Sunday, March 27, 2005

Being home?

I am just catching up with Pok Ku's blog. Where is home? For a long time since I relocated to my present place, I used to refer to home being in Penang. Until not so long ago, I had been referring to my present home to my husband as 'your house'. My husband was always quick to correct me that this is my home too. It did not sink into my thick head that i hurt my husband's feeling for not accepting his humble abode as mine too. It was kind of hard to assume someone else's property as mine. I have been a career woman all my life, I earned what I have. I respect other people's possession and property. One day, My husband took me to the court house and made me signed on the dotted line that I am part owner of the property and the 300 acres mineral rights that is under his name. He rationalised it by saying that, it is the same thing, because in Oklahoma, when the husband dies, all property goes to the wife.
So, now I have 2 homes. I no longer go 'home' to Penang, instead I go visit my family in Penang. Indeed i no longer have a home in penang. My house is rented out and rumah pusaka is empty after my father died in 2003. My brother and sisters have their own homes. So, where is my home in Malaysia? On one trip visiting family by myself, I felt so lonely and I was ready to go 'home' to my husband. I understand that my family have their own lives to take care and I felt that one can feel lonely even in a family crowd. A week or so with them, would be fine because they could give their time and attention to you, but for a month?
I learnt that 'home' is where your heart is. Although I am away from my 'birth family' I am indeed closer to them without getting into each other's hair. We communicate very regularly, probably more regular than when i was in Malaysia. I now love my 'home'. I love what we have done to the place eventhough there are a lot of things need to be done on this homestead. This is my home now.

Cromwell, OK updates - Population 350

Population of Cromwell has been updated to 350. A month or so ago, the fact sheet said it was 265. Since the first tornado touch down last week, the TV qouted that the population is 350. An increase of 95 people. When I first moved here, our nearest neighbour was the Pierce, about 1/2 a mile south west of us. Now there are 5 more families have settled south and east of us. South and west of us used to be wide open space of hay and grazing fields. A few months back the property owner have put up 2 houses for his children just south of us (1/8 of a mile). Our property used to be the last one on top of the hill on a dead end road, south NS364 grid. The dirt road has now been extended to accomodate the 2 new households traffics. Powerlines poles are now transversing the road along our property. Ditches were dug along our fence line to connect telephone lines. Things were quiet before, but now it looks like our privacy have been encroached and invaded. There are quite a bit of traffic with loud blasting music from the cars that drive by the road now. Weekly loud parties with music so loud that the cayotes that used to roam the area have kept away. My dogs are still getting used to the 'heavy traffic' and the loud music. My guard dogs are confused now, as they are kept busy barking at all the movements in the neighbouring property.
We have even put up a light near the gate as to keep the neighbour's visitors from straying into our yard. And our gate has to be closed all the time. We removed our electronic remote sensor from our gate because it kept going off with the 'heavy traffic'.
I have not made up my mind yet whether it is good to have more neighbours or not. So far, they are more of a nuisance than of comfort.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Things we take for granted pt.2

Actually my stay in Uzbekistan was an eye opener. It was a harsh country with harsh people. I first went there on a VIP ticket. Mind you there wasn't a first class in that aircraft. I can't remember what kind of aircraft that was, a russian made of course. When we arrived at Tashkent airport, the plane landed way out in the field. We had to wait for a long time for a transport to take us to the terminal building. While sitting in the aircraft, some people dressed in military uniform boarded the plane and shouted names to follow them. Mine was one of them. i was worried, but later found out, that holding a VIP ticket entitled me to ride in a van to the terminal building to go through the custom and immigration. I did not know how the rest of the passengers got to the terminal building. ( I found out later on my next trip).
It was a 6 hours flight, but it took 3 hours to clear customs and immigration. There wasn't any chair to sit on and we were all herded into a cage like place to wait, and wait and wait for the immigration to come and attend to us. After all was cleared, I went to meet the people who were waiting for me. There was a reception at 'my rented house' and i think all the people i was going to work with were there to welcome me. By then it was late at night, and very 'late' at night for people who originated east of Tashkent.
When i woke up the next morning, i could not find anything to eat or drink. i was scared to drink the tap water and i ransacked lastnight leftover and could not find a glass to drink from. The land lady had kept them away. the only glasses i found were fine czeck crystal glasses. There were many bowls though. I made tea and waited till it cools enough to pour into the fine crystals. later I discovered that people there drink tea in the porcelain bowls/tea cups. Coffee is only available in the balck market (learnt later).
The bathroom was alright, with the sitting bowl and the bidet. However, there was no toilet paper, the only paper I saw was brown paper cut into squares...later learnt that those were 'toiletpaper'.

to cont.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

When in Oklahoma, respect the weather!

Yesterday was the first full day of spring and we were greeted with a tornado just above our head. It was a fine day and rather cool for a tornado to spawn, but being in Oklahoma, anything can happen in tornado season. My husband and I went to town to put our important documents in our bank safe box in anticipation of bad weather in spring time. Well, little did we know that the critter was spawning right behind us. When we got home, I turned on the TV just to watch the usual programme and my husband wanted to take a nap. He always feel tired after a trip to town (psychologically). I was clicking away to find a channel to watch and there came a warning on the screen that a severe thunderstorm was rapidly developing in our county. I told my husband about that but he said, the most it would just be lightning since the temperature was not condusive for a tornado. The temperature was about 60F or 15C. The next minute, the warning came again as we were under tornado warning and a big wall cloud was moving northeast to our direction, the town of Cromwell. I yelled at my husband that the critter is moving towards us at 30 miles per hour. He got up and we picked our important stuff and went out to our underground cellar. the there were the chicken and the dogs. the chicken could take care of themselves, but my dogs would not. So i called all the dogs and put them into the cellar. They must be traumatised to be pushed into the cellar. The lighning begun and the rain started. Then we closed the cellar with a big bolt. Then came the hails as it hit the ground and the metal door of the cellar, it was so loud and we could hear nothing. The dogs got scared and hid under the bed. It was for about 3 minutes. Then My husband went up to look. The ground was covered with hail stones, as white as snow. the sun was bright again and we saw the back of the tornado. There was even a couple of rainbows. It just missed us by a mile or so. It hit the town of Cromwell but there was no casualty, only some structural damage. I am so thankful that I turned on the TV. I was planning to take a nap too, but I just thought I might watch some TV first.
So we in Oklahoma learn to respect mother nature. Tornados can spawn in a few minutes when the right ingredients are present.

Things we take for granted

Before I embarked on an assignment in Tashkent Uzbekistan, I only had a vague idea where the country was. All I knew were those 'stan' countries are, somewhere on the otherside of the Himalayas. I read what little information I could find on the internet. Sounds interesting with a lot of history and being on the silk road and all. I must have been too adventurous, naive and ignorant put together to to take off to that landlocked country. My imagination was captured by the romance of Rustam and Zohrab and the greatness of Amir Timur on his big stallion roaming the plains.
Well, I took the job at a University in Tashkent. It was not so much of the job, which I learnt, but the whole way of life in a country that has been in the communist block. Of course I expected everything to be different, but i did not anticipate that everything is controlled. You shop for grocery at the government designated place. Buy your rationed food and you cannot choose what you want. If you are allowed so much beef for the week, that was what you get, bones and fat and all. You can't ask the butcher to trim the fat like we malaysian do at the butcher. You are allowed only a few pieces of 'pon' (bread) for a day and can't exceed the amount without question. Well, this is after Uzbekistan became an independent from USSR. Things were the same as before.
However, after a few months I was there, things looked a little different. We could shop at black market or at open market, but the attitude of shop assistants were still the the same. You would not be attended to, until the assistants finished their sembang. At one time I was so mad for being made to wait for a long time, i told the sale person that if she was in Malaysia, she would not have a job the next day. I like to give you an example how we take things for granted. I went to a government shopping place and i saw a shirt I wanted to buy for my land lady's son. The color was red, but I wanted a blue one desplayed behind the red one. The sale person would not sell me the blue one until she sold the red. The one on top had to be sold first!. All the merchandize were behind the counter, not hanged on racks like we are used to.
Little things that we take for granted are not so in Tashkent (during my stay there). Like I said before, we could not buy more than 4 pieces of bread in a day. Imagine that if you have more than 6 people living in a household. There was no easily available cooking oil nor was there plenty of food. For cooking oil my landlady used lard from the hump of the sheep. I got tired of eating 'soupa' or soup everyday of the week. Soup made of very fatty meat and yellow carrot, potatoes and onions. People there don't waste food. They ate all on their plate and wiped their plate clean with the bread.
to be continued

Tuesday, March 08, 2005


When I first settled in Oklahoma, I thought gardening is something people do for fun. I thought people grow flowers around their house, but I discovered that gardening is a serious activity in spring. Now I am into it seriously too. Gardening can be exciting and rewarding as well. I enjoy planting and watch plants grow. We have half an acre of garden. I plant everything I can get my hands on. However It does not mean i eat all i plant...just happy to plant. Every year without fail we will plant tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, cili api and serai. These are the 'must plant' every year. I may add all vegetables that i think i would like to eat, all the greens, terong, asparagus, beets, you name it, I have them all in my garden. Bill has tilled the half acre garden last week and i already planted onions, garlic and potatoes. the rest i will plant later after winter ends. This year it will be a challenge since I also raise chicken...wonder if the chicken will share my garden too. My puppy, Max too is at that age that will dig anything that I plant. last week when I was planting the onions, he dug them up. He also ran away with my bag of benih. I hope he will listen to "NO" soon. He is only 5 months old. Wonder what we do with all the garden products? Some will be canned, some we will freeze them and some we just let them go back to the good dirt.

Cerita Haji

Orang kalau balik dari menunaikan fardu haji memang banyak bawak cerita aneh. Cerita saya bukan cerita aneh tapi cerita lucu. We went for haji ifrad, my parents and me and a friend HA. So our first destination was Madinah. All went well, except that the bus ride was just too long after the long wait and flight from Penang. cerita lucu ni, bermula bila we took a bus ride again to Mekah for the Wukuf. I am sure you have heard about the bus driver buat perangai mintak 'baksih" or some pocket money. The same thing happened to us. At first he stopped and came out collecting money. Some jemaah, did give sedekah they said. I did tell my group that Tabung haji must have paid all these drivers and we should not give him more. if we wanted to give, we sedekah at the end of our trip. I guess the driver became greedy and wanted more money, so after driving for a while he stopped again and this demanded more money or else he would not proceed to mekah. Some people became scared that they would not arrive in time. I was furious because 'my people' were being extorted. Nobody wanted to do anything, and the only thing they said was, 'bagilah". So, I stood up and said that 'no more baksih' until we arrive mekah. The driver was surprised that it came from a female. I told him to drive, but he refused...he went down the bus and disappeared. I talked to the passengers and told them if they wanted to give more money, collect it, and hold it as a carrot. I would tell the driver that we would give him the money after we arrived. he was angry. My next act was to get the ignition key to the bus. I told him I would drive to mekah if he wouldn't. He was cussing and cursing in a language i did not understand..biark pi lah...I also told him that my father could drive and i could read direction...
So after much angry words from him, he took the key from me and drove us to mekah.
Yang geram tu, bukan apa, geram sebab bus driver boleh bullied kita and i was not to be bullied by anyone