Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Bye-bye P

No more Black Moors. Our second and last pet fish died around 1:00 am on the 6th of July. Mighty P did put up a big fight but after nearly 50 hours of pain and suffering, it sunk to the back of the tank and died alone. It was on its left side and I could clearly see its bloodshot right eye. It was heartbreaking to see P fighting for its life.

On the 24th of June, I noticed that P was hanging around the back of the pump near the water surface too much. I thought it must have been feeling a bit cold. (This clearly shows how little I know about fish.) To make sure that the water is perfect, I removed and replaced about 750mls of the tank water on the Friday and Saturday. P responded well by behaving as normal again. I also tested the water and the ph level seemed ok. I had planned to remove and replace another litre of the tank water on Wednesday (30th of June) but P was once again behaving a little abnormal on Tuesday. So, I did it one day earlier than planned. This time I also popped in the neutralizer block after another ph level test.

When I fed P on the 1st of July, I noticed two white dots on its right eye and its left eye looked a little blurred. I was convinced that it would fight off those bugs like last time. I told M that if they were still there the next day, I would immediately start the multi-cure treatment whether he liked it or not. In the past, M never liked the use of that medicine. I did just that and bought another lot of fish food thinking that P might prefer the type of flakes that we gave both of them when they first arrived. We thought that P responded well to the treatment. It was swimming around gracefully and ate as normal. Unlike F, P never swam up to the surface to eat the flakes. It preferred to look for soggy flakes that had sunken to the bottom.

Seeing that P was fine, I went willingly with M to watch a tearjerker at Hoyts on the 3rd of July. It was Toy Story 3. I don’t like going to cinemas these days but this movie was worth it even though I had to put on glasses that made me look like Roy Orbison. When we walked into the pigeon hole, we were greeted by a P that appeared to be swimming around happily. We were happy, thinking that P had pulled through again. What a super fish we thought. Shortly before I went to sleep, I went to feed P as normal. It was around 11:00 pm and that was when I first observed its erratic swimming. It was swimming all over the place like F on the day before it died. When I got up on Sunday morning, I dashed to the tank to see how P was and it was still swimming all over the place. With the light coming through the window nearby, I could see that the white dots on its eye were bigger and tiny white dots on one of its fins. It didn’t look good at all. Not knowing what else to do, I carried out a water change in the hope that I could remove at least some of the bad invisible bugs in the water to even things out. The multi-cure treatment was also readministered. After that, I didn’t want to stay at home. So, we went to Victoria Gardens. We had wanted to buy something at Kmart but it was out of stock – there is something fishy about the much advertised toy sale. I had also wanted to buy something from IKEA but they too weren’t at the shop and the meatballs didn’t taste quite the same because I was missing P.

P’s condition never improved. We found out from the internet that it was swimming around like this because it was trying to shake the bugs off. P was in agony. I was tempted to remove the white stuff for her. By Monday, I had given up hope. I just wanted it to go. This wasn’t because I didn’t love it no more. P didn’t deserve to be in so much pain. She should join its friend F. We went to the new Big W store at South Yarra – would you believe it that there is one in that part Melbourne? Again we came away without the thing we were after because they too were out of stock – there really is something fishy about their toy sale too it seems and it wasn’t P.

48 hours after the erratic swimming began, P was becoming lethargic. Just like F, it would attempt to swim as normal. Every time I stroked the side of the tank nearest to it, P would flap around. I fed it as normal and sat on the couch nearby waiting. I knew the inevitable was about to happen. M headed off to bed just before 1:00 am. He said goodbye to P. I was very sleepy all of a sudden. It was like that early morning when my Guinea Pig was very sick. For a little over half an hour, I asked myself a few times to go over to the tank to check on P but I was reluctant for some reason. Maybe it was because I didn’t want to see P flapping its fins like someone waving their hands calling out for help. Eventually, I dragged myself over to the tank shortly before 1:40 am and P was gone. I felt sadness and relief all at once. We buried P in the same flower pot as F. Unlike my poor Guinea Pig, it is good to know that they are there together. We are waiting for Spring to come before we plant something in it.

P was unisex in our minds. LOL. I usually use female pronouns when referring to it while M had always used male pronouns. We never knew the gender of the two Black Moors but I assumed that P was female simply because it didn’t have a pretty fantail like F. I am pretty sure that I am wrong. Before we relocated the fish tank, P would sometimes stare at me like F as I prepare food or cleaning up in the kitchen. I often wondered what it was thinking. Does it know something about me? “Do you like me, P?” I would often ask. If it swam away, I would often ask, “Would you like to join the other queue? The queue is extending as far as Kew. Can you swim all the way to Kew, P?”

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Bye-bye F

On the Friday morning of the 9th of April, I woke up feeling that I must clean the fish tank because I felt like I had postponed it long enough. My Mum had asked me only days earlier if I would allow her helper to clean out the fish tank for me. I politely declined. So when I found out that the duo had plans to go to the city by themselves, I jumped at the chance of a few hours of me time. I had a short list of things that I wished to tackle but the first thing was to clean the fish tank. As I went about setting things up for the job, I noticed that F looked a little weird and when the job was nearly done, I noticed that there was some white stuff on poor F’s eye and parts of its body. It was acting quite erratic but we weren’t alarmed because F had a tendency to swim around like that every now and then. M went online to see if he could find out what that white stuff was. He learnt that there could be some kind of fungi infection going on. After he left for work, I just carried on with my chores while keeping an eye on that poorly looking F. By mid-afternoon, F was becoming lethargic but every few minutes or so, it would attempt to swim as normal.

Without my own set of keys because I had lent them to my Mum and her helper, I was stuck at home and was unable to go to the pet shop for advice. I waited and waited until around 4:30 pm before the duo came home. I explained to them what was going on and left quickly to get to the pet shop fearing that it might close at around 5:00 pm. I won’t whinge about my experience at the pet shop but I did end up buying a bottle of multi-cure. On the way home, I was feeling pretty sure that F wouldn’t survive. I had knots in my tummy just like when I discovered that my Guinea Pig had passed away two years ago. As soon as I got home, I added the medicine according to the instructions and it turned the water inside the tank green. By then, F was quiet, preferring to hide under the big rock. MT (my mum’s helper) said that a change of water can sometimes affect the fish’s behaviour and my Mum suggested that I should add a bit of salt to the water because that’s what MT did whenever she cleaned my dad’s fish tank. I brushed their input aside because I thought I know best.

On the next day, MT went on a bus trip to see the ’12 Apostles” by herself and we took my Mum to Footscray. We have not been to that part of Melbourne for a long, long time. There are now Filipino and African shops at Footscray!
When we got home, poor F was still alive but it was on its side. Every time I pat the glass closest to where it was, it would try to swim. We knew the end was near and we made the decision to move it to a separate fish tank for P’s sake. This wasn’t carried out without any drama. M and I had a disagreement that led to one big argument with my Mum stuck in the middle. We were all tired and stressed out. Before I headed to our room for a nap, I checked up on F one last time and it looked sadder than ever without P by its side. After M and I got up from our naps, F was gone. It must have passed away between 3:30 – 5:00 pm.

Of the two Black Moors, F was the clown. As soon as one of us turned on the light, it would come up to the surface thinking that feeding time had arrived. F knew how to eat from the surface while P prefers to look for leftover flakes that had sunken. P is the quiet one but it would occasionally chase F around and head-butt it. LOL. When F was really sick, P hung around to keep it company. There were instances when P would nudge F a little. I have seen such behaviours in the past. So, they probably do have feelings for each other. F is buried in a flower pot on our balcony. I am looking to plant some flowers in the area above its burial spot but I haven’t decided to plant what yet. It is good to know that it is in that pot.

On the day that my Mum and her helper left Melbourne, I noticed three white dots on P. We replaced 25% of the water plus the required amount of Ager drops, and added about half a teaspoon of salt. M found out from the internet that it is indeed a common practice to add a bit of salt. The dots disappear within a week. Then last week, P acted a little weird all of a sudden. Fearing that it might die too, we replaced 25% of the water again and threw out the plant that we bought the two Black Moors for Christmas 09. It didn’t look very healthy and I think it had something to do with the position of our fish tank. P is almost back to its usual self. There are no dots on it. We are hoping that all is well. We are looking to buy another fish soon.

I have wanted to blog about F for nearly a month but refrained from doing so because I hate to look like a fool for loving my pets. I have been feeling sad about the outcome of this blog as recent as this morning but now as I write this piece, I felt like I don’t give a damn what other people do.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Three Bumpy Weeks

In the days leading up to Friday the 26th of March, our little pigeon hole was turned upside down as the tradesmen worked hard to fix up the two bedrooms that were damaged by the freak Melbourne hailstorm. I was happy that they were fixing our bedrooms so soon because my Mum and her helper were arriving from overseas on that Friday and they would have to stay in a hotel if the spare room wasn’t fixed. Imagine staying in a hotel for three weeks!

In the weeks leading up to their arrival, I was feeling uneasy about having my Mum around for three weeks. I have felt increasingly distant from my family in the recent year or two. It’s like I am drifting further away from them as time goes by. We still communicate regularly but things are changing. I admit now that I wasn’t really looking forward to my Mum’s visit but nothing could stop this Superwoman’s decision. Not even a storm damaged bedroom could stop her!

The first week was quite weird. I felt like I didn’t really know them at all. I was actually counting down to their departure date. Is that sad or what? I had to learn again how to communicate with them in person. I was also more than a little rusty in the language that I had to use to speak to my Mum’s helper. I used to speak that like a native as a child. Other than a few words, M doesn’t speak that language at all! By Good Friday, I was beginning to enjoy their company but that didn’t stop me from having an argument with my poor Mum on Easter Sunday!

In the first week, we mainly went to places around the little pigeon hole. Food is the number one thing that the two women like to purchase. Both my Mum and her helper are petit people but food is very important to them. Almost every meal that we consumed at home had to be elaborately prepared by the helper and ‘assisted’ by my Mum. Their favourite places to buy food were the Queen Victoria market, Victoria St (Richmond), China Town and QV. The two of them also liked buying clothes and souvenirs, so we spent many hours looking around Queen Victoria market, Outlet Stores in South Wharf and Harbour Town (Docklands) and Chadstone.

The second week was spent mostly visiting places where my Mum could gather ideas for her work and purchasing books. My Mum and I are literally in the same field, so I had fun going to these places as well. By the end of the second week, the two women realised that they had bought too much to lug home. A few church going backpackers came to the rescue. My Mum had managed to talk them into helping her carry some stuff home. I flew into a rage of course. I never like it when she approaches strangers but the deal was done behind my back. It is hard for me to believe how trusting some people are and I am not just referring to my Mum.

Last Saturday, my Mum’s helper, whom I shall call MT here, went on a bus trip to the Great Ocean Road on her own. I was a bit reluctant to let her go on her own but the poor woman needed some time to herself too. So off she went with a group of Chinese speaking tourists from various parts of East Asia. MT is not Chinese but she understands basic Mandarin & English. She is also semi fluent in the dialect I speak to my parents. She was the odd one out in the group that day. Apparently there was only a toilet break every three hours or so. She was so worried that she drank and ate very little during the trip. That evening, M and I took them to a popular Vietnamese Noodle shop for a budget dinner that I suspect was laden with MSG! LOL. MT was chuffed that she had eaten at a place where Jackie Chan had eaten in the past. They liked the place so much that the duo went there again with those helpful backpackers from the church and after the second visit, MT proudly told me that American President Clinton had two bowls of the same kind of noodles that she had! LOL

With the kind backpackers carrying some of their goodies home for them, the last week was spent purchasing even more things. MT was absolutely crazy about anything with the word “Australia” printed on it. My mum was not just buying for our own immediate family. She was also buying for our extended family in China. In the end, they weren’t able to take home a Sandwich Press that M and I would like to get for my Dad. We also went to popular places around the city to take photos. MT had asked over and over to see the Sidney Myer Music Bowl in person so she could go home to brag to her friends that she had been to the place where the Carols by Candlelight Christmas Concert is held each year. LOL. The place is within walking distance from the pigeon hole and we spent a few hours exploring it and the surrounding parks on Monday. I was happy to see my Mum getting around with greater ease this time. The surgeon and his mentor (another surgeon) have both done a wonderful job with my Mum’s left hip. When my Dad comes in the next trip, my Mum has already planned to go walking with him on the Tan Track – something that neither of them was able to enjoy in the previous trips.

MT has been working for our family for 12 years or so. The others were not aware that she was travelling with my Mum. They thought that she had gone back to her village. She is very kind to my parents. My Mum likes her because she is very alert and picks up new skills very quickly. She often jokes that MT is multi-purpose. If my Mum is the Superwoman, MT is the Wonder woman. MT is not perfect though; no one is. She has a quick temper on some days. She had never cracked it in front of M and I but she does get impatient if my Mum meddles too much. Hopefully she will work for us for years to come.

Although I didn’t want them to visit me at first, I did end up enjoying having my Mum around. I managed to tell her something about myself and I am glad that she has accepted it. She even bought books to learn more about it. We talked about my childhood, reminding her things that she had forgotten. She updated me with news of friends and family. Again she came with another business proposal (proposed by a good family friend) for M and I and again, I turned her down before she even finished explaining. I was surprised that she took my decision just like that. It was with great sadness that I saw my Mum and her helper off on Thursday night (16/04). She was in tears. She has never been in tears whenever we separate. It’s like she has finally realised why I remain here. Seeing my Mum in tears reminded me of my Grandma’s sorrow when she recorded an extra long voice message on a cassette tape that was to be taken to China during my Mum’s first trip in the 80’s to visit the siblings that returned to China when my Mum was only a small child. Citizens of my birth country weren’t allowed to go to China until the 80’s and then only people with immediate relatives were allowed to visit. This was because China is a communist country. Three of my Mum’s siblings were stuck in China after 1949 and I think my Grandma blamed herself for the hardship they had to endure over there. I sometimes wonder if my Mum blames herself for what had happened to her siblings. I hope she doesn’t start blaming herself for my wish to remain here for the time being.

The little pigeon hole is all quiet again. My neighbours no longer have to put up with loud conversations in 4 languages filtering out from our place. Not for a while anyway. One good thing about speaking Asian languages in public is that people collecting money for charitable organizations tend to steer clear of you but it doesn’t necessarily stop beggars. MT just couldn’t understand why Aussies have to beg anyway. Before my Mum’s visit, my sense of loneliness was further heightened by something that had happened to my blog, but since they left Melbourne I feel truly lonelier than ever. With the 2nd anniversary of the death of my beloved Guinea Pig looming and the arrival of winter, it will take me ages to get over this sadness inside me. I am glad that M likes to have them here. I think that he felt it too that our little pigeon hole is a whole lot livelier when my family is here.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Visited the Jumbo Baby and Friends (Content Edited)

We went to the Zoo on Sunday. The animals were wonderful as usual and we got to see Baby Mali twice. Sadly, a few of my favourite animals were nowhere to be seen. I am still waiting to find out what happened to them but we will never go to the Zoo on a Sunday again. It was very busy.

"Mum, can I go into the pool yet?"

This is Makulu. He had grown so tall so quickly.

Oh Look! It is the Paddle Pop lion. What do you think he is dreaming of?

Apparently people can pay a fee to pose with some zoo animals including this tortoise. While this photo was taken, an evil male was pinning down another female among the trees. That poor female couldn't outrun the big male. I swear I have not seen tortoises moving so fast before. I thought they were meant to be slow.

What are you looking for Monifah? Isn't she just pretty?

Watch out, Mali! Don't be naughty Mali or those spikes can really hurt.

Here is Mali playing with her red ball. She has a blue one as well.

This is Menyaruh and he is NOT stupid! The zookeepers had left a few chunks of ice on the netting covering the Orang Utans' outdoor area. Menyaruh found one and tried to retrieve it. Later when I was in the building, I heard something knocking against the wall above one of the windows and I could see Menyaruh dangling right there. It turned out that he was trying to smash the ice into smaller chunks!
OK, I am off. I am suppose to stay away from this blog.

Monday, March 15, 2010

One Of My Favourite TV Chefs

Jamie Oliver was at MYER on Saturday morning. M was happy to go with me. We thought we had secured ourselves a nice spot until minutes before the chef appeared when this camera guy from Channel 9 came to set up his camera on a little stage in front of us. How annoying?

Some lucky people (mostly kids) scored themselves sets of TEFAL cookware and a select group of people (winners of a competition) got him to autograph their cook books. We didn't have anything for him to sign. Even though I enjoy most of his TV shows I don't own any of his cook books but I do borrow them from the City Library from time to time. Tonight I am making Bolognaise Sauce according to his recipe.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Dreaming of Insignificant People

I have been dreaming about insignificant people from my past lately. It's BIZARRE!

On Monday night, possibly early Tuesday morning, I dreamt about a girl who attended the same school I did. I think I have spoken to her once or twice. Today, she is some kind of IT hotshot that travels the world. In the dream, we were both teenagers again and I was at a fairground of some sort with my Dad. When she saw me, she came over to hang with me. She was following me around like I was supercool. Is this because I felt so rejected recently? LOL

On Tuesday night, I dreamt about D. You could say that he was my first boyfriend. ROFL. D's mum and my mum are good friends and when we were little, we used to play together. D is bi-racial. His mum is Chinese and his dad is English. He was very fair and looked nothing like a Chinese. When we were out together, grown ups would joke that I was his mum's daughter and she was D's nanny/amah. I absolutely love playing with D but unfortunately, good times come to an end when D's dad decided to move back to England. I can still remember the lost I felt to this day. Anyway, in the dream, we were both kids again. I was around 6 and him being a year or two older, was around 7/8. We were in the car driven by someone to a new tutor's home because our mums have decided that we need to learn the local language. During the car ride, we went past a little house next to a small park where we used to go for art classes. I know where D is today but sometimes I wonder where our art teacher's daughter is. Nicole is about two years younger than me. It was fun playing with her but her mum was always worried that we could be too rough. Like D's dad, Nicole's parents were expatriates.

On Wednesday night, possibly early this morning, I dreamt about Henning. I really do not know how he ended up in my dream. Henning was a German exchange student staying with the same Aussie family that I was staying with in the 90's. I was only staying with this family for about 9 months and after learning my lesson recently, I am not going to blog in detail about this family. Henning is about 3/4 years younger than me and I think we talked may be a handful of times. He was somewhat curious about me but I won't go into it here. So, in the dream, he was back in Melbourne again and we bumped into each other at a small park not far from Prahran Market. Isn't that location weird? I hardly ever go to that market. He looked a little bit older and was asking me a tonne of questions. Apparently he had wanted to ask me these questions for years but couldn't find me. LOL.

My dreams baffle me. When I get up, I always see the need to tell M about my dreams. M doesn't remember his dreams most of the time. The ones he remembers most are the ones where someone is trying to chase him. LOL

Before I upload this post, I would like to say that I will keep this blog going for now but I won't be blogging much. I will make the final decision in either April/May

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Big Storm

Our little pigeon hole was battered pretty bad on Saturday. Here are a few photos for anyone dropping by to enjoy.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Moving or Staying

Lately I have been thinking about what to do with this blog. M has suggested that I should move my blog over to Wordpress. One thing I like about Wordpress is that I can upload a post that is password protected. It might be possible to do something similar on Blogger but I am not so sure. I will have to explore a bit to see if there is such a function on Blogger. When I started this blog in 2008, it was partially because I needed a space to remember my little Guinea Pig and I still do but I am also increasingly aware that my need to write about my (dead) Guinea Pig makes me look like I have gone cuckoo. So it might be wiser to password protect any post about him. Another idea would be to move everything except the posts on my Guinea Pig over to Wordpress for a fresh start and then turn this blog private in loving memory of my beloved pet.

I am going to take a little break from blogging to think about what I want to do but the first thing I have got to do right now is to take down our decorations for CNY.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Two New Bottoms

Just before Australia Day in January, I bought myself two new pair of bottoms from Target. I wore the denim shorts on Australia Day and wore the other grey cropped pants on the first day of CNY on Valentine’s Day. I desperately need new clothes. In fact, both of us need new clothes because more and more clothes are becoming too big!

With Summer coming to an end, many end of season clothes have been drastically reduced in shops such as Target, but we don’t really dare to buy any because if we lose more weight during the year, they may not fit by the time Summer comes around again at the end of the year. The new shorts we bought M in January 2009 are now so big, they don’t stay up without a belt. LOL. The new belt he received for Christmas is also becoming too big. He is down to the last hole. Is there a place to go to punch another hole? Mr Minit?

My own need for a transition wardrobe started around April 2008. I noticed that I constantly need to hitch up my jeans every few steps. I thought there was something wrong with my jeans and it was happening to all of them. It never occurred to me that my weight was dropping. So, I solved the problem by wearing a belt but by the time AFL Grand Final came around in September 2008 I had no other option but to ditch those jeans. Reluctant to buy new clothes for the warmer months because I tend to only like to play dress-ups in the cooler months, I went digging in the wardrobe for pants/jeans that I wore back in 2004 and found some Levi’s that fitted just nice. They looked alright still but they didn’t last. They too were becoming too big by May 2009 so I went back to the wardrobe for another dig. It was like going on a trip in a time machine. So until I bought the two new pairs of bottoms from Target last month, I have been wearing clothes from circa 2001! LOL. Believe me, the clothes from 2001 do look quite outdated and I don’t mean in a fashionable vintage kind of way. I did buy a few new pieces for Winter last year to mix and match with the old clothes but I just can’t bring myself to buy a whole new wardrobe every time I drop a size. That is just too wasteful don’t you think?

M and I are not on any miracle diets. We love food, including junk food. As I type this now, I am craving for some Pulut Udang - ewww… to some but absolutely delicious to me right now. We have however added more vegetables into our meals and we walk everywhere. I think the walking is playing a big part in the weight loss because I think we are losing more from the waste down. That doesn’t mean that my upper half is not shrinking. It happens a little slower than the rest. When M and I were queuing to buy super cheap Korean instant noodles last year, some guy behind us was going on and on about another guy’s unusual weight loss. He insisted that his friend must have undergone some kind of treatment (e.g., liposuction) because the resulted weight loss was ‘uneven’. LOL I tried desperately not to laugh at the time. Someone else I know also insisted that walking alone does not result in weight loss because according to her, walking is a good exercise for your heart only. I beg to differ and I think M will agree too that all the walking we had done had also contributed to greater improvements to our lower halves.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Gold and Lollies for the Gold Digger

Back in early January, M went up to Ballarat for work. While he was there, he also went to Sovereign Hill and bought me some gold and some lollies. Aren’t I lucky? LOL. After so many years, M has finally bought me a vial of gold. ROFL. In response to the ‘Gold Digger’ label, M has always jokingly said that I have been digging up more mud than anything else. LOL. So, this must mean that I am doing a poorer job than those Chinese miners from all those years ago. Anyway I am super lucky that M didn’t simply buy an empty glass vial and fill it up with mud. LOL

Friday, February 19, 2010

2010 – Year of the Elections

Time really flies. It felt like just the other day when the other guy’s game was over and the Chinese speaking Rudd came to play, but the fun and games are nearly over again. I don’t like elections. It does very little for 2nd time round minorities. On Sunday, M and I spotted three Victorian pollies in Chinatown. There are always a few that make an appearance every year. Do you think the ones that make an appearance on a non-election year pulled the shortest stick on the Friday before the event?

Do you recognize this man? No, I am not referring to good ol' Richard but the guy in a suit. Don’t blame me if you can’t see his face properly. M took the photo.

Where is Teddy?

Who is this? C’mon, surely you know this guy. Let me give you a clue – “Neigh”.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Dragon Parade 2010

Things were done a little differently this year. The Millennium Dragon didn’t gatecrash the main lion dance this year. In the past, the dragon and his entourage would gatecrash just before the finale and it was fun to watch how the ‘creatures’ and humans greet each other to negotiate the tight space. This year the dragon and his entourage were later than normal. (Could it be the pollies’ fault?) M and I left the car park hoping to find a good spot where we could pat the dragon’s ‘cheeks’. We thought we found a good spot but when the dragon made its appearance, we were totally pushed back by the people. Pretending to be small and important like everyone else, I pushed and shoved until I got to pat his back as well. Surprisingly, M followed suit. LOL. We were so bad! We should have done the ‘right’ thing by letting all these small (in size not in age) people walk all over us. LOL. Below are a few snaps of the dragon parade.

As soon as you see the procession of small creatures like this Qilin pictured here, you knew that the dragon was not far behind them.

In the middle of the procession is a small group of lions and following his entourage ever so slowly at the back is the dragon loved by many Melbournians. His name is of course the Millennium Dragon. For years I had mistakenly call him Dai Loong but that is actually the name of the other dragon. Dai Loong has retired and the two live in the Chinese Museum. M and I always stay long enough to watch the dragon’s safe return to his home.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Welcoming the Year of the Tiger

We welcomed the year of the tiger on Sunday. I got up nice and early to cook ourselves the same breakfast that I cooked on Christmas day – Bacon, fried eggs, grilled tomatoes and toast. After our showers, we put on our outfits that I had pre-selected and then headed off to Chinatown. We didn’t take the traditional ‘herbal’ baths because I still have no idea on how to prepare them and we only wore one new clothing each. M had a new T-Shirt and I had a new pair of cropped pants. I will post more about our clothing situation soon.

Our favourite destination to watch the celebration is at a multi-level car park. I prefer the first floor but there were two families already there standing at my favourite corner. So we went up another level and then up another level to the third floor. Although no one was there at the time, we returned to join a father and 3 kids on the second floor because I thought we could take better pictures from there. The only problem was that the floor was a little flooded. Below are a few photos taken of the event. Oh, by the way, I now know what it is like to be a guy who feels a bit inadequate. LOL. The guys who turned up equipped with all sorts of SLRs and big lenses made me feel very small. LOL

As with the previous years, once the VIPs were seated, the lions lined up to give them a warm greeting. The skinny CYSM dragon joined in as well.

Two VIPs marked the new lions to awaken their spirits.

The two are wide awake and ready to play. They are so cute!

This year the HGYS kids really did a wonderful job with the drums. I saw them performing the drums 6 times over three days. You should see the little guy with the little dragon boat drum. His confidence was clearly soaring by Sunday evening.

M and I used to laugh at these boys because they used to be so shy and were all over the place when they were younger. Look at them now. They are improving every year especially the one that has virtually turned into a muscle boy overnight!

The CYSM dragon dance team did a better job at Chinatown than at Crown Casino. They were a bit goofy over at Crown and I think the reason was because the stage was just simply too small for all of them to move around freely.

Oh look! The Big Head Buddha is getting up from his sleep. When I was very little, grown ups used to tell me not to be afraid of this character because he is only a little drunk. LOL. Because I am a little face-blind, I love looking at the faces of the people behind The Big Head Buddha in this picture. I have tried to study their facial expressions to figure out what they were feeling at the time. LOL. I have always wondered if people really want to celebrate Chinese New Year in Chinatown.

The two new lions came to survey the new obstacle course while this other one rested on a rock.

Just when I was distracted by another lion dance across the road, this little fiery lion emerged from the box with a puff of smoke! Luckily M had the camera.
This was one gutsy lion. He stumbled a little at first (which I still suspect to be part of the show) and then completed the crossing with some fancy footwork.
As the red one worked, the other lions were working hard too to entertain everyone.
Hooray! Everyone is up, but nooooo, did one lion fall over?

Never mind the fire crackers. This is the fun bit for lions big and small. Flash a big cheesy smile and get a big fat red packet from the generous VIP in return. Anyone would want a job like that!

Then a copycat who was not even smiling came to try his luck and he was offered two! Wait, wait, it looked like he was going to get more! Look at John So’s action. He was the gentleman seated next to the guy with a white t-shirt and red cap. It looked like he was reaching into his pocket, a common action repeatedly carried out by all grown ups during the 15 day long celebrations, to get a red packet. LOL.

The lions lined up again for the finale and this part of the event was over for another year. “Sob, sob”

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Animals Big and Not So Big

It is the 7th of the month again and normally I write a piece starring my beloved Guinea Pig, but this time other animals will take the centre stage (or should that be centre ring?!). I will try to keep it short because I have less than a week to prepare the Pigeon Hole for CNY.

Let’s start with something not so pleasant first. M and I recently read in the paper about a lonely circus elephant named S in country Victoria. The paper dubbed her as the saddest elephant in Australia. This 55 year old is the last of her kind. I don’t think the circus will keep any other elephants after her. She is apparently not performing anymore. Click here to read the article. M reckoned that S should be retired to the zoo at Dubbo like other circus elephants have, but I wonder if she could really live without her familiar human handlers. I read somewhere that when factory farmed pigs (sows) are ‘rescued’ and transferred to a free-range setting, many die due to the sudden change. Maybe there is a way to slowly ease S into a new life at the Dubbo zoo. Meanwhile I hope her owners look after her properly and that the RSPCA will continue to keep an eye on her wherever she goes. I just want to make it clear that I do not condemn her human owners. They had the elephants long before most humans came to accept the idea that animals performing in circuses was cruel. It must be awfully hard for them to decide what is best for S next. Humans have a tendency to take ages to come to terms with their mistakes and may take even longer to figure out an acceptable solution. I am no elephant expert but I know from experience what it is like to never ever see your pet again. If S is retired to a zoo with other elephants, I am sure her owners can strike a deal to visit her often.

Now I wish to air my anger at what happened at the Melbourne Zoo. I am so very angry to learn that a certain person was there when Dokkoon delivered her baby. Is there a shortage of zookeepers at the zoo? Why does that person have to be there? Isn’t it enough that Dokkoon was giving Australia a second baby elephant? I actually thought that this person was transferred to another part of the zoo, like carting zoo poo, but boy was I wrong. Apparently elephants do not forget. So if that is true, imagine being stuck in labour for two days with someone you absolutely loathe.

I can keep on writing about unpleasant things but I won’t. Many hours were spent watching the Flying Trapeze at the City Square in these last two weeks. Unlike last year when I (and another child that sat next to me) was spat at on Australia Day (which happened to be the first day of CNY in 2009), I had a pretty good time of being left alone this year. Two weeks ago, a couple of men and a super beautiful Golden Labrador named Shelley came to sit under the big tree at the City Square. The dog arrived in style. She was riding in her own trailer attached to her owner’s motor bike. People walking past came to pat her and she loved the attention she was getting from so many passersby. Her owner would introduce her to anyone who looked her way and she would put out her paw for a paw/handshake. She probably worked with little children before reincarnating into a dog. LOL. When Shelley approached a yappy West Highland Terrier puppy, she crouched down to his level. It was like she was trying to approach him in a non-threatening way. She was such a friendly dog. Then on Friday evening, another dog turned up at the City Square with its owners. Now, I am still not sure what breed it is but it looked like the ICI Dulux dog (an Old English Sheepdog?!) except that it was brown all over. It was so beautiful and I absolutely loved its paws. Again the owners were happy to let people pat it and in return it absolutely loved the extra attention. One guy even hugged it. It is so nice to have such friendly pet owners that don’t mind sharing their pets with total strangers. Today is the last day for me to enjoy watching the Flying Trapeze for another year. After this the City Square is really quite boring unless you enjoy being approached by religious minorities being persecuted overseas or by people asking for money. I know that I sound insensitive for not liking them but try walking past them almost everyday and you will soon realise how unpleasant it is.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


We went to the city to get our groceries on Saturday. On the way to QV, we had lunch and then stopped by the city square to watch a show put on by the Flying Trapeze. The group is giving free lessons to the public and they put on a little show at around 1:30 pm each day. They have been doing this for a few Summers now. I love turning up to watch the volunteers teaching people who had signed up for a free class. They have no problem communicating with strangers. When they put on their little show, you will know right away that these amusing people have been practising their tricks a lot.

So here is my slip-up. It has nothing to do with the Flying Trapeze. Well, not really. After we got home, I was in the kitchen putting away the groceries when my thoughts turned to the little show we watched earlier. I asked M what he thought of the show and he said that it was pretty good and that we should go again on another day so we could take a few photos. Without him asking me what my thoughts were about the show, I invited myself to tell him that the best part of the show was this guy – one of the volunteers. M looked a little puzzled to me and so I thought I had better elaborate. I went on to tell him that this guy’s upper body is designed like a Mountain Buggy! M looked even more puzzled after this and I thought that I had better explain more. So I went on to compare this guy’s upper body to things like Tripp Trapp (by Stokke), Maserati, Nienhuis and I think I also mentioned Mountain Buggy again twice. I was trying to say that this guy’s upper body is well designed. By the time I finished talking, M didn’t look too happy. I now know that this was a look of dejection but at the time, I was thinking, “Just what is his problem?”

As I was preparing dinner, my thoughts turned to M this time. I wondered why he reacted the way he did. The TV was on and the local news was on a loop. I keep hearing about the murder of a millionaire and something about someone who now has his old mobile phone was receiving weird phone calls. Then for some reason I asked myself, “What if M said that so and so is build like a Goddess?” I paused and inserted Naomi Campbell’s image. Well, I didn’t like that at all. LOL. OMG! I hurt his feelings! But I wasn’t thinking about that guy in a sexual kind of way! The guy is probably married! I was comparing his sculpted torso to other well designed pieces. Anyway, I ran to the room to apologise and gave M a hug. A hug from me is precious because I am not the lovey-dovey kind that is forever hanging onto a man physically. M was surprised that I actually figured out the problem. LOL.

When I was reading a book I got for Christmas just last week, I skipped to the beginning of a chapter about the lack of empathy. I almost instantaneously discounted that I have any problems in that area. LOL. What happened on Saturday is a typical example of my tendency to say things without considering the emotional impact on the listener. I wonder how frequent does it occur? Talking can be so hard. There are so many things to take into considerations. Sometimes I think I am in too much of a hurry to get my message across.

Below are photos taken of the Flying Trapeze Show today. I hope they will be in the CBD again next year.

The guy hanging onto the bar just bumped the other guy off. LOL.

We have contact!

See how happy this guy is?

How I wish to be able to do this! May be I will pluck up enough courage to try it next year.

Mid-air photo shoot.
Missed again! That's OK. It was a difficult trick.

This guy falling down is funny.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Bill’s Tree

Last Thursday, M and I went over to Government House Drive to spot Prince Bill. After the Prince and his entourage disappeared inside the big iron gates, I dragged Moosh to a particular part of the Royal Botanic Gardens that is situated right behind the Government House. There is where Kings, Queens, Dukes, Duchesses, Princes and & Princesses had come to plant trees. I thought that Bill might do the same but he didn’t. He probably planted one just outside the house.

While Prince Bill was doing his gig inside, we checked out some of the trees his relatives planted.

This shows that the current Queen (Prince Bill’s grandma) planted a Brush Box.
The late Queen Mother (Prince Bill’s great-grandma) planted this one.

This really tall tree, if I am not wrong is planted by Prince Bill’s great-great-grandma, Mary.
When we visited the Government House again on Australia Day, we did the house tour and then checked out the backyard as usual. As we were leaving, I stopped to check out a tree next to the driveway and learnt that the Queen had planted it. That prompted us to explore further. Almost every tree is planted by either royalty or a VIP. Then we came to two trees planted almost right next to each other. Guess who planted them? Diana and Chuck did. Not so far behind them is the little tree that Bill planted last Thursday. It is so sweet of them to keep them close together like a family. There is space for Harry’s tree too if he visits one day. Below is a photo of Bill’s tree. I didn’t take any photos of Chuck and Di’s trees because a father and two sons were picnicking under them.

This little house sits inside the Royal Botanic Gardens and I absolutely adore it. The house is used for private functions. Every time we come to the park, we would sit on this bench so I can day dream a little. I recently saw a book about the gardens in the library. In it, I saw an old photo of this house taken long before the trees surrounding it were this tall. Did children live in that house? Did they play where M and I always sit?