Thursday, 25 February 2010

Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright!

Tiger numbers are dwindling worldwide, but the Malayan tiger has the best chance not just of survival, but also of doubling its current numbers to 1,000 by the year 2020. Let's try to make the Year of the Tiger the year of hope for tigers!

The National Tiger Action Plan (TAP) was formulated in 2008 using the collaborative platform of the Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers (MYCAT). The target of the TAP is to have 1,000 tigers surviving in the Central Forest Spine; the 51,000 square km backbone of Peninsular Malaysia’s environmentally-sensitive area network.

Saving tigers from extinction isn't merely the job of conservationists and Forestry Departments. It needs the support of the general public. With this in mind, MYCAT launched a campaign to have 1,000 faces (of volunteers and members of the public) painted in the likeness of the tiger as part of its public education and outreach effort.

I opted to be an outreach volunteer due to my passable command of Mandarin, which would enable me to communicate with rural ethnic Chinese communities. My duty included asking them to stop the consumption of wild meat, and to ask them to inform us via our Tiger Crime Hotline number if they know of any restaurants selling wild meat, especially tiger meat.

So, on Saturday, 20 February 2010, I carpooled to the event grounds, Dong Zen Temple in Jenjarom, Selangor, together with my friends Kim, Vegan Eugene and Mary Therese.

The Dong Zen Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Temple Complex in Jenjarom was constructed in 1994 as a place of worship and religious instruction. This is only one of the buildings in the entire complex.

Approximately 50 volunteers, working in shifts, painted 1,000 faces free-of-charge as part of tiger conservation awareness efforts. They were trained by our dimunitive tiger artist, Pik Wun. Well done, volunteers!

Everyone wanted to be part of the action, regardless of age or gender. Thank you for being such good sports, Uncles!

Mary Therese, Kim, me and Eugene posing in front of the wall of snapshots.

Outreach volunteers, ready to roar!

The Happy Tiger! I am always in my element when hamming it up for the camera.

The temple grounds were converted into an amusement park for the Lunar New Year celebrations. Although I don't see how a Ferris Wheel could encourage mindfulness and prayer, Kim and I decided to go on it anyway, knowing we could carry out outreach work with the folks in the next gondolas.

...And we did, and we were successful. Families are the best targets because the children will want to have their faces painted, and we could talk to the parents about our roles in wildlife conservation as they wait.

Me: "Hey Kim, can you take a photo for me please?"

Kim: "No no no! I'm very scared! I want to get down! Stop stop stop! I am not going to let go of the bars!"

... And so I had to take a self-portrait because Kim wasn't going to quit hanging on to the steel bars anytime soon.

The temple grounds looked more like a theme park than a place of worship.

Prayer flags were available for a small fee and I didn't want to miss out on the fun. I hung two prayer flags for my conservation and animal protection goals. It's going to take more than just prayer to save Malaysian wildlife.

Night has fallen, and the temple grounds are transformed into an energy-guzzling fairyland.

The majestic tiger will be but a creature of myth if more isn't done to conserve its habitat, protect its food sources and stop wildlife poaching.

The temple food court, which serves only vegetarian food (yippee!), was transformed into a springtime wonderland.

Each volunteer was given coupons for RM10.00 worth of food, and my friends and I delighted in noodles, soups, burgers, fries, ice cream and cold drinks after a long day of being on our feet. We were to remain on duty until after 2200 hrs.

The MYCAT officers and volunteers were in good spirits upon surpassing our target of 1,000 painted faces!

The representatives of the individual conservation groups (MYCAT, TRAFFIC and WWF) were interviewed by the Malaysian Book of Records in relation to the seemingly impossible feat, but unfortunately, the interviewers did not seem interested in the meaning and objective of the event and behaved as though the volunteers had been painting faces for the sake of, well, painting faces.

A tired tiger tried to sleep off a tummy ache at 2245 hrs. I had helped to pack and tidy up before retiring under the merchandise table.

Served me right for eating like a bottomless pit all day.

What can you do to help tiger populations?

1. Obviously, by not buying tiger products such as fur, teeth, bones, claws and meat.

2. Live simply that wildlife may simply live. Reduce, reuse and recylce more and use less energy, water and fossil fuels. Conduct your due diligence before visiting places of interest or booking holidays that may feature wildlife 'attractions' such as tiger parks, tiger farms and photo opportunities with captive big cats.

3. Abstain from eating wild meat. Every kilogramme of wild boar and wild deer meat you consume means one kilogramme less for tigers. Driven to search for prey in livestock farms and near human habitations, tigers end up regarded as pests and this makes them vulnerable to being hunted and killed.

4. Did you spot a snare or wild animal trap on your recent camping/trekking trip? Please report it to the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) or MYCAT. Contact info given below.

5. Do you know of any restaurants selling tiger meat? Then please make a phone call to the Tiger Crime Hotline and give them all the details you can. Don't forget to include the name and address of the restaurant. All calls are confidential.

Important numbers to remember:

MYCAT's 24-Hour Tiger Crime Hotline: 019 356 4194

Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan): +603-90866800

Find out more by visiting!

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Letter to the Editor: Polystyrene Products Still Harmful, Wasteful and Polluting


I refer to the letter “Polystyrene Use No Threat To Climate” (, 18 Feb 2010) and wish to point out the sophistry of the arguments put forward in the said letter.

The only reason polystyrene food packaging was widely used during the Thaipusam celebration is not because it is a well-loved and health-giving form of packaging, but because consumers were not offered any alternatives. There were no regulations or incentives in place to discourage the use of plastic and polystyrene products at the said event. 20 years ago, banana leaves and metal ‘thali’ plates would have been the order of the day, but polystyrene packaging has since become the cheapest, though by no means the best, option.

It is also a myth that polystyrene products are environmentally safe simply because they are declared ‘recyclable’. Putting a container with a mobius loop embossed on it in a recycling bin is no guarantee that it will be recycled. Not only are there no facilities in Malaysia that will collect or accept polystyrene for recycling, it is common knowledge that polystyrene is not recycled once contaminated with food.

It is unfortunate that recycling is often promoted as an end in itself without regard as to whether it is worth the time, expense, energy and resources. A product that is ‘recyclable’ does not necessarily have post-consumer recycled content, nor does it mean it will be recycled upon disposal.

In many instances, recycling would not even make environmental or economic sense. Products such as polystyrene and plastic bags have notoriously low scrap value and it would cost more to recycle the said products than to manufacture new ones. In many cases, recycling such products would require more energy and generate more pollution. Clearly, reducing the use of disposable products is still the most important and effective way of preventing and managing waste in the first place.

The argument that styrofoam is harmless because it is ‘90% air’ is misleading and untruthful. Industrial and vehicle emissions can be categorized as ‘air’ too but remains harmful to health and environmental safety. When styrofoam is fatally ingested by wildlife and marine animals, can we continue to argue that no harm is done to the animal because all they have consumed is ‘mostly air’?

It is precisely because of its lightness that polystyrene foam products end up becoming litter. Carried by wind and water, even the most scrupulously disposed of polystyrene foam product may end up in oceans, waterways and the digestive tracts of animals.

The writer’s argument that polystyrene products are safe is corroborated almost entirely by reports from the plastics and styrene products industry, which of course raises questions as to the neutrality and impartiality of the said reports. The US Environmental Protection Agency, on the other hand, has found short and long-term health effects related to styrene exposure.

Polystyrene products today contain no chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) not due to any magnanimous initiative on the part of the plastics industry, but because of a worldwide ban on the ozone-depleting substance. However, polystyrene and plastics are still made from petroleum, a non-renewable, fast-disappearing and heavily polluting resource. Also, benzene, a material used in the production of polystyrene, is a known human carcinogen.

If, as the writer argued, the problem of pollution and littering lies not with the product but with cultural attitudes, then by banning or restricting the sale and use of polystyrene products, we can greatly reduce the opportunity for the creation of litter. When there are effective deterrents against the use of disposable packaging, then consumers would be more likely to switch to non-disposable tableware and food and beverage containers, or at the very least, to biodegradable packaging.

It is for good reason that institutions, cities and countries around the world have banned or severely curtailed the use of polystyrene products. We can take a step in the right direction by instituting public education measures and implementing and enforcing laws to reduce waste at its source and curb the sale and use of disposable packaging.

Committee Member
Malaysian Nature Society
Selangor Branch

Monday, 22 February 2010

Year of the Tiger, and I'm feline fine

What fortunes await us in the Year of the Tiger?

The Tiger symbolises courage, pride and leadership qualities, and I hope that this year will bring out the best in our elected representatives and lawmakers. I also hope to see bolder non-governmental organisations and a more robust and proactive civil society. I wish to see the enforcement of environmental protection and animal welfare laws with more bite and fewer loopholes. More than that, I want to be part of the mechanism that makes all the above come true.
It was a quiet Lunar New Year for me back at the parental home, due to the fact that most of my friends were out of town for the holidays. I spent a lot of my time cycling, reading and attending to my animal companion care and volunteer commitments. Covert Big Bro and I also managed to keep our tradition of having thosai on the first day of New Year alive.

Amber and Chocky wait to greet me in the driveway of the parental home.

My parents' porch is a riot of colours during the Chinese New Year.

Assorted chrysanthemums in pots symbolise purity, honesty and longevity, while musk lime plants attract a bountiful harvest and prosperity.

Our reunion dinner was a simple affair at a well-loved restaurant, and the restauranteurs were obliging enough to prepare vegetarian dishes for me. After dinner, we went to the football field to release Kunming lanterns.

I had never thought of releasing Kunming lanterns before, as I had previously believed them to be fire hazards. I observed how they were used and realised that they were quite safe after all, and that the fire burns itself out without setting nearby objects on fire, and that the lantern is made of rice paper and is thus biodegradable.

Our little green lantern took our wishes and dreams up to the Heavens.

Covert Big Bro and Covert Twin, uncharacteristically mindful, ran after the lanterns to catch them when they fall, so as not to generate litter.

On the 3rd day of the New Year, I took my parents to the Pavilion shopping centre for a bit of festive fun. The mall was decorated to resemble a traditional temple fair in China.

Traditional Chinese kites for sale at a darling little booth in the concourse area of Pavilion.

The entire week had been apocalyptically hot. These cats at the SPCA did the best thing in the circumstances by having a siesta to conserve energy.

Adoption rates have been stable despite the festive season. Surrender rates typically go up and adoption rates go down right before a major holiday. I am glad to report that 5 puppies were adopted today (Wednesday, 17 Feb 2010). These are puppies No. 4 and 5, both adopted by the same family.

Speedy, one of the SPCA Office Dogs, enjoyed the attention of being photographed.

My latest fosteree, Gypsy, an orphaned kitten with sore eyes and a sensitive tummy. He would have to be put to sleep the next day if not fostered. I will give him the best of care and do all I can to find him a good home.

...And the Year of the Golden Tiger is off to a purrr-fect start!

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Those funny, familiar, forgotten places.

I am not a person given to nostalgia. I don't always think that places are better off left as they are, or that change is necessarily bad, unless, of course, it involves the destruction of a place or object of environmental, cultural or historical interest. I have never felt the need to revisit my childhood. My childhood was so awesome, so balanced, so full of adventures and experiences that I do not miss it. It was a childhood that prepared me well for adulthood and I was ready and happy to move on.

However, the 5-day break that I had for Lunar New Year gave me ample opportunity for long bike rides and quiet contemplation, and it occurred to me that photographing and writing about some of the places in the neighbourhood that I grew up in might actually be fun. Many of the places and buildings I once knew have already been muscled out by development. With a camera phone in my pocket, I set off on my trusty bike to record images for posterity.

My bike rides were by no means quiet. The festive weekend meant that many of my friends had similarly returned to their parental homes for a few days, and I bumped into some of my childhood friends -- Devaky, Sumitra, Parames, Vimi, Jeremy and Rafiz -- on my bike rides. They left our hometown, Rawang, perhaps for the same reasons that I did.

My trusty steed, the T-Bolt that I so fortuitously acquired in a slogan-writing competition in 2002, still has her place of pride in the middle of my bedroom.

This is the bedroom of my childhood and youth. Hardly anything has changed in this room from the time I moved out at age 20 - 21. Most of my trophies and medals were for long-distance running, and I occasionally wear those baseball caps and refer to my bird migration map from time to time. I still come back to the parental home on weekends to clean the house, do yard work and spend time with my parents and our canine children.

The street scene outside the parental home is very similar to what you would find in most small towns and residential areas in Malaysia.

Just down the street, beyond the deciduous trees you see at the bottom of our road, are railroad tracks, which are still in use today. One kilometre away is a limestone quarry operated by what used to be known as Associated Pan Malayan Cement (later, British Cement and then Malayan Cement).

I grew up sleeping through the sounds of trains screeching on the tracks and blowing their horns a mere 200 metres away from my home, and of rock blasting being carried out in the quarry two afternoons a week. When I grew older and attended more camping trips, I had friends who marvelled at my ability to sleep through any noise. It took me a number of years to realise that I had my childhood to thank for it.

The railroad tracks that run through the back of my neighbourhood have since been fenced up to prevent track intrusions.

I have crossed these tracks countless times in my teenage years before the electric commuter trains were introduced in 1994 - 1995.

A forlorn-looking decommissioned KTM commuter train sits on the side of the railway tracks.

Down the street from my house, there is a cul-de-sac with what used to be a dirt path to the right of the last house in the row.

Our neighbourhood, New Green Park, was constructed within what was once a rubber plantation, and in the 70s and 80s, there were pockets of rubber estates everywhere in the neighbourhood. We had a weekly domestic help whose house was located in the rubber estate, and we would go to the well outside her house to draw water each time we had problems with our water supply. We entered the rubber estate from a path to the right of the house here.

As you can see, no-one uses the path anymore and it is now completely recolonised by Macaranga, creepers, weeds and Acacia mangium plants. It says a lot about our present generation of children that they no longer see wooded areas as a source of unstructured fun.

When we were growing up, we used to have battles and games and foot races through the rubber estate and secondary jungles, and I spent many happy hours observing animals and plants and collecting insect specimens for my 'research'. Covert Dad always made me release them where I found them at the end of each day. It was here that I learned the basics of birdwatching and I identified many lowland species using field guides borrowed from the town library.

This is where the dirt path through the rubber estate ended.

The dirt path also served as a shortcut to the next neighbourhood, Taman Rawang Jaya. This was once a cul-de-sac where the children played basketball and chilled out with our bikes. At the height of the BMX craze in the mid-80's, we constructed ramps out of plywood and practiced our bike stunts here, as it was the widest cul-de-sac in the area.

The cul-de-sac that was once such a source of recreation is now a makeshift car workshop, and the dirt path we used has been completely overgrown with weeds as well.

This is my kindergarten teacher's house.

My former teacher, Mrs. Balendran, who must be 60 if she is a day, now owns both houses and operates the kindergarten out of the house on the right. Back in 1982 - 1984, she and her husband lived in only one of the houses (I think it was the one on the left) and conducted classes out of one tiny room in the back. It was probably the first British Montessori kindergarten in the district. I still encounter Mrs. Balendran once in a while and she keeps confusing me with Covert Twin. Strange, because Covert Twin and I look nothing like each other.

As you can tell from the blue hills in the distance, Rawang is located within a valley.

The economy of Rawang in the past had depended on 3 commodities: Rubber, tin and limestone rock/cement. The mining pools and rubber estates in my neighbourhood remind me of my town's humble beginnings.

This former mining pool had served as a duck farm before it was later converted into part of an industrial infrastructure .

Rawang was a former tin mining town, and its landscape is pockmarked with mining pools such as this one. There is even a neighbourhood called Rawang Tin, as it was populated mostly by people in the mining community.

As a child, I used to walk the overgrown path down to this particular mining pool in Taman Rawang Jaya to watch people fish. Quickmud is common along the banks of mining pools, especially during the monsoon season, and once I fell into quickmud which reached waist level within seconds. I had the presence of mind to adopt the lean-and-roll technique that I learned from a National Geographic article on quicksand and went home safely that day. My parents still do not know of that incident.

The duck farm has since been relocated and there is now a limestone processing plant where the duck farm once was. Those railroad tracks on the left are connected to the tracks down the road from my parents' home.

Neighbourhood provision shops like this one used to be far more common.

There used to be at least 5 other such shops in my neighbourhood, in the days when people realised what insanity it was to drive out to town for onions or sugar or ice cream. The introduction, growth and subsequent ubiquity of hypermarkets and chain stores brought about the demise of such shops. This is the only shop left in our neighbourhood. It is commonly referred to in our mangled English as the "Up Shop", due to the fact that it is located on a hill overlooking a football field.

As you can see, the shop still has a coconut grating machine, which is covered with a tin basin to keep vermin out.

As a child, when sent on a coconut-buying errand, I would often hope that the coconut the shopkeeper chose would have a spongy coconut embryo (also known as a sprout, or locally as a 'tumbung') for me to munch on.

This is the football field which the aforementioned provision shop overlooks.

It has a playground at the lower end of the field, but it wasn't for the playground equipment that I frequented this playing field as a youngster. See the slope with the steps built into them over yonder? We used to pilfer cardboard cartons from the "Up Shop" to slide down the said slope with.

Strange. The slope had seemed steeper and more dangerous and more exhilarating when I was younger.

I had until early adulthood held on to the belief that the said slope had a gradient of at least 60 - 75 degrees. I realise now that it couldn't have been more than a gentle 45. Still, I rode my bike down the slope several times, just for old times' sake.

The road leading to our neighbourhood used to be known as 'Jalan Waterfall' or 'Old Waterfall Road'.

According to Covert Dad, when the area was opened up for housing development, it was just an economically unproductive rubber estate and there had been a small waterfall where the access road now stands. The waterfall dried up after the trees were cut because it was no longer a natural watershed area.

Looking at the gradient of the slope and the remains of the natural 'rock steps' that the roads and houses attempt to level out, it is not difficult to imagine how this road could have once been a cascade.

This is the last remaining wooden house in our neighbourhood.

Where our neighbourhood ends, Kampung Rajah begins. Wooden houses like this one used to be more common at the boundaries of the two residential areas, but many have since been torn down and brick houses have been constructed in their place.

It will probably be a matter of time before this house makes way for development as well.

And all I will be left with then is probably just my memories of these funny, familiar, forgotten places.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Love, Immemorial

(For S, on Feb 14 2010)

I have known you under a different sky,
On a different soil, through different eyes
I have loved you in lives gone by
My love survived; it did not die.

By happenstance or divine decree
Our paths meet and intervolve anew
You, animal-healer, whose name means Truth
You, that Providence led me to

And in the sun-scorched island of lions
Of beehive homes, of grim-faced pylons
We loved as though we've never been hurt before
My tenderhearted Tagore
My honey-hued yogi
My surrender to you has set me free.

The gilded afternoon drew to a close.
Torn apart afresh, I smile through my grief.
The evening was despondent, the night morose.
Thoughts of you brought but ephemeral relief.

When we are free of the commitments of flesh,
When we are free to love in another lifetime,
When we embrace again in another set of chances,
Then, Dearest One, you will henceforth be mine.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Water Conservation Initiative

Water is precious, yet it is being wasted or poorly managed. You can help promote water conservation by sending on this meme. If you do, simply follow these rules:

1. Create a blog entry entitled "Water Conservation Initiative".
2. Post the Water Initiative Network's Water Facts in your post.
3. List 3 things YOU will do to save water.
4. Add in the photo above, or any photo you have taken of a waterfall, river or lake.
5. End with the line: "Find out more about water conservation and good governance by joining the Water Initiative Network on Facebook! Visit us here at: Water Initiative Network!

Tag 5 or more blog/FB friends. Be sure to copy the rules, okay?


1. Of every 100 drops of water on earth, 97 are too salty to drink, 2 are locked in ice and snow, and 1 is fresh water.

2. The daily requirement for sanitation, bathing, and cooking needs, as well as for assuring survival, is about 50 litres per person.

3. Reducing shower time from 20 mins to 8 mins saves up to 360 litres of water per shower.

4. A small drip from a faucet can waste as much as 75 litres of water a day.

5. Two thirds of the water used in a home is used in the bathroom. To flush a toilet, we use up to 9 litres of water.

6. Water-efficient toilets and washing machines are good ways to save water.

7. A low-tech way to save water is to form the habit of turning on the tap to low flow and turning it off when the water is not needed.

8. Non-revenue water (i.e. stolen or wasted water) constitutes 36% of water 'used' in Selangor, Malaysia, and this raises the cost of water for everyone.

9. Water supply infrastructure cost billions of ringgit. This money could be spent in more useful ways.

10. Large areas of forests are cleared to make way for water supply dams to accommodate our soaring demand for water. These forests and their wildlife represent our natural heritage.


1. It takes 3 litres of water to process and produce 1 litre of bottled drinking water. I will therefore stop buying bottled drinks and will bring my own drinking water from home.

2. I will install a rainwater harvesting system in my new home.

3. I will install dual-flush toilets when I need to replace my existing ones.


1. Pat
2. Katztales
3. Paus Biru
4. Terra Cin
5. Keats
6. Kids for Earth
7. Cat-In-Sydney
8. Three Little Piks

Find out more about water conservation and good governance by joining the Water Initiative Network on Facebook! Visit us here at:!/group.php?gid=282587736385&ref=nf

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Memento Mori

"Death is beautiful when seen to be a law, and not an accident - It is as common as life."
~Henry David Thoreau

My aunt went into a coma last Thursday night and passed away the day after, on Friday evening.

In retrospect, death was probably a release for her. Her quality of life has deteriorated since she had a stroke 7 years ago. She developed diabetes and other health complications after that.

In the disorder that followed her demise, and due to a combination of biological, pseudo-religious and astrological factors, I was advised by my parents not to accompany them for the funeral in Penang, but to hold fort at home to look after our canine children.

My aunt's family and mine have never been close. Although my father and my aunt were siblings, we lived worlds apart. My aunt never took a genuine interest in our lives, but I remember her as being unfailingly warm and jolly whenever we visited. She was a good cook and was not particularly watchful of her diet. She loved children, and was lenient with her own to a fault. My cousins left school young and got married early in life. They held many of the beliefs and mental attitudes of those from the Chinese heartland and our values must have appeared rather quaint and incredible to them. My aunt was lucky to be blessed with a great many grandchildren when she was alive, and her children lived close by, so she was never lonely. She was only 64 when she died.

A relationship doesn't end with death. She will always be my aunt, and Covert Dad's sister. Love is stronger than death, and our memories of my aunt will always be filled with love and will survive her death.

It was a quiet weekend for me spring-cleaning the parental home on my own with Amber and Chocky for company.

Amber and Chocky being loving to each other.

I had contemplated participating in a post-Thaipusam clean-up campaign at the Batu Caves temple complex with my friends from the Facebook group I joined, Sampah Masyarakat (literal translation: Community Rubbish), but there were too many things to do at the parental home and I only left for the SPCA at midmorning on Sunday.

Tail-end of the Jumble Sale: Our Charity Shop in a mess.

The SPCA had a Jumble Sale in the morning and the booths were manned by volunteers from nearby schools. We managed to raise a small sum of money from the sale. Some of the unsold items were returned to the Charity Shop, as shown above, but most of it (clothes, toys and household goods) was loaded onto our animal pick-up truck and delivered to the migrant worker and refugee communities by Samy, our driver.

Jack-Jack leaves for his new home today.

One of the best things about the SPCA Jumble Sale is that a well-publicised event always attracts animal lovers, i.e. potential volunteers and adopters. We always get a spike in adoptions after every Jumble Sale. Jack-Jack here was adopted by a loving family who has previously adopted from the SPCA as well.

A bouquet of flowers, though short-lived, is always appreciated.

It was our shelter worker Kak Mazni's birthday, and we decided to honour her with a small private celebration in the shelter office. Reve got her a cake, I got her chocolates and Reve and Shahrul got her a bunch of flowers. I'm not entirely sure why, but Kak Mazni was quite weepy throughout the cake-cutting ceremony.

All comfy again, and in familiar territory.

I spent the whole day tidying up after the Jumble Sale and cleaning the animal shelter. The cats were not happy when I turned them out of their baskets to scrub and disinfect their sleeping baskets and litter trays, but once they had fresh, dry bedding, clean litter trays and sanitary and sweet-smelling living quarters again, they were happy to settle down in their baskets and let me pet them.

You can't find a better friend than a dog.

The dogs know that they are not allowed in the kennels when I am cleaning, but this little dog seemed to understand that I was feeling a little blue due to my aunt's bereavement and decided to come in to keep me company. Selective breeding has given us ideal animal companions in cats and dogs, and the bond between human and domesticated animals is strong. Cats and dogs are faithful, companionable, loving, responsive, reliable and able to thrive in human environments.

It was a quiet but productive weekend, and keeping myself busy helped me take my mind off my aunt's demise. It was troubling to try to determine whether or not I miss her. The last time I saw her was in 2004/2005, and perhaps I do feel remorse for not having visited her again since then.

"There are only so many tomorrows", I've been told. There are only so many tomorrows for visiting loved ones, telling friends how much I care for them, extending a helping hand, volunteering my time and energy, and uttering words that I thought could have waited for another time.

Requiscat in Pace, Auntie. Know that you are surrounded by our love, always.