28 Feb 2012

Mulan the bad

Mulan being naughty
Today Mulan really deserved the nickname that my girls have given her. She is my youngest little kittie, though she isnt really young anymore - at just over a year old.

What did she do? First she jumped onto the kitchen cabinet where I was fixing dinner for Sarah - mushroom soup mixed with chicken. I was cutting the chicken into thin strips when she jumped - right on top of the cutting board. I almost cut her, the naughty girl! After being scolded she went off to the living room to sulk.

Then when I opened the front door to take the rubbish out she zipped out of the house like a bullet before I could say, "No."

And it took me a full 30 minutes to get her back inside! She's a really cheeky one, this kitty. She'd stop and sit when you call her name, but when you get near, up she'll get and run away again, looking at you as if saying, "come let's play catch!" Sometimes I wonder whether she's a puppy in cat skin - she follows me all over the house - upstairs, downstairs, kitchen, even the bathroom - just like Ginger used to.

that's her sulking
Chi Chi

It's at times like this that I remember Chi Chi my other cat, who died almost 2 years ago now. Her death was so sudden that until today I still feel the pain of losing her. One morning she was fine and running around playing with Ginger and the next she contracted a high fever, had a spasm and died - all within a space of hours. The vet said it must have been a virus but she didnt know what, because Chi CHi had been vaccinated and her shots were all up to date. Chi and Ginger were inseparable - we had found Ginger in the drain outside the house just two weeks before we got Chi Chi. Ginger then was so tiny and malnourished and so dirty, God knows what made me take her in. She certainly wasn't pretty as she is today. And she was such a lady - always grooming herself and walking daintily around the house, unlike Mulan who never walked if she could run anywhere!

Ginger and Chi Chi

Mulan trying to catch some fish!

25 Feb 2012

just thinking aloud

I was just reading another blog earlier and Izdiher (the writer) wrote about foetuses being thrown away or dumped.These things happen in Malaysia too, and sometimes it is not just foetuses but babies, newborns, some still alive, others dead. Last year alone there were 12 cases of baby dumping. Many of these babies were dumped because their parents were not married - most of them were cases where teenagers became pregnant after having sex with their boyfriends. And every time there is a case of baby dumping, there will be a big hue and cry - oh we must have sex education, parents should teach their children about safe sex, schools have to do something about it and so on and so forth. Sometimes I wonder - should we legalise abortion? Maybe if sex education is taught as it should be taught, teenagers are taught to be responsible for what they have done... and parents taught to be better parents?

Would it make any difference? Will it stop then?

And on the other side of the coin - there are couples who long for children but cannot conceive. They pay huge sums of money, legally or illegally, just to have a child. Sometimes or maybe it has come to the stage that they just don't care what or where the child came from - they would pay through their nose just to be able to have a child. Whether the child is adopted, or through other ways of conception -IVF, surrogate mother, sperm donation etc - they will do anything, just anything to be able to hold a little bundle of joy in their hands.

Don't you think that life is so unfair? That some people can kill their own child and yet others long or yearn for a child?

I used to get so upset when I read about abandoned babies and baby dumping. At least some of these unwed mothers try to put their child into a safe area - on hospital doorsteps or people's houses. I get so angry when I read that some of these women ( I can't call them women! They are worse than animals) purposely throw their new borns into rubbish bins or sometimes even into rivers or drains. Of course the babies don't survive - some are thrown with their umbilical cords still intact and sometimes are mauled by wild animals. One baby was found with ants all over his body - luckily he was still alive and was found by some children who heard the infant's cries. Izdiher has got it right - what right do we have to take away a life?

16 Feb 2012

My garden

Some people have hobbies but not me. I have passions, and gardening is one of them. I'm lucky living in Malaysia where the climate is naturally for growing things. As long as the plant can take the heat, you can plant them here in Malaysia. I'm not one of those people who love watching growing things but refuse to go down and get dirty. I love getting dirty and digging in the dirt. It relaxes me.

Here in Malacca I can let my passion fly. The land is not big - just a small plot - too small for a passionate gardener to play in. The soil is clayey with lots of small stones and chips of concrete from when the builders built the house. Its tough digging any hole to plant anything but after 6 years I have more or less tamed the ground. It looks pretty now but not really landscaped. I have a little waterfall and fish pond built opposite the dining room so we can enjoy the sounds of running water as we eat. There is a clump of yellow bamboo just behind the waterfall and another clump, of the small leaved bamboo that I really love. I have a small bed of roses - and its a battle to get them to really grow, but its a battle I hope to win. It's hard work but worth it because every time I see my roses bloom, a song bursts out of me and I beam with pride. Right now I have 5 or 6 varieties - all tropical roses. The small red one is the most prolific, giving me bunches of red roses almost every week. I'm still waiting for the white rose as well as the yellow ones. My citrus tree is also now bearing fruit though it isn't sweet but edible. I have grapes hanging on vines - most of the time they aren't sweet though if they do get enough sunlight they can be sweet enough. My white anthuriums are my pride and joy - they are so graceful. And even my orchids are blooming now. It gives one a sense of satisfaction seeing what you plant and nurture grow...

my white anthuriums

My impatiens

10 Feb 2012

The trials of an undomestic goddess

I'm facing some of the most torturous months of my life - my Indonesian helper/ domestic assistant has gone home for a long holiday - 4 months all in. I always thought that I'm a fairly efficient person, but it seems not. Now that I have to do all the work myself, I realise that my helper is a super efficient domestic goddess, not unlike Nigella Lawson. She cleans, cooks, helps me garden, feeds and cleans the cats and the fish pond and to add to this golden list she also bakes cookies and other desserts. And me? After a morning of vacuuming and mopping of the downstairs area, my whole body is aching and my hair is standing on end, my t-shirt all sweaty and sticky and my temper is up. And I haven't even started cooking. I haven't touched my ipad for hours and my iphone is making noises -Fb calling, Farm Story is calling and so is City Story.

And if anybody tells me that being a home maker is a breeze and all you do is lounge around the house and read magazines I'll whack them on the head. Yes, doing housework has made me a teeny bit violent - all that exercise does you good you know... think of the kilos you will lose without even going to the gym...

Now that Yattie has gone I realise how much she pampers me... when I wake up, breakfast is ready and served, the house is clean and the only thing I need to think about is what to have for lunch or dinner. She even remembers where I left my keys or my favourite earrings!
So from now on I will prepare my house work as I used to prepare for a major exam - with a time table. I draw up a simple plan - Monday - vacuum and mop downstairs living room and kitchen, Tuesday bedrooms, Wednesday bathrooms and so on. I didnt plan for distractions of course - neighbours dropping by for a bit of a chat ( I live for that by the way), sisters who call unplanned, trips to the grocer etc... Oh dear... what about the cooking? How long does it take to cook? And there are such things as bathing the half dozen cats that share the house with me - that alone will take me all of 2 hours!

I never knew doing housework is such hard work ... but then I know I was never a domestic goddess and never planned to be either. I sure hope the time will fly and Yatie will be back soon...

7 Feb 2012

Jodi Picoult - My Sister's Keeper and other books

Today I promised myself I will try to finish reading the Jodi Picoult I got last month. It's called My Sister's Keeper and I have already read it half way. However Jodi Picoult often makes me feel slightly depressed and I tend to ask myself a lot of questions even after I have read the book. Normally the stories pull at your heart strings - there are so many issues that are often controversial. LIke her other book that I read early last year Handle With Care, about a child born with severe osteogenesis or brittle bones.
I could never read her books all in one go - it needs digesting and you need to take a break in between reading to avoid being pulled into the story with all its pain and questions that are not answered. I first read Jodi Picoult's  Vanishing Acts sometime in 2003 - about a girl who had been kidnapped by her father and told that her mother had died. Told from the viewpoint of the child who had been kidnapped, now a young woman, it is poignant and questions the ambiguity of love and lying. In Handle With care the young couple who gave birth to the child with Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI) struggle to cope with bringing up a daughter who could break so easily, so much so that they are also accused of abusing their own child and taken to court by the police who believe that the signs of broken bones in their child's xrays were caused by abuse.

In this book, My Sister's Keeper, a young couple again finds out that their two year old daughter has a rare form of leukemia, and the only way she can be saved is if they purposely had another daughter with the same blood group. And so Anna, the younger daughter was conceived to help keep Kate alive. Anna would donate her bone marrow to Kate and the young couple would have two beautiful daughters instead of one sick one.

However when Anna grows up she  decides she no longer wants to donate her bone marrow, she wants to retain control of her own body. Is she wrong to want to do so? There are so many moral issues here - should her mother force her to go through all the painful procedures of extracting bone marrow just so another child could be saved. FRom the little that I had read I find that I liked Anna as compared to the mild and timid Kate. Anna has spunk and is a vibrant character with a mind of her own. She remembers being poked and prodded even as young as three, donating her bone marrow, and lying down in the hospital bed as often as Kate is sick. Its almost as if it is she who is sick , and yet their mother is always pampering and worried about Kate. It is kate who gets all the attention and the sympathy, so much so that I felt that Anna is just a body that is being used to keep Kate alive.

I stopped reading just to get some perspective and also because I was quite upset. Hopefully I will finish it late this week.

Meeting old friends

Golden girls
Today I met my former classmates for high tea at the Equatorial Hotel in Malacca. There were only 9 of us but the noise level was as if there were 20 of us. Everyone wanted to talk - there were a lot of questions on health and what have you been doing and so on. I have not seen Kathy Idros since I came back to Malacca about  4 months ago so we had a lot to catch up. Cherry Hall or Seok Cheng was also in Malaysia to make preparations for her son's wedding so everyone wanted to know more about that too.

Food at the Equatorial isn't really that great but ok enough - there's variety anyway. The best thing about it was that we had privacy and plenty of good conversation with old friends. As we age, we realise that it is important to keep these ties -  friends from school days,people who have known us before we became anybody, people who understand us and can even complete our sentences before we can complete it ourselves. I've known these "girls" since I was seven years old, because most of them were classmates from elementary school. They know me for the dreamer that I was in school, the bookworm whose nose was always buried in books even during recess, the rebel in Form 5 who stood up on the chair in class and demanded that we all complain to the principal about cutting PE and falling from the chair and being laughed at by the class. But in the end when we are together we all feel young again; we don't relive our past but just enjoy the present. We've been there, done that and now all we want is to enjoy life.

4 Feb 2012

The White Queen by Phillippa Gregory

I have always enjoyed Phillippa Gregory’s novels. The first novel that I ever read by her was The Other Boleyn Girl, about Anne Boleyn’s younger sister Mary, who, like her was also fascinated by Henry the 8th.We know about Anne Boleyn and Henry the 8th but I never knew that there was another Boleyn girl who was also the King's "wife", or actually his mistress for a short time.
 In this book, Phillippa Gregory has again caught me with her depth of knowledge about the history of the English Kings and her portrayal of the women of the time. The White Queen is set during The War of the Roses, sometime during the 15th century. Written in the voice of Elizabeth Woodfield, this book takes a look at the court of England during this period and what a woman will do to protect her own.

When her husband dies in the Battle of St Albans, his young widow, the Lady Elizabeth sets out to try to win back the lands that she had lost, for her young sons. In the first chapter we see her, purposefully beautifying herself in order to get the attention of Edward IV, the man her family hates and the one who had caused her father to return from battle, white faced and beaten.  She stops him in the middle of the road on the way to another battle, and wins his heart by her courage and beauty. According to her enemies however, this is because she purposely seduced him using magic and witchcraft. She ends up being the new Queen anyway amidst the politics of envy and greed that surrounds the court. When Edward dies young, she has to learn to fight and persevere to retain not only her position but also her very life. Her two young sons are taken away from her, never to be seen again. The throne is taken over by Edward’s brother Richard III and nothing seems to be going for her.

At times the story seems a bit long-winded and confusing, but generally the suspense pulls you in. Will she end up dead or imprisoned? Elizabeth is seen with a sympathetic eye in this story and it is surely a page turner. There is romance,passion, drama, and intrigue to intrest most people. I quite enjoyed it but it can be a bit heavy going, especially in the middle. If you enjoy historical novels, then this would be a good one for you to read. Its fairly serious reading although told fairly simply.

1 Feb 2012

A beautiful new dawn

I woke up today for once feeling fresh and alert. And it was only 5.40 am - the azan had not even been called yet and here I was feeling happier than I had been for days. Oh and the reason? Easy - my hubby came back for one night, just to make sure I was okay and he brought back the maid, who had gone over to KL to help clean up the apartment. Mind you, that is not to say that I had been feeling down in the dumps - no no- I was okay , but neither happy nor unhappy. You know that feeling? Like you are numb and a bit dull.

Yeah... okay anyway I looked out the window and saw the most gorgeous sunrise ever - it can't replace the view you get from Melawati of the Melawati Hills and cliffs and the sun showing up in slow degrees, becoming pink and slowly shimmering into a decidely golden yellow....but this one comes a close second. The view was  slightly obscured by the rooftops but it was still a good shot I thought.

Breaking dawn

After staying here for almost 3 months I'm slowly getting used to the life here in this sleepy hollow. Of course a lot of people will say it's no longer a sleepy hollow, but for me and my daughter it still is. Imagine trying to find good eating places and the only ones you know is the local mamak shop (Restaurant Taj), Old Town Kopitiam, the Arab restaurant opposite MMU and the fast food places at most of the malls and shopping complexes. Maybe I'm picky but I love my tandoori chicken which you can get anywhere in KL or Melawati, or satay or fried mee. Maybe I need to explore more and be a bit more adventurous but I dont want ikan bakar (you can't have it every day can you?) and even the famed chendol near the clock tower is getting a bit boring. You see having lived in KL for all of my working life (since I left university) I know most if not all the best eating places in and around there. And apart from eating, even clothes shopping is like shopping at a night market.
Hmm does that make me sound like a spoiled diva? No... I like shopping for clothes in KL though I don't really do it all that often. I love M&S, Isetan, Robinsons etc and they really cannot compare to the shops we have here.Oh well... looks like we just have to find time to go up north then ... after all it's only 2 hours away. And I do need to see my tailor and my hair dresser ...

On the plus side, I love the beauty that is Malacca, tourist attractions and all. Even though I have taken the river cruise so many times and cannot really see what the fuss is all about, I still proudly introduce it to any friend who comes visiting and even take the boat ride with them. The night cruise is something else and really quite entertaining. I proudly show them the clock tower and the Stadthuys and Government HIll and even the replica of the Portuguese ship that once conquered Malacca. And if anyone dare say they don't like Malacca... well beware. Don't ever say it infront of me!

View of the Malacca river

The 200 year old Queen Victoria Fountain, built to commemorate her jubilee