Saturday, August 28, 2010

No Hope, No Harm...

I sat on the neighbour's culvert and watched him. It was past midnight and he was stuck to that fence, afraid to move very far from it. At least there, there were other friendlies who wagged their tails and licked him through the bars.

He was limping. That was new. But then, he doesn't seem to have any traffic sense whatsoever. I've seen him sleep on the road, right in the path of cars, black as the road. They mow him down. They don't see him. And if they do, they don't care.

Like the person who abandoned him.

Sometimes when I offer food, he comes close and takes it. And looks at me from under his long black fringe. Deep brown eyes, the saddest eyes I've seen in a long time, eyes that tear me apart and make me want to gather him up in my arms and say, it's OK, I'm here, I'll love you, I'll take you in.

But it's too early. He lets me pat him a bit, his head hanging down, and then limps back to his security fence.

Little dog lost,
Little dog blue,
Little dog yearning,
I love you.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Oven Birds And The Like

There is nothing (and I mean nothing!) like being freshly showered and sitting here on my bed in jammies...listening to James Taylor singing he wishes he had a river he could skate away on.

The day turned out unexpected in a number of ways. For starters, the grand dinner planned for tomorrow took place today...a glass of wine, a book of verse, and thou beside me singing in the (sort of) wilderness (and the wilderness is paradise enow). You know who you are. Nuff said.

So tomorrow has opened up, yawning like the Grand Canyon and all the things I didn't get around to doing today I will do tomorrow. That's what it's there for. Not like I was really procrastinating (perish the thought). But I woke up late and did my moving through amniotic fluid impression.

But it's not too bad if you look at it. I secured some more work, fixed two interviews (heck, I will be filing stories from Saturday), set up a meeting for possible work, wrote to people, connected, called Elba to come look at my oven (they are, oh joy, they are!)...and a friend asked me for lemon curd cake. Sigh. It warms the cockles to have someone ask me for cake. Just like ole times. Num saying?

I have been filling books with thoughts but so far, there is no plot, no coherence, no storyline. Everything is disjointed but then, we have to start somewhere don't we?

The bird would cease and be as other birds
But that he knows in singing not to sing.
The question that he frames in all but words
Is what to make of a diminished thing.

(The Oven Bird, Robert Frost)

So here I am, learning what to make of diminished things. It's not so bad. Looking at what I consider diminished things in other lights, they sparkle, they glow, they break out into song.

There's gold, and it's haunting and haunting;
It's luring me on as of old;
Yet it isn't the gold that I'm wanting
So much as just finding the gold.
It's the great, big broad land 'way up yonder,
It's the forests where silence has lease;
It's the beauty that thrills me with wonder,
It's the stillness that fills me with peace.

(The Spell of the Yukon, Robert Service)

And so to bed.


James Taylor's Christmas album is playing over my laptop. And I'm back in KL. For the past two days I've been doing my headless chicken impression and rushing around to meet people or do all the errands that have piled up on my to-do list. Proud to say I've managed them all (except for cleaning my room, which I hoped to get through today, ironically, the one day without social engagements).

Speaking of social engagements, maybe I should dust off my digital camera (or at least the digital camera batteries - I've lost the charger). To prove I have a life. Because since I've been back, I do. Lunch with Theresa, tea with Nits, lunch with Ambikah, dinner and drinks with Addy (at Sids, Kenny Hills, woo hoo!). Today, I'm alone, alone...but, considering the fact that I woke up at one in the afternoon (there goes all my morning plans) maybe this is a good thing cos I'll get all the home tasks out of the way.

I've been bingeing on eBay (some of the stuff never arives, but what can you do?) and have started my Christmas shopping (did the background music give that away?). So I've looked up wassail recipes but still undecided about that because wassail is perfect on a cold, blustery day when you've been from house to house, carolling under the porch lights....a mug of something warm and foamy (and slightly spicy and alcoholic) with a cinnamon stick stirrer...yum. But how would that go down in sunny and extremely hot Malaysia?

Also wassail is not a traditional scent associated with Christmas here. Will have to think this through.

I wish I had a river I could skate away on....

And then there is the Creole Christmas cake which has, I don't know, five different types of liquor to soak the fruit in for about a week. Angostura bitters. Even the sound of it makes my mouth water. Although I'm sure I'd hate it. What with it being bitter and all that.

I am no closer to starting my herb garden. KL is dry and arid and doesn't make for my more herbaceous fantasies.

I've secured all of two Christmas presents which makes me so proud of myself.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas...may your heart be light...

I'm thinking I have to make another birthday card. But the inspiration, the inspiration, where is the inspiration?

(I'm moving from realistic figures I can't draw to abstracts I can't quite conceive. I am tired of allowing a lack of talent stand in my way towards greater and greater mediocrity).

Later for you.

PS: I downloaded a children's book, Understood Betty from project Gutenberg and simply loved it. So much so that even though it's on the computer (my least favourite format of reading) I've read it over and over again. This Dorothy Canfield Fisher woman is a genius.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Green Thought In A Green Shade

I started a compost heap. It's in a big black bin and so far it has dried stalks, dried leaves, some potato peelings, some burnt ground and anything else I can think of to put in. I've been watching various tutorials on starting compost heaps and I think it's a brilliant idea. I remember this one guy saying we were eating a dead harvest because most food we buy is grown in tired ground that has not been rested or replenished. Maybe that's why whatever you grow at home tastes about 20 times better.

Well, anyway, the basil plant I bought not so long ago and handed to Mummy (asking her to take care of it and make sure it doesn't die) is thriving. Mum's green hands to the fore.

I've also helped Mum repot the large chilli plant (as opposed to the bird's eye chilli, although we did repot one of these as well), and replant some lemon grass that was struggling for existence in a pot filled with other stuff (like lilies).

I've sawed off branches (and have the blisters on my hand to prove it), dug up the ground, tried to start a fire (it didn't work - the rains came down hard and put em fire out)... so basically, I've been discovering the garden. Mum planted three rotten tomatoes and who knows, at least one of them may sprout into a plant. I want to plant garlic (the nice thing about garlic is that after you've done the initial planting, you're supposed to leave it there for about nine months), capsicum, God knows what else. Oh yeah, I know what else - chives, dill, sage, thyme, oregano and parsley.

So maybe I'll go watch more ehow videos on how to plant this and that.

Or maybe I'll go on eBay and look for seeds.

Or maybe (and this is the most likely) I'll watch another Miss Marple movie on Youtube.

Later for you.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Last Worthless Evening

So I'm still in JB. Waking up in afternoon (except when Theresa calls and gives me an assignment which requires waking up semi-early), having my breakfast, helping feed the doggies, lunch and then it's evening and Mum is glued to the TV for her succession of evening-time Bollywood soaps, and I, I take the dogs for a walk. And come back and give them a treat each. They love it. They love any sort of routine.

Friends. Social networking sites. Jobs. Nothing quite sticks. And in a universe where everything swirls and curls like smoke rising from a joint, I have my blog. It is the still point, the one fixity, in all this chaos.

I find this vaguely comforting.

Maybe I should talk about the man I interviewed, my first reporter-like assignment in a while, and if this was yesterday or the day before I would have. But he has disappeared like water down the drain in the toilet and I can't summon up the requisite enthusiasm.

Speaking of toilets, there is a snake in the downstairs one. One night, tripping gaily into it, I noticed the snake's head imperfectly camouflaged against the cement in the drain. It was waiting for the rats. If there is one thing wrong with JB it's that there's too much wildlife around and poisoning the rats is not as good a solution as you would think cos they die in inconvenient places.

Anyway, I stared at the head to ensure that it was a head and not in fact my imagination, and then thoroughly spooked, I made my way out. I told Mum about it in the morning and came downstairs to find her cheerfully washing said bathroom. I peered into the drain hole to spot the snake and it wasn't there. While I was talking to Mum's the head appeared and I let out the screech of a lifetime and hustled out of there like there was a snake on my tail. Poor Mum who cannot walk very fast, stumbled out of there after me, not knowing where I was looking or where it was...her knees hurt for the rest of the day.

After standing outside and peering in (she kept saying lemme go see and I kept saying, no, no, let's call an exterminator...don't go, I'm scared) she finally got some sulphur and sprinkled it over the hole... the snake withdrew its head.

On the one hand I'm glad if it's helping us keep down the rat population. On the other, I wish it would do the job remotely like a 100 feet from our house or in Tonik Chop Gajah next door.

I made creamy fudge today. I don't know how it tastes as it is now cooling the fridge. Mum and I watched four episodes of Monk Season 3 while I assembled it.

I thought I would stay a week. It's been three. I think I'm going back on Sunday.

But since everytime I was supposed to go, I either didn't feel like it or something came up, I won't commit myself.

I'll be back in KL.