Friday, October 28, 2005

Beraya with my critters

Everyone I know is preparing for the big day. Hari Raya. I too am preparing to celebrate it with my critters. Of course, there will be Roo, Dumdum and Max to join me in the festivities. I have not got them any new clothes, but since winter is approaching, all the three of them have grown their own winter coats. Roo, has a nice golden color coat for the winter , Dumdum has spunned his silky shiny black coat ready for the winter and of course my puppy Max has his snowy white coat grown almost to his ankle. The chicken have grown their own dark red coats for the raya too. Not to forget the guineas, shrieking happily with their colourful feathers ready to celebrate Raya.

There are alot of critters living in our wooded homestead and it includes the squirrels. I am sure they will join me in welcoming Eid Mubarak.There are many of them since my husband had built many squirrel houses/nests and feeders. We hang the nests on trees and the feeder too. We usually feed them in winter since that time food is scarce for these critters. We would buy alot of nuts and put them in the feeder and hang the corn s on it as well. I love to see them so close.

Yesterday morning while walking with my dogs in the woods, I noticed that there were honeycombs scatterd around under big oak tree along the south fence. I went to check and saw big bees flying around. I guess that some critters of the night must have dug them out. Max and Roo went to check the hole and were chased awy by the bees. Fearing that the bees could be killer bees, I came back and told my husband and asked him r to come and look. We went there later in the evening when the temperature is cooler and sprayed some insect killing dust to chase the bees away. This morning when I walked by the palace there were no more bees hovering around. I hope they have moved. These are the only critters that are not invited to my Raya celebration.

Ayways, to all of you who stop by my blog, selamat hari raya and have fun with your family andfriends.

Friday, October 14, 2005

What we remember

Most of my life was spent away from 'home'. I was away in a boarding school at a tender age of 12 years. The boarding school I guess that shaped my life. After school, i was in the University, still away from my family and then I did my post graduate, still further away from my family. i came back after all those 'education' and worked still away from my family. Although this time it was nearer, which I could commute, but i chose to live nearer to my work. So, being away especially during Ramadan is nothing new.
I do not remember much about spending Ramadan with my family. The time i remember most during ramadan is when I was young, that is before I turned 12. I remember as a child those days in the rural area, when there was no electricity and nobody had an ice box. My grandfather had this huge ice chest that we filled with block ice bought every evening from the ice vendor. The ice vendor would come in the evening to sell the ice and it was stored in the wooden chest filled with sawdust. I would be one of the early customers, and would always buy a very big chunk of ice. I loved to see my grandfather, cut it into smaller blocks and stored in the ice chest, ready to put into a pitcher of syrup for the berbuka. The ice kept for a day or two in the ice chest. So, we could still drink ice water during sahur.
I also remember the Moreh. Since my house was near to the mosque, we always went out to play galah panjang at the mosque and played tiang seribu in the mosque's hall. My grantfather did not like us to go and play galah panjang in the dark, because he said there would be snakes, but being young and believing that all the jinns, ghosts and ular are all locked up during ramadan, we went out to play anyway. There would also be some enterprising people selling ice kacang, sotong bakar and some rojak near the mosque. I love sotong bakar (sotong katok) with its sauce.
Another thing I remember is that during Ramadan, my grandmother would start cooking by 3 in the evening. There were so many dishes she made. There would be buah melaka, tepung talam, dadih manis, tepung bungkus etc. and ofcourse, there would be lauk pauk. My grandfather would go to Kuala Muda to buy fresh fish every other evening and we would eat real fresh fish and seafood. My grandfather would leave home after work, around 3 in the evening and told the driver to be ready at the same time every day. We kids did follow him sometime, but going to buy fish was no fun, except to ride in the car.
We really did spend a lot during Ramadan. My grandmother would cook huge portions so that she could distribute to her relatives and we did exchange food with neighbours. So, it usually was a huge feast during berbuka puasa.
Kids who did not puasa, would be eating on the 'beranda tengah' ( the varanda enjoining the kitchen and the main house) not together with those who fast. They were not allowed to go and disturb the adults who puasa. Actually I liked to eat on the beranda tengah. We could look out and we could throw the kueh we did not like to the ground. usually the kids would be my 2 sisters and my cousin.
We usually berbuka with kueh mueh first and then off to do the maghrib and after maghrib, only we ate dinner. The dinner can last for quite a while. Then we kids, could not wait to be dismissed and quietly ran off to play galah panjang.
Those were the sweet memorie I have for Ramadan at home. The rest just a blur.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

My subsistance living in the boonies

Today I made key lime pie for the first time. They said it is difficult to make from scratch, but i did it, it looks ugly, but tastes good. I grow my own key lime in a very big pot. Key lime only grow well in tropical weather and originates from the Florida keys, hence the name key lime. Actually, it is more like our limau nipis, not limau kasturi.
I planted it last year and last winter I brought it into the house and had plant light on all night long. During the day, the pot sit near the window to get the sunlight. I did not think that it will survive, but when spring came, I had it out in the sun and alhamdulillah it made so many fruits/limes. I use it to make sambal belacan and all the chillie padi with kicap for my meals.
Beside the key lime, i also have serai (lemon grass), cili api (bird's chillie pepper), daun kesum, mint, kiwi vines, sharing the arbour Bill made for my grapevines.
I think for a melayu abroad, having cili api as well limau nipis is heaven sent. We can have sambal all the time, air asam, asam pedas etc. I am trying to grow papaya this coming spring. i don't know how long for a papaya tree to bear fruit, if it does not bear fruit by end of summer, I will have papayas in the house. Cool isn't it, can petik in the house.
My late mother said i have very 'hot' hands, hence I could not grow any plant at all. That was when I live in malaysia, when everything is hot there, but now, the plants i grow seem to flourish.
We are trying to be self sufficient, we raise chicken for meat and eggs, we go fishing for fish and from time to time we go hunting for deer. My female dog one time brought home a screaming deer one early morning. We have to slaughter it for it had a broken leg. We however, put the deer on the big grill and let the dogs have a feast for sometime. We actually can eat animals hunted by dogs, butI just could not eat what the dogs brought home.

I do believe that berbudi pada tanah, you can collect the hasil.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

My Puppy Max is one year Old today

Max my great Pyrenees puppy has turned one on October 1st. It is hard to believe that he has been with me for almost a year. We adopted him when he was six weeks old, small and cuddly, with blue eyes that say 'love me, love me, love me'. Watching him grow into a huge puppy is something that amazes me. From a puppy of 3 lbs, he is now almost 100 lbs, and stands almost3.5 ft. How'ever, eventhough he is such a huge puppy, he still behaves like a puppy. He will always want to sit on my lap and gets on the hammock with me. He has only learnt to catch tortoises and play with them, but he is an avid learner, he watches Roo dug out and killed armadillos, killed snakes, and rats. He also, participates in hunting rabbits which he never gets one. Sometime, when Roo and Dumdum take pity on him, they would let him play with their catch.
He is a very obedient puppy, walks by my side every morning into the woods. He would from time to time run to chase immaginary critters, but would soon be back by my side. I think when he is mature enough he will be my protector, just like Roo.
happy first birthday Max (Maximillian)