23rd June 2012
The idea of a hubcap garden came to me quite soon after we started our project junkyard. I had these silver pill packages that I thought could be used for making mini hubcaps. Nat helped me cut the pill packages into small silver circles on Day 337 or our 8th Saturday, so they could be made into old, dented and of course rusty hubcaps.
23rd June 2012
I knew we would not have much time for our junkyard on our 9th Saturday because my parents planned to throw a durian-party at my home that day. The party was to start at about 3pm, a few hours after Nat's arrival.
23rd June 2012, Nat punching hole in mini hubcabs
I was however determined that Nat must once again assume some responsibilities for our project so I made him work on the hubcaps. It was just punching holes and it didn't take him long to give all the silver circles we had, holes in their centres. At about 1 pm, Pam and her 11 year old daughter, Jewel, arrived at my house for the durian party. They were early but Nat and Jewel really hit it off and they became friends quickly.
The Durian Party
These are the durians my dad bought from 3 different locations in Johore, Malaysia, just the day before. By the time my dad drove what must be 20-30 of them straight from Malaysia to my home, it was almost 12 midnight. It had taken him a whole day in Johore to source for these durians and they were to be some of the best durians I have ever tasted.
I don't know any young children who like durians. They often find the smell intolerable. Nat is no exception and will often move far, far away from these fruits, calling them stinko. That day however, FaiZ offered to teach Nat how to cut open the durians and that got Nat really excited. What can I say? Give a boy a chance at wielding a butcher knife and nothing else matters. So for those of you who have never heard of this fruit or know how to cut open one, here are the steps:
Step 1: watch the master. Notice how he had used newspapers to protect himself and the floor from the prickly husk.
Step 2: Find the base of the fruit and pat the knife against the fruit there a few times to flatten the thorns. You will be able to see the lines that separate the fruit into a few segments. Use the knife to poke through the center where the lines meet and when the knife is about an inch inside the durian, twist the knife to force the fruit open.
Step 3: As you can see, you will need to eat lots of rice, meat and vegetables to pry the segment of the husk apart for the fruits. If you are like Nat who hates vegetables and doesn't eat enough meat or rice, then you may have to go on all fours to exert maximum strength. At one point, Nat looked like he was doing push ups against the durian and that he could fall flat, face on fruits.
So it was that our 9th Saturday marked the 1st day Nat was allowed to handle a big knife. I am not sure if his mum and dad know this yet but I remember being very nervous watching him that day.
Jewel and Nat
After all the durians were cut open and while the adults were enjoying their feast, I brought Nat and Jewel out so they could take turns spray painting the hubcaps.
At that time, we were not sure how the hubcap garden would look yet so Jewel showed me an example. Jewel proved to be such a wonderful helper that I made her mum promised to bring her again the next Saturday. I told both Nat and Jewel that we would be working on something exciting the next week.
27th June 2012
Did I mention something exciting? I knew nothing exciting was possible if I did not get the 4th car so I thought of a good compromise. I went to my mum's house 3 days before our 10th Saturday meet when Nat was not there and broke the roof of the mini cooper off from the body. When I told Nat that I only took the roof and that he could still have the car, he was quiet for a while. So does that mean that I now have a convertible mini cooper? he asked me. Yes! I smiled as I answered.
30th June 2012
Nat was really pleased that Jewel came that 10th Saturday but he was not as pleased as me. Pam left her with me so she could run some errands and the three of us spent a delightful afternoon together.
We started that day spray painting more mini hubcabs that Jewel brought with her. They were from her grandma's pills. I then showed her how I wanted to make the hubcap flower and told her to make about a dozen of them.
Apart from the 1st one that I showed her, Jewel made every one of the other hubcap flower that we would eventually used in the garden. In this picture, Nat was trying to poke a branch through the hubcap very reluctantly as his mother has just scolded him for playing on the iPad instead of working on our project. He did not however make any flower in the end.
We did manage to start on the exciting part of the junkyard that day and also complete the yellow garden, a large part of which is this hubcap garden. This is the only part of the garden that is not glued down and the arrangement can be changed. The biggest credit goes to Jewel, of course. She hasn't been here since and Nat asked for her every Saturday. We must invite her back soon.