29 Mar 2012

Books again!

Oh yes... how I miss my books. Staying in Malacca, being away from Repin and the best bookshop in Malaysia is hard indeed.Here we only have Popular Bookstores and MPH which are actually not real bookshops (according to my bookaholic daughter Shasha) but beggars can't be choosers can they? So anyway yesterday being an off day for Sarah my other girl, we decided to browse Popular's book shelves. And decided to become a member as well, so that we could get the 20% discount they offer to members. Let me tell you, books are very expensive here in Malaysia, which is one reason why few people can afford to read. And unlike our Singaporian counterparts, we can't rely on the library. Do we even have one in Malacca? I have seen one anyway - in the mall in town. It's quite popular among school students because most of their books are school references and exam papers. But there was nothing worth reading on the fiction shelves and even the magazines were years old! Maybe I should donate some of my books to them.

So I came home with this lot to read - at least it will keep me in books for the next week or two!
New books for this week

I'll keep the J.D Robb for last - because I love Roarke, Eve Dallas' dishy husband! First on my list to read is Sleeping Helena, a spin off from Sleeping Beauty but very very different.I've already started on this book and is half way through... and  oh yes, there are curses and a sleeping beauty but this sleeping beauty is no fairy princess full of love and kindness, because when her aunts gave her the gifts of beauty, intelligence, etc everyone forgot to give her kindness. And she can kill without remorse or pity.

Next to be read will be The Duke is Mine, by Eloisa James. I've never read her yet so will find out whether I like her books or not. But the blurp at the back of the book sounds interesting. I've looked for some fantasy books - but the only ones that can be found here in Malacca are by Rick Riordan and George Martin. So maybe I have to drive to KL one day for books.

25 Mar 2012

Happy Mother's Day

Last week was Mother's Day in the UK I think, and some time in early April it will be Mother's Day over here in Malaysia. Not that we celebrate it as many do, both here and overseas. For me, Mother's Day should be every day. One should remember one's mum all the time and respect her, love her and cherish her. I always tell my friends this, especially when they complain about their ailing and often forgetful mothers. It's not easy I understand - we are busy working people and if we also have to look after an older person who depends a lot on us for everything, then it is hard indeed. Often at this age they are also very forgetful and can be quite demanding. I lost my mum when she was only 58 years old - an age when she should be happy with her grandchildren growing up and her own children all working. But that was not to be. My mum was diagnosed with acute myloid leukemia and just when we were still trying to find out what it was and how to give her enough blood for transfusions, she passed away - exactly one week after she was diagnosed. It seemed that she had the disease for more than 3 months - the fever that would not go away and the lack of appetite were indications that we thought was caused by tiredness and overwork. After her death we all realised how much we depended on her. She was the "glue" that cemented our family together, the reason for coming home to Malacca every week.

Throughout my growing up years my relationship with my mum was very ambivalent. There were times in my teen years when I felt that she was too harsh and strict with me, that I almost hated her. My dad on the other hand was always more understanding, kinder, always praising me for my academic achievements. So I always loved my dad more than my mum and had a closer relationship with him than with her. I could talk to him and joke with him - about so many things - religion, books, astrology, even love. But with my mum our talk mainly extended to what's cooking, what to cook and how to cook it.

However when I got married and moved out of the family home we became closer in a way.  I could ask her about men, about marriage life, about kids. But we seldom had time to actually talk - I was always too busy - forever having workshops that took me away for days on end. I can stil hear her asking me, "When are you coming back to malacca?" And my answer, impatiently, "I'm too busy Mak..."
Then one day she was no longer there and when you call home, there is no voice on the other end asking you how you are, how the children are... and you suddenly realise that you will never again see her... hear her ...and you wish with all your might that you could see her just once more. I would give anything, anything at all to go back to those days and live it all over again and not make the same mistakes.

So I'm telling all this so that my readers, wherever you are, will treat your mothers with the love and care that they deserve so that you will not regret what you did not do for them when they were alive.

my mother in law who was in hospital last month

I am lucky that at least I have a mother in law who loves me. When I gave birth to my children she was the one who stayed at the hospital with me. At that time my own mother was busy looking after my younger sisters so could not leave them behind to look after me. I am the eldest in a family of 14 children! So when I got married at the early age of 21, my sisters were still very young - the youngest was only 4 years old!

Today my mother in law is 82 years old. She can't walk without us helping her and is fast losing her memory too. She will ask the same questions again and again. Sometimes when she loses her things she blames everybody but herself. She calls me whenever she's lonely and asks querilously what day it is. And  I think back to my early marriage days when she was only 40 years old and so capable  that she did everything in the house -  cooked, cleaned, sewed and even accompanied my father in law to work when he was on night duty. A friend once asked me how I can look after her without complaining - and I just say " She looked after me when she was younger; now its my turn."

So Happy Mother's Day Mak. I love you in spite of everything or maybe because of everything. You were always there when I needed help with the kids and you always made sure that my favourite kuih is there when I come home to Malacca. I hope that one day I can be like you.

15 Mar 2012

Long distance relationships

Its not easy maintaining a long distance relationship - with anybody - least of all with family. Our family is in three parts lately - three in Kuala Lumpur ( my husband, eldest girl and second boy); my youngest daughter and I are in Malacca and the third part - sometimes quite painful for me - my eldest boy, his wife and their little girl Sophie who are in Singapore. I have written about Sophie a number of times, about how proud I am of her, how much I miss her and wish I can see her more often. Yes, I miss my husband too - and my eldest girl but at least I see them every week or two. I have not seen Sophia for at least a month now. Singapore may not be far, it is only 4 hours away by road after all. However, distance is not what matters but time, for I am tied down by other considerations, namely Sarah my girl who is now a fresh houseman at the General Hospital in Malacca - seeing to her safety, her food and generally taking care of her. I've missed out on that when she was away studying in Russia for 6 years, so I want to be with her for a while, just mothering her.

As for Sophia, my grand daughter - it just breaks my heart when the last time I visited them in Singapore, she hugged me like she'd never let go and then asked, " Nenek, when are you going back?" So I told her, Monday and she said, counting her fingers, "We only got 3 days nenek!" Quickly her father told her - "But we are visiting nenek in March so we'll see her again,ok?"

Sophie with Pixel

then the impish smile came on and she said happily, "Today for dinner I'm going to sit between Nenek and Auntie Sarah!"

The next day we went to the Universal Studios where she insisted she only sat next to Auntie Sarah.

Here you can see her eating with chopsticks
( "Nenek, don't you know how to eat with chopsticks?" was her comment when I asked for a spoon and fork!)

Her imagination is boundless - her favourite topic is still Totoro, the imaginary cartoon character from a Japanese children's anime. At the Universal Studios store she was eyeing a stationary set and when I asked her whether she wanted it, said " Totoro already bought it for me! But he didn't buy me the Woody Woodpecker." She never said she wanted it, but we all knew that she did.

and a cheeky smile says it all
I try to keep in touch by phone but its a media that Sophie is not really in favor of - she has her moods - sometimes she'll talk and most times she'll just say "No," very decidely. I know that she's not being rude, just a child's way of saying, I guess. when are you visiting me!

I look forward to meeting her again next weekend when Rizal comes over to Malacca. It is just fascinating listening to her talk - better than an adult at times.
" Troy was supposed to come today you know, but he didn't manage to come at the last minute!"
Even my university students wouldn't be able to put together such words - didn't manage to come at the last minute! Where on earth did she pick up such sophisticated language I wonder. From her mum probably. And lastly here is a picture of her drawing - sent to us by her mum via Fb:

Sophia's masterpiece

Explanation for the above - "That's daddy with me, and the  centre one is our apartment. The two cats are not ours - Pixel is too fat so I put him behind . The two women is Jonah and her friend"
"Where's mummy in the picture?"
"Mummy is not in the picture - you are in the office. Today Daddy is with me."

13 Mar 2012

Some laughs

I got this from Merle's Third Try

A Mountain Wings item about 6th graders answers
to questions that I copied and pasted here as it
looked like too much typing. Some are very funny. Kids say (and write) the darndest things! Reading this I amost toppled over with laughter...

-- MountainWings       A MountainWings Moment #3022          Wings Over The Mountains of Life -------------------------------------------------  Sixth Grade Research ===================== 

1. Ancient Egypt was inhabited by mummies and they all wrote in hydraulics. They lived in the Sarah Dessert. The climate of the Sarah is such that the inhabitants have to live elsewhere.

2. Moses led the Hebrew slaves to the Red Sea where they made unleavened bread which is bread made without any ingredients. Moses went up on Mount Cyanide to get the ten commandments. He died before he ever reached Canada.

3. Solomom had three hundred wives and seven hundred porcupines.

4. The Greeks were a highly sculptured people and without them we wouldn't have history. The Greeks also had myths. A myth is a female moth.

5. Socrates was a famous Greek teacher who went around giving people advice. They killed him. Socrates died from an overdose of wedlock. After his death, his career suffered a dramatic decline.

6. In the Olympic games, Greeks ran races, jumped, hurled biscuits, and threw the java.

7. Julius Caesar extinguished himself on the battlefields of Gaul. The Ides of March murdered him because they thought he was going to be made king. Dying, he gasped out: "Tee hee, Brutus."

8. Joan of Arc was burnt to a steak and was cannonized by Bernard Shaw.

9. Queen Elizabeth was the "Virgin Queen."  As a queen she was a success. When she exposed herself before her troops they all shouted "hurrah."

10. It was an age of great inventions and discoveries. Gutenberg invented removable type and the Bible. Another important invention was the circulation of blood. Sir Walter Raleigh is a historical figure because he invented cigarettes and started smoking. Sir Fransis Drake circumcised the world with a 100-foot clipper.

11. The greatest writer of the Renaissance was William Shakespeare. He was born in the year 1564, supposedly on his birthday. He never made much money and is famous only because of his plays. He wrote tragedies, comedies, and hysterectomies, all in Islamic pentameter. Romeo and Juliet is an example of a heroic couple. Romeo's last wish was to be laid by Juliet.

12. Writing at the same time as Shakespeare was Miguel Cervantes. He wrote "Donkey Hote."  The next great author was John Milton. Milton wrote "Paradise Lost."  Then his wife died and he wrote "Paradise Regained."

13. Delegates from the original 13 states formed the Contented Congress. Thomas Jefferson, a Virgin, and Benjamin Franklin were two singers of the Declaration of Independence. Franklin discovered electricity by rubbing two cats backwards and declared, "A horse divided against itself cannot stand." Franklin died in 1790 and is still dead.

14. Abraham Lincoln became America's greatest Precedent. Lincoln's mother died in infancy, and he was born in a log cabin which he built with his own hands. Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves by signing the Emasculation Proclamation. On the night of April 14, 1865, Lincoln went to the theater and got shot in his seat by one of the actors in a moving picture show. They believe the assinator was John Wilkes Booth, a supposingly insane actor. This ruined Booth's career.

15. Johann Bach wrote a great many musical compositions and had a large number of children. In between he practiced on an old spinster which he kept up in his attic. Bach died from 1750 to the present. Bach was the most famous composer in the world and so was Handel. Handel was half German, half Italian and half English. He was very large.

16. Beethoven wrote music even though he was deaf. He was so deaf he wrote loud music. He took long walks in the forest even when everyone was calling for him. Beethoven expired in 1827 and later died for this.

17. The nineteenth century was a time of a great many thoughts and inventions. People stopped reproducing by hand and started reproducing by machine. The invention of the steamboat caused a network of rivers to spring up. Cyrus McCormick invented the McCormick raper, which did the work of a hundred men. Louis Pasteur discovered a cure for rabbis. Charles Darwin was a naturalist who wrote the Organ of the Species. Madman Curie discovered radio. And Karl Marx became one of the Marx Brothers.

Thank you Merle! You really made my day!

6 Mar 2012

Friday's Child by Georgette Heyer

I think I've had this book for almost 2 weeks - sitting on my night stand, night after night , beckoning, but I didn't take the bait. Why you might ask. Just simply - I had little time and normally by the time I get to bed I would be so tired that I'd just go off to cuckoo land without a thought. Finally though I decided to start reading it and am glad that I did - I had read the first chapter but always pushed it aside, trying to "water" my farm before I got too sleepy! So this morning, when my part time helper came to do the cleaning. I finally found myself a bit free.

And once started I couldn't really put the book down. Granted, at first I was rather annoyed at some of the silly things the heroine of the novel did and her bigger ass of a husband too but then I was also tickled by the pair of them and got quite involved with the couple I just had to continue reading.

The novel begins with young Lord Sherrington (Sherry to us) proposing to his favourite girl ,the Incomparable Bella. Bella however is wise to the young Lord's way and refuses him outright and criticising his behaviour as an irresponsible, devil may care, gambler to boot. The angry Lord Sherrington vows to propose to the first lady he meets and who should it be but the young Hero, one of his neighbours and who was crying because she was to be sent to Bath as a governess unless she married a curate, a much older man and who had offered for her. Hero had always hero-worshipped Sherry and was delighted to accept the proposal. The wedding takes place and even this is a masterpiece of comedy - Sherry is waiting for her at the church and she comes with two hackney coaches full of band boxes - her luggage it seems , which she had bought on the way to the wedding. When they were pronounced man and wife, he realsed he had forgotten the ring and she had to make do with his best man's signet ring. At first she does come across as a flighty, shallow person but further reading shows us that she does have a character and that that she is caring, warm and intelligent, in spite of Sherry's total lack of love (at first) and also other obstacles. She tries to win his love, at first by copying his actions - yes she did - she went to a gaming room, she visited a bachelor in his house and she parties till the wee hours of the morning, just to get his attention.  

Georgette Heyer again charmed me and I enjoyed reading about the escapades of the young lady Sherrington.Often I was caught smiling and sometimes breaking into laughter at some of her exploits. When will Sherry realise that he actually loves her, I wonder?  And of course he realises it later - only to be faced with the idea of losing her completely. The title of the book is so suitable  Friday's child is loving and giving, which Hero is.

This book is totally charming and totally funny. I admit there are times when I thought Sherry a bit of a nitwit and felt like shaking him but I think Hero does that very well - gave his heart a real shake so that he finally woke up to find that he may lose his wife if he didn't take her back.
 A thoroughly enjoyable book suitable for a rainy day, which it was today! Or not so rainy ones either. But then I've always enjoyed Georgette Heyer.

4 Mar 2012

I think I shall never see, a poem lovely as a tree

Today when I passed by Jalan Sultan Ismail in Kuala Lumpur I was shocked and blinked in surprise at the changed landscape - barren of trees, forlorn looking. These were huge old rain rees that took decades to grow. Those trees must have been at least as old as Kuala Lumpur itself - about 50+ years. Whose dastardly idea it was to cut down the trees I wish I knew - I'd send him a really nasty email condemning his action!

We Malaysians don't seem to hold trees in much respect, even though its been commented upon and cries of outrage over tree cutting has been going on for years. What is it about the Malaysian mentality that looks at trees as a nuisance I wonder. Unlike Singaporians who look after their trees lovingly and avoid cutting them down as much as possible. Drive through Singapore and you can see the difference - old trees line the roads and highways - all beautifully trimmed and maintained. Here, instead of trimming the branches and maintaining the trees properly, we chop down the huge trees as a first recourse. Look at Jalan Setapak infront of Camp Wadieburn - the roads are now bare of trees. Every time we want to widen the roads the trees are the first to go. And our hills - no wonder that every year we read about landslides that bring down houses and killing people. After uprooting the trees what is there left during a downpour to prevent the soil from sliding downhill? We have so many tragic reminders in KL alone - Highland Towers, Ukay Heights, Ulu Selangor - but do we ever learn?

I'd like to share with some readers here about the perpetual problem in Malaysia - we worry about illegal logging, but let's also wory about random cutting of trees within the city itself - just so that more cars can pass through, more roads can be built and more condominiums come up. Lastly here are two poems I've always loved and which reminds me so much why we have to love out trees -


by: Joyce Kilmer (1886-1918)

THINK that I shall never see

A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest

Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,

And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in Summer wear

A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;

Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,

But only God can make a tree.

The Heart of a Tree by Henry Cuylar Bunner
WHAT does he plant who plants a tree?
He plants a friend of sun and sky;
He plants the flag of breezes free;
The shaft of beauty, towering high.
He plants a home to heaven anigh
For song and mother-croon of bird
In hushed and happy twilight heard —
The treble of heaven's harmony —
These things he plants who plants a tree.

What does he plant who plants a tree?

He plants cool shade and tender rain,

And seed and bud of days to be,

And years that fade and flush again;

He plants the glory of the plain;

He plants the forest's heritage;
The harvest of a coming age;

They joy that unborn eyes shall see —

These things he plants who plants a tree.

What does he plant who plants a tree?

He plants, in sap and leaf and wood,

In love of home and loyalty

And far-cast thought of civic good —

His blessing on the neighborhood

Who in the hollow of His hand

Holds all the growth of all our land —

A nation's growth from sea to sea

Stirs in his heart who plants a tree.

3 Mar 2012

Eleven things...

It's been a thoroughly busy week - I was up to Kuala Lumpur twice this week and  every day up at 5.00 am and sleep at 1.00 am. Yesterday it was 2.00 am. Why you might ask? Well, first my husband lives in KL and visits me twice a week. He's there because he is still working and his office is there. I was there until last October when my youngest daughter Maisarah  graduated and was posted to the General Hospital in Malacca. As a new houseman, her work hours are horrible - 16 or 18 hours a day! From 6.30 am till 11.45 pm and she says there's so much work they have no time to rest or even eat. So being the concerned and caring mum that I am I stay with her, make sure she at least gets some hot food when she gets home from work and in every way make things as easy for her as I can. After all Malacca is also our home - its our hometown and we have a house here. The place in KL is only an apartment so no place to garden or do anything. Here at least I can do what I like best - garden!

And yesterday while going through the other blogs I saw Izdiher's call for the eleven things to answer. They are the following:

1.You look like ?

2.You live like ?

3.Where are your keys?

4.How much money do you have in your pockets at any moment?

5.You love those places where ......... ?

6.Where is Africa?

7.You are hooked to ?

8.What came first egg or hen?

9.Why Zebra wears striped dress ?

10.Why the sun is yellow?

11.Your dream bf/gf is ?

To tell the truth I don't know how to answer those questions!  But I will try...
Okay, number 1 - what do I look like? Is it fair to just paste my photo and let others decide? - Hmmm... is it cheating? So okay never mind I look like me - quite fair for a Malay, small sharp nose, normal shaped mouth and not very tall. Brown hair and eyes (natural ), Okay looking for a middle aged woman - a lot of people have thought me 10 years younger than I actually am! ha ha ha
How do I live? - Like a queen!  LOL  No... just a thought - if only - but how do queens live anyway? I'm a wife and mother so I guess I live like most of them - I clean and cook and keep house, I go shopping, I play games on the internet with my friends and I read Facebook. (very conservative Izdiher!)
My keys? What sort of question is that? They are where they always are - on the cabinet in the living room.
Money - that depends... but because I'm a housewife and do all my own shopping and groceries I keep a decent amount in my purse - I hate going to the ATM often.
I love places which has the 4 seasons - winter, spring, summer and autumn. Because my country has only 2 seasons - hot and wet and hot and wet - I appreciate any place that has changes in climate. I've lived in the US for a while and enjoyed the changing of the seasons.Even though sometimes I hated the winter months because its always cloudy and cold and it gets dark very early but I still enjy  the cold.
Africa? Hmmm how do I answer that? Look at the world map - you'll know then. It's somewhere west of Malaysia but east of America?
Oh I'm hooked to so many things - farm Story on the Ipad, blogging, gardening, reading, music of the early 60s...(Does that make me conservative) And I love to dance - only I do it at home...
Which comes first - chicken or egg? That's the eternal question Izdiher! One can never be sure! If I knew I'm sure I'd be a millionaire now...
Why does the zebra wear striped dress? To go to a party?
Why is the sun yellow? It only looks yellow, it's actually not - its just a ball of fire ( I think so anyway)
My dream b/f - I'm already married honey, so I have my dream b/f - he's smart (very smart since he's VP in a university), he's still good looking after 4 kids and almost 40 years of marriage, he's kind and loving although quite lazy in doing housework - and he can sing and has a good sense of humour which is very important in any relationship. But maybe I'd love to have Brad Pitt as a b/f (in my dreams of course since I'm no Angelina Jolie).
So my questions are:
1. What's your idea of a dream wedding?
2. What are your favourite books to read?
3 Who are your favourite heroes (from books, movies etc)
4.What would you do if you could control the world?
5. What is your favourite colour?
6.Why did the chicken cross the road?
7. Do you read all books till the end or do you skip pages and see the ending?
8. If you could be somebody for one day who would you be?
9. Which country do you want to see the most?
10. If you could live your life all over again are there things you would do or not do?
11. If you were stranded on a deserted island, what things (3 only) would want to have with you?
Tagged for

Me and exercise

Or should it be Exercise and I? Whoa... don't get me into grammar - I hate it. Anyway after weeks of skipping my morning walk, today I finally managed to get about 30 minutes walk in, and wonder of wonders my hubby came along. We decided to go to the Bukit Serindit Recreational Park for our walk. Repin had not been there since the early 2000s, maybe the last time he went there with me was in 2004!  So he had a pleasant surprise when we arrived - the trees have matured and it's quite shady now to walk along the many paths. The lake also has been beautified - a few arched bridges and pathways have been created to give a very serene look to the park. There were lots of walkers today, families, couples, singles, old and young and the very young. We went a round which is approximately one kilometer (if you take the full circle and not a short cut through the trees). Then we stopped at the lake for a closer look at the inhabitants lurking in its murky depths - sounds like one of those horror stories. But the lake does look pretty murky - its bottom is covered with seaweed (or lake weed) and there are monitor lizards in it. You can sometimes see its head jutting out like a periscope, then when it sees a human passing by, it ducks down and sinks away into the dark green waters of the lake, appearing again some distance away. I have a fear of these unknown creatures - after all they do look like a small crocodile and although they fear humans (for good reason, I think) most people are also afraid of them. However I've never heard of any of these creatures biting or chasing after a human - it's usually the other way around because some people eat them!

After just one round I could hear my dear hubby panting slightly as  we walked uphill - and told him that I too felt tired and could we go home? He agreed and we both turned back for the car park. Like most days, exercise and me are not on good terms. Don't get me wrong - I love walking but not for exercise. I don't mind walking along a beach to admire the view or walking in the shopping malls to get a load of eye candy but just to exercise? No way, Jose! I used to join an aerobics class but that too wasn't because of the exercise but to meet friends or to dance . I think you get the picture...I hate exercise, but I'd do anything to meet a friend, or dance or watch a pretty view and the best reason of all? To be a mall rat!