Sunday, August 30, 2009

ABC Wednesday: Letter G for gifts from your garden

It's been a long cold winter.

We all love to feel warm and fuzzy so my school's social group have decided to introduce that warm fuzzy feeling into everyone’s lives by having a ‘Warm Fuzzy Week’!

We were given a person for a week and became his/her anonymous warm fuzzy.

We could do all sorts of things and gifts to make them feel warm and fuzzy.

Flowers are nice, my friend suggested, look round your garden. You don't even have to spend money.

So flower is it, flowers from my garden. I like my warm fuzzy. I am giving my fuzzy flowers and packets of camomile tea. This morning, I gave a one stalk of my favourite flower, Cala lily. Tomorrow it will be a Bird of Paradise.

That will make her warmed and relaxed.

Sam's teacher started a Fuzzy week last year, it didn't work. The 12 year old boys didn't like the female teacher. The 12 year old boys didn't like the girls. After two days, the teacher canned the idea.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Sunday stills: Sound

Sunday Stills, the next challenge: Sounds

Yep you read right Sounds, it was once said a picture is worth a thousand words, well I believe its the same with sound.

So this weeks challenge is to take a pic that without description( no captions) conveys sound. It should be a pic that if you look at it you should hear whats going on.

Hush! sometimes you have to be very quiet to hear sounds. At other times, you can imagine the sounds. How sad it is when you can't hear sounds. I have a young student who is deaf, and I feel for her especially when she forgets to wear her hearing aids.

My grand dad who was so smart used to tell us that the worst kind of handicap is being deaf. He said," You can see people laughing at you but you don't know what they are saying. If you are blind, you can't see and hence you don't know if people are laughing at you."

This week's assignment is a good one. Thanks.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Change the world: Feed the birds

I have frequently posted that I throw out my unused rice and bread to the birds in my back yard. There are different types of sparrows and native birds. There must be more than 50 sparrows and thirty pigeons and other native birds. They know precisely when I have thrown out the food. I can hear the fluttering of the pigoens' wings as they fly off. I am not exactly a nature lover though I have been involved in many nature activities.

The family aren't keen in this Feed the Bird activity as they often shit on my laundry and on the deck and on our cars. The ungrateful birds fly away when I go to the window to snap a photo of them feeding my food. So I shall have to use a old photo. This is a wax eye or silver eye native bird.

My brother in Australia has a more interesting tale. You may say that my brother and I are peas from the same pod.

As you know I have a very good relationship with the birds in our garden. I throw our kitchen scrapes onto the garden and also collect water from the kitchen sink to water the garden.

This is my effort to help mother earth.

Anyway we get lots of different kinds of birds descending on our garden usually fighting for the scrapes!

I rationalize that the forest gets fertilized from the droppings of birds. So by encouraging the birds to come they get the food and I get their shit.

Anyway this morning I was cooking breakfast and was standing in front of the kitchen window. Suddenly a small butcher bird landed on the window ledge right in front of me. In its beak was a freshly killed mouse.

The bird dropped the mouse on the landing and then kept nodding at me as if to say"
well! Come on take it and cook it with your rice porridge!"


It could have been the tastiest porridge.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


A mum's worst night mare, my fellow blogger Kate posts: I just hate it when my sixth senses are right. I have been very worried about this H1N1 virus and that this uneasy feeling that one of us will get it. Worst fears confirmed. Elissa has been admitted to the hospital for H1N1 and the whole family will be quarantined for one week. Please pray for us.

Dear Kate and Elissa, my thoughts are with you. I love this white Cala lily. It grows wild in New Zealand and I have them in my garden.

Arlington National Cemetery, Edward Kennedy

We wore green and yellow and encouraged the kids to give a gold coind donation for this lovely artificial daffodil flower.

My brother took photos, and this is the Eternal flame marking JFK.

View of the Capital Hill from Arlington Cemetery.

My brother Henry asked if I would do a post in memory of Edward Kennedy. He sent me some photos he had taken when he visited Arlington Cemetery.

About fifteen years ago, the Water Enginner went to Washington DC for a conference , we went with the girls. One of the places we went was the Arlington Cemetery. I was awed and couldn't help but think of the poor departed buried at Kranji Cemetery in Singapore. I lingered at the Tomb of the Unknowns or the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

My fellow American bloggers are more qualified to post about Edward kennedy. So I will leave them to do it.

Today is Happy Daffodils Day in New Zealand. Most of the kids had no idea why we celebrate Daffodils day. I told them while we were having fun wearing yellow and green, buying flowers, tattoos, and face painting. The important thing was about cancer. And why daffodils? because daffodils come out in spring, it means hope.

I told them about Ted Kennedy, they asked if he was a famous movie star or a famous singer. I told them he was a very important person, and he died of cancer. You see, I was teaching them about raising money by selling daffodils to help cancer patients and raise awareness of this horrible disease.

A 5 year old student lost his mum to cancer, a 6 year old girl lost her cousin. We talked about cancer as we made three D cards. Our primary school raised a significant amount of money.

*Henry is an anthropologist living in Sarawak, Borneo.*

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Face of a drug smuggler????

When one has traveled for almost three weeks and on the last day journeyed by car and plane for thirteen hours, the last thing one wishes is to be pulled out by the anti narcotics to be told "you are randomly selected for a drug test."

That was exactly what happened to me when I was transiting in Brisbane, Australia Airport on my way back to Auckland. The Royal Brunei plane arrived in Brisbane around mid night. Sam and I went through the normal check, and then a plain clothes man and woman told me to come this way.

They said those words," You are randomly selected..... " and showed me a laminated A4 sheet which stated my rights in English. They asked if I needed an interpreter.

I have been an avid watcher of the Australian Border watch, and wonder why on earth they think I, a fifty something old woman, would want to smuggle drugs with a 13 year old son. They said, I could refuse, but there will be consequences. They had this scanner like machine which went through my back pack, then scrapped at a corner and went to the machine which of course showed there was nothing. Then they had the woman pat me down. It was very humiliating, an experience I won't wish on anyone. If you watch TV, you will know what I mean. You lift your hands up ninety degrees, legs apart and the woman pat you all over.

I wanted to scream I am a New Zealander and I want to contact my two lawyer brothers who live in Australia. But then, of course they were just doing their job. Except I think they didn't choose a very good candidate to be a drug smuggler. It left a bitter taste to what was otherwise a wonderful holiday. I told Sam that I am an aspiring writer, and this has given me fodder to write an unusual event.

These two photos were taken at the Brisbane airport after my ordeal. I had wanted to turn back and ask if I would be watching myself on New Zealand TV or if I could take their photos for my blog, but I didn't think they would oblige.

I lived in Singapore for 16 years and am fully aware that drug trafficking there results in death penalty. I thought of the Australian woman Corby Schapelle. Corby was convicted and imprisoned in Bali, Indonesia for drug smuggling. Corby is serving a 20-year sentence and has maintained that the drugs were planted in her boogie board bag and that she did not know about them.

What was in my mind when I was told to accompany them to the search room? What if I was like Corby, and some one had planted drugs in my bag?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Emily Chan

I am a very proud aunty. This is Emily Chan, my brother Charles and sis-in-law Karen's baby daughter. Yes, no matter whether you are 22 , or you are 2, you are always your parents' baby, especially if you are the youngest child in the family.

Emily plays the guitar, piano and sings. She writes all her own songs and had recorded her music. Her music style is alternative/indie rock.

Emily is moving to Canada to join a band called Broken Down Suitcase but she will also be performing as a solo artist with her own songs. She will be in Canada until May performing locally and then touring the USA performing for about 4 months with the band.

Way to go! Ka Pai Emily. I am so proud of you. Going from Australia, Down Under to the American Continent is a BIG step. I know, I was there when I was about your age.

Friday Shoot:Incongruous

This little step in a playground in Singapore looks ok to people without young children, and according to them, they conform to International Standards. As a mum, who is often in the playground, I have seen many children slip and hurt their groin area. After much petitioning, they eventually removed this awkward steps to an ordinary ladder.

This was at a Christmas Santa's parade. Little doggy, the parade is at the other direction.

We were holidaying in West Malaysia in the east coast. We didn't understand why this slab of rusting metal was sitting smack in the middle of the beach. It looked like a foundation piling, but why was there only one? We were stumped.

INCONGRUOUS: Meaning: Out of place, ridiculous, inconsistent, contradictory

By Mary

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Sundaystills: The Open Road

Tonight, I met a man from Zimbawe. He looked like Willie Nelson, with his beard and long hair. The song On the Road again kept ringing in my ear. But this Willie Nelson lookalike doesn't sing, and is in fact a respectable barrister. Here's my shots, sometimes, I want to snap a certain photo, but the car has gone to fast, and my driver tells me it it too late.

Caught in action, a telecom technician with his face looking down a hole in the road repairing some cables.

In New Zealand, where labour is relatively expensive, the council uses machines to sweep and vaccum the roads.

Metal bollards like these are found in some shop fronts mainly to prevent cars from parking too near to the entrance. In some cases, they prevent cars from deliberately crashing into the store and rob them. A friend who is a chemist had been robbed a few times.

The bus stops have ad shells which earns the city council money. The trouble with them as they are temptation objects to young hoodlums who shoot BB guns to break them. Their kind of fun had landed some elderly defenseless man and women in hospital.

Little cars are used as mobile advertisements. Sometimes they go in doubles, and in this case, four cars were used to promote a health drink.

Toilets are very useful especially when you are on the road a long time. When you need to go, you need to go. You don't mind if it is one hundred years old.

Up on the roof was a wheel advertising exactly what kind of business the proprietor was involved in.

When you have walked or run a long distance, perhaps after biking, here is a comfy chair to sit on.

Do cows pay road tax? Whether they do or not, it is to your interests to stop when they cross the road. In certain countries, if you run down an animal or chicken, the whole village will come after you with sticks and stones.

Here at a very busy round around junction in Auckland is a Chinese Restaurant. It is a very old one, and the food isn't recommended, unless you go to the European Chop Suey or Chow Mein. You know, the supposedly Chinese food which are not served in China.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Mullein ???

Can this plant be Mullein? Two weeks ago, the Water Engineer spotted this unusual giant plant that looks like a big flurry cabbage plant. We spotted another. He has caught some of my blogging interest and suggested I take photos of them, and we got Sam's hand to show how big it is.

I just read some articles of Mullein that it is a common weed. Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) has long been used in herbal medicine, especially in remedies that aim to soothe the respiratory tract. These remedies involve the use of mullein's flowers and leaves.

I google searched for Mullein and found a lot of very interesting and educational entries.

Some Ducks, Tadpoles & Flannel Mulleins
April 3, 2009 by Maggie Mae Farm


Common Mullein

This has got me interested as I suffer from flu a lot.
In test-tube research, mullein has been found to fight flu-causing viruses. However, since the flu can lead to serious illnesses such as pneumonia, it's critical to seek medical attention when experiencing flu symptoms (rather than attempting to self-treat the condition).

Can any of you enlighten me more? Thanks.

These plants were found on the slopes of Mt Eden. It would be very anti social of me to go and dig them out. But I suppose I can go and pick a few leaves.

Monday, August 17, 2009


A picture tells more than a thousand words : Chinese saying.

I often bring a picture to class even to my ESOL class for adult students.

Signs tell stories, and there is no need for commentaries, except for the Head hunter's sign. In a previous post, I wrote that it wasn't politically correct to use the H.H. words. When I was little, I wasn't allowed to use them. H.H. had been associated with Borneo for ages. I know, I have lived in Canada, America and now in New Zealand. When I tell my friends I grew up in Borneo, the H.H. words inevitably do pop up. Here I was in the Royal Mulu Resort. They use the H.H. words themselves. Some of the natives tell me they are proud of their heritage. They don't do it anymore, they can't change what was in the past, it was pointless it never happened. They even display the heads in the Sarawak museum in Kuching.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Sunday Stills, the next challenge: Clouds

This challenge is much easier. It is winter down under. We at New Zealand is having winter. I hope it won't be long now before spring comes. Meanwhile, our skies are pouring with rain.

Auckland has a lot of rain. Yesterday it rained the whole day. I had to go to different classrooms, and even with a big umbrella, my pants got very wet. The poor kids were confined in their class room as it was a rain day, and they got restless. I can't blame them.

When I was growing up in Borneo, we didn't have a washing machine. The humid tropics meant laundry had to be handwashed everyday in the morning. Mother would look up the sky. If it was a gray cloud, it meant it was going to rain. We would dash outside and bring the laundry in.

Here in Auckland, I do my laundry on Saturday. Like today, the forecast is rain, rain and more rain. The sky is black and the water engineer and the weather fore caster use the term, the sky is very fierce. Anytime now, it is going to pour. My washing machine and drier are going to do overtime, and I have not changed my sheets.