Can everyone say "Awwww."? Isn't the picture cute? Doesn't it just give you that fuzzy feeling? Top Cat was kind enough to honor me with this award but I am sure all of us who have come to enjoy blogging realise that it is about the whole blogging community. Our enjoyment comes from that warm, fuzzy feeling from interacting with everyone we have met from around the world. So I would like to thank all of you bloggers and especially those who have visited this blog and share comments and shared a bit of yourself here.
I must confess that this squirrel is a little surprised to be getting awards from cats and also bird awards lately. Is there something screwy with the world at the moment or is this the first faltering steps to world peace between squirrels, birds and cats? Anyway, thanks again TC.
It falls on me to share this nice award with 5 others. There were no rules with the award so I'll make it up as I go. Most of these are bloggers whom I have greatly enjoyed but I have had no opportunity to give an award to before.
- Claudia likes to give an impression of a tough rocker girl but I think she is as sweet as honey and really cares about the people who visit her site. She also cares about bees.
- Dave has been a great blogging buddy almost from the very start of my blogging experience and we started almost the same time. He shares some of my weird interests and has his own weird but interesting interests. He's been going through a tough time of late and hasn't been as regular on the blogosphere. So here's hoping to encourage you to share more of your gems with the rest of us.
- Medstudentwife and I just really hit it off. Why? She's fun and her blog is fun and friendly and as a major plus, she's from one of my favorite cities in the world.
- Jessica may well be the very first friend that I made through blogging. Her comments were so nice to get in those early days when the squirrel was shivering and alone in the blogosphere. I also remember that she gave me my first meme. Her posts about her life and family feels like an invitation to a home cook meal and rich hospitality.
- Gina is one of my newer friends and visitor to my cyber realm (trying not to use blogosphere again). Her poems are insightful, creative and very often playful. Always brings a smile to my face and not far below the surface is a very emotionally rich person to be discovered and enjoyed.
Why is there conflict in the world? I don't just mean wars but conflicts almost everywhere we turn in daily life. Conflict in the family, conflict between neighbours, conflict at school or confict at work. Most of us do not seek conflict but yet it is difficult to avoid. I want to enjoy my life. Conflict is a waste of time when life is so short. The little poem above expresses how I feel perfectly.
I am not good at keeping friends. I don't mean that I get into arguments with them and end up lifetime enemies. No, it's just that I keep misplacing them.
It all boils down to the fact that I am or have been very bad at keeping in touch by correspondence and soon lose touch when they move around. When I discovered Google and other search engines on the internet, I actually was successful in finding some of my missing friends.
One of them, I traced by visiting a BBS site on United Kingdom culture and folklore (the sort of thing he might be interested in) and leaving an strong insult that only he would understand and sure enough he replied after a couple of weeks to my calling card.
This particular individual I was able to trace over a period of 15 years even though he tried to ditch me by shifting at regular intervals. The last time was the hardest and I had to resort to writing a letter to a known work colleague at his previous job before I could locate him. Happily, this led to him visiting me in Malaysia about a year later.
Altogether, I have found 5 others via the internet search engines and am still in contact with 4 of them. The last one dropped off the radar in the last 5 years. However, there are a couple of people that I have failed to locate entirely and one of them is Juliet.
Juliet Wilson is a friend from my time at Chelsea College, University of London. How long ago was this? It was during the time of the Falklands War. If you didn't even know that there was such a thing, I suggest you Google it.
Juliet was studying to be a nurse and she shared a flat with two other sweet girls which we took to call the "Bickley Sisters" on account of their closeness to one another and the name of the street where they lived. This was a place that always made visitors feel welcome.
We both served in the Christian Union committee and also grew close through that. Somehow though we seemed to hit it off and we were always able to share our problems with one another.
Juliet was to teach me one of my most profound lessons about friendship. I went through a period of severe depression brought on by my inability to cope with low self-esteem, emotional pressures from my family and my helplessness to help certain dear friends who were going through immense suffering. One day during a break in sessions , in my desperation to just get out of my darkened room and to see some sun, I just called Juliet out of the blue and asked if I could spend the weekend at her home in Winchester.
In retrospect, it was quite something that I was asking. She might have had better plans for her time than to spend it baby-sitting a morosely depressed friend who was no fun at all. Her parents were not at home that weekend which may also have been a problem as it was not her custom to entertain gentlemen in her home alone. I believe she might have had a boyfriend then who also might not have appreciated this scenario.
All I can say is thanks. Juliet, the fact that you said yes to my request without any hesitation (at least as far as I could tell), was very important to me. In fact, all the rambling conversations that weekend and even the way I panicked when I met your parents at the end of the stay, all taught me something about myself and my underlying psychological issues which was the turning point for me in battling depression. You made me realise that friendship and other worthy causes were bigger than social rules and pressures.....an important lesson for me.
Anyway, miserable being that I am, I have also misplaced her somewhere in this world. Hence my plaintive cry, "Juliet, Juliet...wherefore art thou?"
I am hoping she is happily married with kids and living in South Africa. If my some remarkable miracle, one of you readers knows fair Juliet, I hope you will let me know. With my good fortune of re-finding friends via Google, I am hoping Blogger will also perform, so I am not giving up hope at all.
I saw this beautiful poem by Jessica on daysgoby and I just thought to myself, "How I wish I could write like that." Then I discovered that you could go here and get help to do exactly that. Here is my effort. Jessica's is still way better but this was fun to do. Feel free to do it too. C'mon, you know you want to.
WHERE I'M FROM.....
I am from a home with a large garden, many windows that open to the green of grass, bamboo and fruit trees.
I am from the dainty phloxes in flower pots and large rambutan trees, from orchid plants with roots on charcoal and the rich, clay soil.
I am from family brunches on Sundays and the infectious morning sneeze, from the Babas and the Nyonyas, the Loh's and the Lee's.I am from intelligent women and strong, silent men.
From fairy tales and fantasy lands and seeing the beauty of nature.
I am from a long line of Buddhists until one by one, we came to know about a loving Saviour and friend in Jesus.
I'm from the meeting of two silty and tin laden rivers, adventurers from the Middle Kingdom, of sweet and sour stir-fried mangrove crabs and the bitter-sweet pork with buah keluak.
From heroes who were willing to die for their friends, but who knew how to live fully and love nature and from deep devotion to children.
I am from seeds now scattered across the globe but united still by the home country, memories of childhood on clean sandy tropical beaches and the love of a multicultural feast of culture and food.
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Here are more wise sayings from the wise-owl-squirrel.
"When in doubt, chuck it out!" (my mantra while writing my thesis)
"When uncertain, quote some person!" (also useful in thesis writing)
"When you run dry, Plagiarize!" (okay, not such a good idea if you are writing your thesis)
However, I have spent a good one hour trying to find my Muse tonight but she is clearly AWOL. No spark of brilliance in this brain. Nope, just a lot of burned out light bulbs. So to the rescue is this interesting piece that has already made its way all round the internet but perhaps there may be one or two who have not seen it.
This is an actual letter sent to a man named Ryan DeVries by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, State of Michigan.
Dear Mr. Price,
Beer. There is something special about this amber fluid, this liquid gold with its thirst-quenching and revitalising qualities. It is arguably, the world's oldest and most popular alcoholic beverage and drinking it is like drinking in history. Written records of beer date it back 6,000 years BC in Egypt while chemical evidence of beer production exists for as far back as 3,500 years BC.
For the benefit of tea-totalers and wine-sipping gentry, beer is basically a drink produced by the fermentation of a starch-based substance (most often malted barley) using yeast. However, the history of beer making is a fascinating one in which the process evolved with time and there were some distinct innovations. The use of hops (Humulus lupulus) to flavor the brew during fermentation and different fermentation techniques like top fermentation and bottom fermentation were some of these innovations.
However, the characteristics and personality of a beer can be made so different and unique by the choice of the starch-based substrate, the choice of yeast used, the fermentation process and temperatures, the addition of flavoring agents like hops or fruits, the use of clarifying substances and even the nature of the water used. In this way, each brewery can make a beer unique to itself.
I am sorry to say that North American beer is pretty weak and dilute. Many say that the Czech beers like Pilsner Urquell lager are the best in the world. I have indeed tried this and it is very good but I find it hard to say that one is the best beer. Instead, I enjoy the wide range of tastes, flavours and textures of beers and that is why I have to recommend Belgian Beers.
There is no other place in the world that you can sample so many varieties of locally brewed beer. How many, you ask? I do not know other than it is in the excess of 750 varieties. Many of them have a long history and many are brewed by monks in monasteries.
Okay, why do I like beer so much. Could it be the smooth way that it flows down the throat? Could it be the fruity or alternatively rich bitter flavour? Could it be its ability to quech the thirst and to hit the spot? Could it be its beautiful golden and amber colour or alternatively its rich and dark tones? Could it be its coolness or the thickness of its head of foam? Could it be that warm feeling that radiates through your body after you drink it? Yes! Yes to all of the above ........and Belgium is the place to try it.
All photos sipped from Belgian Beer, a wonderful blog dedicated just for Belgian Beer for serious scholars or drinkers.
This is my favorite amongst the readily available commercial beer brands.
Marje from DUTCHCORNER
gave me and two others a "Wise Bird Award" and said "These bloggers have a lot of very informative beautiful posts. They must be very wise."
Marje, thank you very much for the award. I appreciate it very much......though I imagine it is a rare thing for a squirrel to win a bird award! Haha! A little joke there.
And then, there is this little phrase, "They must be very wise." Oh, I hate to disappoint Marje. So here are a few sayings to prove that I am indeed wise.
"A fine is a tax for doing wrong while a tax is a fine for doing well."
"Brain cells may die but fat cells live forever."
"Relatives are like fish. If they stay too long, they begin to stink."
"Not all lawyers are bad. It's the 99% that give the rest a bad name."
"Remain silent and they may think you are a fool. Open your mouth and they will know for sure."
"the early bird may get the worm but it is the second mouse that successfully gets the cheese from the trap."
"42.7% of all statistics are made up on the spot."
"Light travels faster than sound. This is why people appear bright until you hear them speak."
"An optimist believes that this is the best possible world that we could live in. A pessimist fears that this may be true."
"A clear conscience is a sign of a bad memory."
And now, I perform my duty to award this to three others on the basis that a) their blogs are very informative and b) they "appear" to be wise. The Wise Bird Award goes to.........
a) Mago at 63 Mago ( this is the man if you want to learn about literature and history of Europe)
b) Eastcoastdweller at In Search of Isis (one of the most well read bloggers I have met and with a deep understanding of ancient writings ....I am in awe since I have no idea what he's talking about sometimes) and
c) Janice at Pursuance of Truth (cause true wisdom is the pursuance of truth in everything around us and her poems are indeed full of wisdom".
I hate Chinese romantic comedy movies. That is because they always portray the love-struck male as a complete blubbering idiot that always makes a fool of himself in front of the object of his affection and.............. unfortunately, it cuts too close to home. Ah, the indiscretions of youth. If you are anything like me, those early forays into romance were damn embarrassing. For that very reason, I tend to keep those memories locked in a trunk in the deepest, darkest recesses of my mind and have burned the map that would lead me back to them.
So imagine my surprise that in the last two weeks, not one but two lost flames reappeared in my small world and in the most unusual way and they were in sequence, my first crush and my first serious girlfriend.
In the first instance, I was at a meeting at work with members of the Board of my organization. This is a quarterly meeting and I have known and met with these people on a regular basis for the last 5 years. This last meeting was different though. At the end of the meeting, one elderly gentleman whom I get on particularly well with, pulled me aside and asked if I had ever lived in a place called Ampang. Well, that was strange. I was almost automatically going to say that I haven’t. Then an old memory re-surfaced. I did indeed stay there for one month but that was when I was about 12 years old (which let us just say was several decades ago). I was puzzled how he might have known this.
He then went on to say that his wife (whom I had only met twice) says she remembers me from then. He then asked if I had attended some art classes there and indeed I had. He said his daughter used to attend those classes too. Suddenly I felt like I was hit with a sledgehammer right between the eyes. I suddenly knew who his daughter was. She had a very unusual family name which the gentleman also had. Strange, I never made the connection before. Now, you might wonder why his wife would remember me after all these years. Let’s just say I did some memorable capers that would have fitted in nicely in a Chinese romantic comedy movie. Well, I found the whole episode a little creepy and a bit embarrassing. No doubt they would all have a laugh on me that night over dinner.
Anyway, it seems No: 1 crush is married with two kids and has kept in touch with my career in the news and from her dad. I’m sure she’s been telling her friends, ‘ I knew this guy once……what a dork!”
Then just over a week later, I found myself as the master of ceremonies at a baptism service. Later, after the service, I was congratulating one of the baptisimal candidates, a young girl, when she turned and introduced me to her aunt. I looked round and came face to face with serious Girlfriend No:1. As appropriate again for a Chinese romantic comedy movie, I said something smooth like, “Ha…ab….a..ba….ba.” The surprise was complete. The conversation was awkward. I’m sure she’s telling her friends, “After so many years, I met him again and……he’s still a dork.”
Take the case of the Lone Grey Squirrel. His confidence and self esteem is taking a beating because he keeps meeting his old girlfriends in that place called ……the Twilight Zone. Creepy.
It's now 12.30 am on Monday. I'm sleepy and really am not conscious enough for upper brain functions and thoughts. Instead I offer you quips which were sent to me by my good friend, Helen the Greek Goddess. I particularly believe in the last one.
I got to see F.L.O.S. last night - That's right, FLOS. It stands for the Former Ladies of the Supremes. "Ahhh" , goes the discerning older reader. "Huh!" goes the younger readers.
For the benefit of the young 'uns, let me start with "The Supremes". The Supremes were an all-girl trio act that was the big hit group of the 60's and 70's that helped boost Motown Records to be the industry giant it is today. The original Supremes consisted of Mary Wilson, Florence Ballard and Diana Ross. I am hoping the young readers will at least recognise Diana Ross. Well, this is how she got started.
Between 1962 (year I was born) and the final year of the group in 1977, different ladies came and went but the group kept going. In the end there were 8 ladies who can rightly claim to have been an original Supreme. These were Mary Wilson, Florence Ballard, Diana Ross, Cindy Birdsong, Jean Terrell, Lynda Lawrence, Scherrie Payne and Susaye Green.
In 1985, the ladies were asked to reform the group and this led to the FLOS which consists of Scherrie Payne, Lynda Lawrence and a new addition, Freddi Poole. They have gone on to recording success of their own and still perform many of the Supreme songs on tour.
So it was these wonderful ladies that I had the privelege to watch last night in concert. Now these are sixty-something grandmothers, but they have fantastic voices and wonderful moves. They can still wow an audience and they had us dancing in the aisles (which is quite tough with a Malaysian audience). They did old hits like "Baby Love" and "Stop in the name of Love"; new hits like "Stone Love" and covers of other Motown greats like "R.E.S.P.E.C.T."
Well, I had a good time swinging with these ol' ladies which just shows that age doesn't need to be a hindrance to living life to the full. Growing old seemed to have been a focus of several blogs of late. Enjoy the following video clip.
Claudia has a wonderful post about winning the peace. It was a very honest post and I was compelled to respond. The truth is that the human race has generally sucked at being at peace and there has been hardly any period of time when there has not been war on this planet. So is the idea of winning the peace an illusive dream?
I think Canada’s history while not perfect, has a few gems to teach us about winning peace. There was Lester Pearson who won the Nobel Peace Prize for envisioning the use of soldiers to establish and keep the peace - the birth of the U.N. Peacekeepers. Canada also led the way in the campaign to ban landmines.
The one which always grabs my imagination involved Sitting Bull and the Sioux nation. After massacring Custer andthe US 7th Calvary, the Sioux fled to Canada and who do the Canadians
send to meet him?. Certainly not a regimentof well-armed soldiers. Instead, an unarmed detachment of five North West Mounted Police (fore-runner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police) bravely rode into the midst of more than 1,000 Sioux and they told Sitting Bull to respect the land of the Blackfeet and Crow. Sitting Bull was so impressed by the sense of
justice that he agreed to peace.
At the root of being able to fight for peace must be the pursuit of justice. We will fail if our agenda is tainted by anything else such as political influence or economic gain. May we indeed find a way to fight for peace in our modern but divided world. Shalom.
Below is the detailed story of Sitting Bull and the NWMP (taken from "Sitting Bull and the Mounties" by Ian Anderson) :-
On May 7, 1877, some 11 months after Custer's bloody disaster, 34-year-old NWMP Major James M. Walsh, a sergeant and three troopers followed an Indian trail to the dun-colored hills and ravines of Pinto Horse Butte, some 280 miles north of the Little Bighorn. Around noonh, Walsh's scouts spotted mounted Indians sitting motionless on hilltops, watching them--a sign
that an Indian camp was nearby. As they rode on, they saw more and more Indians on the hills, until the small patrol was surrounded. None of the Indians, however, made any attempt to stop the scouts.
Sitting Bull must have been just as curious about Walsh and his Mounties. Walsh, almost as tall as Sitting Bull, held himself straight as a lance. Wiry as a mountain lion, he had intense brown eyes set in a weathered face, a full mustache, whiskers below his bottom lip and wavy brown hair beneath a blue and gold cap.Walsh and Sitting Bull shook hands. At first Sitting Bull treated the redcoats with cautious reserve, but he gradually warmed up to them. They all retired to the camp and sat down for a conference that lasted the remainder of the day. Walsh asked them why they had come to the White Mother's (Queen Victoria's) country. To find peace, they replied. The Sioux claimed they had suffered greatly at the hands of the blue-clad Long Knives, that they had been fighting on the defensive for years. They hoped the White Mother, or Grandmother(the term preferred by the Sioux), would give them sanctuary in her land. Spotted Eagle said they had been forced to cross the medicine line (the border--the Sioux also called it "the big road") to protecttheir women and children from the Long Knives.
John Peter Turner, historian for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (that name didn't come until 1920), wrote in Volume 1 of The North-West Mounted Police 18731893: "Sitting Bull said, in effect, 'Yesterday I was fleeing from white men, cursing them as I went. Today they erect their lodges by the side of mine and defy me. The White Forehead Chief (Walsh) walks to my lodge alone and unarmed. He gives me the hand of peace. Have I fallen? Am I at the end?'"
Walsh explained that the purpose of his visit was to find out their intentions and to tell the Sioux about the White Mother's laws, which everyone, white men and red men alike, must obey.
They must not make war against other tribes and must not steal horses or anything else. They must not kill or injure any other person. They must not use the White Mother's country as a refuge from which to strike back across the border at the American soldiers. They could not
remain in her country if they would not obey her laws, Walsh told them. Sitting Bull said he and his people would obey the laws, adding that he had "buried" his weapons before crossing into the White Mother's land.
Sitting Bull asked for ammunition for his people to hunt buffalo. He said they had used up all their bullets fighting off the Long Knives. Walsh agreed to allow them enough bullets to hunt meat, but he warned that no bullets were to be used for warfare across the border. Walsh and his men spent the night in the Sioux camp.
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This is a recent discovery but I enjoyed it so much that it immediately makes it to my Squirrel's Secret Spot list. This is the Mount Tomah Botanical Gardens which is located about 1.5 hours drive from Sydney, Australia in part of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Site. This Botanical Gardens is at 1000 m above sea level and specialises in higher altitude or cool climate plants. The bog plants in my last post was one of the attractions that piqued my interest.
However, it has a number of gardens and I enjoyed them all. Amongst the highlights are a section on desert plants from Australia as well as from South America and South Africa. There was a pine forest. There were the herb gardens and many more. The view into the valleys were also grand. Another attraction is the presence of the wollemi pine - which is a living fossil.
I had about an hour to spend there which was much too short. It could easily have taken a day just to see everything, two days to see and digest the information and many days just to enjoy the place. The pictures below all by LGS and for your enjoyment.
I love my B grade horror movies like the "Creature from the Black Lagoon". These movies are so bad and full of genre cliches that they are superbly fun. I just enjoy yelling at the characters in the movie things like, "Look out behind" or "Stay away from the water!" or even "Don't go down to the basement!"
Following up on Halloween, I thought of writing about flesh-eating plants. Even though "Invasion of Flesh-Eating Plants", may seem like a good title for a B grade horror movie, I am actually writing about bog plants which are specially adapted to the low nitrogen levels in such environments. These plants are specially adapted to catch insects, digest them and to get the nitrogen they need from such sources.
During my recent trip to Australia, I had the opportunity to visit Mount Tomah Botanic Garden which is located 1000metres above sea level and is nestled within the world heritage listed Greater Blue Mountains area. The garden contains over 40,000 plants arranged according to geographical location and is home to a large variety of native wildlife. It also had a wonderful artificially created bog which housed a collection of these wonderfully strange plants.
This first beauty is the famous Venus Fly Trap (Dioneae muscipola). It is actually very small. The specimen in this picture was probably about just 2 inches across. If however, you encountered one that was about 8 feet tall, then you would have a close approximation to the fiendish plant from the musical/comedy-horror show, "Little Shop of Horrors".
This second photo is of a plant that is found in most parts of Australia except Northern Territories and is called Fairy Aprons (Utricularia dichomata) and it's small traps are said to resemble ladies purses.
This final one is one of my favorites and is a species of Sundew (Drosera). The insects are attracted to the red, sticky glogs at the end of the hairs and are trapped. The leaves then curl inwards and the insect slowly digested.
They make great pets, don't cha think?