Related Posts with Thumbnails

Thursday, June 24, 2010

DIY Pest Control

The Pest Before

Darth Vader

The Pest After

I suppose I should have expected it. I haven't used pesticides in my garden for 5 months or so, and beneficial insects of all sorts have come to stay. I have lady bugs and praying mantises. The bees' nest however was a shock. I briefly considered leaving the nest there because we all know that bees fertilize plants... and make honey. Petunia likes honey and the idea of home-made honey was more than a little tempting. Besides, I mused, perhaps honey would bring bears... and then we would be able to keep a pet bear!!

But the bees chose the overhung just at the door of the patio. The patio door is open all day long and everyone needed to walk under the bees' nest to get into the garden. Our gentle Joy flatly refused to go out there. She had been chased (and badly stung) by a swarm of bees when she was little and I couldn't very well trap her behind the piano like I do Milo... collar her and then make her go water the plants right? Anyway, Joy is larger than I am. Gentle though she is, I sensed that when it came the bees, she was likely to collar ME and make me water the plants.

So the bees' nest had to go. I resolved to call the pest control the next day. However, the 2 testosterone deformed (click here to read more about this condition) people in the family decided to do some DIY pest control. The main actor was The Husband. The sidekick was Little Boy. I was the costume and set designer. The Daughter managed to sleep right through and no one had time to wake her.

The Husband was very brave indeed. He went out and covered the bees' nest with the pail filled with Liquid Derris Plus (a pesticide I used in the past for my plants). We had fashioned a Closed Seal. The bees were supposed to drown in the pesticide liquid as the mouth of the pail enclosed them all against the ceiling. But the husband was half blind. The mouth of the pail did not properly enclose the nest and masses of bees crawled out and tried to sting him. Thank goodness the protective gear did its work and quite a number of bees did get trapped in the water!

Those who escaped were downed by a very effective water-based insect spray called Kill Fast (NTUC house brand). It really does live up to its name. Unlike Baygon which should be renamed BayNotGone.

Little Boy was irritating at first. He kept asking...

- "You are gonna kill ALL of them?"

- "Can't you find a way to trap them and bring them downstairs?"

- "Why must you kill all of them?"

- "If you keep them, they will help your garden, Mom."

- "You are gonna kill ALL of them?"

"Can't you find a way to trap them and bring them downstairs?"

It went on for quite a while. Half ashamed of myself, I said nothing. Then I snapped,

- "Shut up, you twit. Make sure your Daddy is safe!"

Obediently, he helped in the Ignominious Bee Massacre. I rather wonder whether my son has traces of Red Indian in his blood. He respects nature so much that he is apologetic about killing anything... and yet, if he has to (for house, home and mother) he does it proficiently enough. He held up the torch very nicely.


Saturday, June 19, 2010

Rosemary Frenzy

Milo is an old hand at plant murder. He knows to chew at the base of the stem just above the root ball. Once the deed is done, he is wont to look contrite but it's all an insincere act. Don't you believe it. He means not one look of it because he does it again and again. This time, it was a 4-year old rosemary and I was devastated. It is times like these when one wonders what dog meat tastes like in a Provençal herb stew.

To comfort myself, I bought 3 pots of rosemary from Cold Storage at Guthrie House. Aren't they beautiful? And here is my equally fragrant hyssop. It tastes great on chicken. I don't yet have enough leaves to make a hyssop roast chicken but soon...

And here is my rocket salad. After months of waiting, it looks finally ready for harvest. Yum! Yum!

And won't you please look at the lemon thyme? After months of languishing, it has exploded into a mass of fragrant green leaves. I am so pleased!!

Aftermath of a Food Fight!!

I told my children last month that I wanted them to get a taste of what life would be like after Mommy and Daddy pass on (go to Valhalla, the Elysian fields, the blue beyond... over there yonder). They would only have each other, you see. So, I arranged for today to be the day where The Daughter and Little Boy would hang out together for the whole day.

I didn't want to know what they were up to, and I didn't want to be involved in planning anything or driving anyone anywhere.

The Husband and I left house early to visit some construction sites and talk to some potential main contractors. We came home to the aftermath of a food fight.

There was a very satisfied Little Boy and a very tired dog... and a slightly evilly smiling Daughter plus a helper who seemed to have been sworn to silence. They had had a pancake food fight on the roof terrace.
I was horrified.
My children smiled.
The helper looked away.

I rushed upstairs to look at the mess. There wasn't any. Milo had cleaned up every scrap of food with gusto. As the children yelled and giggled, he rushed hither and thither gulping down pancakes. And now, he is too full to move.

I rather think my children are giving ME a taste of what life will be like when I am away in the blue yonder and beyond. They may actually do things with their lives that'll make me turn in my grave... and I suppose I'll just have to be silently horrified.

Tea for 3 and 3 for Tea

Picture us upon the seats
Tea for 3 and 3 for tea
Me and you and she and me
Nobody near us, discreet waitresses serve us
All friends and ladies on weekday escape
Until it became clear
That we had our mobile phones
Which ring

Alright, now sing that to this tune. And at the same time, check out the pictures here... and my exact feelings here and here.

I counted down too. I did! The afternoon passed so fast that before I knew it, it was 5.30 pm and I had to brave the peak hour traffic home humming to myself and feeling more relaxed than I have in many months.

I realised as the afternoon trotted past me, that everyone of us has been through a challenging few months since we last met. There were terrible health problems and there was the stress of making life work well enough for our loved ones and there were horrendous violations of personal rights. But somehow, spending 2.5 hours flitting from one topic to another made everything so alright, you know.

There was companionship and a sense of being cared for. And I went home so refreshed and after 2 pots of tea... completely unable to sleep.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Community Gardeners' Rights

Some non-gardeners actually believe that the fruits of a community garden should be freely distributed amongst the all and sundry. They believe that the state funds these gardens. The state does not. Average citizens who love to garden but are too poor to buy a landed property maintain and work on the community garden. Some, like my friend AG poured in $10,000 of their own money into the garden. See blog post here.

At the very least, people should ask permission before they pluck the fruits.

I encourage all gardeners reading this to contribute to the Straits Times thread in an effort to educate our fellow citizens on the Community Gardener's rights.

Here is the thread.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Where is My Time?

Where does all my time go to? I proof read a speech, examined some construction tender documents, cleaned Little Boy's room, wrote a few emails, planned Little Boy's work schedule for the next week, decided what to cook for lunch and dinner, swam some laps, ran some errands, picked up and dropped the children, supervised Little Boy's Chinese tuition with Grandma, called for some contractor quotations ...

And the day is over.

I can't help but wonder how mothers like Blur Ting even cope. The earn enough to feed the kids, cook yummy fried rice before they leave for work, care for 2 dogs, an aged mother, find time to socialize and make friends with people like me.

Some women can pack so much into a day. They work full time. They bring up great kids. They earn big money. And yet find time to be patient with little ones and household staff.


I feel so incompetent when I see what other women are able to do with their lives... and what little I do with mine.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Little Boy's Kind Heart

I am one to believe that people do change... and that humans can learn just about anything if they don't make excuses for themselves. I never accept the excuse "I'm like that so I can't help it."

Yet, even I think that people cannot change their hearts.

Little Boy was born kind. Forgive me... I know that sounds boastful and biased because he is my son but I do very much think that Little Boy was born kind.

When he was 2, he got upset with me for splashing an insect into the drainage gutters of the swimming pool. When he was 3, he got into a fight with a 4 year old over a toad they had both found in the swimming pool. I had fished the toad out with a net and explained to both boys that if the toad could not find a land rest, it would get tired and then it would drown. Little Mr 4 wanted to throw the toad back in. Little Boy would not allow it.

So, whilst the mothers were in the kitchen preparing a snack, a real good fight with 2 little boys rolling around on the grass in the backyard went on... until Little Boy threw his friend into the pool. It was a good thing us mothers heard a splash. Little Boy's friend couldn't swim, and even that small backyard swimming pool would have been fatal. I had to apologise to the 4 year old's mother very very profusely. And the father too.

And then Little Boy said "I pushed him into the pool so that he could feel what the toad feels in the pool!" I could not bear to scold him after that, though I did explain that his friend could have died because of him.

Little Boy and his father prevented me from cutting down the kapok tree which had outgrown its pot. Together, they hauled the heavy pot all the way downstairs and across a large field to plant it amongst a small copse of trees. The NParks people cut it down when the nation was looking for Mas Selamat in the jungles around our place.

Last night, a dragonfly got caught in one of our ceiling lamps. Little Boy made his father climb up there to pick up the trapped insect and let it go in the garden.

Little Boy's little cousin Z often gets bullied by her siblings. Growing up with aggressive siblings, Z is no pushover. She is as bossy as they come. This little one bosses Little Boy left right and centre. And he patiently puts up with it because she is such a tiny thing.

So, I do think that Little Boy was born kind, just as some people are born mean. He possesses the largesse of spirit that allows him to forgive minor transgressions by smaller and weaker beings towards him.

However, Z's sister J, is a different story. When J was 1, Little Boy was 2. J came over and pushed Little Boy off his bike... pushed him outta his car... grabbed his toys and when he went off to play with other toys, she grabbed those too. Little Boy looked shocked but he backed off... and he backed off... and he backed off. The adults left the room and came back to a horrendous sight. Little Boy was sitting on J's stomach raining slaps on her face.

Some friends have commented that Milo is well brought up because he was sweet to Mei Mei. I think it is in Milo's nature to be sweet to smaller dogs. Others have commented that Little Boy is well brought up because he is sweet to little children. I think it is in Little Boy's nature to be kind to smaller and weaker beings.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Anybody Wants Mei Mei?

Here is Mei Mei. She is a lost one year old with the friendliest ever disposition. She has the most endearing habit of ensconcing herself onto one's lap and sitting quietly there. She's a house dog and strolled nonchalantly through our house completely oblivious to house rules. Milo watched with mouth wide open, marvelling at her temerity and courage, as she marched into all our bedrooms and even lay down cheerfully in the Forbidden Area.

Of course The Cane bit her butt... though that didn't stop her from doing the same thing a few more times.

I can't keep Mei Mei. The Husband thinks she's a useless dog. It's important to The Husband that dogs serve a purpose. I proposed that she is a courageous little one who marched up to Milo's (4 times her size) food and helped herself. Such a courageous dog would protect house and home, no?

- "No" said The Husband. "In one kick, she would fly away to Pasir Ris."

- "She can warn us of intruders," I ventured.

- "No" said The Husband. "That yappy yippy sound is more irritating than alarming".

- "She doesn't yip a lot" says I.

- "No she doesn't, but when she does, she sounds like a mouse in pain," says he. "Besides, she has no manners! Look at how she pushes Milo around."

Now that, I admit, is true. Milo politely sniffs her ear and rear. She bears with it for a while and then she snaps at him and barks a warning. Milo backs off and sits back on his haunches wondering what he had done wrong.

Last night, Milo had to sleep in the far corner of the patio because she had taken up his spot in front of the door and his kennel. There were a few fierce barks as they settled down for the night. But they were all yippy barks. Milo is always frisky in the mornings. So this morning, he invited her to play by bending his front knees in play stance. She trotted past him sedately and sat down.Now, THAT is a tau Little Bitch!

She is the dog of my dreams. One day, I will get me a dog like that. Meanwhile, The Husband says no... and so I have to give her to my friend K, who is on her way to fetch her to the vet.

Bye Mei Mei... it was good to hold you on my lap.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Catch that Dog!

Dogs and children learn bad habits fast. Our new helper is a gentle soul who adores Milo. I explained till my face turned blue that she should strut around like an Alpha Bitch to impress Milo. Nothing doing!

Our gentle Joy (for that is her name) tells the dog gently to go upstairs to his kennel and then she giggles when Milo runs away. It didn't take Milo long to understand that if he ran here and then ran there... he could potentially stay downstairs forever.

Yesterday, I had to trick him by making him jealous. To do that you hug Little Boy and kiss him noisily until Jealous Milo comes racing into the stairwell to be part of the huggies. Then you close the stairwell door and the only way out of there is upstairs into the kennel. The day before, I lured him up with a huge knucklebone.

Today... nothing... absolutely nothing... would get Milo into the stairwell. I chased Milo hither and thither brandishing a cane. I scolded. I yelled. I wheedled and coaxed. I waved my dinner under Milo's nose. I kissed my husband and I kissed my son, half afraid that my neighbours pop by and ask me to be more circumspect in my affections. Milo was tempted but no way was he gonna get near the stairwell door.

In the end, we trapped him behind the piano... collared him and dragged him upstairs. That's it! Milo stays upstairs forever!

I trained him so well before. Milo would go upstairs obediently when I called. Now, I dunno how to undo the lax discipline our gentle Joy introduced into Milo's life.


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Little Boy's Blog

Little Boy has a blog now. He is thrilled to grins with it. And he keeps asking me how long it will take for people to leave comments. So, I went and left one. He obviously thinks it doesn't count. So... if you are a stranger to Little Boy, and you read this... do please go over to Little Boy's Blog and leave a comment if you want.