Sunday, 28 August 2011

Day 275-Bottles

27th August, Noon

Dear Diary,

Mama is NOT happy and I can hear how unhappy she is all the way out here at the porch. She is in the kitchen complaining to Papa about the bottles. Must be the 100th time by now.  

These bottles sell for 2 rups each in town and Papa was supposed to have done so months ago. Papa hates going to town though. He hates the noise, he hates the crowd and he hates how the streets are always dusty and filthy. 

Papa can't wait for me to grow old enough to run these errands for him but I hate town too. I think Baby can go when he is old enough. In the meantime, these bottles are really adding up. Mama line them up on the window ledge to remind Papa everyday of them. I am counting 11 on this side of the window.

And there are 14 over at the other ledge! O my! These bottles are really grimy too having been out in the open for so many months. Papa thinks it is Mama's fault because she was the one who put the bottles there. 

At the rate they go at each other, I suspect this Battle of the Bottles will only end when Baby grows up. By that time, the whole house will be filled with thousands of old and grimy bottles! O my!

Monday, 22 August 2011

Day 227, 247 & 265- Salad Days

1st July, A Really Boring Morning

Dear Diary,

I am so bored, bored, bored. I have just been peeling, peeling, peeling the whole morning and the end is no where in sight. I don't think I have ever hated salad as much as I do today. Salad is B-O-R-I-N-G and preparing for it is even WORSE. 

Even though I have brought the chore to the front porch which is supposed to be a whole lot more exciting than the kitchen, nothing is happening. The wind is still, the tree is quiet, even my toes have gone to sleep! 

I really wish I am far away from here now. I bet you, girls of those faraway places don't suffer like I do. I wonder about them sometime, you know. Like for instance, what do Spanish little girls do on mornings like this? 

I bet you they don't have to drink their black tea out of a broken old mug like mine. I know I was the one who refused to let Mama throw this mug out. After all, I did grow up with it since Mama had used it to feed me my 1st daal when I was nine months old. But today, I think I have finally outgrown it. Begone, ye old mug! Right after I finish my  tea of course.

And I bet you those girls don't have to peel anything with blunt cucumber knives either. It has taken me forever just to finish one cucumber and that is not all.

Look at this whole basket of potatoes I have to peel after that! When I grow up, I shall ban mashed potatoes from the dinner table. Or any kind of potatoes. I will spare my children from having to peel them. 

O me dear Lakshmi! I forgot there is this whole pail of cucumber I have yet to do. I can cry right now. 

I am sure Spanish people have servants to do all these tedious chores for them. Even better, maybe they have machines that can peel the skin off anything in the blink of an eye. All you have to do is to throw everything you want to peel into this super machine and Voila!

Do you know Spanish little girls love to say Voila!? OM told me so. When I asked him how he knew, he said his Spanish girlfriend told him. Giggle, giggle, giggle. OM is so crazy sometimes. I don't think Grandmama is Spanish at all! 

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh, there is something zooming over my head! I dare not look!



Diary, diary, diary. You won't believe what I have just seen. It's the most incredibly pretty bird and it just flew right onto my seat. It is playing with a loose hemp right now! It looks like the littlest phoenix. She is just so cute!

Now she's flown to our birdhouse! Maybe she will settle there? I bet you she flew here all the way from Spain too and needs a place to rest her wings. I have to run in and tell Mama. 

Guess what? Mama said we should name the bird Evalina! And that we will be having my favourite fried potato patties for dinner!

You know something, Diary? Maybe Salad Days aren't so bad after all. 

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Day 252, 271,273- Mama's Kitchen Stoves

23rd June, Scorching Hot Afternoon

Dear Diary,

Sorry I haven't written for a while. School has started again and what with chores and homework, homework, homework (not just from school, but from Ma, Pa and OM too!), I have no time to myself anymore. I must PROTEST or insist that diary writing be made part of the curriculum. After all, it improves my writing, right?

It is so hot today but Mama has asked me to start the fire and prepare the stove for cooking dinner. I think I will just melt if I am to start the fire now. So I am taking a little time to cool off and write. Let's pick up where I left off and write about my favourite kitchen pieces today. 

First off, Mama's intelligent stoves invented by none other then Mama herself. The one inside the kitchen was the first one she made. She said it was when we moved into this house. She made it with mud and then decorated it really pretty but that's not the best part. 

This stove has a drawer that automatically collects the ashes from the burning charcoal. There is some kind of a sieve built by her in between the stove and the drawer so that only the ashes falls through.  And then it only collects on the left side of the drawer so that you can put something else, like logs or charcoal on the right side. This makes cooking very clean.

Ash is also good for cleaning metal pots and pans because it gets rid of grease easily. 

But Mama was not completely satisfied with this stove because it is not smokeless and she is always concerned about how all that will affect my health. Sometimes it gets so bad that I cannot even see through the fog the smoke creates. So  I made this hand fan. I used it not only to fan the fire but also to chase away the smoke when I walk. Everyone thought I was really clever. 

Anyway, that was why Mama made this second stove. It is meant for the outdoors. Mama loves cooking outdoor. It is easier to clean up after and the smoke dissipates into the sky without choking anyone. This outdoor stove is placed under a mud made chamber which shields it from the elements. 

The really amazing thing about this stove is that it is smokeless or almost. Mama told me she made this stove with a material that can withstand much higher temperature than the traditional mud stove. It is thus better at holding in heat which means it burns less fuel. 

This also means less back breaking chore of collecting wood. 

Hey, it's evening already! Time really flies. I better start the fire now before Mama screams at me. I know how to pacify her though. I will just show her what I wrote today. She always smiles when she reads my diary.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Day 252, 254 & 272-All Quiet On The Kitchen Front Continues

19th June, After Dinner, Night

Dear Diary,

Back and yay, yay! I can write for a while longer tonight because Mama has given me one of the two oil lamps in the house. Everyone else is outside by the pond chatting with OM, even Baby who invariably falls asleep in no time at all, nestled between Mama's breasts to the sound of all their voices. Mama says it is because he feels secure in the company of his family and so our voices makes the best lullaby in the world for him.

Ah look! The last amber in the stove has just died and the kitchen is even quieter now that the logs have stopped hissing. I can still smell dinner, a most fulfilling affair that left everyone contented because Mama made her famous curry fish head. Another deep breath...and I can feel the cool air on my back and hmmmmmm, The Evening's Bouquet. Oh, oh, oh, here it comes! This sudden surge of happiness I always get at moments like these. I call them my perfect moments, you know, times when you think life is good and nothing can go wrong and everyone loves me and I love everyone and we are all together and the night is just at its best. 

I am so happy I am even happy with you, Pencil. I think you are priceless! Papa made you from a sliver of granite and he took ages sharpening you against the wall. A piece of soft paper is glued around you so that my hand won't be stained when I write and then when I need to sharpen you some more, I just tear the top part of the paper off. Papa is now thinking of a way to encase you in wood. I think Papa is just the smartest man in the world,  after grandpa OM of course, who made many, many things for the house.

Like this tinderbox for instance which he made a long time ago. Although it is already old, rusty and dirty, I still think it is a work of art. And I love playing with what's inside. Just last month, Mama decided that I was responsible enough to make fire on my own and she taught me how to. What she did not know was that I already knew how a year ago. OM taught me and told me that the lesson was his present to me for my 8th birthday. I was not supposed to tell Mama though. Well, at least, I don't have to do it in secret anymore. 

OM made our plate rack too. The plate rack is HUGE and it took all four of us, Papa, Mama, OM and me, two full days just to put it up. So many "Oh my"s were said that O-My is now OM's nickname. OM said we had to make a GIANT plate rack because well, we have so many plates. And despite its size, the rack nearly wasn't big enough to fit our biggest which Mama used only during special occasions. 

But Mama was too clever. She suggested that we placed the dish at an angle with its head touching the ceiling. And it worked! Now, our rack holds all the plates with the biggest fitting snugly into the highest shelf. These days, whenever Mama wants to tell someone "every problem has a solution", she says "when you run out of wall space, use the ceiling".  I think Mama is the BRAIN of the family and that she is the smartest one of all.

I love watching the rack at the end of the day when all the plates are cleaned and neatly stacked and everything looks ...oops! Is that curry stain I see on that 1st plate in the 3rd shelf? Mama is going to give me an earful tomorrow when she sees this. 

I am so sleepy now, Diary, I can hardly open my eyes. I am going to bed but tomorrow, I will tell you the kitchen pieces that I love the most. They are all made by Mama and I am so proud of her. 

Good night, Diary. 
Good night, Kitchen.

Day 252 & 254-All Quiet On The Kitchen Front

19th June, Dusk

Dear Diary, 

Finally, I am able to steal a little time and I am now sitting here on the kitchen floor, all by myself. Just me and the silence , you, and a pencil in my hand. And it is so, so nice.  This is my favourite time of the day. Dusk. The time for a little respite before dinner is prepared. When the sky is at its prettiest and the evening wind's really gentle, carrying with it the fragrance of the lotus flowers right here into the kitchen . I call this "My Evening's Bouquet". What do you think, Diary, is that clever?

 I am writing this quickly by the last dusk light because soon, night will fall and it may be too dark for me to continue. There just aren't enough oil lamps around the house and Mama has forbidden us to use any candles again. Until dinner time, she says because Papa has not gone to town to replenish our supplies. It is a good thing we grow our own vegetables and the river bless us with fishes each day or we may starve waiting for Papa to go into town for supplies. He hates it there, all of us do

Uh Oh, Mama is calling, I have to run but I will be back ..

Monday, 1 August 2011

Days 267-270-Basketry

In Bali...  

while window shopping along the trendy Seminyak; 
I found traditional baskets alongside their modern versions

hung in front of a shop
these lampshades were made from the dried clusters
 of MacArthur's Palm, the same kind that can be found in my garden

behind a dramatic lamp 
three white beaded baskets

at a spa waiting to be massaged,
a woven tray of ingredients for the herbal drink

before the altar
offerings, the Balinese way.

At home...

souvenirs from Bali
bamboo food covers that I have always wanted,
 offering baskets hand-painted in batik prints
tiffin carriers woven in the traditional ulat-ulatan style

gifts from SuZ
collected from her travels

for my dollhouses
materials, completed projects, sewing kits Bali and at home...

my basket weaving kit box

niftier in a case for glasses
as suggested by Casey

Basketry, mini style.
I have just counted and much to my surprise, I found almost 40 woven wares, mainly baskets, in my tribal house.What am I to do? I just love them in so many ways. 

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