Monday, May 2, 2011



If there's such a thing as a busy retiree, then I'm one:  I run two households (including their gardens), grow, nurture, harvest and market crops, and entertain visitors on a four acre farm with a number of goats and chickens.  I chase wild boars, get rid of pests, cut the grass, pull out weeds, watch the birds and nest the bats and the bees. I build BBQ pit, am a repairman, and I mend the fencing too.  I maintain two cars, two dogs, some rusty old machines, and occasionally babysit two grandchildren.

When I'm hungry I cook, and when my clothes are dirty I wash them.

Why in the world would I want to join a Challenge which requires me to write every single day except Sunday for a whole month?  The Challenge is organized and participated by writers - not just ordinary writers but a number of them are published and accomplished ones.  The rest are on the way to being published. I'm a farmer for crying out loud!

There's the generation gap too.

The introvert in me held me back.  I could still hear the voice: "No, Grandpa don't go there, you'll be the ugly duckling".  Mr. Inferiority Complex was making a comeback, I knew.

Then I read and reread Arlee's and Alex's introduction, their strategy and guidance. I was convinced that it's worth a try. After some hesitation I clicked the 'join' button. I was participant number 852. That's how long I hesitated!

Then came the pang. The agony. What have I got myself into?  I started blogging 'seriously'  in August last year.  By seriously I mean an average of two posts a week. Or 8 to 10 a month.  Now I'm supposed to do 26!  Am I crazy or what??  If my durians and goats knew what I was getting myself into they would surely revolt.

But a commitment is a commitment.  No getting out of it. Come rain, shine, or thunderstorm. Durians dropping, customers waiting in line, goats waiting to be nursed, fed and milked, Irfan and Zaqwan screaming away wanting me to continue with their kindy classes, had to be mere distractions.

The adventure began, and I wrote and wrote.  From A to Z.  I had never written so much in my life!

Now thankfully I can proudly say "I did it!".  It is with a great sense of pride and satisfaction I now display this Award, beautifully crafted by Elizabeth Mueller :

Even though it was a daunting task I must say I enjoyed writing every single one of those posts. The challenge had disciplined me into writing every day. Constancy in purpose in the key to success, someone said. And this is proof.

I didn't get many new followers, not in absolute numbers anyway, but they did increase by a good percentage.  This is understandable.  Not many writers I reckon would be interested in farming, otherwise they would be farmers.  But visitors to this blog would realise that it is more about Life and less about farming. That's why I label this blog as My Look at Life and My Book of Life.

Those who did visit (and I have a number of awesome regulars) gave thoughtful, inspiring and encouraging comments. They are the reason for me to go on writing. They are friends who had stayed by me in good and troubled times.  Thank you all!

I had the opportunity of visiting and following some delightful blogs and made wonderful new friends.

All in all it has been a thoroughly enjoyable and exhilarating experience. I would like to thank the hosts for making it possible and for an excellent organisation.

Till we meet again - cheers!

Saturday, April 30, 2011


Much needed sleep...

Where else but The Veranda 
Add a few decades, that would be Grandpa.  Minus
a few, that would be Irfan.

End of a Challenge.  Thanks everyone!

Friday, April 29, 2011


The singing lawyer.

Kedah (Northern Malaysian state) born Yuna graduated with a Bachelor of Legal Studies (Hons.) As a side project she runs a boutique called IAMJETFUEL.

In February 2011 she signed with Fader Label music, New York.

She describes her music as "a cross between Mary Poppins and Cold Play" .

Listen to this:

Thursday, April 28, 2011


Take X as a symbol of something being wrong, and replace that something with the opposite and positive, we'll end up with a Tick or a Check regarding the state of our feelings:

X  (NO!)                                              Check  (YES!)

Anger ------------- with --------------- > Love

Resentment ----------------------------> Understanding

Hatred -----------------------------------> Love

Vengeance -----------------------------> Compassion

Ignorance ------------------------------> Love

False pride -----------------------------> Forgiveness

Sorrow ---------------------------------> Positivity / Hope

Regret ----------------------------------> Love / Prayer  

I have moved on.  I have transformed my heartaches and feelings of hopelessness and sorrow to love, forgiveness, and hope. (No, I didn't do it on my own - I'm not that smart - I did it with the help of  my blogger friends - your kindness, your prayers.  You know who you are.  And you know that I'm eternally grateful).

If I can do it, so can you.

The happiest people don't necessarily have the best of everything, they just make the best of everything they have.
xo xo

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

What a Wonderful World

I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world 

I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world

The colours of the rainbow, so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces of people going by
I see friends shakin' hands, sayin' "How do you do?"
They're really saying "I love you"

I hear babies cryin', I watch them grow
They'll learn much more than I'll ever know
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world
Yes, I think to myself, what a wonderful world 

Song credit:
Written by Bob Thiele and George David Weiss
First recorded by Louis Armstrong.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


The Farm received a spate of visitors during the fruit season.

I had the pleasure of hosting blogger Wan Sharif and his wife.  Wan blogs at Minyak Gaz, often sharing religious articles and wisdom.  He is no stranger to The Farm as he comments frequently.  But that was the first time we met in person.  We shared many stories, and quite a lot of durians and rambutans.  I was so excited and a little weary from lack of sleep that I forgot to take any photo of the happening!  Which is a pity really as I would love to show you the gleaming red Mini Cooper (MG?) that the couple arrived in.

We then had Auntie Nor and friends, Irwan and Nadia (Irfan's parents),
and their friends.

This time everyone had his/her Canon or Blackberry or I-Phone, so I have plenty of photos to show you. Here are some of them:

Monday, April 25, 2011

U for Undressed

This was on Nadia's (Irfan's mother) FB:

Irfan asked me this morning, "Ma, how do we eat rake and sun?" I replied, "You can't eat those?" He replied back, "Caaaaaaan. Replace the 'r' with 'c' and the 's' with 'b' so you get cake and bun. Can eat wot?"

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Another Award my way!

My dear friend Gary, owner and co-writer (sometimes Penny, his Jack Russell and modest internet star co-writes) of the blog klahanie, has bestowed me this classic Award:

Saturday, April 23, 2011


I should probably enter this under 'U', but patience is not my virtue.  Besides there are millions out there who stand to benefit from this amazing discovery, why should I wait any longer?

A plant known as TONGKAT ALI (Eurycoma longifolia) has been growing peacefully deep in the Malaysian jungle for many years, until one day somebody discovered that it can do more than cure malaria and diabetes: it can give Viagra makers a run for their money!!

Friday, April 22, 2011

S FOR STARFRUIT (With an Easter Update)

Also known as Belimbing or Carambola,  another exotic fruit grown on The Farm. 

It can be taken fresh or turned into a refreshing fruit juice.  Like most tropical fruits it is loaded with vitamin C, antioxidants, and is low in sugar, sodium and acid.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


Also known as the 'hairy' fruit - another delightful tropical fruit grown on The Farm.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Quite Easily Done

School children nowadays have it easy with the Objective system:  multiple choice answers are given - they only need to choose which they think is the right answer.  During my time we had to 'prove' everything.

In primary school shortly after the war I enjoyed and always looked forward to the three 'R' classes: Reading, (W)'Riting, and (A)'Rithmetic.  Then the Arithmetic got more complex as we were introduced to Geometry and Algebra.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


What do these three totally unrelated and completely different things have in common?

They are all found at the night market, the subject of my letter 'N'.

My old faithfuls had all read about them, but as the A-Z Challenge brings me new friends and followers (and I'm out of ideas and rather desperate for time for my 'P'), I thought I pull them together in one post.

I want to thank and extend a BIG WELCOME to The Farm to all my new followers - hope you'll have a fun time here.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

N for Nightmarkets

I am writing this from a South-East Asian perspectives, specifically those of Malaysia and Thailand, where the night market is a phenomenon.  It is perhaps in Indonesia too. I'm not sure about the Philippines, may be readers from there can enlighten us.

Before the advent of supermarkets and mega malls, all the marketing (of fish, meat, vegetables and other stuff required for the kitchen) were done at the wet market, also known as the fish market. These markets are literally wet, from melted ice used to keep the fish fresh, and from rain blown inwards by strong gushes of wind.

They are noisy too.  Fishmongers scream all the time, trying to outdo one another in attracting customers to their stalls.  Bargaining is also done at high pitch, if only because the buyer and seller can't hear themselves talk.  If a classroom is noisy the teacher normally reprimands the pupils by telling them that the class has turned into a fish market.

Saturday, April 16, 2011


When we were in Krabi, Thailand, recently we went to a cave full of monkeys.  Here's what we saw:

Friday, April 15, 2011


Panthera is hungry. She's been scouring the jungle all morning and had not come across as much as a little deer that she could have for breakfast.  Sometimes she wished she's a vegetarian.

It was almost lunch time.

She was about to give up and head for the shade when she spotted a dog.

"Here's my lunch" she salivates.

The dog was busy helping herself to some leftover bones.  She sensed danger.  As the leopard closed in, without turning around she said audibly:

"I never knew leopards taste so yummy!", and continued licking the bones.

The leopard stopped in her track, and turned back, tummy growling.

Witness to all this was a monkey.

"Hmmm...the dog is not going to get away with this! I'm going to tell on her".

The monkey told the leopard she's been tricked.

"Come on then, jump on my back and let's go after that dog", said the hungry and angry leopard.

The dog had finished her meal when she saw the leopard and monkey coming.  Would that be her last meal?

Turning her back to the leopard and the monkey, the dog let them approach to within hearing distance, then grumbled loudly:

"I wonder what happened to that monkey.   It was a while ago I asked him to get me another leopard"

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Planning a party?
Make it a DURIAN party!
Delivered fresh around Klang Valley
Book @ 019-3382320

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Wikipedia Map
Yes, that Republic in East Africa.

Once upon a time during the Gung-ho days of rat race and climbing the corporate ladder,  the powers that be in England decided the location of our annual convention to be Mombasa - an hour flight from Kenya's capital Nairobi.

The big boss had either ran out of venues or had not been to the African Safari, I thought.  We did have an office in Capetown*, but not in East Africa, so what other reason could there be for transporting his team three- quarter way around the world.

*(Sadly our colleague from South Africa was not allowed to attend the meeting - it was at the height of apartheid then).

As the only attendee from the Far East to these meetings I was excited at the prospect of seeing a giraffe in person.  The problem however was how to get from this end of the world to the other.

J For Joy - Joie de vivre!

Ode to durians

Getting up at dawn
Without even a yawn
Up and down the hill I hike
Pitch dark as the middle of night
The cold, the wind, sometimes I wish I'm inside
Armed with a flash light
I could see them, earlier not in sight

Family and friends will be happy with this bounty
As will be me
I had received bookings too
For a truck load or two
I'm not greedy
Just making some money
from my hobby

And that's how I celebrate Joy that is Life
Never a strife
Only my burning passion
season after season

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Planning a party?
Make it a DURIAN party!
Delivered fresh around Klang Valley
Book @ 019-3382320

Monday, April 11, 2011


I am still groggy from this.  The problem with me is even if I had just a couple of hours sleep during the night, my body's alarm clock goes off at 6 a.m, no matter what.  So I'll be up, whether I like it or not.  If I don't have anything important to do I'll probably take a short nap later.

This morning I'll put this waking up time to good use.  There's something I must share with you:  The name Deirdra Eden conjures up a mystical image of a princess in fairyland.  Well, once upon a time this stunningly beautiful princess came over to this blog and penned this:

"Love THIS!!!  I love your site and as I browsed your blog I decided to award you the Inspiring Blog Award.
Go to and pick up your award.

I was of course pleasantly surprised,  another Award coming my way - way to go Grandpa!

The Award is pretty too (designed by Deirdra herself - a pretty girl who can draw pretty pictures, ain't that nice?):

Now doesn't that look like a fairytale pic?  THANK YOU Dierdra for the beautiful Award.

Diedra blogs at A Storybook World.


Writing this at 3 a.m I must be one.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

H is for Horn, and Other Stories

I have related this one before - when I first started this blog.  For the benefit of new readers and followers I'm telling it again.

One day I was teaching our son, then about four or five, the anatomy of a goat, guided by a big outline picture of the animal.  Each time I pointed to a part of the animal and said out what it was my son would follow suit.

When I said "leg" he would say "leg".  On and on we went from one anatomy to another.  When we came to the head I pointed to the sharp protrusion on the head and said "horn".  He pressed his little finger to the horn and said loudly: "Pon!", "Pon!"

Fast forward some thirty years, his wife asked their four year old son: "What is lembu?"

(Lembu is cow in Malay).  He said "I don't know"

Mother: "I'll give you a clue - Moooo.....?"

Son: "Muruku!" (Murukku is an Indian savory snack made from rice flour).

Mother: slaps forehead.


Son: Mama, why is six afraid of seven?

Mother: why?

Son: Because seven eight (ate) nine!

Mother: slaps forehead again.

Friday, April 8, 2011


The temptation is enormous to go for G for Gerund.

But in the age of sms'es and short-cut text messages where lol and imho are quite freely used, I wonder if talking about  what requires a possessive case and when to use the objective case would be of any use.  I'm not sure if attempting to differentiate between a verbal participle and a gerund would be of any interest to my readers.

The appeal factor is questionable.

On the other hand I am fairly certain of the (sex) appeal of  Ginseng and Gear Box Soup.  So let's go with these, shall we:

Thursday, April 7, 2011


You know it's a matter of time before I come to this.  Durian was the obvious choice for 'D' but it had to give way to Dusty.  Then this idea hit me which allows me to still talk about my favorite fruit, under 'F' instead.

What is better than Durian?  Fermented Durian of course!  That's not a direct comparison though.  It's kinda like:  You like to eat grapes but you enjoy the wine better.  Except in this case it's reversed:  The main staple is fresh Durian, but fermented it'll make great accompaniment to your meals of steamed rice and other dishes.

Fermented Durian is known locally and in Indonesia as Tempoyak.  It is added to sambal chilli or pounded chilly paste and mixed with your rice and eaten with fish (normally salted fish), ulam (salads of raw cucumbers and other shoots).  It improves the taste of the food and your appetite a hundred folds.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Endless Love

She is sensitive to my nuances.  I think she knows when I'm in pain too.  I can see it in her eyes.

When we are alone together all she does is stare at me. Oh, those deep brown eyes!
She doesn't say a word.  She lets me do all the talking.  I like to talk in complete sentences, in whatever language I choose.  With her I get to complete my sentences, no matter how long they are.

I think she misses me all the time - whether I'm gone for a day or for a whole week.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

D for Dusty

And her song that I listened to everyday - one that gave me hope, when a loved one left.

It was also the time I made great friends in the blogsphere.  Friends who had tirelessly given me comfort, and had offered prayers and encouragement in my time of troubles.  
For your kindness, I'm eternally grateful.

(This April A-Z Challenge is brought to you by the following wonderful hosts:

Arlee Bird's Tossing It Out 
Jeffrey Beesler's World of the Scribe 
Alex J. Cavanaugh Alex J. Cavanaugh 
Jen Daiker's Unedited 
Candace Ganger's The Misadventures in Candyland 
Karen J Gowen at Coming Down the Mountain 
Talli Roland 
Stephen Tremp's Breakthrough Blogs )

Monday, April 4, 2011


Camouflage is a method of crypsis or hiding.  It allows an otherwise visible organism to remain unnoticed by blending with its environment.

Cryptic coloration is the most common form of camouflage. It is very common in the animal world.  Humans adopt the same strategy in warfare by having combat soldiers wear the colors of the jungle and cover themselves with jungle foliage.

Saturday, April 2, 2011


I think it was Bob Hope who said: "You know you are getting old when the candles cost more than the cake"

But we all love birthdays don't we?

I'm terribly busy collecting them durians, but no way I'm gonna miss my A-Z Challenge - not on the second day anyway. So I had to pass this task to a guest writer. May I present to you grandson Numero Uno:

Friday, April 1, 2011

I have Sold Off The Farm

That's what I told my family and close friends this morning.

I didn't expect the response -  messages and calls came flooding in. Why would I want to do that? I have got blood, sweat and a lot of durians falling there.

They all rallied around me, as they always do in times of trouble. Sometimes it's the only way to get their attention.  It's good to know they love you. And The Farm.

Of course I was just pulling their legs.  Everybody seems to be doing that today. :) :) :)



My first love, my vocation, and now my hobby and a source of income and endless pleasure.

It is also the inspiration and the source of materials for this blog.

I've found this place in the wilderness and made it my home. To all participants of A to Z Blogging Challenge I welcome you to The Farm. Please feel free to browse my older posts and discover exotic fruits, tall tales and the goings-on in the every day life in the tropical rain forest.

Thursday, March 31, 2011


Here's a chance to win a signed copy* of Harper Lee's classic To Kill A Mockingbird **

Answer these two questions:

1. Which very special person do you think the above package is for?

2. What is inside the package?

The person who answers both questions correctly will be presented with the winner of Pulitzer Prize, with over 30 million copies sold, courtesy of Grandpa.

Should there be more than one persons with the right answers will choose the winner. I have never used it before but I have seen it often used by our blogging friends. I'll figure out how if there are more than one winners.

So hurry up with your entry using  the Comment form (remember, no more hassle of Word Verification, thanks to L'Aussie).

Quiz will remain open until 4 p.m Malaysian time (we are GMT+8) Saturday April 2, 2011. I will post result as soon as possible after that, considering there are more and more durians to collect.

Good luck!

* Signed by yours truly.

** Members of Grandpa's immediate family are not eligible to take part (this means fifth cousins and closer).

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Party Postponed

Denise of L'Aussie Writing asked me whether I need the 'Word Verification' for comments. Now why in the tarnation would I need that? So it has been taken off!
Enjoy the new experience of trouble-free commenting on this blog. Right here.  Right now.

I was hoping to post some photos of our first durian and BBQ party for this season. Due to unforeseen circumstances the one scheduled for March 27 has been postponed to 1st May. (Update: may be brought forward to April 23).

I have however some pics from last season's (that time using Ricia's camera as I was not blogging actively yet).

Monday, March 28, 2011

Lessons from Friday Poser

Lesson 1. If you don't ask you don't get;

Lesson 2. You'll be surprised at how much you get when you ask. You'll be thrilled, thankful, and moved to tears, all at the same time at the generosity of fellow bloggers with their opinions and thoughts;

Lesson 3. You CAN get counsel from people you haven't actually met. People who meant well and are so sincere and forthcoming with their advice.

That's all good to know. Thank you.

Here's the summary of your thoughts and suggestions, in no particular order, and some further comments on them:

Friday, March 25, 2011

Friday Poser

I have always wondered what it is like to write a post completely devoid of photographs or illustrations of any kind.

I know many fine bloggers do. They express themselves so well they don't need pictorial support. Their words speak a thousand pictures (can I actually say that?).

For me a post, or a blog without pictures is like an Englishman without a tie. Not quite complete. Englishmen I used to know anyway.

I am trying my hands now at putting down just words. I know I'll be lost, but hope you won't be.

I feel like I'm ranting when there are just words. Pictures help me save on words.

Let me use this picture-less Friday to ask you a question: Can a couple who's been married for over thirty years suddenly decide that they've had enough of each other, continue to exist under the same roof, but generally have separate lives? How practical you think that arrangement is?

Because they are not formally divorced, family ties remain largely intact.

Universal convention, my upbringing, and the melancholic in me would scream a huge 'NO' - it's a crazy, out of this world idea.

But what do YOU think? (I wish I know how to put one of those 'vote' boxes, but I'll just do the tally from your comments). Thank you.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Brand New Pit

Crackling ambers rise from the hot, golden fire below. The aroma of burnt skin and scales tantalizes, and tests your patience. 

They have to be properly done before you serve your guests, you remind yourself.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Good and The Bad

I left The Farm for a few days: I needed to be back in the city where the internet is faster. An excuse really, to be with my grandkids... :)

On my return, I was shocked to find my favourite durian tree had lost a limb. A huge storm must have broken out while I was away.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Project HOPE

Dear Friends,

We're all witnessing how Japan is undergoing one of the worst catastrophes in her history. An earthquake and a devastating tsunami that wiped entire villages and killed thousands, and now a series of explosions from its nuclear plants.

A group of bloggers from the writing community (Rachael Harrie, Marieke, Luna, Tessa Quin and Amanda Milner) has come out with a noble idea and  formed WRITE HOPE, aimed at mobilizing forces amongst bloggers and readers to help in whatever way we can to alleviate the sufferings of those affected by the tsunami.

More details on Rachael's blog, and a special blog set up for this purpose. Pay them a visit, learn more, and help spread the word, please. And keep a close watch on Rachael's blog for further details.

Avec vous, le Japon!

Meet NOZOMI the mascot

Friday, March 11, 2011

My Other Lucky Number

It was a morning like any other.
I was driving along the highway, on the left most lane (that would be the right most in the US and other countries that drive on the right side of the road).

I was driving casually, minding my own business, when from the rear view mirror I could see an old Nissan sedan closing in on me. I could also see that the occupants of the car - four or five of them - were excitedly jostling on their seats, waving their hands about, and pointing towards my 4 x 4.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


A lazy post this one. Something just struck me so I'm squeezing it in between my pillar posts - there'll be one 'normal' post tomorrow or in a couple of days. Promise.

Please continue reading my previous post, and as always I appreciate your comment.

I was struck by something I saw on TV 1 last night: the former Information Minister Dato' Khalid Yunus (he must be 70 years old now) was shown climbing Mount Beirut. It's easy to type the word 'climbing'. But the actual act is much much harder. You should have seen him - panting and sweating it out, sometimes falling down, then got up again, all the way up.

It set me thinking as to why people do certain things, even difficult and punishing stuff. Some even risk their life. Or why people do easy and enjoyable stuff at the expense of other more important things.

I think I know the answer now: PASSION.

It comes in many fashions: a person can row a boat across stormy waters full of sharks to get to his/her favourite island;

Another braves massive traffic jams and intense heat and travel for hours or days to get to his/her passionate destination, may be to be with his/her passionate partner;

Yet another is passionate enough to kill in the name of love. Or leave his/her family in the name of religion. Or blow himself/herself up to bits.

There is this young man whose passion is fishing. He gets up in the wee hours, ties up his boat on the top of his car, goes round to pick up his mates, then drives for hours into the wilderness to catch some fish. He comes back after two days, with or without fish, exhausted and face swollen from mosquito and insect bites. A couple of hours sleep, and he gets up and goes to work. He does this every single weekend. When his wife asks him to go and see his old and ailing father he said: "Oh, I wish I have 36 hours in a day...." The wife stops him in his track: "Don't give me that bullshit about not having enough time. Why don't you just say that you are not passionate about him".

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Guava

Lady Jennie, a frequent visitor to this blog, writes this delightful  blog called "A Lady in France". In her recent post she had this thing going about Guava:

"I remember the friend I had in my co-teacher in Taiwan whose English name was Elva. But it was really Elva-Guava because I was trying to teach the children how to make the “v” sound and so had them chant all the words I could think of with “v” in it: “seven, eleven, Elva, Guava.”  The entire school chanted “Elva Guava” when she walked in the gate each morning."

Read all about Elva Guava and Lady Jennie's other adventures here.

What has all that got to do with this post, you might ask. Well, guava happens to be one of my favourite fruits and one of the many types of fruits grown on The Farm, so I thought today I'll write a little bit about this delightful fruit.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Making Good Progress

It has been a week since my last post. Yes, one whole week.

I have been busy - to get some work done, and to distract myself from worldly worries. Unfortunately I find the latter best achieved by doing the former, as opposed to sitting at the computer or reading a book. Having said that I did manage to visit and left comments on a number of blogs, and was able to respond to your much appreciated comments on my earlier posts. So it wasn't so bad.

I have a string of lovely new followers too! Thank you all for gracing this humble blog of mine.

Monday, February 21, 2011

My Latest W.I.P

Title: Stairway To Heaven;  Genre: RA

Final Cover: Design - none;  Colour: Light Grey

There were three of them to begin with. Like triplets really. For except for the fact that they were grounded in different places, they looked exactly alike. They served the same purpose too.

And then there were two. The one outside leading up to the front veranda succumbed to the vagaries of nature. The incessant rain had caused it to rot, slowly but surely. Like cancerous cells the rot spread and it finally collapsed under the weight of its own ruins.

Which is a pity. And quite untimely really, considering the durian season is around the corner. The steps were the most frequently used among the three by friends and family alike - the main stairway to the veranda, the favourite part of the house.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

My Lucky Number

We read recently that 7 is the lucky number for Her highness Samantha Verant who blogs at Life, Love and Living in France.  Visit her Valentine's Day post and find out the interesting and romantic story behind it.

My lucky number is seven too, if you consider 2+5 = 7. Or it can simply be 25. But the story behind it is completely different to that of Samantha's.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Signs of Spring

I'm getting ready for the harvesting season. The store (warehouse) has to be cleared. All collection baskets and buckets taken out. Hardwares and machineries need to be greased and serviced.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Love Thy Neighbour

Unless you live on a desert island you'll always have neighbours. If you live on an island alone you can have Wilson here as your friend.

Even when you are alone on a remote island there's no guarantee that some day there's not going to be a shipwreck and before you know it you'll be joined by scores of neighbours.

Or you may bump into Mr. Crusoe while exploring the island.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Life's Good and I've Got Style

I am a very private person.

I love solitude.

I spend my time in the wilderness. I talk to trees.

So would it surprise you if I tell you that I have more virtual friends than those I hog the pubs (I don't do that, by the way) or go golfing with? (As if you didn't know that already).

And what true friends you all are. Always there for me - when I'm up in the sky or down in the dumps.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Don't Take Her Word For It!

Our youngest son posted this on his Facebook and got all his friends giggling. I thought I'd share it with you, with the hope that the less experienced amongst us will learn something before it's too late.

Thanks to the producers and players of this video.

Monday, January 24, 2011

How Superstitious Are You?

If at the end of your Chinese dinner your fortune cookie tells you that you are going to go through a patch of bad luck, and would be stripped of all your wealth, do you rush back to check that there's no one snooping around your house to rob you blind?

If a black cat crosses your path, do you worry for days on end for what catastrophe might befall you?

If a Feng Shui master tells you that in order to attract wealth and happiness the main door of your house should face East, rather than South, the direction it currently is facing, do you quickly get a contractor to shift your thick oak door to face East?  (Mind you this is not a permanent solution as later in the year, or a couple of years down the road, the same or another master would tell you that your front door should in fact face North!).

If in the West the number 13 is considered unlucky, number 4 or 44 is a no-no in this part of the world. So we have houses and apartments numbering 41, 42, 43, then suddenly 43A, or 45, with number 44 nowhere to be seen.

There have been reported cases where a husband or wife left the family and home because some fortune teller told them it was not safe to stay home.

And some will not make any business or other decisions without consulting their fortune tellers first. These poor souls (who are both naive and gullible) will be very bold with their ventures if told that lots of $$$$$$$$ are coming.

It is no exaggeration to say that some people actually treat their Feng Shui masters or fortune tellers like god.

So how superstitious are you?

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Fruit

And thy Lord taught the Bee to build its cells
in hills, on trees, and in (man's) habitations

- Surah Al Nahl, verse 68

We have seen how, by the grace of God, the birds and the bees, while helping themselves to the sweet pollen and honey, help to turn flowers into fruits:

 And indeed, with the passage of time and with glorious sunshine, and by the grace of God, into fruits do they turn:

There's something to be learned from A Tree and Its Fruit:

Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, 
but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 
By their fruit you will recognize them....
A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 
Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

-Matthew 7:15-19

**This post is inspired by Faith of  Lemonade Adventures, and Brother Paul Washer.

Thank you, Faith. If you are reading this here's something for you:

Do Not Worry:
Therefore I tell you do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; 
or about your body, what you will wear....
Like the birds in the air your heavenly Father feeds them, 
and you are much more valuable than them.... not worry about tomorrow, 
for tomorrow will worry about itself. 
Each day has enough trouble of its own.

- Matthew 7:25-34

You've prayed for me to keep my faith. I know well you'll keep yours. God bless.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Picking Up The Pieces

You don't understand it
neither can I
behind the door, the sofa, you peeped
shadows play tricks on your weary eye
for you swore she was there
where did she go?
your heart sank, you don't know

The sounds of silence as night falls
looking around the four walls
there's a portrait by the bed
only the portrait
and memories of yesteryear
of days gone by
no smile
no laughter
no rush
no chatter
no hugs 
no kisses
you wonder if she misses
the smiles and the laughter
the hugs and the kisses
or even realises
your pain and the emptiness
as you pick up the pieces

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Sapodilla's Turn

Let's move on to another exotic tropical fruit grown in abundance at The Farm.

Introducing the Sapodilla or its Latin name Manilkara zapota. 

Originating from Central America where it is known as zapote, Sapodilla comes in many names: locally it is known as Ciku or Sawo nilo. Spanish explorers who introduced this fruit to the Philippines called them chiko.

The English call it "tree potato", or "nasberry plum".

In some countries Sapodilla is cultivated for their gum or latex (e.g for making chewing gum in Mexico, Guatamala, Salvador and Northern Honduras).

The fruit is sweet tasting - often described as a mixture of brown sugar and root beer. It is loaded with vitamins too. Go here for a complete write-up on its nutrient value.

Over at The Farm I keep a close watch as it develops from flower to fruit:

Unlike the Durian which can grow to more than a hundred feet tall, Sapodilla's average height is only 10 feet, even lower with constant pruning.

Since there are so many ripe fruits I often share them with the birds:

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Romancing the Durian

Do you still remember the great fun we had trying to guess what these tiny green berries were? 

And then more clues were given to help you figure out?

Finally the amazing secrets were revealed to much awe and gasps!

But before people went crazy over the fruit, a warning and caution were issued.

We were then introduced to the Queen of fruits, in case things got too hot.

Now let's revisit this subject and look at the progress in the development of The King of Fruits. (Due to the frequent interruptions of normal posting, the following is not in real time but about a month behind).

This is a good time to enter a durian orchard (apart from when the fruits actually drop, of course).

As you take a walk around the orchard your senses are awaken by the sweet aroma permeating the air. It is not unlike you walking in a botanical garden of blooming lavender or roses. 

The scent of the durian flowers is really nice - sweet and refreshing -   not like the smell of its fruit at all.

The 'berries' had burst open

Exposing the stamen (anthers and filaments)

After pollination the petals and other parts
drop to the ground

Where proper pollination had taken place young fruits are formed;
Minute spikes which later become thorns are visible

For a full description of flower parts and the pollination process go here. If you have children or grandchildren studying fifth grade biology, of if you yourself would like to recall what you learned (or missed) in your biology class, it's worth a visit.

Will keep you posted as the King of Fruits develop further.