All good…

If you’re wondering how my rambutan tree is at this point in time, it’s doing really well, growing bigger…

Rambutan tree

…and sprouting new branches everywhere…

New branches

I’m taking better care of it now, watering it every day instead of just leaving it to survive on love and fresh air and of course, there is the regular weeding to be done and  I will trim the branches on the right so they will not touch the (roof of the) house lest there will be ants crawling over, those unwelcome guests.

I am also trying to make that little corner…

The little corner

…in my front yard a little bit more presentable. My friend gave me a whole lot of this spider plant…

Spider plant

…and I planted some there as well…

Periwinkle and the rest

That periwinkle on the right appeared out of nowhere in one of my flower pots so I moved it there and this plant…

Purple flowers
*Photo taken using my cheap antique handphone camera*

…keeps growing out of the cracks in my driveway but it is very hard to transplant because when I pull it, the roots will not come out together with the rest of the plant. I did manage to get some and transplanted them at a much nicer place in my garden and yes, they are doing well too. I planted this one in a cute little flower pot in the house but it did not seem to do too well – it flowered once, just one flower and it was very small and that was it. Since I transplanted it here, it does seem to be doing well and finally, it started flowering the other day.

I’ve also sawn away all the trunks of my curry leaf plant except one so it would look neater and that one would be more than enough for our regular supply of curry leaves as and when needed. I saw it at a supermarket the other day, withered already and selling for RM1.90 a kg and at another supermarket, I saw around 8-9 springs in  a long plastic pack going for RM1.00! Good grief! My friend said she would want to plant her own as well so I transplanted some seedlings in a pot…

Curry leaves transplanted

…though I do not know right now if they will survive or not. I had three serai (lemon grass) cluster and they went out of control so I got rid of two and even with the one left, I would have to trim it regularly to make sure it behaves…and I moved one of my pots of aloe vera there to fill up the vacant space in front.

My missus went and planted these yellow flowers…

Yellow flowers

…at the plot where the lily is and they are absorbing all the fertility in the soil – the poor lily is getting thinner and thinner and it has flowered once only so far, and the blooms were somewhat small. I keep pulling out the seedlings of these yellow flowers and throwing them away, and yes, I’ve planted some at the corner lot as well.

My missus, for reasons unknown, got rid of my old Thai basil plant and replanted some cuttings that she was soaking in water for sometime…

Missus' Thai basil

…but they do not seem to be growing at all. Perhaps in time, they will flourish; I’ll just have to wait and see. I took two cuttings from the discarded plant and poked them into the soil in between some bricks and just look at them now, here…

My Thai basil 1

…and here…

My Thai basil 2

…but no, I think I will let them grow a bit bigger before I start plucking and adding them in my cooking.

I wonder if the location makes a difference or not – the kunyit (turmeric) my missus planted a long time ago somewhere in the middle never grew and we did try digging it up a few times but no, there was nothing that we could use. I transplanted it to the side to make way for my ulam raja plants and just look at it now…

Kunyit

I am pretty sure there would be a lot underneath the soil but we have yet to find out.

Talking about my ulam raja

Ulam raja flower

…I still have some left after getting rid of quite a lot to make way for my chili but unfortunately, not long after the seedlings appeared, quite beautifully, the pests got to the leaves and ate them all up. I was collecting the seeds and the seedlings of the ulam raja to give to friends so right now, they are pretty much under control. At one time, they were sprouting out anywhere and everywhere.

I must say I am enjoying myself and at least, I do get to exercise a bit and sweat a lot every day.

So sharp…

If you have been a faithful follower of my blog, you probably would remember this curry leaf plant of mine with one branch reaching up high into the sky

Tall branch
*Archive photo*

…like a coconut tree. A friend of mine gave me a German-made saw and all this while, I had been sawing off the branches including the one aforementioned but eventually, the plant looked quite untidy with stumps sticking out north, south, east, west…left, right and centre and I did let a few branches grow up high as well.

I got really put off by the fact that the leaves would get all spotted like the plant had some kind of ghastly infection or disease or something…

Infected curry leaves
*Curry leaf tree outside one of the teachers’ quarters at my girl’s school*

…so I would cut off those sprigs while the branches keep growing. I thought it would be easy to get those fresh leaves at the top but that day, my missus said that she could not bend the branches so she had to do without the curry leaves in her creamy butter prawn dish. Hmmm…she could have asked me to go and get some for her but she didn’t.

In the end, I decided to get rid of those tall branches as many of the leaves were spotted as well, anyway. I am not worried that there will be none left for us to use in our cooking as the new leaves would appear in no time at all…

Curry leaves
*Archive photo*

…and this time around, I used this new saw…

MR DIY garden saw 1

…that I bought from a MR DIY outlet here…

MR PIY garden saw 2

I can’t remember how much I paid for it but it was not expensive, in the region of RM14.00 or somewhere around there, I think.

It was so sharp and I really love using it so much. Honestly, I do think it is worth every sen that I paid for it. I can very easily cut through any branch, never mind how thick it is and just look at the clean cut it made…

MR DIY garden saw, clean cut

Nice and neat, eh? I was never able to do that with the saw I had because it was really big and often, I could not get the right angle and had to go in any direction and at times, I would run out of patience and halfway through, I would just break the branch instead of sawing it till the end.

It still needs a lot more work though…

Curry leaf plant today

…but I will just do it slowly, a little at a time. Elderly people like me should not over-exert ourselves – there have been cases of some dropping dead while working on something or playing a game, touch wood!

In the meantime, new leaves have started to appear…

New curry leaves

…and I am spraying them with this organic pesticide and so far, it seems to be working pretty well. We do not need that many, anyway, so even if the spots do show up eventually, there would be a few sprigs that are spot-free and we can use those…and the next time around, my missus would not have to bend down some tall branches to get the fresh leaves at the top, not anymore.

Rescue me…

My rambutan tree…

My rambutan tree BEFORE

…had not been doing very well for a while now. If you are interested in its history, you can read all about it here. It did flower and bear fruit towards the end of last year but sporadically. The fruits were few and far between and besides, they were small, not fleshy nor juicy and sweet so we did not even bother to go and pluck them – we just left them there to wither and turn black and drop off the tree.

How did it turn out this way, you may wonder? Well, for one thing, it had been sadly neglected, terribly in need of fertilisers, surviving solely on the sunshine and the rain and another reason was that there were all the wild orchids…

Wild orchids and other parasitic plants

…and parasitic plants growing on the branches, absorbing all the moisture from them, drying them all up and choking them to death. I did try to get rid of some, the ones closer to the ground but my missus would not let me climb up the tree. “The branches are all so brittle,” she said, “and you are so fat! They will break the instant you step on them.”

It would be so sad to just let it die as it is the sole survivor here, the only one left but my paternal cousin in  Miri did tell me once that they had one tree there, from my grandfather’s fruit garden in Sg Merah here a long long time ago so if we include that one, there are only two left of this very nice and really special variety of the fruit.

I was absolutely delighted last Sunday morning when Peter (If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you would know which Peter I’m talking about) brought his boys to my house to help get rid of those plants on the tree…

The boys at work

and saw away the branches that were dead and gone…

Sawn branches

…not just to get rid of them…

Dead branch

…but also to trim the tree a bit in the hope that this would encourage the growth of fresh new branches.

They even painstakingly scraped away the green moss on the branches…

Scraped branches

They said that it would be as bad as the plants and would kill the branches as well.

This is what the tree looks like now…

My rambutan tree AFTER

The foliage is not as thick as before and the sun can come shining through so it is no longer as dark and damp under those leaves anymore, conditions ideal for the growth of this wild orchids and parasitic plants as well as the green moss.

Thank you so so so much, Peter and the boys – I certainly would not be able to manage without your help. After this, I will have to do a little bit of weeding under the tree and dig the soil to add fertilisers and what not in the hope that the tree will be looking really good again…and fingers crossed, it will bear fruit in abundance come the end of this year!

The other man’s grass…

The other man’s grass is always greener, the sun shines brighter on the other side.

The first time I had to fly to Langkawi on a working trip, a friend said to me, “You must buy the Kit Kat there!”

“Oh?” I responded. “Don’t we have lots of Kit Kat in our shops and supermarkets?”

“Theirs are imported,” she explained, “from Australia. They are creamier and very much nicer.”

Of course, I had to buy some but blame it on my retarded taste buds, I could not tell the difference and I would say that like our own locally manufactured products, not all imported stuff is necessarily good or better. For instance, the other day, my girl bought two packs of the imported Nice biscuits and two of the Teddy bear ones (that looked more like a lion to me) for me to enjoy. The expiry dates were drawing near so they were going for around RM4 something instead of the usual over RM7.00-8.00 each. They were all right but I do think our own Tiger biscuits are nicer though looking at the prices these days, they may not necessarily be cheaper than these discounted prices.

Of course, many have tried coming out with their own – here or in other countries overseas but none would come near those Kjeldsens Danish butter cookies and I do love those Scottish shortbread so much but unfortunately, I can’t afford to buy those to enjoy anymore these days. My eyes almost popped out at one supermarket that day – a regular-sized pack was going for over RM30.00! *faints*

It’s the same with these digestives…

Digestives

– this particular brand. I’ve tried others but somehow, they are simply not quite there. Not too long ago, I bought what looked quite the same, a bigger pack, but they were really horrible like they had gone all limp and the original taste was not there at all. I did not check to see where they were made but my girl could recall there were some Mandarin characters on the pack. But these came all the way from the UK and they are good and even at over RM9.00, I would buy once in a long while to enjoy.

They are only £1 in the UK…

One pound special

When I was there long ago, I used to look for these special offers – the ones selling at the regular prices were not quite within my budget, especially after converting them into our miserable ringgit. That should be over RM5.00 here but I guess those people would need to make a bit of profit after deducting the shipping charges, the overheads and all.

I am not a fan of ginger cookies but I do enjoy these…

Ginger nuts

…also from the UK…

From the UK

…going for around RM4.00 only so I would buy them sometimes to enjoy.

Then, the other day, I saw these…

Ovaltine biscuits

…and I decided to buy a pack to try, just over RM3.00 each!

I can recall during the British colonial days, people used to argue as to which one was better – Milo or Ovaltine. I don’t think I’ve seen the latter anywhere these days, just Milo…and I hear many complaining that it is not so nice anymore, nothing like what it was like in the good ol’ days when it was imported from England.

I checked the pack and found that it was not made in Malaysia…

Made in Thailand

…but in our neighbouring country.

I am not fond of biscuits with cream filling including those overly-sweet black ones with white filling, though I would not mind our Malaysian-made cheese crackers with peanut butter cream inside. To my delight, the filling in this one…

Ovaltine biscuits 1

…was so very nice. I absolutely love it! I wonder if that was the same as what I got from my Singapore friend sometime ago. I did try the other one and it was very nice and in the meantime, my sister saw something shared by somebody on Instagram or somewhere and he insisted it was nicer than Nutella so she asked me for it to try. Well, if it is the same, I would say it is really nice.

No, I will not be rushing out to grab a bottle – it is not available here, anyway but I sure wouldn’t mind buying some more of the biscuits…

Ovaltine biscuits 2

…but not that often. They are not really sweet but still, they are sweet and people my age should not be eating too much of those, everything in moderation.

I guess it’s like going some place to eat – not everywhere here or overseas will be good, we just need to know where to go and it’s the same with these biscuits/cookies. Most of the imported ones are a lot more expensive, of that we can be sure, but they are not necessarily nice(r) and on the other hand, we do have some usually more affordable and very nice local-made ones.

As the remaining lines of the chorus of that song in the above link go:
The other man’s grass is always greener
Some are lucky, some are not
But just be thankful for what you’ve got !

The day…

I did mention a couple of posts back that Facebook has this special feature where it will allow you to look at something you shared a year or more back and one of them the other day reminded me that it has been four years since the first time I drove my girl to Selangau to report for duty at the District Education Office there. That means that I’ve been driving along this road…

Sibu-Selangau road
*Archive photo*

…to her school, 99 km. from Sibu town, every Sunday, excluding school holidays, and at times, on other days as well, for not one or two or three but four long years now. It’s not a highway, just a trunk road linking some main towns in the  huge state of Sarawak, with just two lanes, one lane going and another lane coming back.

I remember it was not a very smooth drive at the beginning but with some upgrading works time and again…

Sibu-Selangau road, upgrading
*Archive photo*

…it became a lot nicer but of late, it seems that it is getting quite bad – potholes everywhere and shoddy patching jobs that do not last very long and with the construction of the pan-Borneo highway, a lot has been going on for sometime now. Hills are being levelled, people have been resettled and their (long)houses have been shifted or demolished. They have not started work on the highway proper but with the soil exposed, the rain would wash it all onto the road and it did not help one bit that there are people who will not slow down, rain or shine.

Last Sunday, there was a terrible storm and of course, my car was splashed all over each and every time those hell-raisers drove past. I do not understand why these recalcitrant characters do not seem to value their own lives nor do they have any respect for others. By the time I got back home, the whole vehicle was a terrible mess so I had to send it to the car wash right away.

My mechanic told me not to ask those people to clean my engine but he never explained why – he just said it would not be good. That was why I had to do it myself, wiping away till it was clean enough…

Car engine, cleaned

Well, the week-long school holidays are here which means that I would not need to drive down that road this Sunday so it should stay this clean for a while, at least.

With my girl home, she will be able to spend sometime with her grandparents – on working days, she is only able to drop by to see them once a week, on Saturdays. I don’t know if my father will want us to take him out or not. We just did that the other day – it was time once again for his fortnightly haircut.

While he was at his regular old-school barber shop, I browsed around the coffee shop next door and I saw this…

Pig's blood with chives

Gosh!!! The last time I had any was coincidentally four years ago as well, way back in 2013 at that coffee shop/food court in Sungai Merah that has since closed down for reasons unknown. I did not want to buy any as I knew my missus would not touch the stuff but she went and bought some home for dinner – it was very nice and she had the chives while I had the coagulated blood. Yum yummm!!!

Of course, after the haircut, we had to take my father to his favourite place in town for his Foochow fried noodles with added char siew (RM5.00)…

Y2K Cafe Foochow fried noodles with added char siew

…and I also had the same. He also tapao-ed a plate home for my mum and my missus had this so-called Singapore fried bihun (RM5.00)…

Y2K Cafe Singapore fried bihun

…which was nice with its pleasant wok hei fragrance but it was just fried bihun with curry powder added and other than some bits of char siew and some taugeh (bean sprouts) and egg in it, there wasn’t much of anything else so personally, I would not want to go for that, not at RM5.00 a plate.

I had gone to get the car when my father picked up the tab and on our way home, my missus told me that he had to fork out RM25.00 for the four plates of noodles and our two glasses of kopi-o-peng (my father did not want anything to drink). So does that mean that the coffee here is RM2.50 a glass, a lot more than at the regular coffee shops? I will want to find out next time but of course, this place is air-conditioned and I often saw people sitting around having some drinks, not eating, and chatting away the whole time we were there – maybe that is why, I wouldn’t know.

WU ZHAO PAI (2.289093, 111.827338) is located opposite Standard Chartered Bank at the bend turning into Ramin Way from Central Road and Y2K CAFE (2.294220, 111.825753) is located in the Tunku Osman area, round the corner from that block of shops where branches of AmBank & RHB Bank are located. The back entrance actually faces the side (right, not the main one) entrance/exit of Methodist Secondary School.

Sick…

Oh dear!!! Oh dear!!! Time is running out and there are a thousand and one things that have yet to be done, the cleaning and the washing of every nook and cranny in the house, the weeding and trimming in the garden and the putting up of the decorations…and the cooking and so on and so forth. Everything was going well until I fell sick, so so so sick!

I think it was the dabai! In the old days, the fruit season would be around the end of the year, all kinds of fruits – durians, dabai, lenggeng

Lenggeng
*Archive photo*

…mangosteens, rambutans, langsat…and everyone would feast on these and they say that this would be the time when doctors would be laughing all the way to the bank. These fruits are all very heaty and should be consumed in moderation or one will end up with a bad cough and other kinds of ailments.

These days, you may find these fruits at odd times in the year but the end of the year is still the time when they will come out in abundance. Dabai and durians have been out for a few months now – it did not use to last this long – and are cheaper. I guess people are getting tired of the fruits so not many are buying them anymore…but we did buy some dabai last weekend at RM16.00 a kg, very good ones that would probably fetch around RM25.00-30.00 a kg earlier in the season. Despite the drop in prices, I do not usually buy any to eat – even at the lower prices, I still think it is expensive but I would buy on weekends as my girl enjoys eating them.

We had a few on Saturday night for dinner but my missus “forgot” to prepare any for lunch the following day before we sent our girl back to her school in the jungle. She did not want to bring along any with her to eat there so there we were, stuck with the rest of the fruit. That evening, my missus “forgot” AGAIN…so I took the whole lot and prepared all of them to finish them off at one go. We cannot keep this fruit for long as the skin will become wrinkled and thick so it will not be nice anymore. I guess I lived to face the consequence and the very next day, I came down with a terrible cough.

I woke up with a bad cough the next morning but that did not stop me from doing the spring cleaning that had to be done and my t-shirt was a little wet with my sweat, just a little, so I did not bother to change it when I went and had my nap that afternoon…and later that day, I did get caught in a slight drizzle and that did it! I came down with a fever and started sneezing and had a running nose…and I was up all night, every half an hour, to go to the toilet and I was shivering away the whole time. By morning, I was already half dead! I stayed in bed all day the next day, slept a lot and was better the day after, still very weak but no, life goes on – there are things that need to be done. I guess with the little time I have left and since I am not in top form, I would just have to be happy with what I can do…and leave out the rest.

In the meantime, my god-son/ex-student, Andrew and family are home from New Zealand for Chinese New Year and they brought me these…

From Andrew

I guess I’m the only one in the house who can eat the Tim Tams now as it has wheat in its ingredients but I really wonder what this is supposed to mean…

Warning

I see this at the back of boxes and packets of a lot of products. Is this just a precautionary warning just in case someone eats it and comes out with some adverse reactions and the company ends up getting sued for it? I am pretty sure they do clean all the machines and their premises as well. I suppose this boils down to one thing – eat at your own risk?

I’ve tried the new Tim Tam, mango flavour…

New Tim Tam mango flavour

…but I could hardly detect the mango flavour, maybe just a bit as it was almost completely drowned out by the overwhelming taste of the chocolate. It did come across like fresh mango though, not the horrible mango essence flavour that we may find sometimes in the cream in some of our local-made biscuits.

Nonetheless, it was nice…but like all Tim Tams, it was very sweet so I would have to confine myself to maybe just one a day which obviously means that it would be quite a while before I can get to try the pineapple…or maybe I’ll just keep that to serve to the people who drop by for Chinese New year on a first come, first serve basis – pineapples, very auspicious…ONG LAI!!!

7 years…

It has been 7 years.

It first bloomed in January, 2009 and again in May that same year and June as well but after the last time a year later in June, 2010, it never did bloom again.

It was my missus who planted it…in the ground and it grew well at the time. There was only a little bit of what was left of the dwindling, struggling-to-survive old plant when she transplanted it in a big pot and since I took up gardening, I have been able to take good care of it – all the weeding, replenishing the  soil, adding the fertilisers and of course, the daily watering and eventually, it started looking a whole lot better again…

Desert Rose 2017 1

In one moment of carelessness as I was watering the plants in my garden one morning, I caused some damage to this leaf…

Desert Rose 2017 2

…when it got caught in the hose I was using. It did not wither away and die though – obviously, this plant is a very sturdy one that can survive even in adverse conditions.

For one thing, that leaf did not look so nice and I was thinking of trimming it and throwing it away and thankfully, I never did that for out of that one leaf, I spotted these…

Desert Rose 2017 3

…and they grew and grew…

Desert Rose 2017 4

…and last Saturday, it sure looked like it was going to bloom…

Desert Rose 2017 5

…that night and it did…

Desert Rose 2017 6

…two blooms only on the 14th of January, 2017…

Desert Rose 2017 7

I have no idea whether there will be any more after this and one thing’s for sure, I most certainly hope so. Let’s just wait and see…