28 May 2010

Turtle Eggs Anyone?

On one holiday trip to Singapore visiting a favourite aunt in the 1970s, EJ spotted a cute wind-up plastic baby turtle displayed in a shop and promptly bought it. And have kept it ever since.

EJ was born at home by the beach. The beaches were clean, the waters crystal clear and the air was fresh. EJ's driver was a trishaw man.

As a child, EJ grew up on turtle eggs because EJ loved eating it. There were lots of turtles then, including eggs.

Afraid to be chided by the grownups for eating too many eggs, EJ would carefully pinch off the soft shell making as tiny a hole as possible, slowly suck the contents out and then gently blow air into it to puff the soft shell up before placing it back in the pot.

The last time EJ ate turtle eggs was when EJ was twenty plus visiting the aunt who moved to Singapore. Being the aunt who brought EJ up, she knew how much EJ loved turtle eggs. She brought EJ to the wet market and insisted on buying. EJ could not turn her down out of respect but EJ asked one question as to where the eggs came from. The seller, an Indonesian, replied that it was from Indonesia. Secretly, EJ was relieved.

Then EJ's aunt proceeded to cook, presented the eggs and sat down to watch EJ eat.

EJ had a tough time!

Those eggs somehow looked rather small and unappetising unlike the ones from the hometown. It was extremely difficult to swallow as EJ felt as though baby turtles were trying its best to crawl up the throat. Could it be imagination or guilt? EJ had to act like enjoying eating those eggs when in actual fact EJ was suffering. And EJ kept self-consoling silently that the eggs were not from the hometown and these would be the absolute last in life.

And it was!

A little over 10 years later, EJ went back. This time to the islands and there EJ was absolutely happy.

On one of the many trips there, EJ had the opportunity to play with hundreds, not one or two or three but hundreds and hundreds of newborn turtles in a turtle sanctuary.

It was pure bliss.

By then EJ was already a vegetarian -- absolutely guilt free!

25 May 2010

He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother!

Written by Bobby Scott and Bob Russell, this is a popular music ballad was recorded by The Hollies in the late Sixties. Part of the lyrics...

...If I'm laden at all
I'm laden with sadness
That everyone's heart
Isn't filled with the gladness
Of love for one another

It's a long, long road
From which there is no return
While we're on the way to there
Why not share
And the load
Doesn't weigh me down at all
He ain't heavy, he's my brother

He's my brother
He ain't heavy, he's my brother...

It is exactly what Winnie's eyes say when Tommy, who is sizes bigger and heavier, lay his big heavy head on her in EJ's household where all differ in size, age, colour, mood and character.

...He ain't heavy, he's my brother...

21 May 2010

Great Lazy Man's Food

On days when you are too busy or lazy to cook, most will eat out or phone for pizza delivery. Being a vegetarian like EJ, it is difficult unless you are willing to drive out to vegetarian restaurants that could be located some distance away.

So what EJ does is stock up vegetarian food mostly in the freezer. And on such lazy-to-cook days, EJ whips up lunch or dinner in less than 10 minutes.

Hashbrowns (stored in the freezer)
Vegetarian ham (stored in the freezer)
Baked beans

This method is so easy. Place hashbrowns on dish. Cut vegetarian ham into smaller pieces and arrange on dish.

Open a can of baked beans and spoon it over the hashbrowns and ham. You can also add vegetarian sausages if you wish.

Microwave and voila! Dinner's ready!

Vegetarian ham and other stuff can be bought from the vegetarian corner of most bigger supermarkets or vegetarian shops. Most vegetarian mock meat is made from soya which is an excellent source of high quality protein.

PS: EJ is a vegetarian due to intolerance and allergy, not religion or obligation as most people assume.

18 May 2010

The Good Earth

Hard pillows and headrests, often made of wood and others, have been used in various cultures throughout the world — in China, Africa, India, the Pacific Islands, and elsewhere.

According to Chinese tradition, a pillow could give special qualities to the person who slept on it. A folk medicine recipe claimed that sleeping on a hard pillow filled with herbs and other substances will help hearing and sight grow clearer, attain better health and have pleasant dreams.

Porcelain pillows was also noted to offer soothing coolness during hot weather. However stoneware too would offer that same coolness.

Such hard pillows were commonly used to help preserve the elaborate hairstyles that were so fashionable during those ancient times.

Now, is Tanya using this brick as pillow for better health, soothing coolness or maintain her elaborate fur-style?

14 May 2010

My Favourite Classroom

Illiteracy still exists in this modern age. Though education is mandatory for many countries, there are still countries where even the journey to school is an adventure.

Fortunate are those who had education and even more so many decades ago.

Students study in comfort these days with at least fans if not air-conditioners in warm countries. It was unheard of in the earlier days.

EJ had a favourite classroom.

Situated off the centre of the school field, this classroom had no walls. In its place instead was chicken coup wires with an attap thatched roof. Art classes were mainly held here and it was perfect as students had an all-round view of what they wish to draw.

From here, the students could see the blooms of beautiful white lilies with geese waddling near, goods being delivered to the school canteen on a bicycle, cows grazing in the corner of the field, the principal's well-fed dogs mooching around, and smell the sweet scent of the frangipani trees nearby.

It was nice and comfortable during good weather with gentle breeze blowing but with stronger winds, papers had to be held down. And when it rained coupled with strong winds, students moved towards the centre of this classroom away from the droplet sprays.

This photo below was taken in the fifties. EJ recognises classmates in the primary/elementary days. They were the tiny ones in the front, some on those tiny chairs.

EJ believes this was taken on the school sports day. The students were to stay in and around this classroom and not wander for their safety. Those days children were obedient and follow rules with only a handful of mischevious ones.

Many thanks to Rema who preserved and gave this wonderful photograph which brought back lovely carefree memories.

11 May 2010

Oops! OOPS!

Not sure what I clicked and seems to have lost quite a bit of stuff.
Looks like I have to pick up all over again.

Any suggestions and advice will be most appreciated.


Walking without Paws

Bet many of you have not seen how a cat walks without two front paws.

No one knows why and how Kenggy is without her front paws. When Kenggy waddles to EJ for a cuddle, EJ had to sit on the floor and not move at all. Usually EJ will grimace when Kenggy's front legs walk on EJ's thighs.

Without paws, Kenggy's front legs are just bone ends covered with skin and fur. Moving with her rump much higher than her shoulders due to those shortened front legs, EJ could feel the pressure of Kenggy's weight on those stumps and it hurts.

If EJ could feel the bone ends, EJ believes Kenggy would feel more and hurt more.
Those spots where Kenggy rests and walk on are devoid of fur. In its place are calloused skin.

Kenggy is such a pretty, loving girl with immense optimism, determination and fighting spirit.

If you wish to know how Kenggy waddled into EJ's life, please click here.

06 May 2010

Mom made Music on Erhu

A woeful screechy wail pierced through the quiet night.

EJ and brothers stared at each other. Without a spoken word, they immediately left the dining hall, went into their bedroom and closed the door.

Mom was practising on her erhu.

The erhu consists of a long vertical stick-like neck, at the top of which are two large tuning pegs, and at the bottom is a small resonator body (sound box) which is covered with python skin on the front (playing) end. Two strings are attached from the pegs to the base, and a small loop of string (qian jin) placed around the neck and strings acting as a nut pulls the strings towards the skin, holding a small wooden bridge in place.
Various dense and heavy hardwoods are used in making the erhu. According to Chinese references the woods include zi tan (red sandalwood and other woods of the genus Pterocarpus such as padauk), lao hong mu (aged red wood), wu mu (black wood), and hong mu (red wood). Particularly fine erhus are often made from pieces of old furniture. A typical erhu measures 81 cm from top to bottom, the length of the bow also being 81 cm.
source from wikipedia.org

Mom played on two erhu-s. EJ's brother bought this beautiful erhu with dragon head and snakeskin soundbox from a friend. And when mom's erhu teacher commented that this erhu's tone was too high to match the rest of the erhu-s in her group, mom bought her own - a plain one.

This dragon head snakeskin erhu is now displayed in the owner's house in Toronto. The owner, EJ's brother, does not know how to play but who knows he may one day decide to learn.

Erhu makes versatile and beautiful music. Name of the music played on this video clip is The Horse Race.

Of course mom could not and did not play like this man but EJ is pretty sure that this next clip was one of the many songs mom learnt and played.

Many, many moons later, one night when EJ and brothers were at the dining hall, they heard soft, soothing music. All looked up and at each other, eyes wide opened with jaws slightly dropped in realising who made that music. Dropped jaws slowly turned into a knowing smiles and they continued doing what they were doing. No more scurrying off to their rooms to stay behind closed doors.

This was more than 25 years ago. Now mom, an octogenarian and approaching 90, does not play anymore. Her erhu is somewhere in her bedroom where no one touches it.

EJ would like to wish all mothers (human and animal) Happy Mother's Day and hope that these lovely music will bring back happy memories.

04 May 2010

The Big Squeeze

It is baffling why in the world do they do this?

Why do cats love squeezing into small areas making owners feeling extremely uncomfortable and visitors as well as onlookers very entertained. Not that there are no space for them to stretch out. There are nicer, ample places and yet....

Mind-boggling and beyond comprehension!

Care to explain, anyone?