Papa dove building the nest.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Papa dove building the nest.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Monday, May 25, 2009
Life is full of surprises. Last week I proudly wrote about my attempts in vegetable gardening - feeble attempts I would say judging by the size of my produce. The next morning, my precious bitter gourd went missing. The two smaller ones higher on the fence were still hanging on for their dear lives but the larger bottom gourd was gone. I live in a community where we take along plastic bags when we walk our dogs to make sure we do not leave any "accidents" behind. So, we definitely do not take punny gourds without permission. I can figure out a few answers to the disappearing gourd:
- It fell off cos' it was ready to be plucked.
- A rat climbed up the fence and ran away with it.
- A squirril took it home for dinner.
- A kid just plucked it for fun.
- Moon light shrinks bitter gourds to undetectable sizes.
Anyway, there are more pressing issues to worry about. When I got home from work yesterday, MartianGirl came screaming, "There is a "buaya" (crocodile) in the garden." We live miles away from rivers and the nearest crocodiles are basking in the zoo. But, I had to go pretend and look out for it. It was probably a large monitor lizard - they can grow up to 3 feet. I have seen 6 feet ones in the wet lands. They are carnivores and live on small animals. They look quite clumsy with their large bodies and short legs, but they are fast. MartianGirl was five years when we visited Kuala Selangor, a town on the outskirts of the city with parks and wetlands. She had wandered off about 6 feet away from me and a really hugh monitor lizard came up from the pond and fested its eyes on what he probably considered was lunch. MartianGirl wanted to make friends, "Cicak, cicak." It was terrifying, I just ran, grabbed her and fled in the opposite direction. A "cicak" is a harmless house lizard, similar to a gecko, that feeds on insects and runs up and down the walls of our homes. The monitor lizard that wanted MartianGirl was truely as large as the one in the pix below.
"Cicak" (house lizard) - pix from internet source
Malaysian monitor lizard - pix from internet source
This morning, GismoMan announces, "I saw a rat in the kitchen last night and it was as large as a cat." Prone to exaggerations, I would say it was as little as a kitten. But I hate rats and they are the only animals that will actually make me jump up a chair and go hysterical, typically as shown in movies. I have gone after a snake and fierce dogs but I cannot handle rats. So, I had to put out the Rat Bait in the cupboards and made very sure that Daemon K9 could not get to them. But no rat as yet.
This is what I call excitment in the city. I can't imagine living on a farm where a lot more surprises can happen in one day. I would't be able to cope.
Friday, May 22, 2009
What is this "bug" that will delay our kids from coming home. The Influenza A (H1N1) virus belongs to a group called the orthomyxoviruses. "Myxo" refers to viruses that infect the mucus membranes. The orthomyxoviruses comprise of 3 types - Influenza A, B and C. While Influenza B and C viruses mainly infect man, Influenza A can infect both man and animals. This allows Influenza A viruses to cause pandemics - a situation where a disease crosses national bounderies - like what is happening now.
The viruses are spherical and covered by an envelope from where spikes or surface proteins -haemagglutinins (H) and neuraminidase (N) - project out. Influenza viruses are able to change their antigens and result in different serotypes - H1N1 caused the Spanish Influenza (1918), H2N2 the Asian Influenza (1957) and H3N2 the Hong Kong Influenza (1968).
- Pictures taken from the Internet
Spread? Influenza A (H1N1) is not transmitted via food. Virus is spread through aerosols from sneezing and coughing or by contact with the virus and then touching the nose or mouth.
Prevention? By avoiding crowded places and good hygiene practice. The virus is rapidly "killed" by detergents and soaps, thus frequent hand washing will control the spread.
Vaccine? At the moment there is NO vaccine for the nfluenza A (H1N1) virus. The only vaccines available offer no protection against the current "bug" as they will only protect against the human seasonal influenza viruses.
Research at the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, US) report that the current Influenza A (H1N1) virus is a genetic recombination of 4 different influenza viruses:
- Human influenza gene segments
- Swine influenza from North America
- Swine influenza from Euroasia
- Avian gene segments from North America
A new strain with no immunity in humans, this is why the fatality rate is much higher compared with other flu outbreaks. The good news is that the current fatality rate of less than 1% shows that the virus is not as powerful as intiallly predicted. There are 5,400 Malaysians studying in the US, I hope they will come home safely.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Vegetables in the market were getting quite expensive since last year so I decided to plant some of my own. I have a really tiny piece of land ( don't even know if I can say that, maybe a tiny space will be more appropriate) in the back of the house. I started with digging out the stones and mixing the hard clay soil with bags of potting mixture and vegetable waste. I actually had to go buy and PAY for organic fertiliser - processed chicken and goat "poo" pellets. Does this strike an idea for anyone to venture into an export business to Malaysia? Ohh...the dried pellets were OK but once they got wet, they looked exactly like how chicken and goat "poo" should look like. I am a city girl, was I suppose to know that? I got more potting mix to cover the mess.
My better half, seeing my enthusiasm in the vegetable plot, gave me an assortment of gardening tools for our wedding anniversary. I was thinking of something a little bit more romantic for our 19th anniversary, instead I got a spading fork, shears, weeder, gloves and packets of seeds. GismoMan, being the expert in gadgets and not gardening, bought seeds for peas, capsicum, carrots and salad, stuff which I think are not going to make it in this really hot 30 - 35 C temperature. Surprisingly, the peas have sprouted but the rest are having much difficulty germinating.
Every day I am out there watering, digging and mixing the soil. It's a really cheap way to get off the excess pounds cos' its a sauna out there even in the evenings. Now that the beans and gourds are growing, the pests are enjoying the fruits of my labour. Chemicals are a definite "No, No" and GismoMan suggested using ginger, chilli or tumeric mixed in water as natural pesticides (something he read). The chilli made my hands all hot and swollen, the tumeric stained them a yellow as bright as the monks' robes and I got a back ache bent over pounding ginger for juice. Does anyone know a simpler form of natural fertiliser?
I shouldn't complain as I have already start eating my own produce. But, the salad leaves are slightly bitter, not sweet like the ones from the supermarket, the brinjals are puny and the okra so fibrous, MartianGirl just kept chewing at the dinner table until the rubber bands in her braces snapped. GismoMan was very supportive, "Maybe you should not mix the bitter gourds with the other vegetables, the bitterness probably gets transfered."
Something's not quite right but I will not admit defeat. We Asians have this saying, "Never say die." My tomatoes and peas should be fruiting in about a month and then, there will be another story.
Pea, salad, chillie and tomato seedlings.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Double storey terrace houses line the inner roads.
Plenty of trees planted 7 year ago by the developers.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Shoot it in
Monday, May 11, 2009
His customers are mainly students from colleges, schools and people just driving past on their way to work, note his large red tub of warm freshly cooked rice.
Breakfast for most Malaysians isn't quite the same as in the West with cereal, fruit, toast or eggs. We kind of love our rice and noodles and we like it hot with lots of chilli. Just as many Westerners have breakfast on the run, we have adapted our lives to start each day fed and happy. We get our complete breakfast from the many stalls that "mushroom" from the kerb in the mornings. Under tress and umbrellas, entreprising housewives and the men too set up their "instant stall" early to catch the school, college and office crowd and "close shop" by mid morning to return home to take care of their families. These "instant stalls" do supplement family incomes as the owners can make between RM70 - RM 200 a morning.
Another stall under a shady tree by the kerb, note the car parked just next to the stall for easy transport of good and equipment.
Food is feshly cooked very early in the morning.Puan Normah sells "Nasi lemak" - rice in coconut milk, fried anchovies, boiled or fried egg, cucumber slices, roasted peanuts, chicken and "sambal ikan bilis" (anchovy chilli paste).
My breakfast all wrapped up in grease-proof paper.
All of this for RM 4.00 (US $1.11 cents), what a great way to start the day. I can't vouch for high work efficiency after breakfast, all the blood gets drained from my brain to digest this. Yawn...wake me up for lunch and don't tell the Bozz!