Thursday, May 1, 2008

When Letting Go is Humble Acceptance

AL FATIHAH..........

I was given this poem (by Anon) when grieving over my beloved Emak's passing. And among other things that one goes through to honour, dignify and feel redha over the passing of loved ones, I find strange comfort in seeking it, yet again. It does not have a title, but I would like to call it simply


To Mourn Too Long

For Those We Love

Is Self-Indulgent

But To Honour

Their Memory

With A Promise

To Live A Little Better

For Having Known Them

Or Being Cherished By Them

Gives Purpose

To Their Lives

And Some Reason

For Their Departure

(By Anon)

Abah's last birthday on July 25, 2007 (93 years old)

Salamun Qaulam Mirrabir-rahim, Abah. We miss you and feel you closer to us than ever before.
You are with Emak now and probably looking us over. Semoga Allah menerima segala amalan dan mengampun dosa insan nya, dan menempatkan Abah dan Emak bersama orang orang yang soleh dan solehah. We love you both and always include you in our prayers, and semoga ibadah anak anak di terima Allah. Amin.
p.s. We will remember you most on Abang's birthday ( July 25 also) and also on Bilal Hakeem's as he was born on the very day Allah calls for you......

Monday, April 14, 2008



My beloved Abah passed away on March 26, 2008 at 11.20 pm in Malacca. He is deeply missed and may Allah mencucuri rahmat ke-atas roh nya and menempatkan ia bersama orang orang yang soleh. Amin.

I will need some time to grieve at my own pace for now....and Insya Allah, will resume blogging soon.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Cik Siti is a Mum

Milla, our youngest cat, enjoying an afternoon snooze( and having a nightmare): "Oh God....did that stray Siti have to deliver 3, not 1 but 3, kittens in this place? I will lose my place as the "cutie" now! There goes all those extra morsels for me...."
(Note: Most of our cats like t sleep on their backs like Milla above!)
.Now, about Cik Siti ....
We really were not aware when it finally happened but the very pregnant stray in Kampung ( Cik Siti ) has delivered her first litter!

According to my brother, she didn't make an appearance for days in early March even though we had set up a few cartons with old towels in them, in case she needs a place to deliver her kittens. He thought she might have found her way home to where she came from. Cik Siti came into our lives in Kampung on City day, looking really thin and scrawny, and so, so, lost, so we fed her. She got along with the other cats and decided to hang around, finding shelter in the old chicken coops in the backyard or on top of an old cupboard, leaning against the empty kandang.

We realised that despite being scrawny (sharp angular face and spindly legs) she has a fat tummy. I had thought it was worms as she lives outdoors. But her tummy kept growing and soon her teats were showing. That was when it hits us that she might be in the family way. I told my brother to feed her if she shows up and we positioned a few boxes under the house, in the garage and in the coops so that she has a choice of "maternity beds" to choose from.

My brother only discovered that she had delivered when he returned to Kampung after a few days of visiting me in KL. When he entered the house, Cik Siti was under the TV cupboard, nursing three fat kitties! And they were already quite a good size, eyes already wide open and screeching sharply when he tried to dis-entangle them from their mummy's teats. Ijan wasted no time mms-ing me a quick shot of them, how cute they are! I will post their photo in future postings, still trying to fiure out how to bluetooth the photo onto the pc.

Two male kittens ( he thinks) and one female. Romeo and Cheetah, and Juliet.....very pretty names for very grey kittens. I would have named them Kelabu, Belang and Chomel. They look fine and healthy, and I am really glad. As soon as they are weaned from their mum, I will need to take Siti to be spayed. No more little kitties as there are just too many in Kampung. While space is not a problem, I think the cat population around the house just needs to be controlled a bit.

I sometimes used to wonder ( still do) why some people choose to breed cats ( of course for the money) continuously, with no break for the mother/queen cat to be a cat and enjoy life. As soon as the kittens are weaned, they are offered for sale, hence separating the poor mother and offsprings. The mother is then mated again for another round of litter. Only to be taken away from her just when they become adorable only to end up in dispay cases in pet shops around town. Surely there are better ways to earn a living? Would we do this to our kind?

I wonder too what makes a cat-lover love cats. As a pet for companionship? To save a life and protect a living thing who otherwise might be dangerously roaming the streets and get run over ( and not die instantly)? Because they are cute and can catch mice? Or they are nice accessories to have around the house, and depending on the breed, can be a way to shout one's status to all and sundry? I know that proffessional breeders do provide a service as some people are very particular about their pet cats. Like developing hypoallergenic cats specially for cat lovers who are allergic to cats (???!!!).
I am also aware that in the US ( January 2008 issue of Catworld) a new hybrid has been genetically developed as the latest "must-have" "Lifestyle" pet - the Ashera. Apparently it is "an African Serval cat crossed with an Asian Leopard cat" and stands at 4(FOUR) feet tall! The price for a kitten ( with a one year waiting list like the Kelly Bag from Hermes?!) is POUND STERLINGS 14,000!! Yes, you read it right, FOURTEEN THOUSAND, convert that to RM and it is close to 100,000!!! Well, the extent we humans go to sometimes to be more human(smarter) than animals. And yet animals can give birth in the wild with no need for midwives or hospitals...

Moi? Not particular at all. Most of my cats are rescued cats and luckily they seem to be healthy and hardy. I need the vet only when they sustain some injury or other. Alhamdullillah for moggies.

Back to the Ashera . I read the article a few times to make sure it is not a fiction featured in a cat magazine. It wasn't. So there you are, soon cats will not be cats anymore? Maybe some will have rabbit's ears or elephant trunks or crocodile jaws. Whatever. The Sphinx is bad enough, poor creature. It would have nightmares if it realises just how weird it looks . But to pay close to Rm100,000 for a cat (the Ashera) is the ultimate act of decadence ( for me). What will it feed on, caviar? Smoked salmon and fresh seafood platter? The owner? Hmmm.

I like cats the way they are - easy to find, easy to please and so very interesting to observe. And to look like the cat I used to see in my early reading books, the ones that say "This is a cat. The cat sits on a mat."

Sunday, March 23, 2008

More Bling-Bling!

Well, Beling beling to be exact! Imagine how thrilled I was to discover that Daun Pecah Beling IS growing in my neigbourhood! Now that I know what it looks like, my eyes naturally grabbed any growths in the neighbourhod "belukar" that resembles the plant that I had received from Penang. What a nice and plkeasant discovery it was....

....especially since my stock of leaves to be blended with an apple avery other day is dwindling very fast, and not to mention, whatever that's left are wilting just as fast too. I had also generously offered some to a couple of people I know who were keen to have some. One is for a friend's nephew who has colon cancer, who will complete his chemotherapy soon, and the other is for a friend's nephew-in-law who is currently undergoing chemotheraphy for Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Now I can tell them that there is a ready source of fresh leaves. One of my neighbours must have planted it, it couldn't have just grown on its own.

I had cautioned them that this should be treated as a supplement ( rich in antioxidants) rather than a cure ( not clinically tested yet but testimonials from survivors who take the blended drink regularly ) and therefore they would continue with their chemotherapy routine.

I am going to a birthday Hi-Tea of a friend at her home today ( she turns 60) and seriously thinking of giving her some of the cuttings that I have started growing of Pecah Beling. Her hubby is a green enthusiast and loves to garden, so it could be a nice gift , if I "dress up" the pot and gift-wrap it. It will be a gift with a difference as other than a book, I have run out of good ideas on what to give as presents for friends who have led a very good life....who seems to have everything that they need , and more. Hmm, I could seriously consider this....

Friday, March 21, 2008

Amy's got a gun..!

Bouncer - new injuries before the old ones could even heal.....!

For someone with a "masculine" name of Azmi, I was lucky enough to have a string of nicknames which are rather feminine! My parents call me "Miah" even though they would refer me to others as "Azmi". My siblings call me "Ami" /Kak "Ami". My nieces and nephews call me "Aunty Amy". This can be traced back to the early 70's/late 60's when I became an "aunty" for the first time ever and was trying to decide if I should be Mak Ngah or something else. Something else it was, as way back in the late 60's and early 70's, it was simply "groovy" to have a western version of your name. Just like our neigbours across the Malacca Straits. My friends call me any of the call names according to when they began to know me. Colleagues at work call me my real name. As a student in the UK, my lecturers called me "Ms Talib". They thought Azmi is my dad's name.

What a any case, today I got a gun. Yes, Amy's got a gun. A toy gun. No permit required. It cost me all of RM 19.99, as it was on offer at Toys R Us. No, cancer has not accelerated second childhood in me. It has just taught me to take stock of situations, no matter how insignificant it may seem to others, and do the necessary to resolve stressful ones so that these will not grate on my nerves. Stress is bad. If anything, try to resolve the source of stress or simply choose to just ignore it. If you can.

Remember Bouncer? He has learnt not to wander unnecessarily, incase he gets into another "bloody" brawl. The unfortunate thing is, his main "opponent", the huge yellow cat( hence we call him "Kuning") from the next road kept making an appearance at our front gate and into our garden. Once in our compound, Bouncer can't resist the impulse ( or instinct ) to chase him off. When that happens, si-Kuning would attack, and yes, I have a fight on my hands. Both cats have their balls intact ( not spayed), and hence the aggression towards each other. A territorial thing with Bouncer, a curiousity of sorts for Si-Kuning ( we still refer to him as Si-Kuning, even though his human owner call him "Warrior"). No wonder he is always cruising for a bruising!

Bouncer hasn't been spayed because he may not be able to take the GA ( general anasthetic) to enable the Vet to neuter him. Maybe that was the reason his previous owner hasn't done it for him. I am not sure what si-Kuning's reason is. I must find out from the owner, and try to persuade them to have him spayed. He is also collecting battle wounds on his otherwise fluffy yellow body.

When they fight, it is really fighting for their lives - really a wild catfight, grovelling all over the ground and generating loud, frightening sounds that can be heard along the whole street. When we tried to pull them apart, we got ourselves scratched. It would have been so easy to pry them apart with a long stick ( which I have) but they stuck to each other, biting ears and eyes, with loose fur flying all around. Not to mention the nervous pee-ing that occur at the same time. Their brawls really scared my other cats who are caged in their "multi-level" mobile cage in the garden.

I really shoudn't take sides, but si-Kuning really has no business being here attacking Bouncer. And as for Bouncer, he should have just "growled" and let si Kuning slink away quietly, but no, if si Kuning keeps on advancing, Bouncer goes for the attack! It must be the tiger(stripes) in him.

So what to do? I don't have the heart to hit them with my tennis racket ( that would have stopped the fight I figured) whack and smash...and they both get thrown against the garden wall. I have a garden hose but by the time I get to the hose and turn on the tap, it would have been a good 3-4 minutes of fight, too late to save scratches on both of the fighters! Si Kuning too suffers some bad cuts on his face, but he keeps coming for more!

But(excitedly) now I have a gun!!!. A toy gun no doubt. But, it is a "Power Blaster" no less, and can shoot a "powerful" jet of water up to 30 feet away. I tested it on the maid and she said it is "ticklish" where the jet of water hits her. I was hoping for "prickly" rather than ticklish, but I guess that will do. The gun is now filled with it's water ammunition, placed close to my main door. Just waiting for the next time si-Kuning makes an appearance. At the first signal of a growl from Bouncer, we would know that he is approaching our front gate.

And we would know what to do. Cats simply hate cold water. A simple jet of cold water will surely keep si-Kuning away,. This should save both him and Bouncer from more scratches and cuts. And peace at last for my other babies who will be trying to enjoy a bit of sun in their cage in the garden!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Bouncer, Oh Bouncer...!!!

I had mentioned Bouncer in one of my earlier posts last year. We found him badly injured and taking refuge in my porch, when I returned to KL after a few weeks in Kampung late August 2007. He was skinny, smelly, with swollen jaw, eye and a big hole under his chin which had pus oozing out. One of his incisor teeth was chipped. We could not figure out what might have happened to him but felt sorry for him. I sent him to the Vet where he was nursed for 18 days as he was severely dehydratee and it seems his liver was not functioning well because his ears and the whites of his eyes were YELLOW!

He was perfectly fine after that, albeit very weak and required a few more weeks of recuperating at home. He had to be caged as his liver infection may be passed on to the other cats. He was also on some medication for almost 3 weeks which I had to administer with difficulty as his jaw was still mending and it wasn't easy to chuck in the tablets. Besides, the hole in his lower jaw went through his mouth. You could put cotton wool under his jaw and see it from inside his lower mouth!

Poor Bouncer...we didn't know how he came to appear at my house or where he came from. He was very weak but we can tell that he is a "manja" cat. He must have a human owner, surely. Either he was dumped nearby due to his injury or perhaps he had wandered from his human and got into a brawl, and hence the injury. Whatever, we decided to adopt him until his owner comes looking. We called him "Bouncer" as he looks like one, tough shoulders, big neck and despite being ill, eats tons! When he was at the Vet's, he refused to eat and drink, so he was put on a drip. I had to come by EVERYDAY to make him eat ( which he did happily - he lapped up his food while I was around).

Bouncer is a cat who thinks he is a guard dog and really lives up to his name. He used to just sit up on all fours guarding the front porch and hardly leaves the house. Whenever I am back from an outing, he would be on guard at the porch and acknowledges my return with a meow and gently rubs his head against my feet. He gets stepped on sometimes ( well, a lot actually) because I move around like a storm. He puts on a deep growl if an outside cat tries to sneak in, just like a guard dog.

When his strength grows and he puts on weight, he was more confident and started to chase the outside cats to wherever their points of origins were. Sometimes he comes back , sometimes he doesn't. That is fine with me as I was hoping he might remember where he used to live and find his must-now-be-so-frantic human owner. But thankfully, he comes back always, even though sometimes we don't get to see him for a few days . Once he was missing for about 5 days and I had felt quite sad that he might have found his owner and I won't get to see his pathetic though cute face again.

Most recently he came back with lots of "battle wounds". His ears were badly scratched, he lost his (3rd!) collar , deep gashes all over his body and really bad bite marks on one of his forelegs. He might have been entangled in a fight with a dog or maybe another fierce cat. It must have been a bad fight because he stayed home for days due to exhaustion. The gaping wounds didn't help as it must be painful for him to move around.

The photo below shows Bouncer today, still trying to recover from his wounds. It was just about to heal a few days ago when he decided to go on patrol again, and of course, he came home with his wounds refreshed and bleeding plus a few new scratches. I now keep him indoors in the day time and cage him outside at night. At least until the wound heals. He is on antibiotics and we have to clean his wound daily.

I make him sleep on an old armchair in the house. Look at how terrible that wound is - very smelly too. The wound on the underside of the same foreleg looks worse but he wouldn't let me photograph it.

This is Bouncer when he was discharged from the Vet's in August last year(when we sent him in to be treated for his liver ailment). He was rather skinny then and did not have a collar. He wears one now so that no one will treat him as a stray but with "respect".... I have heard of cruel folks who set their dogs after stray cats, and I don't want anyone to think he is a stray-stray.

Pawtrait of Bouncer just before he got caught up in the brawls. He is wearing a collar which is hidden under his multi layered chins. I am not sure what his breed is but that is okay since I am not particular about that. He looks like a British shorthair with traces of Bengal ( he has spots on his torso) and his head and neck is disproportionately big compared to the rest of his body.
His eyes are green on yellow, with one eye probably blind. His face is "flat-ish" like a Pekinese dog or Persian cat, so he has a problem feeding as his entire face rubs the feeding bowl. Unlike my other cats who have no problem licking food from a bowl and able to keep their faces clean!
Well, we fed Bouncer freshly minced raw chicken liver with a touch of ginger, garlic and turmeric per the health-giving recipe that I picked up recently. If it is good for me, then it should be good for Bouncer, who needs all the nutrients to heal his battle wounds....

Stay cool, Bouncer. And stay indoors!! For now at least.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Fresh Liver, anyone?

I am glad I made an effort to attend the Cancer Carers Conference yesterday, organised by the Cancerlink Foundation of Malaysia. Not only were the plenary sessions very informative with eminent speakers presenting topics of interest that benefits not only care-providers, but patients and survivors as well. There were 7 workshops in the afternoon, and I had selected to participate in the workshop by Dato Dr M.Rajen - "Validating Complementary medicine for Cancer". It was not a session that invalidated conventional medicine and treatment, but include discussions about holistic approach to healthcare, using resources provided by nature and using them as close as possible to their natural stage ( raw and whole foods).

Although I consider myself widely read in matters of health and healthy living, there was a lot of new things and tips that I gathered during the session. And of course, when I got the opportunity, I tried to seek Dr Rajen's thoughts about adjuvant therapies for breast cancer. He is supportive of those due to the very nature of the disease ( ie need to cut, poison and burn) as well as ongoing hormonal therapies ( in other words I got another "persuasion" to consider Tamoxifen as I am ER/PR positive). That does not preclude however that where possible cancer patients need to male sure their diet is rich and nutritious in the right food values so that the body is strong and immunity is enhanced to minimise threats of recurrence.

He is very knowledgeable. He has a weekly column in the Sunday Star, which I never miss reading. I asked about why is it that we have so many living testimonies about cancer survivors maintaining a reasonable level of health despite terminal prognosis of their illness due to their taking natural supplements ( eg pecah beling etc), and yet no one is willing to proceed with clinical trials to validate the usage of natural supplements. He shared that there are a few obstacles to doing that mainly relating to funding and IP issues. Assuming someone had invested to run a trial ( if permitted to do that in the first place), should the trial prove successful, how does one patent the use of a herb that is so easily available? How is the investor going to get a return on his investment? So it would appear that for the time being, unless the government takes the initiative, no one would be interested, and we would carry on this tradition of relying on testimonies on the wonders of our herbs. Any takers, out there?

Some 200 people were at the conference, and it seems all the states in Malaysia had some attendees. I met some who came all the way from Sarawak just for the conference. Cancerlink will be covering in detail their objectives for organising such a conference ( this is the first year they are having it) and it is their plan to have it as an annual event. Their next Cancerlink journal will feature a write-up on the conference. I was thrilled to bump into some familiar faces. These were old buddies I met at chemo sessions. We used to keep in touch during treatment to compare notes and then lost touch ( me losing my mobile phone twice last year and they too had lost phones - it is so common !). Of course they have real HAIR on their heads now, and look a wee bit different from the last time we met at the chemo lounge! It was lovely to see them so hale and hearty, and Insya Allah, we pray that we all remain that way.

The photo below is of me at the height of my baldness......I shaved my hair after clumps started to fall off within the first 3 weeks of the first chemo cycle. Cool, huh? Macam Yul Brynner.

( I can afford to smile then......???)

The phot below was taken yesterday at the afternoon workshop on Complementary Medicine.
That is Dato Dr M.Rajen standing next to me. My hair ( not re-styled yet as I am letting it grow naturally) is growing nicely now and I notice that I am using up Shampoo rather quickly as I wash my hair everyday after my morning exercise.

By the way, Dato Dr M.Rajen has a website for anyone who wants to look up for information on complementary and holistic treatment. I will never forget the tip he gave to the group which he himself swears by. For energy and to strengthen your immune system ( especially if you re suffering from immuno-suppression due to chemotherapy), you may beef up your system with this: take one or two raw fresh kampung egg daily , and on every other day or three times a week, take this interesting concoction below. Dato Dr Rajen didn't have a name for it, so I will have to think of something for me!
I am going to call this " Liver Cocktail ". The recipe is as follows :
1 tablespoon fresh, raw liver ( about half a liver) of Ayam Kampung. Repeat-AYAM KAMPUNG!
1 teaspoon chopped fresh ginger
1 teasponn chopped fresh garlic
Blend the above. Put in a small cup. Then add 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lime juice. Stir, close your nose and gulp it down.
I tried it this morning, and it is actually quite tasty. I expected it to be "hanyir" but it wasn't as the lime juice cooked it somewhat. Happy trying!