Monday, December 31, 2012

My first glimpse of....United States of America.

I took no photographs as we arrived quite late in the night. Except for a few aviation personnel, the place looked desertedl. I was knackered after flying for about 25 hours. Oh my, JFK airport is huge. There are so many arrival halls. By the time we got to the right one, the hotel shuttle had left! After walking around with hubby lugging one big luggage plus one smaller one, we were directed to the taxi area. I like the taxi system used. A staff operating the taxi stand issued an invoice like paper to us. All we did was get into the taxi.  It was metered taxi. (We need not have to ask!)
Once we entered the neighbourhood, I noticed many blacks loitering around. That gave me the creeps. Sorry, but it is the truth…Blacks freaked me out after what happened to us in Spain last year. The journey took about 40 minutes.  My first glimpse of the States…It was scary. The taxi driver a black kept talking about Jamaica. What Jamaica, I asked myself inwardly. I was in no mood to ask questions. I was feeling agitated. I was clammy and sticky.  I had not bathed for 24 hours and all I wanted hubby to do was check us into the hotel and…a hot bath! 

Besides cereal, the rest of the spread
We had breakfast provided by the hotel. My first American meal on American soil and it was good. What I liked was making my own waffles! Waffles that I had back home were bought from the mall. We had a nice breakfast and met some friendly people. Hmmm...after the alarming sights the night before I could help wondering...What lies ahead? 
After breakfast, hubby and I decided to take a short stroll outside. So, this is Jamaica, a neighbourhood in the New York City borough of Queens. I could see the place better in broad daylight. The houses looked rather old and the place a little run-down. Then again, I told myself there was little cause for worry, as we are not going to stay there.
Our taxi driver arrived to take us to Union City where we will put up. His friendly and jovial demeanour rather put back into my relaxed mood about the mixed feelings I had about my decision on this vacation in...The United States.
The ride to our destination was interesting.  The driver pointed out buildings to us and told us interesting stories of his life. The sad thing was this writer could not remember any names as her heart was fluttering with excitement at the thought of stepping soil in the United States of America! Ah…Finally! All I remembered was Lincoln Tunnel. A tunnel we were to go through daily. The taxi fare will be remembered as well.  It was the most expensive we have paid in our life (so far). It cost us a whopping US$120! And...The vacation starts.:o)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Age and size...they do matter!

When I received the email 'teaching' one how to decipher the numbers on a tyre, it was many years back.  The numbers given were 4202, 231 and 414.  I am talking about the tyres' manufacturing date.  For 4202, it meant the tyre was manufactured on the 42nd week of the year 2002; 231 meant it was manufactured on the 23rd week of 1991.  1991…it had been that long! 
I recently had my tyres changed so the email came to mind.  I thought for the benefit of those who drives/own a car and did not get the email, this piece of general knowledge is worth knowing. The 2809 marked on the tyre meant the tyre was manufactured on the 28th week of year 2009. If you had purchased it this year then the tyre is no good. It is more than 3 years old. A check on the web explained that the rubber compounds in a tyre deteriorate with time, regardless of the condition of the tread. An old tyre poses a safety hazard. 
Before the four tyres were changed, I had the dates checked. On the tyre 2612 was imprinted.  Oh good, they were manufactured somewhere in June of 2012.  Good, no cheating involved...They are new tyres.
Right size-tyre does not look deflated
Some say size does not matter. I will say through experience, yes it does matter...I am saying for tyres lah. (LOL) My car tyres made screeching sounds each time I manoeuvred the car at corners. My neighbours never asked but I wondered now if they thought I was trying to be Michael Schumacher or something to that effect. (I will my age probably not Schumacher but a shoemaker.) Even then, I did not suspect that something was wrong. The screeching sounds went on for a year. It was only recently when I drove on the highway in the heavy rain that it occurred to me that something was not right. Imagine cars smaller than mine could make my car glide to the side when they passed me by. Yes, really glide to the side. It was scary when that happened. I could not see anything clearly except feeling the car glide to the side. A check with the tyre shop told me that the tyre size was meant for a smaller car. With the heavy body, the tread of the tyres was 'pressed' flat.  Therefore, the tyres had no grip on the ground.  What more in torrential rain. Goodness gracious, sure am glad to be still here writing this post. 
Another piece of information, which I read on yahoo news, caught my interest and surprised me. It mentioned that many are ignorant of this. Embarrassing as it may be, I have to say yours truly and husband happened to fall in the 'ignorant' category.  Do you have a car key with buttons as shown in the above picture?  A button with a lock icon and a button with the unlock icon?  I am quite sure we only use the lock to lock the car door; unlock to unlock the car door. What else would one do with it then? In our hot and humid climate, this piece of information is a welcome as (most times) we parked our cars by the roadside. The next time you parked your car under the hot sun you can do this. As you approach your car, press the unlock button and release.  Then press again and hold (the same button).  That will have the four windows wound down and the hot air will flow out.  Is it not wonderful climbing into a cooler car? Enjoy...:o)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Even the hammer call it quits!

One, two, three, four...I was not counting my steps as I took my walk in the park with hubby. I was counting the number of trees that have nails, big ones hammered into them. When we got wind that a park, a green lung will be included in the housing estate developing near where we stayed, we were more than happy.  Otherwise, the housing project would make the area a concrete jungle.  

The trees were growing well; they got taller and have more leaves. When we saw one or two trees with nails hammered into them, we paid little heed. I even commented that some a** had nothing better to do.  Then, hubby pointed out one or maybe two trees that had started to get brown at the top and some with no leaves at the top. Then, one tree died and another one followed.   
Hubby decided that he was not going to just 'sit down' and wonder if the nails are killing off the trees slowly.  He decided to remove the nails from the trees.  It was the second night when I decided to take pictures of the trees.  Some trees have six nails, some have more but every tree we looked, had nails hammered in.  
 The above picture showed the number of nails from just two trees.
It was no easy work pulling the nails out from the tree.  They were hammered deep into the trunk of the tree.  I could not help thinking that the person who did this really wanted the tree to die.
Damages from the nails. Sap flowing and big hole
By the time hubby reached the third tree, he was all sweaty.  Sweat was dripping down his face and his shirt was soaking wet .  By the fourth tree, he called it quits. "We will continue tomorrow night," he panted. These two trees have so many nails…too many to imagine.
"Why would anyone do such a thing," I asked.  The act of vandals?  Hubby thought otherwise.  He said it could be sabotage against the person commissioned to maintain the area. If the trees die, then the contractor would be considered as not doing his job properly. Are there any more reasons?
I went to bed visualising the beautiful green trees in the park, thinking of the person(s) hammering the nails into every tree. As I fell back asleep, I shook my head, thinking how preposterous the acts seemed and why. We are still not sure if the nails are the cause of the trees' fate. Whatever the outcome, we are going back to remove more nails. The nails on the trees...they are unsightly enough.
Nails removed from just three trees! (3rd night's work)
Even the hammer call it quits.  It broke!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Four little paws had me...So mesmerised!

At six weeks old, Blue had grown to be extremely adorable.  He has woven himself into my heart and had his four little paws wound around me.  A dear and close friend forewarned me about the little ‘magic’ kittens possessed. Hubby had started to worry (a little). 

By this time Blue was able to eat his food in solid form.  I meant I no longer have to soak them in water. I gave him a little just to test his teeth.  Wahoo...he munched them and seemed to enjoy the munching. For his good health, I have the dried food mixed with canned kitty food. One scoop of each (mixed up) was what he ate each meal.  I enjoyed watching him eat as much as he enjoyed eating.  He never wasted any food.  He left not even a single morsel behind.  He even helped by licking the bowl clean for me! 

By this time, Blue had learnt to climb higher.  First, it was up onto a chair and from the chair to the top of the cupboard. Besides climbing up onto the cupboard, I suspect he also used the chair to 'look out' and see what is happening outside his room. I had a plank at the entrance to keep him inside the room when the house is empty.  I was worried he might hurt himself (falling down from the cupboard) so I had the chair taken out of the room.

Next was the ladder our contractor left behind. For the first few hours, it would be two rungs up the ladder and down by himself.  As such, I thought leaving the ladder would not pose any danger to Blue. The next morning, his distressed ‘meows’ had me dashing to the room. There, the little super kitty had reached the top rung and could not get down.  The ladder came out of the room as well.  He is so mischievous.

Blue was supposed to have left our home for his new one by now.  Due to my tight schedule, I could not make the time to 'deliver' him over to his new owner.  I did not mind the extra week both of us had. In fact, I welcomed the extra days, as he had become quite a part of my daily schedule. It became a normal sight to see Blue cuddled/snuggled up with me on the couch.  Even with my ailurophobia, his act did not send me into frenzy.  He is like a little human baby.  By now, he understood to a certain degree; in his little mind his extended claws petrifies me.  In hubby's words, I have become Blue's momma.  I noticed that too.  I would not deny that I was a little worried just like hubby.  By this time both Blue and I, I would say... have bonded! He even allowed me to clean his ears (shall I say I dared to) and he loved it.


In the evening when all of us sat down for some relaxation time, Blue normally start by playing with hubby.  When all else bored him, he would jump up to the couch I am on and snuggle up to me.  Wonder of all wonders, he will remain in the same position just so long as I am there...lying down with him.  The moment I decided to get up, he will give me that 'authoritative' glance.  I would ask, "What?" He would reply..."meow".  If I decided to go to the kitchen, he trotted along with me. 

Hubby told me that Blue thinks I am his momma.  He followed me all around the house. He stayed around the kitchen area when I did the cooking.  He sat and waited when I scooped his food from the container and followed me into the kitchen to get his wet food. The only place I did not allow him to follow was...into the bathroom or toilet. I think he would have followed had I allowed him. However, I did not as I needed some 'alone' time too. I had never had a kitten and all these amused me so. Haahaa…

Blue is one playful kitten.  Whatever time I could spare I spent them playing with him. By then he knows (I think) that when he extends his claws, they petrified me.  He had grown to be one little intelligent 'human' kitty. He had even learnt to play in a 'softer sense' when he played with me.  Those were wonderful moments treasured.
Awww...look at this Si Manja.
Towards the third week with us, Blue had learnt to 'demand'.  He would go meow and meow whenever he wanted something.  He had even learnt to give me that 'innocent, pleading' look whenever he wanted to jump onto my body. In reality, I think he wanted the whole sofa for himself.  It always ended up with I, the owner of the in to him! I would say…There, you could have the sofa, the whole sofa!

Enjoy the following scenes (pictures) of Blue after he has gained possession of my sofa.  He would preen himself ‘till the cows come home’. Nothing mattered anymore.

Through Blue, I discovered something about my hubby. I think it was not an intentional secret.  My hubby has had cats as pets in his younger days. The pieces of the puzzle began to fall into place.  Oh, his vast knowledge of cats was not because I was stupid. He had lots of experience. I loved his gentle ways with Blue. The way he allowed Blue to clamour all over, his body, bite albeit softly into his fingers and clawed his arms when he (Blue) jumped from the sofa on my side over.  He remained gentle throughout the entire playtime.

Noticed the extended claws of Blue in the picture above?  That happened when hubby agitated Blue too much.  Of course, he did not bite or clawed hubby.  It was just some rough playtime.
Blue is my name.  Dancing is my game!
I have never seen an animal that gets a head rub.  Enjoyed the head rub and then nod off to sleep…sitting upright! 

If being playful was not enough.  Blue decided to become cheeky.  He started to agitate and taunt the dogs.  Days when the plank I had used to keep the dogs out was not in its usual place, Blue would start his acts of mischief.

Blue would stand near the doorway and meow until the dogs came to the doorway. Then he would back away and sit just far enough (away from the grill).  Just so, the dogs could be irritated. That was how cheeky this little ball of fur grew to be. When that happened, I have either to say Blue ‘no’, or slide the plank back into place to block both parties from each other.

We have to make some adjustments with the rules of the house.  The number one rule was to have all windows and doors closed.  The day I forgot, Blue decided to climb out of the window.  I think he craved for a little adventure.  It was a lucky day for him, as the dogs did not notice him outside.  I discovered his escapade first. I could not get angry with him as he responded immediately to my call and climbed back inside

We left the bicycles in the room as hubby felt it was something safe for Blue to learn how to climb.  Since, there were no trees for him to learn climbing. I thought it was a good idea. Cheeky as he was, Blue derived a new way to taunt the dogs. Whenever the plank was back into position to 'block' both parties, Blue would climb up the bicycle. He would sit there and our dogs would go berserk. It was also a position he would be if I were in that area and he (Blue) could not see me.

Blue even have a new sleeping place.  He decided to sleep on the seat of the bicycle in the daytime.  To make him more comfortable, I had a 'bed' created for him.  Blue was happy. Only the dog was not. I told myself, "Never mind if the dogs are taunted".   A little bit biased on my side. Then again, who could refuse the cute little one?

I found out, kittens are unlike puppies.  They do not just jump/take to 'strangers' immediately. In our case, it was BB when he visited.  Blue would sniffed and tread cautiously. However, once Blue warmed up, belly rubs were a welcome for him.
By this time, Blue had learnt to scratch at things.  I saw him trying the act on my sheers so I gave him a mat. (I do not have a scratching post.) Each time he tried to claw at anything, I would lift him up and placed him on the mat. He would scratch and clawed at it. Right until he left our home, nothing bore his 'signatures'.  We have three of the mats placed at different locations in the house so it is common to see him on one of them.

The following pictures are those taken of Blue on his last night spent with us. I wondered if he felt the sadness inside of me as I took the pictures.  I only know this...he enjoyed playing just as he did when he got himself adapted to us. Enjoy the pictures.

With my gloved hands, I picked the little kitty and held him. Then, he could fit into my palms.  A kitty later named Blue. I did not know how I was going to do the job.  However, in the course of it, I found great moments. Three weeks of joy was what Blue gave all of us especially me.  Blue was special to me, as I had never held a kitten in my hands since I developed ailurophobia.  If you had read my first post then you would agree with me…It 'was meant to be'.  This is bear unflinchingly what heaven sends. ~Euripides
I was sad. It was with mixed feelings when I had to get the basket ready to put Blue. Blue sat there and I took a last picture of him.  He had grown so much. He measured one and three quarter of my palm. I could not complete my job. BB had to put Blue inside the basket and Blue’s things as sadness had overwhelmed me. It was the day I was to hand him to his new 'momma'.   

I came home to an 'empty' house/room. Inside my heart, there was emptiness too.  I missed Blue. I had hoped to hear a 'meow' when I stepped into the house.  Imagine, I had always thought cats to be sneaky, aloof and have little fun. Blue proved me wrong. I yearn for his soft meows, the touch of his soft fur and the tap of his paws on my body. I have not completely overcome my phobia but I have...managed to cuddle him in my arms.  I even allowed him to snuggle up to me when I watched the television. How did that happen in just three short weeks?  Blue is an incredible kitten (to me). At 7 weeks and a day old (10 August), Blue was handed over to be with a beautiful woman and her family. The last I heard, he was trying to 'read'. Ha-ha...he was caught flipping pages of a book.  I wish Blue and his adoptive 'family' many beautiful, wonderful and loving years together.:o)
NOTE OF THANKS:  From Joo Gyee to Rajam to Azliena, my heartfelt thanks.  This rescue of Blue would have been futile without all of your help (not forgetting words of encouragement).  From a 'cry for help' by me to Joo Gyee.  From Joo Gyee to Rajam, a question of anyone who wants to adopt a kitty? A text by Rajam to Azliena.  Blue have a home.  Thank you so much. 
**Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. ~~Theodore Roosevelt