As a courtesy to me and the universe, please speak to me before you copy or transcribe anything from this blog for profit- my work may be unpublished but it is of value to me, and if you are using my ideas to profit, hey, I want my cut of it!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Lost Art....

When I was young, we used to get a TV program called "Big Blue Marble". At the end of the program, they encouraged their viewers to get a penpal from around the world to get to know your neighbour. My first penpal was an American girl called Susie O'Grady. I wonder what happened to her. She was actually the penpal of my best friend, Gina. So I eventually got my very own penpal. A Norweigian girl, called Gro Aaserod. And from then, came Lilyane from France, and Ron from Sweden. According to Wikipedia, this was a gentle form of multiculturalism, encouraging cross cultural communication.

All my life, I had had penpals. The rise of emails have significantly, taken away from the art of letterwriting. Although slow, there is this pleasure one gets from physically holding the letter in one's hand. The stamps used, the cancellation stamp, even the envelope made a difference.
Some people decorated the outside of the envelope as well. It really shouldn't be a surprise that I also collected stamps, no, not the rubberstamping kind, the postage kind. Part of acquiring the penpals was so that I could increase my collecton of foreign stamps. I used to have an Australian penpal that would regularly send me Australian coins so that I could trade it for Malaysian dollars to send to him. After the 11th package, I got tired of being his very one personal moneychanger and stopped sending the cash back to him. I remember getting a very nasty letter in the mail, accusing me of being a thief and being dishonest. I stopped accepting his mail.
My greatest pleasure (after writing the letter) was to carefully select a commemorative stamp to place in the top right corner (right over how much it cost to mail the letter). Also, mustn't forget the ubiquitous blue Air mail/ Mel Udara/ Par Avion sticker to indicate the mail should go posthaste. And last of all, don't forget to say a quick little prayer to St. Anthony to make sure the letter makes it to its destination.

So, I wondered with much sadness if penpals still existed- and much to my surprise, they do. In this instantaneous world, with breakup text messaging being the norm, and instant messenger, emails, Blackberrys and cell phones, people still have penpals. They still write letters, send and exchange bits of memorabilia and decorate envelopes. So, the internet, although has changed much of the landscape of correspondence, has allowed anachronistic white elephants like myself to connect with other like minded people and actually still exchange bits of our culture, and ourselves with people halfway across the world.

I guess I better go finish those inchies I need to get out tomorrow- the mail from Canada to the US is notoriously slow.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Mummy love

My mother never ceases to amaze. I was home last weekend. I badly wanted to pick up the 182 Ringgit parcel my brother had sent me. It was filled with 3 pounds of dried anchovies and one pound of dried shrimp. Precious commodity this far away from Malaysia.

So after the usual chatter, mum lets on that she had been analyzing Moe Amery's signature. Moe Amery is the PC candidate for her riding. Huh? What do you mean, analyzing? My brother had given her a book on handwriting analysis at Christmas. At the time, she looked through the book and set it aside. I didn't think much of it since gifts for mum is a hit and miss kind of thing. One year, my brother got her John Paul II's book for Christmas and she was lukewarm to it. The thing you least expect would become her favourite gift. Apparently, some time between Christmas and last week, mum had become some sort of a handwriting celebrity amongst her friends. She had been busy analyzing her friends signatures and had apparently been quite accurate in her predictions to their personalities.

"Mum, you have to analyze my handwriting,"I said to her as I hastily scribbled a paragraph using a very fine tipped pen and a scrap of paper sitting on the table. She looks at the writing, stops to ponder and say, "you don't live in the past... see how far away from the edge of the page you are?"

"More, more, tell me more," I say to her. She was hesitant. "You can tell me whatever, mum, even the bad bits" I encourage her. I had done some handwriting analysis in my time and knew all about the loops in the o's and about dishonesty, deceit and the like.

"I need to look at it carefully and this will take time. I'll write you a letter instead" said mum and that was the end of the conversation.

The other day, I called my mum because I hadn't spoken to her for ages.

" Mum, " I said, 'You have to tell me how to make that Taucheo beef that you make."
So she proceeds to tell me how its done. But in true mum fashion, she never gives me exact measurements. You have to use stir fry beef. Tenderize the big pieces by chopping it wth the back of a knife. Marinate the beef with dark and light soy sauce. Saute garlic and onions first. Shallots if you have them. Add some taucheo (fermented brown soy beans- Yeo's brand is best) which has been roughly chopped with a knife to macerate the beans . Add beef and sliced up green jalapenos. Lots of it. Balance the flavours with some sugar. The beans are salty so be careful with the salt. Cook till done.

"Mum, what is the origin of this recipe? Is it Nyonya or Eurasian?"

" Naah," she says "It's just my own creation."

I love my mum. I am so afraid of that there where I will never be able to call her up again to ask her for recipes.

Speaking of which... I need to get that Sour Beef recipe from her.... maybe that too, is an experiment. But it was pretty tasty. I reach for the phone and dial- 1-403-293......

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Hobble along

Three weeks ago, I hurt myself. I tripped on the stairs as I was taking up a book I had recently bought- the irony is, of course, it was a book on Stretching- and long story short, I had twisted my knee. It was hideously painful and I was convinced I'd never EVER walk straight again. Of course, it never occured to me to stop and do the RICE thing-Rest, Ice, ?? Compress?? and Elevate. Besides, I was going to be travelling that week for work. I had worked really hard to arrange this trip and it involved contacting numerous parties and making travel arrangements to various towns, I was reluctant to cancel the trip. So there was me hobbling along, grimacing in pain at every step. A coworker felt sorry for me and so she loaned me a cane. Of course, it was not any old cane. It had a brass horse head, and had a very celtic look to it.
After getting over its looks, I actually took to the cane. I was really reluctant to use it since there is stigma attached to canes- the whole aging and getting old thing- but it provided the much needed stability that my stretched out knee needed as it healed. After a whole week with the cane, I had grown fond of it- it distingushed me from others and it provided me a crutch with which I could use to emphasize my thoughts and it would have been a fantastic weapon to boot. Alas, my friend needs the cane back so I will be parting with the horse head cane- and now I am on the hunt for another to replace it. Oh, and I've healed up quite nicely and although the knee is a little weak, I am walking as straight as I used to before the tripping incident.

Hoping for Spring

I am so praying for Spring. Yesterday, a seven year old boy told me that spring comes on March 20th and I didn't believe him so he pulled out a calendar to show me. It must have been printed in the USA since we all know that spring is at least six weeks away. Still, one can hope. Everything is fast melting and this past weekend, it was warm. or so I think it was since I was in Calgary, where it was even warmer. 12oC during the day.

In honour of spring, I am posting this card:

I had originally made it for a monthly swap club I am in. But I had since found out I was a little late so I decided to opt out for this month. The challenge was to use punches on your card. I used two circle punches to make the lady bug. The spots were done using black eyelets and the feelers were done with black craft wire. My favourite part of this was the Sakura stardust pen "clear" which I used to draw the glitter line on the blades of grass. I just want to run out to Deserres to buy myself more pens so I never run out. It adds glitter to anything in such a precise way since it is in a pen.
Paper: SU shimmer, SU black, Su red, SU Old Olive
Inks: SU Old Olive and Red
Stamps: SAB-08 Lots of Thoughts
Other: Black eyelets, craft wire

Sunday, March 2, 2008

How does one start again after a long silence?

So, it has been months since I said anything. Winter has just about passed me by. There is still snow in the large backyard and although things are starting to thaw, it is only the beginning of March so I won't kid myself in thinking spring is here. I fool myself with forced bulbs that are almost ready to bloom but the Ides of March is still miles away.This past weekend, norhtern Alberta had a winter storm. The same time, we were blessed with watery sunshine and a clear day.
So, I have been keeping myself occupied with my inchies project. I recently joined a 100 inchie swap and so my days were spent making those addictive little buggers. I am not a collage type of person so this swap has challenged me to step outside myself to try my hand at collage. Making these inchies are like giving birth. Okay. Not literally. Figuratively. They are fruits of my imagination and so it becomes very hard to part with them. I am not one of those [people] that can pop out inchies like there's no tomorrow. I agonize and hem and haw over most of them. So it was hard for me to part with my 200 inchies (I took two spots because I wanted a wide variety of inchies to come home to me). I hear they have been sorted so they ought to make it home to me in a couple of weeks.

I have been busy this past weekend. It was a Cookfest. I promised my sister that I'd make her a week's worth of meals for her Christmas present. So I decided it was high time I got all the meals together. So yesterday, I made Chicken Curry, Beef Stew, Braised Pork with Chesnuts and Mushrooms (based on a recipe called Kau Lak, I learned from Mrs. Kiu) and Beef with Tomatoes. Today, it was another long session- I made Fish curry, Long Beans and Prawns, Yambean with Pork and Prawns , Adabi Chicken Rendang and Pork with Chinese Sausage and Tomatoes. Tomorrow, yes, I still have to make two more things- Wan Tan mee and Yam cake. I sure hope these things freeze well. I used my fancy Foodsaver I got for Christmas. Hmmmm... its almost as if she planned it all. The funny thing is, I am not even keeping any of this for me. Okay- maybe I'll keep some yam cake for me. I am heading out on the road again anyhow this week so I won't be eating any of these.

So, the pictures you see are of my babies- the top two are some inchies I had made for some swaps. The bottom two are my 200 inchies for the swap.
I am going to frame some of the inchies I get back. It will be part of my art in motion series. I would also like to pick up stained glass again. Maybe when it gets a little warmer. Here's hoping!