Lake Burley Griffin becomes a friend.

I had the alarm set for 5am on Sat morning but Tress was up at 4.30. I decided to get up a few minutes later and just before 6am, we were in the car and started the trek up again. We only made a couple of stops for toilet and coffee and by 1pm we were at Burton and Garran Hall again. It was great to see Kiddo again.

We unloaded the stuff we brought up with us, and then Kiddo jumped in the car and we took the much shorter drive across town to Campbell to our B&B (sort of). After lunching at a Korean joint at the Civic we went to the shops for a bit before going to Weston Park at the Lake Burley Griffin, for a walk/jog. The little black jedi had a whale of a time as we let him run around off lead for a while. The late afternoon scene lakeside was really nice and it was just great for the 3 of us (plus the little pooch) to be there together. The lake is huge and to get to know this place takes quite an effort.

That night we went to the Civic again, and looked for a place for dinner. We settled on “The London Burger and Beers”, a place bustling with young people. The burgers were gorgeous, as were the salads. We were to return the following night as well – another discovery of a nice eatery in Canberra. Later that Saturday night we drove to the Old Parliament House which had an architectural projection type of show on, and the building was opened as well for touring so we walked around and outside the building and it was really late by the time we got home.

On Sunday we went to the Old Bus Depot, went to the Fyshwick food markets for lunch and then went back to the Lake, this time to walk around the Carillon and also took a ride around that area on a paddle bike which took all 3 of us (and Scruff). The bike was christened “John”, a reference to John Howard. All of the bikes were named after past Prime Mnisters of Australia and we saw “Billy”, “Paul” and “Malcolm” go past us. As far as past Prime Ministers go, I cant wait for a “Julia” to appear. The Lake has truly become something more familiar. It is very large and I guess it will take loads of effort to know it really well.

We went to the Crossroads church on campus (at the Manning Clark Lecture Theatre) on Sunday evening, then went back to the London for a late dinner. We again drove around to catch more light projections on buildings and went to the National Gallery.

On Monday morning we spent some time in Kiddo’s dorm room, with some housekeeping stuff and then went to the “Scholar” – a Chinese restaurant for Yum Cha. It was pricey but the food was very good – another discovery of a good place in Canberra.

We left Canberra close to 3pm, and got back to Melbourne just after 9 – a record time for us. I guess we have become accustomed to the drive.


The Crossroads church was very impressive, content wise. All of the songs were unfamiliar to us but they all had strong emphasis on Christ, the cross, the Gospel message and such themes. There were very little material on power for us, our needs, how much he means to us… in other words, the worship was all about God, not about me or us. What a refreshing change.

The message (“The King’s Speech” – Matthew 5 & 6) was also Kingdom centred and focused on what it really means to be godly and not just religious – again it was all about taking the focus away from us and turning to God.

It was a refreshing change, again.

So often, our church life is centered on ourselves – what the church can (or even ought) to do for us. If a church somehow misses the mark in terms of addressing our daily needs, we turn our backs and maybe even become bitter. I guess when we have needs which appear to be overwhelming and no one seems to care it would appear that we have a legitimate expectation that the church ought to do something. Maybe to a large extent the church ought to, and perhaps the local church ought to take its eyes off lofty notions like discipleship and mission and tend to the daily needs of its flocks. To some church goers, that would be a reasonable ask. Can we discuss discipleship without caring for members’ needs? I dont know.

I’m not sure I know how to deal with needs of church friends and “quasi church” friends. Especially needs of Christians who have been Christians for a long time. Life in Australia is often busy with cares of everyday living. One wakes up and goes to work, comes home and potters around the house with 101 things to do, leaving the “big jobs” for weekends. Many take up further courses of studies like yours truly and whatever free time in the evenings is taken up by work on these studies. Weekends see us catching up with more everyday living stuff – grocery shopping, house cleaning and other such or related chores. Then we have a little bit of time to catch up with friends and be socially alive. Often this means dinners on Sat nights or lunch on Sunday arvo. Either event means more time needed to plan, shop, prepare,  clean etc. Often this has to be rotated around so that different friends of different family members get time spent on them and we maintain our social networks that way, no matter how pained or little “value-add” in terms of strengthening these relationships.

One cant be doing that on every weekend either as some weekends are taken up with other stuff which invariably crop up – school events, weddings and birthdays, farewells, or even spending a Sat night at home catching up with work or with each other at home.

So the best one can do is maybe spend a bit of time, every few weeks, with some friends. I dont know if that is enough. I dont know if it is reasonable to expect more. It does become a bit of a pain when one has to work all these out, just to be satisfied that we’re ok. I would have thought it is a no brainer but apparently not.  Maybe we are meant to give up our everyday living demands, so that others can have their needs met. Maybe the answer lies in foregoing everything just so your friends are kept happy. I have to work that out further. Maybe keeping some friends happy requires a bit of effort. Much like getting to know Lake Burley Griffiin well.


Gout Treat

I woke up at 4 this morning with a sore toe. Instinctively and probably still sleeping, I trudged to the kitchen to look for the Arcoxia tablets. There were none in the pantry but again instinctively I got out into the car and got a strip of that lifesaver tablets and took one.

When the alarm went off at 5.30 the pain was still there so I decided to give the gym a miss. There goes my planned 8km. I slept in, and when Tress got up and got ready for work, I decided to take the day off sick. The soreness hasnt gone away.

So here I am, waiting for the doctor’s clinic to open so I could go and get a scrip for Arcoxia top-up’s. I need that pain to be totally managed before this weekend, when Tress and I go up to Canberra again. I dont want anything to mess that up.

I have also made up my mind to leave my present role. Preferably however, I want to find a legal or quasi legal role first, before I do. Staying in this role has so tainted my views of ministry and people in it, that I need to get out before my relationship with these people become badly affected.

I was just checking my emails and saw an invoice coming in. He is a retired professional and helping the office manage an IT database upgrade project. If I was in his shoes, I would have done it voluntarily, no questions asked, no second thoughts. Another retiree was to do some “deputation” or representative work in the country. Again at costs to the organisation. It isnt paid work but expenses fully reimbursed. I can only wonder what a week or two driving in the country can chalk up in terms of costs.

Maybe I need to revisit my concept of serving. After all mine is also a paid role, not voluntary. Although I minimise costs by foregoing a lot of entitlements a full time paid staff would have, and have hardly lodged any claims, always thinking this organisation need to minimise its costs. My boss does that too but a lot of other people dont. Almost nothing is done on a volunteer basis without pay or reimbursement.

I dont know, maybe I just need to have a good think about what I am doing, where I am now, what I want to spend my time on, etc. I know I am just not fulfilled. At all. Having told myself to go easy on food and having unsubscribed from stuff like Foxtel, I come home each day just looking forward to taking the little black jedi to the park and let him frolic with other pooches. When the park is used for cricket or footy training like it has been, I get a bit lost and the walking around the blocks thing becomes a disappointment. I’d come home after say 45 minutes and plonk myself in front of the tele for a bit, simplt deplete of anything enjoyable or fulfillng. I’d feel the day had gone by with God knows what achievement or accomplishment. There isnt even the simple satisfaction of having done some work I’d consider fulfilling.

Maybe that’s why I’m sort of happy to just stay at home today, away from the office. Sore tore notwithstanding.

Back to square one

Tress and I got home to Melbourne on Sat arvo, just after 5pm. We were supposed to be back yesterday but Port Albert – our last stopover – was way too quiet and given it was only less than 3 hours from home, we decided to come straight home. We walked the entire length and breadth of Port Albert inside 25 minutes and were seriously wondering what we were going to do if we stayed the night as originally planned. That town of 1 pub, 1 cafe and a handful of wharfs didnt seem like a place to linger on, so we took off soon after 2pm.

On arrival at home I was filled with a sudden gush of sadness. I found myself not being able to speak very much, as I unpacked and went into Kiddo’s room to sort some stuff out. Tress busied herself with loads of chores, as did I. Later that night we went to Indochine in Box Hill and my sense of sadness continued.

In a way I felt like we were starting all over again – the feeling was like when we first arrived in Melbourne in 2004. The sense of having to do it all again, that sense of having lost the familiar, was a tad too much for me.

The next morning was the same thing and after waking I made coffee but continued busying myself with sorting out the study together with her room. After church we lunched with Gerry and Jesslyn and when I got home, I continued busying myself – this time with the garden. It was hot but I ploughed on.  Anything was better than staying indoor in a house that has lost some of the familiar love and buzz. It was easier to stay out in the garden and in the heat of the summer afternoon sun and work up a sweat. I worked from 2 to 6pm, then got in to freshen up to get over to Jason and Mel’s for dinner, together with Gerry and Jesslyn. Invariably

The inevitable came however and we got home, again to a house that felt strange. Our minds turned immediately to Canberra. Tress and I waited for a chance to ring her on Skype but we ended up only speaking to her briefly on the phone at close to midnight.

I really want to get back to legal work; other than the money which would come in handy for the extras that would now be required, I need to be busy again.

Road Ahead Beckons

It has been a slightly busier last couple of days at work for me. Renovation works scheduled for next week were brought forward and things got a bit messy. I was in early the past couple of days and today – my last day at work before taking a week off for Canberra et al – I’m kind of hoping to have a “POETS” day (Piss off early, tomorrow’s Saturday – pardon the Aussie pleasantries).

Tress has been busy too so I hope today would be better than yesterday.

English: Mallacoota Top Lake, 2011
One Chapter Closes
Batemans Bay
Another one opens

In any case we’re both looking forward to a mini break of sorts. We plan to push off early tomorrow so all the packing for kiddo and other road trip preps must be done tonight. We hope to be at the doors of Burton and Garran Hall by about 2pm, which would allow us a few hours to attend to whatever that needs to be attended to. Tress and I leave the PhB student on Tuesday and will make our way back to Melbourne but via the NSW coast. First stop is Batemans Bay, then down past Bega Valley towards Mallacoota and then down past the Lakes Entrance and towards Wilson’s Prom where Port Albert would be our last stop. We arrive back in Melbourne on Sunday. The Little Black Jedi will be coming along for the ride.

When all that driving’s over and we’re b

ack in Melbourne, life will be somewhat different for us. Life really is a box of chocolates.

Batemans Bay at twilight, looking towards the ...
What lies ahead...

Filip please?

Let’s see.

Israel may send a few planes up Iran’s way and release a few bombs and then start a war. If it doesn’t, Iran may get their nuclear toy and point it at Israel, amongst others.

Meanwhile Russia is giving Hilary Clinton (who is looking aged) some stick back for suggesting it and China are not playing ball to the detriment of Syrians. While Russia and China play spoilers to Hilary and company, the Syrian town of Homs gets bombed.

The Greeks are having a go at lenders while meeting with IMF and ECB big wigs. The Eurozone looks like it will fester for a while yet. America cant help because it’s in pretty deep too – about 15 trillion dollars, and Mitt Romney is suggesting he can fix it better than Obama. China wont help because it is smart with money. Europe looks like a bottomless pit as its people demand high wages and Grade A lifestyle despite not being able to afford it.

Closer to home, the PM is drowning and her foreign minister is pouring in more water and hard-to-like individuals like Rob Oakeshott has his day in the sun again, much to the chagrin of many. Bob Brown meanwhile continues to look stupid on finance matters.

As all these merry news make their way around the globe, Kiddo is dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s for her new life in Canberra. Last night she had some friends over. They were playing cards and Tress and I came home and fixed them dinner. I got a variety of snags and some fish to throw on the barbie and Tress made a salad. They played till about 10.30pm. It’s great she’s able to spend time with close friends before leaving, and doing stuff at home tops it off.

Some folks in church asked me how I felt with Kiddo’s impending new adventure. I honestly don’t know. I just feel tired. Physically, emotionally and mentally I feel tired. Not in the exhausted sense but in the flat, low energy and almost lethargic sense. I don’t know if it is because I haven’t had a decent break since our trip to Shanghai and Suzhou in September 2010. We have had a few mini getaways – to Echuca and Canberra amongst others but those trips were fillers. They should count as breaks nevertheless I guess, but for one reason or another I just feel like some refreshing in one form or another is badly needed. I need a fillip of sorts.

Weekends, soon to be different

English: Category:Images of Canberra Burton an...
Image via Wikipedia

The VTAC offers are scheduled to be released today. Any hopes of Kiddo opting for a BA/LLB course in Monash have been reduced to a mere theoretical possibility, as she has been really excited about doing the PhB course in ANU in Canberra instead. I have in fact, paid a deposit for her residential college in the Burton and Garran Hall (“B&G”). Tress had also set Kiddo up with a supplementary credit card and got it activated and ready to go. We’re likely to be taking that long hike to Canberra again, around the second week of Feb.

On Saturday, we made a vegetable soup together. It’s a continuation of Kiddo’s cooking lessons. The class took place in between two hefty sessions of cleaning. After the usual vacuuming, Tress, Kiddo and I settled down for some soup, after which I went out and continued hacking down our overgrown Silver Stirling hedges. Well not exactly hacking down but bringing them down from a monstrous 3+ meters to a more manageable 2 meters or so. Earlier that morning Tress and I had gotten up early to get to Tullamarine again – this time taking a young lady doctor from Mulgrave who was going back to Malaysia for a short holiday. We got to her home just before 7, dropped her off at Tulla just before 8am and got to the Vic Market to get stuff for a barbeque we did last night. So all in it was a long and busy day and after prepping the communion spiel and other bits I had to do in church the next day, the 3 of us settled down to a game of cards for a bit.

On Friday we had gone to the Knox for a movie – a very ordinary Sherlock Homes sequel (“Game of Shadows“). It was a disjointed and messy fare and loads of bomb blasts and slow-mo running, jumping and fist fights… sigh.

Last night we had 3 families over for a barbeque dinner. Sort of 3 families – one still has her hubby and kids in Singapore for their holidays, and she had returned to Melbourne early to go back to work. We again finished up late – it was about 12am when we got to bed, and gym this morning was sort of tough.

If it sounds like we’re trying to cramp our weekend, I guess I am. 3 weekends from now, our weekends will be very different. I just want to keep the good thing firing on all cylinders while we can.

Gillard Labor Minority Government … Ever So UMNOesque

If the allegations are true, Craig Thomson would be very much at home in Malaysia. Unfortunately I have in my past life, been in situations and circumstances which landed me in places I didn’t really want to be. Senior politicians of the ruling parties would often be found in these places, accompanied by unsavoury business identities who almost certainly paid for whatever services sought or were made available.

The difference now of course is that Craig Thomson was apparently alone when he allowed his pecadilloes to go untamed. What’s worse, if the allegations are true, he stands to be charged for misappropriating funds. He sounds like a really tragic man. He could however, be the saviour of Australia at this point in time.

He appears to be a politican close to the likes of Mark Arbib and Karl Bitar – those pollies who somehow managed to build reputations of themselves as oily manipulative men who wouldn’t baulk at doing questionable deeds. If one takes a straw poll, those two men would probably be among the most mistrusted characters in the country. That they were the ones who brokered the deal within NSW Labor to avoid banruptcy for Craig Thomson and the catastrophic consequences that would bring for Julia Gillard and her government would only further tar this present government. One would have thought that would be hard to do but there you go.

I think with each passing week, the Julia Gillard minority Labor Government inches ever closer to the status of the UMNO Government of Malaysia, which is saying something. The convoy of no confidence wasn’t in Canberra today – it has circled all over Australia for months now. For the umpteenth time, bring on the elections – please….