What’s in a name? A rose…sweet


Mei, my youngest sibling, celebrated her birthday recently. We were sent a couple of pics. They were the usual family pics, taken in a restaurant for the occasion. A nephew (YJ) was in that pic, showing a rare smile. We visited that boy when he was a little toddler living in Shenzhen, some 8-9 years ago.
This morning as I looked at my phone and saw that message thread again, I tried to work out how old Mei is now. As I often do, the next arithmetic I did was to figure out how old my dad was, when Mei was born.

Mei is sort of a nickname my mum gave my youngest sister. Her formal name is Cheng Sim. I wondered if that name reflected my dad’s thoughts at that time or was it my mum’s. I wondered if it was more an aspirational name, than one which reflected the state of my parent’s lives.

He was 34 years old when Mei was born. By today’s measure, that is an age when one is firing on all cylinders, building a career and probably a family. Back in the early 70’s I cannot imagine it was materially different. Dad would have been working hard to build on both his business and his family. My brother, the eldest, was only 8 years old. When you’re 34 and a father of 4 kids with the oldest being 8 years old, your whole life is ahead of you, with loads of hard work to get through. So I wondered if that name – Cheng Sim – was more aspirational, perhaps for Mei.

I don’t know if Mei’s life now is in a state of “equilibristical” equanimity. Goh’s in China for the most part, YY her eldest, is doing his O-levels equivalent this year and she lives with mum, who I gather from my sister in law, sometimes withdraw from daily activities Mei’s involved in where her boys are concerned. I think there’s the simple everyday differences of thoughts and actions in chores like cooking and cleaning and if I remember my mum’s demeanour, the withdrawal is probably to minimise hotspots. You know – conflict resolution by minimising points of contact. More so than a lack of interest in Mei’s life. Whatever the reason, if it doesn’t add to Mei’s state of mind in a way that detracts from her formal name, that in itself is a feat in my books.

Last Sunday Mike McNamara spoke on Ecclesiastes 3. He belted out a line of The Seekers’ famous song at one point. I wonder if the time when Mei’s state of mind is at one with her formal name, will come soon, or she’s already “living the dream”.

I remember saying to Kiddo, we sometimes live in an era of the “7 fat cows” and at other times, the “7 lean cows” reign. The phenomenon which sees our wellbeing and prosperity ebb and flow should have been obvious and givens, yet that is often an over optimistic expectation. Many feel the shock and pain of hard times. It is very difficult, during lean times, to lift up one’s head to look beyond the present drought.

I know that we were never rich, not by any stretch of any imagination. I distinctly remember the house we lived in when Mei was born. It was a rented house. The landlord was a teacher’s association and the house was very small, sparse and austere. That meant low rent. My mum stretched the dollar and my dad partitioned the front living room into two bedrooms. The actual bedrooms became store rooms for the wares my dad was hawking as a self-employed small businessman. He and mum often worked late into the night. One room had toys in large cardboard cartons. They were goods my dad traded in. Another room had re-packaged food stuffs. My dad dealt mainly with “Ve-Tsin” (a front runner of Aji Nomoto, an MSG), and baby formula. He bought large drums of both and repackaged them into smaller packs to be sold by small retailers in “kedai runcit” (sundry/provision shops) of villages across the country. The distributor was Harper Trading and deliveries of large drums of both would arrive intermittently. My dad would cart large drums with Ve-Tsin and/or powdered milk into one of the two rooms, remove the lids, and start divvying up the contents for re-packaging. Sometimes we helped with the latter task.

Tress often poked fun at my tendencies to buy new socks and undies. I believe these tendencies found their roots in that house when we were poor. My undergarments were often old, loose and tattered and I hardly ever had new ones. My “new items” were hand me downs, from either my brother or my uncles (dad and mum’s younger brothers). Loose socks and undies or those with holes, still make me totally uncomfortable, physically and psychologically.

Poor as we were, we were not unhappy as children. We sometimes had road trips, often just day trips but occasionally, we ventured all the way up north to Penang or down south to Singapore. A “Ching Clan Association” provided holiday “villas” at cheap rents and those trips were very memorable. Sleep-overs in grandparents places also burnished wonderful memories. The rickety upstairs rooms of the coffee shop just off the roundabout near the Klang Istana (my maternal grandparents’ home) and the estate manager’s bungalow in the middle of a rubber plantation (my paternal grandparents’) in Kampong Jawa were great cradles to create caches of consciousness. As I grow older, they are the memories which often come to the fore.

My wonderful childhood aside, it doesn’t take away the fact that we were poor. Dad, at 34 years old and with years of toil ahead of him to raise a young family, had the courage to name his youngest child Cheng Sim. Maybe it was aspirational for both him and mum, as well as for Mei. I hope (and believe) his last days were peaceful. Likewise, the days ahead for both mum and Mei.

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Battles of sorts


It was Round 21 of the home and away season of the AFL competition. Hawks were playing their last home game of the season and we hadn’t been to too many games this season, so I said to Tress last week that we should go for this game. The weather didn’t seem promising but a game against the Cats, especially where the odds of the Cats winning were a lot shorter, would make it an engaging contest for the Hawks. So, we braved the grey, wet and cold conditions and went for the game. An early start (1.45pm) provided a small consolation.

The game was a ripper. We struggled at the start, kicking none in the first quarter but over the second and third, we built a 3-4 goal lead. The final quarter was pulsating as the Cats finally picked up their game and threatened to overhaul the deficit. Ceglar’s long clearance kick from just outside our own 50m arc, saw Poppy pumping those piston-like legs to chase it down the corridor and after some ground battles involving Izzie and Poppy, Henderson received a hand ball from Izzie and hand passed it to O’Meara to kick us back into a 2-goal lead. It wrapped things up for us and I cannot recall the last time the team song was belted out with such gusto around the G. It was sensational.

We had had what appears now to have become a usual Friday night dinner with Jason and Mel. This time, Tress had suggested we went to a Malaysian place we hadn’t been to for a while. We had familiar food, the usual warm company and as a bonus of sorts, we also bumped into Uncle Seng who was with his drinking buddies. They all looked inebriated and he even brought a couple of beers across to our t able. We wondered how they managed to get home as they all looked like they have imbibed, with no designated driver(s) in sight.

Sunday Mike continued talking about meaning as explored in Ecclesiastes. Andrew Jones spoke a little bit about plans to start an agri-business in Tanzania and he was leaving last night for a fact-finding trip of sorts. That’ll be interesting. There was also to be a talk by John Buchanan and Mark Sneddon on euthanasia laws but it was preparatory for a launch of a group called Australian Care Alliance, which would be later this month. As that event was to be on a weekday night in Balwyn North we decided we wouldn’t be able to take part.

So much is going on in this strange State we live in, with so much intent to do what would have been obviously wrong just a few years ago. Somehow, a Marxist like atheistic bent has taken hold and I now constantly feel helpless against this dark tide that crashes against the bedrock of all that many thought was, and still think is, good. Maybe like the perennial contest between the Hawks and the Cats, this battle will persist for as long as we can see.

Work while it’s day


At St Alf’s yesterday, I was having a chat with Boyd after the service, when we were waiting for the CMS talk to be given by Wei Han. He asked how long we’ve been in Melbourne. I told him and said we were not quite locals yet, and I discovered he was originally from NSW. That’s the by and by. The main show was the CMS talk, during which we were reminded why an established agency such as the CMS does things differently (with much more rigour) and so goes through a more thorough process, including a long-term renewal plan for its facilities at St Andrew’s Hall in Parkville. The work is ready to go except the funding needs to be sorted out so the shovel is at bay for the time being.

We went to our usual lunch spot after the talk, went and got some grocery, and then went home to walk the little fellow. I resumed my Sunday arvo cook, which I had stopped doing when Tress was away. One-pot meals all divvied up and packed in freezer is making our work week a bit normal again.

We had spent Friday evening a couple of days earlier, at our local Italian with Jason and Mel, who were putting their finishing touches to their temporary re-housing plans. They were going to move into their temporary home (for a year) on Sat, and demolish and redevelop their home.

On Sat, I attended the council meeting and AGM of Steer, for the first time. I had been asked to become a council and board member, as there had been some retirements and they needed new people to come alongside. The meetings only ended after 3, and Tress and I then went to a TAB at the local shopping centre to catch the finish of the Hawthorn-Essendon game. It’s always really good to see us beat the bombers, doubly so as the loss also means they would very likely be out of finals footy. That night, we watched the Swans v Pies game and it was a third game in a row where the margin was under a goal. The Tigers had defeated the Cats, and Hawks beat the Bombers with margins of 3 and 4 points respectively. What a round of footy, as the Sunday games turned out in the opposite trend, with all three winning teams chalking up over 140 points, beating their opponents with 60-100 point margins. It’s shaping up to be an exciting finish to the home and away season, and it’s good to contemplate finals footy again after missing out last year.

At St Alf’s yesterday, Mike had in passing,talked about the other certainty (than taxes) in life. We had started on Ecclesiastes and that point about death was made very poignantly, especially when Tress and Cathy had a chat after that, with the latter also retelling her experiences which were like what Tress’ mum is undergoing. All this reaffirmed my hope and endeavour to do more along the lines of Salvo volunteering, Red Cross blood letting, St Alf duties and Steer board/council participations. I’m just very grateful for these avenues while I am still able bodied. The exhortation about labouring while it is day, hold true as always.

Orthodoxy


Last night Tress and I attended the first of three sessions in St Alf’s, on church history. It was presented by Rhys Bezzant, a Ridley lecturer.

The series is titled “Standing on the Shoulders of Giants”.

It was only a short presentation, a little over half an hour, followed by about 15-20 minutes of Q&A.

The first talk dealt with Athanasius, whom I first came across back in 2011/12 when I did some online courses with the BCV. I have since looked at Nicene Creed differently and when the Apostles’ Creed are read/recited, I have looked at it differently as well.

I had not however, read the Athanasian Creed before so I looked it up and read it for the first time. It’s worth reproducing it:

Athanasian Creed

Whosoever will be saved , before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic Faith. Which Faith except everyone do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.

And the Catholic Faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity, neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Substance. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one, the Glory equal, the Majesty co-eternal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost.

The Father uncreate, the Son uncreate, and the Holy Ghost uncreate. The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible. The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Ghost eternal.

And yet they are not three eternals, but one eternal. As also there are not three incomprehensibles, nor three uncreated, but one uncreated, and one incomprehensible.

So likewise the Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty, and the Holy Ghost Almighty. And yet they are not three Almighties, but one Almighty.

So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not three Gods, but one God.

So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not three
Lords, but one Lord.

For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every Person by himself to be both God and Lord, So are we forbidden by the Catholic Religion to say, There be three Gods, or three Lords.

The Father is made of none, neither created, nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone, not made, nor created, but begotten. The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son, neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.

So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts. And in this Trinity none is afore, or after other; none is greater, or less than another; But the whole three Persons are co-eternal together and co-equal. So that in all things, as is aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped. He therefore that will be saved is must think thus of the Trinity.

Furthermore, it is necessary to everlasting salvation that he also believe rightly the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the right Faith is, that we believe and confess, that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man; God, of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and Man of the substance of his Mother, born in the world; Perfect God and perfect Man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting.

Equal to the Father, as touching his Godhead; and inferior to the Father, as touching his manhood;

Who, although he be God and Man, yet he is not two, but one Christ; One, not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh but by taking of the Manhood into God; One altogether; not by confusion of Substance, but by unity of Person. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man, so God and Man is one Christ; Who suffered for our salvation, descended into hell, rose again the third day from the dead.

He ascended into heaven, he sitteth at the right hand of the Father, God Almighty, from whence he will come to judge the quick and the dead. At whose coming all men will rise again with their bodies and shall give account for their own works. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting; and they that have done evil into everlasting fire.

This is the Catholic Faith, which except a man believe faithfully, he cannot be saved.

Tress back again, and I’m warm again


Tress came back last night but not before a bit of a drama earlier in the day.

She had checked in and was waiting to board. I had gone to St Alf, nursing a sore back. While I was listening to Peter and she was waiting in the lounge at KLIA, we both got a message that her dad was unwell and was having an irregular heartbeat.

St Alf’s yesterday was a prayer session thingo and I had mulled over whether to seek out a team for prayers for my back, thought probably not as I felt the back easing – the healing was already happening as I was listening to Ginny’s discernment pieces. Funny though, how when I actually had a back ache, there wasn’t anything said about someone having one. When I saw the messages about Tress’ dad however, I decided to go and seek out a team.

Tress was stressed out while waiting to board so I told her what happened at St Alf’s and said she should try not to worry.

After St Alf’s I got some groceries, went home and did a sanger, and walked the little guy a bit before it rained and we both dashed back home. I then did some ironing, vacuumed, and fixed the smoothies for Tress and myself. I then drove to Tulla and picked Tress up. On the way home, she rang home and spoke to her sister and mum. Her dad’s condition has stabilised, and her mum sounded really well, not at all like someone who was undergoing chemotherapy.

It has been great having Tress back. I had tried to fill my weekends while she was away. The weekend she left, we had gone and did the “Dinner Tonight” thing, which zonked us out a bit when it was done. Last weekend it was the Salvo’s Op-shop thing and this last weekend when she returned, I had gone to the Red Cross for my “promoted” session of plasma giving – they now take 900mls. I had a couple of party pies on offer in situ after the donation, and came back to run some errand and pottered around the house before cooking a soupy thing from leftovers in the fridge, for dinner. I had wanted to go to a pub to watch the Richmond v Collingwood blockbuster but ended up chatting with Tress online over some Apple ID issues which came up when she used a couple of mobile sets while in Malaysia.

That night I watched the classic “Man from Snowy River” on Stan. Even on old grainy medium (the movie was shot in 1982) the Victorian highlands looked magnificent. George Miller is an enduring master of his art, and Jack Thompson outclassed – easily – the legendary Kirk Douglas. It was ever so rewarding watching an old classic, as a return to the familiar always feels like a warm blanket. Certainly, last night felt a whole lot warmer with Tress back… yay…

Seconds


Last week saw me survive the second episode of week 1 of 2, without Tress here in Melbourne. It was made easier by a busy week at work, dinner with Jason and Mel on Friday night and a busy start to a weekend.

Jason and Mel recounted, when we caught up on Friday night, their bumpy week. They picked up a couple of infringement notices for double-parking offences in the local council. I guess the Malaysians in us find it hard to accept that a stationary car is considered a parked car and if one stops in an undesignated area, it is illegal parking. The usual circumstances cited – just picking up someone from a bus/train stop or waiting for a park space to become available – may be the usual things we do but they are illegal stopping of a vehicle. I said to them my way to deal with infringement notices is to pay the fine pronto, which would allow me to move on and put the blinking episode behind me. You can’t hold on to what you need to part with 30 days down the track anyway.

We had a great time of just talking and in spite of the average food, we stayed till it was just after 10pm (we were there from 6.30pm).

On Saturday morning I drove the little jedi and went to the Manningham salvos for my volunteer bus driving of the op shop hop. That took the whole morning and I only left around 1.30pm, heading straight to the shops to pick up some stuff for lunch. Then it was walking the little guy time, and then just being home after that. I toggled between a Pierce Brosnan Bond and the footy, which was super exciting. The cats prevailed after the siren, hauling back a 29 point deficit in the last quarter to beat a demons team all behaving like stunned mullets after the game.

Sunday was very standard fare. Other than having a quick chat with Jo, Mike’s wife, after the service, it was a perfectly normal one. I headed home, made another sanger, went for a long walk with the little guy – it was a sunny arvo – before going home to cook the week’s lunches. With Tress gone I ventured left field and did a sausage casserole with chick peas, mushrooms and tomatoes.

It will be another week before Tress comes home. The little guy has built a rapport with me and to have him on the couch with me every night, has been so comforting. He has taken to waking with me at 4.15 on weekday mornings, going back to the room at 4.30am after his wee and his dentax, coming out at 5.30am for his biscuit and coming to me for his dinner at 6pm, etc etc. He has adjusted to having me attend to his needs, instead of relying on Tress. He’s a smart little furry guy and I’m ever so grateful for him being around.

Yesterday Mike M spoke a little bit about the second coming. His point about Jesus having kept all of his other promises to date and would surely keep this one about coming again, resonated well with me, particularly the joiner about him coming to judge. I’m now reading Brian Rosner’s “Known by God” has a sort of similar theme running alongside and it’s behoves me to pay heed.

Second week of Tress being away for the second time sort of gels with a second coming message I guess.

France Triumphs, Tress back in Klang again


Le Bleus are champions of the world. What an entertaining final for a change, after recent world cup finals with a single goal scored to decide the outcome.

I had crawled into bed around 7.30pm, having planned to be up at 1am to watch the expected good game. The day had started early again, with Tress and I up around 5am to leave home around 5.45am for the drive to Tulla. She checked in quickly this time, with boarding pass in hand even before I parked and went to see her. We had a quick Macca’s brekky and after she walked into the immigration area again, I left for home. The traffic had remained very good so I got home just after 8am. With plenty of time before St Alf started at 10am, I did some ironing and watched the replay of the Belgium v England game. St Alf’s ended early as it was the “Going Bananas” encore service. I left quickly, went home and had lunch before taking the little guy out for a walk. We dropped the house keys at Fay’s who was going to help the next couple of weeks while Tress is away.

I then dropped off the library book, prepped my smoothie and sandwich for work, and cut up some celery and capsicum for the next few days. All that done before 6pm, I settled down to get ready for an early bed as planned.

Tress and I had a busy day the day before. I had cleaning duties – to sweep the forecourt of St Alf’s as well as the back barbeque area. It was relatively clean so I didn’t do much. We then went out to lunch, did some grocery shopping and then we had another duty at the New Hope Baptist, for “Dinner Tonight”. DT happens on Saturdays, where New Hope puts its kitchen and hall to good use and cook a warm meal to serve up to 160 people, all seated and eaten with proper cutleries. To many, seating down to a proper warm meal is a luxury and New Hope does this as a community service. St Alf’s has several teams to do the support work on a rotation basis.

Tress and I showed up just a bit after 4pm, and helped with setting the place up – pulling out the tables and chairs from storage, and setting them up to lay out the table cloths, cutleries rolls and the proceeding to dish out the cooked food and serving them. After dinner we helped to clean up and put everything back into storage again. The whole thing finished around 7.30pm, and we got home to get ready for Tress’ trip home again the next day.

Tress is going to be in Klang again for the next couple of weeks, as her mum starts her chemotherapy tomorrow. It’d be another phase in this journey her mum would take, and it’s really good Tress can be there for her. The rest of the family has been rallying with her too and I hope this makes all the difference when she deals with the effects of the treatment.

As I got in with my head spinning a little bit for having my sleep pattern completely turned upside down (I had tried to go to bed again after the game, at around 3am, and struggled to wake up at my usual time) I wondered, not for the first time, at the contrasts between those two events. Le Bleus celebrate while Tress and her mum contemplate.

Addendum is the theme


A little dream of mine, attributable in part to a mid-life crisis of sorts I guess, is a tree-change. Or as near as we can get. So for over a year now, since Kiddo’s wedding was over, I’d been on the lookout for something in or around the fringes of the Dandenongs.

So late on Saturday morning, Tress and I drove out to something we thought we may find suitable. It was a little 3 bedroom sitting on a 2,000+ sqm block in Kalorama. Alas, this too is perched on a steep slope. The house itself sits on a flattish plane but the front slopes down to a very narrow road (we had to stop close to the edge on the way in, to let an oncoming car pass by very slowly). Across that narrow road, a sheer drop of at least 100m follows. The view is magnificent but the thought of managing that slope of a driveway each day was too daunting so our search continues.

We had had dinner with Jason and Mel again the night before, and as always, catching up with friends on a Friday night after a full week of work is always good. They talked about their plans to demolish and rebuild their home, and Tress shared what had gone on back in Malaysia during her visit. I listened for the most part, nursing a cold and running nose.

The weather was not great on Sat – it was cold and very wet – so we lounged around the home before we left to see the property at Kalorama. That was good as I had stayed up late the night before, and caught both the France v Uruguay and Brazil v Belgium quarter final games. I had rooted for France (Pogba was magnificent bossing the midfield) more because I couldn’t stand the Uruguayan forward Suarez. So I was happy the French prevailed. It was double celebration later as Belgium (who had the wonderfully and surprisingly sleek moving Lukaku) played really well to overcome the Brazillians. So the United representations (Fellaini completes the trio) are assured in one semi-final.

When we left the Kalorama property, we decided, since we were in the area, to visit the Dandenong Ranges and took a drive to Olinda. It was only a short drive from where we were. It remained cold, grey and wet all day so we thought we might slip into a warm café for lunch. Miss Marple was chockers so we walked up the street across to a café that had taken over an old church building. It had a very warm ambience with ok food and we stayed a bit, enjoying a very big lunch. Later we strolled through the streets before leaving to return to our usual grocery shopping. The weather made us think of congee for the coming week’s lunches and Tress suggested we visited the refurbished Glen Shopping Centre, which we hadn’t been to for years. It was busy as usual but it appeared less chaotic than I remembered and we got the stuff we needed for the week, got home and walked the little guy before coming home to prep the pork ribs we bought, to make the congee. Tress had returned from Malaysia with some dried scallops and oysters so the congee was promising.

Later that night we settled down to watch the Doggies v Hawks game and the Hawks looked like they would get up by half time. They did comfortably but I had gone to bed early. I caught the other two quarter final games and saw England comfortably dealing with the Swedes to take another step towards their dream of bringing football “home”. The later game, the last of the wonderful quarter final round, proved so much more dramatic as Croatia and Russia fought out a 1:1 draw in regulation time and 2:2 in extra time. The Croats held their nerves better in the shootout and the hosts left the competition with heads held high. With England in the semi’s and Rashford, Lingard and Young in the team, we’re looking at a Man United representation of at least 6 main players in the semi finals. That’s pretty cool.

On Sunday morning, it was good to have Tress with me at St Alf’s again, after a 3-week absent. We were on communion duty and had originally been slated for billeting from Friday night for participants of the Ignite conference in Syndal Baptists. It later transpired the assigned delegates were all housed under a single roof so we were spared. After the service we spoke with a new young family who were seated behind us; hopefully we managed to present a warm friendly face of St Alf’s and they decide to return.

After St Alf’s, we returned to lunch at Penang Flavours after a few weeks’ hiatus and it was wonderful to enjoy Malaysian hawker fares again after a couple of weeks of sandwiches and toasties. Later that arvo we returned to our usual routine of walking the little fellow and preparing the week’s lunches before gearing up for another week of work, while we wait for news from Tress’ sibblings. Tress is on standby to make plans to return again, once her mum’s chemo sessions have been teed up. I could be by myself again come this weekend.


Addendum

I know recent journal entries have been uneventful and the narratives were more perfunctorily monotonous than I would have liked.

Perhaps that is a reflection of my current phase.

I have come to look at the last 3 or so years as a knuckling down time of some sort. The daily grind of getting through repeated routine – and therefore seemingly monotonous – is I believe and hope, a phase to set me up for some further challenges ahead. I am hoping the somewhat and surprisingly refreshing exercise of grinding things out will arm me with an experience and appreciation that would make me better equipped for further responsibilities.

There is something to be said about having been in the trenches again. I apply those lessons each workday morning too, as I do my 20-minute push-up exercises to “open up my lungs”. The huffing and puffing of push-ups works for drafting grindingly detailed contracts, reviewing detailed tender requirements and negotiating commercial terms too, albeit without the sweat pores opening up. They are all building me up all the same, and I hope, in preparation of something ahead.

Tress back but will return


Tress came home last night and it was a good day to come home too as Melbourne put on a show of sunny blue skies, although she only arrived around 9pm. I took full advantage of the warmer and drier conditions and did laundry as soon as the game between France and Argentina finished. That was a classic game too, with the new French wonder kid arrival taking centre stage, and ushered the great Messi out from the biggest football stage in the world.

The late football games and laundry meant a rushed drive to St Alf’s before coming home to deal with a home cooked lunch, vacuuming, walking the little guy, grocery shopping, cooking and ironing. It all finished just after 7pm and so I had about an hour before I headed out to Tulla to pick Tress up.

Tulla has become a busy, almost chaotic airport. It took me forever to leave the waiting zone, where I had waited for her to ring or text me once she got out of customs, to the pickup zones just outside the Park Royal hotel. When I eventually managed to crawl into the pickup point, I had probably offended 2-3 motorists by being too slow or needing to move into a turning lane. We got home around 10.30pm and it was good to hear her mum’s doing ok, the upcoming chemo sessions notwithstanding.

I had been to the Red Cross place in Ringwood the day before, and pictures of stories about patients (especially kids) helped by the plasma that was being collected into a bag, had brought my mind to my mother in law. She’s a wonderfully kind and generous person and I had never pictured her as a recipient of any kind. So to think Tress being there is some form of giving by Tress (albeit intangibles like time, care and attention) which my mother in law was taking, was strange. Yet giving and taking often creates a life sharing experience that is fulfilling on all accounts. On a dreary day that was raining incessantly all day, that thought warmed my heart and strangely also armed me for the several months ahead where Tress would have to make multiple trips to be with her mum.

For now though, having Tress back is great and I will cherish it/her for now.

1 down, another to go


I’ve survived a whole week alone, with only the wonderful company of our little harry boy. He’s been such a sweetie I’ve wondered how I’d cope without him, while Tress spends time with her family back in Klang.

On Friday night, I caught up with Jason and Mel for dinner and while it’s different to our normal Friday night dinners in that it was just 3 of us, it was still very good just talking and eating at the end of a busy week at work for all of us. We caught up in a little local Italian restaurant near our home and spent well over 3 hours talking – about Tress’ mum, their nieces’ weddings, their plans to build their new home and their search for temporary abode, we just talked and caught up.

Seeing it was a weekend with little planned, I indulged myself by watching the world cup games in bed, and slept in till about 8.30am. After a slow brekky I did some house cleaning – vacuuming and wiping down surfaces etc. It was a gloomy day with splatters of light rain and after a leisurely morning of cleaning, I got cleaned up myself and headed out for some grocery shopping. I then dropped into the local library to look for a replacement book, as I found it hard to get into stride with Richard Flanagan’s book about fish. I didn’t find any so I came back and just spent the late arvo and early evening reading and watching tele. More world cup games followed but I couldn’t keep up with the night games. I did however, catch the magnificent Germany v Sweden game and Kroos’ goal at the death which saved the Germans, was a spectacular finish to a thoroughly entertaining game. I’m far more engaged with this world cup – most probably because I’m alone and looking for the familiar to be engaged.

Wei Han spoke at St Alf’s – the only Asian ordained minister amongst our community – and as usual, delivered something that I found hard to simply say “good teaching”. His material usually leaves one either quickly moving on or thinking so what do I do now. I went back after St Alf, fixed myself another toastie, then took the little guy for a walk. It remained very grey but it was dry so I took the opportunity to walk him. I then went back to the library again and this time picked out the Aussie classic, “Eucalyptus”. I guess the series of Winton books I got into has whetted my appetite for Australian work but somehow Richard Flanagan didn’t do it for me –not the way Winton, Keneally, Hughes, Clive James, Blainey and others did.

I got in this morning, early as usual but “beaten in” by a colleague who got in for the start of an annual ISO audit that would go on all week. My boss also returned to work after about 3 weeks away and was this morning telling us about some of his experience. He had been to Europe and Morocco and it sounded like a very good holiday, although (and I am pleased to say as I feel vindicated) he also told us of the usual predicaments – long immigration queues, being ripped off by shady characters in airports, train stations and hotels, lost luggage, currency mix-up’s etc.

I’ve another week to survive without Tress. It should be a busy week at work and there are many more exciting world cup games coming up so I hope I’d come through ok again.