Tuesday, November 30, 2010

COT: Boris Is Relaxed

Boris likes to spend his time lying at our feet.  Here he is curling up against my toes.

My other half says Boris is not living with us.  Boris just eats with us, plays in our house, gets taken to our vet for shots and other stuff.

Talk about living in denial! 

cats on Tuesday For more cats, check out Gattina's Cats on Tuesday.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Au Goes To The Vet And Target Poses For Pictures

Au got a HUGE abscess on his back paw.  Of course it came up on Saturday night when all the vets were closed.

We went to the vet yesterday.  Au howled all the way there, behaved like an angel during his examination and injection, and wailed all the way back home.

Result?  I was a wreck and Au was fine.

Au has pills to take but he should be fine.  His appetite is 100% and he's jumping about as usual.

To cheer me up my little Target posed for various pictures.  Here's the best of the batch.  Isn't he cute?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Living In Malaysia: Being Polite The Mat Salleh Way

If you live in an orphanage in Malaysia, you have to be grateful.  The idea is that you live off charity, so you should be jolly well abasing yourself.  This culture can make communication very difficult. 

There are a bunch of us who pool our money to buy one of our local orphanages groceries, trips to the beach, plus a birthday cake and present for each kid.I was volunteered to be the buyer/organiser/accountant.

As the kids are so drilled into "be grateful", you get the answer, "anything, Auntie Ellen" when you ask them what they'd like for their birthday  (they're the only people who are allowed to call me Auntie; more about that some other time).

I tell them, "Don't be grateful please.  It gives all of us at the Fun Club a lot of pleasure to see you happy, so it should be us who are grateful to you." 

That's subversive talk to it gets me a grin.

Then I say, "And I'll be buggered if I go shopping for a pink top only to find out later your favourite colour is blue!"

That get's them laughing and then they open up a bit more but usually it's still pretty much like pulling teeth.

To my surprise today the two girls whose birthdays are coming up were quite happy to chat without being prompted.  One wants a blouse, pink with short sleeves, and the other wants an adventure/mystery novel. 

As we were talking, one of the new boys listing in whispered, "Ayoh so rude!  Just say anything, lah!" to which the older girl replied, "I am not rude!  This is polite mat salleh way!"  (Mat salleh being an affectionate term for white people.)

Isn't that cute?  I bet those two will be CEOs of multinational companies by the time they're 35.  Plus, I've got them birthday presents they're going to adore.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Repost Friday: Cat On The Mat

This post first appeared on Tuesday, September 11, 2007. The massage place has closed since then - probably because it's impossible to park in that street.  The pub was sold, and has since closed.  The one constant is that there are still plenty of kitties living on the road.  All of them unwanted and sorry sights.  Please don't buy but adopt!

COT: Cat On The Mat

The Chinese Traditional Foot Massage place next to one of our favourite pubs, Vanilla Springs in SS15/4, has adopted a very friendly girl cat.

Here she is, tripping up anyone who wants to enter. No doubt she thinks she's helping out the owners by providing lots of patients with bruised toes!

cat on the mat
And here she is, closer up.

cat on the mat
Isn't she a sweet looking girl? Note the traditional Malaysian half tail!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Review Thursday: The Red Thread by Dawn Farnham

The Red Thread
By Dawn Farnham
Paperback: 328 pages
Publisher: Monsoon Books Pte. Ltd. (September 15, 2007)
ISBN-10: 981057567X
ISBN-13: 978-9810575670

Price: from Amazon US$15.95, in Malaysia RM39.90

I met Dawn 2 years ago but I'm ashamed to say I only cracked open her first romance on Sunday.  I'm glad to say it's a good read.

It's set in the 1830s in Singapore when the city state was a rough and tough trader's centre.  There's tigers and terrorists in the jungle, slavery in the town, and all sorts of unsavoury stuff going on.  It doesn't phase the heroine, Charlotte, a Madagascan-Scottish girl whose brother is Singapore's first police chief.

Much of the novel is devoted to the lives of the various people living in Singapore, and the "red thread" that connects them.  Then love story between Charlotte and Zhen the Chinese coolie, takes off.

This is a fun book, with lots of local detail.  Think Noel Barber but set in older times.  Best of all, this is the first of a set of four.  The Shallow Seas and The Hills of Singapore are out, and book 4 should be out next year.  I'll cover the others in a few weeks.

If you're into romance, you can read the first chapter for free at the Monsoon web site here.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Monday, November 22, 2010

Target Speaks About Being A Man Cat

Hello, it's me: Target!  I'm purring to see you again. 

I've been furry busy keeping mummy cat company while she types.  I hit the F1 button for her when she needs help, and I put on caps lock for her so that people can see what she's writing REALLY CLEARLY.

I've also been wrestling with my friend Au.  We played a bit rough and I got a scratch on my nose.  See that black mark?  That's dried blood!

I think this proves I'm a real man cat.  But I still want my cuddles ten times a day.  Au sneers but I say that only real man cats can admit they like cuddles.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Living In Malaysia: Rajah Brooke Butterflies

These butterflies are named after a remarkable family, the white Rajas of Sarawak.

The first is the a female Rajah Brooke’s Birdwing; the second is a male.

In 1838 an English gentleman adventurer called James Brooke heard that the Sultanate of Brunei were warring with several Iban tribes in Sarawak.

Brooke went to Sarawak, helped the Sultan and was appointed Raja of Sarawak in 1841. By 1846 Brooke became Rajah permanently.

Brooke’s family ruled Sarawak for 3 generations. In September 1941 the third Raja decided Sarawak should be governed by the people in the style of a British democracy. However, that plan was scuppered when the Japanese invaded.

After World War II, Sarawak was ceded to Great Britain. Today it is part of Malaysia.

I took these pics in the KL Butterfly Park.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Repost Friday: Bath Time

This was posted on Wednesday, September 05, 2007, which was I think the last time Au had a bath.  He's learned not to fall into storm drains and rub up against oily cars, so he's doing a sterling job of keeping himself clean.  I only wipe paws and ears when necessary.

COT Bath Time

Lemme out! Lemme out of here!
Au having a bath

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Review Thursday: In The Footsteps Of Stamford Raffles

In The Footsteps Of Stamford Raffles
By Nigel Barley
Monsoon Books July 2009
Paperback 312pp + 8pp photos
ISBN: 978-981-08-3534-7

Price: RM39.90 and S$23.50

This book is absolutely brilliant.  I am so jealous, I wish I had written it.  It's part travelogue and part history book. The author retraces the steps of Stampford Raffles, a British employee of the East India Company working in Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore from 1795 to 1824. 

It's a very personal book that moves from present day conversations to diary entries from the past and nuggets of Barley's observations about present and past.  The fun of it is that the book isn't just a testament to Raffles but also to Sukarno,the first President of Indonesia after World War II.

What makes it fun is that Raffles has been depicted as a hero, hypocrite, gentleman, slaver, saint and bigot - just as Sukarno has. Barley presents all the accounts and lets the reader decide.

Barley is one of the best travel writers I've read in a long time.  He depicts Malaysia and Singapore beautifully in two very short chapters, dwelling for most of the book on his travels in Indonesia. 

The moment I read the second chapter I was wafted back there, complete with smells, sights and sounds. 
I'd forgotten all about the bedroom of the Sea Goddess, the broken down water palace, the way you have to pay for someone to watch your car when you leave it anywhere.... It was a blast from the past.

If you can find this book, buy it.  It's an excellent read.  You can download chapter 1 for free here.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Au Speals Out: How I Came To Live With My Survunts

de feemale says dat Graca wants to know my pussonal story.  i kan understand dis.  i am furry interesting.

when i was a kitten, somewun picked me up, wrapped me in 3 plastik bags, and threw me owt of a moving kar.

dis woman, Dorothy, was driving behind.  she saw de bag wriggling so she didn't drive ovur me.  insted she stopped and picked me up.

she took me home and called de feemale survunt who sed i could live wif her and de male.

i was so skared dat i was all stiff and cold.  de feemale put me inside her t-shirt to warm me up.  she has big boobs so i didn't fall owt.  for 3 days de survunts fed me wif a droppur.  den i got brave and took my first steps.  and den de male made me biskuts with a little watur which i ate all by myself.

since den i haf not looked back.  eksept for when de fur brain is stalking me.

dis is my story.  pleese go see Graca and tell her your story too.  she wants to know efurryfing.  i think she is a little bit like a kat.  dis is a kompliment.  oh, Graca is Portugese but she understands english.

having told my story, i shall now nap.

cats on Tuesday For more cats, check out Gattina's Cats on Tuesday.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Three Targets

Guess who's been playing with photo software????

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Living In Malaysia: Giant Man-Eating Insects

I opened up the front door and found myself in the flight path of the world’s biggest cockroach. It had a wingspan of ten centimetres (it seemed like 10 meters to me) and made a whirring sound like one of the old fashioned aeroplanes you see in World War One films.

With my customary bravery when faced with Giant Man-Eating Insect Attacks I screamed and ducked out of the way. Olympic athlete gold medal winners couldn’t have beaten me for speed. Luckily Au came to the rescue.

With an almighty leap he launched into the air, smashing the invading monster to the ground with a devastating lob. Finishing the beast off was a matter of moments.

While I disposed of the carcass, Au retired triumphantly to the kitchen to await his rightful reward from the cold cuts shelf in the refrigerator. He’s a cat who is strict about prompt payment for services rendered.

You may have gathered that I loathe cockroaches. The way they manage to flatten themselves into the tiniest cracks when they see a threatening movement may be admirable to a biologist, but it gives me the creeps. Even the fact that they can live without a head for up to a month doesn’t impress me favourably.

Cockroaches are everywhere in Malaysia.  They thrive in the tropics, plus people here dump food and waste in storm drains which attracts them.  I don’t get them in the house – I think! – but having one from outside trying to fly in creeps me out.

Problem is that I live with two cats and I’m further handicapped by a sense of environmental conscience. If I put poison down, the cats may touch it with their paws, later ingesting the poison when they wash themselves. If I spray a wall or area where cat’s paw will not come into contact with the residue I worry about the fact that these poisons kill everything they come into contact with, including the useful spider and the delightful chitchat. How can you get rid of unwanted wildlife in the house safely and responsibly?

My neighbour Norin recommends a traditional Malay remedy: dried chillies. This struck a bell. In aromatherapy and herbal use bibles, you’ll often find references to black pepper, chillies, ginger and paprika containing “capsaicin”, a compound that acts as a type of insect stink bomb.

And if it doesn’t work, I’ll get Au to stomp on them.

PS the pic is from Wikicommons

Friday, November 12, 2010

Repost Friday:Qwill's Birthday

This post was first put on on Thursday, August 16, 2007.  Qwill is now 18 and a bit, and still running my mum and his cat companion Annie with a firm paw.  Siamese, you've got to love them!

Qwill's Birthday

Qwill who lives with my mum is 15 years old this month! Here he is, the fussy old man.

Qwill lives in Spain and is enjoying a warm summer. He enjoys eating fish, and prefers to be hand fed. Just like the royal potentate he is :-)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Review Thursday: Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What do you See? By Eric Carle and Bill Martin Jr

Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What do you See?
By Eric Carle and Bill Martin Jr 
Paperback: 32 pages
Publisher: Puffin (2 July 2009)
ISBN-10: 014138445X
ISBN-13: 978-0141384450

Selling Price: RM 34.90

This is a very simple book that toddlers will love to have read to them.  The illustrations are lovely too.  It's a standard story of a little bear seeing A Red Fox, A Flying Squirrel etc.  The authors have produced 3 other tales where brown, polar and panda bears go through the same thing.

It's a cute book and the prices in the US and UK are fair enough.  But in Malaysia RM35 seems a bit steep to me.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: Sunday Lunch - A Cat Favourite

Spinach with minced garlic, carrots with Dijon mustard glaze, roast lamb (Target's fave!) and Yorkshire pudding with gravy.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

COT: Don't Disturb Au

Au is exhausted. He's been been keeping me amused by putting on the bitey, and bunny-kicking my wrists.

I have a slight case of tendonitis and I think this is Au's form of therapy.

Now he's sleeping with a relaxed and somewhat smug expression of satisfaction that can only belong to someone who knows he's done a good job.

cats on Tuesday For more cats, check out Gattina's Cats on Tuesday.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Boris Goes Wild

My brother and Boris get on like a house of fire.  Here's Boris hanging onto Ian's feet and hands.

Ian spins Boris about on his back and Boris is retaliating by bunnykicking and biting - luckily he's quite gentle.

Afterwards Boris runs over to me, and flops on the ground with happy, purry exhaustion.  It's cute.

Have a good week everyone!

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Living In Malaysia: All Grown Up

When I visit a doctor in Malaysia, a very rare thing I'm glad to say, I refuse to give him or her the number of my next of kin.  The reason for this is that some doctors here don't talk to their patients but to their relatives instead.

The official excuse is that some people are too feeble to deal with difficult truths or make decisions about their treatment.  So if you're old or female, your doctor may just call your son or husband to discuss your condition and treatment options. 

I find this appalling.  And unethical.  So I tell my doctors firmly that they will deal with me and only me.  Those that look shifty or uncomfortable I walk away from.

Malaysians are divided on this issue.

One of my friends told me that when her father-in-law was diagnosed with cancer, his doctor told her and her husband.  They decided that it was unfair to withhold the information.  They thought the old man needed time to say goodbye to people, maybe travel to China to see long-lost relatives before he got too sick, etc.  Initially the old man freaked, then he was ok. 

But another one of my friends is not telling his mum that she has cancer and has been given 6 months tops because he thinks it will "do more good than harm".  He says his mum is uneducated and that knowing she is under a death sentence will ruin what little life she has left.

I don't know if he's right or wrong, but I know one thing: I'm all grown up and I decide what's best for me.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Repost Friday: House Arrest

Katz Tales is out in The Star Weekender tomorrow, print version only!  This entry was first posted on Saturday, August 11, 2007.  Have a good Deepavali weekend everyone.

House Arrest

kuching cat city
We went to Kuching in Sarawak, Borneo for two days this week to attend the wedding (Hi Dylan and Felicia!). As usual we had a ball. Kuching really is one of Asia's finest destinations.

While we were there, Scoop and Au were under the care of our neighbour Lillian whom they love. She spoils them rotten and they bully her unmercifully.

Although we were away for a very short time, both cats rushed out to greet us when we came back, and acted as though we had been gone for a year.

They're now policing our every move, just in case we disappear again.

Scoop is downstairs, snoozing on his chair by the front door while Au is upstairs keeping an eye on Tom in the office.

I think we're under house arrest.

PS "Kuching" means "cat" in Malay. Kuching city has taken the nickname Cat City and has decorated town squares etc with big cat statues. Here are the fishing cat family that stand in front of Sarawak Plaza...

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Review Thursday: A Taste of Slavery: How Your Chocolate May be Tainted

Most of us think of slaves as sex slaves or human trafficking but did you know that chocolate companies like Hershey's,  Nestle and Cadbury buy cocoa from farmers who traffic and enslave kids?

The report, A Taste of Slavery: How Your Chocolate May be Tainted notes that 43% of the world's cocoa beans come from West Africa where most workers are boys aged 12 and 16. However, some are as young as 9.

"The lucky slaves live on corn paste and bananas. The unlucky ones are whipped, beaten and broken like
horses to harvest the almond-sized beans that are made into chocolate treats for more fortunate children in
Europe and America."

Read the whole thing in PDF here and more on cocoa farming slavery here.

You can help by buying Fair Trade cocoa which does not contain cocoa from such farms.  A list of those companies is here.

You can also drive change by:
  • Writing to your local politico to complain and demand change, 
  • Writing to your favourite chocolate company to demand change, 
  • And to educate others about what's going on via Facebook, Twitter, etc. 
  • Join the Facebook group Stop Chocolate Slavery (Buy Fair Trade!).

Also, when February comes round, make Valentine's Day a "slave-free" Day. 

For Malaysians, the Nestle contact page is here.  For others, you can write to Kraft who own Cadbury and Hershey,  Anyone who knows of an NGO that deals with this, please put the details in a comment box, OK?  

This post was inspired by Splendid Little Stars who mentioned the other day that slavery is alive and well in the US, and other places around the world. Thanks!

Monday, November 01, 2010

Target Is Surprised

Target is a shy kitty.  Here, finally, I caught Target with his characteristic "EEEK!" look.

My brother is in town so I'm a bit busy.  I'll visit everyone tomorrow morning!