Tuesday, September 21, 2021

MOON CAKES FOR COMPLETENESS AND UNITY


Today is the Mid-autumn Festival. Moon cakes are eaten only once a year around September in the Gregorian calendar. 
Centre courts of shopping malls are converted  to ancient Chinese villages with 
lanterns in infinite colours to attract and entice us to buy boxes of these delicacies for family or as gifts. 
Each cake is sealed in plastic to keep the flavours fresh and packed in sets of 
four different flavours in elaborate exquisite boxes, even a hand bag.

These traditional cakes contain no butter or eggs but lotus paste from dried lotus seeds with

a whole salted duck egg in the centre. 


For the uninitiated, I suggest just the plain lotus cake to start with. The salted duck egg in contrast to the sweetness of the cake is an acquired taste. 


Here is Jocelyn and friends in Adelaide with their home-made moon cakes. 
Starting with coloured dough, square and round moulds, and pattern tops, this group of friends bond together to


give the true message that moon cakes are not just food, but a celebration of togetherness.


These traditions keep a culture alive -  that the Hungry Ghost Festival has ended and it is time 


to celebrate the abundant autumn harvest with love ones under a bright new moon.

Sunday, September 19, 2021

METAMORPHOSIS

 

It was a surprising when Savvy K found FAT caterpillars in our garden. Being her delightful self then at 12 years-old, she asked "Can we keep them and watch them grow into butterflies?"

I was surprised that these caterpillars had their own food preferences.  

They only ate the leaves of my desert rose (Adenium obesum). I had three pots of this plant and caterpillars had invaded all three, munching happily.
We collected 10 Katy Kims, as what Savvy K called them and
placed them into plastic containers. Oh my, they had voracious appetites! They refused to eat any other leaves and our desert roses were almost bald. 

We had to ask for "desert rose leaf donations" from neighbours and my colleagues at work.
They just chomp through the leaves like razor blades.

Savvy K was very diligent and cleaned their "homes." They "pooped" a real lot, but thankfully as dried pellets, so house keeping was not a problem.
Every one had names - "Hello Yellow, Momok Jin, Smoky BBQ, Ali Baba, Little Bean, Tiny Boo, Lil Jinx, Plump Daisy and Bloated Submarine."
They started their pupa stage when they stopped their "cat" walk and turned a hardy brown. They looked like bullets with eyes. We placed the containers in a safe corner and left the lids opened.
 Every so often, the pupae would do a "jiggle" or "shake." Savvy K was sad she never saw the butterflies, only the pupa cases remained in the mornings. During the nights or early mornings when it was cool, they completed their final stage of metamorphosis and flew away through the opened windows. Savvy K did a GOOD job. ALL the Katy Kims successfully transformed into butterflies.
Boey's butterfly inspired hand-painted T-shirt.
AH HA, I did find one butterfly in the morning 


resting on the jasmine shrub.

Monday, September 13, 2021

CHINESE MOON WALK

Not the famed Michael Jackson moonwalk, but rather a lantern walk on a full moon night. The Chinese will be celebrating their Mid-Autumn festival on 21st September. Eons ago, the Chinese believe that the moon on the 15th day of the eight month of the Chinese lunar calendar was the biggest and brightest. This was also the time for the Autumn harvests and families got together to light lanterns and eat moon cakes. 
In the past, good wishes were written on the lanterns that were released into the skies and waters. 
Today, the lanterns are taken for a walk under the watch of the full moon. 
It is a difficult task choosing lanterns. There are infinite varieties in vibrant colours. The traditional ones come in folded paper, one just had to pull apart like an accordion, stick a candle in and viola ... all set for the lantern parade.
Then we have the intricate traditional ones made from wires twisted into animal shapes, 
aeroplanes or whatever takes the maker's fancy. The wire frames are enveloped in transparent cellophane, painted to enhance the design and lastly tied to a bamboo stick.
In today's language these creations would be called "artisan lanterns!"
With the advance of technology, lanterns have also "evolved" to plastic ones 


with an artificial light from a battery. The hearts above the seven dwarfs provide music.
The candles in the traditional lanterns have to be replaced frequently. These lanterns catch fire easily. We learnt how to relight our lanterns safely. Kids walked around with boxes of candles and matches in their pockets. We got some wax burns on our hands and that's about it. But this will be a huge NO, NO today! Kids DO NOT play with matches!!
Lantern gathering in the park.
And when we finally thought we had outgrown this silly MOON walk, 


we started again with our own kids! I prefer these traditional cellophane lanterns. The colours just bounce off the cellophane and dance on the roads. These are also environmental friendly and can be recycled for another year. 
The Mid-autumn festival and lantern parade under the full moon 
will live on as an everlasting tradition.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

ANIMALS and INSECTS

 

"Impossible to get good help these days! Argh, imagine I have to drink from the money plant deco."


"WELL, no one caught me. You are not going to squeal on me, are you Buddha? "
"I must lodge a complaint, service in this house needs upgrading, meow." says Friday. 
 A collection of bugs. Picture credit: Eslam Kespa.
Monkey SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) Team. 
"I have the photos. Mission accomplished, roger and out."
This primate demanding food from the scared helpless security guard should be sent for SWAT training. 
It has much potential.
MONKEY demanded my lunch video.

"WE REPRESENT DIVERSITY. ALL LIVES MATTER"

"Wait for me!"


YIKES, the slime .... but snail slime has been used for skin care! Touted as amazing exfoliant, hydrating and chock-full of anti-oxidants

This was me at 3-months in my blue basin. 
That's me now at 3-years, same basin, BIGGER ME.
"NO LOCKDOWN FOR PETS!"


"CALL PET PROTECTION SERVICES."