Thursday, April 30, 2020


It is about time too. We have taken their habitat, their food sources and pushed them further away until there is not much left for them. We have locked them up for our pleasure, or for them to serve us. At last, at least for a few months more anyway, the tables have been turned. It is their turn to roam free while we are locked up. 

It was a nice surprise to see this huge monitor lizard just resting in the hot sun in our back yard. It was as big as a komodo dragon. Thank God there was a fence to keep it out.

Monster of a lizard in my backyard

 We never "kill" any of the wild life, just let them move in their own space.

Did you know that monitor lizards can climb? They kinda look heavy and clumsy but they are quite capable of climbing fences in spite of their weight and length. Last year, I walked right into 2 monitor lizards having a feud. I was about 2 feet away in fright and backed off slowly.  I was even more shocked when one climbed over the 7 feet fence, not that I was any danger to it. No book or documentary has ever informed or showed me that monitor lizards could climb. Luckily I had my hand phone to document this or few would believe me.

Komdoa Dragons in Indonesia

    We live beside a small rubber estate so these lizards, monkeys and snakes are common. In fact, we have our own resident junior monitor lizard who lives in our garden. It basks on the rocks in the sun (fantastic camouflage with the rocks) every afternoon and this drives Thory crazy. 

    Savvy K christened it Bobbi (probably after a past boyfriend ...haha.. joking Savvy K, I know you occasionally sneak into my blog).

Thory tries to be friends and looks out for Bobbi every day at the same place. In 2005, an article in New Scientist, a Science and Technology magazine, reported that monitor lizards produce venom, contrary to past belief that their bites only cause bacterial infections.

OK Thory, you cannot be besties with Bobby. I suggest a long distance relationship. But he won't listen!!

Video taken from Whatsapp

Wednesday, April 29, 2020


The real Freddie Mercury

         Freddie Mercury is a classic together with John May on the guitar and the rest of the QUEEN. Enjoy this rendition of “I want to break free.” The song is so relevant during this lock down period. I am afraid he is not the real McCoy, but given a vacuum cleaner, duster and broom, he is pretty entertaining. With his hair style and mustache, dressing like the real McCoy, the signature fist pumped in the air and some good sexy moves, he is a doppelganger. Listen to the applause from his neighbours in the opposite block, the ones who filmed this. 

BRAVO...wait a minute I think his mustache was a false one, he just pulled it off!!

This is Freddie Mercury taken in Madam Tussaud in London. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2020


Thory ‘s gone crazy without his walks

         We were suppose to get our freedom on Tuesday, 14 April. Instead, our PM placed Phase 4 into action, and we went under partial lock down for another 2 weeks, 28th April to 12th May. It is for the better. With only essential services like supermarkets, banks, food outlets for take-away ONLY and hospitals open, we have made much progress as the number of new Covid-19 cases have dropped to 2-digits (only 40 new cases yesterday). Movement is minimal with driving only around a 10 km radius from our homes and only one person in the car

  So, what have my friends and I been up to for the past 42 days since March 18th.

 Sassy JAM has started a mini veggie plot in pots because Thory, being an alpha male has to mark his territories. My pumpkins, capsicums, spinach, chillies, 4-angle beans and coriander are thriving but it ‘ll be some time before harvest.                                                                                          Pumpkins are good  Capsicum plants are doing well, coriander a bit anaemia                 


          Serai (lemon grass) and my green and purple spinach ("bayam").

        My friend Busy Boey has been colouring and painting T-shirts. She’s really artistic and has the patience of a Saint.

 The Liews in Taman Megah have been leading our qigong practice via zoom from 10 am – 12.20 pm every Monday and Thursday. Different sets of “lao shi”   (teachers) lead each day so we practise qigong 5 times a week. 

My lovely neighbour has been cooking and baking. She sent over freshly baked bread rolls for tea and peanut butter. How not to get fat during lock down?  I hope qigong helps!!

Gizmo man is having withdrawal symptoms from not meeting with his pub friends. Recently, he has started praying to his wine bottles.

   Savvy K has been surprisingly working her butt off making videos, upgrading and updating her Company websites. Just imagine life without the internet, no video conferencing, YAHOO.
  Lion SK who has a deep commitment to the community is still “soldiering” on distributing masks and food. 

        Yogi Bear lives in a condominium and her lotus and water lilies are blooming with all the extra care and conversations.

BUT THORY has finally gone RABID. He does not get his walks and is cooped up at home. He has started climbing up tables and chairs to get attention.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Someone has “FOOT – IN – MOUTH” Disease

The Star - 25 April 2020

        OHH ..OH… someone’s in trouble. It appears the Mayor of Osaka, Ichiro Matsui,  has offended a whole lot of women for suggesting that men should be entrusted with grocery shopping during this lockdown period. He reckons women are indecisive and take a long time as they browse around and hesitate about this and that.” Oh my goodness!! And what did the Japanese women have to say to this remark, “They (women) are thinking of menus and prices.” Yeah, right ON ladies!! We do not just snap up things as Mayor Matsui suggest the men do, we also plan what goes into each dish. If you have not noticed Mayor Matsui, there IS more than one ingredient in a dish. I am sure Mrs. Matsui cooks pretty hearty meals with various condiments, vegetables and meat for the family. Now, now really should not label Mrs Matsui as indecisive in her grocery shopping habits. 
I have no comment on this hypothesis about "Girl and Boy" watermelons. Going with the flow for now and getting the round ones.

We find the Kart's brand lighter and fluffier, almost like puff pastry. Kawan brand is our second choice. Heat non-stick pan, remove frozen and fry immediately WITHOUT oil. Do not defrost as it'll get sticky and soft. We always have a few packs in our freezer, so we do not need to rush out and buy fresh ones at the stores. These taste pretty like the fresh ones.

 Gizmo man has been doing the grocery runs (Mayor Matsui will be very pleased to read this). He has been surprisingly very efficient and doing an excellent job. I have absolutely NO COMPLAINS. I send some very nice pictures to his smart phone together with the grocery list

Mak Nyonya is really good to make a spicy hot pot, add less paste if your taste buds are not use to HOT STUFF.  This is Savvy K's all time favourite and mine as it is SO EASY and FAST to prepare. Add this paste to soup stock (which  I always have frozen for emergencies), add anything else you like - fish and meat balls, prawns, cuttlefish, meat slices. Before serving, I add enoki and glass noodles. Savvy K eats it like this, I have it as a soup with rice. Really satisfying., recommended for days when you just don't feel like slogging over a hot stove.

Heng's brand is just right for our family. It's not too spicy and the mince dried prawns are really crispy (no false advertising here). We have it one the side with other dishes. I like it spread on toasted buttered bread with coffee. Great kick to start the day.

Potatoes can be  confusing, I was advised to use Russet for bake potatoes. 
I use local potatoes for curry.

Gizmo man gets confused with coriander, and so did I at the beginning. I presumed Italian parsley and Chinese coriander (cilantro) were the same. But, I found that Chinese coriander has much more "punch" and flavour. Since lockdown, he has become an expert now on telling the difference, no more mistakes.

Savvy K made paella with this mixture and it was quite delicious. The pack comes with all the condiments and a small packet of calrose rice. She added soup stock and more rice to feed 4 persons, then fried prawns and chorizo before serving. Again, another fast-to-prepare meal.

This packet noodle is really difficult to find. If you see it, BUY IT cos' it's so different from the zillions of instant noodles. And if you like salted duck egg like me, It is HEAVEN.

These are the stuff I add to the tom yam hot pot. The cheesey fish toufu may sound unusual but try it. We first had it at a Korean hot pot restaurant.

KIKKOMAN sauce is what most Chinese kids grew up with. This one is not soy sauce but for tempura and noodles. I prefer this than soy sauce, also use it for steam fish.

In fact, I am enjoying this new arrangement. I am hoping Mr. Man of the House will continue with grocery runs even AFTER LOCKDOWN.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Savvy K is 24 today, and I have to BAKE A CAKE

 Yeah, another Lockdown Birthday. In our family, we have had 6 birthdays with compulsory celebrations at home, 5 in April itself. And a baby girl born on April 16th. Today, Savvy K completes her 2nd cycle in the Rat year. The Rat is the first animal in the Chinese zodiac sign. They supposedly have smart minds, good adaptability and little persistence. That’s my Girl.

         Got up at 6.15 am to bake a cake. What’s the big deal? Well, I bake as often as the equinoxes and solstices in a year. That is, ONLY TWICE. My baking skills are …er… pathetic (that’s being kind), my icing skills do not exist and it is always a miracle if the cakes are cooked inside. People say, “I feel like baking something now,” and Presto .. the cake is out of the oven smelling good. 
         I say “I think I ‘ll bake tomorrow.” So I have to get a good night’s sleep to be fully rested, dig out my baking paraphernalia from various cupboards, find a recipe I can manage and check if the flour has gone past the expiry date. Remember, mummy used to line the tray first, so I better stick to old baking rules.

How big is a medium size egg? Where is my flour…what’s that thingy called, a flour sieve? No, I just googled it, it’s a flour sifter. 

Poke it to see if the cake is done, where is my “poker?” Never mind, a satay stick will do. Oh … this is getting traumatic.

 OH NO, the cake is stuck to the tray cos’ I had forgotten to grease the bottom. It’s OK, just stick the pieces together carefully. 

There, DONE, next baking challenge in July for Gizmo man’s birthday.


Monday, April 20, 2020

Book Review 2: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine (Gail Honeyman)

 Loneliness is the new cancer and Cancer kills. But CANCER is only a WORD, not a SENTENCE. So is loneliness.

What a treasure to find Ms Oliphant, a character with a tormented past, a survivor like an unsteady paper towel reaching for the sky, a woman with an obsessive compulsive behaviour, few friends and practically everyone in the office thinks she is looney. But pity Eleanor not, she sees herself as a self-contained entity.

       I resonated with her, in a way with no other character I have ever read. With the book “A Woman of Substance” by Barbara Taylor Bradford, I emerged wanting to be “A woman of Substance” in my own right and leave footprints in the sands of time (of course that was short-lived)! With Eleanor Oliphant, I felt someone was writing about me. As with my own life, I just kept rooting for 30 year-old Eleanor … Go Girl, You can DO IT. “Jia You” as the Chinese would say.

    Eleanor is brave, kind and quirky. She is the kind of woman who informs her doctor that she has back pain because she is carrying 7 pounds of combined breast tissue. And how did she get this definitive value? Not being a woman of means, Eleanor just weighed her breasts individually ..”plonk”.. on her kitchen scales.  No fuss.

         This book evokded a spectrum of emotions. With incidents like Eleanor getting a bikini waxing (Holywood style), Eleanor looking at herself in the mirror and thinking “nothing to see here, plain from end to end,” to the day the Universe sends her an incident that will forever change her path, I grieved and chuckled with her.

          Eleanor Oliphant is Gail Honeyman’s first novel. I am looking forward to her next one. Please write quickly, Girl! This book is not a thriller but the author’s writing is so hilarious, you want to keep turning the pages. Just let me quote one section where Eleanor is instructed to keep talking to an elderly gentleman who had just toppled backwards and was knocked out cold. What would you or I say? Me, most definitely, “Sir, are you OK? Don’t worry, I’ve called the ambulance. It’ll be here soon. Just stay with me.” 

        What does Eleanor say? “What a lovely sweater, you don’t see that colour often on a woollen garment? Would you describe it as vermillion? Or carmine, perhaps? I rather like it. I wouldn’t attempt such a shade myself, of course. But, against the odds, I think you just about carry it off.” Seriously, the man is lying on the road, probably on the brink of death.
           Maybe, some will find this book a little lacking in depth. But on days when my Savvy K has her diva moments and my Gizmo man glares at me cos’ I wouldn’t cook dinner, I  get out my kindle, relive “Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine,” and 
       "Sassy JAM is PERFECTLY  FINE” too.

Friday, April 17, 2020

ALAN and the Biblical Flood - A Friend with Dedication

God allowed the waters to flood the earth as rain poured for 40 days and 40 nights. Noah sent out a dove to look for dry land, and only at the 7th day it returned with a fresh olive leaf in its beak.

    My kitchen flooded for 14 days and 14 nights. It started with a drip along the walls, then a drizzle from the light fixtures and finally a storm as water poured down from the ceiling and walls whenever someone took a bath. A flood of biblical proportions had descended (Genesis chapters 6-9) into the kitchen.

    Gordon the plumber was summoned, and I could see the defeat on his face after he scaled up the kitchen ceiling, the outer ceiling, Savvy K’s bathroom ceiling and finally the master bathroom ceiling. “The leak is within the walls,” he announced, “but I can’t tell where, so I have to hack your walls until I find it!” Oh my Godness, that was really reassuring!

    It was time to whatsapp Alan, my handy man who takes care of everything broken, from bed to plugging up holes in my walls.

Alan making a day bed for Savvy Girl's room

You don’t call Alan cos’ he does not answer his phone!! Alan is “brilliant” but definitely not the fastest man to start a job. Actually, this is an understatement, he IS THE SLOWEST MAN to start. For one job, I had to physically go to his house 32 km away, rattled his gate and called him until the neighbours peeped through the windows. Then he sheepishly opened the door, and  closed it immediately. My friend and I were left with our jaws dropping, wondering if he was going to have us wait outside till “thy kingdom come.”


My Alan changed the pipes and diligently scooped the flood waters out through the hacks in the walls. A 3-day job and another 5 days for the walls and ceiling to completely dry up (didn’t need a dove to tell me). All’s fixed and looking good now.

 WHY the leaks? Well Gismo man being gadget savvy as always, decided to change the water pump to a more powerful one. In his own words " I want to shower under “Niagara Falls, not under some piss-weak shower raining on me!” Well, the original pipes were not fitted for this new forceful one horsepower gadget he fixed. So two pipes busted. Next time, Gizmo man wants to shower under Niagara Falls, I will buy him an air ticket to Ontario, Canada.

Alan is more a friend than my contractor. Whenever he is here fixing things, we always have lunch together much to Gizmo man’s surprise. “Is your boyfriend having lunch with you again today?” One day when he came home from work, I said, “Alan is having dinner with us.” He rolled his eye balls like the wheel of fortune, but being the gracious host, he offered Alan his best whisky with dinner. Alan and I are now sharing recipes during this MCO period. Shh … Gizmo man does not know, I don’t want his eye balls to go rolling and get stuck up at 12 o’ clock!!

ALAN in his kitchen of a fry pan and gas stove and produces WONDERS

Alan's omelette with Chinese chives
                                                             Alan's steam bean curd and mushroom

Alan's stir fried vegetables