Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Festival of Lights

This year Deepavali was ushered in by the Indian community on 17 October. Infused with Hinduism and other religions of the Indian sub-continent, this festival is celebrated in a big way.

In keeping with the spirit of celebration and the
joyous mood of my dear Indian friends, I dusted off my bovine candle holder and lighted a red candle to burn brightly in my home.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Pickles our HedgieHog

Curious Pickles standing on tip-toes to have a peek at the world outside her abode

These are the paraphenalia, munchies and treats to keep Pickles happy and contented

Pickles came into our household without much fanfare, in nothing fancier than an old shoe box. She's an African Pygmy hedgie of the 'salt & pepper' variety. At the tender age of 3 months, she is teeny-weeny and painfully shy. She burrows deep into the folds of your clothes when approached by strangers and bristles up like a porcupine when further alarmed. Not to be fooled by her timid demeanor, she possesses an impressive armoury of about 7,000 quills. Thus cradling her is an exercise in wariness.

A week later, she has started to come out of her shell and sniffs suspiciously around, taking everything with her dark brown eyes. She snacks on chocolate alphabet biskies and slakes her thirst with water. At the moment she appears contented and prefers to snuggle under an old T-shirt to slumber off. Soon we have to get her an exercise wheel to keep her occupied during her waking hours.

"Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened."~ Anatole France

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Yin & The Yang

These two engravings on glass by Mats Jonasson were acquired last summer while on a sojourn to Stockholm. Placed together, they are the very manifestation of the disparities in this world. Conflicts are reflected in the colours from icy-chill to fiery-torrid and in the mien from angelic to satanic. Opposing intentions of good and bad are depicted with one being the nemesis of the other. Ancient Chinese sages rationally expound this yin-yang philosophy of existence as bringing harmony to the universe. Plainly speaking, too much of a good thing simply spell dissonance and incongruity.

A poignant interpretation of relationships in Yin-Yang terms:
Yang is as the day, turning into night, and yin the night preceding the day; the one is the force that drives the waves of the ocean forward, the other the force that draws them back so that they may go forward again."

Yang in his givingness bestows the gifts; yin in her being receives, preserves, enhances, and redistributes them. Yang constructs, yin instructs; yang implements, yin complements; yang is strength, yin endurance; yang is knowledge, yin the mystery that reveals itself and becomes knowledge.

Yang is the lover, and yin is therefore beloved; yin is the beloved and the source of love. Yang is will and yin is wisdom, and one without the other is neither, and together they are joy.

- "Twin Souls," by Patricia Joudry and Maurie D. Pressman

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Long's Photographic Artwork

Long Chin-san (1892-1995) was one of China's early photo-journalists. His photographs incorporated the aesthetics of Chinese traditional ink paintings into Western photographic tecnique. His images are even more amazing as they were from the pre-digital era, some of which were from combining multiple images in the darkroom.

A true photograph need not be explained, nor can it be contained in words.
-Ansel Adams

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Floral Path

Yellow Allamandas and Madagascar periwinkle, Vinca rosa fringe this brick pathway of circular steps. The steps lead to a look-out point at a higher level for viewing the happenings beyond our stone fencing.

The colourful Periwinkle is one of the earlier known medicinal plant.
Many alkaloids derived from it have anti cancer properties, such as vincristine and vinblastine. In some folklore medicine, it is also used to treat a wide range of diseases and conditions which run the gamut from inflammation, malaria, diabetes, depression to various cancers.

I plant them for their perpetual blooms of various hues and colours. I do not care much for the akaloids. The stunning visual effect is balm to the weary soul.

May flowers always line your path and sunshine light your day.
May songbirds serenade you every step along the way.
May a rainbow run beside you in a sky that's always blue.
And may happiness fill your heart each day your whole life through.

- Irish Blessings

Water Krystals

The rain lashed fiercely at my windshield one day as I drove home after work. Just as suddenly, it stopped. As I pulled into the garage, I noticed the stooping branches of a pine tree, its needles laden with glinting rain drops. At my doorsteps, I found the pot of caladiums totally drenched from the downpour, with shimmering water crystals adorning the bosom of their foliage. I gazed at the largest of them all and in its depth I fathom a deep sense of serenity.

May the raindrops fall lightly on your brow.

May the soft winds freshen your spirit.

May the sunshine brighten your heart.

May the burdens of the day rest lightly upon you, and

May God enfold you in the mantle of His love.

- Irish Blessings

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

An Explosive Beginning

The stone steps leading to my abode always bear the tell tale signs of some explosive activities. Definitely not of nefarious nature, but simply the cacophonous ripening of rubber-seed pods. The pods crackle and expel 3-4 rubber seeds unceremoniously on to the terrain.

The rubber tree,
Hevea brasiliensis first originate from Brazil and thanks to one Sir Henry Wickham who managed to ship loads of it out to Kew Gardens in London where it eventually found its way to Malaysia. At one time rubber (1950-90s, I think) was the mainstay of the Malaysian economy and a leading agricultural export.

Now, it has become so much of an urban oddity and novelty that they have been purposefully planned into some new housing developments.
There are a handful of trees scattered right at my doorsteps. Perhaps one of these days, just for the sheer fun of it, I shall tap the bark for its milky latex.

“Opportunities, many times, are so small that we glimpse them not and yet they are often the seeds of great enterprises"
- Og Mandino

Indigo Delight

A true blue flower is a quite a rarity in any garden, let alone one of indigo hues. The blue pea flower, Ternatea Clitorea is as lovely as it is useful. A vigorous climber, it grows in profusion and throws out numerous blooms daily. It makes a wonderful food dye. We used it abundantly in our nyonya sweetmeats and in savoury dumplings.

"He is happiest who hath power to gather wisdom from a flower"

- Mary Howitt

The True Grit of Life

A hibiscus stigma dusted with pollens is at the threshold of starting a new chapter in its verdant life. However this seems quite superflous as most of the propagation of hibiscus is done vegetatively rather than through seeds. Seems like Nature's urging for gene variety is strongly weaved into its reproductive blueprint. There's always a chance that one might take seed naturally or by human means to produce a refreshingly new and pretty progeny.

“Books are the bees which carry the quickening pollen from one to another mind”.

-James Russell Lowell

Monday, April 27, 2009

Old Man Toadie

Toadie is a mature, sedate guy. He sat motionless at my backyard and enjoyed the dusk breeze with nary a twitch. He must be surveying the evening activities with his dark gleaming eyes. I moved very close and yet he hardly gave any indication that he was aware of my presence. He only hopped off after I was done shooting him. The invasion of his last few inches of personal space must have finally rankled him.

"I'd kiss a frog even if there was no promise of a Prince Charming popping out.
I love frogs".

-Cameron Diaz

To minimise your risks, it's FROGS that you should kiss, not TOADS.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Sharon's Folly

Sweet Girl Sharon dropped by over the weekend. She greeted me in a T-shirt emblazoned with a strong graphical oral health message - "that chocolates be the ruin of teeth". I nodded with much approval and bid her a warm welcome.

Later while nibbling on an Anthon Berg with Plum-in-Madeira soaked marzipan, she realized how incongrous it all was. Guiltily, she picked up an apple and asked "Should I switch?"

And we thought that the apple was the original provenance of EVE's folly! Now it looks like the Millennium's Testament (if ever there is one) has to be written differently.

“All I need is a little love now and then, but some chocolate will do for now.”
- Lucy Van Pelt

The Expectant Tom Cat

As I stepped out into my garden, this stray Tom cat flashed past me and perched on the ledge of the garden wall. He turned back and stared at me and I surmised the state of his mind - why not total flight instead? To lure him to stay, I "meowed" persuasively and dashed into the house to grab my faithful Nikon. He was still around, probably expecting some sort of treat. I snapped several shots before moving closer for more close ups, all the while still meowing. His narrowed iris and tensed body indicated his readiness for flight

"A cat improves the garden wall in sunshine, and the hearth in foul weather".
--Judith Merkle Riley

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

My Next Life

His musings is reminiscent of the movie Benjamin Button. If it is ever possible to choose how one can be born, perhaps this could be an interesting alternative.

Monday, April 20, 2009

A Mosaic Welcome

Last night, we got this ersatz Tiffany lamp from India installed in our balcony. It is a negative-positive lamp with the black areas appearing white, sans lillumination. It hangs prettily as a welcoming beacon to family members and guests alike.

"An apt quotation is like a lamp which flings its light over the whole sentence"
-Letitia Landon

“We waste our lights in vain, like lamps by day.”
-William Shakespeare

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Incy Wincy Spider

A Mr Arachnid with multiple beady eyes came to visit. With bristling limbs, he strutted his stuff up and down my porch wall, distracting me to no end. I finally arrived at a win-win situation by having him as a model for my macro shutter-bugging. He was rather cooperative and posed proudly on a piece of rock that I proffered him.

“Yesterday has deceived you and gone;
Tomorrow is a doubtful visitor.
Today is a fast friend — hold fast to it.”

-Sri Sathya Sai Baba

Friday, April 17, 2009

Teetering on stilettos

Most ladies love their heels. For those who love them at vertiginous heights, there's a price to be paid. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has the very chart with graphical anatomical images to sober them up into donning more sensible shoes.

“I can't wear flat shoes. My feet repel them. I was in agony. My high heels had left my feet bleeding. Laugh all you want, my feet hurt.”
-Mariah Carey

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A Gurgling Fountain

Nothing soothes the nerves better than the sound of a gurgling fountain. In the shade of happily thriving aquatic plants, fishes swish delightedly to and fro in the rejuvenated waters. A view like this makes lovely eye candy to my poppers strained from the daily grind of gazing at computer terminals.

“Some people drink from the fountain of knowledge, others just gargle.”

- Dr Robert Anthony

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Investing in some quality time together is unique not only to homo sapiens as demonstrated by these two grasshopper buddies that are in the throes of a vice like grip, eerily echoing the proclamation of "till death do us part". The hibiscus rosa sinensis is the preferred rendevouz for many such encounters.

“We need to alter the wedding vow. Till death do us part - or until you become an inconvenience.”
- Carl Young

The Roving Stinker

Unfortunately for this stink bug and its ilk, I have developed a love-hate relationship with them. The slightest provocation is a good enough pretext to spray forth a most obnoxious smell. Their exasperating sucking habits, bring mayhem to my tender flowering buds and shoots. Most times I view them with murderous intent but looking at the big scheme of things in the universe, they like other creatures are genetically coded to instinctively complete their own cycle of life. Here, it is struck by spring fever and is scrambling over to to do some serious wooing. This plant, jasminium multiflorum, with their delicately scented white flowers, is their favourite stomping ground.

“It's spring fever.... You don't quite know what it is you DO want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!”

- Mark Twain
Publish Post

The Makings of a Chrysalis

A succulent creature flaunting such lovely colours is a fine example of Mother Nature's bountiful work. It fed voraciously on this tough fan-like leaf before deciding to curl up below for the chrysalis stage. The whole metamorphosis is as esoteric as the eventual winged beauty itself. I take a bow to Mother nature.

“The butterfly's attractiveness derives not only from colors and symmetry: deeper motives contribute to it.

We would not think them so beautiful if they did not fly, or if they flew straight and briskly like bees, or if they stung,

or above all if they did not enact the perturbing mystery of metamorphosis: the latter assumes in our eyes the value of a badly decoded message, a symbol, a sign.”

-Primo Levi

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Moving Away

An abandoned Potter Wasps' abode was found under the canopy of my variegated orange bougainvillea. They normally build a conglomerate of textured globular clay nests (an insect condominium of sorts), so this single, smooth, large globe is highly unusual.

When a cell is completed, the adult wasp collects beetle larva or caterpillar and, paralyzing them, places them in the cell to serve as food for their wasp larva.

Having served its purpose, it is now devoid of any activity. The progeny have flown the coop and the parents could have expired after completing their duties in closing the loop of their life cycle.

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They came through you but not from you and though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

-Kahlil Gibran

Monday, April 13, 2009

A Happy Little Hirsute

This little hirsute is actually a scavenger which is a real boon to have in the garden. I let them run wild in my little Eden, where they munch happily away at dead leaves and other organic matter. I first found this little fella cozily ensconced in the convexity of a leaf, Philodendron Xanadu, enjoying a morsel of withered leaf. When I moved it to the Rosa Vinca flower, it got all hot and bothered, making a hasty exit from this floral delight to some mouldy vegetation. Well, so goes the adage, "One worm's food is another's poison".


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