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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Eggs Give More Than Chicks

We've lovely purple periwinkles in our garden. I collected seeds and germinated them in egg pots for a group of The Daughter's friends. They're growing so beautifully I rather think they might flower in the eggpots!!

I started many pots of chamomiles too. These are for NewToGardening, my blog reader and a wonderfully intelligent lady with a very warm heart.

These are for SS and I hope that with these 2 dandelion seedlings, I will earn the right to eat more of her cooking!!

Here are NewToGardening's lavender seedlings. I planted many, but only 2 germinated.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Worm Disaster

I don't know how people manage to get worm pee. I never get much of it. My wormies like fruit peel (pear and apple), and this diet doesn't seem to make the wormies pee very much. Every week, I examine the worm condominium to see if I can harvest pee, but aside from a few drops... Sigh!

I've been so busy and distracted by work that the worms have been neglected. I used to toss their bedding every day. Now, it's when I remember. There are fewer worms. There used to be this super long one the length of 2 handspans. It's gone. I can't find it. I plunged both my hands into the gooey soft worm shit and searched and searched in the squelchy mass. Nothing!

I grieved for the passing of my favourite wormie.

Then, in trying to clumsily transfer the worms from their old bedding of worm shit, to their new bedding of damp newspaper, I cut one slightly. It started bleeding something yellow and thrashed about irrationally. I say it was irrational because this wormie squirmed towards the sunlight. Wormies hate sunlight. Oh... it's been a veritable worm disaster today, even though I managed to harvest a considerable amount of worm shit that have been now duly distributed amongst my pots of edible plants - the lady fingers, the brinjals, the kedongdong, the various basils, the dandelions...

I look forward to more yummy produce from the garden.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Echinacea Root

I caught a flu from a student who came to class with hers. I had wanted to send her home but I did not want to be rude. Anyway, I swabbed the insides of my nostrils with diluted tea tree oil and the flu went away before really taking hold in my nose.

Little Boy, unfortunately, has caught it from me. Just a few kisses and cuddles and voila... a sniffly Little Boy. I was tired last night and forgot to administer tea tree oil swab for him. And the flu has got a good grip. I went and dug up the flowering echinacea plant, chopped off the root ball, washed it clean and snipped off a mouthful for him to chew. I made sure I nuked the roots in the microwave for a bit. After all, I dug it up from the soil!!

Since I was at it, I decided to chew some too. It was a strange experience. It tasted bitter sweet at first and then my tongue started to tingle. Then my tongue got all numb. Google says that this is the sign of herb potency. I don't know if it helps because there were no immediate felt effects.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Where the Least Amongst Us is Great

I met a little boy with dyspraxia last night. He was handsome. He had eyes that shone with a mischievous intelligence, and he had such an endearing way of picking up your hand and pat it gently to get your attention. Once he had your attention, he would offer up an interesting trinket or another, and then look deep into your eyes in silence. His whole modus operandi reminds me of what one sees in movies when a man successfully gets an unknown woman's attention in a bar... and it is, I imagine, what people write into books entitled "How To Get That Date". I am not sure what my response would be if a grown man used that on me in a bar, for that has never happened. But this little 5 year old impressed me immediately with his warmth and generosity.

The parents explained that dyspraxia is a condition wherein the child's brain communicates poorly with his muscles. His muscles do not quite do what the brain tells them to do. The effects of this condition reveal themselves in garbled speech as the child's vocal muscles fail to perform as required; in frequent falls, as the child takes one misstep after another. The visual-spatial intelligence of the child is so poor that he miscalculates distances, misco-ordinates motion and would not know to run away if he saw something heavy about to fall on him. In other words, he is markedly poorer in physical intelligence than most of us.

But in children like that lie the seeds of greatness so outstanding that their names live on long after they die. Einstein, Stephen Hawkins and even Bill Gates were all special needs children. I think that it's because such children and their parents are forced to cope, to compensate and to find ways to evolve and succeed in a world full of normal and mediocre people like us. Theirs is a handicap that is invisible to all and misunderstood by most. The world does not have mechanisms to help them cope. There are no equivalents of the wheelchair ramps for those who are psychologically handicapped.

To cope, such children hone whatever they can and over time, these other abilities are trained to levels of performance that are in a class of their own. Unable to speak and connect, but with volumes to say and a hunger for human connection, this child has learnt to say so much with his eyes alone. He has learnt to read posture, discern another's emotional disposition and he has learnt how much one can accomplish with a pat on the hand. That is far more than I know how to do at my age.

I know another 4 year old who has Asperger's Syndrome. This is a condition wherein the child has less than normal capability in interpreting facial expressions. A normal baby can discern an angry face from a happy face. Children and adults with Asperger's Syndrome have problems doing that. They need to be taught the sums of human expression. They need to be taught the addition and subtraction of human interaction. These children are given books with faces, and they have to memorise each face. These children are given storyboards that model for them the processes as basic as inviting another child to play with them. However, the little 4 year old is a math whiz. Whilst most of us learn and remember numbers, and need practice in the mathematical processes of subtraction and addition, this tiny one is a natural. He seems to somehow have been born with a gift for manipulating mathematical concepts. And his capacity for conceptual analysis far surpasses any child his age. In his head, he can depict maps and drainage systems and he can tell you where to turn and how to go from one place in the urban city to another that's a 30 minute drive away. Most of us at 4 are still at the touch and feel. This boy has a mini GPS in his head. I can imagine this boy grown up into a University Professor who singlehandedly spearheads a revolution in the scientific domain he chose. Bill Gates is one with Asperger's Syndrome.

The world looks upon these 2 children pityingly but we should really be looking at them enviously for they are born with such gifts that leave the rest of slow and dull humanity plodding far behind like peasants running after a race horse. These children can go into intellectual endeavours that are beyond the capability of most others no matter how hard we try.

Whom we should pity, are the mothers. For such children are challenging to bring up, and the process is full of heartache and pain. When God chooses a woman to bring up a genius, he anoints a saint.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Gotu Kola Overdose

I was curious about the effects of gotu kola overdose. I was unsatisfied with the mere theoretical knowledge gained from googling. I wanted to really experience what the herb could do to me if I ate too much of it.

So, I marched forth to the wet market, stopped by the Indian man's stall and picked out one bunch of hydrocotyle verticillata for that was all that he had ... no centella asiatica in sight at his stall yesterday. Instead of 8 tiny almost raw leaves from my garden, I ate 16 huge ones from the bunch I had bought from the market.

I am still groggy from its effects in the mid afternoon of today.

I dreamt fitfully and woke up three times in the night, my body drenched in sweat in a room cooled at a constant 24 Deg Celsius. I lay there mentally alert and feeling very warm each time I woke. The Poor Husband reached over to try and calm my nerves and help me relax. He commented that warmth came pouring off me. I don't know if it is the herb's reputation for improving circulation and regenerating cells that had caused the high metabolic heat... or simply the fitful dreams that had sent my pulse raising.

I experienced again the feeling of congestion in my nose which had presaged a nocturnal nosebleed the last time I had had a little too much of this herb. Asleep or half awake, I remembered to refrain from blowing my nose so as not to precipitate another nosebleed.

Could it be that its much heralded effects on the brain comes from its ability to improve blood flow to the head? Could it be that it shoo-ed away my morning arthritis because it brought blood circulation to my fingers? Could it be that it helps cells regenerate because it sends nutrient-free blood to every cell in the body?

Gee... I dunno.

But I am convinced that the Indians are most wise to cook this herb thoroughly so as to neutralize its effects somewhat... because when taken raw, it is a herb to be respected and handled gingerly. I would be interested to know if other people who take gotu kola raw in large quantities also experience what I experienced last night.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A House That Won't Be Built

We bought a single storey house on a largish plot of land. I had meant to tear it down and replace it with a larger 2-storey house. I had dreams of an airy house with a high ceiling, filled with light and air. Since I have an overactive imagination, the vision in my head was compelling and seductive. Eyes half closed and body limp, I was pulled towards that vision... and ended up signing on a few dotted lines. Of course, The Husband was also gently encouraging. That man already knew what he wanted to live in 10 years ago - a house.

Now I am back to reality with my feet planted on the ground, eyes wide open and body very un-limp... and I find to my horror that I absolutely retch/vomit/throw up/barf at the idea of having to rebuild a house. A person who buys 5 t-shirts of the same colour, and 24 light fixtures of the same sort, and chooses one fabric for the curtains in the whole apartment... (all because she is trying to save herself another trip to the mall) cannot possibly live through the ordeal of choosing slate, brick, wood, tiles... I realise that this project is going to occupy every waking moment of my life for 1 or 2 years (estimate given by someone who built her own beautiful house).

That is AWFUL!!

Besides, it will simply cost far too much for comfort says the penny-pinching side of Petunia, who is almost never the victim of seductive visions. There is nothing better than money (or the lack thereof) to pop the bubble of a seductive vision. So, we've decided to simply renovate (a prospect that still makes me want to retch) and if we want a 2-storey house, we'll buy one ready-made and save me a trip to an early grave.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Weekend Gluttony

The Auntie hunted, captured and tortured 5 victims this weekend at dinner on Saturday.

There was meat-fall-off-the bone roast chicken infused with the fragrance of olive oil, thyme, sage and rosemary. There was pesto sauce spaghetti made from fresh basil leaves and pine nuts. There was a quiche and a crispy tangy salad glistening with basil vinegar dressing. And then there was French style apple tart with a scoop of vanilla yoghurt.

I forgot to take pictures of Auntie's debacle.

Suffice to say that for at least one of the victims, the torture was pleasurably exquisite. He ate one of the 2 roast chickens all by himself, a mound of pesto sauce spaghetti and took thirds of apple tart, all washed down with a great deal of whisky and half a bottle of red wine!! Whoa! And Auntie stood by grinning from ear to ear, floating on cloud 9 and breathing the rarefied air of pure ecstasy. This fetish with other people eating can't be healthy for Auntie, you think?

Anyway, the feeling of high was all gone by Sunday morning, and Auntie looked around restlessly for anything that might recapture the sparkle of the night. Too tired to cook, the whole family traipsed down to The Pier at Robertson Quay for lunch. A whole bucket of mussels made its appearance and a slab of braised pork belly and sausages and something like sauerkraut with minced beef balls, swimming in a dark gravy... free flow of french fries.

Now, I am not talking about the emaciated french fries from McDonald's. These were thick slices of potato with crispy outsides and insides that are both fluffy and steaming hot.

Alas... it was too much to bear. Having watched another enjoy food so much the night before, and seeing the table laden with temptation, Auntie threw all inhibition to the wind, put her head down and ate. She ate and ate. Occasionally, she looked up and around with wild eyes just to make sure that no one else was eating from her pile. And when it came to dessert, Auntie declared "I am not sharing."

Today, Auntie is on a diet.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Gotu Kola Mania

The past few days have seen some hustle and bustle on this particular thread within the GCS Forum. Gotu kola has done my family so much good that I cannot help but spread the news. When friends complain about memory loss, or tiredness or insomnia, or piles, or varicose veins, I hold the person by the hand and drag them over to my pots and then wax lyrical about the miracle herb. When they look unconvinced, I drag them over to my bookshelves and take out some SERIOUS looking research reports about the herb.

But most people leave my house nodding politely and smiling gently at my barminess. The barrier to entry is high. Firstly, most people don't garden so the thought of keeping a plant alive for food is just... just... just NOT cool. Secondly, the herb is so distasteful that tongues write long petitions to the brain seeking redress.

You really must WANT to eat it.

Unwittingly, I stumbled upon a most motivating argument when I wrote about my complexion, and how it has turned from dull and saggy to firm and bright.... how The Husband (a man of few words and not enough praise) commented that my complexion looked like a 25 year old's... how an Israeli salesman touting Dead Sea mud packs fainted dead away when I told him that I don't use creams or mud packs of any sort at my age.

Ok... he didn't really faint but he was quite quite incredulous.

Anyway, the moment the word "complexion" made its appearance, the forum thread took on a life of its own. People reportedly rushed down to the nearest nursery to get pots of it. Others went to Little India and posted photos of veritable masses of leaves and stems. Many lamented that the pots had all flown off the shelves and they were too late. One lady (I shall not say who) cooked up 100 leaves of it and ate it at dinner.

You see, these people really WANT to. And I am so very pleased because I know this herb is a good thing, and it is available cheap in humongous quantities. There is enough to go around and everyone can enjoy it.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Auntie Strikes!

You know you're an Auntie when you strong arm (nicely of course) people into eating meals that you cook. A true Auntie pounces on unwary visitors and plies them shamelessly with freshly baked lemon sponge cake, apple crumble, mini pizzas... An Auntie of the purest breed REHEARSES the moment when she unveils her plate of edible something, and waits with heart pounding as she watches the hapless visitor bring morsel to mouth.

If the visitor says nothing and eats politely, something is wrong. That realisation sends the world of the true Auntie crashing down about her, and the sun retreats behind thick dark clouds of disappointment. But if the visitor's face goes all dreamy and his/her eyes close slightly in order to better savour the activity that's going on in the mouth... why... then a song begins to hum in Auntie's head. And she carries that little ball of happiness all over the house for a day.

After that, the Auntie needs to find another hapless victim in order to recapture that same thrill. It's all very impermanent, and one must keep hunting down and cornering the unsuspecting friend or acquaintance or soon-to-be acquaintance in order to feel alive again. The best of all victims are the teenagers on the brink of adulthood. Young, innocent and unsuspecting half adults who love food with all the naivete of a metabolism that burns up every calorie fed to them.

The Auntie strikes because she knows that the calories will pile on her, and so she chooses to enjoy what others eat. Makes sense?