My Tinking Philosophy

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Every knitter tinks at least once in their life. Some people, like my sister, are more careful and conscious when knitting and they could finish a good number of tink-less projects. I, on the other hand, spend far too much time tinking that I would like to admit.

Tinking in terms of knitting is basically ‘un-knit-ting’, removing the stitches you have lovingly tucked onto your needle because of a mistake (it is knit written backwards). Sometimes you miscount your stitches and realise that you should have purled instead of knitted or maybe you’re repeating the pattern for a particular row when you should have move on to the next step.

The most frustrating thing about tinking for me is that I am not a fast knitter and having to tink means that I am negating those precious minutes I spent wrapping my needle with yarns. It’s especially dejecting when I’m in the middle of a cable stitch, which takes even longer as I slip stitches onto a different needle or when I did not realise my mistake until I’m already a number of rows down. In my previous project, I have already done a cast off before I realised that I dropped a few stitches a number of rows down and if I don’t fix it, the whole rose could unravel.

It is not a secret that I am a generally careless person. I’ve sent in Maths homework where I got all the answers wrong because I added instead of subtracted back in my primary school days. I have accidentally poured water from my double boiler into my butter when I was melting it to bake a cake (a feat my mother thought impossible). And although I try to count my stitches and check my work at every row, I still tink at least once in every project, often times more especially in larger work.

However, I also do a lot of pattern-free projects where I experiment and improvise as I go along. With those projects, tinking is pretty much unavoidable as I try different ratios of knits and increase to get a flat circle or where should I make a decrease that would give the finished work a cleaner look. And interestingly, tinking in those projects do not feel like a regretted mistake because for every row I have to tink, I am learning something new.

When following a pattern, all I do is making sure that I get my work done exactly as the instructions are written so I would end up with the same product. A mistake is a problem that I would have to fix, a delay that I would have to extend. So my mind is focused on perfection, on keeping count on the stitches and rows, on making sure that I do a slip slip knit and not a knit two together, and so on.

When I am starting fresh from the start, I have no guide to tell me what to do, no pictures to give me an expectation. Every single stitch I make is a trial run and there is no wrong step because everything I do would produce a particular effect that one day I may put into good use. I rarely find myself getting disappointed over a failure because there is absolutely nothing to fail. Every knit is an opportunity and every purl teaches a lesson.

This dichotomy exists in other interests in my life too. My love for some areas in Mathematics is often hampered by the need to answer questions accurately and quickly in a cold and uncompromising exam setting. I enjoy trying out Maths puzzles even though I couldn’t solve most of them because each one of them could open my mind to a new way of thought that I hadn’t even considered before. When someone explain to me the answer of a geometry question I got completely stumped on and pointed out the relationship of different angles that I haven’t noticed, it’s like learning a new word in a different language or learn something about a culture I never knew existed.

However life does demand a certain amount of ‘perfection’. We don’t pat a faulty traffic light and tell it ‘That’s okay, you tried your best”, when it caused a massive pile up that took away lives. We don’t pardon a surgeon who mistook an artery for a vein and say “You’ll get it right next time!”. We don’t give the engineer whose mismanagement caused a radioactive disaster another project to supervise because everyone makes mistakes. We don’t do all that because the consequences of such mistakes are catastrophic and must be avoided at all costs.

At the same time, that faulty traffic light might shed light on human psychology and how we place trust on certain cues even though we are otherwise capable of watching the traffic ourselves. The surgeon’s fumble could enlighten us on the particular weakness of medical machinery and the engineer’s oversight illuminated flaws on the current plant design that might have otherwise be used elsewhere throughout the world. And if all of these mistakes are hidden behind closed doors, these lessons could never be learnt.

Mistakes, like most things in life, comes with a bit of good and a bit of bad and the severity of either would depend on the particular situation. They should be avoided, of course, but when one does occur, it shouldn’t be treated like a complete loss. We’re always offered lessons wherever we go and whatever we do and at every turn the worst thing that you could do is say “That’s it,” and give up–because when you do, you will close your eyes and your mind to something new and beautiful that was crafted just for you.

And so whether it’s the thousandth time I drop my stitch or get a lumpy hexagon instead of a flat circle or deface the stockinette stitch with a big ugly purl, I’ll still tink my way back and try to see what the lesson might be before moving on and keep my fingers knitting.

A Lesson From A Tree

I stood by my herb bed and looked up. The moringa tree that I’ve moved there two years ago was now more than twice my height, a testament to the length of time I had neglected my garden. What used to be a row of chili, eggplants, lemon grass and various smaller herbs was now a thick mass of ‘kadok’ and ‘belalai gajah’. Lemon grass leaves both dead and alive were tumbling everywhere like a wild mess of tangled hair. Amongst them were vines, which I do not recognise, climbing whatever they could grasp and pulling them down with their weight.

And of course, there was the moringa tree, towering over the whole place like a misplaced giant among dwarves. The thick and sturdy trunk stretched up into the sky to where I couldn’t reach if I wanted to fetch some of its leaves. Moringas are not hard to care for once they’ve gotten themselves securely rooted. They could withstand the lack of water when I forget to give them their drink so unlike many of the other plants that did not survive my absence, my moringas persevered.

In the past, I would trim down my trees at least once a year to allow for an easier harvest and to avoid having its roots digging in too deep so I could easily move them around. However, with my exams taking place last year and my months-long eczema breakout, my garden was slowly being transformed into a mini forest and as the number of days grow, so did the difficulty of the restoration project. And instead of taking the sensible and rational route of early intervention, I let the tides of sorrow crept onto me.

One of my biggest frustrations is how passionately I launch myself into things that I truly love and yet in the end, they somehow die away into nothingness. Some of them happen because of chances and circumstances but many, many more are lost by my own hands, either by neglect, fear, frustration or lethargy. Often times I find myself letting my own bitterness contaminate the sweet taste of pure fervor, and the satisfying scent that accompanies the exhaustion after a day’s work had soured into a musty odour of fatigue. Little by little, I lost sight of the sparkles that comes with tiny victories and saw only the mountains I have yet to climb–and I couldn’t find it within me to take another step.

However, every now and then my zeal would return and at a whim, I would pack my backpack and step back out into the blizzard with the intense wish to gain back all that I have lost. The medals in my trophy cabinet back at home assured me that I have done it before and I could do it again–but the assurance last only for a moment. Fixing a mistake is often harder than starting anew and while you may lose the height of your skills, the memories of them stay, mocking you in your face. It doesn’t take long for me to doubt everything that I do and sometimes everything that I am; because if this present me is nothing like the person I was–then who am I?

But for now, I pushed all of those thoughts from my head and I had one clear objective. This tree is too big for my herb bed and I am going to move it to a more suitable home,  some place where it would be given all the opportunity to grow and bring us the first of the much loved drumstick fruit. I sawed the tree down to a manageable height and kept the leaves for my mother. I pulled the mess of ‘kadok’ and ‘belalai gajah’ for our ‘ulam’ until there is nothing on the ground but the trunk of the tree and the roots beneath. And with a rusty trowel in one hand, I thrusted it into the Earth and started digging.

As it is my habit when I work in the garden, I began talking to the plant, apologising for my neglect and telling it that I am trying to get back into the swing. I told it about how the last time I felt I couldn’t do something turned out okay in the end and although I don’t really feel it, I think it’s a sign that I need to pick myself up and move on. I thanked it for waiting for me even though I don’t deserve it. The tree never said much but it lets me talk nevertheless.

The day was not hot. The sun hid behind clouds and our mango tree provided me a lovely shade from the dimmed sun rays. Nonetheless, my lack of physical activities in the recent months had started to make itself known. Although the moisture within the soil couldn’t be more perfect (not too dry and not too wet), I started to feel tired after going past half a foot down. It didn’t help that the deeper I go, the harder it was to navigate through the root and avoid the sharp edges of the sides of the bed which was covered in tiny stones. So I grasped the trunk tightly in my arms and gave it a gentle but strong tug. It didn’t give.

Of course, it wouldn’t be that easy. I know that, I whispered, as I continued to dig. Say what I want about my own inner conflict, I made the decision to leave my garden and I have to make amends.

But, my dearest, my sweet, could you please help me out a bit?

I paused to look up at its leaves. The little green circles danced prettily as the wind blew, breaking its perfect mosaic for but a few moments. No, I gulped and pressed on. No, the tree had done more than I had done. It too had its struggle when the ground was dry and the moths fly by. I wasn’t the only lonely one. 

Relationships go both ways, do they not? But love, would you please, please lend me a bit of a hand?

The trunk did not answer.

Ah, you are just as stone hearted as I. Then so be it.

My hands are now red and a few of the cracks on my fingers which were about to heal had burst back open as they pressed on the hard edge of my trowel. The small bits of concrete jutting out from the inside of the bed are scratching me every other minute and the roots showed now signs of tapering off. My back was aching and I couldn’t find a comfortable position. I had forgotten how to whisper, or the fact that I have neighbours, and they could probably hear me having a full blown one-sided argument with a tree.

My child, the reason why I couldn’t go out was because of my eczema. Well, partly anyway. And if you don’t make way any time soon, I’m going to hurt it and that could cause another outbreak. Yes, patience, I know. I am trying to be patient but patience would not stop my hand from breaking. Do you want me to just saw your roots off?

The trunk stared me down.

Fine. Fine. Fine. You were patient, I will be patient too.

I groaned and went back in with the thinnest of patience. My hand was now shaking with a mix of exhaustion and frustration. I was covered in soil from head to toe and I no longer cared about keeping my hand safe. I stabbed the trowel into the ground again and again and again and the dirt that got into the cracks of my skin were now practically cemented with sweat and bits of blood. I was now a foot in from when I started. I placed my hand between the two main roots and tugged with all my might but I couldn’t move it even a bit. And I was starting to feel like a fool for even trying.

Please, I am trying to be better. I want to be better, I really do but it’s already so hard. Just the idea of it all seems so insurmountable. If I can’t even pull you out, my sweet, what can I do?

The trunk stayed quiet.

I was now desperate. I had done nothing today other than digging this hole and I have nothing to show for it. The sun would be setting soon and the roots showed no sign of thinning. I looked around at my garden in its horrendous state and asked myself if I have anything to show for all that I have done in my life. I just wanted to stop.

Then I paused and looked back at the tree. Something clicked at the back of my head and I eyed it tentatively.

Are you… are you trying to teach me a lesson on perseverance?

I waited for an answer which did not come. I turned to the pile of unearthed soil and back into the hole in the bed. The way I see it, I only have three choices. I could just leave the whole thing be and probably let the tree die now that I’ve upset it so much. I could push all the Earth back in but that would only get me back to where I started.

Or of course, I could keep going. I know that somehow, in the end, I would get to tip of the roots. Even if I have to use a stone as a makeshift shovel, I could theoretically get it done eventually. The tricky circumstances, the need for time and my own doubts are obstacles I need to overcome all my life, whatever the struggle. Whether the problem is restarting a garden, finishing a book draft or just pulling out a tree, I still have to face problems from within and without, and I have to learn to wait.

Okay. Well, I guess I’ll take it then.

With that I went back in, this time quietly, as I reflected on the things that I already know deep inside and even discussed about in my head but which are now being repeated to me. I thought of the many tiny knolls I succeeded to climb because I went on despite the obstacles. Silat routines, NaNoWriMo challenges, artworks, school achievements and public presentations. Even little things that I am proud to have done but never shared because they seem so insignificantly small. But I did them.

And so with the hole nearly two feet deep, I hugged the trunk of the tree, took a deep breath and gave it a sharp tug. Finally it gave way and I had in my hand another medal to add to my cabinet. I grinned at it and thought I could feel it grinning back.

Was my tree really teaching me a lesson on perseverance? You tell me.

 

Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee stamps launch in Malaysia

Aeshah found this post which had a photo of my mother pasting a miniature sheet onto the first day cover as my sister looked on.

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September 13th, 2012 by Shamsul Ismin Tumin (from Demotix.com)

Pos Malaysia launched its latest series of stamps in conjunction with Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee and to commemorate the royal visit of Britain’s Prince William, and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge to Malaysia from Sept 13 to 15, 2012.

The stamps feature two designs, both of which are bordered with silver ink.

One features a “stamp on stamp” design, with an older stamp released on June 2, 1953 to commemorate Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in the centre and the other features a photograph of Prince William and Kate Middleton to commemorate their visit. The stamps cost RM1.50 each.

Folders and first-day covers without stamps are sold at RM5.50 and 50 sen each, respectively.Full sheets of ten stamps each can be purchased for RM15 at all Pos Malaysia outlets while stocks last.Two first-day cover designs is available for sale, the first is at RM3.50 featuring the two stamps, while the other, with a miniature sheet of stamps, at RM2.50 each.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and his wife Catherine, arrived at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) here today to begin their four-day official visit. The royal couple are on their second stop of a nine-day tour of Southeast Asia and the South Pacific on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II to commemorate her Diamond Jubilee. Malaysia is their second destination after Singapore.

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are also expected to have an audience with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah and Raja Permaisuri Agong Tuanku Hajah Haminah, and attend a royal dinner at Istana Negara.

They are scheduled to leave for Solomon Islands on Sunday, to proceed with their tour

My mother (in light blue hijab) trying to wet the glue on the stamps as Aeshah looked on

The Diamond Jubilee of Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II Stamps

The ‘stamp on stamp’ design of one of the stamps featuring the Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation 10 cents stamp of ‘Malaya Selangor’.

Pos Malaysia issued some lovely stamps to mark The Diamond Jubilee of Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II. My mother who is a great fan of a few series of the old Commonwealth stamps read an article on the launching from ‘The Star’  the day before. She instantly ‘fall in love’ with the ‘stamp on stamp’ design featuring the 10 cents stamp ‘Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation’ Malay Selangor issue. After all, the old Commonwealth issues of the Queen Elizabeth II coronation series is one of my mother’s favourite as well as the colourful Machin stamp series that look so wonderful in her album pages.

The second design of the stamps featuring Prince William and Catherine, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Knowing that the stamps would be popular among stamp collectors from all over the world as well as fans of the Royal Couple and the British Monarch, we left for the post office very early to avoid the long queue. We reached there at 8:30 am but unfortunately, as the door of the elevator slid open, we had a great shock to see that the queue had already stretched past the elevator all the way from the philatelic counter. Those who came just minutes after we did had to stand in the sun as the queue grew longer and longer.

The queue stretched all the way from the philatelic counter…

…to the entrance of the gallery…

…through the corridor…

…past the elevator (where I stood reading ‘The Pickwick Papers’)…

…and into the sun!

I was thankful that I remembered to bring a novel with me, which I read while waiting for our turn to come. My mom on the other hand, made friends with a few wonderful and lively Chinese ladies and a Malay guy slightly older than me behind us and they all quickly launched into a conversation which helps the time to fly by. After about half an hour queueing, Ali noticed that my little sister Anisah was weeping and he asked his big sister if she’s alright. Anisah told him that she felt dizzy and as my mom was taking her to find a seat, she fainted. She soon recovered and she waited for us in the gallery.

Ahmad Ali met his friend, Abang Moza.

When we finally reached the counter almost four hours later, they told us that they had sold out all of their stamp sheets. Imagine my mother’s dismay after we had been standing in the queue for hours just to find out that they were out stamp sheets! So my mother bought lots of the miniature sheets and stamps. However, the nice Pos Malaysia staff urged my mother to buy the folder and my mom, feeling that she’ll have to buy one of everything after such a ridiculously long queue, accepted the advise. Just less than half an hour later, they put up posters saying that they had sold out of folders and my mom was glad that she had one to keep. My mother even bought first day covers which she would not buy during other stamp launch! After another long queue to stamp the first day covers and the folder, we found out that they had received a new stock of stamp sheets which we managed to buy some.

We managed to get some of the stamp sheets at last!

The folders were sold out.

We had a light lunch and left the post office at 3pm, somewhat hungry and tired but contented nevertheless. The stamps, miniature sheets, first day covers and folders are very beautiful. They proved to be a hit and sold like hotcakes. Even fans of the royal couple who are not stamp collectors do not mind to join the long queue. We even met a lady who queued for almost three at another post office when she was told that they had ran out of stock, and rushed to Daya Bumi and had to join another long queue for the memorabilia.

The place was still crowded by 1pm as people rushed in from all parts of Kuala Lumpur and Selangor after some of the post offices ran out of stock.

I hope Pos Malaysia would issue more lovely stamps in the future as it is such a delight to flip through your album and look at the rows of beautiful Malaysian stamps.

Cartoon – My hair

My mother, my little brother and I love to draw. My mother and I really enjoy visiting art shops, we can spend hours looking at the wonderful arrays of professional art materials like paints, colour pencils, pastels, brushes, graphite pencils, charcoals and others. The best part about sharing a hobby with our parents is that we’ll have the luxury of using different mediums of professional quality for our drawings.

I also enjoy drawing cartoon for my siblings. Most were based on our little plays and jokes. I started drawing comics or simple cartoons either to ‘document’ wonderful moments that we shared or to amuse my siblings. I draw the characters in stick figures because whenever I tried to add meat and bones, my drawings turns out awkward. It is true that there’s no specific rule to cartoon drawing and one can exaggerate as much as one wish but simple cartoon saves a lot of time too. According to my mother, my cartoon characters are somehow alive; something which I cannot create with a proper human drawing.

Here is the one that I drew a few months back telling the story of my hair. I did not intend to post it on my blog because I never think that my cartoons are good enough to be shown to other people but my mother ‘made’ me post it for she said that it is really good and the comic really made her laugh. My mother also said that by gaining the confidence, I may be able to draw better in the future.

*Note: Kanillia is a cat living at the back of our house. The second drawing shows Khanillia pulling my hair with its claws.

I hope that I manage to make somebody smile 🙂 Kindly give some feedbacks on my cartoon and I would really appreciate useful tips and comments so that I can improve myself.

Birthdays in March – mum’s and mine

Both mum and I not only have our birthdays in March but also in the same week. I am 16 this year, Alhamdulillah, and my family members had given me wonderful presents.

Mum gave me a lot of her Australian, American, Canadian and New Zealand stamps wrapped in a lovely silver coloured box. My dad bought me stamps at the stamp fair and an A3 sized document file which I now use to keep my stamps in. My sister Aeshah gave me some Vietnamese stamps featuring dolphins that are missing from my collection and lots of odds and ends that I could use for my craftworks. Anisah gave me a number of her drawings and Ali gave me a hairdryer, a ‘Snoopy’ clock and a watch.

My parents gave me a beautiful birthday card with a picture of a flower drawn by mum (the artist), using soft pastels. Ahmad Ali gave me three birthday cards for he enjoyed card making so much that he couldn’t stop making them… Abang Muhammad sent me a birthday card too, all the way from Chicago together with lots of gorgeous U.S.S.R. stamps.

My mother had a marvellous birthday too. Again, most of her presents were stamps from all of us. I secretly looked through her stamp albums and picked out stamps that I own but is missing from her collection. I’m delighted that she was thrilled to receive the stamps that I gave her. I also gave her some Machin stamps (the British definitive stamps with a picture of Queen Elizabeth’s head – mum simply love them, she has a few pages of those lovely stamps in her stamp album and wishes to own as much as she could). Aeshah gave her stamps too. Anisah gave her an envelope with a picture of a cat that she ‘bought’ for 6 stars (our play-money currency) from my little brother.  And Ahmad Ali gave mum a beautiful egg cup and a special Machin stamp(the 1840 Anniversary Machins) with pictures of both Queen Elizabeth as in other Machin stamps and Queen Victoria as in Penny Black.

That night,we had pizzas from Domino’s Pizza for our dinner. Everyone love Domino’s Pizza and we celebrated most of our birthdays with them. It was only last month when we had pizza for my little brother’s birthday!

Stamp Collecting

A page from my stamp album

 

I had been introduced to stamp collecting since I was a little girl. Both of my parents collect stamps and they both have beautiful collections of stamps from most parts of the world. However, it wasn’t until I was 10 when I started to have a real interest in stamp collecting.

I was reading an article from a magazine at my school library about a girl who had collected more than a thousand stamps by the age of 8. When I went back home, I took out my dad’s stamp albums and look at the arrays of stamps neatly arranged inside them. For the first time, I was fascinated by stamp collecting and decided to start my own.

My first few stamps were given to me by my Indonesian classmate who received letters from her families and relatives in Indonesia. Unfortunately due to my carelessness, I lost them all and I really regretted it.

Nevertheless, it was my parents who helped me a lot in stamp collecting. My father bought me a stamp album two years after I started collecting stamps; it was when he thought that I was already serious with my hobby. He also gave me stamps from his letters.

My mother however, gave me lots of stamps from her own collection and some dated back to her schooldays. She told me how people threw away most used stamps that were very common during those days. Had she kept them, she could have sold them now for a good price. I guess that is the reason why I have more than a page filled with ‘Alophoixus ochraceus‘ (Merbah Beringin) stamps in my stamp album. If you live in Malaysia, it is impossible to miss the stamps since they appear on almost every letter sent by the Malaysian Postal Service or Pos Malaysia.

My good friend, Aishah Salihue (whose parents are from Sri Lanka but is living in the USA), mailed me US and Sri Lankan stamps every now and then. Even her wonderful grandfather gave me lovely Sri Lankan stamps when we met at Aishah’s house in San Jose in 2006.

 

A day with Aishah in the backyard of her house in San Jose. From left: My sister, Aeshah; Aishah; me; Aishah's brother, Ali; and Anisah (far right) in a pink sweater.

My collection consists mainly of Malaysian stamps especially the ‘Birds of Malaysia’ series and the ‘Malaysian Agro-Based Definitive Stamp’ series. Although I haven’t collected the entire set of both series, I hope to be able to collect a complete set of the mint stamps and a complete set of used stamps from both series.

 

Some of my stamps from the 'Birds of Malaysia' series. I have more than a page of these.

In fact, I would like to expand my collection as big as I could. If only I could be as lucky as my mother to inherited a lovely collection of Malaysian stamps from her grandfather and a really wonderful collection of Malaysian and foreign stamps from her aunt when she was about eight…

However, stamp collecting is losing its popularity among today’s youngsters and I suppose it is harder to get wonderful stamps in our mails now than it was during my parents’ schooling days. Perhaps we should start writing more letters instead of sending e-mails; furthermore receiving letters are much more exciting than getting e-mails, at least for me 🙂

A ‘Space-Friendly’ And Easy-To-Grow Vegetable: Beansprout

My homegrown beansprout

Like many others who live in the city, we only have a small garden. Actually, it never did cross my mind of how small our garden is, until we decided to plant our own organic vegetables three years ago. Is there any herb or vegetable that can be grown without taking too much space for the city folk?

Last week, Mom soaked a bowl of green beans overnight for her ‘bubur kacang’. Anyway she was so busy the next day that she forgot all about them after straining the beans into a colander. The next day she found that her bowlful of green beans had grown tiny roots. So, instead of cooking them, she gave me the beans for my “experiments’.

And I decided to grow beansprout. I found out that growing green beans into beansprouts is certainly very easy. All I did was running tap water over the colanders (with the beans) every 4-6 hours or so. Don’t try to move the beans/seedlings around with your hands (you may feel tempted to do so, but you may pull out their roots). Put a plate under the colander to collect the water dripping from the colander.

The green beans had grown tiny roots! 😀

In a few days, the roots will be long enough to reach out of the colander into the plate of water below it. Even at this stage, I still ‘water’ the sprouts but I suppose you could leave it on its own. Another thing to remember is not to put too much beans in one colander. When that happens, the beans on the top couldn’t get enough water while the beans at the bottom may rot.

Roots growing out of the colander

Another good point in growing beansprouts is that you can plan when to start growing them so that the beansprout will be really fresh when needed. Soak the beans overnight about 5 days ahead and they should be ready to be harvested on time. And trust me, fresh home grown beansprouts are so tasty, crunchy and without that ‘commercial beansprout smell’ that even I who never like beansprouts before ate loads of them.

Fresh, homegrown, organic beansprout in mum's delicious fried noodle.

So with the price of vegetables rising up and the concern of the high level of chemical contamination in our vegetables, it will be a very good idea to grow our own vegetables. And if space is a problem, try growing beansprouts; you can even grow them in your apartment balcony, kitchen or even in your dining room! It is really cheap and easy while the result is absolutely wonderful. Maybe I should start a business selling tasty, fresh, home-grown, organic  beansprouts … after all fresh, organic vegetables can fetch a good price in today’s market!

Ready-for-harvest beansprouts (shoots)

Ready-for-harvest beansprouts (roots)

Longest Total Solar Eclipse in the 21st Century

The longest total solar eclipse in the 21st century happened today (22nd July, 2009/ July 22nd, 2009)! The path of the Moon’s umbral shadow begins in India and crosses through Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar and China and left the Asia mainland before passing through Japan’s Ryukyu Islands and curves southeast through the Pacific Ocean where the maximum duration of totality reaches 6 min 39 s. And the broader path of the Moon’s penumbral shadow covers most of eastern Asia, Indonesia, and the Pacific Ocean (including Malaysia!).

An animation of the eclipse

An animation of the eclipse

I attended the Solar Eclipse viewing program in Kuala Ibai, Terengganu at Tengku Tengah Zaharah Mosque (Masjid terapung) organised by the Jabatan Mufti Terengganu, Jabatan Ukur dan Pemetaan Terengganu and Universiti Darul Iman Malaysia. The details were as written below:

In Kuala Terengganu,
First Contact – 8:24 am (when the Moon first “touches” the Sun’s limb)
Maximum Eclipse – 9:08 am (when the Moon covers the Sun’s disk the most; 13%)
Last Contact – 9:56 am (when the Moon “leaves” the Sun)

While in Kuala Lumpur, the details differ slightly:

First Contact – 8:29 am (when the Moon first “touches” the Sun’s limb)
Maximum Eclipse – 9:07 am (when the Moon covers the Sun’s disk the most; 8%)
Last Contact – 9:48 am (when the Moon “leaves” the Sun)

An animation of the solar eclipse.

Another animation of the solar eclipse.

We arrived at the program around 8:40 am but were unable to get a view of the eclipse as the sky was too cloudy. Luckily, at about 9:40 am, the clouds cleared away giving us a view of the eclipse before the clouds covered the sun again. There were six telescopes set for the program and 1500 people attended the program too.

The reason for this long eclipse is simply because now is July; a time when the Sun is farthest away from Earth (aphelion), thus is smallest in size. And the Moon also just passes it nearest point to Earth (perigee), thus it looks big in our sky. When a small Sun is blocked by a big Moon, the Moon will have more time to block the Sun.

The next total solar eclipse shall occur in 2132! That’s 123 more years to come (what a beautiful number!). That’s why I feel so lucky to be able to experience this eclipse. It shall be an unforgettable memory which I shall treasure in my heart forever and ever…

Plaster Moulding

Everybody has his or her own way to pass their free time. Some of us enjoy gardening, photography or even hunting for FedEx vans, trucks and aeroplanes like my little brother, Ahmad Ali (refer to ‘FedEx – Ali’s blog’).

My favourite pastime is doing craft works. It has been my favourite hobby since I was a little girl and my best craft teacher is no other than my mother. So far I had tried glass painting, weaving, clay modeling, pottery, simple beading and so much more.

Recently we decided to do some ‘plaster moulding’. It is rather tricky and a bit messy. The measurement must be exact and so is the timing for if not you might have to throw away the whole thing. The result are beautiful especially after they have been painted and how I love to paint them!

We’ve moulded all sorts of items in different shapes and sizes… from fairies to princesses, seahorses and fishes, glittering mirrors to useful trinket boxes while enjoying each moment spent together with mum and Aeshah, my little sister. We also moulded fridge magnets in the shapes of fruits, cute little bears and some lovely sea creatures.

And how I enjoyed painting them … How wonderful it is to see how the white plasters turned ‘alive’ after being painted in beautiful shades of colours.plaster2plaster1