Sunday, February 22, 2009

Potentially a Guinea Pig’s Paradise

On our way home after ‘inspecting’ the Tan Track a couple of weeks ago, we walked past a display in front of a statue on St Kilda Road. It was a big patch of Parsley. I took a couple of photos at the time but they didn’t turn out great. So, we went back a couple of days ago and took more photos of it and here they are. It is amazing how the patch of Parsley actually survived Black Saturday.

My Guinea Pig loved parsley, especially the curly type. I used to enjoy watching him eat it. If he chewed one from the stalk end first, he would always look very funny with the curly leaves temporarily arranged at his mouth, like he had a green beard. LOL. I totally regret not taking photos of such a precious moment. If there really is such a thing as a heaven for pets (or humans), do you think there is an All-You-Can-Eat joint similar to this patch of Parsley for Guinea Pigs?

Making Use of The Tan

Reading blogs of people living in their spouse’s homeland is one thing that I really like doing when I surf the web. A recent post by this lady blogger inspired me to increase my walking. M and I are already walking to and fro to get our shopping and errands done. We even walk on days which I used to deem too hot (over 34°c) to do anything active (not including swimming in the pool) outdoors. In fact, I now find it cooler to walk to the city on warm days than to ride in a super stuffy tram.

There are splendid parks located very close to where I live. We go there quite often but we have never made plans to regularly exercise there for FREE. Inspired by the blogger in Japan, I am going to start making use of the Tan Track that is so conveniently close to our little home. The Tan is a 3.8km walking and jogging track that encircles the Royal Botanic Gardens and Kings Domain. Heard that I was interested, M and I went to check out the track a couple of weeks ago. We instantly felt the difference between walking on the track and walking on a typical footpath. Slightly more effort was required for each step on the track because of its surface. I took some photos on the day and here are a couple of them.

Not wishing to set myself up to fail by doing too much, I am hoping to start walking on the track at least once or twice a week before gradually building that up to three times per week during the cooler months. My plan is to start this week and will post about my progress in here every now and then. M is not quite sure of letting me go there on my own but I think it should be safe. I did see individual female runners or joggers when we were there. The track is very popular with residents nearby and city workers. So, it’s not quiet and spooky.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Ordered Photo of Sam – the Rescued Koala

As soon as M left for work today, I too was on my way to the Herald Sun Shop to purchase a photo of Sam, the koala who was rescued by a CFA guy. Not wishing to walk too much, I opted for the short cut via the back gate. As soon as I got to the footpath, I happened to look across the street and saw a new booth set up on one side of the driveway going into the back of the morgue (aka Coronial Services Centre & Victorian Institute of Forensic Pathology). Inside the booth sat an officer with a blue cap on. I couldn’t quite tell if he was a security officer or a policeman. To the left of the booth, I saw marquees set up on the area immediately behind the main building. The marquees were surrounded by temporary fencing and each panel was further covered with a layer of black mesh to block people walking past from looking in. So, that was the temporary morgue they set up. What a sight? I stood outside our building for a minute or two. My stomach was turned upside down – similar but less intense to how I felt when I discovered that my Guinea Pig had passed away 9 months ago. I find it very hard to accept that horrible things can happen in Melbourne or Australia. People complained about the lack of proper storage in Thailand after the Boxing Day Tsunami but it turned out that Melbourne’s morgue too is very small.

When I noticed that the officer inside the booth was looking at me, I turned to continue my journey to buy that all so touching photo. Three people were working in the shop and I was the second to be served at the time. From what I overheard, every call the three very busy people answered when I was there were enquiries to buy the photo of Sam. It turned out that they didn’t have the photos in the shop. I was required to fill in a form, pay for it and pick it up next week. I hope there are no hiccoughs. I just can’t wait to buy a frame for it and to place it next to my Guinea Pig’s photos.

According to the news, Sam has a new friend. His name is Bob. He too suffered burns. Apparently Bob would put his arm around Sam. I wish that someone would take a photo of that.

I was brought up with close contact to Amahs because my parents were very busy. As a result I was exposed to a never ending source of ghost stories. The women probably found it easier to scare me as a way to control a head-strong and demanding girl. Those ghost stories gave me nightmares for years and made me more superstitious than any members of my immediate family. Today, as I stood there looking at those marquees, I wasn’t a bit scared at all. Instead, I felt total sadness for those people. What a way to go?

I will post again about Sam when I receive the photo next week.

Scored a Good Buy

While I was out today, I dropped by the supermarket to buy a few items. Since I was on my own, I was free to hang around a bit longer to study the price of some things. We normally do not buy laundry powders with fancy brands but today I spotted a 2kg box of Drive Advanced Concentrate for just $5.99. Not only did my glasses nearly fell off my face, I think my eyes nearly pop out as well. That’s 70¢ dearer than a 2kg box of Homebrand Concentrate. According to a sticker on the box, it looks like the product is about to go for a facelift including a formula change (2X concentrate). $5.34 off normal recommended retail price is really quite a catch. I think I will go back tomorrow to get a couple more. I will have to be speedy because now that the Chinese New Year is over, the students (the International Student population) are back for another year at Uni.

I am still quite disappointed for not buying a 10kg bucket of Cold Power Advance for $27 from Big W at the end of 2008. There were stacks of them on display but I was taking my own sweet time. Before I knew it, the offer was over! At $27, that’s $2.70 per kilo! A 10kg bucket would last us a year or more. Today the same bucket is about $35 - $38, I think.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Almost Featherless Cockatoo

I had wanted to continue reading a Montessori book but I just can’t concentrate. I just can’t stop thinking about a poorly burnt cockatoo that I saw on TV. The poor thing has almost no feathers left but it is alive and walking around. I think the footage was shot after he was given medical attention by kind hearted vets. Some vets are offering free service to treat animals injured during the inferno. I hope the cockatoo will live on and cared for by kind hearted people. Other animals were also featured during the same news segment. A little pony by the name of Boots had a burnt muzzle and singed mane. The vet gave him a drip. He just stood there without making a big fuss.

This great fire tragedy is just so heartbreaking. The human death toll just keeps climbing up and up. The morgue (situated right behind our building, believe it or not?) is completely packed with 101 bodies. I remember when Thailand struggled with the number of bodies after the 2004 Tsunami and now the Melbourne morgue is reportedly already in full capacity and an extra temporary morgue have to be erected.

On a happier note, I did come across a very cute photo on the internet that cheers me up every time I look at it. It is a picture of a Koala skinny dipping in a basin of water. According to a blog I read, some people apparently offered the Koala a drink of water but it ended up taking a bath in the plastic basin. Because I do not know the original owner of the picture, I decided to not have it posted here in my blog without permission. The picture is very cute though.

Monday, February 9, 2009


In my last post, I mentioned that temperatures were likely to hit 44°c on Saturday. Well, it actually went over 46°c! It went over 49°c at Avalon! I kept cool sitting in front of the fan while surfing the net or reading a book; totally unaware of the horror many country Victorians were facing. I did look out the window at about 3:00pm wishing that the cold change would just hurry up. What I saw outside was odd. It was like cloudy but those weren’t clouds. The cold change arrived half an hour earlier than expected at around 5:30pm. It was a mixture of hot winds and cool breeze. Eager to cool the pigeon hole down, I rushed around to open all of the windows and balcony doors to flush out the hot air indoors. Happy that the hot day was over, I eagerly anticipated for the temperatures to drop faster but something inside me didn’t feel all that good when I looked at the skies outside.

It wasn’t until later in the evening that I learned of the terrible bush fires going on all over country Victoria when I turned on Sky News. I immediately felt anger towards idiots who could have started the fires for fun. There were no mention of arsonists deliberately starting fires around Victoria at the time but there was a news item about a deliberately lit fire in NSW. Shortly before or after 10:00pm, the news came through that 14 people have been confirmed dead. Minutes later the newsreader speculated that the figure could go as high as 40. That’s when I thought, “This is bad, real bad.” Being home alone, I went straight for the phone to call M. I needed to hear his voice. He too was just as shocked as me by the death toll. After that, I logged onto an online group and left a message asking if members living in those areas were alright. It sounds silly now because how could any members in trouble log online but at the time, I wasn’t thinking straight.

When I got up on Sunday morning, I refused to turn on the TV because I simply wasn’t in the mood to learn more of the aftermath. I was already imagining that at least one or two arsonists had been detained and that their love ones were defending them saying things like, “Oh, I don’t know what got over him of late. He has always been such a Good Boy.” When M eventually turned on the news, the death toll was higher than 40 and climbing. We switched channels to check out the latest news. I saw the lower end of an electricity pole still smouldering, its upper end ‘floating’ midair because its middle part was totally burnt off by fire. I saw a little boy of about 5 crying, looking very terrified, in the back seat of a family car. I saw a woman crying (comforted by her son) because the house that she worked really hard to own was gone. I saw a dead horse lying on the ground. And worst of all, I saw cars piled up together looking like the drivers were desperately trying to escape but ended up smashing onto each other. Their vision was probably blocked by the thick smoke. I heard the sad account of a woman at an emergency shelter who had not seen her hubby since Saturday. I heard survivors talking about how quick the fire was travelling (e.g. like a freight train). I heard of farmers walking around their properties, guns in hand, to put down livestock that were too badly injured. And then I heard that one of my favourite newsreader – Brian Naylor and his wife were also killed at Kinglake. How very awful?

Bush fires are a common threat during the warmer months in Australia but I never expect natural disasters to go so horribly wrong here. People who stayed to protect their properties were courageous. They weren’t to know that the fires would visit them with such ferocity. The latest death toll according to Sky News is 126. I hope it won’t go up any higher and wish that the people who were hospitalized get the best care and recover quickly.

Despite of all the horrors, here is something more positive. Someone responding to my post in the message board did tell of an account of a pony being rescued by a family. Here in our pigeon hole, M and I used to say, “Spare a thought for the furry ones.” We were mainly referring to our little Guinea Pig then but really we should also spare a thought for all animals that got caught up in this ‘fearfully-great’ inferno. I am sure that we will hear more stories of survival, lucky escapes and animal rescues in the coming days. People are already showing their resilience and strength, vowing to rebuild and Uncle Rudd is right behind them on this. Rebuilding small towns like Marysville that has been completely razed is not going to be an easy feat.

Note: The title of this post is just an attempt to play with words.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Too Hot

We have been forewarned that the temperature will hit 44°c today. Because we had a horrible heatwave last week, I thought the days of over 40°c are done for the year. How wrong was I? If what I have been told is accurate, I think I can only just put up with today’s heat. Apparently the cold change will arrive by 6:00pm. I even heard that the temperature will drop 15 degrees in an hour. Hopefully all of that are true because I really don’t want another three consecutive days of over 42°c. According to the weather channel, the temperatures forecasted for the next week or so seem pretty cool. Let’s hope that there won’t be any sudden nasty change.

Today is also 9 months since my beloved Guinea Pig passed away. Although I still miss him and thinking of him on a daily basis, I am glad that he is not here to experience last week’s heatwave and today’s soaring temperatures. It would have been too hot for all little furry friends, not just Guinea Pigs. In the years that we had him, he was less active on such days. He drank more water and moved only to find a fresh spot within his cage to spread out his whole body. We sometimes turned the fan on just for him but somehow I never felt quite comfortable having the fan pointed at him for hours on end. I just didn’t think it was very natural for Guinea Pigs to have fans. Juicy and crunchy cucumbers and a few grapes (occasionally) were always a favourite on hot Summer days. Talking about food, M and I walked pass a big patch of Parsley yesterday. They were grown as part of a display in front of a statue on St Kilda Road. My Guinea Pig would have been over the moon if he had such a big patch of Parsley to tuck into. It would have been a Guinea Pig’s version of All-You-Can-Eat joint. LOL. I did attempt to take a photo but it didn’t turn out right. I will try to take some photos of the parsley when I go for a walk again on Monday/Tuesday. Let’s hope that they are still going to be there then.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Chinese New Year Celebrations @ Chinatown 2009

Lions strolling down Little Bourke for a day of fun!

Check out these colourful banners/flags!

It was so hot that this lion was seen visiting 7-11 to get some Slurpee. I wanted one myself.

One of these young drummers was a toddler just out of diapers when M and I celebrated our first Chinese New Year together. The toddler used to get piggy back rides as they do their rounds around Chinatown. Time really flies!

The New Lions @ Chinatown 2009

This bloke blessed the first new lion.

Here, Richard Louey assisted John So in painting the second new lion’s eye.
It looks like the lion dance guys like wearing Dunlop Volleys this year.

Blessed, the lions were on their way but…

Someone is waiting for them.

“Heeeya!” The new green lion attempted to kick the monk’s shield to see who is hiding behind it.

“Psst! Lets charge at him together!” suggested the new yellow one.

The masked monk attempted to tame the lions.
Now that they were both tamed, the two lions turned around to bow respectfully at the seated VIPs.

More Lions Performing @ Chinatown (2009)

The next group of lions got ready for their gig.

They all stood up on their ‘hind legs’ to survey the strange looking structures in front of them.

“Ok guys. They are expecting us to get on the platform. Are we ready?” asked the serious looking black one.

“Oh! They really like us now!” muttered the grumpy red one.“Look up!” the cheerful yellow one exclaimed, “Look at those people on that building. They are cheering for me!”

So they went up there for a Show and Tell session of Chinese Calligraphy.

The Dragon Parade @ Chinatown 2009

Two groups of lions met up for a quick chinwag.

The Millennium Dragon got quite a few pats from everyone, including us! We also nearly got squashed by him for getting in his way as he carefully reversed into his home (The Chinese Museum). We visited him again later just to see that he returned safely after the parade. Dai Loong was there too. We love these two dragons.