Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Hi, if you are looking for me, I live at Adelyn makes now.

I've just started blogging again after a LONG hiatus so you haven't missed too much. Come join me there.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Moving here!

After doing much searching and trial of other methods of getting news to my readers, I have found a solution to my problems.

So, I have moved here.

See you at my new place.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Moving on...

Sunset @ Lake Macquarie
Photo taken from the flickr stream of -yury-
...as announced in my last post.

I first moved into Blogspot in June 2008! Its been a great adventure for me. But it is time to move on into a new format not only to keep me on my toes but also to give myself a new challenge. Baroque Moments will now be sent direct to your email in what I hope is a more visual layout. If you wish to continue to receive updates, please fill in the form below.

For those who choose not to continue receiving news from me, farewell.
    May the road rise up to meet you,
    May the wind be always at your back,
    May the sun shine warm upon your face,
    and the rain fall soft upon your fields,
    and until we meet again,
    May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

memories for another time

i need to explain the silence.
i was experimenting if i could stay away.
i was trying to see if i could stop blogging. not that blogging was becoming addictive but because i was always thinking in blog posts. in snippets. it bothered me. thinking in those terms.
so i decided to stop to see if i could stay away.
needless to say, after almost three months of virtual silence. i am busting with news to tell and wonderful stuff to show.
but the hiatus gave me retrospect. a chance to review and rethink the reasons why i blog.
i have come to the following conclusions:
  • my friends and family miss me. i mean even after all those weeks of silence, i still had visitors hoping for an update. i will write for them.
  • i was definitely getting more sleep without having to stay up to post but i was fading into gray very quickly. i will write for me.
  • most of all, i was creating memories for my children. i will write for them.
so what does this mean? i have decided to take my blog offline and into another format. if you'd still like to receive news from me, let me know.

photograph taken by timography

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Grandmother Story by Zedeck Siew

My younger brother is a writer of sorts. He is currently working on what probably is his biggest writing project yet. In amongst that writing, he wrote this little piece which I'd like to share with you because I truly do love it. The simplicity in the writing, the Malaysian nuances and the true-to-life translation of Poh Poh's voice (Poh Poh means "grandmother" in chinese). Most of all, I'm sharing it with you because I'm sure there are many of you out there that will experience a wave of nostalgia.

Poh poh with my brother in the background. (Photo courtesy of my cousin, Chrysler Cheong)

Grandmother Story
by Zedeck Siew

“Your Poh Poh has been giving away her jewellery, and visiting Kong Kong’s grave,” my father informed me, last Chinese New Year. “If you want to record her stories, you better do it soon.”

Apart from looking like a typical grandmother (tiny, wrinkled like a shar-pei, constantly in a samfu) my Poh Poh is also known as a chatterbox; it’s difficult to spend time with her and not be spun some outlandish yarn.

These stories are always about family – and, as visits to the cemetery where her contemporaries are buried become more frequent, they reach further and further into the past. Poh Poh told my father and I the following tale after reunion dinner:


The Pregnant Woman and The Coconut

“My father was a respected man in our village. He owned a lodging house, and also supplied people with simple medicines, and people came to him with their problems.

“One day, a villager was out collecting coconuts; it so happened that a coconut fell on his pregnant wife’s head, so much so that her head sunk into her shoulders, like tortoise. So the man went to my father and said: ‘My wife, she’s like this,‘ – he hunched his shoulders – ‘How? Can you help?’

“So my father said: ‘Call your brothers to come.’

“He got the woman to lie down, then rubbed herb oil into her neck. When the husband and his relations arrived, he directed them to hold the wife’s legs and arms. My father held on to the head.

“ ‘One, two, three,’ my father counted. Then, with a jerk, he pulled the woman’s head out. And out it popped.

“After applying some kung fu oil, the woman made a very good recovery – some time later, she even delivered a healthy baby.

“ ‘Thank you,’ said the woman’s grateful husband. ‘How you know what to do?’

“ ‘Actually I didn’t know anything,’ my father said. ‘It was just an experiment!’


When I listen to Poh Poh I am listening to narratives of subaltern history. Folk Remedies of Pre-Independence Malaya, for example. Recording her stories is part of a family history project – and such a personal endeavour is useless without some sort of wider relevence.

I ask Poh Poh what kung fu oil is made of.

“It’s kung fu oil,” she answers.

This has been a frustrating process, and it’s not even my idea. The project was something that my parents proposed, mainly because they had a writer and journalist in the family. I accepted, mainly to prove to them that I actually cared about family.

It’s not like I don’t like my tribe. It’s a language issue: they speak Hakka; as an Anglophiliac child of a middle-class household, I refused to learn any of the Sinitic languages – an indulgence my parents regret.

Ditto my Poh Poh. Conversation is possible, if we both speak in Malay: but this difficult, between my schoolyard bahasa and her Kelantanese loghat. Talking to her properly requires my father’s presence as a translator.


Poh Poh was born two months premature; she was so small her parents didn’t think the baby would survive. Only a year later did they register her birth. Poh Poh’s certificate says she was born in 1927, in a place called Sungai Yu.

(Domestic dynamics of pre-war rural households.)

It was virgin jungle, then. Before becoming a quack doctor, great-grandfather was a foreman for track-laying work; he was directly responsible for about six miles of the northeast railway.

(Industrialisation of North Malaya.)

He fell into the job because of a scandal. Our 23-year-old hero, then living in Kajang, had gotten in trouble for striking up an affair with a married woman.

“My father was tall and handsome, you know,” Poh Poh says, in explanation. “And your great-grandmother was quite short.”

“Anyway, he got this other lady pregnant, so her people wanted to get rid of him. So he had to run to Kuala Lipis. But not far enough, so my aunt got him a job as a railroad mandur, to lay track all the way to Kelantan.”

The interview pauses as my father and his mother have an animated discussion in the mother tongue.

“What’s wrong?” I ask.

“This is the first time I’m hearing about this!” my father says.


During the war, with the Japanese at their doorstep, Poh Poh was tasked with hiding away the family’s belongings. She gathered up all the household money and valuables, put them in a bag, and started into the jungle.

On her trek she happened upon a cave, and in exploring it found a suitable cavity to stash the fortune. Covering the hole with rocks, Poh Poh marked the spot, the cave, and the way to the cave with various secret signs and marks: sigils only she could recognise.

The occupation happened, much tapioca was eaten, Kong Kong barely survived a mass execution. When the war was over, life got in the way, and Poh Poh never returned to her hidden riches.

“She thinks she still remembers how to find it,” my father translates, laughing. “Buried treasure. Don’t know la.”

But Poh Poh’s treasure maps have worked. By listening to her accounts, my father managed to track down his mother’s long lost sister:


The Stationmaster’s Daughter

“Your Poh Poh has been repeating that story about her sister – who was sold to the Kajang Railway stationmaster, because the family couldn’t afford to support so many children – since I was little.

“So we decided to look. This was about 1980. We took your Poh Poh to the Kajang Station to enquire about the old stationmaster. They remembered he was a Christian fellow.

“So we went to see a priest, who consulted the church directory to give us an address. The stationmaster’s family was now living in a kampung near the new Kajang Jail.

“ ’You, I still recognise you!’ the old man told Poh Poh, when we met him.

“He told us that my Aunty Rose was married and now living in Ipoh. She and her husband owned a laundromat, and had a son named Paul.

“So we went to meet Aunty Rose. When we turned up, the workers in a nearby beauty-parlour commented that I looked like my cousin.

“The reunion was very touching. Aunty Rose and Poh Poh look very much alike.”


Listening to Poh Poh’s stories, I realise that I have lost the ability to see my family as anything more than opportunities to make points of national substance.

I’ve been trained to think that, in my country, stories are told so they can be taken as parables of tolerance, patriotic vision, or socio-political ambition. Of gender, class, race relations. We are a young nation; if what we are doing isn’t in the business of nation building, it is not important.

But Poh Poh’s stories take place in a different country: where daughters are given away and tearfully reunited; where herbal oils cure a woman’s posture; where there are wild-boar traps and buried jewellery in the jungle. And stories about these things are told merely because they happened.


The Man in the Wild Boar Trap

In his free time, Great-grandfather liked to lay traps for wild boar. He’d trek into the jungle, dig a 12-foot-deep hole, and mark this pit with a rotan fence so that other humans would know it as a snare.

But chopping one’s way through the jungle-brush with a machete can be a soporific affair: step, step, cut, cut, step step, cut cut. So perhaps it was inevitable that the 70-year-old hunter Tok Late, stepping and cutting, chopped right through the makeshift fence and fell down this 12-foot deathtrap.

It was only a day later that my great-grandfather returned to check whether he had managed to catch a delicious non-halal dinner. When he heard Tok Late’s panting and groaning issuing from the hole, he couldn’t believe his luck.

“Wah,” he thought. “That’s a big boar!”

Great-grandfather released the safety on his rifle, crept up to the pit’s lip, and took aim. When Tok Late saw the gunbarrel pointed at him, he cried out – and Great-grandfather, startled, nearly shot him.

When he recovered from shock, Great-grandfather pulled Tok Late out of the wild boar trap. He carried the old hunter on his back for the entire mile-long journey back to the village.

On their arrival, Tok Late’s son thanked Great-grandfather for returning his missing, injured father.

“What happened?” the young man asked.

“Your father fell down my wild boar trap,” Great-grandfather answered.

“Oh,” said the son. “Please wait here. I’m going to bring my father up into the house. Then I’m going to come back out and beat you up.”

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Mabona Origami


WOW is all I can say. You already know that I really love origami and particularly non traditional paper foldings.

You really have to check this out!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

A month in pictures

So it's been a month. I've missed posting but life has been a blur with so much happening I just haven't had a spare moment. To update you, here is my month in pictures.

We went to watch The Gruffalo live on stage. It was the second time we've watched it and it's still great! So much fun and entertainment for both the kids and adults. When Zac asked to go watch it again, I didn't need much persuasion when I heard that it was at the State Theatre Centre in the Heath Ledger Theatre. I really do like the State Theatre Centre. Despite the criticism it has attracted for not being as big as it should, I do like the intimate scale.

On the same day, we had a great time walking around the cultural centre. The kids particularly liked the wetlands. It was also my first time walking in the urban orchard and I'm really impressed that it is so well managed. Go to the link and you'll find out lots of other family activities and harvesting days.

Our house has recently been over-run by Lego. I don't mind. I like Lego. To be completely honest, I think the adults of this household are currently enjoying it more than the kids! By the way, when Zac saw the dog pictured above, he said that he thought it was a sheep that just had been sheared.

Amelia has been experimenting with my camera and the two shot above are hers. I'm pretty impressed. She has also been enjoying baking with her cupcake extraordinaire Top the Cupcake auntie.
And Zac has been enjoying the tradition of licking the batter! Amelia's development has been going in leaps and bounds and the below is her way of trapping her brother in the bathroom. Bathroom door is to the right. Ingenious, don't you think?

Talk about ingenious, about three weeks ago, our guppy above gave birth to babies and we watched the birthing process. We learnt all we could about caring for the fry and we currently have 6 out of the 11 that was born. I haven't been able to get good pics of the babies. At three weeks, they are showing their spots and markings already. Amazing.

And know what is more amazing? The below:

Astounding, really. What a gift and responsibility for us as parents. The psychologist also said that siblings only differ about 5-10 points in their IQ. I guess we have double trouble then! We're still reeling from the news.

On other news around the home, we have been crafting. Below is a Angry Bird thank you card Zac made for a classmate.

Above is the visual plan he drew for a Lego marine park project he worked on with his dad. I'm constantly impressed with his drawing ability as can be seen by the drawing below.

Other crafting by the kids below.

I've been doodling again and below is a start of an idea for some softies. After successfully making the rabbit for Hannah, I am ready for something new.

I'll finish this massive post with the song that is on repeat loop at home. I do like the Glee version. Have a great week ahead! "Hey baby, I think I want to marry you!"


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