Thursday, May 26, 2005


There are many people who are already retired, about to retire and thinking about opting to retire early. I belong to the first category. I opted to retire early for a few reasons only I knew. I was toying with the idea for quite sometimes after i turned 40. I have this big rough plan of how to run my life. At that point I have had what I really wanted. I had some education, enough to see me through, if i ever need to supplement my income. I have stashed away some saving to see me through the next 15 years or so. I have all the material needs i would want ( to my standard lah). A house, a car, some stocks, some saving etc.
I was looking to quit my job at the right time and persue my desire to go and do dakwah. Not the dakwah the way people stereotyed. I wanted to dakwah about getting educated. To me an educated pious person is much better than a non educated one. This big dream of mine would take a very serious planning. How would I go about it? Like many American missionaries do, they offer 'sincere help" with string attached or like the typical "melayu dakwah' that tak berapa menjadi due to sebab-sebab tertentu ( I do not want discuss it here)
The opportunity came when I took up this assignment to work in Uzbekistan. I went to a place so foreign, to me although I can boast that i am quite an extensive traveller.
Communication with my host was a problem. I do not speak uzbeko or Russian neither do they speak English or Malay. So for the first few days it was like ayam talking to itek and with lots of signing.
Then I decided to teach my host and son, an english word a day and a sentence to go with it.
A week or so, we could at least communicate in english and signs. Then one day my host came to me with an Al-Quran. She handed me the Quran and said "You read I no read". Then I knew that she wanted me to teach her to read the Quran. So, I began teaching her the alphabets and soon we were laughing together.
She learnt to read the Quran, she learnt to pray and I only learnt a few words of Russian. That is my kind of dakwah...Do it subtly. I do not need to go and tell people that this is haram, that is haram etc. These people who are "educated" are eager to know about the religion that they would take pain to learn and read about the religion. They will learn and appreciate the religion better.
Well, i digressed, sorry about it. back to opting to retire or pencen. There should be a good planning before one retires. To me, once I retire, i should have no debts to haunt me and the little money I have after the retirement should be able to see me through. I did not plan to live in luxury, but just secukupnya.
Although with good planning, I found out it was not that easy to slide from one chair to the other. There was no smooth tranfer from having 'lots' of money to spend than having to jimat the money you have since I did not get my pencen and gratuity until six months later. Immediately after I retired, I followed my husband back to the US, thinking that all my papers were in proper order, but of course they were not. Some papers were misfiled and the amount I had to settle with the Income tax was wrongly typed etc. I had to take the 40 odd hours journey to settle it once and for all. Then the waiting game. I had to go back again, now to Jabatan Pencen to check why my pencen was not coming. I sat there in front of the officer in my well worn clothes and a tired face with a jetlag until I saw the money has been transfered into my bank account. Somebody was sitting on my file.
Susah nu nak dapat pencen...Then came the adjusting period, I was not used to spending someone else's money ( my husband's) I became very frugal. I am still adjusting after all these years. I am getting better after my husband told me not to take my Malaysian money out, unless we need it badly. But he said if i still feel like shopping for shoes and handbags in London like I used to, then I might need to take my ringgit out.
Well, in my elder sister's case, it was different. She saved and saved and when she opted to retire early, she thought she had enough for 'her'. The moment she got her graruity, her husband persuaded her to buy a Honda Accord. After much persuasion she agreed. Lo and behold, the car is in her husband's name. Soon after, with a sparkling car, he found another wife. And what happen to the car? My sister has no chance of sitting in it. Hangus.
So for all the women out there. Beware ! jaga wang pencen anda!

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Max wants a friend to play

Max is 7 months old, but his size says something else. He is 3 ft tall and weighs about 70 lbs. My little great Pyreenes puppy has grown in size but still a baby. Max is in dire need of a friend to play with. Although there are Roo and Dumdum, Max can't entice them to play with him. They do entertain Max from time to time, but Max's size and roudiness as well playfulness put them off. From time to time Dumdum lets Max ride on his back, but not for long as Max is much bigger and heavier than Dumdum. Roo lets Max pull her tail and her ears, but Max sometimes gets carried away. So, most time they tried to keep away from Max. Max rolls over, crawls on his belly just to invite them to play with him, but they ignore him. Poor Max. Max tried to find other friends to play with him. He goes into the woods and brings home a tortoise. Plays with the tortoise but it was no fun since the tortoise does not respond. He tosses up the tortoise, catches it up in the air, kicks it, but there isn't any response.
Yesterday Max found another friend to play with. It was a baby bird learning to fly with mother bird flying around to encourge its baby. Max was excited, he went to pick up the baby bird in his big jaw and tossed it to fly. He chased it around the yard and catched it again and toss it up. Mama bird was worried and made a lot of noise, but Max was enjoying himself and perhaps the baby bird was enjoying it too. After a while when Max tossed the baby bird a little too high, the baby bird landed on the branch and stayed there. Max was heartbroken and tried to jump to get to his new friend, but the mama bird was encouraging the baby bird to get back into the nest. Aall afternoon, Max sat under the tree waiting for his new friend to come out to play.
Poor Max needs a friend to play.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Spring is here

Yes, spring is here. For most people who live in the temperate countries, this is the time of joy. Gone are the cold winter days. The days get longer and the warmth is here. This is the time to get busy too. In my neck of the woods, the birds are busy mating, so are the rabbits, and all the critters that live in them. My husband and i are busy as well, but not busy doing what the critters do. We get busy gardening. We get busy raising baby chicks. My husband gets busy with his passion of going fishing. Fishing is not only for sport, but for food too. He is busy fixing the pontoon boat (belongs to his fishing buddy) and getting all the fishing gears and paraphernalia that goes with fishing. Last weekend, they went out fishing and brought home two ice (igloo) chests full of them fish about 200 ekor. Know what, that is not the end of the fishing trip. Then we have to clean them. He fillet most of them and i keep some whole fish for curry and some for the grill. I learnt to clean the fish and i still don't know how to keep the fish heads intact. So I kind of chopped them off.
That is the fishing chapter that will go on until the Fall or until my husband gets tired of his favourite sport. I still have half of my deep freezer full of last year's fish.
About gardening...late winter my husband put organic fertilizer in the garden, cowdung and chicken stuff. Cowdung was free from the neighbour's ranch and of course the chicken stuff was from our own chicken coop.
Now the garden is ready. We do not plant until the last deep freeze i.e until April, but we still get late freeze as late as May. In my garden, i have asparagus, tomatoes, cucumbers, beet, spinach, squash, beans, bell peppers and other plants.Of course not forgetting my cili api and serai.
Spring too is the time for all weeds and plants starting to bloom in order to propagate. My neck of the woods is full of blooms now and when i take a walk everyday in the morning, there are new flowers blooming.
Early blooms are those of peaches, cherries, blackberries, cottonwood etc. To my observation the pinky flowers are the first to appear, then the white ones, then the others. Now there are myriads of colors, if you love natural wild flowers. There are of course them flowers that you cultivate. I have some daffodils, tulips, gladioli which are gone by now. Right now only petunias and 'rose jepun' are blooming. Creek mertle have not even budding yet, as it is more of a summer flower.
Summertime is another story...I shall be busy canning fruits and vegetables. Sometimes i don't know why I canned them as they are cheap in the market. To my husband, personally canned tomatoes tastes 100 times better than the one you bought from the store. Fresh tomatoes from your own garden are juicier and tastier. Well, for me the technique used to preserve food is more intriguing than the finished products itself. However I agree with my husband that my preserved peaches and pears taste better than the one in the can from the store. My pear tree has not made any fruits yet, it bloomed but not making any fruits. My husband thinks it is a male tree, perhaps we need to find a partner for it. Well, even without a tree I got more than I can canned from a neighbour down the road. She would have loaded up a pickup truck full of them if I did not stop her last summer. And as a gesture I gave her a bushel of garlic from my garden ( a big bucket).
Busy huh...well, i can choose to stay at home not doing anything, just watch TV or I can keep my time occupied with chores and enjoying my time at my own pace. I could keep my yard small and hire people to mow my yard, but i do enjoy mowing the yard all 6 acres of it and another 2 acres for my husband to brushhog.
I enjoy walking in the woods and spy on the wild grapes and wild plums and balckberries etc. I spy this morning that the balckberries are almost ready and soon i will be busy picking them and making them into juice and jem/jellies.
Well, that is spring for me. Just want to share my spring time.

Friday, May 20, 2005


When you live in the countryside, your local radio can be very useful. In my little township, we have a programme called Tradedio on the local radio station. You can trade anything on the radio. You can call in to say that you have something to sell or something you want to trade or something you want to buy. It is very interesting. You can find all kinds of things people want to sell or trade. You can sell your farm produce, your used tractor, lawnmower, bed, couch, kitchen utensils, stove, washer dryer, just anything. You leave your phone number at the radio station and people can call in for more information. We bought a used cement mixer for $50 which normally costs $399. I put my puppies for adoption to good home and people called in to adopt my puppies.
I think it is a very good service for the local people. Not everyone can afford new tools just to use once or twice. We bought the electric cement mixer because we wanted to make a walkway from the house to the garage. Without it, it would be back breaking mixing cement for a 5 yards walkway. People sell cars, ATVs, houses and properties (land) there too. You can call and go to look at them if you are interested. We went to look at an 80 acres ranch with grazing field and 3 fish ponds ( ponds to water the cattle). The price was about $42,000. We did not bring our check book, but someone else did and paid a downpayment for the property. So, we know the next time we are interested, we should bring the check book along.
The programme runs for an hour from 8:30 - 9:30 am every morning. A person can only sell 3 products at a time.
I think it is a very good community service.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Mak aku...My mother

AN's blog's on her Mak touches my heart. Until now I still could not make me write about my mother. I love my mother very much. Too much to bare what is in my heart. I wish I told her millions time how much I love her. Now that she is no longer with us. I sometime wonder, if my mother is still around, would I married a foreigner?, leave the country or get married at all. All I wanted to do was to take care of my mother. I knew she had had a very hard life when she was young and growing. Although her father was a rich man, she never get to taste that kind of life. Being the youngest sibling she was being pushed from one household to another after her mother died and her father remarried to a (Tengku). She was left with her grandmother, then her big sister and she never went to school although her father (my grand father) was educated. (My grand father went to the same school as Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra and classmates). My mother learnt to read and write Jawi through learning The Koran and learnt the Rumi by reading her brother's books and learnt english much later when my sister went to 'english school'..very basic english, so that she knew what my sister was studying. I lived mostly with my grandparents.
What saddened me most was when i saw my mother cried one day. My late grand father's second wife relative came to find my mother to ask for money to pay for the cukai tanah, if not paid would be lelong/auctioned off. My mother cried because all these years nobody told her that her father left a lot of harta and her step mother and her relatives have been 'makan harta anak yatim'. I guess when men got a new wife, they automatically forget that they still have children.
My mother asked me what should she do...the amount of the cukai takberbayar was almost RM30,000.00. I told her, forget about it. let it be auctioned off. Those who have benefitted from the ladang getah and dusun tu, should pay because they were the one who got all the hasil all these years..berpuluh tahun makan harta nak yatim.
So, since then i promise myself that i would never hurt my mother and would take care of her. She would come first in my life. Alhamdulillah, i think i did that. I took care of her all the 6 months she was ill with cancer. made her happy and i think I managed to make her know that i really love her eventhough not in so many words.
There are a lot of things i sanjung about my mother, but i just can't put them in words. I keep it deep in my heart.

Monday, May 02, 2005

A simple life

I have taken a 180 degree turn or is it a 360 degree turn in my life. I am back to the simple way of life. I enjoy the nature and appreciate the beautiful God given paradise. The first part of my life was to get away from the rural life that was considered to belenggu our lives then. With education, we broke the belenggu, got to live in the cities and join the the rate race. Got to live in a lifestyle which is considered to be modern and classy. Dine at fine restaurants, vacation in faraway lands that many still can only dream and move with the crowds that 'have made it'.
Now I am back living in the rural area living simply and close to nature. I can say i have had what I worked for and done whatever I wanted to do and now sit reminisce on that part of life. I made a choice when I decided to move over to rural USA. I did not figure out that rural here really means rural, like Pekan Sik in the 70's. However I have come to love this place that my husband and I worked hard to make it as beautiful as it is today (my opinion).
I have gone gaga when i discovered that perssimon (pisang kaki) grow wild, pecan just thrive everywhere, walnuts can just be picked up when it dropped on the ground, wild grape vines just climb whatever they can hang on to...but now i take advantage of all these nature abundance.
I learn to make jellie out of wild grape juice, wild plums, berries etc. I can assure you, one can never be hungry, if one is creative and innovative. I learn to pickle my summer vegetables and preserves the fruits. My pantry is now full of foodstuff that most time i give them away. I raise free range chicken for eggs and meat, my husband goes fishing when it is fishing time ( he loves fishing). My 3 deep freezers are full of chicken meat, fish and some frozen vegetables. Life is simple when we make it simple.
We cleared about 6 to 8 acres for yard and garden and left the rest grown with trees and wild flowers. I enjoy walking in my woods which changes with the season, different flowers, different bushes and different critters. We keep more than 30 big trees in our yard and grow fruit trees. 6 years I have been here and we have made improvements on our property and it looks now like a mini park. There are tracks and walking path in the property and big rocks to sit on in the woods, it has become like a recreation place for me and my dogs.
I thouht i could never get used to living in this kind of environment, but now I am finding it hard if and when I have to leave. The difference between my childhood rural experience, is that living in rural USA, we can still get all the modern facilities as compared to my chilhood. perhaps even now in my old kampong or very rural malaysia, we can get all these facilities too. We use well water from the bore hole with an electric pump that supplies our needs. We buy propane (gas) for our heating and cooking stored in 2 big 500 gallons tank, and we get our electricity from the rural coop. We are thinking of using solar panels when we can afford initial capital investment.
We want to live as close to nature as we could, but we still need to use the cities.