Sunday, December 09, 2007

Impending Death.

You know, the month of December isn't usually associated with bad news. At least not for me. The month of December has always been recognized as the month of giving, family ties, love, joy and all warm and fuzzy. It's Christmas, isn't it always been like that? Ever since I was a kid. December is the month of Christmas and also the last month of the year. Family get-togethers celebrating Christmas, choir practice, shopping, gift wrapping, attending parties, baking cookies and what not. All the pondering of another year coming to an end and of the things to come pretty much fills your heart with a tinge of nostalgia, not to mention, the Christmas wish list and New Year resolution. Sadly, all that is about to change. December this year would be my very first year of receiving news accepting the fact about the impending death of a grandmother. Which explains my occasional blanking out and brooding moments, as if to have reality sinking in.

It's almost a week now that she's been lying in the hospital, bed-ridden (after the fall at her own apartment), with a condition which neither looks promising nor improving, after suffering from a fall at her own home. Things happened pretty fast, coming in after one another, crashing on us like a speeding car onto a concrete wall. Diagnosis showed failing lungs as well, after the admission and through the hush talks from the adults, things will only get worse from there. See, the Chinese have this uncanny ability to recognize tell-tale signs when death is creeping up on a person, especially with the antics displayed by the person on the death bed like the calling of deceased relatives or mindless muttering or the lost of recognization of living relatives. As superficial as it is, I have seen the predictions coming pretty true myself, even without the doctor's word. Which is why there is no reason for me to elude myself about the inevitable death of amah. What with dad already asking whether if I have a picture of her, just as a subject of conversations.

Amah is losing consciousness by the day, slowly slipping away, that sometimes, she barely even recognizes the person visiting her. Not that she's on life support or anything, but by the looks of it (from the numerous back and forth trip from home to the hospital) her condition is undoubtedly deteriorating. Even as I'm typing here, she's resting in the hospital bed. She hasn't been eating well and most of the time, she's sleeping with the occasional strange utterance of matters which are unrelated or acting up like a child, so as mom says. Of course, I only get news of amah's behaviour from (as I mentioned before) the hushed conversations between adults which usually ends with words like "be prepared". That was also if I was eavesdropping - intentionally or not. In matters as such the adults still remain as adults, doing their best to protect us from the harsh realities of life, and of course, coupled with one or two popular beliefs.

In the Asian culture, these things are better left handled by the adults and as far as a child's responsibility is concerned, it only stretches as far as hopsital visits. We children pretty much remain in the household, just waiting for crucial news while we laze around like zombies with the news of an impending death of a family member hanging over our shoulders to harbour around. Although, jie and I do try our best to keep the atmosphere as light as possible with activities that can take our minds off things. Think Channel E! on the regular, with a few movies thrown in and catching up on a few episodes of TV series to help us steer our minds away. Sometimes, I even resort to excessive cleaning (of the house) to keep my mind fresh. I mean, it's the only few ways to keep me away from staring at the telephone for hours and jumping at every ring, all the time embracing myself for the news to come from the other end of the telephone. At this point, every phone call is such a source of intolerable fear, able to stop me dead in my tracks. I can get quite paranoid when the situation calls for it. You'll never know!

Other than that, jie and I will usually joke about death, as a general subject. It does help in facing the true fact, I guess. For the past week, we've even come up with calling amah the "grand old lady" awaiting for the right time to make her exit out of this world. After all, from our mental calculations and judging from the deaths trailing up the family tree, since our forefathers grandfather, this family has been quite notorious with their elaborate exits from earth. Their deaths usually catches us off-guard, dropping like a bombshell on us relatives, almost like dropping bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Take one incident for instance, we were rushed back home from our holiday in KL with the news of impending death of the late grandfather (which we did almost immediately!). Why should amah, known for liking the attention, pull something off any less elaborate right? I just hope I'm prepared when the time comes. Bad news knows no timing.

Furthermore, the death plague is around. The death plague was created by me, something I've given a name to when the number of wakes arises in town and when funeral homes are filled to the brink. It's weird, really. From my observations, it comes and goes like a season. One moment, funeral homes and undertaking companies seemed to be almost out of business and another moment, boom, there's not enough space to even hold wakes anymore. It's also obvious with the rise in the amount of wake which can be seen held at homes, extending to the roadside as we take a drive downtown. I've seen the death plague quite a number of times while growing up in town up till today. Observations are clear from the to and fro journey from home to the hospital. Even one of jie's distant friend passed away recently in a car accident, whose wake she attended yesterday, accompanied by me. And yes, the funeral homes were all occupied.

Well, with everything being said, I don't think December will ever be the same this year (or the years to come for that matter). Things are certainly looking more gloomy than I've ever remembered. Initially, I thought the exams were going to dampen the mood of December but I've been proven wrong. Amah is currently, as described by aunts, like a ticking time-bomb, getting everybody on the edge of their seats with its ticking. It may explode tomorrow, or the day after, or even tonight itself, only God knows. It's a painful process, but I'm certainly looking forward to God's graces to help me pull through this episode. Until it happens, jie and I are still going to keep asking, "Has the grand old lady made her grand exit yet?" Not that we are hoping, but it's strictly aimed at sugarcoating the reality. At least it helps, for me. Who knows what blow this impending death might bring.

Odd though, jie is still positive that it's not amah's time yet, constantly arguing that she can still hold on. Wonder what makes her says that.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Back for Christmas.

It's been a while, obviously, but I'm back. Yes, I did unanimously stopped myself from blogging about 5 months back for numerous reasons, examinations being one of them, with the occasional blog hop to keep myself updated. I do plan, however, to spill about the period of time I was away - not in one day, but in times to come. It might be quite a handful to handle given my sudden disappearance without prior notice and now, my sudden reappearance. I wouldn't attempt to fill you in or even dare think of an explanation (cause I definitely don't owe anyone one) to clear me from my charges. I mean, c'mon, I haven't been writing anything for so long (except for English or Bahasa Malaysia essays for the untimely exams), God knows my writing (and I mean, the one that I get to express my thoughts) skills have been reduced to mud. Plus, I was getting so unfamiliar with blogging that I even had trouble accessing into the blog - couldn't quite remember how things were with all those space in the mind used up to store facts for exams.

Bottom line is, I'm back. Not entirely though. Not yet, at least. But I'm back to assure myself that I'm still committed and I have not given up on this yet. There's been a lot going through my mind - the events I wanna blog about, the thoughts and opinions as well as issues happening currently in life. 5 months unable to actually talk wrench out about the strange revelation of events and thought provoking moments has quite taken its toll on me. Oh, the changes, the stories and the experiences! Unfortunately, as much as I wish it would, it doesn't come spluttering out from my mouth like emptying a can of baked beans. But I'm sure it'll come to me and when that happens, I'll have something to talk about, wouldn't I? I hope. Well, I think I'm done with the unspectacular monologue and get back to where I left off. No, not the durians and the dumplings. C'mon, it's December! The month of Christmas, my favourite time of the year!

This year, our tradition saw new light in the form of a new tree, after a year long of persuasion and pestering and after 8 years of being stuck with a 3 feet tall Christmas tree with stands made out of plastics and suffering from several fractured branches. Thank God! The joys of purchasing a new tree, made out of a completely different material, 5 feet tall and metal stands which gives the tree a promising and sturdy look, standing from the ground and not supported by some hideous antique chair. I guess this is the true side of celebrating Christmas in a country with a climate which disallows the operation of a scotch pine farm, or even with people much in anticipation into celebrating Christmas at all, for that matter. So tree hunting for this family of 5 was done at the nearby supermarket with the constant need for us to withstand skeptical gazes from passersby and where choices were left between different heights of manufactured trees. Oh, and it was raining outside too, at that time. Not that it brings much difference to in-store shopping.

Anyway, we managed to get the tree up by the 1st of December, only a day later than last year, if it wasn't for the crazy stuff that was taking place then, take my examinations for one. We did it with lesser people this year - only the three of us siblings and an additional apoh as a house guest. Well, to be honest, we were all tired by that time of the day, taking in account that we spent the entire day spring cleaning the all the corners of the house (there are still little crooks and crannies that still requires thorough cleaning) just to make it in time to put the tree up. No matter, the Christmas spirit and joy was overwhelming amongst us and we managed to have a knocking time completing the job. I mean, with the ongoing bickering about which ornaments to hang and where to hang and about how the tree was supposed to look like between three siblings and a grandma who is anything but shy when it comes to giving opinions, what's not to enjoy? And I think this is the best Christmas tree we've ever had since as far as I can recall.

Not so much bickering eh?

"I think this belongs here."
Let's see, the first Christmas tree we've ever had as a family (or rather, the first one I can remember now) was a white, completely-made-out-of-plastic, 3 feet tall tree. Oh, I used to loathe that one as a kid. In fact, I still don't quite grasp the entire idea of a white tree. It's bad enough we Asians need to live with plastic trees right out from the factory, I cannot understand why would anyone still want something that doesn't the least resemble a Christmas tree, let alone a tree covered in snow. It's ridiculous. I don't even know how mine got there - it was just there for as long as I can remember. Which is why dad bought us a new tree by the time I was 8, I think. A short little green coloured tree of the same height as the previous, recycling ornaments from the previous tree. I guess that tree outlived its live expectancy as it's still standing with a twisted branch or two and a broken leg, plastered together sloppily. Until this year, where we finally got what we wanted and so far, deemed as the perfect tree.
Lighted up!

Scotch pine tree.
Everything else on the tree was from last year's tree, expect the baubles and the bells since jie insisted on getting some new ornaments, seeing the sad state the present ones were in (the usual faded paint and gloss). Even the lights were from last year. We're still missing one thing though, a rightful star to be placed on the rightful branch of the tree. Nothing seems to fit - Nothing from the stores or the one from last year - that we're beginning to feel comfortable without it and was just considering about doing away with the star. Jie protested against the formidable angle perched on top of the tree and mentioned that one of the Barbie Dolls from her collection would do the job better than some sub-standard plastic angel with cheap clothing. And the bottom of the tree's been decorated with presents already, seeing that we had to cover up the unusually long legs of the new tree. Presents for the cousins and ourselves will be below the tree till Christmas comes. Speaking of which, I've still got a million things to get done by the time arrives - so much work, so much preparations.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Durians and Dumplings.

One of the best things I love about eating durians is the sweet lingering smell it leaves your finger with. It's so fragrant that I sometimes feel like licking the thumb again to see if I can still taste the sweet taste of durian from the night's before devouring of delicious durians. Seriously, I tell you, it can be a life saver at times - when there's a need of a serious wake-up call in the early hours of Mathematics or History class at school. A whiff of the strong smell from tmy fingertips (even if I accidentally brushed my face with it) is all it takes to get me awake, albeit with the sudden hunger pangs and craving for those deadly fruits in class. Amazingly though, there are still people who recognizes durians as the fowl-smelling fruit that only cause nauseousness! Really, I don't know what the fuss is all about to a certain few who squirms in uneasiness at the mere thought of the yellow flesh found under the thorny, green exterior of the fruit. I can quaintly recall someone old and wise (in the knowleldge of durian) saying that the art of eating durian requires passion and I'm beginning to think it might be true after all.

Want one?

I mean, the "stench" is one thing (that's fine by me!) but being afraid of the consequences of indulging in such pleasures of life (almost sinful!) served by Mother Nature herself is another thing that's almost intolerable by me in my little black book of Rules of Eating Durians. Oh, I've heard people saying that they're afraid to indulge because they're afraid of getting fat at the end of the day and I'll just roll my eyes in disapproval. Personally, I think it's bullcrap. I do admit, that consuming such delicacies in large quanitities might just result in undesirable body proportions but judging by the intake of a durian lover, I don't think it can hardly bring any affect to the average consumer, what else, be detrimental to your health. Let's be honest, when it comes to durians, either you love it or hate it. Period. No buts or conditions in between. Which is why I shot Grace a look of contempt when she hesitantly (and miserably) picked up the poor fruit with her finger tips, complaining about not wanting to get her fingers dirty and about her weight while trying her best to oblige mum. As I said, love it or hate it, it still requires passion to enjoy such sinful saccharine substance!

Hey, I'm all for the smell it leaves my fingertips in for tomorrow morning's class!

Coinciding with the durian season (anniversary of the blog?), the bak chang (glutinous rice dumpling) festival is here. Well, not exactly the festival by itself.
More like the Dragon Boat Festival celebrated with the traditional bak chang - steamed glutinous rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves along with ingredients like duck eggs' yolk, assorted beans and nuts and pork. Growing up, I've seen both my grandmothers making bak changs when the time arrives despite the fact that one of them is a Catholic who makes them for pleasure while the other makes them for deity worships and such. Well, that was before amah moved from her old pre-war houses to the current 2 bedroom economical flat where space constrains and old age seems to be catching up real quick with her. Used to love the smell of bak changs steaming greeting my nostrils when I was younger and when amah made them in huge amounts for eating and praying. Poh poh on the other hand, paid more attention to kee changs (another type of chang) - yellow colored glutinous rice wrapped in bamboo leaves too minus the fillings and only eaten when dipped in homemade black syrup. Poh poh does make bak changs also but not as many as amah's.

Plenty of 'em!

Well, one thing that's peculiar about me which shows when it comes to bak changs is that I only eat the ones that are made especially for me. I'm sure I have other peculiar habits but let's save those for another day. As written in my profile, I don't take greens, any forms of greens, beans included and considering that bak changs come with a lot o
f beans, I've almost taken an oathe to swear off bak changs completely in my consumption list when I was a kid. Still not wanting to part with the texture of glutinous rice, I suggested that amah only inserted pork in the bak changs, one day while I was squatting by her side watching her insert the fillings and later wrapping the bak changs with the bamboo leaves and securing them with strings (aquired from dried fibre of banana shoots) with such ease and speed before hanging them in bunches over a long horizontal stick to be steamed. She took my suggestion and made 10 bak changs for me the following year. 10 was a large amount then, seeing that I could only manage at least one at a given time since glutinous rice can be rather filling.

Bundled in a bunch!

Ever since then, I'll get 10 bak changs made especially for me, only filled with pork, from amah. Sometimes, even with extra pork.

At least that was the way it was before she was incapable of anything more than making back and forth trips from the living room to the kitchen. It's been so long since. Now, poh poh has taken the honours of making those annual 10 pork-only bak changs for me. In a way, I do feel special, considering that poh poh only cutom makes those changs for me out of the 14 grandhcildren she has. Amah was different as Grace and I were her only paternal grandchildren then (before Edmund showed up) and Grace was a non-fussy eater. Poh poh even has ming tied in different coloured strings and hung in a different place of the kitchen, afraid that someone else might accidentally take mine. Pity the person who has to eat a pork-only chang, that's for one, but me getting angry that my precious chang was stolen, now that's another thing! I guess I was a spoilt brat in this matter, aren't I? Still, after one incident of stolen chang (I think there were tears involved!), poh poh was forever careful with mine ever since. But things have definitely changed for the better. I do occasionally take the "real" bak changs, only picking up the pork and passing the other filling to someone else and now it takes at least more than a good 3 bak changs to get me full.

Which pretty much explains my size if you put the durians and the dumplings together.

I can already see the needle in the weighing machine tilting more to the right now.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Superb Sweet Seventeen.

Ever since Queensbay Mall opened in Penang, the already mall-crowded island, back in December, I've been dying to try out the latest Thank God It's Friday (T.G.I.F) outlet that was opened along with the mall, located at the right wing entrance of the mall. Of course, the red-bricked wall and the red and white awnings (signature colors of T.G.I.F), plus the huge sign which decorated the exterior of the restaurant sparked my interest on my first visit to the mall. It even got Grace and I occasionally ooh-ing and aah-ing at the mere mention of T.G.I.F. Plenty of times we've tried entering the restaurant but it was usually fully occupied or that we were broke after a day long of tiring shopping. That usually leaves us relentlessly walking away to look for McD instead, after flipping through the menu depicting scrumptious food on the stand at the restaurant entrance.

Considering that it's been so long since I wanted to try T.G.I.F and the simple fact that it has been a while since the last time the family had a fancy dine at a fancy restaurant, I jumped at the opportunity and made reservations for eight all by myself, which included me looking for a number online and in the telephone directories (a.k.a Yellow Pages) which proved futile when I had to call the mall up and asked for a number. It's 04-6413363, by the way. Trust me, you'll need it, seeing the fact that one can barely get a seat on weekends without prior reservations. After all, it was my birthday on Monday (11/6) and being in this family, your birthday treat, your choice - a tradition of some sort. Nothing to extravagant though. For me, it's usually restaurant visits like this. Hey, birthdays and Christmas seem to be the only logical reasons for mom and dad to fork out extra cash from their daily budget.

I decided I have to try T.G.I.F out no matter what. To be honest, I was more eager to check the condition out for myself rather than believing in what others say cause I've read a few unfavorable critiques towards the restaurant in various blogs where I'd go, it couldn't be that bad! Oh, I was quite unsure myself when I suggested the place but upon entering and checking the menu out, it was everything I imagined it to be - even more. The setting was cozy, warm, inviting and delightful, not to mention with the little vintage look thrown in, like the big black and white picture of Elvis Presley and a very old Superman comic cover hung over the walls while figurines of Batman and some other old thingamajigs decorated the shelves. The music was soothing, which suited the setting and the lighting were a soft glow, inviting peers from outsiders through the glass windows. Typically western, I thought to myself. And then I spotted the huge KITCHEN sign lighted in bulbs when being led to our seats, giving the entire 60's look a complete touch, making me hum the tune of Christina Aguilera's Candyman to myself.

Flipping through the menu was already tempting enough to get me drooling while the waiter introduced his humble self to dad, sitting at the opposite end of the table. Everything looked so delicious and it was hard for a fickle minded person like me who, if it was possible, to try everything on the menu (greedy, I know!). We waited for ah jiu and jiu mu (notice the new title for ah jiu's wife) whom we invited earlier when making reservations while taking a relatively long time to make up our minds, flipping the menu over and over again, going through the description for multiple times. It was almost 9p.m. when ah jiu and jiu mu arrived and all the dishes were served. I ordered the Texas Ribs while Grace had Friday's Burger, Edmund with the Spaghetti from the Kiddies' Menu, dad with the Jack Daniel's Shrimp and Ribs, mom with Half Roast Chicken, aka with Chicken Fingers, ah jiu with a Whole Rib which looked beastly with the rib bones jutting out and jiu mu with Grilled Salmon.

To Grace's surprise, the portion served by T.G.I.F was way huger than she feared it might be. The picture above pretty much speaks for itself. That was even managed with the other side of the burger hidden in her palm! The food looked so fabulously delectable that it was a great feat for me to keep my saliva from escaping the corners of my mouth everytime I spoke. My hands were shaking, probably due to the hunger, (or should I say, desire to devour the food!) hence, the blurred photos and from the shaky hands and the over-pumped ISO, explaining the noise.My pictures don't do any justice to the real thing, really. Forgive me but food photography is undoubtedly an area which I'm weak at. Thankfully, given the size of the servings, no food was wasted at the end of the dinner - everyone took a fair bite out of Grace's burger to help the poor girl finish while jiu mu cleverly divided her salmon to everyone at the beginning of dinner. Speaking of the new member of the family, she surprisingly bought a cake for the occasion - a green jelly cake, that is, bringing memories of the past when I once had this cake. Truly and old time favorite cake of mine.

And who else is there better to celebrate your birthday with if not with the family? Or at least, that's what I think. Obviously not the gregarious sort who fancies night clubs and mindless drinking with friends. At least, not yet, I hope. Akak was there, so was the newlywed couple. Mom decided to give them a break with a hearty meal after all that wedding massacre that took place over the weekend, so mom invited them. I realize, there's still a lot more gaps to fill up (oh, the explanation I owe!) but at the moment, I'm putting this first as I've promised to the T.G.I.F crew there in the little note I've left them with. What I didn't mention was that the crew did an amazing job in throwing a little celebration for me when the cake was brought out - there were the songs and other paraphernalia - that made the whole day a memorable one. That definitely was the cherry on the icing for me. Just check it out in the video below. In short, the service was excellent, the food great and the ambiance lovely. Definitely defied the not-so-good feedback that I've read so far.

Now, doesn't that make you wanna have your birthday there? Another satisfied customer, I'd say!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Pictorial Update.

The examinations are finally over and I'm back! I know, I've got to get the momentum of blogging back but as I've mentioned, wedding arrangements are a pain in the butt for me currently. Anyway, here are some pictorial update about a few stuff that happened in the duration of the three weeks when I was away. Chew on them.

Yeah, as you can see, dad's car's window got smashed as a failed attempt of robbery. Some bastard tried breaking in into the car after we left the goldsmith. Dad's guess was that we were unaware of being trailed since we left the goldsmith's and went for lunch, instead of going home straightaway. That Saturday, we were at the goldsmith shopping for wedding rings and wedding gifts of bracelets, bangles, rings and necklaces as the Chinese see gold items as auspicious items to have during weddings and such. We spent the entire morning there with the soon-to-be-wed couple and it wouldn't be any surprise that robbers might have their eyes on us, seeing that mom and dad did make quite a number of trips in and out of the shop "depositing" their valuables in the car. There was about RM9k worth of gold, if I'm not mistaken and we'd thought it would be safer leaving it in the car rather than taking it with us and risk it being snatched. Silly us.

Of course, dad was pissed when I alerted him that his window was smashed upon entering the vehicle while mom was more frantic checking that everything was still in place. Fortunately, the thief didn't succeed in breaking in (dad credits his security alarm!) and we didn't lose anything, except another few hundred bucks to replace the window. Dad immediately proceeded to the mechanic to get it fixed while we got a ride home with ah chiu was was still around town at that time. For me, seeing the car window cracked into a million pieces was a pretty new sight that I had to take pictures. I won't deny it either, that I was terrified that things like that could really happen. I've always thought it only happens in chain-mails circulating around locals. Kinda got mom and me thinking about the possibilities of us being followed into the home and so on. Wouldn't that be scary? Either way, that definitely got us alerter in future trips to the goldsmith. Preys are all over the place.

As I've said, most of the weekends that are left before the big day arrives are dedicated to any unfinished business in preparation for the wedding. That weekend after the horrifying visit to the goldsmith, on Sunday, mom and I got to tag along with the couple to their wedding album photoshoot. There were the studio and outdoor sessions, both of which I was there for, resulting me in skipping the school's annual Sport's Day. Spent the entire morning in the studio, helping ah chiu put on various costumes and didn't dare taking any photos. I mean, I didn't want to face the awkward moment in a confined place when the people in the studio tells me to put the camera away. I did manage to pull the camera out when we went outdoor. Three locations were all that was offered in the package that the couple chose, the beach, the church and the temple. Ah chiu's Catholic while the wife isn't, thus the contrasting locations.

Nonetheless, it was a lovely experience. It was easy shooting models that already have make-up on and didn't require me telling them how to pose (the real photographer did that already!). Still, the lighting and the angling was a bit of a challenge since I wasn't keen on getting in the way of the photographer. All I did was shoot from any points I could grab on. Though, I have to say, I thought the photographer was a little flat.
I wasn't expecting KidChan Studios material but personally, I still felt the whole shoot was a little blunt - the locations, the poses, the backdrops and the outfits. A little dead, I thought, almost routine-like. I won't elaborate further but I wouldn't recommend it to any couple who don't mind spending that little extra for their wedding album. Understandably, ah chiu is on a rather tight budget. However, being on the set with working photographers as such definitely sparked ideas of my own. Imagine me having my own studio and doing what I love best. Well, I have my hopes up.

Later that week too, the family attended Carina and Adrian's birthday party by the beach on Labour Day. Grace came back on that day and we were just in time to pick her up from the bus depot and headed down to the beach. They decided to share the cake at the last minute, despite the fact that their actual birthdays are actually a month a part. I guess I was wrong about Adrian, he couldn't resist the lavish celebration after all. They both had their friends over (for the night as well, I suppose) and they threw a barbecue, cooked spaghetti and ordered extra food. As I've heard, their grandma rented two separate rooms for the both of them! Definitely nothing like the modest beach party I had, celebrating my 16th birthday last year! My, they sure do know how to be impressive. By the way, the baby in the pictures is Amelia, the youngest cousin of the family. Certainly have grown bigger since the last time we saw her in October!

Before I finish this up, here is a picture of Twitty, as I've promised huiwen7 a few weeks back (sorry this is a little late, Hui Wen!). If I'm not wrong, this was Twitty during the 2nd week it was with us. That's akak's hand balancing the bird on the ball. That time, Twitty was only beginning to learn to curve its feet around circular poles like a mop stick. This time, we were actually quite successful in keeping a pet. I mean, we managed to kept it alive and witnessed it grow. By the end of the 3rd week, Twitty was beginning to flap its wings. Entering the 4th week, it was already flying (literally!) out of the cardboard box whenever we opened it to feed it. It really developed black beautiful wings and was already able to have a firm grip around my finger. Everything was fine until one day when mom decided to give Twitty a bath by sprinkling water over it, seeing that its feet and feathers were filthy with dropping stains. Mom left it out on the balcony for it to shake itself dry before discovering that the bird's already flown away! LOL.

Initially, it did cause a mini search party with mom and akak searching for the bird high and low around the vicinity but they gave up not before long, realising the fact that birds do need their freedom after all. It was also uneasy at first to adjust to the silence in the house, without the chirping and all but that's easily replaced with music. Akak and mom refused to remove the empty cardboard box and the used containers on the first few days, hoping that it'll one day fly back to its loft. It never happened and no one knows where is it now. Thankfully, we haven't reached the investment period yet, where we buy bird cage and bird foods. Dad has already started mentioning a few days before it flew away.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Usual Updates.

Whoa! Would you look at the last time I since blogged! It's been a while hasn't it? I've never taken such a long break/hiatus before and it's pretty scary to me. There's this inexplicable weight over my shoulder that just seems to can't go away. what with knowing the rest of the world's been updating their blogs daily while mine remains dormant without any notice. But it definitely surprised me that there were a couple of people who still visited the blog even without updates or anything and leaving little notes on the tagbox. That's nice to know. That's not all. I've been pretty much inactive at Flickr too. No pictorial updates or whatsoever and it kills me to take a few minutes of every day to browse through the amazing shots of my Flickr contacts.

Well, ever since my last post, things were pretty chaotic in my life. With the long-awaited wedding coming by just around the corner, I was really busy with the wedding mass booklet cover and arrangements. Dedicated all of my time fiddling with Photoshop and Microsoft Word - and you know how slow it gets with my computer running these two programs simultaneously! Work didn't speed up much even with Grace's laptop around as she didn't have a printer and only I had extra fonts on my computer. We were practically transferring files from my computer to hers and vice versa. I bore with it, though, having ah chiu and the parish priest himself approve of the cover I "designed". Weekends were usually reserved for the soon-to-wed couple, running them through the updates of the wedding. As the official wedding planner's son, I get to go along with them on their bridal photoshoot and stuff like that. Which could get pretty interesting, if you ask me, not to mention, sparking ideas of my own studio in the future.

Ooh, this is such a mess!

Although, credit goes to mom and Grace for the contents of the booklet, which both of them took the time to type out and arranged it for a proper printing. Mom is still busy with last minute arrangements like the church organist, florist, caterers and the wedding day agenda. Practically don't have time to go shopping to look for a decent dress for the occasion herself. Of course, that haven't included all the yells and screams of disapproval on all sorts of things from various parties that mom had to counter all by herself. In layman's terms, the feared catfights are already taking place sooner than I thought it would among her siblings already. Virtual misconceptions, misunderstandings and wrong judgements are just a few causes that can spark the well-kept fire inside of everyone. Thank God there was still a decent amount of toleration in the family. I wonder what would happen when the siblings actually meet up in person. Hair-pulling and bitch-slapping, maybe?

Anyway, this weekend, mom, Grace and apoh will be accompanying the couple down to Pahang, the hometown of the bride for wedding dowries. Yeap, it's still a well practiced tradition here, complete with traditional baskets and various types of delicacies, one of each bearing their own significance to the Chinese wedding. The couple wanted to keep the ceremony at a low-down as it was only a small occasion with no frivolous celebration with kegs of beer till the wee hours. It was basically carried out due to the importance it had in Chinese customs and as much as I've heard, the bride's family would only be holding a small buffet with close friends and families. They'll be spending a couple of nights there before embarking on a cruel 8hours journey home. Initially, I wanted to go but since I still have my exams going on, the spot goes to Grace. I'd happily skip exams but mom forbade. No surprise there. Dad, Edmund and me? What's the worst that could happen?

Speaking of which, exams were dropped on me like a bomb. It started last Thursday and you can pretty easily guess how busy I am juggling between exams and wedding works. Oh, the exams are the usual blank-paper hand-ups and head-tucked-in-folded-arms-on-the-table routine. Nothing out of the ordinary since I barely threw in any effort before the exams. I mean, this examination was kinda screwed up anyway. Just imagine, things were so messed up that the school couldn't decide on one simple timetable for the exams, thus having it changed for 5 ridiculous times, leaving students like me in a daze of when the exams were actually going to start. There were days where the timetable says the 1st paper for the day will start at 7.30am but when I get to school, I get people telling it to my face that it doesn't start till 8.10am, which really sucks.

Which is why I can't be less than bothered about this mid-term examinations. Yea, I get it, that there are going to be prizes for the highest scorer at the end of the year but that's just not me. Walking up the stage receiving prizes can be scary after all. Undoubtedly, I still do get cold feet every single day before exams start. It's inevitable. It's just practical for me to suck up as much as I could a few minutes before exams start, mindlessly flipping through the pages and scanning them through at the speed of light. Not like that's going to help in the exams but at least it calms me down a little and saves me from the ache of watching the others answer steadily while I doodle on the blank areas of the paper and the table. Pathetic ain't it? I don't think any other teenager my age goes through the same shit I do. Either way, another one of the many screwed up exams to add to my string of bad achievements. Not like the near-permanent mess in the room doesnt give me enough headache already.

So, there you have it, me explaining my absence for the past 3 weeks. Even as I'm posting this, I'm still busy meddling about the booklet's content placing and getting it ready for print. Of course, I'm using Grace's laptop side by side with my computer, multi-tasking my hands off, or God knows when I'll be able to finish! For now, I can't really say if things are going to get any better - any less chaotic, that is. There's still a lot more to be done in preparation for the wedding and I'm guessing that things will probably get more tensed as the date approaches. Grace has been back for a 2 months varsity break since 1st May and with her around, there'll be more shopping and mall-roaming, hunting down for the best bargains and possibly shopping for the big day. The woman needs her shoes, her accessories, her dresses and her bags! I don't think she'll let me off easily, considering that my mid-term holidays are just around the corner as well (oh, some good news at last!).

Still, not that I'm complaining that it's a pain in the butt to go shopping. Damn, it can be a relief, to say the least.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Rihanna's Umbrella.

The video's finally out. It's about time, since the single's been out quite a while now. It looks so good to me. Rihanna looks baaad, nonetheless, hot! I absolutely love it and the little Rihanna commentary at the end of the video. For all Rihanna fans out there, this is definitely one of the best video she's ever made. A really new and different side of her that she's showing (Good Girl Gone Bad, eh?) - a very brave and bold side, I think. There is one part of the video though, where she's in a pair of black ballet shoes strutting it off with her umbrella. Really reminds me of Christina Aguilera's Stronger video, don't you think? Either way, the video's really simple, still brilliant (you even get to see Rihanna naked in it!). Artistic, I suppose. Loving her new look!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Pet Talk.

You know, I've spent my entire childhood, growing up, practically lying to myself that I can keep a pet alive, which in real life, is the total opposite. Believe me, I've tried keeping fishes, tortoises, dogs and birds as pets, every single time, nodding happily when being lectured of the responsibility of owning a pet before actually buying one, oblivious to the fact that I can barely keep any of them alive for a certain period of time. Yes, even with the aid of cages, aquariums, pet food and vets, nothing seems to be able to survive my care. I mean, come to think of it, it's practically a sin for the parents to agree on buying any living creature for me as they all well know that nothing escapes my hands alive. It's like murder - in a nicer way. Back then, it was either a burial in the flower pot outside the house or a funeral down the toilet bowl. I don't know why but I think it's a curse that I have zero pet skills that'll last me more than a week. Mom and dad can't even prevent the sight of overturned fishes in a clogged up aquarium. One conclusion, I'm not a pet person.

Considering that and thee fact that I can't keep a pet even if it was to save my life, I've pretty much grown out of my childish pursuits of keeping a pet, or rather, keeping one alive. Though, I must admit, till today, I still get the thrill of any slightest possibility of having a dog (Golden Retriever or a Husky anyone?) on my own. Grace and I too occasionally discuss about the possibilities of keeping a tamed lion, tiger, leopard and maybe cheetah all by ourselves, results of an old ING Insurance commercial. Wouldn't it be nice to come home and have something as humongous as a fully grown lion to cuddle and pet instead of a stuffed one? I mean, what are the odds right? Then again, the thought of cleaning up after it or having my hand fed to it just kills the idea of having one in a miserable small home, plus the nagging of mom on the fur it leaves behind and the damaged furniture. Mostly staring at a lonely and pet-less life down the road in the near future. At least, not for long.

Well, having poh poh bring an abandoned baby bird - a tiny little fragile featherless creature with a shape of a baby chicken, the size of a fist complete with a beak and a pair of wobbly feet and protruding underdeveloped wings - from her home in Balik Pulau after Hui Xing discovered it lying in a ditch outside the house pretty much changes everything. Being the kind hearted self and partly obliging the pleas of her granddaughter, poh poh picked the creature up and had it living in a plastic bag with newspapers inside, constantly feeding it and changing the plastic bag (it poops a lot). Poh poh brought the bird along with her for her usual weekend getaway to our place and left it at our place after Edmund pleaded if he could keep it. I frowned and gasped at the ridiculous request. My reaction was, what are you gonna do with a horrible looking creature like that? I'd understand if Edmund wanted to keep a puppy, but a featherless bird which is barely two weeks old?

Of course, I can't blame him for his sudden interest and curiosity. He is a modern town boy after all and getting so close to a bird is a chance as rare as having a tiger as a pet, so I understand he's enthusiasm. But is the thing going to be able to survive under the care of a modern town boy whose fingers are more familiarized to the PlayStation controls and GameBoy, rather than feeding any animal, for that matter? My guess is, the poor motherless creature wouldn't stand two weeks and is most probably going to die of neglect from the owner. The fact is, that's hardly the case. See, the bird, Twitty (as Edmund has taken the liberty to call it, contrary to the popular little yellow bird by the name of Tweety, famous for being unable to pronounce its 's') was hardly noticeable for the whole weekend while poh poh was here. After all, the thing didn't make a noise with poh poh regularly feeding it, thus shutting it up.

Now that poh poh's back home and the bird's with us, we're beginning to get annoyed. Who would've ever thought that baby birds have such a high pitched voice that it's almost painful to the ear everytime it goes on a chirping rampage. Given the fact that it gets hungry easily (hourly intervals!), judging by the easiness of it pooping in the plastic bag. Every single time the thing senses someone in the house, it'll start its uncontrollable chirping, hoping to get someone's attention, as if to say, "Hey fellas, I'm down here! Feed me!", which can easily drive one up the wall. Edmund has not felt the full range of annoyance of the thing yet as he spends most of his time out of the house at tuition and school. Whereas for people like akak and I, who spend a reasonable (if not all) amount of time at home, we're really irritated by the bird's chirping and feeding. Basically, we have to play the role of the mother bird, including stuffing food down its throat - with a little spoon, of course.

Ever since it's presence since Sunday, the house sounds like a freaking bird sanctuary in the late afternoons when akak's busy with house chores (often yelling out her frustration at the bird scratching in the plastic bag) while I'm in my room, blasting the music up to drown the sound of the bird in the kitchen. Don't be surprised that the both of us have been spending our lunch time discussing over various (undeniably vicious and devious) plans to put the miserable figure to sleep, most of which includes slashing and pounding and even frying with a hot wok of oil. Cruel intentions, I know but we really can't help it since it's been causing us our peace lately. So far, the least cruel ones we had was involving it tied in the plastic bag and the rubbish bin while the other one had to do with it frozen in the fridge. But akak wasn't keen on contaminating her food. Surprised by its rare silence, we'd never miss a chance of asking each other, "Did it die already? Why suddenly so quiet?" only to have it spring back up when either of us checks the plastic bag.

Discerning little bird brain. Almost impossible to tiptoe across the kitchen without it noticing.

I've been begging for mom and dad to send the bird back to its rightful founder and owner. The prospects and chances of the bird surviving with poh poh is definitely higher compared to the careless modern town boy. Really. Poh poh does possess skills in sustaining lives as such - unfortunate strays abandoned by their parents and left to fend for themselves in the streets. I've always thought that any creature to come in the hands of poh poh are the lucky ones. Though sometimes, the old woman can take it a little too seriously. The last dog I had, Jasmine, had to be sent to live with poh poh in her, back then, suburban house after much insistence from mom. Poh poh was way over the top, feeding it only certain types of food (mostly soft diet) and restricted the dog from taking a bath as she said it was too young and that it might catch a cold. Ever heard of dogs catching cold?

Still, Edmund refuses to let the bird go. Akak and I did try to convince him to allow us to set it free at the nearby park but he disallows and the mere thought of the pitiful creature being devoured by stray cats or dogs is haunting enough for both me and akak. In other words, we have to stick with the thing, until and unless, Edmund decides to set it free or return it to poh poh where it'll have a better chance of living. Right now, we have to put up with the chirping and the feeding and the pooping. Oh, we'd still be cursing under our breaths while exchanging ideas of strangling the thing to death over cups of coffee and loud music to drown our sorrows. Something inside of me tells me this is karma. What goes around comes around. After all those years of animal murder whilst growing up, this is the time I pay. Provided, of course, if the bird can survive my two week quota that I've given.


Saturday, April 21, 2007

Who's Your Idol?

This season of American Idol initially didn't get me going all gah gah over the contestants. Actually, it didn't even get me worshiping routinely following the show week after week. Probably because neither the contestants' performances, the theme choice nor the guest artist didn't quite appeal to me. What more with the presence of Sanjaya Malakar, the undeserving contestant and at the same time, the underdog who was able to raise the eyebrows of millions of skeptics worldwide towards the credibility of the show. It was quite a turn-off, not to mention a torture, to actually sit-through an entire hour of the show, just to skew up my face in disgust to watch Sanjaya perform and week after week, continued in the show while other better contestants get voted off the show (Chris Sligh, for instance!). Even performances from stronger contestants like LaKisha Jones and Melinda Doolittle didn't make the cut for me. Of course, I still got updated about the who's-in and who's-out of the show through the occasional small talks among friends in school and the weekly newspaper column dedicated for American Idol, usually, coming close to cussing after reading that Sanjaya still remains.

Well, not until last week that I found myself getting hung up with the show - again. After dad called out to me from the living room telling me that American Idol is on, I walked out obligingly to take a peek but got oddly attracted to the show when a feeling of familiarity swept all over me. Before I know it, I was sitting on the floor,
as dad was occupying the whole couch, facing the TV with my heads tilted a little upwards and the remote, gripped firmly in my hands. Seriously, I had no idea what had gotten into me then but I just got glued for the next hour. Yes, even with Sanjaya's performance (which I took the liberty of muting). Surprisingly this time, I was swept away by performances from an unexpected contestant, Chris Richardson and Blake Lewis, and of course, the all-time professional Melinda Doolittle. I do agree with the judges that last week's performances weren't their greatest or strongest but I've never realized how the two guys can really sing. I've always disregarded Blake as the jukeboxer (or whatever you call them these days) and have never seen him as the type who's able to sing an actual song while Chris has always been overshadowed by the likes of Jordin and LaKisha.
Blake Lewis, looking smart.

You go girl, Melinda!

I guess if you spend sometime actually listening, rather than judging, you'll actually find that American Idol still has hopes! Then again, you might think that my judgement are biased towards the theme of the week. Just so you know, I'm not a big fan of country music. Yes, I do listen to the likes of Keith Urban, Rascal Flatts and Carrie Underwood occasionally, but that's just to fulfill certain cravings of my ear. I don't even have their full albums - except for Carrie Underwood as I do like more than a few songs from her album. You might even think I'm supporting Chris after his post-performance speech to express his sympathy and condolences towards the victims of the VA Tech mass murder, after last week's performance. Well, no. I do think that both Chris and Blake have very nice voices, not powerful, but still nice. Doubt that either of them could make it to the top (looking forward to Melinda, hey!) though, with other contestants of more powerful vocals.
Personal fave, Chris Richardson! Man, I feel sorry too.

I did, somehow, obtain the studio recordings of last week's performance, with Chris doing Mayberry (by Rascal Flatts) and Blake doing When The Stars Go Blue (by Tim McGraw). Lucky for them, I happen to be the kind of person who thinks that people like them are already winners when they could make someone connect to the song - even better, love the song (I've been playing Mayberry for the whole day!). I'm also feeling the lyrics to Mayberry! to So, yeah, they're both winners to me. I 'm still looking forward to seeing the deserving Season 6 Idol, Melinda, reach the top! C'mon, I'm just being real. No one can deny that she's awesome!

So tell me, who's your Idol?

Friday, April 20, 2007

The Wedding Planner.

A couple of weeks back, ah chiu, mom's one and only younger brother who allowed us to put up in his home when our home was undergoing a major renovation two Novembers back, had an appointment with the church priest to discuss some details about his long awaited and much anticipated wedding ceremony. Ever since kong kong's death, everybody in the family's pretty much been looking forward to ah chiu's wedding as he was the last sibling of the family yet to fulfill the sacrament of Holy Matrimony and it was kong kong's final wish to see ah chiu and his (then) fiance tie the knot. However, they did the registration not long after kong kong's passing with mom and dad being their official witness (it was in one of those ceremonies held for mass registration). Back to my point. I have not heard a word escape from either ah chiu or his fiance's mouth, announcing about the wedding date or whatsoever but word got out about their little appointment with the church priest and it spread like wildfire afterwards. Shocking to see at what rate these news can travel on - faster than the bridegroom can say HOLD ON.

Before ah chiu could decide to hold an impromptu party to announce the official wedding date, the news have no doubt, traveled far and near, reaching the ears of every relative there is, in one way or another, connected or not. Could almost hear the gleeful clap of hopeful grand-aunties after putting down the phone, in sarongs and clogs while halfway through applying bedak sejuk on their faces delicately, conveying the good news to the husbands lying in bed. Then there are those who just couldn't contain their joy that they feel obligated to pass the news around - even to their neighbors and colleagues! Wouldn't be surprised if the entire (and surprisingly small) town of Balik Pulau knows about it already by now. It didn't take long before speculations of the real date arise as relatives and friends start gossiping about other details like the rightful wedding planner, the church, the reception, the wedding album and other paraphernalia that comes in the way to make a typical Chinese wedding a successful and memorable one. These things just couldn't bear all the excitement in the closet. I mean, it's the least to be expected at occasions like these. What else with 3G and instant messaging nowadays.

I've even heard of relatives from Australia booking their tickets for the flight back already!

Honestly, I've never had any relative as close as ah chiu marry before, apart from that little stint I had as a "cameraman" for Grace, my elder god-sister who got married two Novembers ago also . But that was just as close as I got to any prior
wedding plans at all. I've never experience all the process one needs to get through to get everything in order for that perfect day - the caterer, the invitation list and the invitation cards, just to name a few. Mom, as the appointed wedding planner practically runs the show. Ah chiu knows that he probably couldn't handle everything by himself without breaking down in the process with his tight schedule so he asked mom to help him out instead, which, in return, mom agreed, a little bit too willingly. As her son, I do get quite a load of the action also. Just last week, I followed ah chiu, his fiance (I'm going to have to start addressing here chiu mu!) and mom around the town, entering and coming out of various bridal shops enquiring about wedding albums.

Mom, technically responsible of the smoothness of the entire ceremony, is the one with the YellowPages on her lap, sifting through the pages, enquiring about the various caterers in town, searching for the best price with the best food. She's been also engaging in florists for the church floral arrangements and the restaurant for the reception, including the invitation cards and invitation list. Of course, being the only child in the house that could aid her (in other words, scapegoat), I've been bestowed with a couple of things (against my will, I swear!), like typing out the Order of Service for the service on the wedding day and probably designing the booklet cover for it as well and God knows I'm practically hopeless when it comes to PhotoShop. Currently browsing through sites that offer tutorials related to what I'm trying to design. If I can come up with anything, it'd be for ah chiu to decide to use or not. If I can't come up with anything at all in time for printing, then I don't know what to say.

Of course, mom's work doesn't stop there. Her job as the wedding planner includes updating the other siblings in the family about the progress of the project (as mom gladly termed it) and occasionally seeking advice and opinions from them. Ever s
ince she started, e-mails, phone calls and text messaged have been overflowing in our virtual inbox. If those were carried by owls, my house will probably turn into an owl barn by now, with droppings on the floor and feathers fluttering all over. After all, her siblings consists of 5 sisters and 1 brother and girls being naturally girls, who wouldn't wanna play the wedding planner? I'm sure they all would love the idea of planning the wedding their way (often, mistakingly thinking that it's best for the couple), fulfilling undying dreams of the wedding they never had as the flames of hopes are still flickering. Another walk down the aisle in white, the way they imagined it to be 20 years back, if they had more money, would do the trick. Somehow, waiting for their children's turn would just be too long and they've figured it out that children are going to be stubborn when it comes to their own weddings anyway.

C'mon, who doesn't want their dreams to be materialized?

Unfortunately for some of the siblings who so badly wants a piece of the cake, are unable to do anything besides voicing their opinions and ideas through hours worth of phone calls and emails as there are some living far away from home. Still, anything that's suggested needs the approval of the bride and bridegroom themselves before anyone can agree on anything. I can already see the cat-fights coming among the siblings. And they say sibling rivalry will never end. Amidst all those heated discussions and among the siblings, most of them, as I've heard have been diligently making trips to gyms, slimming centres and eve
n yoga classes to achieve the optimum figure for the big day. Honestly. Ever since they've gotten confirmation about the wedding details, it seems to me, the females of the family couldn't contain themselves but to kick up a storm of revelations ranging from beautifying themselves to shopping for outfits and accessories to talks of having their own line-up of events to surprise the couple - coordinating their own choir with the grandchildren to sing for the service, being one of the many deranged and over-the-top plans from the women.

I've even heard of involving the little children as flower girls and boys!

This family's not missing out either. Mom have suddenly gotten intimidated by her siblings' effort in shedding of a few pounds to look good for the big day (I told you, siblings' rivalry!) that she got the urge to play badminton, as a desperate measure in disguise to lose weight through excessive sweating. Being the scapegoat, once again, she dragged me down with her. I don't suppose this has got anything to do with the duo, Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong of
international fame that ignited her badminton-playing-self. Nonetheless, we've done it as little as twice only this week and the first time really got my body aching - usual post-exercise aches for a couch potato. Though, I can't be sure if this way is going to help either of us burn enough fat by the wedding date as me playing badminton with mom usually includes a lot of blurry dashing, missed shuttlecocks and picking up of shuttlecocks. Plus, we're playing open air and I doubt the wind adds to the little sweat we produce at the end of any game. Still, no harm in chilling with mom. After all, she needs some time off from being the wedding planner, which, in her case, could be really taxing.

So I suppose it's obvious how distracted I am from my studies with all the things happening around me. Been pretty much bogged down with mom's appointments meeting up with caterers and the likes. This Sunday (21/04), we'll be heading down to a bridal shop that ah chiu and soon-to-be chiu mu both agreed on, to a fitting session. Whereas, next Saturday (28/04) will be their photoshoot for the wedding album with a professional photographer, which I've asked the permission of ah chiu to tag along with them, hoping to get
to shoot a few shots of my own, standing behind the real photographer for the shoot. The only reason I think I'm being included in all these is because I'm the eldest nephew of his available. I mean, ah chiu's not really fond of nephews if compared to nieces. He'll probably take Grace along if she was here but seeing that she isn't, I'm replacing her. Speaking of Grace, you can bet she's excited as hell, even more so that she's not in Penang where everything's taking place. Her intrepid (and surprisingly long!) emails insisting for some details clearly shows that she's desperate to be home.

At least, she's got till the next weekend to make it back home for a long, long, long holiday.

For the meantime, I'm still unsure whether ah chiu would like me to be the photographer for the whole event which falls on the 9th of June, 3 days before my birthday, I know. I mean, I'm definitely not volunteering myself as my photography skills are a far cry from being good enough to record a once-in-a-lifetime event like this. I still lack the self-confidence. But if, as what mom says, he isn't going to hire any professional to do the job for him and if he asks me too, I won't refuse. It's a favor. More like a responsibility with tonnes of pressure and tension to perform well. I'll go look for more online tutorials on PhotoShop and photographing weddings.

A really rough design according to ah chiu's requested color, sky blue. Potential poster?

Maybe I should just get myself a copy of The Wedding Planner.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Gunung Lang Photoshoot.

Somewhere in January, the family and I made a trip down to Kuala Kangsar to visit my poor god-sister, Danushya, who got her feet in a cast due to some mishap in Karate lesson. Uncle Rao took us down to the heart of Ipoh to visit a tourist spot before we left. I had a little photoshoot session by myself at the Gunung Lang recreation park while sucking on an ice-cream. Uncle Rao and I happened to be taking a breezy walk talking about digital cameras when we stumbled upon this abandoned and broken bridge at one end of the park, leading to God-knows-where. It does seem to me like there was some history behind this old link and I do get the feeling that there's another place (possibly mystical!), swallowed up by wild bushes.

The Forbidden Land.


The Pioneers.

The Good Ol' Path.

Aging With Time.



As I said before, I really took the suggestion of angles and direction from Uncle Rao that particular one time and it was a refreshing experience to achieve photos that would make aother person nod their head in agreement. I know, this photos are way overdue but I've hust recently gotten around editing them. This also marks the first time I'm posting images hosted on Flickr (really can't keep up with the momentum of editing a different set of mediocre photos, branding them with my signature and posting them through Blogger). The computer's aging, so I'm just trying out different ways of saving time. I can't really say if I'll stick to it, but if everything goes well, I probably might.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Birthday Bashes.

April and May seem to hold a lot of birthdays for me to remember. So I've realized this year. Only the previous weekend, I had a couple of classmates who shared the same birthday threw a party at their place, of course. Initially, I was invited but I had to decline due to the time of the party (12 a.m.?). Obviously, not the wild party animal. I did manage to wish the guy, though. Whereas on Monday, it was Ton's birthday but I didn't have a chance to wish the boy as he was holidaying in the heart of Japan (probably because it's still their holiday in Thailand), occasionally leaving offline messages on my MSN, telling me how much fun he's having there.

This weekend too, Edmund's throwing another one of his birthday parties, having as much as only two guests on the invite list - his best friend from his class and another little girl by the name of Vivienne living a few blocks away - although the actual date of his birthday falls on Monday (23/4). He couldn't celebrate last year, so dad promised him a little celebration this year. Oh you know, the usual crisp, golden brown, deep-fried delicacies for the little folks with some candy bars and board games thrown in. I won't be doing any of those annual shopping sprees, hunting for the little boy's gift this year (and possibly for the years to come) as Grace isn't exactly around to be my chauffeur and I'm basically facing bankruptcy broke. After all, the little boy's turning a tender age of 9 this coming Monday and dad has gotten him another new game for his recently purchased GameBoy, claiming that it's coming from the whole family.

While May will be holding the birthdays of the two cousins of mine - Carina and Adrian. Carina's birthday falls on the 1st of May while Adrian's falls on the 31st of May. Funny, huh? They usually throw their parties together (not in the middle of the month!) at either one's date. This year, however, the princess' turning 16 and she's throwing one helluva party. Word has it, she's having a one night hotel stay with some friends and a whole day event going on. I'm not quite sure what the princess has in mind (glitsy fashion shows, fretting down the runway with high heels and feathered hats besides a Barbie playtime sessions and tea parties along the beach with Alice in Wonderland?). Don't know what teenage girls are up to these days but I know if I'm invited, I'll be spending another day on the beach, possibly running away from the ever-clinging Adrian. I know there would be a barbecue, that's for sure.

Now, I'm sure Adrian wouldn't wanna share parties this year.

Another birthday that managed to make it through my thoughts is one which belongs to one of my classmates too, which is on the 2nd of May, if I'm not gravely mistaken. Can't recall any other birth dates currently but I seem to have a blur vision of many dates on the calender circled with red marker this year. Maybe you can remind me. I do suffer from Short Term Memory Loss (who doesn't?). I'm already bad with appointments and datelines, what else, anniversaries. Just need to figure out which date belongs to whom, now. For now, it's the two of the most important people that I need to be in the lookout for.


Doesn't that mean I'm going to have to buy more presents? Damn.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Make A Difference.

As you know, I'm not a fan when it comes to chain mails but the other day, I received an email from someone I know in church leading me to a link and telling me to check the link out. Tears swelled in my eyes when I watched the short movie the first (and even the second) time and I got so overwhelmed by the story that I didn't hesitate to forward it to people in my contact list. Some of you might have read about the Teddy Stallard story - about how a teacher changed a little boy's entire life with such little faith and believe she had towards the boy after finding out what he's been through. Some of you might've even watched this short little production (written words read by a background narrator illustrated with pictures of Teddy and his teacher is simple and elegant enough to make an outstanding statement) but that's ok, it wouldn't hurt to spend a little time replaying it again. And just in case you haven't seen or heard about this before, check out .

Remember, it's not only for teachers but for all of us who can make a difference.