Sunday, January 31, 2010

My world Tuesday: Sausage tree, kigelia africana in Australia

At the car park of my brothers Charles and Joseph's law firm at Elliot Street on the Gold Coast, a tree attracted my eye. I am telling you the address in case you want to harvest the pods as you will read below that it can be very handy especially if the cost of beer goes up.

My sister in law Audrey said I was very observient when I notice the tree. I replied it was all due to the blogging and always looking for things interesting to blog about.

Joseph did not know the name of the tree but he said," I can tell you this. The pod is so tough that even when you run over it by your car, it will not break."

I tried looking at the images of Australian trees but to not avail. Eventually I systematically read the web and came to this website: which I duly signed up and sent off my photos. This is a great site, as the moment I did, the adminstrator came back with the answer.

I found some information you may like to know, and may be you might like to plant the tree.

Human uses - The fruit is poisonous and inedible when green, but is used to brew beer when ripe. The seeds are fried and eaten. The wood is used for making canoes.

Gardening - This is an attractive ornamental shade tree, suitable for larger gardens. It is very susceptible to frost, and is not drought-resistant. The tree can be grown from seed, and is fast-growing.

Flowers -Big, red to dark maroon flowers with heavy yellow veining on the outside, up to 150 mm across the mouth, unpleasant scent; growing in groups of 3, up to 12, appear before the leaves in early spring, from July to October.

Fruit - unique, huge, solid sausage-like fruit, giving the tree its common english name. Greyish-brown in colour, heavily lenticel-dotted, indehiscent, heavy, weighing up to 10 kg, containing a fibrous pulp in which many seed are embedded. Ripe fruits fall from May through to April the following year. (500 x 100 mm) (1 m x 180 mm???)

Interesting Facts:

The flowers and fruit of the Sausage Tree is always an eye-catcher and conversation piece. The fruit is toxic but is used in traditional medicine to treat skin disorders, ulcers and sores. The bark and roots are also used in traditional medicine. Some modern skin ointments are prepared from fruit extracts. Research has shown that the fruit has got antibacterial properties. In Africa, women smear this fruit on their skin to remove blemishes.

**Note** Did you read the part about brewing beer? LOL

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Sunday Stills: Texture

pawpaw or papaya, has a smooth skin, a soft but firm fruit, and the little peppery hard seeds. When I was growing up in Borneo, Dad always have a tree or two. We had papaya everyday.

If you are not Chinese, chances are you have never seen or heard of this egg, unless you watch the Fear Factor when the participants say this is the most vile thing they have ever tasted. The Chinese call this the BI TAN, to many, it is the century old egg. Someone says they use horse urine to preserve the duck egg. The texture of the exterior of this egg is rough as it is coated by the husk of rice.

You don't have to cook the century old egg, it is preserved by the chemicals that it becomes a firm jelly. You eat it with pickle ginger and mustard. My Aussie nieces refused to eat it. My brother Charles bought it knowing the water engineer won't let me eat it.

This metallic mobile phone holder is smooth and cold to touch. It reminds me of another metallic article in the family. My youngest sister Grace made a black metallic number for D's Prom nite. It was the most beautiful gown worn by the most beautiful belle of the night.(ahem!!!) I should tell her to send me a photo of the gown.

Among the ficus leaves is an ants nest. I did not touch the nest, but my eyes tell me that it has the texture similar to the century old egg.
Sunday Stills, the next challenge: Textures
Posted in Sunday Stills Challenge of the Week, the next challenge with tags Sunday Stills on January 24, 2010 by Ed

I think someone requested this challenge awhile ago, so here it is…:-)

Music Box dancer by Frank Mills

Dear Music Lovers,

I am not a music lover, but I love certain songs and there is one piece of music. It has much significance to me.

I first heard the music piece on the radio called Tranquility in 1984. I just had a twenty six hours of difficult time giving birth to my first born. When I went to my room with my baby, totally exhausted, this music was played in the pipe line. It gave me tranquility as I lovingly gazed at my sleeping baby.

I fell in love with the soothing music and it became my favourite music.

Is Tranquility the same as Music Box dancer? Was it played by Frank Mills then?

This same baby plays the piano, and lives thousands of miles in Singapore. When she plays it to me over the phone, it gives me tranquility.

Many parenting experts suggest playing music to your baby while she/he is still in your stomach. D is the only child who plays the piano. I wonder if her listening to this piece when she was a few hours old have anything to do with it. What do you think?

Frank Mills (born June 27, 1942), is a Canadian pianist and recording artist, best known for his solo instrumental hit "Music Box Dancer".

Mills grew up in Verdun, Quebec[1] and started playing piano at age 3. He briefly attended McGill University[1] and in the late 1960s became a member of The Bells. He left the band in 1971 just before it had international success with the single "Stay Awhile."

Silky Chicken

Sarawakiana writes about how a Mother shows her love for her children by brewing a special chicken soup with ginseng, goji seeds, red dates and black chicken. Please click on her link to see what the cooked chicken is like and enjoy her delicious soup.

In Sarawak, Mum kept a few of these silky chicken with fine soft white feathers, but surprisingly black skinned, black meat and black boned chicken. They are very small, and I can't remember who she brewed the soup for. The meat is not very tasty after all the juice have been extracted.

In Singapore, women in confinement aka women who have given birth to a baby, have these steamed chicken for their juice, everyday for a month, till they are sick of it. They say it is better than the commercial Cerebos Brands JI GIN aka chicken essence. They steam the chicken without adding any fluid until all the chicken juice comes out.

I didn't have this luxury. 3 of my 4 kids were born in NZ, and my husband didn't believe in confinement business. When I had Sam in Singapore. I got a confinement maid, but I don't know why she didn't brew this pure unadulterated black chicken juice for me.

I took this photo in Western Springs, in Auckland. It reminded me of my teen aged years when I was the child responsible for feeding Mum's chicken, ducks and the occasional turkey.

This post is specially for Sarawakiana. This year has been very special to me. On the cyber highway, I met Sarawakiana who was in the senior class when I started secondary school. I have been away from the town I grew up in for 35 years. She has been filling me with news of home.

It is customary among the Foochows, her father's people to give gifts of live chicken. I am sending her a cyber silky chicken for Chinese New Year.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Friday Shootout: Look Up, Look Down.

Look up, what did the ibis bring you? Not a baby!

Sam became a water baby swimming in my brothers' pools, creek, lake and the sea.

People having fun up in the air. My second daughter went on one of those in Penang, Malaysia. She said, after a while, it became quite boring just hanging up there, and the harness hurt the thighs.

At Robina shopping mall, the chandelia is made of a million crystals reminding me of the glow worms in Waitomo caves. Under, were these strange shaped stools.

There are many theme parks on the Gold Coast. Sam rated the Dream world best, unfortunately, my camera's battery went flat. This is at Wet N Wild. At these hydro slides, you have to look fast, before you finish looking up, and have to look down. Otherwise you would miss Sam emerging out of the tunnels.

There are many sail cloth shades of all shapes and sizes. This is at Chervon Renaissance at the Surfers Paradise. Down below is a lot of afresco dining.

Jan 29 - look up / look down
Everyone is so good, so creative in their interpretations of our weekly topics that I almost was lazy and didn't write anything about it. This topic was originally suggested by Sara Lulu but because she no longer participates, I couldn't ask her to write something for us and I liked the suggestion so much I just took it as ours.
So here goes my ideas on this topic for our towns ....
Look down at your feet, at the surface where they walk. Look back, back the way they came and where they go.
Look up, above your head. What can you see? How is it protected? What lights your days and your nights, on the path that you walk?
This topic brings so much to mind I will probably have trouble settling on one thing - just this week I have noticed designs in the tiles in the front of stores, floors that are wood and some that are bare concrete - designs are so distinctively Brasil - we'll see you on Friday.

My interpretation is using two photos for each set of look up and look down. Most photos do not need much commentary. Except one set.

Look up, what do you see on top of the wooden fence of my brother Charles' garden? It's an apple core. Guess who put it there?
Look down, you see an ibis, this is why an ibis is called a rubbish bird. It rummages rubbish and people are told not to feed these birds which have become a pest. It is known that they have become so aggressive to even take food out of baby's mouth.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Save the world, Thursday Green: Cleaning the lake

When I see lotus or water lily pads, I think of fellow blogger Kate from Kuala Lumpur. She posted beautiful photos of lotus flowers and leaves.

This is for you Kate. I pick these pads because they are different from the ones I know. They have little white flowers growing from the underside of the leaves. Tiny plantlets also grow from there. perhaps they always so, except I had not paid attention to them when I was little when my dad grew them in big salted egg jars.

These lily pads and water weeds in the Clear Island Water Bay are obnoxious weeds. Their growth entangles the propellors of the boats and the council comes to clear them from the sides of the creks. Unfortunately with the boats moored at the private jetties along the creek, inevitabily, patches of these weeds are left choking the water. Once I saw a dead eel floating among the weeds. The water is nutrient rich with ducks and Australian coots pooping in the water.

In the post I did on my other site, Sam and his cousins made a game of clearing the weeds. When I am swimming, I too do the same.

I asked my skipper what that bouy looking like structure is. He said, it's an aeration device. The water engineer would be pleased I noticed it. I am sure he saw it when he was in the boat the time he came to the Gold Coast and my brother took him for a ride.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

My World Tuesday: Australia Day

Tuesday January 26 was Australia Day. I was curious as a guest from New Zealand to see how the Aussies celebrated their National Day.

My brother Joseph and his family took me and Sam in his boat out to sea and to a beach to join him and his mates to party. Towards the destination, I was dumbfounded to see a protest of a flotilla of boats of all sizes and shape. Please click on the photos to read the red protest sign.

I thought it was very strange to have a protest on their National Day. Having lived in Singapore for 16 years of my adult life, I saw how seriously the Singaporeons took their National Singapore. I teased my young Nephew if they sang, "Majurah Australia." Jama of Singapore would know what I mean. Or in Borneo and Malaysia, Kate and Sarawakiana would remember the parades we went as kids.

On February 6th, it will be New Zealand's Day, Waitangi day. I will be sleeping in a traditional Maori Marae with Kiwis and some foreignors. There will be speeches, songs and prayers for our nation. I will be with my friend Ngarimu to help educate the Kiwis and visitors on Zero Waste.

I took part in a protest recently, but we could never time it on our National Day.

Let's something I found out about the protest.

Tippler's Protest
For decades Tipplers was an iconic boating destination and a part of the old Gold Coast lifestyle until the Gold Coast Council wasted millions of dollars of ratepayers money by making what some have described as the worst decision ever by the Council.

No longer is Tipplers the place where hundreds of boaties would congregate and enjoy a family day where all were equal - regardless of whether they had arrived on a tinnie or a luxury yacht.

We want Tipplers back!

Please join our flotilla on Australia Day (Tuesday 26th January 2010) in support of the Marine Action Group's campaign to get Tipplers back.

Please come by boat, tinnie or jet ski with your placard, banner or flag and meet at the Paradise Point foreshore at 11:00 AM.

The flotilla will leave at 11:30 AM and travel slowly around the Sovereign Islands, past Wave Break Island, the Seaway, The Spit and the Southport parklands.

For radio communication on the day, please go to VHF Channel 72.

Charter boat Top Cruise Rani will lead the flotilla - this will be coordinated by Jim McLaughlin mobile no.: 0447 140 060 - if you need a core flute or some help with a banner, please feel free to call Jim.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sunday Stills: Sports: Samoa Cricket , kirikiti

Sunday Stills, the next challenge: Sports
Posted in Sunday Stills Challenge of the Week, the next challenge with tags Sunday Stills, Sunday Stills Challenge on January 17, 2010 by Ed

This should prove to be interesting…:-)

Last year, Samoa was hit by a terrible Tsunami. It propelled the name Samoa internationally. The CBS reality show was film in Samoa, Survivor Samoa had a challenged where the contestants had to use a Samoa Kirikiti bat to hit a ball. I have many students and friends from Samoa in Auckland. This post is dedicated to them. These photos were posted before I joined Sunday Stills.

Can you imagine that the largest Polynesian population of any city in the world is not in Polynesia but in Auckland?

The students tell me their sports, and Kirikati intrigues me most. It is like a West- Samoa fusion of cricket. It has many aspects of Western Cricket, but with Samoa flavour. It is the Samoalisation of cricket.

In Tuvalu, they call this game Kilikiti, which is the Polynesian word for cricket.

The game is played in several South Pacific countries. Teams are mixed and can be any size - up to about 50 people.

"Lava Lavas" or wraparound pieces of cloth are worn instead of whites. These are colourful cloth like the South East Asian Sarong that we wear in Sarawak, Malaysia and Thailand.

*** The game I saw one evening at Wesley Park was a mix team. There were many players in the field. And there were lots of supporters, Mums and Dads with young children and push chairs. It looked very much like a social gathering. It is good that they brought over this aspect of their culture and retained it.

You can read up on this game written by Polynesians, the real McCoy ones. There are photos of the bat. Click on the link on Kilikiti,

The Samoan cricket bat is one real heavy piece of tree and the blade cross-section is roughly an equilateral triangle. The bat is much bigger and three-sided, meaning there was no telling which direction the ball would fly in when contact was made! There is no real style in Samoan cricket, be it batting stance nor batting grip. What happens is the batsman just stands in front of the stumps and when the ball is bowled, the batsman takes a wild heave (I literally mean a wild swat) and so there is no attention paid to how the bat is gripped. See ball, hit ball.

I went back to Wesley park to try my luck to see if they were there. And they were. I think they must be having a post mortem of the match. They were sitting in a semi-circle and listening to two elders. I was taking the pix of the bats when they called out to me. One of them obliged me by holding up his bat.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Friday Shoot Out: Sounds in your Town

These photos were taken at a German Clock shop, at the Tamborine mountains. This is a boutique place of specialty shops and is just right for my topic. Sound of time.

My Sister Rose gave Sam when he was three, this Made-in-Switzerland cuckoo clock. It's cuckoo can be heard in the neighbourhood. Our friends kids like to come up to our house to see the cuckoo come out of it's house. They would count the times the bird cuckoo and feel very dejected if they came up too late. (We lived on the third floor)

We didn't bring it over to NZ, but took in over to Sarawak to give it to Nicole, Rose' grand daughter.

Jan. 22 - "Sounds in your town" by NanU
"There are two versions of this theme. First, the simple one. We’ve been treated many different aspects of what your town looks like. Treat another sense: what makes your town sound like your town? Traffic? Kids playing? Birds? That annoying dog next door? Fill our senses with a different perspective.

The complicated version (and I apologise for not giving you more lead-timeon this) I have heard called a ‘blind hike’. Find a trusty partner. Wear a blindfold (no peeking!). Get your camera, and with the help of your partner, wander around noticing what you hear. Take pictures (no peeking!) while you’re at it. It’s quite fun to do, and the photos will surprise you. Enjoy!" NanU

As I am traveling, I thought I will just do the simple assignment, and make it simpliar, do just one kind of sound. The sound of time. Is there such a thing as sound of time, or man's version of time.

Tick tick tick of our watch, Tick Tock tick tock of an old fashion clock or grand father or grand mother clock.

When I was young, I used to be petrified of our old fashion clock. My parents bought one on the birth of my brother Charles. To the Chinese, a boy is very very important. The clock was an old fashion wind up one, and the timber wasn't treated. Every year, Dad would take it down, and paint it with turpentine. The waft of smell was terrible. As we crowd round this precious clock, Dad would say," This clock is as old as your brother Charles." Even when he had grown up and gone to New Zealand.

Yes later, Mum and Dad went to live in Australia, and I don't think they took the clock with them. Which is a pity as it would be an antique by now, since Charles is passed his half a century.

My own anecdote about this clock is sweet, as it was a special bonding time with Dad, even though I was terrified with the Tick Tock, and the chiming, Dong Dong. You see, I wasn't the brightest and smartest kid. In those days in my primary school, we were laden with heaps of home work, spelling and dictation in English and Chinese. I was absolutely hopeless in Chinese, ( which I still am).

When my other siblings had gone to bed at 9pm, I was still up struggling with my work, Dad would stay up to accompany me. As the night went on, the quietness of the evening made the tick tock louder and louder. I hated it. Finally when it Dong Dong ten times, Dad would say, " That's it, pack up and go to bed, I will talk to the principal.


Dad was the supervisor of schools, boss the all the principals and teachers. Yet, he didn't abuse his power and he still made me do as much as I could.

Right now, I am in Australia, reminiscing with my siblings, we attribute Dad's making us write one essay a day during our holidays to what we are today, lawyers, PhDs, teachers, principals, professors, anthropologist, IT, and this extra bit, is something they will have to read in this post because I told nobody.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Save the world, Think Green: Glasses

This glass, looks very nice and very classy. Often, when I have visitors, I pop open a bottle of wine and serve them in these wine globes. Invariably, one always breaks, because they are so delicate.

This nice looking glass can be deadly. The term used is glassing. When I watch Chinese movies, the beer bottle becomes a lethal weapon especially when it is smashed prior to the attack, and then gripped by the remaining base of the glass or neck of the bottle with the broken shards protruding outwards. Or even when the whole bottle in plonked on someone's head. It seems very funny watching it on TV. But in reality, it is not so funny.

I have friends who are doctors and they spend weekends stitching up faces or heads of glassed victims.

In Queensland, Australia, the premier Anne Bligh had wanted to introduce a ban on using glasses in pubs and bars because the glassing problem is so bad.

A raft of Supreme Court actions over the glass ban forced the Office of Liquor Licensing to delay action on the original 41 ''high-risk'' venues.

The bans were due to come into force on December 1 but will now be delayed until early February.

More than 100 licensees have already chosen to voluntarily switch to non-regular glass, such as tempered glass or plastic cups.

People are against the ban. I am not a drinker, and I can't say if drinking from tempered glass or plastic will make the beer or alcohol less "delicious" or drinkable?

To what extend should I include this topic under my environmental issue? Yesterday, I got Sam to think about using a towel and we both were surprised how many issues there are involved in the mere action of using a towel.

On the same token, what about glass?

What is glass made off? Few years ago, the water engineer when we were in Singapore bought back some beautiful white Australian sand. We gave Sam the most beautiful sand pit in urban Singapore. Everyone commented what beautiful, soft white sand. The water engineer said it was high grade Australian sand used for making glass.

Sand is not going to last for ever.

If drinking glasses are glassed by drunks.

My year one student will tell me that the pub owner will have to buy more glasses.
My year two student will tell me that the factory will have to make more glasses.
My year three student will tell me that miners will have to mine more sand.
The seniors who are well aware of environmental issues will tell me, at this rate, soon there will be no more sand.

As for the drunks, they can rot in prison for all I care.