Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sunday bridge: New artistic bridge in Auckland

Scenic Sunday: belimbing besi in Bau, Borneo

Gerald HarryGerald Harry's tree laden with fruit.

Pierce Tk Wong's closeup photo.

My friend Gerald Harry and a group of friends " Do you remember" went to an off skirt village to visit Kampung Segong, Bau.Kuching. 

He took these photos of the fruit tree and he has kindly allowed me 
to post the belumbing Besi fruit.

I have not seen this fruit when I was growing up in Borneo. This may be the first photos to be shown internationally. I googled and didn't find any photos, unless they go by another name.

"It is sour but when it is ripe (the skin will change to white) the fruit is very very sweet.
We will visit the farm again in February and I heard that's the best time to eat." Gerald.

Thanks Gerald and Pierce.

As I suspected this rare plant goes by other names:

Baccaurea angulata (Tampoi Belimbing, Belimbing Bukit, Red angle tampoi, Belimbing 


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Watery Wednesday/ABC Wednesday: X on Ferry

.Can you see the X on the sides of the ferry?

Thank you John Benet for your photos. A good reminder of when I was young and the Ferry at Durin near my maternal grandparents place.

RED: Bathroom facilities.

When I had kids. there no no parent and child facilities.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Scenic Sunday: Winter in Japan.

 Helen with her daughter Olivier and youngest son Thomas.
Lincoln in Yellow, holidaying in Japan.

I just watched Nanny McFee, and remembered the grand aunty who had to audacity to say, " I will relieve you of the responsibly of taking care of one of your kids.

This reminds me of an anecdote in my parents family. Mum and Dad were in the era of the Chinese Confucian believes that families should have boys and of the Roman Catholic faith that they shouldn't practise family planning.

I was 11 when the twins were born. A boy Henry and a girl, Helen, the 3rd boy and 5th girl. I  was really looking forward to babying them. I was too young to enjoy the last brother. Dad was working at the Education Dept and had returned from England.

Two old maids came to offer to "relieve Dad of the responsibility."  They had university degrees when many girls in their generation didn't even go to school. They said that they would send Helen to study abroad. By staying with my Dad, Helen would have no chance of going abroad to study. 

Mum and Dad did not know how to reject their proposal and it would be rude as Chinese to tell them no. Eventually, they used my name and told them that Ann said "NO." They went away reluctantly tell Mum and Dad to dissuade me, after all how can a kid make such an important decision.

Very often I tease Helen that I saved her from an upbringing bereft of siblings and brought up by old maids. We often wonder why they came to us, a  middle class family, and why they did not go to the country to look for a girl. Perhaps they wanted the good genes of Dad.

Helen lives permanently abroad and has 3 lovely children.

This is her latest:news:

Lincoln has achieved the DUX academic award for his school.  He also received special science award  and small cash prize from Griffith University. We are very proud of him.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

sunday bridge: bicycle bridge at Oakley.

To get on to this bicycle bridge, I had to climb up about 1 meter high. I told the husband that he can take only the front view.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Thursday Challenge: Light

I told my blogger and facebook friend Betsy Banks-Adams that Paul McCartney didn't know know what he was singing about: Will you still love me when I am 64.  

Here is a photo of my friends whose ID i won't tell  because they didn't know I was taking the photo. 

Here they are, singing I will still love you when you are 90. 

"LIGHT (A Two Week Theme)" (Photos of beautiful light, reflecting, shining through, colourful,...)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Red: Santa Balloon.

A giant balloon Santa waving his hands about in Westgate, Massey in West Auckland. You need a machine to constantly blow air to keep him standing up.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Church with a heart, Mt Albert Baptist Church, Auckland

Since I came back from Singapore in 2006, we had been worshipping in Mt Albert Baptist Church. We had been "shopping" for a home church, and at this stop, Connie Ng came and invited us to join her Life Group. It was this "welcome" by her that we stayed. Before Christmas, the ladies come and wrap and deliver goodies. This year, I requested two love gifts for 2 special friends. They did not belong to the church. I felt it would really be great to send them a gift, and Pastor Jonathan Dove consented to my request. They were thrilled to bits when the parcels arranged. They conveyed their heart felt thanks for this surprise. Thank you Church. fbid=512331692130747&set=a.359214430775808.87372.353424601354791&type=1&theater Our new series is all designed to help you prepare for the big day. I'm really eager to share God's Word with you this week. In the midst of my frantic rushing and worrying (yes, pastors go through that as well!), the passage has brought me to my knees in worship with a deep longing for Christmas like never before. We kick off our Christmas series this Sunday with 'The Invitation' (Luke 14:1-24). This week we have the kids helping us prepare for the big day, our Grey Warblers singing, and some special carolers too. Let others know what's happening. The 'invites' for everybody. See you at 9 and 11am.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The rampage in Sandy Hook Elementary School, Connecticut

For whom does the bell toll? I hear the bell tolling in this little cemetery. For a little baby who was born on Valentine's Day. For his mother who had him snatched away from her arms. For his aunties who shared this sad news. The bell is tolling for a little boy who had been afflicted. From a fatal disease from the day he was born. For his mum and dad, For his grandma and granddad, For the five years they stood by his side. The bell continues to toll, It is not right, When it is for little children. I wrote this poem many years ago on a Valentine’s Day, the anniversary of my friend’s five year old grandson, David. This January, I went to meet his mum and talked. The rampage in the northeastern state of Connecticut makes me think of the many mums who are grieving.

Skywatch Friday: Samoa and Fiji cyclone

The sky is beautiful in Auckland, New Zealand. But for many occupants who have relatives in Samoa and Fiji, they are weary and watching the sky. At least three people, two of them reportedly children, have already been killed by tropical cyclone Evan, which has brought widespread flooding, blocked roads, destroyed buildings and forced evacuations across Samoa. The category three tropical cyclone currently lashing Samoa could develop into a category five monster by the time it reaches Fiji. I am thinking of them because I have students and friends from these Pacific Islands.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Frangipani: Joy and then misery, how do we add up the equation?

In South East Asia, this is known as the grave yard flower, and plants are seen in Muslim cemetaries. When I was living in Singapore, in Nanyang University, at the entrance to some apartment blocks, the authorities had planted two Frangipanis on either side of the entrance. There was some talk about this. Why of all flowers did they grow the Frangipani.

Today, my cousin told me this,"Sad day indeed when I received news that my childhood Malay friend and neighbour lost her only son in an accident last night ( he's only @20) and tomorrow is her daughter's wedding day. The tents for the wedding are all up and my parents' car porch is to be used as well. My parents, siblings and I are devastated. I'm so sorry, my friend, that I was not around for your son's funeral this evening, to share your sorrow n give you a hug. Our prayers are with you and your family." I understand the heartache Catherine's friend is undergoing through. Some 20 years ago, another 20 year old son of my friend died. She hugged me and said," You alone understand how painful it it. I hugged her tightly, there was no need for words. I had moved on with my grief, I was able to help her deal with hers.
Macro Flower Saturday
Macro Flower Saturday Macro Flower Saturday ">

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Photo Hunt: Stevia rebaudiana: Sweet Leaf Plant

My friend told me about this plant Stevia which is used a a sugar substitute. I have not tried using my plant, and it looks like a beautiful pot plant. The girl at the garden centre told me I have to bring it indoors in winter. She also tells me by adding a few leaves in my cup of tea will sweeten my tea. As a scary cat, I have not tried it yet. My plant I bought in New Zealand looks different from Wikipeadia. Supersized stevia! This is undoubtedly the most robust variety of stevia that we have ever seen. The whole plant has a sturdy upright look with strong thick stems and monstrous leaves that can exceed 10cm/4" long and 5cm/2" across. Even when grown in pots the plants reach heights of 90cm/36" or more. Taste is similar to regular stevia. "You can't believe how sweet this plant is! Stevia leaves are 10 times sweeter than sugar, but have almost no calories and lack the aftertaste of artificial sweeteners. Refined Stevia has been available for years at health stores as an all-natural alternative to sugar. Now is your chance to grow the plant at home. Plants grow to 3' tall and are only hardy to zone 10. In the winter, bring it indoors and use it as a house plant"

Botanical Name: Stevia rebaudiana

The species Stevia rebaudiana, commonly known as sweetleaf, sweet leaf, sugarleaf, or simply stevia, is widely grown for its sweet leaves. As a sweetener and sugar substitute, stevia's taste has a slower onset and longer duration than that of sugar, although some of its extracts may have a bitter or licorice-like aftertaste at high concentrations.
With its steviol glycoside extracts having up to 300 times the sweetness of sugar, stevia has garnered attention with the rise in demand for low-carbohydrate, low-sugar food alternatives. Because stevia has a negligible effect on blood glucose, it is attractive as a natural sweetener to people on carbohydrate-controlled diets.
Stevia, which is also known as 'sweet herb' is a native plant of Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina.  The Gaurani Indians of Paraguay have been using stevia to sweeten drinks such as Mate for hundreds of years.  
The Japanese have been growing  stevia in hot houses since the early 1950's  and in the late 1960's when the government banned certain artificial sweeteners its use increased dramatically. In Japan stevia is used to sweeten pickles, meats and fish, soy sauce, fruit juice, soft drinks, yoghurt, deserts and low calorie foods. 
Stevia leaves are used as a calorie free sugar substitute in food and drinks. Two or three leaves of stevia is enough to sweeten a cup of tea or coffee. Dried powdered leaves are 10 to 15 times sweeter than sugar, 2 tablespoons of stevia can replace 1 cup of sugar. To make a liquid extract combine 1cup of warm water with ½ cup of mashed fresh leaves in a jar with a lid and let stand for 24hrs. Strain and refrigerate for up to 1 month. Stevia does not brown or crystallize like sugar so cannot be used in recipes such as meringues. 
Stevia doesn't adversely affect blood glucose levels and may be used freely by diabetics. It is attractive as a natural sweetener to people on carbohydrate-controlled diets.

Growing Conditions

Stevia is a perennial growing up to a metre tall, likes full sun and prefers an acid soil. It flowers late summer to early autumn, it should be harvested as it begins to flower as this is when the stevioside content (the compound which gives stevia its sweetness) is at its highest. 
Thursday Challenge is a place for photographic fun and learning. GOOD (Anything you think is good...) I have to qualify this. If this Stevia is as good as it is, then it is good. However, I am not sure. I don't even dare to try it for myself. So my plant remains a beautiful pot plant.

Monday, December 10, 2012

ABC Wednesday/Red: Vespa

Whenever I see an old fashion Vespa, I think of 3 guys who came to school riding a Vespa in my senior years. This July, my friend Joanne organised a mini reunion with some of our friends. It was awesome seeing 2 of the guys and the gals. Jason went to USA and came back but left to join the Police force. Nick went too UK and became a lawyer. What was most significant was we talked about the third and missing Vespa rider. I wrote about him. T was the youngest of the lot. He met with an accident and he died. I will always remember him, he took me to the then most posh hotel, The Aurora, and told me that the T-bone steak was the choicest cut of steak. I came back from Canada a few years later, someone told me he crashed his bike and died. I CRIED. His death affected me. I became the champion for the under dogs, for justice. Years later, when I became a mum, I was lucky to be a faculty wife, living among like minded women in the university in Singapore. We sort of adopted a neighbourhood school. The principal was very glad to have us. Our kids excelled in all aspects.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Sunday bridge at the beach.

I was walking at the mud flats of Whitford when I thought to myself, "This log can me a bridge for today's meme." My guide Christine Maslowski said, we used this as a bridge at high tide.