time. Penang Inn used to be owned by a lady and while the food’s ok, this new owner has turned it into a place which whips up stuff we used to love back in the Klang Valley. We finished lunch in time to go watch the big game. Just before the game, I said to Tress what a difference, 24 hours brought. I was fatigued just a day before and I was back to my normal self, 24 hours later.

West Coast Eagles came from 5 goals down in the first term to methodically and skillfully go toe to toe with Collingwood, before pulling just ahead in the final 2-3 minutes. The flag winning mark and goal from the right pocket, by the same player who won the ball from the Pies’ ruck tap earlier, was a memorable one. The West Australian won this one really well, after crumbling under our (Hawthorn’s wings) in 2015.

Yesterday at St Alf’s Peter made a self-deprecating joke about football (he’s a Collingwood fan). The well timed final talk on Ecclesiastes provided him with the “it’s all meaningless” eulogy to the Pies’ demise. Tress and I were on communion duty again, and although we’ve been on this task for a while now, it felt really smooth and I had no nerves whatsoever. It has probably been this way the last few times, but it was the first time I was conscious of this. I guess after several years in St Alf’s now, we’ve sort of settled in and while “still not quite a local”, we’re not all nerves there anymore. After church, we headed to Westfield Shoppo and after a chat with a very helpful lady in the Nespresso shop, we picked out a “Creatista Uno” machine for Alex and Li Har.

We headed to their new home and was pleasantly greeted by a beautiful house which blended in beautifully to the surroundings. It was a beautiful newly built home, but it was spared from those garish ostentatious “look at me” monstrosities popping up everywhere these days, mainland Chinese owning most of them. It’s like dressing up as a Brownlow WAG to show up in a neighbourhood barbie. The attention is not the sort one wants.

We then got home and did some quick gardening. The north eastern corner of the backyard, where I had hoped to grow some herbs, had been peppered with weeds growing bigger each week. We cleared that up and I did a quick mow before applying seasol all through the back and front. Hopefully the odour would ebb away quickly, when we start the last quarter of the year. I hope I wouldn’t be too fatigued to mount a West Coast styled finish to the year.

Thank you Meredith Lake

As the days warm up, it gets harder to read on my commutes. Passengers are more awake so they talk more. And louder. Annoying.

So thankfully, and in spite of the very dramatic culmination of the footy season (Grand Final is on Sat) ,I got to the end of the really interesting book by Meredith Lake, “The Bible in Australia”.

The last pages had Tim Winton, Helen Garner, Paul Kelly and Gurumul all in a couple of pages. All Australian artists I have come to know and love. All touched by the Bible. All produced work referencing the Bible. Much as the present day secular world hates to admit, the Bible permeates Aussie culture and has a deep and wide influence on many Australians.

Meredith Lake is a terrific author. Her ideology/philosophy notwithstanding. Her avoidance of deeper theological analysis or reflection notwithstanding. And in spite of her ignoring other aspects of Australian church history which is less ideology/activism centered, and simply working to better the lives of people and bringing them to salvation in Christ.  This has made me want to read more, particularly about Australian arts and indigenous history. Thank you, Dr Lake.

Footy Pointy End and A Little Star

The days are longer now, with sunset happening well past 6pm, inching towards the 6.30pm mark. It has become a little warmer but it stil gets chilly in the morning.

Last Friday, as Victoria and Perth warmed up to see which teams end up with the big dance, the office had its monthly Friday drinks and nibble. Staff were encouraged to come with their team colours but the only colour I was interested in was red, as I finished my two glasses of red fairly quickly and got out to leave for home and catch up with Jason and Mel for dinner at a restaurant where there will be a big screen TV for the first match up between the Tigers and the Pies.

It was good as usual, as Tress and I got to the restaurant and Jason and Mel joined us a little later. We ate and talked and caught up but to all of our surprise (including the group on the table next to us) the Pies swamped the Tigers and by half time, the lead looked insurmountable. We watched the second half at home and tried as they did, Tigers couldn’t reverse the outcome and Pies got up. Some even started saying they’d be favourites for the flag this year. What a reversal of fortune for Buckley their coach, and the rest of the team.

Collingwood (Magpies – “Pies” – are their mascot bird, the black and white team colours reflecting this) is to the AFL what Man Utd is to the EPL. It’s the team everyone loves to hate. The “ABU” – anyone but United – probably has its equivalent here as the “ABC” – Anyone but Collingwood. When we first got here, some colleagues in my earlier workplaces tried to convince me to go with them. We were living however, where most went for the Hawks, and I quite liked their more low keyed DNA. Having “adopted” them not long after that, the 2008 flag and Crawford’s “That’s what I’m talking about at the medal presentation sealed it for me. Collingwood has Eddie McGuire as it’s President/Chairman and McGuire is a local TV player and star. He presents popular shows like Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, and started the Footy Show which for many years, was the only show of its kind for AFL. He also ran Channel 9 for a while and remains an influential personality in many Melbourne circles.

On Sat Tress and I went and looked at a couple of units. One was in Croydon East, which was a bit small and has a very large tree in a corner of their backyard. The other is close to our home and is larger but costs more. We liked the second one better but we’ll see what happens. We went back home around 11am and started to work on the outside of the house. I did the usual hedge trimming/lowering, mowing, tidying etc while Tress did a truckload of weeding. We finished up after 2pm, cleaned up, and went for lunch at a really nice Vietnamese joint. Then it was back home for the second preliminary finals game between Eagles  and Demons. The Dees crumbled and it was all over by half-time, with a deficit of 10 or so goals. I said to Tress we could do our grocery shopping then, no point watching the second half. But we soldiered on and finished the game, with West Coast Eagles thumping the Demons to meet the Pies this Saturday – the One Day in September.

Sunday after St Alf’s and lunch, we headed into the city to catch the double billing of the VFLW and VFL Grand Finals. The former is the women’s competition and the VFL is the “reserve” teams competition. Often, AFL first team players would use this forum to test various aspect of a player’s readiness. The quality is reasonably high and nearly 13,000 of us rocked up at the Etihad (now renamed Marvel Stadium) to watch the Box Hill Hawks get up against the Casey Demons. It must be hard for the Demons to lose 2 games on the trot like that but Hawks got up for the women’s competition as well so that was a great afternoon for Hawks to end the season. Hopefully the senior team follow suit in 2019.

Back home after the game, it had gotten a bit dark and I hurried with walking the little guy as Tress prepped for this morning’s brekkie and I made my sangers when I got home later.

At St Alf’s Peter had spoken on Ecclesiastes 11. The message  was one of “getting on with it” instead of waiting for God to perfectly align the stars before making the first move. Do, not wait, appears to be the mantra. But at the same time, that passage extolled the virtues of prudence, of spreading the risks, acknowledging the place of wisdom and contemplation. It feels funny because that has how I have always moved on. And yet, I often feel I had to wait for more stars to align – not necessarily requiring all stars – before making the “big” moves. For now however, I am merely waiting on Him. After the service, Shirley came up to Tress and I to speak about a young couple with whom we have been coming alongside for their work in northern Thailand. They’re finishing up the end of this year and I’ve been thinking about what to do with them going forwards so it was good Shirley approached us to discuss. Maybe this is one star I was waiting, so I’m thinking we move with this for now…

Footy season ends (for Hawks) and the Bible’s effect on Aboriginals

Tress and I were at the G last Friday night – we watched the Hawks’ last game of the season. For the second time in 3 years, they went out in straight sets in September. Back in 2016, the Doggies took us out and went on to win the flag. Will the Dees do likewise? The tune of their song ringing in both Tress’ and my heads may mean something.

Saturday we slept in and had relatively R&R at home. We had to fix a couple of downlights in the bathroom, and so we swapped out some LED globes from the lounge, to sort of identify the problem. It turned out it was a switch problem outside the bathroom. The other switch, inside the bathroom, worked ok and so we put the globes back in and made sure we only used the inside switch, taping over the other one to prevent accidental use.

We then went to Mount Waverley for a really good pho lunch. We hadnt been to MW for ages and just pulling into the shops where the Vietnamese restaurant is, evoked some old memories. The pho was delicious and was perfect antidote to a wet and cold day.

We then went to GW for some grocery shopping and then idled away the rest of the day at home, watching a streaming movie starring Jamie Foxx (“Sleepless”). Later that night, we caught the Pies v Giants game on tele. It was a cracker too and the Pies got up, earning the right to a blockbuster with the Tigers this coming Friday night.

On Sunday after St Alf’s and our usual lunch spot, we got home and took the little one for a walk. The weather had turned and it was a beautiful sunny day, although it remained cold. We then pottered around the house – Tress did some weeding while I wiped down the little Miata – before I did the cooking for the week’s lunches.

This morning, I returned to reading my current book with renewed focus. Meredith Lake’s “The Bible in Australia” has been a joy and rich source of information to educate me on another level of Australian history, this time told from the perspective of the Bible’s journey into and through Australian lives.

The part about how the Bible influenced many indigenous persons and communities, was fascinating. It turned out that the person whose picture adorns our $50 notes, is David Unaipon, an indigenous lay preacher, inventor and cultural icon of sorts.

David Unaipon
David Unaipon on the AUD50 note. He was an indigenous person whose life was changed by the Bible. It started with his father (Ngunatponi) who was an Aboriginal evangelist

His father -Ngunaitponi – was an evangelist – one of many Aboriginal persons and tribes influenced by the Bible. I looked up David Unaipon a little bit and it really is interesting that the trajectory of Aboriginals who are touched by the Bible, is very different to those activists who want to look at it from a different prism. It really leads to the challenge to objectively assess what is good. Not all cultures are equal in terms of the objective good they bring. If there is honest assessment, I believe the impact of the Bible on indigenous lives, is for the better and those influenced by it will want a different outcome to indigenous well being.

Footy Finals and Two Kinds of Nervous

September is a nervous month for many football fans. On Friday morning, I slept in and so I caught a morning breakfast TV interview the host was having with a popular radio talkback host, Neil Mitchell. Neil is a Melbourne Demons fan and Neil said he was nervous, as his team prepared to play Geelong in the first elimination final.

I was nervous too, the day before. I went straight from work to the G on Thursday night, and copped both the rain and a shellacking. The Hawks played really poorly and went down to the Tigers.

At work on Friday, I was off coloured – tired and deflated. That night however, Tress and I caught up with Jason and Mel and A Hooi and U Marloney for dinner and it was very good to meet them and catch up again, so I felt a whole lot better for it.

On Saturday, I went to St Alf’s for sweeping/yard cleaning duty but there was a wedding on so the cleaning was already done. We then kept an appointment with our tax agents, who delivered some bad news. It is painful to be shown how much tax we both have to pay, and it angered me we’re funding some pretty stupid politicians for their shenanigans, with the amount of taxes we cough up. It hurts even as I write this.

We left the tax agents just after noon, got lunch and did some grocery shopping, and then went home for some gardening. Our garden has been neglected for much of winter and I had wanted to reduce the height of our James Sterling hedges. The afternoon was a touch cloudy and cool so it was very nice to stay outside and just work away.

I kept working when the Swans v Giants game started, listening to the first quarter on the radio. I couldn’t stay away from watching the game for too long however, so towards the end of that quarter, I cleaned up and watched the rest of the game on TV. Giants were very good in killing of the Swans, keeping Franklin goalless for much of the game. Swans only had 8 points to almost the end of the game, before a couple of quick late goals made them look more respectable.

Later that night, the West Coast hosted the Pies and it was, to me, the game of the finals so far. The Eagles got up, but the Pies had led by 2 points with 6 minutes to go. I was glued to the TV, even as Tress had gone to bed in the last quarter.

On Sunday at St Alf’s we listened to a speaker with an unusual name. Frog Orr-Ewing is a clergy from Oxford. He is a contemporary of Bear Grylls and they both grew up in the same faith community and jokes about Frog and Bear were easy picking. He was a very good speaker and I later learned he and his wife Amy have written well received books. I must look out for and keep them in my reading list.

Frog did a bit of an altar call thing towards the end of the service and Ginny too, made some points about going out of our usual day to day boundaries to do stuff for Him. This has been resonating for a little while now but the threshold to overcome and actually do something, feels unbearably high. I don’t know how to start.

Tress and I decided to cook some bak kut teh for this week’s lunches so yesterday arvo was a big cookout as I did the BKT on the pressure cooker, did a big pot of stir dry cabbage on a second pot, and cooked brown rice in the rice cooker. All dishes packed away in the freezer and washing done, we finally settled in to get ready for the start of the working week again.

This morning as I jumped online to get tickets for Hawks’ semi-final against Melbourne this Friday, I wondered about what lies ahead. September can fly past in a blur if your team is involved in the finals and stays a bit.

As Tress and I talked about going home to be with her mum in cup week and I read my cousin Joanne’s FB posts about her late mum (my aunt who died over a week ago), I’m grateful for a blurringly quick passing September but I’m also restless about my inability to cross that threshold to do more for Him, with the increasingly less time I now have. I get nervous for a different reason when that happens. Unlike football, there is no next year/season to provide hope fpr comfort. I should therefore be even more nervous, than footy fans get in September.

James Cook and the Bible

I’ve just picked up Meredith Lake’s “The Bible in Australia – A Cultural History” and it has been fascinating. It sounds like a strong contender for the best book I’d read this year.

Cook’s journal on the Endeavour proved to be more than just a record of his voyages and “conquests”. It became a catalyst for someone like William Carey who went on to do great missionary work in India. The Bible was such a central drive for tremendous long term impact, that it is little wonder efforts to tear it down, are consistently strong.

Maybe, there in an undertone to anti-Christian thoughts and action, that underpinned recent denouncements of Cook. If his life, work and activities incorporated the Bible in such a central way, denouncing him could well tear that piece down too.


Grey Melbourne and grim news from Klang

The calendar says winter is over and today’s the third day of spring. God’s creation however, not the calendar, dictates the weather; it was still very cold over the weekend. And grey too.

Tress and I went to a local pub styled restaurant just across the road from the station on Friday night. We had a good dinner, wound down the week and chatted. We then went home and having had a long busy week, we were both tired and the good feed set us up for a quiet night to sleep early and recharge our batteries.

I had trouble sleeping however, and some-time in the middle of the night, Tress let out a small “oh no”. Kuan Kuan – wife of Henry, my “7th” chek, had passed away in a hospital in Malaysia. She was operated on earlier in the week, for colon cancer. The operation was a bit more involved than expected but she was expected to make good recovery. Her passing was, therefore, a shock and we took the rest of the weekend to digest the news.
The grey weekend probably reflected our mood from then on. LBJ had his grooming session early on Sat, and we pottered around and when he was finished, Tress and I trekked east to Ringwood where I was strapped in for my now monthly plasma donation.

We had planned to cook a pork rib congee and had wanted to get to an Asian butcher for the ribs. So on the way back from the Red Cross in Ringwood, we decided to drop in the new Glen again. We were there some weeks ago and the ribs we picked up from the Asian butcher was pretty good. We shopped there, then had lunch in the very busy food area in the same building, before coming home and prepping the ribs and other shopping we had done.

We then went for an appointment to see my optometrist, my vision having had occasional less than 100%. While prepping the ribs however, Kiddo rang on occasion of it having been father’s day yesterday. We chatted for a little bit before we head off for my appointment. My vision was only slightly worse and the very honest optometrist said he didn’t think I needed new glasses so we came back.

Tress had been busy prepping to lead the discussion this week and she also kept up with her make belief ghost buster role on imaginative creatures residing mainly on her mobile phone. So through the weekend, she alternated between those two tasks.

Later that Sat night, we went and saw the new movie that was latest hit. “Crazy Rich Asians” was the first mainstream Hollywood all-Asian cast feature film and it was shot in Malaysia and Singapore. Those factors made many of our friends catch the movie and to our surprise, when we went to our seats, we found ourselves seated next to John and his wife Siew. John is Henry’s cousin and he recently vacated the Board of an NFP, which I stepped into. So the coincidences were a bit creepy.

The movie was a lot of fun but other than those features which made it special, it was pretty ordinary stuff. Movies in Melbourne can be expensive on weekends and that feature on a Saturday night was more than $40. As an occasional treat it was fine.

On Sunday it remained wet and cold and St Alf’s had Andy and Mif Little back from MAF in Mareeba. Andy spoke on Colossians 3 and his simple message of keeping our minds on things of God as a means to doing all things as though we’re doing it for Christ, made a lot of sense. It is something I have to try harder at. With help from the third person of the godhead, of course.
After lunch at our usual place, we did a bit more grocery shopping and had coffee, after which we bumped into Barry and Patricia, whom we haven’t met for a while. Their daughter Stephanie is almost as tall as Patricia now and it was good to see them again.

Back home later that arvo, I cooked the congee, packed them away for the week’s lunches, did a minimalist vacuum, and Tress built up her discussion notes and the hunt in her parallel universe. We then put our feet up to watch some tele and caught up again on social media, refreshing our updates on the sad news around my “7 Chim”. She was a beautiful person in all sense, but life is fleeting and often appears bewilderingly senseless, if viewed from other than who God is and what he’s doing.