Tuesday, 16 August 2011

The Four Don'ts at Nirvana Memorial Centre

I was at Nirvana Memorial Centre to pay my last respects to a good friend's late father last night. Despite the sad event, it was a great time of fellowship, with lots of laughter, some at my expense. I was teased about being an ugly girl with a magnifying glass on her nose by friends who had not seen me in my myopic glasses before. It was all good-natured teasing, of course. Like all good friends, we could never resist poking fun at each other.

Oh yeah, and there was lots of food....the most incredible spread I had ever seen at a funeral parlour. And in the midst of chatting, laughing and enjoying the food, something caught hubby's and my eye......a sign with four don'ts....

1) No food allowed.....huh??!!.....the food galore was part of the package, ain't it??
2) Silence....oops, guilty
3) No smoking....ok, checked. Nobody smoked here.
4) No camera.....that, too, was OK, until I saw that sign and had to fish my camera out of my bag and commit the final blunder.....

Thursday, 11 August 2011

A "Cure" For Catty Black Moods

Blackie is moody this morning. A typical morning sees him jumping onto tables, chairs, bed and dashing from one end of the apartment to the other end, much like a mini horse in a horse race. But this morning he just sits there glaring at anyone who passes by. None of the games and toys interest him. 

He was in a black mood since yesterday evening, too. Usually, he is rather docile around Yin, although he does like to play rough with her. But when Yin has enough and hisses at him, he would stop. Yesterday, he didn't. Instead, he continued to whap her with his paw. And this morning, he pounced on her shoulder and pulled another large tuff of fur from the back of her neck. Gosh....I'm beginning to see a small, tiny bald patch there....I first noticed it -- less fur at the back of her neck, just between the shoulder blades -- when I got back from my holiday in Cherating. So, how to bring him out of the black mood?

A catnip pillow! It's supposed to be cat ecstasy, right?  And it worked! Blackie picked up the pillow and ran off with it. The only thing he has shown interest in this morning.

When Yin tried to grab it from him, he whapped her hard. I could hear the loud thud as paw landed on skull. Ouch. Poor Yin, she isn't used to being whacked by Blackie, or having Blackie fight with her over anything. Blackie has always let her grab toys or food right off his paws. 

I'll have to get another catnip pillow from sillylupie so they'll have one each. Anything to keep them happy and out of black moods.

Related post:
Cats on Ecstasy

Homer's Odyssey by Gwen Cooper

The first time I heard of Homer's Odyssey was in July 2009, when Random House contacted me to write a review on it. I had earlier blogged on Dewey - The Small Town Library Cat Who Touched The World in my previous blog, blackie007.blogspot.com. 

Random House, its publisher, had come across my review and offered me a free advance copy of Homer's Odyssey, with the view that I would read and write a review on it. All I was told was that it's a true story about a remarkable blind cat. I was very glad to accept the offer, but after I gave them my address in Malaysia, Random House found that they "could not send to an international address due to distribution restriction policy" whatever that meant. 

I was disappointed, but after some time, forgot all about it. Yup, I forgot entirely about Homer's Odyssey even though I promised myself that when the book is available in local bookshops, I would buy a copy and read it.

It was not until last week, when I was browsing around the Kindle ebooks that I saw Homer's Odyssey. The title rang a bell, and I was pretty sure that this was the book I had promised myself that I would read when it's made available. I immediately looked through my emails (thanks to gmail's easy search feature), and yes, it was Homer's Odyssey alright.

Homer was found and taken to a vet when he was merely two weeks old, with eye infection so bad that the vet had to remove both his eyes. The couple who found him asked Patty, the vet, to euthanize him. Unwilling to do that, Patty tried to find a home for him but no one would take a young, blind kitten, even when it was obvious that he would pull through. The author, Gwen Cooper, was the last one on Patty's list.

photo taken from Gwen Cooper's photo gallery --> http://www.gwencooper.com/photo.php

Despite his visual handicap, Homer is a furry bundle of affection and action. He's as active as 5 cats put together, and can leap as high as 5 feet in the air to catch flies in midair, and to climb and jump like a normal, seeing cat. The author attributed his skills to Scarlett, the oldest feline in the house. Homer would try to keep up with Scarlett, and however high Scarlett could jump or climb, Homer figured he could do so, too. 

His antics are truly amusing, although those who met him for the first time without any warning are usually nonplussed. This was one of my favourite image.....
"Homer, in those days, was particularly enamored of playing with tampons. Having encountered one by chance, he was fascinated by the way they'd roll around, and by the string at the end. He liked them so much, he figured out where I kept them stored in the cabinet below the bathroom sink and - with unerring patience and accuracy - mastered the task of forcing open the cabinet door and raiding the tampon box.
When I walked in with my date, Homer ran to greet me at the door. And there, hanging from his mouth was a tampon. The whiteness of it stood out against his black fur in vivid, mortifying rellief. He scampered around in gleeful triumph for a moment, then promptly ran over and sat expectantly on his haunches in front of me, tampon clutched between his jaws like a dog with a rawhide bone."
This passage reminds me so much of this video here, LOL!!  --> http://youtu.be/aYe1d5_LS0s 

But Homer is more than just pure entertainment. He saved the author from an intruder at 4am one morning, but more than that, he taught the author that she should not live her life in fear. Homer had no fear. 
"Every leap from a chair back or table-top is taken on faith, a potential leap into the abyss. Every ball chased down a hallway is an act of implicit bravery. Every curtain or counter top climbed, every overture of friendship to a new person, every step forward taken without guidance into the dark void of the world around him is a miracle of courage. He has no guide dog, no cane, no language in which he can be reassured or made to understand the shape and nature of the hurdles he encounters."
It is a heart-warming book that makes you laugh and cry. Every pet owner would be able to relate to the author when for a few days she was prevented from returning to her apartment near the World Trade Centre during 9/11, and how she feared for the survival and safety of her cats, especially Homer, who is blind.

The author's success is, in a large part, owed to Homer. She was a struggling 24-year-old with two cats and squatting in a friend's spare bedroom when she took Homer. Realising she can't afford to get her own place and keep Homer was what spurred her on to find a more lucrative career.

This book, like Dewey, is a must-read for all ailurophiles. It can be downloaded at Amazon UK, or purchased from  MPH Online, although I would recommend downloading it from Amazon UK, as it would only cost you RM25, as opposed to downloading it at Amazon dot com, which would cost you RM33, or RM60 from MPH Online. 

Random House, if you are reading this, you ought to do something about your distribution restriction policy and reward me for this post.....LOL!!!

Monday, 8 August 2011

Ghost Festival and World Cat Day

Yesterday was World Cat Day and I did the unforgivable. It passed without my being aware of it. I mean, I know 7 August was World Cat Day, but yesterday was an extremely busy day for me. Mum was in pain the whole morning, and up to 12:15pm, she still couldn't get up to have her breakfast. Then, hubby and I had to go to Kwong Tong Cemetery & Columbarium, where my father-in-law's urn was kept, for the ghost festival. When I returned, mum was still in pain. And so I forgot all about World Cat Day until this evening, when I went online. I'd have to make it up to my kitties.

The ghost festival began on 31 July 2011 and would last till 14 August 2011. Growing up, I was a curious child. I would ask my late grandmother about the Taoist rites that I saw our neighbours along the road performed. One of them was the ghost festival. 

The Taoists believe that when a person dies, Ox-Head and Horse-Face (Goo-Tau Beh-Bin in Hokkien), two fearsome guardians of hades, would escort the departed soul to the king of hades (Giam Loh Ong in Hokkien) for judgement. If they had been good, they would be in a midway 'house', a place in between heaven and earth. If they had been bad, they would be punished and tortured in purgatory (picture their hands and feet bound in chains, being whipped, and locked up in cells). 

According to Taoist mythology, once a year, on the first day of the seventh lunar month, the gates of hell would be opened and that is when the ghosts utilise their 15 days' annual leave. That said, there seems to be a conflict of whether the ghosts' holiday is 15 days or 30 days long. Perhaps the ghosts are now entitled to 15 days' medical leave, taken together with their annual leave??!

Anyway, if you'd like to read more about this mythology, at the bottom of the page are a few links.

At the columbarium yesterday, there was a big paper ship. I was told that the dead will be taken on a holiday to China. 

The ticket for the voyage

Effigy of the King of Hades...I wonder if he'll be going to China, too?

Related post:


Thursday, 4 August 2011

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

I've never felt inclined to read any of Neil Gaiman's works before. But after reading a review of The Graveyard Book by my friend, Bookface, I was sold. 

From what she wrote, it sounded like something right up my alley. That said, I've tried reading some of the books she reviewed, and have personally found that she is a far better writer than some of the award-winning authors themselves. There were some books where the characters and plot were far more interesting in her own words than in the books themselves. 

So I approached the book somewhat hesitantly, trying not to have too high an expectation of it. Imagine my delight when I was hooked right away at the first sentence. It was one of those can't put down books, and I finished it within twenty-four hours. I started it on a Sunday afternoon at a hotel in Cherating, and finished it by the next afternoon. Had I not gone out on any activities, I would have finished it even sooner! 

That may not mean much to others, but it meant that I had enjoyed the book so thoroughly that my nose was buried in it every available second that I had to spare.

What's the book about, you ask. The Graveyard Book is about a boy called Nobody Owens (Bod for short) raised by ghosts and neither dead nor alive creatures in a cemetery. Think "The Jungle Book" by Rudyard Kipling and you'd be dead on. Since I could never write half as well as my friend, please check out her review for a little snippet on The Graveyard Book

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

8TV Ramadan Racist Commercials -- Updated on 6/8/11

8TV, one of our terrestrial TV, recently screened some questionable commercials that caused some strong feelings in the Chinese community. While I understand that 8TV was trying to remind the public that the Ramadan is a Muslim holy month and that we should all respect it, the commercials were in rather poor taste.

The same message could have been conveyed in a better, and more sensitive manner. Instead, 8TV projected the message that the Chinese community is rude, loud, greedy and immoral. Great, thanks, TV8, you have just shown us what a bigoted racist you are.

The video can be viewed at --> http://youtu.be/JJmIrlb7gLw

Thanks to Ms Kay Poh who notified us on the removal of the above video. The video is also available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K8NECjDoves and a follow-up news of its withdrawal of the ads at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ke7p5rp-nbI.