Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Boxing Day Visit to Harbour Town

We went to many places on Boxing Day. After shopping around the city, we caught the rickety old City Circle Tram to get to Docklands. We saw the ads for Harbour Town on TV and wanted to check out the new factory outlet type shops and to see the big Ferris wheel. No, we didn’t pay for a Ferris wheel ride. It is new and the fare is still very expensive (imo). We didn’t receive any free money to give away. So, we are hoping that there will be some specials by around middle of next year. We might go on a ride then. I don’t feel like we miss out if we don’t because the ride seemed to be terribly slow. Here is a shot of the wheel that I took while M was looking inside Sanity.

Show & Tell: Christmas Pressies

M is not allowed to buy me any surprise pressies. Everything has to be pre-approved by me first. That’s partly because I am fussy but it is also because I have a never ending obsession in proving to the world that I am not a ‘gold digger’. Everything M gives me has to be practical and these days, each item has to be of super value too.

The only item that was bought before Christmas was a puzzle. (I was wrong when I declared in a post before Christmas that I didn’t get myself a single thing.) That, along with the two books on evolution, is an item for my dream classroom and is therefore deemed acceptable. The books: “World Atlas of Dinosaurs” and “Evolving Planet” were bought on Boxing Day at Dymocks. I love the 20% discount on offer for almost everything at the bookstore at this time of the year. Hopefully, the contents of the books will help me in my story telling effort.

The other book: “Wealthier than you think!” is one that I had originally wanted last Christmas. The title is listed in our local library but I don’t think they have actually bought it yet. Since it was only $16 at Target, M got me a copy. I have read bits of it at Reader’s Feast and it is from this book that I first got the OK to be frugal during the silly season. M promised to read it after me.

M also bought me a Tefal Wok from Kmart and two food containers from Big W. Yeah; we went to many places on Boxing Day. The Wok was 50% off its retail price. Along with a recent discovery of a special cooking ingredient at China Town, I am looking forward to using this Wok to make “Drunken Chicken” for Chinese New Year at the end of January. Woks also make it easy for any lousy cook (like me) to make Chahan without spilling anything. My other big Wok died a while ago and I have been using a ‘deepish’ frypan from IKEA in the last year and a half. My wish is to buy another Scanpan but if I managed to ruin one before, I still can’t trust myself to spend so much on another one.

The only ‘non-practical’ item that Moosh bought for me was a tin of Arnott’s biscuits. On Boxing Day, it was reduced to around $3.50 and I agreed to buy it. I don’t think it is entirely ‘non-practical’. There definitely is some use for it in the dream classroom one day. The unique shape is just so adorable. May be I should store teabags in it for when the ‘bikkies’ are all gone.

That’s my show and tell. I hope everyone reading this agreed that I did stick to the goal of receiving practical items only. There will be another show and tell post later. Moosh’s mum bought me something I had considered buying last year.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Lonely Little Santa Hat

Merry Christmas Everybody

The picture is of my Guinea Pig's Santa hat sitting on his 'blankie' (which is more like a Winter cover for his cage).

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Behaving Like A Green Spoilt Brat

I was behaving like a spoilt brat that was also totally green with envy all weekend. I had originally intended to spend a happy weekend shopping with M but by Friday evening, my Christmas spirit of giving went out the window.

We went shopping for gift cards and food items to make hampers in the city on Saturday. We went to Target to buy Coles Myer gift cards but the only ones available had “Happy Birthday” printed on them and the rest (including Christmas themed ones) were cards useable at Target only. So, we bought only two. M wanted to buy his brother a gift card from Bunnings instead. After stopping by Borders, we went to buy lollipops from Suga and chocolates from Haigh’s. According to M, I was carrying on like something had stuck up my rear end and he suggested that we go buy a plunger!

We went to Highpoint again on Sunday. The place was quite crowded by the time we got there. With his family’s gifts mostly sorted out, except for the Bunnings gift card, I was supposed to enjoy myself but found myself increasingly green with envy. The more shops we entered, the more things I seemed to think I ‘needed’ and was unwilling to part with the cash to buy. I simply did not wish to spend our own hard earned cash. A part of me is hoping that we too are entitled to free money to waste but another part of me is thinking that my parents never raised me to live like that. On the way out of the shopping centre, we suddenly remembered that we had to cross the busy road to buy a gift card from Bunnings. It was warm and we were fed up. So, we changed our mind and headed back to the city. We went back to Target hoping to get another gift card from them but it was already closed. You would think that they would have extended hours at this time of the year!

M is all set for Christmas and New Year. He has got his outfits and a ‘Get Smart – Season 1’ DVD that he has already unsealed and viewed last night. As for me, I haven’t got myself a single thing as yet. Even the mascot has a new outfit. I guess I am still really hoping that some one not related to me would buy me pressies simply because it is a way to prop up the economy. LOL. That is one Christmas wish that will never happen for people like us. LOL.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

I Can't Help It!

I am not sure if I have any regular visitors to this blog but I hope my readers do not find me pathetic because I post so much about my Guinea Pig. Yes, this is another post about him. He appeared cheerfully in my dream again this morning. In the dream, I was doing something in the living room when I heard noises coming from within his cage. I lifted his 'blankie' to find my Guinea Pig peering back at me with a very cheerful facial expression. He was very excited to see me. I was too. I went up to the side of the cage and blew him multiple kisses. I must have moved in my sleep because the dream was rudely interrupted right after that. Nevertheless I am glad to 'see' him even though it was just a dream.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

‘Frugal’ Christmas

The way M and I celebrate Christmas has always been very commercialised and very different to how I was brought up. We spend so much on the little ones (nephews & nieces). I have been pushing for a different way of celebrating Christmas for a few years now but we both always got swept up by all the excitement and ended up over spending year after year. M finally, albeit reluctantly, decided to give it a go this year.

Of course I am overjoyed at his decision but M prefers that I keep my feelings to myself. I win but I am asked to celebrate privately. LOL. Christmas shopping is now a touchy topic. He is worried that our change is too radical and there might be a dummy spitting episode on Christmas day. We are going to explain that we changed because we are worried about the impact of the current global financial crisis in the coming New Year. The crisis is indeed frightening but there is one other reason and we have decided to keep it private for now. We are also hoping that people are so happy with Santa Rudd’s recent money gifts that they don’t realise that Santa M didn’t cough up a tonne of gifts.

I may have successfully convinced M to change the way we celebrate Christmas this year but I don’t think I am the Grinch. It’s not like I am totally against buying presents. We just buy less. Instead of individual presents, we buy each group a gift card plus a hamper. Gift cards are great because they offer more flexibility and the group can come together to discuss what to purchase. And since M was willing to make the change, I am willing to also make a compromise. M preferred each hamper to be filled with products/junk food from shops like Haigh’s and Suga, and I am ‘happy’ to oblige. Just by changing our ways a little, we are saving at least 40-50% of what we would have normally spent on gifts at Christmas time. If we can keep this up next year and then the year after that, we sure will be on the road to celebrating our future Christmases in less commercialised ways. A permanent change would be really nice. As mentioned before, there is an important reason why we need to achieve this and I wish to share it with the world one day, just not now. Let’s just say that cultivating such a good habit now will make things easier to handle in the near future.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Unsightly Hole Is Gone!

The painter and his apprentice were here today, to fix a hole in the wall and to give that wall a fresh coat of paint. A plumber had made the hole years earlier when he was checking for leakage. To ensure consistency, the painter suggested that we have all the walls on the left side of the living areas repainted (including the little nook where my Guinea Pig used to be). I nearly fainted when I heard this suggestion because that meant that I had to move our furniture and stuff again to make way for the painters. M hasn’t been home these last few days. Before he left for work, he helped me to move some of the larger pieces of furniture to create space for the painters. For some funny reason, last night I felt that the painters might need more space and then proceeded to move our belongings myself, before my bedtime. Then when the painter suggested painting all the walls on the left side this morning, I had to move a lot of the stuff once again! Eager to have the hole mended, I was quite surprise that I handled it without any whingeing.

When the kind painter was fetching some water in the bathroom, he noticed the shoddy work done by the previously mentioned plumber in our shower, to stop a leak. He came out laughing and asked if that was my own handy work. Until I saw what he was referring to, I wondered if he was laughing at our attempts in whitening the grout lines. I ended up telling him about what happened years ago and he kindly offered to fix one tile that was threatening to fall or break off the wall. He went on to explain that the tiles in the shower area should be retiled. He was in a total disbelief that the two lines of ugly tiles were the work of a qualified plumber.

Santa Rudd is not offering people like us any money but these last couple of days has been like my Christmas has come early this year. My hallway light is working again. We also have a brand new fan in the toilet and today, the hole that has been bugging me is gone. On top of that, the walls on the left side have all been given a fresh coat of paint. What more do I want? I am over the moon! M will be home tomorrow. He has promised to move the furniture and our belongings back to their original state. I will make him his favourite Chicken Minestrone soup. It’s nice that it is still cool enough to have soups at this time of the year.
PS. This painter is nice to his apprentice. He was not rude to him. In fact he explained new procedures patiently and also listen to the apprentice's opinions/suggestions.

Let There Be Daylight!

The electrician came yesterday. He was only a few minutes late but that’s OK. I am super happy to tell the whole wide world that our hallway light is fixed and we have a brand new toilet fan. Woo Hoo! In comparison to the old toilet fan, this new one performs like it has been turbo boosted! As for the hallway light, the socket for the light bulb was broken and had to be replaced. We opted again for another energy saver light bulb (Philips Tornado) and were very lucky to find a cool daylight one this time. You won’t believe how hard it is to find cool daylight ones in the CBD area. Now we have a super bright hallway. The electrician also put in a new door seal for our oven but I am still not too sure about it. The seal looks a little flimsy and skinny. I hope it will do the job and not melt while the oven is doing its job. Imagine the toxic fumes! It must be a lot deadlier than the paint I am breathing in right now.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Rainy Day Project – Christmas Cards 2008

It has been raining all day today. I like the rain because I want the lawn in the common area to stay green for as long as possible. So, instead of heading to the city, I stayed at home to make this year’s Christmas cards. The cards designated for immediate family members are handmade. As in the past few years, this set features our little Guinea Pig. It will be the last time he ‘plays’ a part in our Christmas cards and his role this time is only minor. The cards are not 100% completed yet. I am hoping that the rain will go away by tomorrow so I can pop into Big W to buy some more stickers. A couple of the cards still need a little extra sprucing up.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Our Christmas Star

This morning, my beloved Guinea Pig briefly appeared to me in my dream, just before I woke up. He seemed happy and cheerful. He was in his cage and he had parked himself near his water bottle with his front paws perched on his food bowl. I was of course happy to see him in my dream.

M received a phone call on Monday afternoon. It was a courtesy call from Harvey Norman notifying us that the porcelain ornament we had ordered was ready for pick up. That was a pleasant surprise because it was not meant to be ready until the 15th. We picked it up today and we are very happy with the results. The star will play a part in our Christmas cards this year. It will be the last set of Christmas cards featuring our little Guinea Pig friend.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

7 Months On…

I tried not thinking about today all week. I don’t really want to face up to the fact that my Guinea Pig left us for 7 months already. Yesterday, M requested that we go somewhere different today. Somewhere different meant going somewhere not located within the CBD. We ended up going to Malvern because I wanted to go to the Spotlight store there. It was only when we got there that we learned that the store has been relocated to Carnegie. Bummer!

At the Target store inside Malvern Plaza, we came across a children’s book that consists of a number of well known picture books featuring animals. One of the stories included was “I Love Guinea-Pigs” by Dick King-Smith. We already have a copy of that particular picture book at home. I have been avoiding books on Guinea Pigs in our own collection since he left us. I just felt uncomfortable.

After a phone call to my dad this evening, I dug out the picture book to read it again and I really liked what the author wrote at the end. The author wrote about not being sad of his Guinea Pigs’ departure and was simply happy to remember the pleasure he had gained from all of his Guinea Pigs. The author’s two favourite Guinea Pigs are resting peacefully under an apple tree. They are remembered every time he enjoys the view of the tree. When I sent my Guinea Pig away for cremation, I had intended to remember him by having his ashes in an urn nearby. All that has gone on or didn’t go on has made it so very hard for me to remember him properly. Now, I really know what it feels like to not know exactly where one’s loved ones final resting place is even, though this particular loved one is not human. I probably have already mentioned this before but that’s really how I feel. Fortunately though, getting through each day is getting easier. We, I in particular, are still talking about my Guinea Pig everyday. Qukes are in season again and we saw them at Safeway yesterday. I bet if he could write, our Guinea Pig would have added that to our shopping lists in the past. Little things like Qukes still remind me of him but I was surprised that I handled myself pretty well.

We have ordered a star shaped porcelain Christmas ornament with a picture of our Guinea Pig a little over a week ago. It’s due to be picked up on the 15th. We ordered this one at Harvey Norman hoping that it will be ready on time. If it turns out beautiful, I will take a photo of it and post it here.

My Mum’s Secret Plan

By the time this is posted on my blog, my mum, my brother and SIL must be settling into their new surroundings at a cooking school. The trio, led by my mum, have signed up for a cooking course abroad. I was kept in the dark about the details because a worry wart like me will definitely try to put a stop to their plans. My dad revealed the secret to me on Tuesday. As usual, he did it by pretending to let the cat out of the bag accidentally. I hit the roof no less. It may be too late to persuade them not to go but it is never too late to spend the rest of December worrying. The trio are not returning home until after Christmas! My poor dad will be spending it alone! And instead of sharing a scrumptious dinner with us to celebrate the Chinese Winter festival, a dutiful relative and his wife will stand in for us this year.

According to the lunar calendar, Thursday was my mum’s birthday. She doesn’t celebrate her birthdays, neither do I. We just don’t seem to see the point of it. That’s one of a few things that we do share in common. Otherwise, we are pretty much like chalk and cheese. At 70 now (71 in Chinese years), I have been wishing for my mum to slow down perhaps my entire life. When I was a child, all I wanted was for mum to spend time with me. These days, I just want her to stay put for her own safety. My dad and I are pretty much resigned to the fact that nothing will ever dampen her spirit of adventure. Not even that botched up hip replacement surgery from years ago slowed her down. Come to think of it, she travelled less this year and I suppose I should also be happy that she isn’t dragging my dad along this time. Long distance flying and overindulgence of food and alcohol is not good to his system.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

My Short Crush on John Pomfret

I have been reading a book called “Chinese Lessons” this past week. I had seen the book in bookshops before but I wasn’t interested until it was spotted in the library a week ago. It is one of those books that you may find hard to put down once you get started and I had a crush on the author right from the beginning. LOL. I fall easily for adventurous Western (not to be confused with cowboys) men who can forego the comforts of the Western/Developed world to live elsewhere for a while. John Pomfret scored even higher marks when I learned that he is multilingual. Now, as almost always, I read neither what was written inside the front jacket nor what was inside the back jacket, I started the book knowing only that he went to China. It was towards the end of the book that I learned that he was already married with children. Bummer! LOL. That was good news to the slightly jealous M who has begun to call him ‘Fred’ to annoy me. LOL.

The book struck a chord with me because I too had spent some time in Nanjing many years ago. I was only there for about a month and a half though. John Pomfret went to Nanjing in the early 80’s when he was 22. I was younger than him when I went there in the mid 90’s – the December when that Big Bluffer Ye was appointed deputy chief of Nanjing’s Drum Tower District. I also got to Nanjing by train. To the utter horror of my parents, I talked my uncle and cousin into buying two tickets for my then boyfriend and I to travel to Nanjing from Guangzhou by train. I didn’t attend Nanda though. I spent my time improving my pronunciation at Nanjing Normal University with my own personal tutor in a big classroom. So, why was I given the special treatment? The reasons to that depend on who you ask!

Chapter 4 was especially hard to read. What happened to Old Wu’s parents was absolutely awful and it happened right on the lawn that I used to walk past almost daily. At the time when I was there, I knew very little about China’s recent history (post 1949). I had only just started to take an interest in what happened to Nanjing in WWII. My tutor and I used to visit the campus library to dig up books about the 1937 massacre. She thought I was rather odd to be so interested. So while I was quite capable of imagining the campus being part of the safety zone during the war, I was shocked to learn that the very same lawn also witnessed another bout of brutality against humanity and the complete madness that occurred during the Cultural Revolution. I too wondered how Old Wu could accept a teaching job at NNU after his graduation from Nanda. He must possess an infinite ability to ‘ren’.

Wow! That’s a lot that I have revealed about myself. I hardly talk about my experiences in Nanjing. The trip was one big adventure. I was on a high even though I developed minor chest problems when I left China and required asthmatic medication when I got home. My mum was proud of me. I was the first in my generation to have stayed for a period of time in China. Since the ban was lifted around 1990, most of us returned only for short visits. The high was short-lived. I came crashing down when I was informed of a death about two weeks after I left China. The death of this person shook me to the core and it forever changed me as an adult. It not only overshadowed my Nanjing experience, it sent my sense of adventure packing. From then on, the old adventurous Priscilla was packed away and a new pathetic Priscilla emerged. Poor M has never seen the old Priscilla. He has only heard of her in the stories that I told him.

A Break In, Being Sick & Busy Cleaning

I have not been blogging much this month because I have been busy. At the beginning of the month, we were shocked to find out that our storage unit was broken into and we were requested to move to another unit. Nothing was stolen. We weren’t the only one broken into; the stupid man also broke into the other units next to us as well. He has no problem gaining access into the building because he is the owner of the units that he broke into, but we rent our unit from the storage company that manages the whole building. So, while he has access into the building (to access his own unit if he has one), he has no right to break into the other units. I was very cross with this individual. Even though the storage company had already contacted the authorities, we were given details of him in case we wanted to take the matter further. A person like him is why I really can’t stand big headed hotshots. I don’t care that he is an executive of a giant mining company but idiots like him is one reason why I wish to live in a rural property far away. Unfortunately, someone like me may not be welcomed by rural communities.

The rest of the month was spent cleaning our apartment meticulously from top to bottom in preparations for the upcoming festive seasons. This late Spring Cleaning is absolutely essential because our festive seasons start with Christmas and ends on the 15th day of the Lunar New Year celebrations (which I think will fall on March 6th in 2009). We have been incredibly lucky to be blessed with beautiful weather most of this month. Temperatures under 24°c are ideal for cleaning. I am not a very nice person when the temperature soars above 32°c. This is why it is so crucial to get things done thoroughly now before the arrival of the super hot days. That said, it doesn’t mean that we won’t be doing any cleaning between now and March! We just do less. Hopefully the temperature in the days leading to the Lunar New Year celebrations will be just as good but I doubt it. For some funny reason, just the thought of the LNYC makes me craving for Nian Gao. I normally don’t even like that stuff.

M started the second half of his annual holidays last weekend. He has been looking forward to another break but he came home with a bug instead and came down with a cold within hours of arriving home. As usual, I was so angry at him for being sick and banished him from the bedroom. Luckily our Guinea Pig is no longer with us. Despite our careful attention in hygiene to prevent transmission, M managed to pass the cold to me. Before bed on Monday night, I felt like there was something in my throat. By the time I got up on Tuesday, I had a full blown sore throat like someone had smuggled razor blades into my throat while I was sleeping. Then I seemed to have gotten better on Wednesday but that was the calm before the storm. That evening the fever hit. I slept a little and then dashed to the toilet to puke, repeating the same process over and over for hours. M steered clear most of the time because that was expected of him but I found out later that he did pop in every now and then to check on me. I asked him to pull a face to show me what I had looked like when I was sick. If his acting was accurate, I conclude that I look pretty much like a dying water creature in a lot of pain. LOL.

Despite passing the cold to me, M has been a champ in helping to give the apartment a good clean. He was needed to clean all the hard to reach areas. Most of all, I liked how he patiently re-whitened the grout lines in the bathroom. Super white grout lines are very important to me. M will pick up the Christmas tree on Wednesday and we hope to have it up and looking pretty by Saturday.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Andre Rieu Gave Me a Signed Picture

On my way home from the city today, I heard the 'Bananas in Pyjamas' tune coming from Fed Square. I am glad that I went over to check out what was happening because I got to see Andre Rieu practising with his orchestra on stage. At the end of his practise session, he hung around to greet his fans. I deeply regretted not bringing my camera because I was so close to him. Seeing other people asking for autographs, including a mum who was not happy with the autograph her young son received, I wondered if I should do the same. I didn't have anything for him to sign though. It would be rather weird to ask him to sign a Montessori book in my bag! Then he reached into his pocket and took out a stack of pictures. His assistant handed him a silver marker so he could autograph them before handing them out. The man was not only warm and friendly, he even gave each recipient a few seconds of his time. Ok, here is another little secret about me. I have trouble giving and maintaining eye contact and was about to chicken out when he saw me. After signing the picture, he looked me straight into my eyes and smiled as he handed it to me. I put on my very best smile and thank him, in return. Trust me, that was a very big effort on my part!

I am of course over the moon that I got to see him play and I got to 'meet' him even though it was only for a brief few seconds. When he popped in at ABC a few days ago, I thought the closest I could get to him was to share the air of my 'neighbourhood'. LOL. Unfortunately, my worries about the current financial crisis and not knowing what will happen next meant that I will not be going to his concert even though it is right here in Melbourne. That really is a shame! I still really want to go!

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Pantry Cupboard Door

Our little Guinea Pig learnt very early on that the sound of the pantry door opening and closing was linked to the possibility of a treat (dry food) for him. He was also particularly sensitive to sounds from the kitchen, especially any sounds to do with the fridge or chopping board. He knew that was linked to the possibility of other treats (vegetables) for him. As soon as he detected these sounds, he would emerge from his little ‘room’ and squeak joyfully in anticipation for a treat that might come his way. As soon as anyone of us walked past the cage, he would stand up on his hind feet or crawl up the side of the cage. When he was very happy, he would do a little dance called ‘Popcorn’ and when he was little; this was also followed by a race around the cage. Around and around he went. We soon realised that we weren’t able to get to the kitchen to get a drink without attracting his attention. I didn’t like disappointing him whenever I needed to get something else for ourselves from the pantry cupboard. Eventually, I began to leave the pantry cupboard door slightly ajar so that no noise was made when we needed to access it for ourselves. But when I did go to the pantry cupboard to get him something, I sometimes deliberately shut the door and then re-opened it again to ‘notify’ him of an impending treat. His reaction was just so funny to watch. LOL. Even though he left us six months ago, I noticed the other day that the habit of leaving the door ajar stayed stuck. I miss him so much.


I woke up very early on Monday morning and couldn’t get back to sleep immediately because my first thought was of my little Guinea Pig. I suddenly missed how he used to request for a bit of attention by parking himself near the side door of his cage. It dawned on me again that I won’t ever be getting any of that from him anymore. It is six months on and it is still hurting. People must think that I am crazy but try get yourself a pet and you will learn the bond that can develop between an animal and its human friend.

To avoid waking M up from his much needed hibernation, I dragged myself out of bed to wait in the living room until I was ready to return to the land of Nod. So I sat and stared at my Guinea Pig’s photo for a good few minutes before realising that the last Formula 1 race for the year must have just finished. Eager to find out before M, I turned on the telly to see how Louis Hamilton went. He won but I didn’t jump around like an idiot to celebrate his win. I just sat there feeling very happy for him. I also felt happy that an interracial person had won the championship. He has been on the list of potential role models for any children I might have since his debut on the tracks. When I heard that the Queen of England congratulated him, I instantly thought how amazing it must be for him to get her seal of approval. More and more will see him as a Brit now. He apparently had wanted to win this since he was 6 and his dream had really come true!

M and I had the telly on the moment we got up on Wednesday. Depending on the channel we were watching, the election results were different. I just simply wanted M to tell me the good news but even though we wanted the same outcome, he was not stupid enough to promise me anything as he knew very well what would happened if the results changed. The suspense was too much. So we left to go to the library first. I think it was when we were heading to ALDI that it became official that Barack Obama had won the election. He too is on my list of potential role models. On our way back, I suggested that we check the big screen at Fed Square to see if it was broadcasting the results. When we saw the few people that gathered there, we thought the screen was probably broadcasting something else but we were wrong. SBS news was on and we arrived just in time to witness McCain’s speech. I was over the moon to learn for sure that Barack Obama had won. Despite my trademarked straight face, I was bursting with excitement and kept asking myself, “Is this for real? Could this possibly be happening in my lifetime?” I have always thought that it is unfair that only Americans can vote for a new president. This is because whoever they vote in impacts on the rest of the world as well. It turned out that American voters must have come to their own senses this time. America is suddenly beautiful again in my mind.

My view of the world can be rather gloomy and this has a lot to do with my life experiences. The two wins this week have given me a bit more hope. In fact, I think they both have indirectly given hope to minorities and interracial people around the world. The next time I come across one of those “Future Prime Minister” bibs when I go shopping for gifts, I don’t think I will cancel it out immediately. Obama’s win changes everything. I now feel that I too am entitled to parent a potential future Prime Minister but seriously though, I will never wish it upon any children we might have.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Speedy Kitchen Clean Up

The first question I asked myself when I got up this morning was “How are you going to waste your day today, Priscilla?” I didn’t like such a negative outlook at the start of the day and was determined to not let the whole day go downhill, I speedily gave the kitchen a much needed clean up. Since my trusty vacuum cleaner was used to give the kitchen floors a once over, I quickly vacuumed the rest of our little apartment as well. There was a time when I was very house proud. Nowadays I no longer clean up religiously and tend to postpone any chores for as long as possible!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Bookshop: A Place to Meet a Potential ‘Soul Mate’

I once heard that a bookshop or a library is a good place to meet the opposite sex but didn’t quite believe it until I saw it happening during a recent trip to Reader’s Feast to hunt down a Japanese cook book by Harumi Kurihara. Another guy was travelling down the escalators with me to get to the store’s entrance. As always, I went straight to the pillar of ‘new release’ books first. After that, I went to check out the books on display behind the window. The guy with whom I shared the escalator ride to get to the store earlier was there also. He seemed nervous and I almost instantly thought it was due to my presence. To give him the space that I think he should be entitled to, I went over to the cooking books section, which is next to the window. A young Asian woman was already there. She sat on a step-up stool with a large cooking book spread open on her lap. She had parked herself right where the Asian cookbooks were and I debated whether to come back later or just check out other cookbooks until she left. I chose the later and lived to regret it. LOL. As I was flipping through a cookbook, the nervous guy from before turned up to my right and the young woman was seated to my left. I happened to look up at him and noticed that he was looking at her. Next, I felt him looking at me and when I looked up to meet his eyes; I noticed that he was trying to figure something out. No, it’s not the kind of looks a guy sends out when he is interested in a girl. Honestly, there must be something wrong with him if he was interested in me. LOL. Of course, I instantly wondered if I invaded his private space again. This time though I was unwilling to move on because I was there first. Moreover, I really wanted to check out the Asian cookbooks section to see if the book I was after was there. So, I stayed. After a couple of unbearable minutes, the guy spoke. He looked at me as he said, “So, this is where you hide during your break.” I was totally confused and thought, “Oh no, this is a friend of M and I didn’t recognise his face!” I was still wondering who he was when I heard the voice of a woman from my left saying, “Oh, I am just looking at these beautiful cookbooks.” That was when I realised that he was talking to her after all. Why would a guy like him speak to someone like me anyway? There was a brief moment of silence for a while and then I felt that he was giving me the looks again. When I looked up, he gave me a weak smile and only then I realised the non-verbal message on his face – “Beat it! Can’t a guy pick up a girl without someone like you hanging around?” I hastily retreated to an armchair between the business section and the children’s section. There I sat browsing a book on dinosaurs as I waited for the potential lovebirds to leave except that M turned up first and was quite amused by my choice of reading.
Elders have always taught children not to eavesdrop but did anyone try doing that when people are talking loudly nearby. Unlike the eyes, the ears can’t be shut to block the sounds of other peoples’ speech from filtering in. From where I was seated, I could hear the conversation that was going and it was going one way most of the time. I did try to not judge or laugh when he tried many times to impress her with his knowledge of the capital city of her home country even though she stated at least a couple of times that she was from another part of the country. I am just glad that M was not like that. We too are in an inter-racial relationship but I think I would have been quite horrified if M's initial approach was like that. The guy probably thought that she would be more at ease by displaying his familiarity of her country. I feel kind of uncomfortable when people openly display too much of what they know out loud. An overtly confident guy who is full of himself can be quite off putting.

All that waiting around was for nothing. After the lovebirds left the store, I went over to see if the Japanese cookbook I was after was there and it wasn’t there after all. M asked why I have to wait around like that when I am just as entitled to be at the bookshop as them. I should have stayed and politely asked her to move so I could check the range of Asian/Japanese cookbooks but something in me just doesn’t feel good about doing that. I just hate to interrupt certain people in certain places. Now, if I was shopping on my own that day, I would have left to try other bookstores but I was stuck that day because I was also waiting for M to turn up.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Getting There Slowly But Ahead of Schedule

I am still in the middle of revamping our living areas, slowly sorting the mounds of stuff into three piles: Donation, Keep and Chuck. To trim the amount of stuff for keeping, I also need to double sort that pile to see if I have changed my mind about something. While I found it hard to believe that we had accumulated so much junk, it is fun re-discovering some stuff that we have completely forgotten about. M and I laughed ourselves silly at the notes that we left for each other. Some of them dated back to when we moved in together. We also spent some time looking at products in catalogues we have collected; realising sadly that money can’t buy most of these beautiful items again. Some of these catalogues are only 8 years old! It is so sad to see how fierce global competition has forced reputable companies around the world into downgrading their quality standards.

The sorting and chucking also freed up an old plastic crate that rolls under the sound system cabinet situated within my work area. Boy was I glad that it was big enough to be the new home for my recently serviced overlocker. The poor thing used to have a home in one of the bookcases until M recently reclaimed that entire bookcase for his growing collection of ‘books’ and the overlocker was thus made homeless. With this new arrangement, the machine can now be stored out of sight when not in use and still be within easy reach. It is handy to have my machines and tools nearby.

With my fingers crossed, I think we can complete what we have set out to do by the end of the week. It looks like we are ahead of schedule. We are already enjoying the fruits of revamping the living areas. The place just feels more homely. The next thing I want to tackle is the pantry. We don’t have a walk-in pantry. Ours is a mini version designed for small apartments. Despite its size, things can go crazy because we have a tendency to stuff all sorts of things in there. I wish that the entire pantry is all organized before M takes his next lot of holidays in November.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Dried Food & Chicken Parmigiana

Sleep was rough the last two nights. Last night was rather windy and that kept me waking up almost every two hours. Settling down was impossible until around 7:00 this morning! I did manage to have quite a few eventful dreams when I did manage to get some shut eye. Here is one of them.

At the start of the dream, I was cooking in the kitchen. I said to myself, “He is not in the cage. He is not there anymore.” This was referring to my Guinea Pig, whose cage/home was located down the hallway near the kitchen. Then a house guest appeared and requested to try my Chicken Parmigiana. LOL. I was making Chicken Parmigiana. I don’t think I have ever made this dish in real life before. When the house guest went back to her bedroom, I walked over to my Guinea Pig’s cage because I thought I heard a noise and when I lifted up his covers, I found him waiting for me cheerfully. He was in a jolly good mood to see me. He walked over to his bowl and then came back to me. Noticing that his bowl was almost empty, I suggested that I get him some dry food. When I did get the dry food from the pantry, I didn’t pour some into his bowl. Instead, I just sprinkled a handful near his front paws and he went for it like mad. I watched him eat and laughed at the piece of corn stuck on his nose until the house guest came out of her room asking what happened to the Chicken Parmigiana.

It was only after this dream that I was able to settle down for an undisturbed sleep. Unfortunately, I couldn’t sleep in for too long because there were things to do. Hopefully, I will have better sleep tonight. My dreams tend to be pretty eventful, taking me into situations (like cooking Chicken Parmigiana) that I normally do not carry out in real life. That’s probably one way my mind is trying to bring in some excitement in my all so boring life.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

More Plastic

I am still slowly sorting through the mess in our home. The storage problem around my work area is now pretty much fixed. Worried that I might be hit by another flood, I have transferred all of my semi precious Blackline Masters into two existing plastic boxes and bought a compatible plastic craft box from Big W to store my growing sewing supplies. These three boxes stack up very nicely. The transfer freed up two black paperboard boxes and I used one to store objects that I have been collecting for Montessori purposes, whilst the other one is used to store incomplete sewing projects – these are projects I had started around the time I stopped attending sewing lessons and am now stuck on because I needed help to complete them. Other things stacked or placed neatly under my desk now include two other plastic boxes housing sewing supplies, my new laminator, my puzzle maker and my trusty sewing machine in its very daggy carry bag.

My desk is pretty big but it is usually cluttered with all kinds of stuff because being a part time crafty person, I am forever accumulating a punch here, a stencil there and had given little thought to how I should store them. At times, the clutter has been quite a put off. So I bought another one of those plastic drawers from Officeworks to store these bits and pieces. With everything hidden inside the three drawers, the desk did not only look neater instantly, I also rediscovered precious freed up space as well. We already had a similar plastic desktop organizer except that the old one has 5 drawers instead of 3. That one is used for our complicated finance system. The two organizers are now parked side by side on my desk with my loyal lamp sitting on top of one of them. Someone once informed my mum that I was becoming a spendthrift for buying that lamp. Sixteen and a half years later, this lamp is still loyally doing its job and required only one replacement of its light bulb about 4 years ago. Back to the organizers, because they are light and mobile, I really like how they can be stationed somewhere else temporarily for when I need extra space.

Sometimes I wonder if anyone is reading my ramblings. Part of the reason that I am blogging about how I/we tackle my/our mess is because I think it will encourage me to do more. I am hoping to get rid of the mess by the end of November, at the latest. Part of me is also feeling horrible for solving my storage problems by purchasing and using things made of plastic. I had really wanted to buy wooden boxes from IKEA and I especially liked the ones called SNACK. If I had chosen to do that, I would have to buy enough to replace all of the plastic boxes under my desk for a uniform look and that would have been quite pricey. We have allocated a small budget to ‘upgrade’ our living areas and so far, M has already used up his portion and I have only $20 left in my portion. So, going for natural products is out of the question this time. Plastic can’t possibly be all bad, can it? Despite the guilt, I do feel more assured knowing that some of my fragile paper possessions are now safely stored in waterproofed containers.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Third Trip to IKEA

We have visited IKEA three times in just four weeks. That means that we have visited the big store at least 4 or 5 times so far this year. We went on Saturday solely to return some boxes that I bought hastily on the previous Sunday. We have never returned anything we have bought from IKEA prior to this and weren’t quite sure how the store would entertain us. The service was surprisingly good and friendly. They gave us full refund even though I had unwrapped one of the boxes from its plastic packaging.

The trip was meant to be ‘punishment’ for M for hurrying me. The devil in me was looking forward to dragging him through the store again but the devil in him was on leave and M ended up being a pleasant shopping companion on the day. We didn’t go through the whole store because we didn’t have the time. We bought a soft toy for a niece and then went downstairs to inspect their range of frying pans. I wasn’t quite sure of their quality and ended up not buying any. Now I will have to continue using our sticky frypan until Christmas time.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Happy Birthday Paddington!

It is apparently Paddington Bear's birthday. He is 50! The first gift (excluding flowers) M gave me was a Paddington Bear in a red duffle coat, blue hat and black gumboots/Wellington boots. We had only known each other not that long when he bought the bear from a very expensive toy shop. In comparison to current price tags, Paddington used to be pricey back then. Today, the bear stands dutifully next to our bed. I better go check and see if he needs vacuuming.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Time Wasting & Living in a Mess

One of the things that I had wanted to tackle during the holidays was to reorganize the living areas to make it more homely and less like a work space. We had neglected our little home (or ‘Pigeon Hole’ to some) in recent years, turning the open plan living areas into one big work space ‘littered’ with projects in various stages of completion. When we went to Victoria Gardens to pick up some spare parts we had ordered at Howards Storage World a week before the holidays, we dropped by IKEA. M patiently explored the big store with me. I found that strange because M doesn’t like IKEA very much. We left after collecting the latest catalogue and came away with lots of ideas on how to improve our living areas.

In the days after the big flood, I was plagued with unfounded worries of a leak in the water pipe under the hallway and the kitchen. Although it sounds stupid now, I was truly convinced that something horribly wrong was happening all because one area of the hallway took longer to dry. I was so worried that our home may turn into the Apartment of Mould, just like the House of Mould that I saw on TV. Instead of using our free time productively, I argued and picked on M for not taking my worries seriously.

I do admit that I am quite a worry wart; being especially worse at night – before bedtime. Morning is the best time of the day for me. I turn into an optimistic person after a good night sleep. Mornings are especially good now that Spring had arrived too. Spring means that the sun comes up earlier and sets later. Despite losing an hour, the result of a longer day is why I didn’t mind the earlier switch to daylight savings this year.

On one such positive morning after the flood, I got out of bed nice and early to draft a couple of layouts of the living areas for M to pick. He picked the one I liked best. Inspired by what I saw at IKEA, I decided to relocate some of our existing furniture to create small but purposeful areas within our whole living area. I made sure that I included a cosy area for us to chill out and relax.

Did we plough ahead and start working? No! We were caught up with the AFL Grand Final frenzy and went out to Fed Square to soak up the atmosphere and wasted time and money in the city bingeing on fatty foods like we had only just discovered Melbourne. We both also got pretty burnt for staying out too long in the day. Neither of us were Geelong or Hawthorn supporters but we rocked up for the parade anyway. I just went along because M never gets to enjoy events like these due to his work. There was a minor consolation prize for doing all this. Both of us ended up in a photo in the paper the next day. No, it wasn’t a close up of the two of us. It was one of those pictures taken from a helicopter in the sky. Finding us in the photo reminded me of those “Where’s Wally?” books. LOL.

Two days after Hawthorn beat Geelong, we settled to start reorganizing the living areas. The effort we put in that day was not bad but did it last? Not really. We abandoned it the next day to go watch WALL.E. Tuesday is the only day that I allow for us to go to the movies because the tickets are cheaper. We were supposed to watch the movie and buy some bread before coming straight home but we ended up having lunch in the city and hanging around Borders as well. By the time I got home, all I had wanted to do was to curl up in bed with the book I am currently reading. We did a bit more on Wednesday before spending the two days after that trying to solve the growing storage problem for the ‘stuff’ M had collected in recent years. It wasn’t easy because we were sticking to a budget.

Sunday (5 Oct) was the last day of the holidays. We went back to IKEA to try to solve my storage problem. M suddenly became very anti-social while we were at the store and we had to leave sooner than I expected. I was very cross with him and still am. Because I had to hurry, I didn’t get to carefully decide my options. M is a very considerate person most of the time but he is also capable of behaving like a very spoilt devil occasionally. He was apparently trying to seek reassurance because he was worried that I would leave the apartment in its messy state. Speaking of that, I better get back to tidying up the bombsite. At the rate that I am going, the living areas will be nice and tidy ‘soon’. Blogging about the progress may speed things up a bit.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Dreaming of My Guinea Pig

I must say that it was wonderful that my Guinea Pig turned up in one of my dreams overnight even though I don’t quite understand the full story. At the start of the dream, my Guinea Pig sat very still with his back facing the water bottle. I was standing next to the cage discussing burial arrangement for him with M. My Guinea Pig blinked when I looked down at him and because of where I was standing, it looked like he winked at me. LOL. So, I reached in to pat him on his forehead and left cheek. The thought of not burying him alive came over me as I patted him. Just before he ran off to his bowl, I told M about this cremation service in Geelong where pets owners are welcomed to witness the cremation process. When I turned to look at my Guinea Pig again, he was at his bowl munching on some dry food. I asked if he would like a bit of carrot and he looked at me. Instead of getting him a bit of carrot right away, I went to our pantry cupboard to get him Lucerne Pellets of all things! (He wasn’t very fond of Lucerne Pellets.) Just as in the past, my Guinea Pig heard the cupboard’s door and ran straight back to the corner near his water bottle to wait for me. He stood up eagerly to see what I got for him. I placed some of the awful but healthy Lucerne Pellets into his bowl and he went over to have a look but walked away promptly. LOL. Not really interested with what I got him, he went burrowing under all the fresh hay. It was then that I went to get him a bit of carrot and he was very happy after that. I am not sure if that was the end of the dream. I probably turned in my sleep and if I did, I usually start dreaming of something else.

It was wonderful to ‘see’ him so happy and lively but the dream wasn’t very accurate. M and I almost never discussed burial/funeral arrangements for our Guinea Pig when he was alive. Our Guinea Pig was going to be a mascot. He was going to be a star in our major project. To us or to me to be more exact, my Guinea Pig was to live very long. The subject did come up briefly when we gave him his last bath. I suggested to M that we ought to raise or set aside some funds for this purpose and M agreed wholeheartedly but we never expected for him to go so soon. As for the pets’ cremation service in Geelong, I only read bits about it online in late July or early August.

Mh spoke to a relative on the telephone about a week or so ago. This Aunt is dear to the both of us because she had always been very nice. If anyone asks me an example of the ‘Australian’ value of giving someone a fair go, I will definitely mention how accepting and welcoming this aunt has always been. She reaches out to me even when I pull away. Anyway, she had recently found out about the passing of our beloved Guinea Pig. She passed on her condolences over the phone and revealed how she likes receiving our hand-made Christmas cards starring our Guinea Pig and his friend Koala each year. She also casually asked M what we would do with this year’s Christmas cards. M pretended that he didn’t know what I had planned this time. I have indeed planned for it already but we would like to keep the idea under wraps for now. I am super chuffed to learn of another person out there enjoying the cards and looking forward to see what we have in store next. Our Guinea Pig was happy to pose for photos but little did he know of the Christmas cheers that he and his friend Koala brought to a few households around the world.

The Flood

M had a two week break from work. We (I, in particular) had grand plans for the fortnight. I even dreamt up something that we could get into next year to make some extra pocket money. So, there were heaps of things to do and we were prepared for the fact that not everything would be completed in just two weeks, especially when we also organized a couple of daytrips plus a movie day. M had divided his annual leave into two, with the other half scheduled for November. We thought we could carry out the rest of what needed to be done around the apartment then. It was with emotions of fun and excitement that we hit the bed around midnight two weeks ago; anticipating the start of his holidays the next day, but nothing prepared us for the FLOOD!

Hours into our sleep, we were blissfully unaware of something quite disastrous happening in our bathroom. At approximately half past three in the morning of 22/09, M was woken up by a weird noise and someone buzzing at our door. He got up to check what was happening. I got up only because the lights in the hallway and bathroom were annoying me and enquired what the problem was. Still half awake, M mentioned that something was leaking but sounded like he was confused. So, I dragged myself out of bed to see what was going on. The bathroom was completely flooded and the water was flowing out into the hallway. We soon realised that the water heater had gone bust. After switching off the electricity supply to the water heater and turning off the water, we started to clean up. That was our super early start to a holiday we had been looking forward to. For some stupid reasons, I kept thinking that this flood was a good sign. As I tried to soak up the water from the carpet with towels, I kept thinking that this flood was needed to wash away all the sadness to mark a new beginning. Part of me was clearly still sleeping and dreaming away. M was in charge of mopping up the bathroom. I only found out a day later that he ‘burnt’ his feet doing that because the water was very hot in some areas of the bathroom. He had altered sensations under his feet for a couple of days.

The tradesmen arrived after lunch. The first plumber reminded me of Casey Stoner and was friendly enough to include me when explaining what he was going to do. We learned that he and his crew had been replacing the ageing water heaters in other apartments in our building as well. I have seen at least three being carted away this year and thought they had broken down prematurely due to a lack of proper care. We hardly ever checked on ours. Two more plumbers came to assist the first one. I didn’t like one of these two but that is another story. Together, the three man crew knocked up a wooden stand and a metal tray for the new heater to sit on. In the event that the heater popped again, the metal tray will catch the water and guide it down the drain to minimize the possibility of another big flood. Just before the plumbers left, the electrician arrived to do his part of the job. They all left just before 5 pm and minutes after their departure, the tap at the vanity sink started to drip. The plumbers were called and they were not happy to hear from us but arranged to come back the next day. Guess what? When we got up the next day, the dripping at that tap had stopped. How bizarre was that? And despite calling them to cancel the appointment, another friendly plumber rocked up right after lunch.

Approximately 14 hours after we discovered the flood, we had a brand new water heater. By 6:30 pm that day, we were enjoying access to hot water once again. I thought that was speedy but the damp carpets took another three and a half days to dry. During that time I began to think that the problem could be more severe than just a ruptured water heater. I suspected that the water pipes supplying water to the kitchen was leaking because one particular part of the hallway was wetter than anywhere else. It didn’t help that our neighbour downstairs paid us a visit to see if everything was alright. Smokey/Doosh-Doosh Man came up to see if we had gotten the problem fixed. He was the one who was buzzing our door frantically to try to wake us up because the water was flooding his apartment as well. To have flooded his apartment is 200% embarrassing to me. I have a part time to full time subscription to the idea of being a waste of space and am forever trying my best to not impede on others right to enjoy life. So, when the stubborn wet patch of carpet took longer to dry, I freaked out thinking that water was still trickling down into the apartment below us. On the Thursday before the AFL Grand Final, I bumped onto Smokey/Doosh-Doosh Man and his chick on the way upstairs. He gave me one big smile but I looked away in total embarrassment. I took that smile as an indication that all was okay after all. Only then did I feel relief of the trouble my old water heater had caused. By then 4 days of the holidays were gone! Most of what we had planned went out the balcony door.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Look! Here Is the Photo Book!

We finally received the photo book we ordered at Big W. We picked it up on Saturday. Before we stepped into the store, we had actually prepared ourselves for further bad news. When I saw the clueless bloke who served us the first time we went there to pick up the photo book, my heart sank. Luckily for us, he wasn’t manning the counter independently that day. Another bloke was there with him. He did however serve us first and when he struggled to find our item, he asked the other bloke for assistance. From my observation, the other bloke must have been the supervisor and seemed to know what he was doing. He found our photo book in an instant and offered to unseal it for our inspection. He also carefully re-packed the photo book into a zip-lock bag.

The photo book turned out ok. Even though it was sealed, there was a minor bend on the front cover. We also didn’t notice faults on one page when we were inspecting the photo book at the store. We were obviously so happy to finally see it there for us to pick up that we missed that page. I will have to apply some magical crafty tricks to fix it. The truth is that I am not happy about it but for the price that we paid - $9.98, I am not willing to go through another round of dealing with them. Despite the faulty page, M is happy with the outcome.

This is the front cover. We really love this photo of our beloved Guinea Pig.

This is the back cover. In the style that we chose, the picture on the front cover extends a little to the back cover.

These are a couple of pages inside.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Still No Sign of Our Photo Book Yet!

In a post last week, I mentioned our wild goose chase to Big W to pick up the Photo Book we ordered. Well, we were told to come back on Monday but because we weren’t able to get there that day we gave them a few extra days to sort out the problem. We went down to Big W last Thursday. I was full of excitement. We even went to the washroom to wash our hands prior entering Big W because I didn’t want our dirty hands to mark the photo book. As we approached the photo service counter, I dragged Moosh to the bikes display to inform him that I saw a lady at the counter. I just didn’t want to be served by that other guy again. But guess what? It didn’t matter who was serving. She too didn’t have anything for us! She looked everywhere and then came back to inform us that there must have been a problem with our order. She offered to chase it up for us and promised to call us on Friday to let us know what had happened. We were disappointed. As I watched her searching everywhere for our photo book, I had already resigned to the fact that it wasn’t there for pick up.

How much bad luck surrounds my poor little Guinea Pig? This photo book is meant to be about him but even it too has gone missing. At this stage, I don’t even feel safe about the photo files we have uploaded at the store to make the photo book and was wondering if the files can be sold on to other people without our consent. While it is a breach of copyright to develop downloaded photos belonging to other people, is it a breach of some kind of copyright law if people with poor work ethics sell their customers’ photo files to others? I am not saying that this has happened. I am just wondering aloud about the rights of a customer’s photo files when they are uploaded into those machines. A Guinea Pig is just a small disposable furry pet to many but imagine if a customer’s precious baby photos were sold on without their consent. That will certainly be a safety concern, won’t it? Again, this is just me wondering aloud.

Anyway, the lady from Big W did call back as promised last Friday. She left us a long message because we weren’t home to pick up the phone. Apparently, our photo book was damaged during the printing process and she has re-ordered another copy for us. I wonder who found out that the book was damaged. Was it the printing company or Big W? If it was damaged, why wasn’t one re-ordered right away? Why does a customer have to twice attempt to pick up the item before he/she is told later that the item is damaged and has to be re-ordered? Is it really damaged or has one copy gone missing? This is just me wondering aloud again. Of course, answers to such questions will never be known. Imagine if I rocked up in person and start asking such questions. I would have been branded the worst customer in the southern hemisphere. Back to the message left by the lady. We were also asked to pick up the photo book next Friday (12/09). Because we won’t be able to make it that day, we will have to wait till Sunday instead. I hope they won’t let us down again.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

An Unusual Experience

I can’t exactly remember what time it was when this happened but it was Thursday night. Was it before or after Cranford (on UKTV)? Anyway, I had taken off my socks and slippers and was on the balcony looking at the few stars, the clouds and the lights above Eureka - this is something I do almost nightly. As I was looking at these four stars above my head, I felt something small standing next to my right. I looked down but there was nothing there of course. The feeling though was like I was looking at the stars with my little friend. For a split second, I even felt the warm sensation of his fur on my right foot. It felt like the fur around his neck and upper chest area. It was such a bizarre experience that I fled inside. It wasn’t M playing a trick on me. He was at the computer reading a message board. I sat down on my side of the couch and told him what just happened as I stared at my Guinea Pig’s photo. I don’t want to admit it but he (my Guinea Pig) suddenly looked sweeter than ever. M turned around and said, “See. I told you that he is still with us.”

I didn’t really want to post this for all to see. I don’t want people to think that this lonely 30 something year old should quit day-dreaming about her dead Guinea Pig. It wasn’t a day-dreaming episode. All I can say is that it was an unusual experience. Although I was somewhat surprised by what had occurred, there was also a feeling of calm. As a result, I had a good night sleep and a productive Friday. Today marks 4 months since our little friend left us. M absolutely believes that we have our Guinea Pig’s ashes in the little urn whilst I, on the other hand am not quite sure. One thing I am absolutely sure is that it will take me ages to get over the fact that I arranged the wrong final journey for him. From the moment I selfishly bought him as a present for my birthday, I had wanted to give him the best and yet I failed him right at the end.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Two Mooncakes + One Big Caterpillar

I bought these from Bread Top and just couldn't resist having them before dinner time. The mooncakes have custard + egg yolk paste fillings. They were all Yummy with a capital Y. Ok, I am off to watch Cranford.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

My Dad's B'day

Today is my dad's birthday. I can't wait to give him a call this evening. It is so hard that we live so far apart. I can't wait for when M and I are ready to make our big move. Being close to my family is becoming more and more important by the day.

Mending the Tea Towels

Not just the two tea towels, I mended a bath towel as well! After years of use, some parts of the edges of these 3 pieces have come undone. I decided weeks ago to mend them and only lazily set up the sewing machine today to get them fixed. Now, the three can be used again. The towel is particularly old. It is one that is hardly ever used nowadays and is normally placed at the bottom of the pile, to be used only when we have run out of other towels.

I must be going mental. Is there anyone else out there mending tea towels? Most people would probably just throw the old ones out and buy some new ones.

No Sign of Our Photo Book Yet

We went to Big W on Saturday with the intention of picking up our photo book but it was just a waste of time because the book was no where to be found. The guy serving M was not very professional and seemed unsure of what or where to look. He spent several minutes looking everywhere and then came back to ask M what he was picking up. M patiently told him that we were picking up a photo book that we had ordered two weeks ago. The guy went back to look some more and then went over to page for someone. That someone never responded to his call for help and he just continued serving other customers. After two happy customers left with their photos, the guy returned his attention to M. This time he typed something into the computer and then looked again everywhere for our photo book. When he stood up again, he noticed another queue of customers lining behind M. This time he suggested that M come back on Monday as it was obvious that the photo book was clearly not ready for pick up yet. While the guy was looking everywhere, the big photo developing machine was spitting out photos. They all fell straight to the ground and M even saw the guy stepping on some of them. Once I heard that, I wasn’t all that sure if I would ever have my photos developed at Big W. We only had the photo book created there because of a promotion. Normally, we have our photos developed at Harvey Norman. We are heading to the city again later this week and hopefully, the photo book will be ready for pick up by then. If it turns out great, I will blog a little about it soon.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Latest Electricity Bill: Only $2 More!

We just paid for our Winter electricity bill. Believe it or not, it was only a couple of dollars more than our Autumn bill. Our Winter bill is usually a shocker but since we do things a little bit different this year, it has come down. We didn't turn the heater on once throughout this Winter and used the dryer only twice! We managed pretty well. I am proud of our commitment in using less electricity this year. Now that the days are getting longer as Spring approaches, I am looking forward to not have to turn on the lights at 5 pm every evening.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I Did My Chores

I just thought that the world need to know that I did some chores today. A number of issues is bugging me. My sleep was interrupted. I forced myself to get out of bed nice and early thinking that if I keep myself busy around the house, I will calm down at least a little bit. So, I started off by doing a little bit of ironing and then made delicious sandwiches (with tuna, corn & cucumber fillings) for M and I. I also clean the dishes and disinfected the toilet. Before I hop online, I also started a load of laundry and vacuumed the living areas. Mmmm...there is nothing much left to do between now and this evening except hanging out the laundry.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Painful Hip and Knee

I didn’t blog all week last week because I was in a lot of pain. I don’t know what happened but I woke up on the 11th with a stiff left hip and sore left knee. By the middle of the week, my left ankle was affected as well. These were all rather strange. I was unable to squat, sit on my knee or sit cross legged. I tried to do stretches on the floor but the relief was only temporary. I did resort to Panadol tablets but they don’t help one bit, except to make me sleepy! In the end I just went about without putting too much pressure to the lower left side of my body. I am pretty much back to my usual self today. I still don’t feel comfortable putting too much weight on my left knee but I think I am on the mend.

$9.98 for a Photo Book @ Big W

A fellow Blogger recently ordered a photo book for her little boy’s birthday. It was filled with photos of her son’s artwork. Of the pages that I saw, the book looked impressive. So when I saw the introductory offer of $9.98 for a Photo Book advertised in the latest Big W catalogue, we decided to check it out before the offer ends. The price for this 8” x 8” soft cover photo book after the promotion is $22.46. The 20-page photo book can accommodate between 19 – 100 photos.

It took us over two hours to create the photo book. This is partly because I wanted to make sure the photos I had selected for each page were just right. While I was zooming in, zooming out and auto correcting each photo, poor M was seated to my left and to his left were two men with extreme body odour. I could smell it but luckily M blocked most of it from me. Whenever I asked him for his opinion of a photo I was working on, I turned to see a face that was trying really hard to look friendly and totally unaffected by the air around him. LOL. As soon as the lady using the machine to my right left, M abandoned his seat to stand to my right. The fresher air was a much needed temporary relief for him. LOL.

Just before paying the guy at the counter, we were told that the photo book would be ready in 14 days. That was fine by us. The theme for our very first photo book is of course our little Guinea Pig. If it turns out great, I will blog about it later.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Good Dream Marks 3 Months

I really wasn’t looking forward to the 7th of August. It marks 3 months since our little Guinea Pig went away and it also marks a week since I saw that dreadful Today Tonight episode. Surprisingly, I dreamt about my little Piggy friend early this morning. It wasn’t a nightmare. It was a good dream. In the dream, I was in the backyard standing in front of a Guinea Pig home. (Funnily, the home is exactly the same as the one that I had designed in my mind, if we ever live in a house with a backyard.) I called out for him and he came to me like how he used to. As he approached the fence between us, I stood back and told myself that he couldn’t possibly be my Guinea Pig because our little one passed away not long after he turned 5. Then M appeared in my dream out of nowhere to reassure me that the Guinea Pig was indeed our little friend. I was so happy. He was very happy to see me too.

The dream turned the day into a good one. Instead of staying home to cry, we managed to get the groceries done and I also bought a new photo frame for an enlarged photo of our Guinea Pig. I have always wanted to frame some of his photos but never got around doing it because I couldn’t bear to look at him. Today felt like the right day to do it. Now, he will be here symbolically to witness the opening ceremony of the Olympics in China.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Something Cheerful

Despite the deep sadness of not knowing what exactly might have happened to our little Guinea Pig, we are also eagerly anticipating the opening ceremony of the Olympics in Beijing. I hope it will be smooth sailing and everyone will enjoy a good opening ceremony.

While I was checking out Discovery Channel to see if they will have any shows relating to China, I came across their new ad – The World is just Awesome. I heard it first, and then when it was on again, I dashed across the living room to watch it. The song made me smile again. I love stuff like that. M saw that I love it so much that he downloaded it on You Tube. Now, I am totally hooked. For people who don’t have access to Discovery Channel or just simply not in the mood to wait for it to appear during ad breaks, I suggest that you pop over to You Tube to watch it ASAP. There is also a page on Wikipedia about the ad.

The ad is actually made up of clips of shows on Discovery Channel and the song/the tune is one that I have heard of in my childhood. It used to be on the radio. I remember it even though I spoke hardly any English then. (Oops! Is that something I want the world to know about me?)

I just want to add that I Love my Guinea Pig and being a fan of Montessori, I Love the Whole Universe.

Emotional Roller Coaster

As I waited for a Google search result on Sunday night, a thought suddenly came to me. I call it a thought and not a voice I heard because it didn’t sound like someone was talking to me. It was more like thinking. So, I was thinking about my Guinea Pig’s body when I suddenly thought about how it had done its job serving him when he was alive. I thought about how it doesn’t matter if he was cremated or dumped. What matters is that we did treat his passing with respect and that he will always have a secure home in our hearts. I almost instantly felt a wave of calmness right after these thoughts. It didn’t last long. I brushed those thoughts aside thinking that I must have been looking for excuses.

Since the story was aired on Today Tonight on the 1st of August, I have read other pet lovers’ reactions as well as one newspaper article on Pets at Peace online. Apparently, the animals that were found dumped were picked up for disposal and not animals booked for cremation. The animals fell out because of a faulty door. I would really like to know when exactly the animals fell out of the van. I would like to know the dates of the two occasions. I can’t help wondering if our Guinea Pig travelled in the same trip as these animals. Something the driver told me on the day when ‘his’ ashes were returned is worrying me.

If the Pets at Peace people are honest all along and are definitely sure that no animals destined for cremation were dumped, I feel bad for them. From the newspaper article, the owner is distraught because his business is now totally ruined. I will still feel bad for them even if he admits wrong doing. This is because I know first hand what it is like to start a new life in a new community and I also know first hand what it is like to not be part of the ‘norm’. While I may sound forgiving, I am not the type that subscribe to ‘Forgive & Forget’. Forgiving takes time but forgetting will be impossible. People with my type of memory will never forget such events.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Still Wondering

We spent most of the last two days away from home. The whole apartment reminds us of our Guinea Pig. His cage, although covered up, is still right where it has always been. Walking past it to get to different areas within the apartment is just painful.

We went window shopping around the city. I had wanted to stay at home to read a ‘heavy’ book that I had suddenly found interesting again early last week, but was unable to concentrate because I kept thinking about what might have happened to my Guinea Pig. We went to bookshops – something I like doing even though it’s never a good idea to do this on the weekends because they are usually packed with people. The experience finding a seat at Border’s in the city was like circling Chadstone on Boxing Day to find a space to park.

Being out and about, I thought less about my Guinea Pig but at the end of the day, we still had to come home. The hour between 5-6 pm is the worst. That was feeding time when he was still around. In fact, all hours in the evening are difficult to bear (even before viewing the story on Today Tonight) because that’s when he was liveliest and that’s when we showered him with lots of attention. He was an active member of this family.

M contacted Today Tonight about the Pets at Peace story. He asked them about the dates the dumped animals were discovered on Friday. We received a response within hours. They didn’t answer our question but did let us know that no Guinea Pigs were found. If our Guinea Pig was dumped, no one would have recognised it because he was inside a special case, surrounded by things he loved.

I wish to continue blogging but I need to go and make lunch.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Where exactly is my Guinea Pig?

After watching last night’s episode of Today Tonight, I knew I was conned and I will never find out where my little Guinea Pig is for sure. I was totally devastated of course. The feeling was worse than when I found him dead on the morning of the 7th of May.

‘Pets At Peace’ is the company that I chose to handle my Guinea Pig’s cremation. We chose cremation because we don’t have a backyard to bury him in. The three people that I communicated with during the whole process promised that my Guinea Pig would be cremated individually and then returned to me in an urn of my choice. When queried, they also reassured me that they do not throw animals out and promised not to mix up my pet with another. Unfortunately Police discovered that pets that were meant to be cremated were in fact dumped beside the Midland Highway near Bendigo. Now I will never be sure if he is really inside the urn or has been left to rot in the bushland by the side of the highway.

How can people be so heartless to do such a thing? If he was really abandoned by the highway, we had in fact paid dearly for a company to just throw him away. The show never mentioned my Guinea Pig but if the police discovered two animal dumping sites within a km of each other, and another one on the other side of Bendigo, it is highly likely that the same thing may have happened to our little one. The show revealed that this is not just a one off thing but that the company has done it before. To think that I nearly praised the company’s good service in this blog, I now feel sick thinking that our little Guinea Pig could be all alone in bushland so far away from us.

What should I do with the urn? Should I unseal it to take a look? How could I tell Guinea Pig ash from other animal’s ash? Is it scientifically possible? If it is another animal’s ash, I bet the owner of that pet would miss it just as much as I do.

Guinea Pigs are not humans but a beloved pet is a loved one as precious as any other loved ones in the human form. It has been a struggle living without him for nearly 3 months now. He may be small but he played a big part in our daily lives. As I looked at some photos of him last week, I caught myself thinking that I am gradually coping better with his loss. I was beginning to focus more on the good times we had together. Now that I have seen what was reported on Today Tonight, everything has been turned upside down again. It will take me ages to recover from this shock. It will take me even longer to trust anyone else again.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Only 2 Packs of Aussie Rice Left

That’s it. These are the only two packs of Australian grown ‘Koala Brand Long Grain Jasmine Rice’ that I have left. No more after this. In fact, I have been trying to save these two packs for a special event and have been eating Thai grown Jasmine rice from ALDI for a little while now. I find Aussie grown rice denser and starchier, while the Thai grown rice seems lighter in texture. That’s just my personal opinion. I heard that Aussie rice farmers were hit hard because of the drought. I hope one day they will return to growing rice when there is more access to water. ‘Koala Brand’ is still my favourite rice, but I have temporarily stopped buying because they now source their rice from Thailand. I think they did that in 2006 as well but after a while the Aussie grown rice made a comeback. So meanwhile, I will be on a lookout to see if my favourite Aussie grown rice makes a sudden return to Safeway or even Coles one more time.

Monday, July 28, 2008

How and Where We Shop for Groceries

We used to take a list with us when we went grocery shopping. Then we got slack and bought whatever we fancied at the time. We ended up choosing less healthy options and wasting money unnecessarily. I think the only positive in the way we have been eating in recent years is the greater inclusion of vegetables. I do really mean a whole lot more. This was the result of having a darling little Guinea Pig. Since we bought top quality vegetables for him, we also ended up eating more of the good stuff ourselves. This good habit stuck even though he has gone on to heaven.

I began to notice the price of things going up steeply from around this time last year. By Christmas, I was complaining to my parents about the price of eggs. When things just continued to go up and up, we chose to go back to shopping with a list again. This time, I planned two fortnightly menus of the meals we have, and then made 4 weekly shopping lists for everything required according to the menus. The idea was to buy only items listed on the very list that we are shopping from on the day. When planning for the meals, I made sure that some of the meals in the second fortnight were different from the first fortnight to give M variety. I think that unlike me, he doesn’t like eating the same thing over and over. I have a feeling that he is not going to agree with what I have just revealed about him when he reads this. LOL.

We shopped mostly at Safeway in the city in recent years. Then when Safeway opened up in South Melbourne at the end of last year, we began shopping there, alternating between the two. M likes the wide aisles of South Melbourne’s Safeway and the close proximity to South Melbourne market. There is an ALDI in the city (behind where the old ANSETT building used to be on Franklin St) and we used to pop in there only once in a blue moon. Our home is also close to 3 IGAs but we tend to go to the one closest to us mainly because they are friendlier. We used to only go there for when we run out of things like milk, bread or when we crave for junk food.

I recently had to replan the menus and shopping lists because we needed heartier meals in Winter. We no longer shop mostly at Safeway since this change over. To drive every dollar further, we now shop at ALDI first. Whatever we can’t find at ALDI, or if something is cheaper at Safeway, we then get the rest of the groceries at Safeway in the city. As for Asian foods, we continue to shop at the two grocery shops in Chinatown or Laguna inside the QV shopping centre.

I find that the pre-packed chicken thigh cutlets have chunkier pieces per pack at Safeway in the city. The chunkier the pieces, the more it adds to the weight and the pricier the product becomes. We don’t need chunkier pieces. So when I pop down to the Spotlight store in South Melbourne monthly to check out their specials, I duck into the Safeway store to buy the pre-packed chicken thigh cutlets from them because the smaller pieces per pack makes them a little cheaper than in the city. I usually buy enough for what I need for the 4 weeks.

We do not use the car when we go grocery shopping. We used to walk to our destination and then take the tram home. Nowadays, we walk there and back. The bulk of the groceries are usually wheeled home using our Shopper Trolley while the rest are carried home in a green bag and the backpack. I used to think that we were going a bit eccentric by doing this but then I began to see more people doing the same. Some of these people are actually people/neighbours from the same building as us. Not only do we save money by not using public transport, I like the freedom to not have to lug our shopping into peak hour trams. You should see the way some commuters stare at people with bulkier luggage. I can’t stand that. Now they have more room to chat and look cool without people like us getting in their way and we get to bring our groceries home less stressfully.

Because of the way we do our shopping, I have been wondering about ways to lighten our load. We talked about getting another backpack for shopping purposes or another Shopper Trolley. The latter option is cheaper. Then I rediscovered our good old local IGA (the one closest to us). I was craving for Smarties and went there to get some. After paying for my naughty snack, I grabbed a copy of their latest weekly catalogue. Margarine was on sale that week for only $0.99! I went back to get two. In last week’s catalogue, the large (not XL) SPC Baked Beans and Spaghetti were only $0.99 per can! We need a few cans of those every 4 weeks. So M was sent to get some. By buying them from there, we not only saved some money but now that we have a supply of them sitting in the pantry, we won’t need to buy them when we shop in the city. Bringing them home from across the road is a lot lighter than wheeling them home all the way from the city. OK, I know that a few tins of canned food do not weigh much but when there are other groceries as well, not having them can lighten the overall weight quite a bit. The distance we wheel/carry our groceries is a lot longer than unloading them from the boot of the car in the driveway to the panty of a house. From now on, we have decided to give IGA first priority. We plan to check out their discounted items every Monday and buy whatever we need according to our list if their price matches our expectations.

We are happy with our shopping arrangements for now. It may seem complicated but it is working for us. Physical work in Winter is easy but the whole experience might turn nasty come Summer time. LOL. I don’t really like doing chores on hot days. What I am looking forward to next year is the opening of the first Costco in Victoria/Australia. I heard that it will be in Docklands. Woo Hoo! With fingers crossed, I hope that Costco will open on time. If this blog is still around then, I will definitely blog about it.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Watched ‘The Dark Knight’

M didn’t have to go to work until later in the afternoon on Tuesday, so we went to watch ‘Dark Knight’ before he left for work. Batman is one of M’s favourite DC Super Heroes. When we first talk about watching this movie about a month ago, frugal me didn’t really want to go at first. I had wanted to go to another exhibition and opted to not watch the movie by waiting for him at a bookshop nearby. Luckily we were able to make it to the 10:20am session at Melbourne Central’s Hoyts. Being Tuesday, the ticket per adult was just $10. In the end, we both got to watch it together and the cheaper tickets made me feel less guilty. If there is another good movie coincidentally scheduled to be on a Tuesday when M gets a late start, we will definitely try to make it there in the morning. Not only did we save money, we actually felt that the air inside the cinema was fresher. LOL. The crowd that watched the movie with us were mostly students from universities nearby and senior citizens. Not only did we enjoy the movie, the overall experience was surprisingly pleasant as well.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Two Months On...

Yesterday marked two months since our little Guinea Pig's passing. We missed him every day. He may be small and Guinea Pigs may be insignificant to many people but this little one played a big role in my life. He was a great companion for the last five years. Pets, even small ones, can be a rewarding source of love.

I went to bed around 1:00 am on Monday morning. Missed him so terribly that I cried to sleep. Nothing Moosh could do to rid this heartache. Spent the whole of Monday keeping myself busy. It was hard not to think about the little fury one.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

‘Boring Housewife Look’

While looking for a gift at Big W, I overheard a lady describing how ugly the shopper trolleys look and was adamant to not ever be seen using one. She was referring to the exact model that we bought. That was the only type there. While she is entitled to her opinion, I am glad to learn that I am finally beginning to grow out of pleasing strangers. Instead of being constantly bothered by how people see me if I use a certain thing, I am increasingly thinking that it is quite OK at my age to value practicality a little higher than just the looks of things. This is definitely a pro in the ageing process. The shopper trolley makes it so much easier for me or M to wheel the groceries home. With so many of them being wheeled around on the streets, it is obvious that many people agree on their practicality as well.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Grass Roots Magazine Found

I mentioned reading a magazine called Grass Roots at the State Library on Mothers Day. I actually enjoyed it very much and have been looking to buy the latest issue. If anyone is looking for a copy of this magazine, I suggest you go look for it at McGills. That’s where I bought mine.

Since the magazine comes out once every two months, I have to ration my reading so that I don’t run out too soon. So far, I have enjoyed reading about living on an island, building a mudbrick home, keeping Boran cattle and collecting free stuff.

My favourite article so far is the one on island living. When I was little, my mum would occasionally tease that I am better off living on an island on my own. On many occasions when I visited my dad’s office, I would look out his window to survey the sea to see which island I would like to buy someday. I always picked the small one closest to the shore and my dad would pretend to discourage me because that island is apparently full of sea snakes.

At just $5.95 per issue, the magazine is not only fun to read but affordable as well. It offers city slickers like me glimpses of what a greener lifestyle and self sufficiency are about. Although I would like to, I can never see us setting up home in a country town or rural setting. Two centuries of peace may be ruined by the presence of someone like me. LOL. However, this magazine still has a lot to offer those of us who are cooped up in concrete pigeon holes. While my balcony is definitely not big enough to keep a miniature cow, it is potentially large enough for me to begin growing my own herbs and some vegetables. That could be our start to a little bit of Self Sufficiency.