Friday, 30 September 2016

Beatles Bento

The KISS bento I made last week motivated me to create more band-themed bentos.
Of course, The Beatles, being the band that changed my life, was the natural and obvious choice next.
A Beatles fan very pleased with her Beatles bento, while wearing a matching tee :) Nothing to see here, folks, move along, move along.
How many Beatles references can you spot? (There are 3)
I think I am getting better at this. My nori-cutting skills have improved with experience, too. I can think of so many other bands and themes now.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Rock Band Tribute Bento: KISS

When my friend Pyo posted a photo of a Gene Simmons bento on my Facebook timeline last week, I saw it as a challenge to come up with one of my own. I have been a KISS fan since my teens and I think this bento, which I made last Monday, did them justice. It's gonna rock and roll in my stomach all night and party every day!

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

National Day Week

When I was 18, I signed up to be a Territorial Army Reservist (Askar Wataniah Kerahan) because I felt that if there were a crisis in this country, I want to be part of the solution. When I grew older, I realised that one does not have to take up arms to defend and protect one's country. We defend and protect our country and society every day by choosing to act with integrity, responsibility, justice and moral courage. We can try to be part of the solution every day without ever having to put our lives on the line. 
(P/S: In retrospect, I would have been absolutely rubbish as a soldier anyway.)
I had a busy National Day week. Wednesday proved itself to be a wet, chilly and blustery one. Met up with my good friends Rudhra and Angela for an early banana leaf lunch at Usha's in PJ Old Town before heading to Section 52 to explore the back alleys and photograph street art before the thunderstorm broke.
... And then it was off to the National Blood Bank in Jalan Tun Razak for my National Day tradition of blood donation.
A short rest and some refreshments followed, and then I was off to the SPCA to help out in the Cattery, since it was too wet and cold for bathing dogs. I cleaned the cats' ears with ear mite solution, administered Frontline tick and flea prevention spray on every cat, checked each cat for injuries, overgrown/ingrown claws and other irregularities, and cleaned out the Cattery. This took several hours and since it was a wet, cold night, I went home afterwards and spent the night doing housework instead of going out for coffee and a movie as I had planned earlier.
The following day was a workday and just as rainy. Traffic in the evening was frightful and it took me close to two hours to get to the Homeless Assistance and Service Centre in Lorong Medan Tuanku 2, where Green Living is having our annual collaboration with Kedai Jalanan. Thankfully, our other volunteers did not have such a great distance to travel as I did, and managed to arrive in good time to assist Lin Idrus and her students with setting up the store. There were puddles everywhere, so it was a good thing the clothes were hung up on racks and there were tarps to line the ground with.

The volunteers helped me unload the remaining donations from The Stinkbug and we arranged the goods while our homeless clients queued up for dinner. We opened our store for 'business' as soon as some of the clients finished eating. We were kept happily and busily on our feet attending to clients, helping them try on clothing, putting things into reusable shopping bags (we had stacks of those donated by volunteers) and managing the crowd. Our Green Living committee members Shannon and Zhang Hui were fantastic as usual.
A group photo of the volunteers for posterity. Well done, Kedai Jalanan!
We finished around 10 p.m. and packed up. I loaded a rubbish bag full of dirty, stained and torn clothing for recycling into the Stinkbug to be dropped off at the recycling bins later and went out to supper with the other volunteers at the Naan restaurant nearby.
It has been a fulfilling week. Often, patriotism means appreciating and accepting the people of all strata of society who make up this vibrant young nation. It means putting our time and energies into improving our country and community. It means taking the time to appreciate all that is beautiful and quirky about our country and doing our best to keep it beautiful, safe and clean.
... And in honour of things that are beautiful and quirky, I leave you with a photodump of the street art in Section 52, Petaling Jaya, around the PJ State Cinema and Menara MBPJ.

This one is a really cool interactive one. It's an adult-sized merry-go-round made of steel and bungee cords.
Seats and tables made of reclaimed steel drums and pallets for the public's use.
Bamboo windchimes in the darkening sky.

I love the "suddenly something" effect of street art. I love their incongruity. I love the way they encourage interaction and participation from passersby.

Storm clouds gathering in the darkening sky.
CovertOps78, Out.  

Friday, 2 September 2016

Turtle Volunteer Programme 2016 and another Jonker Jaunt

As we have been doing for the past 4 years, Green Living again coordinated our annual Turtle Volunteer Programme at the Turtle Information and Conservation Centre in Masjid Tanah, Melaka, during the turtle nesting and hatching season. This took place last Saturday, 27th August 2016. 32 participants turned up for the event, including new MNS members and families with young children. This is a good 'tenderfoot' programme for new volunteers and those who are unable to take long breaks from work to volunteer at turtle sanctuaries in Pulau Redang and other conservation sites. It's good for members of the public to be able to volunteer for one day and still be able to see the enormous difference they have made.

I managed to persuade my parents to join me on this trip so that they would be able to see a little of what I do as a volunteer. Besides, neither have released turtle hatchlings before. This turned out to be a good decision because we all enjoyed ourselves immensely and we have come a full circle of sorts. When my brothers and I were children, our parents taught us about wildlife and conservation and took us on trips all around the country to learn more about historical sites and places of natural interest. Now it is my turn to take them on trips and get them involved in my conservation work.
We arrived at the Centre in the afternoon and sat through the usual educational talk and briefing in the auditorium.

Then it was time to clean out the turtle holding pool. There has been changes to the Centre and the smaller pool at the side of the building has been closed up and the turtles have been transferred to the large pool at the back.
The volunteers put a lot of effort into scrubbing the pool and polishing the carapace of the turtles. It was especially encouraging to see how hard the children worked 'to make the turtles clean and healthy'.

The hatchery did not need any cleaning this round, as there had been another group of volunteers who had spruced and tidied up the hatchery, so we proceeded straight to the beach for the beach cleanup.

Everyone worked hard at picking up litter. Most of the litter consisted of cigarette butts and styrofoam food packaging. There has been some heartening developments in the state. The Melaka state government has implemented a styrofoam ban and is taking steps to phase out foam food packaging. Hopefully this will translate into less foam packaging on beaches and in the sea.
Look at my parents, working hard. I am so very proud of them.
Green Living's youngest committee member Zhang Hui and I climbed into a deep, stagnant drain to fish out all the horrible plastic bags, bottles and foam cups and clamboxes clogging up the drain. It was awful but necessary work. This girl didn't even flinch one bit. She really is a dynamo. Her sense of responsibility and discipline set a good example for the other young participants. I really could not have done without her help.
Earth Heroes, each and every one. We managed to collect a remarkable amount of rubbish, which is quite outstanding considering that approximately 12 out of 32 volunteers are young children, and 2 are senior citizens. I am glad they dived into this task so enthusiastically and understood the importance of beach cleanups.

We then had our usual souvenir presentation ceremony. The Turtle Information Centre presented each participant with a turtle-shaped keychain made of polished coconut husk, while Green Living presented each family with a stack of turtle postcards packed with natural history information. The children were especially thrilled with the physical acknowledgements of their hard work.

By then the sun had gone down and it was time for the highlight of the programme -- hatchling release! We went down to the beach and squatted or stood in 'V' formation for the release. I invited the first-timers to tip the boxes gently to release the hatchlings.

We bade the turtles goodbye and good luck as they made their way to the sea. It was, as always, an emotional experience.
My parents got to witness their first turtle hatchling release.

When the final turtle hatchling entered the sea, I announced the end of the Turtle Volunteer Programme 2016 and thanked all the participants for their time, effort and resources. Hugs and handshakes were exchanged.

Then it was time for me to tidy and pack up, thank the staff of the Centre, and drive my parents and myself to our hotel, Baba House, in Melaka Town.

This is my third stay in Baba House and I haven't grown tired of it yet. My parents were positively charmed by the quaintly decorated and restored hotel.

We had a lovely supper of street food in Jonker Walk. I had no idea my stomach could hold so much coconut ice cream and fresh pineapple.
Breakfast the following morning was at the courtyard / dining area of Baba House as usual. My parents loved the old photos and architectural details and of course a photograph for posterity is in order.
We had a nice walk around Jonker Street in the morning, bought durian crepes and other treats from Durian Cottage and admired the architecture of some of the older buildings.

The drive home was smooth and uneventful except for a coffee break. It has been another successful Turtle Volunteer Programme and I hope it has increased our appreciation of nature and the marine ecosystem.

For more information on visiting and volunteering at the Turtle Conservation and Information Centre, contact the Centre at:
Pusat Konservasi dan Penerangan Penyu
(Turtle Conservation and Information Centre)
Pantai Padang Kemunting,
Masjid Tanah,
Pengkalan Balak,

Phone/Fax: 06 384 6754

Facebook Profile:!/hawksbill.ecoclub.3