Thursday, December 26, 2013

Greetings and Best Wishes for the New Year!


We love to hear the purr of the postman’s motorcycle engine on their daily round to deliver letters and Christmas cards to our post-box, especially at this time of the year. We are surprised by the numerous Christmas greeting cards we still received from our friends although we must admit that they are getting fewer each year.
In this age of the festive ecards, sending a Christmas card might seem a bizarre and mystical concept to some. With electronic communication dominating many people's lives, "letter writing is increasingly a dying art", laments many older people like us. "But while it is old fashioned, Christmas card-writing is a strong part of the festive tradition - and the one part of letter-writing that looks to be living on." After all, isn't tradition what Christmas is all about?

Likewise, one of the real joys of the Holiday Season is the opportunity to say thank you and to wish you the very best for the new year. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Happy Birthday to my wife Jo.



What a birthday surprise!!! I am supposed to hide this birthday present from our son to Jo until tomorrow... it was taken from the garage and displayed at the bay window with Jo saying " it won't last until my birthday without me watering it since last week"
Sometimes it seems that I don't see all the special things you do to make our home such a special place to live. But, I want you to know I couldn't ask for a better wife and a better mother for our family. Happy Birthday to the most special person in my life! 
Since you have opened your birthday present from our son a week ago, it is difficult to keep surprises from you.. I bet ya' you did n't know this is coming... We are going to the Alaskan Cruise and visit our god-son Toshi and his family in Vancouver in April next year.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Lest we forget...



Today, Australians celebrate Anzac Day.
Lest we forget the lives and loves lost in all conflicts around the world as today Australians respect and honour the tradition of Anzac Day. Let us Singaporeans living and working here remember and embrace, too, what the  Australians have extended the spirit of Anzac beyond their shore into the hearts of all those who have known or know someone just like them who has sacrificed for his and her country.
Traditionally, Anzac has become synonymous with humble, selfless and self deprecating service whatever field of occupation or profession to help your mates. Lets us embrace what Australians have embraced since the first world war and beyond has been the humour and selflessness applied to helping others in otherwise trying circumstances. These can be their military, natural disaster, personal tragedy or simply in advocating and defence of the vulnerable.
Most of all lets us honour Australian and Allied Servicemen and women past and present.
Lest we forget.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Air layering was practised in China centuries ago...


Air layering in its original form was practised in China centuries ago and here I am with all the inherited genetic make-up from my farming ancestors, could only produce a single successful result from my past numerous propagation attempts. Motivated by the recent success of my air layering propagation of my calamansi plant, I could n’t wait to have a go at it again, this morning.
I was told many times that this method was the easy and sure way of propagating a number of flowering and fruiting plants to ensure that they are the same as the parent plants. Layering occurs naturally in many plants such as the “runners” of strawberries and the tip rooting of loganberry and blackberry are the well known examples and is the term used to describe the rooting of a stem while it is still attached to the parent plant.

 Let me briefly described what I have done this morning. I chose a one year old stem and partly severed by making an upward cut from just below a joint and afterwards a toothpick had been inserted to keep the cut open. I brushed and treated the cut surface with a root hormone powder before peat moss was wrapped around the cut with a freezer bag and binding the lower end of the freezer bag with a wire twist. The top of the bag was sealed after more peat moss was packed into the wrap. It was again wrapped with aluminium foil to strengthen it into a ball and to reduce necessity for constant damping. But I still have to make sure regular attention is given to syringing and watering to keep the ball moist until roots eventually grow out into it. Keeping my “green” fingers crossed.
A one-year old stem is chosen.
Making an upward cut
A toothpick is inserted to keep cut open.


Treating the cut surface with hormone  powder.
Peat moss is wrapped around the stem .


Aluminium foil is wrapped around to strengthen  the ball.
The top of the ball is sealed.


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Successful Air Layering from my Calamansi in the backyard.





I was thrilled to see roots on one of my air layer propagated branches on my calamansi plant this morning. I couldn’t wait to try my luck again; even it’s the only successful one out of the three propagations. It has been a long 6 months wait and after the record breaking summer temperature and floods, I just couldn’t believe my luck (certainly not my reward for so many failed attempts to propagate new plants from this popular plant in my garden). I have received a long list of request for this plant since I blog about it. Once I have this precious cutting potted, I have to go and find out who is the lucky recipient on the top of my waiting list. I wish I can have more successful propagations to give them away. Wish me luck for the next try.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Today, Australians prepare for what could be the hottest day in history




As we brace ourselves this morning for another record-breaking day here in Sydney, the severe bushfire threat plaguing parts of NSW, Victoria and Tasmania is only set to worsen. Today, Australians prepare for what could be the hottest day in history, with the average national temperature predicted to hit 43C. The country's record national average temperature is 40.17C, which was reached on December 21, 1972.  According to Bureau of Meteorology climatologist Dr David Jones on the news this morning said “Australians should prepare for more prolonged heatwaves this summer”. How prepared are we when we are going to experience the wrath of mother-nature in some of the worst bushfires we have ever seen. Well, not everyone fully understands the difficulties produced by heat waves especially to our new migrants or visitors from Singapore, who are fit, healthy, and have access to air-conditioned place; a heat wave can pass by fairly uneventfully. However, there is a risk for everyone and it's important to be aware both for yourself and for others whom you might be taking care of.
Looking after others
·         Look out for signs of heat stress and exhaustion in all members of your family and others close to you. Be vigilant and explain to them the importance of taking steps to minimize the effects of heat during a heat wave.
·         Never leave children or pets in parked cars, even for brief periods of time. The temperature inside the vehicle can rise to 49ºC or more within minutes, enough heat to kill someone very quickly.
·         Check on neighbours, family, and friends, especially those who are elderly, sick, or not able to take care of themselves without assistance and those who live alone. If you know that a neighbour lives alone and is at risk of health problems from heat (especially where they do not have air conditioning), try to contact family members to come and help. If that is not possible, your local emergency services might be able to help but if you can ease the burden on them by taking care of such a person yourself, that is the better option.
·         Understand what heat related illnesses are and how to identify the symptoms, such as heat cramps, which are painful spasms in the muscles of the arms, legs, and abdomen.
Heatstroke is an emergency. Anyone exhibiting the signs and symptoms of heat stroke should seek immediate medical attention. Symptoms include:
§  Red, flushed skin - may become pale
§  A body temperature of 41ºC or higher
§  Seizures
§  Extreme headache
§  Rapid breathing
§  Rapid pulse
§  Sweating ceases
§  Confusion
§  Unconsciousness.

Looking after yourself

·         Don't undertake difficult, hot travel or movement during the daytime. If you must travel, the best time is by night, when it is much cooler.
·         Dress appropriately for outdoors: When outdoors, it is important to cover up. Still adhering to the loose-fitting, lightweight and natural clothing, cover up as much skin as possible to avoid sunburn. Protect your head and face by wearing a wide-brimmed hat. Consider wearing clothing made of synthetic sports fabrics that are designed to wick away perspiration. Avoid dark colours as these absorb the heat; light colours reflect it.
·         Look at your urine: To tell if you're dehydrated. Normal urine should be clear coloured, or light yellow. If the colour is any darker, you may be dehydrated. Make sure you have plenty of water to drink.
·         If you plan to be out and about during a heat wave, consider spending the warmest part of the day (or even night) in public buildings such as libraries, schools, cinemas, shopping malls, and other community facilities

Prepare your home for the event of a heat wave.
·         Check that your window air conditioners are snugly installed; if not, insulate around them.   Check that the air conditioning vents are also properly insulated.
·         Install temporary window reflectors (for use between windows and drapes), such as aluminium foil-covered cardboard. These will reflect heat back outside.
·         Weather-strip doors and sills to keep cool air in.
·         Cover windows that receive morning and afternoon sun. Use drapes, shades, awnings, or louvers. Outdoor awnings and louvers can reduce the heat that enters a home by up to 8 percent.
·         Put on a fan. Circulating air can cool the body by increasing the evaporation rate of perspiration. A fan can help move the air around your house and will be useful for pulling in relatively cool air at night, but do not rely on a fan to keep cool during the day. A fan will not prevent heat-related illnesses when the temperatures are over 37ºC. A cool shower is a much more effective way to cool off.

·         Understand what heat related illnesses are and how to identify the symptoms, such as heat cramps, which are painful spasms in the muscles of the arms, legs, and abdomen.Heatstroke is an emergency. Anyone exhibiting the signs and symptoms of heat stroke should seek immediate medical attention. Symptoms include:
§  Red, flushed skin - may become pale
§  A body temperature of 41ºC or higher
§  Seizures
§  Extreme headache
§  Rapid breathing
§  Rapid pulse
§  Sweating ceases
§  Confusion
§  Unconsciousness.
  • .        Eat lightly. Hot foods and high-calorie or high-protein meals raise your body's metabolism and its        temperature, which is the opposite of what you need to stay healthy during a heat wave. Think fresh fruits and vegetables, cold salads, etc. and be sure to eat light, well-balanced and regular meals. 


The hot and dry conditions have been labelled as "catastrophic" by authorities in NSW, with a total fire ban established statewide and all national parks and reserves closed today due to the fire.
Over 100 properties have been destroyed since last week, concentrated in the fishing village of Dunalley in Tasmania. No deaths from the fires have been reported, but emergency services crews are conducting property-to-property searches for human remains and many people are still unaccounted for. Please spare a moment to our friends in Tassie who are experiencing the wrath of mother-nature in some of the worst bushfires they have ever seen. It is easy to feel helpless at times such as these but there are ways you can help. You can donate funds to the Red Cross bushfire appeal via this link: http://www.redcross.org.au/tasmanian-bushfires-appeal-2013.aspx. Funds raised through the Tasmanian Bushfires 2013 Appeal will be used to assist individuals, families 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas but settle for green...


When I was a child growing up in tropical Singapore, I thought of Christmas in the western countries and thought of snow and even put cotton-wool on the Christmas tree to duplicate snow. But now I am living in a western country like Australia there are still major differences between the stereotypical Christmas and an Australian Christmas. Australian Christmases are quite different from the rest of the western world.

While Christmas in the northern hemisphere may be accompanied by snow, Christmas in Australia is accompanied by plenty of sunshine. Christmas is celebrated here during the Sothern hemisphere summer and temperatures on Christmas can sometimes reach over 40 degrees Centigrade. Instead of building snowmen on Christmas day, Australian children may actually go swimming and surfing in the sea.

Storms at times play a major role in Christmas around the world, and the same can be said for Australia, just different kinds of storms. While some European countries may be blanketed with snow, Australia could be getting rain, or worse. In the past, Christmases in Australia have provided floods, hailstorms, brush-fires, and cyclones. In terms of weather, the worst Christmas in Australia had to be Christmas 1974. On that day, Cyclone Tracy tore through Darwin, in the Northern Territory flattened nearly every house on its path.

Due to the hot weather at this time of the year, we normally make our Christmas wreath at the very last moment. This morning, my wife Jo made an eco-friendly wreath from reusable materials that most of you probably have lying around the house.
With some pine branches, pinecones and some recycled Christmas decorations she weaved them together and turn them into a Christmas wreath just
to add that special touch to our front door to greet our visitors during this festive season.