Tress’ mum’s 80th today

The above Chinese words (thank you, Google Translate) were on the card that accompanied some flowers we got Tress’ mum today. It’s her 80th. She’s a cancer survivor, and an immensely strong lady.

When Tress graduated from UNSW back in 1989 (I think), she went to Sydney for the event. On the night before she and Tress left Sydney to return to Malaysia, she sat me down, 1:1, and looked into my eyes and asked if I was serious with Tress. I was terrified but I couldn’t be more certain with my answer.

Happy birthday, mum.

And oh, here are those flowers.

Dark and Cold Weekend, Thank God for State of Origin…

Tress and I took a drive to Tulla airport last Friday night. Her flight out to KL would be late that night, but we left just before 7pm, after a quick bite at the Forest Hill Chase shopping centre. News of long waits had taken over headline press earlier that morning so we were hoping to get in a bit earlier.

I dropped her off, parked the car, and came back to join her in the queue for checking in. When she had done that, we said goodbye and I drove back home, listening to the appalling cave-in by Hawks, to the Doggies. The Hawks remain in rebuild phase, I guess.

I got home, let the boys out, and watched something on TV before retiring to bed, and be ready for a couple of weeks of being alone, while Tress spend some precious time with her family in Klang…

I slept in on Sat morning, then took the little one for a longish walk, before coming back to do some cleaning. The house got a thorough vacuuming, the sofa covers (old sheets to protect the furniture from the boys’ rough treatments…) got vacuumed and aired/sunned – it had been a sun filled morning for which I was very grateful. Several hours later, the house felt fresher (for now) and I washed up to head out for some grocery shopping later in the arvo.

The little one got another walk when I got back, then the boys got fed and I then (finally) put my feet up to wind down and go to bed.

On Sunday, at St Alf’s, it felt strange when people looked at me and thought “he’s alone”. Some knew Tress was going to be away and teased me about it (“hello batch”). I then had a chat with someone who is on the Board of SparkLit and continued our conversation about me becoming involved in some way.

The whole of Sunday was very grey and wet – I had been caught out when walking out of St Alf’s to the carpark, and got a bit drenched. So when I got home, I promptly cooked a soupy thing for myself – noodles with spinach and an egg, all in a heart warming bowl. I looked out the windows constantly and everytime I thought the rain would clear for a little bit, I headed out for a quick walk – I badly needed to be refreshed on such a dreary day, made worse by being alone… . The dark clouds hanged on interminably and the poor little guy constantly gave me looks to say he too, needed to go out for a walk, and so when there was a clear window of opportunity again, we both headed out and he got his walk – we headed back just as the rain returned, and we only had to deal with the last 50m or so in the rain. Thankfully, the older one is pretty ok without a walk.

Later that night, I had the tele on and realised the State of Origin Game 2 would be on. So I ditched the program Tress and I usually watched on Sunday nights. The glitzy cook show with frequent tear jerking moments, was parked while I took in the beating the Maroons had at the hands of The Blues. It’s always great to see NSW doing in Queensland. I had been a student in NSW in the late 80’s, when the likes of Wally Lewis and Allan Langer from Queensland battled ET (Andrew Ettinghausen) and Wayne Pearce of NSW. I mainly watch AFL now but for the State of Origin series, I make an exception and switch to NRL. That helped me deal with a cold night alone, at the end of a very dreary day. I was grateful for that…, as well as for having both the furry boys snuggle up close to me on the couch, on a fresh clean cover, seemingly without a care in the world as they wander away in dreamland.

30 Years – Love.

30 years today. Time really flies when you’re having fun.

30 years ago today, Tress and I got married. Last night, I said to her I can’t imagine what the love of Jesus for his church – His Bride – must be like, if my love for her is only a hint of Jesus’ love for His Church. If I think I love Tress so much, how great Jesus’ love for his church must then be.

How do I – how does one – respond to love this great? What part do I play for the church – His bride – to grow in its love for its groom? In response to such immense, incomprehensible love?

We were at the Glen shopping centre yesterday, for lunch and some grocery shopping. There was a photo booth of sorts, that has a “Love is love” board as a background for folks to take pictures. It’s “pride month”. If only this world would turn to the true love that Jesus, and the Father, demonstrates his church and this world.

Special weekend – we celebrated!

Kiddo and Mic were arriving late Friday night. I was near zombie like as we waited for them, just after 9.30pm and so I stretched out on the bigger sofa, and lightly snoozed. The little Padawan lied down across my legs and it felt cosy but I was simultaneously tired and restless. About an hour later, Tress said they were already towards Blackburn Road so I got up and took the car out of the driveway, so they could park nearer to unload their stuff, and we can leave our car at the end of the driveway for us all to use throughout the long weekend.

It was great, as always, to have had Kiddo and Mic and their furry friend Milo, with us over the Queen’s Birthday long weekend. The last time we saw them was over the Christmas/New Year period nearly 6 months ago now.

I continued to feel tired but contented and happy at the same time, right through the long weekend. Maybe it’s just an accumulation of things. Busy work, bad knees, cold days and nights and also maybe pushing myself a bit more to be fitter and more active. We had fun though – we ate out a lot, and just talked and shopped too. They trekked into the city on Sat after lunch, and Kiddo picked up a pair of heels she was going to use for Sammy’s wedding in September. It was another bridesmaid’s idea but each of the other girls had to fork out for those heels but I guess this is what you do when an old and dear friend asked you to do the honors.

Sunday night was the main event, of sorts. We got some 24 people to come along for dinner. Tress and I got married a week shy of 30 years back, and we sacrificed the romantic idea of celebrating the occasion on the actual day (20 June) for the pragmatism of having people come for dinner on a Sunday night when Monday was going to be a public holiday. Dinner with close friends and relatives was at a local Lebanese restaurant and I think everyone had fun and enjoyed the food and occasion. Alex, LiHar and their boys (except for Josef), Jason and Mel, Gerry, Jesslyn, PMM and the two sweet little girls – Sheanne and Sheryl – were the friends. U Jin and A Pin, USeng and AAnne, A Lay Bee and U Lee and A Hooi and U Marloney made up the relatives. We asked Ruth, Jonathan and Micah too but they couldn’t make it. Ruth is a geriatrician and attending a dinner party with so many guests at close quarters, was perhaps too high a risk, so they skipped. Gerry and Jesslyn surprised Tress with a cake (it was her birthday also) and I was very grateful for that.

We got home late, unloaded the unused wines and weird gifts and tried to wind down to go to bed. My tiredness plumbed low, and Kiddo and Mic had earlier decided to treat Tress to a very special “high tea” at the Langham Hotel in the city so we went to bed in anticipation of that.

The next morning, Mic and I walked Milo and Padawan, then we all got ready and trekked into the city for the treat. It speaks of Australians’ acceptance of all sorts of culinary experiences, that an egalitarian society embraces an otherwise showy indulgence of a “high tea” that serves cute looking offerings on four-tiered stands, washed down with a tea list comprising a dozen or so choices, and a glass of bubbly at 10 in the morning. The food was deceptively filling, as the small (but beautiful) pieces of savory and sweet stuff soon filled our bellies till they were bursting at their seams. Tress and I couldn’t eat anything else for the rest of the day!

Kiddo and Mic left for Canberra soon after the swanky meal and arrived at their home around 9pm, with a busy work week ahead for all of us. Life goes on after a weekend of celebrating a little milestone. Last night as Tress and I climbed into bed, I felt my tiredness ebb away. I was refreshed this morning and went for my usual 5km trek, something I hadnt done for a week for a bad knee. I felt like my journey with Tress has only just begun, in some ways. Bring on the next milestone…


I cannot say for sure, how I stumbled on this. I have to however, log this for posterity:

It’s a blog that spoke of an entry I made back in 2006, about my late grandfather’s old house in Klang.

And, what triggered that visit (to that old blog in 2006) was this old photo of my late grandparents that Tib put up in the family WhatsApp group:

I really must be getting old.

Goalies, Opportunities and Catch Ups

I was up early on Sunday. The Champions League final sounded promising. Liverpool has had a wonderful season (much to my chagrin…) and Real Madrid had a wonderful ride into the final, beating the odds against the likes of Pep Guardiola’s might Manchester City (again, much to my chagrin…).

The match started late as there were, apparently, thousands of fans who had bought fake tickets that didnt work on the turnstiles. That clogged up the fans’ entry into the stadium. So instead of the 5am start I had prepared for, the match started at 5.36am (weird timing for sure).

Real Madrid won it, by a single goal. What a game soccer is. 90 minutes and only 1 goal. I have become more accustomed to footy scores, where you’d get either side kicking 2-3 goals per quarter at the very least.

Liverpool has been unlucky. They have now lost two Champions League final against Real Madrid within a few years. I remembered watching Gareth Bale scoring twice against them to win it for Real, back in 2017 or 2018. It was a goalie’s horror show in that game. This time around, the Real goalie was the hero to deny Klopp’s men. A tale of two goalies – a Charlie in 2018 and a mighty hero in 2022, both responsible for thwarting Liverpool.


Later that morning at St Alf’s I was approached by a couple of people. One is to resume doing corporate prayers and the other was an invitation to be part of Sparklit, a Christian NFP that promotes Christian literature, and gives out the Australian Christian Book of the Year Awards. I had been praying for guidance on “what next” in terms of serving etc., for a while now and out of the blue, these invitations popped up. “I’ll pray about it” can sound cliched but it is what I need to do I guess. I have about a week to respond, I think.

Later that evening, I rang my mum. David and Jean had been to Penang so I thought she might want a quick chat on the phone for company. She sounded much more cheerful than the last time I spoke to her a couple of weeks earlier. She commented on Kiddo’s pics on her and Mic’s holidays in the Northern Territory so Tress said to me she must have been following Kiddo’s facebook posts. I guess mum is sort of keeping up with technology and social media, which I tink in this case, is a good thing.

It was really good to see pics of David and Jean in Penang, catching up with Daniel, Nicole and Isaac. One of those pics also had Nicole’s partner, which is a bonus. Seeing pics of people catching up is always heart warming. There will be a couple of catching up’s soon – Kiddo and Mic coming down here and Tress going up to Klang, both in the next month or so. That will be really nice, although for me here alone in Melbourne when Tress will be in Klang, I’m not so sure… It will be terrific for her and her parents so that’s all good.

Little happy days?

A little while ago, Tress said our weekends have been taken up with chores. Our lives feel like they’re just flattening out, with nary a lift to provide anything near an adrenaline rush to take us out of this wheel we run on every day.

To be sure, there’re always little things to lift us, and make those routine days and weeks just a touch more colourful. Small happy things. They come from different sources. Our weekend meals, fun TV shows, dinner parties at friends’ homes, church small group meetings in the Longs’ home, and of course, our two little furry men and their time at the oval and parklands right here in our neighbourhood. Tress makes her regular phone calls with her parents, and I do my cooking. Tress doing her ethereal games and me with youtube tricks and tips. Small things. Small happy things.

Sometimes, they’re a little bigger. When we’re at the MCG for a Hawks’ game, things get a little bigger. The 40,000+ crowds sound smaller than those pre-covid 80,000 ones but they feel big none the less. Even when Hawks didn’t get up. A 4-6 record after Round 10 sounds very ordinary but this is a very young side with a first year senior coach. Sam Mitchell was a superstar player and even with his footy smarts, it is still only a rookie year for him. My favourite Hawks hat was his 300th game with Mitchell #5 embroidered. He’s the one for the rebuild and that makes the 4-6 record more palatable. Especially after a game like yesterday, when they played out a 117-112 win against the Brisbane Lions, which is a top 2 team and a real finals favourite. Games like that make you look forward to 1,2 years from now, when finals should be a real chance again. That’s a bigger lift for our ordinary lives.

Other than the Hawks’ wonderful win, the other thing that happened over the weekend was the younger furry man getting his jabs. His annual vaccs that included kennel cough, were done on Sat. He was quite the trooper and it has been a little over a year since he came to live with us. He’s still a bit of a ratbag but in the nicest possible way.

Oh yeah, there was the election too. We got a new PM now. Albo, aka Anthony Albanese. The ruling coalition got a real shiner and key players lost their seats, including the very likeable, decent and competent Josh Frydenberg. That is a real shame. Labor got up (sort of) and personally, I think this change will be refreshing. Timing risks nothwithstanding – inflation challenges that include deficit funding, China, world supply/economic challenges, etc etc – are all real risks and it feels like Labor will meet these with more heart than head. Still, who am I to fret. Que sera sera. I have my small sources of happiness to sugar coat my days. And the occasional big ones, I guess.

PS: United embarassed itself but stumbled, undeservedly, into the “Europa League”. It did so only because West Ham, managed by Moyes, whom United discarded after less than a year of replacing Ferguson, didn’t manage to win its last game either. So 6th on the table is the final score, and with a gap of some 35 points from Man City, the 2022 winners. They pipped Liverpool by a point, and doing so only in the last 15 mins of the game. Down 0-2 to Gerrard’s Aston Villa until the 75min, they kicked 3 goals before the final whistle to win 3-2 and be crowned champions again, the fourth under Guardiola. United hasn’t had a look-in since Fergie retired in 2013, and it feels like we plumbed it in 2022. Hopefully Ten Hag – the new manager to replace the totally underwhelming Ranick – can do with United what Sam Mitchell is doing with the Hawks.

PPS: I”ve started to dread politics and elections in recent years. Why does Australia make its people go through this unpleasant phase so often? 3 years is far too short a term for governments. When we came here in 2004, John Howard was the PM. Here are the elections I’ve been dragged to the polling booths since:

2007 – Kevin Rudd (“Kevin O’Seven”)

2010 – Julia Gillard (“There will be no carbon tax under a government I lead”)

2013 – Tony Abbott (“Stop the boats”)

2016 – Malcolm Turnbull (Miserable ghost)

2019 – Scott Morrison (I believe in miracles)

2022 – Anthony Albanese (Cash rate? Hang on…)

And these were only the federal elections. Throw in the State and local council ones and one gets the idea…

Anzac Day and Celebrations Ahead

This will be another short week. Yesterday was Anzac Day. Tress and I had wanted to attend a dawn service, but alas, recent busy days got the better of us. We weren’t strong or resilient enough to get up very early and get to a service. We had checked out that there was one in the Blackburn service at Morton Park but we slept through it, unfortunately. I wasn’t proud of it – will hope to make it to one next year.

Over the weekend, Tress and I made some plans to get together a bunch of friends and relos for a dinner in June. We thought (more I than Tress) about having a bit of fun as the 30th year draws near. Kiddo said she and Mic would come down for it. To make it easier for everyone, we thought we’d do it a bit earlier, to take advantage of the Queen’s Birthday long weekend. It also meant Kiddo and Mic would find it a bit easier to make the trip.

Tress has also planned to make a trip back to see her folks. It’d be her mum’s 80th, also in June. I guess this gives me a bit of time to psyche myself into looking after the two furry boys all on my own. It can be a bit stressful, but also fun I guess…

Easter (Extra Special this year), LBJ

The Easter long weekend has been really good in terms of giving Tress and I a bit of a break. We attended a Good Friday service at St Alf’s and then mulled around the weekend with long walks for the dogs and doing some cleaning. We swapped the cars, pushing the Lexus into hibernation mode and getting the Jedi back into operational!

On Sunday, we attended Crossway Baptist just down the road from our place. Tress’ godson, who is my mate Alex’s youngest, was baptised together with his older brother, Alex’s oldest. It was an Easter Sunday made even more special for the baptisms. We got the younger fellow a nice bible (we hope he liked it) and for the older one, who is on the spectrum and is a really special bloke, we got him a special hat that says “It is well with my soul”. We hope he likes it too.

Earlier last week, the HR person rang to organise a meeting with her along with my boss. She said it was coming up to 6 months (on the 18th) and that meeting was to talk about the end of what is the typical 6 month “probation period”. They asked if I was happy and my boss talked through his plans to hand things over. I said I was happy to carry on (if they wanted me to) so that sort of “confirmed” I “passed my probation”. I guess the thrust of it is I am not unhappy (well not for the most part anyway) – it has been very convenient getting to work, with the office being so close to home, and the work is, on the whole, ok. It gets very busy but what role isn’t and busy is often better than bored anyway.

LBJ has been unwell. He has become very disorientated, with a little incontinence problem too. He has given off an “I’m in pain” sort of a cry on numerous occasions. He is often just standing on a spot, back arched. He goes to the oval for his walk/fun/”play” time only 1-2 times a week now. We’ll be taking him to the vet to see if there is something we can do for him. Tress and I are often sad when we see him sort of in an unhappy state.