Saturday, December 31, 2016

Plunket and I, 2016

 It is summer in New Zealand. For many years, Mt Albert Baptist Church worked side by side with Plunket. We organised Christmas in the Rocket Park in New Zealand.

Today, I told my Swedish friend about this.

Many storylines of this book were based on my own life experiences. I was a Playgroup and Plunket mum. This book talks of a hotchpotch SAHM (Stay At Home Mums) jelled by a common denominator, the Playgroup.

Our church Mt Albert Baptist Church  decided to give the profits to Plunket. I was very happy because I benefited in a big way from Plunket when I was a young Mother.

I was organising my ESOL student volunteers to bbq the sausage sizzle.

I remember another event  when I overheard this lady saying that she is a Plunket lady. I went up to her and asked if she worked at Plunket Landscape Road, and she said yes. I asked if she worked there for a long time, and she said yes. As long as twenty years ago. She said yes.

I hugged her. In my heart, she is symbolic of all the good people who helped me when Andrew was alive. I told her that I was that mother whose baby died. It sort of completed my cycle just as I am writing my book and revisiting that horrible time.

The Plunket Nurse said her name is Jane and asked if I remembered the other nurse. I didn't remember their names or faces, but I remember their kind deeds. They took care of me and my children. Jane said she came to Plunket Landscape Road in 1990, and had heard of me. Of course, I was still going to Plunket in 1990 for my second daughter's excema problem and seeing Dr. Rowley.

Thank you Plunket. You are the “bestiest” as my ESOL kids tell me all the time.

Plunket’s Appeal raises vital funds for a wide variety of services , such as parenting education courses, car seat safety schemes, education in schools, toy libraries and many other valuable resources and programmes.

In the 80s, I was a young mum 3 times. I had no family in New Zealand. Plunket was family to me. Plunket's care was epitomised when I was sick when I was pregnant with Andrew and after he had died. I could never repay what Plunket did for me. I tried by collecting door to door, I tried by writing about Plunket. I wrote in detail about Plunket's help in my book and in my other posts.

Diary of a bereaved Mother

But the Plunket Society, it was different, for once I wasn't the giver. I was a recipient of their work.

When I was a young mum, I didn't have immediate family with me. It was hard especially when I was sick when I was pregnant with my third child. The Plunket society had volunteers and nurses in their Plunket rooms. When things were getting too difficult for me, all I had to do was to call them, and they would come to pick me and my girls D and G up. If I had a sleepless night, there was a comfortable room and bed for me to catch my nine winks and they would take care of my girls.

It is 27 years ago when I used their services. I am most appreciative of the last service they rendered me. They came when I called them, and one of the ladies drove me to the doctor when they felt I was really sick. I threw up in her car, and she said it was OK. She waited for me at the doctor's. The doctor said my pregnancy wasn't too good and told me to go to the hospital. The plunket lady drove me to the hospital where I was admitted. The other ladies took care of D and G until the water engineer could come to pick them up. It was a Monday. I was discharged the next day.

Andrew was born that Friday. He died shortly after. The plunket ladies sent me a card and told me that I could always go back to their rooms. I didn't like to go back because there was always babies there and I couldn't bear to see babies. But my daughter G had bad allergies and I had to take her there to see Dr. Rowley. The nurses knew that I wasn't sleeping well, and told me to rest while they took care of Gabrielle. Then I went to Singapore and never thanked them properly.

In my latest book, The Playgroup Club, I wrote about the Plunket helping young mothers.

Thursday, December 29, 2016


Some where in Europe, a mum's arm is empty.
Some where in the USA, a mum's arm is empty twice.
Their babies have been plucked from their bosom.
People tell them Heaven has gained two angels.
But to these mums, they don't want their babies to be angels.
They want the babies right here with them.
Cry my dear,
Cry until your tears have run out.
I understand, because I was that mum too.
A grieving mum who angel I know, posted this song,

Chrysanthemums are among my favourite flowers. I felt in love with them when I saw them in Auckland New Zealand.

The Buddhist and Chinese ancestor worshippers use this flower to worship their Gods. On the first and fifteen of the Lunar month, they would buy bunches to do their obeisance or "Bai Shin". They are also funeral flowers. They take them to the graveyard. I didn't know this because I grew up in a Roman catholic family and we didn't "Bai Sin".

When I buy Chrysantehemums in Singapore, the florist asked why I buy them when it wasn't the first or the fifteenth. They asked if I have lost a loved one. I tell them, I just love the Chrysanthemums, I don't "Bai Shin."

Coincidentally, when my baby Andrew died, a very good friend gave me a pot of Chrysanthemums. G said she didn't want to give me a bunch of flowers since I had requested," No flowers." Later, when the flowers were gone, she told me that I could grow it in the garden. It thrived and flowered well. It gave me a mixed feeling of my thoughtful friend G, and it also gave me feelings of how much I missed Andrew.

These photos are from the Winter Garden in Auckland Domain. Now you know why it is one of my favourite places.

ABC Letter Z for zygomorphic flower

zygomorphic flower | plant anatomy |
...Differences in size or shape of the parts of a whorl make the flower irregular (as in the canna and Asiatic dayflower). 

When a flower can be divided by a single plane into two equal parts, it is zygomorphic, or bilaterally symmetrical, as in the snapdragon, orchid, and sweet pea.

My Dad's favourite flower. It gives me warm fuzzy feeling every time I see this flower. Dad used to grow this from little saplings from North Borneo. They didn't bloom as frequently as the hybrids grown these days. The beauty of this plant is the waiting is paid off. The blooms remain beautiful for three months on the plant.

These flowers are grown in the Winter gardens, green house at the Auckland Domain. I am told is a hybrid, not an original. I still love it.


Ginkgo tea for memory

Ginkgo tea for memory

2 tsp dried/5 fresh ginkgo leaves per cup
1 drinking cup freshly boiled water

Add the ginkgo leaves to the cup of freshly boiled water and steep for 10 minutes. Strain, and drink immediately.

USE: Drink this tea once or twice a day.

Gingko disclaimer:
Ginkgo is not recommended if you're on any other medication, you are pregnant or breast feeding.

James Wong is a Kew-trained botanist, science writer and broadcaster based in London, England. Graduating with a Master of Science degree in Ethnobotany in 2006, he has pursued his key research interests of underutilised crop species, ethnopharmacology and traditional food systems through field work in rural Ecuador, Java and China.

Monday, December 26, 2016

annual love gifts

Donated goodies to the annual Mt Albert Baptist Church love gifts.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Friday Floral: pink succulent

Image may contain: flower, plant and outdoor 

How to serve Christmas pudding

My friend A, gave me this English Christmas pudding. It is the real McCoy, she made it herself from her old English recipe.

Here is my sister Grace demonstrating, "How to serve Pudding."

1: Steam the pudding
2: Pour brandy over the pudding.
3: Light the pudding until it flames all over,
4: Smell the delicious aroma.
5: Eat the pudding with custard and ice cream

Here is my lovely niece Jessie eating the pudding.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Brachychiton acerifolius, red tree with flowers

Image may contain: tree, plant, sky and outdoor

Brachychiton acerifolius, commonly known as the Illawarra flame tree
at Western Springs, found on seed pods in December

Epiphyllum in Australia 
Epiphyllum "upon the leaf" in Greek) is a genus of 19 species of epiphytic plants in the cactus family (Cactaceae), native to Central America. Common names for these species include orchid cacti and leaf cacti.
The stems are broad and flat, 1-5 cm broad, 3-5 mm thick, usually with lobed edges. The flowers are large, 8-16 cm diameter, white to red, with numerous petals.
The fruit is edible.

The Chinese call them mid night glory. I had to post these flowers photos to do justice to such a beautiful flower.,

This succulent plant blooms around mid night, and closes shortly after. So if you miss it, you miss it.

In Borneo, the Mid night Glory blooms once in a few years and usually only a single bloom. People regard it as an sign of good luck. They will buy the lottery when they see this flower bloom.

A friend holds a party and invites friends especially friends from overseas to see this unusual miracle.

My Dad had this plant, and he always took them upstairs into the house so we all could appreciate them. The bloom slowly opens around 10 pm so that we could watch before we went to bed. Then at mid night it closes. Never to bloom for a few years.

Once, my parents miscalculated the time, the next morning, Mum found that the flowered had already bloomed.

In Australia, however, my brother Joseph's plant blooms numerous flowers often. May be that is why I am enjoying my holiday in the land of the rich and famous. Joseph's plants have many flowers.

You can boil soup with it. My friend in Singapore has a few plants. people from very far away ask her for it. You can boil it in a sweet syrup and they believe it is a good medicine for asthma sufferers.

To me, it is a plant I think of Mum and Dad.

Mālō e lelei - hello George Petelo Fa'apoi


George in front of the coach.

A distinquished George now.

These are synthetic leis, not the frangipani ones you see wore by the Pacific Islanders.

 Here I am with my ESOl srudent/friend George and his daughter Sita infront of his stall selling Tongan craft. See my Pasifika hat? I didn't like the feeling of the lei, so I wound it round my hat.
 On Wednesday mornings, I go to Mt Albert Baptist Church. The kids in school ask me why I go there. I tell them, I teach big people to learn English. I tell them there mums and dads can go and learn English and about New Zealand Culture.  I tell them about George. He is the best example to an immigrant to New Zealand.

Mālō e lelei - hello

I always greet George "Mālō e lelei" because these are the only Tongan words I know. My students in Pt Chevalier school taught me to say that and assured me that it is enough when I greet a Tongan person.

This is George Petelo Fa'apoi. He is 75 and comes to Mt Albert Baptist Church ESOL classes as a senior student. He is a very regular attendant and is such an inspiration. I don't teach him, so I regard him as a friend. He is what the proverbial phrase, tall, dark and handsome man and soft spoken that any woman, me inclusive, would want for her boy friend.

In his younger days, he had traveled the world with the Tongan Shipping agency and had been to Borneo. George's extensive CV was high lighted when he was the security guard on duty during the French bombing of the Rainbow Warrior. He was an eye witness.

George is one of the few surviving Tongan rugby players that first played against the Maori All Black in 1966.

Now as a retiree, he doesn't twiddle his thumbs. He attended numerous courses including alcoholism seminars, Pacific Islands sexual abuse counselling course, interpreting in English and Tongan, to help his people.

Instead he volunteers with the Friendly Islands Wardens Incorporated, and with 7 ex policemen. He provides security for Auckland City, Balmoral area, Sandringham and Avondale area. George is the manager. He is a friendly grand pa to many of the Polynesian kids.

He is one of the initiators of the Pasifika Festival Celebration in Western Springs. He holds a stall with his wife. Their stall won the best dressed stall in Tonga village in 2010. Such is the dedication and passion for his culture.

After more than 40 years in New Zealand, he can show the kids a thing or two. Life doesn't need to be a useless bum as is the stereotyping prejudiced ideas perceived of immigrant people from the islands.

George lives with his wife, has two children, and seven grand children, (6 boys and a girl). He attends church service every Sunday, and is an encouragement to those who know him. He is held with the highest regard among the Tongan community.

Mālō e lelei - hello (lit. congrat. on being well, the being in good health is worthy of gratitude)

Fēfē hake? - how are you? (fēfē means how, hake is idiomatic with fēfē)

Sai pē - just fine

Tonga might well be that island in the sun.

Island In The Sun lyrics
Songwriters: Belafonte, Harry; Burgess, Irving;

Oh island in the sun
Built to me by my father's hand
All my days I will sing in praise
Of your forest waters, your shining sand

As morning breaks, the Heaven on high
I lift my heavy load to the sky
Sun comes down with a burning glow
Mingles my sweat with the earth below

Oh island in the sun
Built to me by my father's hand
All my days I will sing in praise
Of your forest waters, your shining sand

I see woman on bended knee

Cutting cane for her family
I see man at the water-side
Casting nets at the surfing tide

Oh island in the sun
Built to me by my father's hand
All my days I will sing in praise
Of your forest waters, your shining sand

I hope the day will never come
When I can't awake to the sound of drum
Never let me miss carnival
With calypso songs philosophical

Friday flowers: dogwood 


No automatic alt text available.

do you wear fur?

Nicky, the wannabe couldn't afford real fur,

Thursday, December 15, 2016

ABC Wednesday: A tale of letter W

A water closet is a room that contains a flush toilet, usually accompanied by a washbowl or sink, and the term may also be used to refer specifically to a flush toilet. We used to call it a WC in Borneo when I was growing up.

What fascinated me was the wooden seat and cover. Many years ago, a New Zealand friend said he preferred the wooden seat because it didn't feel cold when you sit on this.

This is a water closet in a wooden building in 1860s. I went out west to see this building because it fitted exactly the imagination of a venue of the B&B I wrote in my book, "The Playgroup Club" where many young women went.

The Falls Restaurant out West in Henderson.


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

ASB closing Pt Chevalier and satellite branch

Just as I am posting these photos, the bank which I have been using for almost 40 years is closing my branch and a near by satellite branch in a senior citizen home.
I don't think that it provides services to a senior citizens home by closing the branch.
In my Book, Playgroup Club, I wrote about senior citizens living in a rest home.
ASB will close two of its Auckland branches by the end of the year.
ASB's Point Chevalier branches on Great North Road and at Selwyn Village retirement home will close on December 23.
The closures come after the Australian-owned bank closed its Mt Eden branch on July 29 and its Karangahape Rd branch on March 18.
Get more out of Auckland, sign up for the So Auckland Newsletter
It follows a wider trend of big banks closing branches around the country as more people do their banking online.

Monday, December 12, 2016

PhotoHunt for today is Boots ~

The PhotoHunt for today is Boots ~

Just as I was wondering why boots when I remember it is winter in the northern hemisphere. I have learned to wear flat boots, because heels hurt my calf muscles.  In the book, glamorous Laura likes to wear glamorous shoes, boots and clothes.

Entertaining with magic tricks and peanuts.

No! No! No! Linda in the Playgroup Club book shouted at other mums not to give her son peanuts, he might be allergic to  them. Many thought being cautious is just being paranoid. I wrote with passion, because I am allergic to peanuts. I don't only not eat peanuts, my nose can't smell well.

When friends automatically go and smell flowers, I don't.  This is the story why.

Entertaining with magic tricks and peanuts.

When Dad went to England, in 1956. I was twenty months. We moved back to the village in Lanang Road.

We did not have electricity, radio and TV. So we made our own entertainment. A favourite game the older kid used to make magic tricks. 
Once an uncle demonstrated by putting a peanut, it would appear in the armpit. Impressionable me, I was just four  years old, copied. It did not appear in my armpit. Instead it was lodged in my nose. 
All efforts to get it out failed, and Grandfather Chan said to leave it alone because digging it would only get deeper. 
I did not go to hospital. It remained inside my nose for months until one day I jumped from the jetty to the boat to Grand pa Kong’s house. As I jumped, the peanut came out. 
I was so happy to show everyone. The peanut had turned white. I am allergic to peanuts, the only one of 9 to have it. Was the peanut in my nose the culprit?
I told Father about forty years after. He said he was never told of this situation. Of course they should have taken me to hospital, if not, the peanut might travel up to my lungs and I would asphyxiate and die. 

Peanut allergy can be serious, people can die. I am only mildly allergic to it. When I have eaten peanuts, I feel a reflux, I feel like vomit coming out of my mouth. I feel the peanut have got rancid. If there is peanut oil in the food, I feel terrible the whole day.

I wrote part of this in my book,"From China to Borneo to Beyond."