Thursday, April 30, 2015

Taiwanese Formosan Cherry

Prunus campanulata is a species of cherry native to Taiwan, widely grown as an ornamental tree, and a symbol of Nago, Okinawa in the Ryukyu Islands of Japan. It is variously known in English as the Taiwan cherry,[3] Formosan cherry, or bellflower cherry.

  The Campanulata cherry  blooms ahead of the Sakura, then very quickly the flowers drop and fade away.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Feijoa flowers

Feijoa flower, a delicious fruit that grows here, but came from South America. It is peak of the season now.

Friends in Australia eat the flowers and say it taste like strawberries.

Hot air chestnuts.

I was excited to be told about the beautiful chestnut tree by the teacher at Mt Albert Primary school. She was sure because she saw Chinese people come and pick them.

I went specially to see them, brown burrs lying on the ground. I was delighted, but only to be disappointed. The nuts were flat and small. In fact 99.99% were useless nuts. I found only 5 nuts for my trouble.

With discussing with friends, I joked tongue in cheek. Perhaps the caretaker was sick and tired of clearing the prickly burr that he cursed the tree. 

There is legend in another part of Auckland at One Tree Hill that olive trees were cursed. They have no fruits because the land owner did not pay the Greek workers. Even after the owners paid up, it was too late. The curse meant there were no fruits. Someone thought it was the specie of the trees, or they won't grow in New Zealand, yet in other areas, they had fruits.

My friend Lynn who found heaps of chestnuts in Turangi says it is because of the dry winter. At any rate, I sent photos to the New Zealand Chest nut council.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Red: Ann's speaking engagments

Ann's writing has led to speaking engagements. Here Ann spoke at The New Zealand Chinese Association.

Ann has spoken on many topics from Asian Culture, bereavement, to doctors, to libraries,  to university students and high school students.

Red is my lucky colour.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Floral clock at Albert Park

In 1978, I used to spend my lunch time during the warmer months in Albert Park. The students of Auckland University were and still are very lucky to have a beautiful park adjacent to the campus. They frequently change the flowers in the clock.
We took our wedding photos near by. So you can imagine why this is another of my favourite place of Auckland.
This park has an important history. Please click on link  Idiots remove the hands. Now it is a handless clock.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Burong Tiong birds.

Where I lived in Singapore, the Nanyang Technological University is situated at an old primary forest. As Singapore developed, the parcel of primary forest gets smaller and smaller. We still get many wild animals like snakes, ant eater, pangolin, wild pigs, insects etc.

A pair of hill mynahs have been visiting my bedroom window and my neighbouring unit at 33A Nanyang View. One morning I woke up to the sweet calling song of this rare bird tapping at my bedroom and bathroom window. They tap on the glass windows.

Their fleshy yellow wattles make them very attractive to look at. The whistling is very loud. The sound like Tiong, my youngest sister's Grace's married name. I teased her that the birds mistook my house for hers in the downtown Singapore. In Indonesia, these birds are called Burong Tiong, or the birds that make the sound Tiong.

Hill mynahs have a mainly black plumage that shimmers with tinges of green and violet in the sunlight, a white patch on each wing, and yellow feet. They have fleshy yellow wattles across their necks, red or orange bill and yellow skin areas beneath and behind their eyes. Males and females are very similar in appearance.

Because they are so rare, people sell them in the black market for four hundred dollars each. I joke with my ddaughter D that I should open the window and catch the birds. Later, there were two more pairs.

The photograph here is taken from my bedroom. The birds were outside the stairway of the empty unit next door. One of the birds is pecking at the bathroom window.

NTU has staff from all over the world, and many are curious to see such birds on the campus. They come to my house to see this rare sight. I posted this to the NTU residents' website and generated a lot of interest.

Status and threats: Although common in Singapore in the past, the Hill mynahs are now considered rare residents and are listed as CITES II. Besides Pulau Ubin, these birds are also found in Pulau Tekong Besar, the central catchment forest and the Singapore Botanic Gardens.C2: Species is a candidate for listing under the USFWS pending the submittance of documentation that the species is imperiled.U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
LISTING STATUS: The following definitions apply to listings for FCREPA, FGFWFC, and USFWS.LISTING AGENCIES: CITES stands for 'Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species'. And there are various categories for different species of plants and animals. Appendix 1 refer to animals that are most endangered, and banned from trade.
For more details, please see:
CITES: Convention of International Trade of Endangered SpeciesFNAI CODES: G= Global RankS= State Rank1= Critically Imperiled2= Imperiled3= Very Rare or Local4= Apparently Secure5= Demonstratably SecureT= Subspecies Rank

Monday, April 20, 2015

growing mushroom

You either love it or you hate it. Luckily for me, the whole family loves mushrooms. My school's envirommental teacher got some mushroom kits at $15 each. Some of the teachers bought, not everyone bought. Now I have fresh brown mushroom growing in my redundant bath tub.

Saute the sliced mushroom with garlic or as a salad, BBQ them whole, mushrooms are rich in protein. You can serve up a meat less dinner.

Change the world:

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Privet and the Chin family

The family joke in our house (both of us coming to Auckland for university) is I tried to kill my husband.

I picked some of these flowers and placed it on our dining table cum study table. The husband immediately felt sick with his nose running, and eyes watering, head spinning and difficulty in breathing. I thought he was coming down with a cold.

 He retired early to bed and continued to feel really sick. He felt sick the whole night and the next day. He realised it was the privet flowers on the table.

The next morning, he said it was the pollen grains from my flowers. I quickly throw the flowers as far away as possible.

We told our landlord and he was very understanding. He offered to have the hedge trimmed completely from the flowers. Since then, we found out that privet was one of the most obnoxious pest that is responsible for asthma.

The flowers bloom here, soon the whole hedge will be white.

This house owner trimmed his hedge well, but there were a few that escape his shears.

The tree privet and Chinese privet were introduced to New Zealand as a good hedge. Now it is regarded as a pest plant. In my family and among friends it is known as the time when I tried to murder my husband.

Last night, I was in bed half sleeping and half watching a TV show which must have been Ghost whisperer. A ghost had approached the ghost whisperer that his wife had killed him by subjected him to allergens which eventually killed him.

As I as driving by a hedge with full blooming privet flowers I remember about 30 years ago before we had children. There was a beautiful hedge with white flowers which reminded me of the rambutan flowers in Borneo by our bedroom window.

When the husband and I go for walks during the spring and summer season, he can smell the privet meters away. I do wish privet hedge owners would think of asthma sufferers and trim their hedge and stop the flowers from blooming.

Privet is one of several plants that are poisonous to horses. In some parts of the world where they are not native, some privet species have become invasive weeds, spreading into wilderness areas and displacing native species. This is particularly a problem in North America, where no species of the genus occurs naturally.[4] Privet is a huge problem in New Zealand and the east coast of Australia. It is banned from sale or cultivation in New Zealand due to the effects of its pollen on asthma sufferers. Privet pollen is known to cause asthma and eczema in sufferers. Privet can be removed by contacting local government agencies to report i presence.
Problem: Tree Privet is listed on the National Pest Plant Accord. It is a fast growing tree which can easily out-compete native plants in the bush. The leaves and fruit are poisonous and it is believed to be linked to instances of hay-fever, asthma and allergies. Chinese privet has the same problems and is subject to Pest Management Strategies in many Regions in New Zealand even though it is not listed on the National Pest Plant Accord. They are both commonly seen in gardens as the ornamentals they were originally intended as, but unfortunately they have escaped and thrived in less controlled areas.

Thirty six percent of respondents to a survey of gardeners in the United Kingdom said that privet would put them off buying a property.[6]

I made a new friend today. She was acting on my query about the  Mignonette Vine I had reported to the council. She even went down to the spot to check it and told me that there is also a privet tree and poison ivy.

Paki Paki Samantha, your boss should be very happy with you.

Report a problem : Auckland transport. Mignonette Vine


Report a problem.  Auckland Transport

If your problem is urgent call us now on 09 355 3553  I have been referred by Auckland City council that the  Mignonette vine (also known as madeira vine)  at the fence of Mt ALBERT PRIMARY School is under your jurisdiction. The mignonette vine has extremely large tubers. There is also a Poison Ivy and a privet tree. They had gone to investigate.

I am a concerned resident who with friends were down there in March near the railways bridge clearing the school's side of the fence.  Ann Chin

I was just a busy body concerned resident who reported to the authorities.  My concern took me to 3 authorities.  The first, a private contractor, and he replied straight away. Amazing.

Then I was referred to the Auckland city council, and I am glad they actually went down to see the plants. Paki Paki, even though it took a while.

Now I like to see if there is a solution.

Auckland Transport sent an immediate computer generated reply.

Auckland Transport

Thank you for contacting Auckland Transport.

Case Details
Case Title :
Case Number : CAS-561585-K7L7G0
Case Address

Your enquiry will be referred to a member of our customer services team, who will respond to you directly or refer your query to the appropriate business unit.

If you have requested feedback, we aim to respond to all correspondence within 10 working days. If your enquiry cannot be responded to in full within 10 days, we will inform you of progress and let you know when to expect a final response.

If you have an urgent enquiry, please phone our call centre directly on 09 355 3553. The Auckland Transport call centre is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including public holidays.

Kind regards
Auckland Transport6 Henderson Valley Rd, Henderson, Auckland 0612
Private Bag 92250, Auckland 1142

P 09 355 3553 | F 09 355 3550 |

I got the cushy job of taking photos during Mt Albert Baptist Church love where you live project. I volunteered to take photos and learned a lot of things including this obnoxious plant Mignonette vine (also known as madeira vine) .each of this nodule will grow into a vine, and smother other plants.  the author says the leaves and the bulbs are edible.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Flowers: Platycodon, Balloon flower

Platycodon, comes in blue, white and pink. The buds are like balloons

New Zealand Chinese Asso: Book Talk

 Thanks to Helen who organised my talk.

The New Zealand Chinese Association kindly hosted my book talk/presentation. I also showed the Youtube of the A Chinese boy in Sarawak. 

I enjoyed myself and my audience had fun, listening to a talk peppered with my Quang Ning dialect which they could understand.