Transient Toy and Turf

We caught up with Jason and Mel again on Friday night, and chatted and ate to wind down the week. As always, it was nice. Especially with a 2 for 1 meal the establishment offered.

Saturday was meant to be a lazy and easy-going day off. We slept in and had a late brekky. At some point in the morning, Tress said maybe we can drop into a car dealership to have a look; I agreed enthusiastically. The rest is a tiny bit of history. The little toy I’ve had for a couple of years has been loads of fun but it has also been an impractical impost on our lives. It was time to say goodbye. A more practical hatch is on its way to our driveway soon.

On Sunday, we had our usual St Alf’s time. Mike Bird was his usual enlightening and entertaining self. His statement that the Sermon on the Mount was not an aspirational piece but an edict like imperative for “Kingdom people”, made a little impact on me. I said to myself I needed to do better.

After lunch we went to do our usual grocery shopping. I had a haircut then, which turned out to be a mini disaster. The hairdresser used a “No. 4” which made it look like I’ve had a “No. 1” instead. I was a bit upset but Mike’s talk earlier then made a little whisper and about a couple of hours later, I went back to the shop and apologized to the hairdresser. Tress was taken aback, and I hope the Lord will be merciful and continue this work in me.

Later I showed someone the MX5 – my soon to be gone toy – who liked it a lot but thought the car had a bit of damp smell. I had cleaned it up soon after showing it to him, and that dampness is mainly gone but I guess that is part of the impractical impost that comes with owning this car – the soft/hard top swaps, the drain hole clogs, the constant worry about no spare tyre, the driveway acrobats. While I didn’t mind these things for the most part, it wasn’t sustainable and the longer we kept this up, the harder it would be for me to find a buyer without losing too much. With car dealers being hard up for deals (plummeting sales figures and end of year stock clearance) I managed to squeeze the dealer for a really good deal. It’s time to let my toy go…

So as I drove into the station this morning, the reality of transience hit me – my crewcut turf and my toy are both with me only for a little while…


(A Really Good) Queen’s Birthday Weekend

The Queen’s birthday is the last long weekend Melburnians have, before a long stretch of work period without any public holidays. The next one after that is the Melbourne Cup, which is in November.

We had visitors from the capital city with us this time. It meant we didn’t have a “break” but it was a terrific time none the less.

Kiddo and Mic came down and stayed with us for the long weekend. Accompanying them was Milo, the little fearless terror that darts and zips through the house from end to end. He first met our little black jedi last Easter, when Tress and I went up and stayed in their house.

They arrived on Sat night. Earlier, we had spent the day with Mic’s parents who had come down to visit us and their other relos here in Melbourne. They are very polite people, which was terrific as well as problematic. We had trekked into town with that cretinous metro train service plaguing our journey. Bus replacements with nary a notice meant our trek in took longer and was a more frustrating ride. When we got in and had lunch with them, we then took them to the Carlton gardens nearby, to soak in what was a beautiful sunny day. We got to know each other a little better but right through lunch and at the gardens, they alluded to wanting to drop into our home. They didn’t say it and frankly I just didn’t get why they’d want to, but Tress was on to it like a flash. I thought the whole idea of wanting to come to our house was curious – we had met, spent a few hours together; what was to be gained with coming to our home? Had we known their whole intention/purpose of coming to Melbourne was to visit our home, we wouldn’t have gone through the trouble of trekking into the city, especially with that bus replacement crap.

So they came later that night, and we did up a soup and bought some pizza for them, a dinner which we all ate together – Tress and I, Kiddo and Mic, and Mic’s parents together with Mic’s youngest sibling. And the fur babies of course. It was nice, my sense of “that’s all so weird” notwithstanding. They had taken Uber for the ride in and back from our home, and I thought I sensed a hint of expectation for us to provide that ride too, which I steered well away from. Funny how after years of leaving Asia, our Asian sense of unspoken expectation still hovers, windows tightly shut.

On Sunday, we did our usual St Alf’s and lunch thing but again, it was really good to go through all that routine together with Kiddo and Mic. Taking Milo and LBJ for a walk at the oval later, was especially nice. Later that night, we indulged in our favourite past time as a family – playing gin and keeping scores. Yours truly did a “slam” on them a couple of times, which meant Kiddo was going to buy lunch the next day… 🙂

On Monday, we trekked into the city again, this time to look at the terracotta warriors that had been lent (by the Chinese government) and shipped to the National Gallery of Victoria. Only less than a dozen of those bronze relics were on display (together with works by a Chinese artist, Cai Guo-Qiang) but it was a wonderful experience. We had driven in and parked at my work place, then trammed to the NGV. We then had a really nice lunch – courtesy of Kiddo – and wandered around the city, again soaking up a nice day. We again ended the day with walks at the oval, letting the fur babies run around and drinking in the fresh air.

This morning I had to abandon my usual routine – of exercises, reading, putting away dishes, etc., as Milo was asleep in the lounge. I took the opportunity to sleep in on a workday, waking only 20 minutes before I left the house. The capital city visitors would leave some time this morning. I found myself looking forward to our next get together, this time Tress and I and LBJ trekking up north, hopefully some time next month.

Bolt-on values

When Alistair Clarkson, head coach of Hawthorn, got sick in 2014, a bloke called Brendon Bolton took over. He was instantly likeable. He took charge for 5 games before Clarko came back.

Bolton went on to become head coach of Carlton in 2016. Less than 4 years later, 12 games into the current season, he has been sacked by his club. 1 win in 12 games was too much for this once successful club to stomach.

Last night, Tress and I watched his press conference on prime time news. Bolton held back tears, but he was a tremendously brave man to even front up at that press conference. That’s the Bolton the public has come to know – dignified and always doing the right thing. This morning in the papers, Patrick Cripps, a captain and really good footballer, paid tribute to Bolton. Cripps called out Bolton’s work ethics. His dignity and respect and work ethics are all part of the package that we see in Bolton.

I hope he comes back to Hawthorn. Someone like him – brave, dignified, respected and respectful, works hard at everything – should be able to find a place in any football club but it would be wonderful to have him back at Hawthorn.

Masterchef… and its reassurance…

It has been wet in our neck of the woods. On Friday night when I got back home, it was wet again – so much so that I even said to Tress that a café some 3-4 km away from home was “too far” for a bite that night. We opted instead to go to the shopping centre just at the back of our home, which is less than a km away. We went to one of those chains with a big menu, so we can pick stuff more suited to a “winding down” type of food.

After dinner we went home, watched a bit of footy (Kangaroos surprisingly defeated the Tigers) but we then switched to a streaming movie. It was a suspense genre, with Milo Ventimiglia in the starring role. We didn’t know he was going to be in it but we recognised him from a TV series (“This is Us”) we enjoyed.

It continued to be wet on Saturday so we slept in a bit, and after brekky, pottered around. Tress did some weeding, I loosened up the green bin which had been clogged up by trimmings of a ground cover (I think it’s called the “Free Fall Casuarina”) from about 2-3 weeks back, picked some lemons, stirred the compost bin, picked up the little guy’s deposits, etc.

Tress then went out for her ethereal pursuits and when she got back we headed out to lunch and then to Shoppo to return a pair of shoes. We had picked up a pair of Skechers for Tress’ dad and they didn’t fit. Both her parents have newish pairs of trainers (Skechers also…) anyway. So, I got back my $140 (yay)… we then picked up some groceries, including stuff to cook for the week’s lunches. We then headed home and took the little guy for a walk – the poor fellow hadn’t had a walk for 3 days, as it had been wet.

Later that night, I roasted some veges, and then streamed another movie. Tress was in the mood for another suspense movie, so we picked out “Marrowbone”. It’s a forgetable middle of the road fare… and it provided a much needed distraction from the fact that we weren’t able to watch the footy happening up north in Queensland. Hawks had been poor after the first quarter and we lost to the Lions, so that movie provided scant comfort.

On Sunday, after the usual service at St Alf’s, we stayed back to listen to a presentation on plans to upgrade the facilities at St Luke’s in Vermont. St Luke’s has been a partner parish for 2-3 years now and they needed some work done on their property, on the corner of Mitcham and Canterbury.

After lunch, we headed to our usual shopping haunt for a little more groceries and bumped into Jason and Mel, had coffee with them, and then went back to take the little guy for another walk.

Back home, it was cooking time, for the week’s lunches. Tress had wanted congee and I had marinated some pork ribs overnight. The congee looked good. Masterchef had started a couple of weeks ago and we settled down to enjoy that wonderful series.

Masterchef in winter has become a staple prime time viewing for a few years now. It’s become a winter warmer for us. To have it back in our lounge room is a bit of a familiar and welcomed viewing. It’s a bit of reassurance that life is normal again.



Travel? No, unless…

Tress and I got back to Melbourne last night, a little before 9pm. We’d been to Malaysia for her dad’s 80th, which went really well.

We had started the trek back to Melbourne at 5.30am (in Malaysia) earlier yesterday. The cab was at the driveway of Tress’ parents’ home a little before 5.30am. We had woken up at 4.45am. So door-to-door, it took 15½ hours. Return trip was therefore 31 hours.

I have been ruing about overseas travels for a while now. I am starting to detest it, and I think unless I have to, my choice would be to avoid it as much as possible. Last night as I stood at the carousel at Melbourne Airport, and watch those metal plates circulating to catch and hold pieces of luggage, I wondered again, why so many love to travel overseas “for pleasure” now.

The whole process of immigration, customs, boarding checks, removing everything on you that could trigger that alarm on the sentry that causes you to spread your arms for a pat-down body search by bored border/airline personnel, all only to be allowed into a capsule with 200-300 others, confined, restrained and subject to awful announcements by the crew, and fed awful food. You are allowed to escape all that only by looking at a small screen with  bad audio, watching cut-down versions of what the airline thinks its fee paying passengers should watch. And that is when babies stop crying or their parents stop bellowing at toddlers to sit down. I can do without any of these, over a span of 31 hours, which don’t come near a comprehensive list of reasons to avoid overseas travels.

I guess the travel this past week was a “have to” type of travel, in the sense that it is the sort of travel I would be willing to make, and grin and bear the “nail scratching on blackboard” pain in the arse process hitherto described. I’d bear it because the time with family was absolutely worth it. Do it however, to view a mountain or a river, a bridge, a wall, an excavation site full of earthen figurines, or worse, visit a theme park or shopping mall, would be to me, a madness I would not voluntarily subject myself to – and don’t get me started on travelling to taste any sort of dish. I’d sooner avoid driving more than I need to for a decent feed.

Travel to “tour” (anything)? Nah… Travel to see the joy on the face of a newly minted octogenarian? Absolutely.

Quiet Australians

Tress and I went out for dinner at a Korean BBQ place in the shopping center near our home, on Friday night. It was something different and the meats were very good. It was a good way to end the working week.

Early on Saturday morning, we got up and walked to the Holbury childcare center. We’ve been here numerous times, each time to do our duty and cast a vote in a Federal or State election. A queue had already built up when we arrived a few minutes before 8am.

As we went about our day after voting, like many Australians who trusted the “expert” pollsters, we expected to have a new government after Saturday. That night, we went to St Alf’s for a jazz concert by the Christian jazz musician, Andy Vance. He was accompanied by Andy Sugg, a jazz saxophonist. It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening. It made me want to take out my old Miles Davis and/or Diana Krall CD’s to listen to again. May be a great idea with winter coming…

When the evening done and as we were leaving the hall, some had scrolled through their phone and gave us a hint that of a real shock to the election outcome. When we got into the car, we turned on the radio and verified that the Coalition had, against all expectations, won.

We went home, turned on the television, and followed the elections for a bit. Going to bed late, the sense of relief settled. Life can go on, on a much more even keel, with the Coalition remaining in power. Labor had been too murky and it’s just worrying when they push airy fairy stuff, with high risk to ordinary daily lives with no perceptible returns. More importantly I guess, social issues like religious freedom will be less adversely impacted.

After St Alf’s the next day, we went to the MCG for the Hawks replacement game against the roaring Tiger home side. It was frustrating seeing the Hawks struggle again. Dusty was back in full force for the Tigers and Hawks were very soundly defeated.

As we sat on the train on the way home after the game, I browsed through the phone and the continuing buzz was all about Scott Morrison’s form busting win. A picture of him at the football (NRL – Sharks v Manly game) with a beer in hand and decked out in Sharks’ gear, was a greatly comforting one. Life can be normal, on an even keel again. He had been in church earlier that day too, which was a doubly reassuring piece of news. He hailed his supporters as “Quiet Australians”. Maybe not at the football, but I’d be a happy quiet Australian for ScoMo.

Rained on

Heavy rains were forecast for last Friday, so I asked Tress to drop me off at the station that morning, to save MyJedi from being drenched all day. At the end of that day, the rains caused some delays to the trams, so I walked to Southern Cross to catch the train home. The intermittent rains as I walked the 2km or so, didnt feel like much.

On Saturday morning, I had sweeping duties at St Alf’s and towards the end of the sweep, it rained again but as I was well protected, I kept on and finished the task and got home. Back home, I started on the work to cut back the shrubs along the driveway. They had been impeaching on and became a nuisance to, the driveway and we’ve had to so a right-and-left swing to bring our cars in without having the cars scratched too badly. As I cut those thick shrubs back and cleaned up the undergrowth as much as possible, the light showers persisted and the hot shower, after the cleanup etc., felt great. By then however, I suspected I was already picking up a cold.

That night, we had dinner with the Hipos and Jason and Mel. It was Sheanne’s birthday (she turned 9). We went to the Old Kingdom at Surrey Hills. It was always great catching up with these families. Tress and I picked up a Disney Monopoly Set (Frozen themed) for the birthday girl.

Sunday after St Alf’s we planned to get a quick lunch, a quick grocery shopping, and then head out to the MCG for the Hawks v Giants game. When we got to the Blackburn Station however, we saw that the trains would stop at Camberwell, with replacement buses to ferry us to the MCG. It was already close to first bounce and the thought of lining up for buses on the way back, coupled with a deteriorating cold, sent us back to the shops for a coffee, more grocery shopping for the week’s lunch cooks and just to chill out. At the coffee shop, I saw that the game was going to be on TV anyway, so we went home and I had the game on as I roasted some veges for the week’s lunches. The Hawks played a disciplined and focused game to shut out the Giants, and won the game by some 40 points. The Giants were 3rd on the ladder and we were well in the bottom half, so the win was terrific.

The cold deteriorated and I didn’t want my colleagues to think I was an ass, so I stayed home yesterday. I slept a bit, streamed stuff, and with the little guy next to me, it felt much better. I took him out for a long walk later that arvo. The cold was still getting to me and as I got in this morning, a sneezing spasm seized while I ascended the escalator at the Southern Cross station. That caused me to trip up, and I ended up with an Adidas-styled 3 striped graze. I got into the office, opened up the first aid kit, and washed the wound, sprayed some antiseptic spray, and bandaged up the damage.

It has been that kind of start to the week. Sick and wounded. I hope things get better from hereon in.


Crocked Hawks. Crocked Colleague

I was at home watching the Collingwood v Power game on Friday night and was in awe of the Pies’ first half performance. Ryan Burton stood out for the Powers as a calm, efficient and smart player. As I watched Hawks struggle through a terrible game of football at the G on Sat arvo, particularly with Chad Wingard having a stinker, I wondered if Hawks did the right thing with that trade swapping Burton for Wingard. Hawks were the more crappy team in a crappy game between two crappy sides. The less crappy team won and the best thing on that wet and cold arvo on Sat was the early start (1.45 start) and the meat pie. The rest was totally forgettable.

With United also playing poorly to earn a draw against the lowly (no offense) Huddersfield, it was another weekend to forget, sports wise.

We didn’t do much else for the weekend. We were on duty at St Alf’s but thankfully we are more confident now with what to do.

After St Alf’s yesterday, we went to Shoppo, which we hadn’t been to for a while. We were looking for a pair of shoes for Tress’ dad for his birthday in about three weeks or so. I had also wanted to look for a pair myself, and maybe also a daily go-to jacket. We wandered around, did some grocery shopping and then went home. I took the little fellow our for a longish walk and then went home for a cook.

It was one of those quiet minimal commitments type of weekend so I felt rested. Well, as rested as I could have felt.

Last week was a big week at work, with a senior staff being let go. He was a Malaysian and I had worked reasonably close with him, and I was even scheduled to attend a client negotiation meeting a day after his departure. He wasn’t a particularly well-liked figure around the office and I had also found him less than warm to work with but even then, his departure affected me. He has a young daughter so I’m sure she was foremost in his thinking in recent days.

Winter has started to creep in on us. It’s still officially autumn but importing a calendar based cycle to the year’s seasons always sits awkwardly here Down Under. The official season of autumn doesn’t mean much when I stand at the tram stop on the corner or Spencer and Collin Street at 6.30am, with the Docklands winds blowing in single digit temperature. The cold meh though. As is the footy season thus far (speaking as Hawks fan of course).

Missed birthday, Wimber past, Hawks hanged on

Micah is a beautiful 4-year old boy of my cousin Ruth. Last Saturday, it was his birthday party. Tress and I had wanted to be there, but we only got back from Canberra late on Thursday and there was work to be done around the house. Ruth, Jon and Micah live in Woodend, a pretty little town out yonder at the Macedon Ranges. The 200km round trip requires passing through the CBD and so it takes up to 1½ hours each way. Any event with them would mean a whole day sectioned off.

So we stayed home, and did the work. The overgrown hedges were trimmed and the green bin was so filled I had to “mince” the clippings to pack it all in. After the mowing and sweeping and after Tress had done the weeding and vacuuming, it was close to 2pm when we headed out for lunch.

Back home late arvo, we walked the little fellow. Or rather, I walked him. Tress had gone for her ethereal pursuits but joined us at the oval when she was done. Later that night, we settled down to watch an old Marvel film, trying to catch up with the background of the exhilarating Endgame movie we watched with Kiddo and Mic in Canberra.

On Sunday at St Alf, a speaker named Ken Fish spoke. He was with John Wimber’s ministry many years ago and I remember reading Phillip Jensen’s articles on the issues with those teachings. I sort of thought St Alf is sufficiently (very strongly, in fact) grounded so any “peccadilloes” that may have existed in that stream would probably be well managed. It turned out however, that other than a few claims which sounded extraordinary, Ken was pretty grounded and orthodox in most ways.

After some grocery shopping yesterday arvo, I did a quick wash of the little miata while Tress did some ironing. We then watched the Hawks v Blues game. The first half was distressing but an amazing third quarter display, coupled with the solid O’Meara who was very good through the entire game, we clawed our way back to get ahead by some 17 points, which were chipped away to 5 at the death. A booming punt was marked by a Carlton forward just seconds after the final siren, so we just managed to hang on.

Last night, given how the newly washed MX5 looked so shiny, I took a few pictures and then as I looked at a message from the carsales site, I decided to put those pics and the MX5 in the “for sale” section. It’s officially on the market now…