Saturday, September 29, 2007

Future old lady business

So, it's been decided then.

If I ever end up living on my own and becoming the Crazy Dog Lady of the neighbourhood, I am going to have to have the following dogs, or "hag-hounds", as I prefer to call them:

A dachshund named Gunther. Yes, even if it is a girl.
(Image from Nature's Corner magazine.)

Mr Pickering, a Welsh Cardigan corgi. I may also name him/her Mr. Bingley, depending on how I feel on the day.
(Image from

And a Basset hound called Jimmy-Pop.
(Image from

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Just a little epilogue

I was telling my mother about the experience with the Ms described two posts ago, and really, sometimes when I see what this woman is capable of, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that she gave birth to me and passed on the passive-aggressive traits of twenty generations of Chinese women:

an9ie: - so then I told them I was in the middle of a phone-call, and closed the door. Haha!

Mum: No, no, no! You shouldn't answer the door at all!

an9ie: Well, it's not like we have a peephole or anything ... except sometimes you know it's them because they bang on the door instead of using the doorbell*.

Mum: (Suddenly whispering) You go to the living room window like this (creeps to the window).

an9ie: (Whispering) Why are you whispering?

Mum: - and then slo-owly pull the curtain aside (slo-owly pulls curtain aside) ... but you have to do it really carefully, so they don't see the curtains twitch.

an9ie: And then what - you just crouch there watching them like an extra from Psycho?

Mum: Well, then you know it's really them, and you don't let your father answer the door!

an9ie: (Rolls eyes.)

* I wonder why - it's not like they're Amish and can't use electricity.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Yes, I know ... and look, mooncakes!

The post below was one I wrote a while ago, and have been sitting on ever since. Sorry!

In other news, Hungry Ghost Month is over - YAY - and the Mooncake Festival is here!

My favourite mooncakes are the ones with white skin made from glutinous rice flour, usually served cold, and stuffed with sweet red bean filling. Some mooncakes have a salted egg yolk in them - my sister likes these, I think because of the contrast between salty and sweet, but I gingerly pick out the yolk and eat around any remnants left behind.

There are many fascinating legends tied to the Mooncake Festival, also known as the Mid-Autumn Festival, or Lantern Festival - you can read about them here, on good old Wikipedia. They range from stories about Chang-Erh, the lady in the moon, and her pet rabbit, to (supposedly) true tales about how mooncakes were used in espionage during the Ming dynasty.

I remember playing with lanterns during this festival, as a little girl growing up in South East Asia. My cousins would usually stay over, making it more of a holiday, and we would light fireworks, watched by a couple of uncles who made sure we didn't lose any appendages. My first lantern was a dragon made of purple, red, yellow and green plastic, and when the candle inside him was lit, he was the most beautiful thing my six-year-old eyes had seen.

When I got a little older, I joined in the school lantern parade. The district schools had lantern parades every year, and we would follow gorgeously lit floats made by student committees. At the end of the parade the best float would win a trophy.

Those who weren't helping with the float would follow in its wake, carrying lit paper lanterns while people watched from the sidewalks.

This tradition was banned a few years later because certain people in the government thought school kids walking around at night in lantern parades led to vice and pregnancy and quite possibly civil unrest. I think there was a slight reprieve, and later on we were allowed to have the parade in the daytime, but it just wasn't the same. Sigh.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I'm going to hell

Last Sunday those people came around again. Let's call them the Ms.

Years ago, before my parents lived in this house and I was looking after it for them, I usually managed to keep the dreaded Ms at bay with the following method:

1) Opening the wooden front door, but not the security screen door, so I had a protective mesh barrier between us and wouldn't feel compelled to invite them in.

2) Halfway through their opening spiel (and why the heck do they always have to be so polite that you feel like a jackass when you turn them away?) saying, and this is the important part, "Sorry, I'm Catholic*, have a good day!" as I close the door.

I have tried reasoning with them before, saying, "No thank you, I'm Anglican," but apparently this didn't count. Even saying, "I'm a Christian AND my father is a retired priest AND I go to church every Sunday!" would still have them going, "But come to ours, it's much better!" Gah.

And no, I can't slam the door in their faces or call them rude names because I'm not that kind of person. Sorry.

Anyway, after a few months of this treatment they dropped their visits to about twice a year. Then I moved out, and my parents moved back in, and now the Ms are over every Saturday like clockwork.

Mainly because my father invited them in the first time they called. Sheesh. Thanks, Dad.

Last Saturday I happened to be home when they knocked on the door. G (my brother) and I then had a hurried, whispered dispute about who was going to answer the door. In the end it was me - it usually is, because we both know I can get rid of them faster. G just doesn't have that killer instinct.

I don't usually lie, but when the Ms visit I could be Elizabeth Taylor in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

M1 and M2: Hello, I'm Elder M1 and this is Brother M2. Is P in?
an9ie: Um, hold on. (Cursory glance into living room.) Nope, looks like he's gone out. Can I take a message?
M1: Are you his daughter?
an9ie: Yes. Can I take a message? I'm sorry, but I'm in the middle of a phone call. I'll tell him you stopped by.
M2: Oh, OK, then.
an9ie: Byeeee! (Shuts door.)
an9ie: G! I've lied to the Ms and now I'm going to hell!

In a week's time we are having some family friends from New Zealand to visit. They're Jehovah's Witnesses, and if the Ms come again, it's GAME ON.

* Why? Because I read somewhere that they usually avoid Catholics because they're very hard to convert. Also, I'm not exactly telling a full-blown fib, since Anglicans are Catholic - we're just not Roman Catholic.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Just when I wanted an early night

My mother just wandered in and said, "Did you know that it's Hungry Ghost Month (ci4 ge3 bua3)?"

Then she wandered out again, humming to herself.

I checked the Internet, and it is indeed. Fan-fricking-tastic.

For a whole month, the Gates of Hell are open and ghosts are free to roam the Earth. Perhaps they are visiting loved ones and righting wrongs, but mostly, I reckon, they're stuffing themselves on food offerings, spying on women in the shower, and looking for gullible mortals to take their place in Hell so they can be reincarnated.

Which is why I will be sleeping with the light on tonight.


I'm not going to drown in a sea of sentimentality here, but someone in the RedBubble forum asked what people were doing today. And we all know what today is, and was.

It is a grey, rainy day here in Perth, and as I exited the library, my arms full of books, I brushed against a dense growth of rosemary.

Its fragrance burst into the air so forcefully that I could smell nothing else for several seconds.

A sign, perhaps. Rosemary for remembrance.

The weather was very similar when we visited Ground Zero, on the 11th of August.

Just think, this view would have been impossible before the 11th of September, 2001.

If I'm not mistaken (and please, correct me if I am), the steeple in the middle of the picture belongs to St. Paul's Chapel, where George Washington used to attend Sunday service.

Rescue and recovery workers rested here during the aftermath.

The chapel miraculously survived 9/11, and did not even have a broken window after the attack.

The train station next door gives you a better view of the construction site, albeit through mesh goggles.

It was strange to see such busyness going on, and to hear so much noise, in a place that I had only seen on the news as a desolate, smoking ruin.

Freedom Tower is the name of the new structure that they're building. I confess that I'm not a fan of the name. It seems too brash and simplistic, too in-your-face.

I was about to walk on when MFC directed my attention to the coins that people had tried to throw onto the building site.

We saw coins everywhere on this trip. In fountains, in pools and ponds, and even in bird habitats.

I miss having pennies as part of the currency*. Their almost-nothing value makes them perfect projectiles for spontaneous moments.

See how the object on the left looks like part of a cross? I never noticed it till I posted this picture.

On the same day, we got to see the Statue of Liberty, and I'm so very glad she's still around.

I had seen her before, in a hundred movie lifetimes, but she still took my breath away.

* We got rid of 1 and 2 cent coins in Australia years ago. Now no one feels like throwing things into fountains anymore.

Oh my stars and garters!

Today I received this comment about Camouflage (featured on the home page yesterday!) while looking at my activity monitor in RedBubble.

A lovely lady and fellow artist, peridot, informed me that she saw a print of my wascally wabbit at a local business. Those Queenslanders have good taste, eh? ^_^

Update (12/9/2007): Peridot was kind enough to write back and tell me that it was in a Hearing Aid centre in Capalaba (outer Brisbane area).

Friday, September 07, 2007

Excuses and Explanations

Am I alive? Am I back in the country? Do I still like writing this blog? Yes, yes, and yes.

Naturally I have many travel episodes of mirth and wonder to recount, but a few things are holding me back:

1) When I post about a particular place, I'd like to include a few happy snaps so you guys can see where I've been,
2) The afore-mentioned "happy snaps" take up 4GB of memory and I am too chicken to start dealing with them all. Bleah. And,
3) I still have some handwritten travel notes to transcribe, and I'd like to get everything together, so that I don't write, say, a huge post about Vegas, and then have to keep going back and adding in stuff that I've forgotten.

Still, let me outline my plans for the coming week:
- Sort out mountain of travel photos. Sigh.
- Finish off my New York and Toronto stories so I can move on to Baysville and Ottawa.
- Sign up for the Cleland Thom Newspaper Journalism course and get started on my dream of becoming a freelance journalist/writer.
- Start thinking about designs to put up on RedBubble - it's been far too long since my last illustration.
- Regain hearing in my right ear*.

The rest of the year looks to be a promising and busy one!

* I can't remember if I mentioned this before I left for my holiday. It is a story with a slightly gross ending so you may wish to stop reading here. Anyway, here is:


In the first week of August I went deaf in my right ear for a couple of days. This condition was brought on by a combination of obsessive hygiene and boredom-induced curiosity.

I'd had sinusitis after a nasty cold and the ear wax factory was running into overtime production. Also, there was nothing new to read. So I screwed up a tissue into a sharpish point, pushed it into my ear, and ... AAAAARGH! Why can't I hear anything anymore?

After an hour of Googling, during which I was convinced I had some kind of ear tumour or a ruptured ear drum, I deduced (through the fun exercise of putting my fingers in my ears and humming - the humming is usually louder in the blocked ear) that I had simply pushed the wax in too far, and my only choice was to wait it out.

I could have gone to see the doctor but it was the middle of flu season, so I knew I'd have to wait for a fortnight to get an appointment, and I was leaving for New York in three days.

Fast forward one month: my hearing is still operating at 90%, there is a slight ringing in my right ear, and when I wake up in the morning I am temporarily deaf for a few seconds.

Today I saw my lovely doctor at the University Medical Centre, after waiting for 40 minutes, due to a couple of emergency patients/evil queue-jumpers. Hey, mister, get back in line! What? I don't care that you can see the bone! My ear is 10% deaf and I need this prescription filled!

One of the emergencies was Luigi from the Computer Science department who staggered in, saying, "I'm a staff member, and I've cut my head." The last time I saw him was at a joint party with Simon - another friend - to celebrate getting their PhD's.

At the party one of my old lecturers took all his clothes off - a sight that scarred me forever. And just in case you're wondering, the festivities were held at an Indian restaurant, and not someone's private home.

The long and short of it is that I now have this great stuff in a bottle called Waxsol, which I have to pour into my ear and seal with some cotton wool when I go to bed tonight.

Then, in the morning, I get to remove the cotton wool and will presumably stare at its contents for about three minutes, thinking, HOLY CRAP, and, I wonder if I should have honey on toast for breakfast?