29 Nov 2012

November round up

November Reads
 November was a fairly busy month for me - mostly because my house was again under renovation. This time however we only expanded my mother-in law's room, which faced the fish pond. Then we decided to add a cattery for the cats and expand Sarah's room while we were at it. Sarah's room had become a bit too small for her - she had very little space to put her books and so we decided to take down the balcony and expand the room from there.

But it didn't stop there of course - since the wall paper was spoilt by all the cement and the dust we also had to change the wall paper but I think it was all worth it in the end. Sarah got her room enlarged and a lovely pink wall paper and mum's room too was so much bigger. One could see the fish pond just standing at the window and it was more airy and roomy too.

The whole renovation took up more than a month - we had to suffer through the noise and the dust especially in the initial stages of knocking down walls and with all that going on and Shasha's  graduation for her Masters degree in English Literature I didn't really have enough time to do all the things I wanted. Reading too suffered though I did manage to pick up some good reads. I had already finished reading  GeorgetteHeyer's  The Grand Sophy by then and also had with me some new books :

1. Another Piece of My Heart by Jane Green, a first time for me though my daughters, Sarah and Marisa swear by her. I enjoyed it although I felt it was a bit slow in the beginning. About Andi who has found the perfect man but the perfect man came with two daughters, one of whom takes an instant dislike to her father's girlfriend and later wife. Emily, the older girl tries to make Andi's life as miserable as she can make it, hoping it will destroy her father's marriage. The ending is slightly cliched though generally the book is charming.
2. The Bracelet by Roberta Gately
3. Wake by Amanda Hocking , the first book in the series about Gemma, a sixteen year old who discovers a strange world under water
4. The Ugly Duchess by Eloisa James ( a lovely read which I enjoyed)
5. What's Right about Islam by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf - a book I feel everyone should read irregardless of faith but more because most Americans do not really understand Islam and this is a book which explains the faith in a simple way.

17 Nov 2012

faithful companions - Mulan and Ginger

My constant companions wherever I sit - be it in the kitchen or upstairs at the computer, these two will sit with me for hours on end, never bored. But the moment I stand up to go downstairs they are alert and ready to move! Like faithful dogs, they follow me downstairs and wait there - if I am sitting at the kitchen table, they will just curl up on the carpet and sleep or like Mulan, above, stretch herself and see what happens.

Kissing Shakespeare by Pamela Mingle

a great book for Shakespeare lovers 
 Miranda is an ordinary girl with an extraordinary talent - she loves acting and is actually quite good at it. She also loves anything Shakespearean and hopes one day to be a stage actor like her parents, until that is her opening night at her school play when she was playing Katherine from Taming of the Shrew. She thinks that she had humiliated herself disastrously and flees backstage to think about it.While berating herself about her acting ability, along comes a school mate and fellow actor Stephen Langford who asks her  whether she wants to meet Shakespeare in person.
Thinking it a big joke, Miranda follows him to the rooftop of the building and Stephen who is actually a time traveller from the 16th 
century whisks her off to Shakespearean England! When they arrived Stephen tells Miranda that he actually needs her help to get Shakespeare away from the persuasions of a Jesuit priest, intent on converting the young Will into a Jesuit priest.

Miranda agrees and gets into the biggest role of her life - that of Stephen's younger sister who is falling in love with the young Shakespeare and is trying to seduce him. According to Stephen, if Shakespeare were to become a Jesuit priest the world would lose the greatest writer and dramatist ever known in the English language and the world would be different all together. So Miranda must try to get Will to follow his dreams of being a writer and poet and away from religion. Dangers abound - Elizabethan England has outlawed Catholicism and Jesuit priests if caught are hanged or even burned as traitors. In fact Will Shakespeare is being betrayed by one of the women he thinks is a friend and the county sheriff is looking for him as well as a Jesuit priest he is friendly with. Will Miranda be able to save him? As for Miranda herself she finds her true love but is love enough to keep them together?

This is a really good read by Pamela Mingle, one I enjoyed reading late into the night.

8 Nov 2012

Friendships and misunderstandings

Have you ever had misunderstandings with a dear close friend and for some reason or other allowed it to fester, and it gets bloated out of all recognition and instead of a misunderstanding it becomes a full blown quarrel? Well in my younger days I  did have some of these misunderstandings, but normally with my closest friend, that is my sister Laila, a year younger than me. Most of the time it would be over something I said - me and my blabber mouth - and it would have hurt her, something I never intended to happen. The word "sorry" is like glue in my mouth - even though I knew it was my fault, I found it hard to say "I'm sorry". It's the same thing with her - she never says "I'm sorry" too. So we'd just stare daggers at each other and look the other way. 
But that was a long time ago and I suppose can be forgiven because both of us were very young and very proud. 

Today, at this mature age,what do you do when something like that happens? Do you brush it off and pretend it never happened or apologise profusely and hope she or he would be courteous enough to accept your apology and let bygones be bygones? But sometimes, you can apologise and the apology accepted, but the hard feeling still rankles. You can forgive, but forgetting is quite hard, especially if what was said is really hurtful. It is easy to say that at our age what matters is the friendship, but even then there are some dos and don'ts that you just have to follow. Of course one must never allow the ill feeling to fester - the best thing is to  be upfront about it. Tell her that what she said hurts your feelings and then ignore it. Ignoring is not forgetting - you're just sweeping it under the carpet but at least she knows how you feel. The ball is in her court - she can apologise or not. Your act as a friend is after the apology is over, let it be over and forget about it or at least pretend to.

Do you know this verse which I read a long time ago but just can't remember who wrote it? It's called The Poison tree. (Maybe it was Blake)
"I was angry with my friend
I told him so, my wrath did go;
I was angry with my foe
I told him not - my wrath did grow..."

5 Nov 2012

Rainy days

It's only the beginning of November and already the monsoon season has started. Since last week it has rained almost every day of the week, sometimes for a whole day. The first day of the monsoon rains began with a blast - very heavy winds, toppling trees in our neighbourhood, tearing down my letter box, bringing with it a deluge.

The sky is overcast most of the time, we have to start wondering about flooding and on the news we can hear flood updates from some states already - Johor, Malacca (yes my home state and where I am now), and some parts of Selangor. Yesterday the news flashed some scenes of the flooded areas in Johor and mostly the water was not too high - about 2 feet mainly.Yet the drains are full and the waters fast flowing so I dread to hear about accidental deaths of children caused by negligence. And parents don't seem to care that their children play in the flood waters - I shudder at the things that can happen. Maybe I'm just too phobic - whenever I see children as young as 7 or 8 play in flood waters I feel shocked and worried about it. Why can't their parents control them and keep them inside where its safer? I remember the age old saying - "sudah terantok baru tengadah" - you look up only after you have hit your head. Being careful after the fact or after the incident has occurred is not much use.

School boys walking home in the rain

This is also the season for landslides. Last monsoon season there were no serious landslides that occurred along hill slopes but we have had enough of that to last a  while. Every time it rains, those living in landslide prone areas will wonder - will it happen? And yet people never seem to learn - developers will still cut down trees to build high rise condominiums along hill slopes.

Sometimes the sound of the wind rushing through the window panes will give you a shiver - although I live in a tropical country where thunder storms and monsoon rains is the norm, I still cannot like the rain. It dampens my spirit not calms it down. And notwithstanding it is good for our padifields, I still much prefer the picture of a sunny beach drenched in sunshine and coconut palms swaying its slender branches with a soft breeze blowing. No monsoon rains for me... sigh....

1 Nov 2012

Koh Samui weekend

The weekend had been planned for ages, or it seemed like ages anyway. The whole family had been looking forward to this short break because of all kinds of reasons. I haven't been able to see my grand daughter and missed her terribly. Sarah had just finished Ob-gyn and Repin and both the boys were also in need of a break. So when the day came we all looked forward to it. We went by Firefly which meant we flew from Subang Airport and the flight took only about 1hour and 45 minutes. It was mostly smooth going, just a few mild bumps in mid air due to air pockets and the day too promised to be bright and sunny.

We landed shortly after 4.00pm and the pre-arranged transport was already waiting for us. Oh a word about the Koh Samui airport - it may be small but they do have some nice shops!

Koh Samui  town itself is very small - just a few rows of shops - selling mainly touristy stuff and lots of small restaurants, bars and the ever present 7 -11. I noticed too that there are many pharmacies! I counted 11 on just one road! Perhaps they need the pharmacies for the tourists!

Our resort - Chaweng Buri Beach Resort was a group of chalets nestled among huge trees, facing a pretty beach - soft ,white sand and blue blue sea. A real plus is that this is one of the resorts that is very eco-friendly. Instead of chopping the trees to build the chalets, they built the chalets around the trees. And the trees are big and shady with the chalets nestled in between. 

All our chalets were close together, mine facing Rizal and Poh Ling's so the small fry could come over at any time. But her favourite chalet was of course her Aunty Sarah's and Makcik's, which was just next door to hers. 

Sophia and her aunt Sarah in the plane

The walkway connecting the various chalets

Our chalet - No 505!

The 3 girls enjoying themselves
It was a very short break - just 3 nights but it was fun. We had good food (well not so easy to find halal but we made do) and there were lots of seafood places. After all Koh Samui is an island so fish is there a plenty!  Rizal booked a sailing boat or a catamaran and we went for a sail around the islands, dropped anchor at a smaller island not far from Samui and had lunch there. It rained a bit but that was ok too.
There were lots of activities for families - besides swimming, that is. We went for a karaoke session and then bowling, in town. The next day we went on an island tour and stopped at a few interesting places - a waterfall and an elephant sanctuary and visited a few temples and the Golden Buddha, a huge statue of the Buddha, pasted with gold paper.
I went for a massage and even Repin and the boys as well as Poh Ling went for a foot massage which was really relaxing and cheap - only 100 baht which converts to RM10 for us. I think I wouldn't mind coming back for another long weekend.

Koh Samui break in pictures

We were in Koh Samui recently just before the Aidil Adha holiday. It was a family trip, organised solely by my dearest husband Repin, with all my children - the two girls and both the boys plus our only grandchild, Sophia and POh Ling, my daughter in law.

With Sophia at the lookout point on Koh Samui

Grandfather Rock (the one jutting out like a penis)
Rizal helping to hoist the sails on Dream Catcher, our boat for the day

Anyone want to ride an elephant?