Thursday, April 30, 2009

Little boxes, little boxes.


When I drive passed these contempory houses, I couldn't help but sing to myself, Little Boxes,little boxes. These look more like boxes than a suburban house.

"Little Boxes" is a song written by Malvina Reynolds in 1962 that lampoons the development of suburbia and what many consider its bourgeois conformist values. 

1. Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes made of ticky-tacky,
Little boxes, little boxes,
Little boxes, all the same.
There's a green one and a pink one
And a blue one and a yellow one
And they're all made out of ticky-tacky
And they all look just the same.

2. And the people in the houses
All go to the university,
And they all get put in boxes,
Little boxes, all the same.
And there's doctors and there's lawyers
And business executives,
And they're all made out of ticky-tacky
And they all look just the same. 3. And they all play on the golf-course,
And drink their Martini dry,
And they all have pretty children,
And the children go to school.
And the children go to summer camp
And then to the university,
And they all get put in boxes
And they all come out the same.

4. And the boys go into business,
And marry, and raise a family,
And they all get put in boxes,
Little boxes, all the same.
There's a green one and a pink one
And a blue one and a yellow one
And they're all made out of ticky-tacky
And they all look just the same.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Fun things to do in New Zealand: Bungy jumping


Both my daughters bungy jumped at sixteen. I am not going to tell you how it feels as a mother who was there to see them jump.

Making Auckland Beautiful

Flowers change the appearance. I spotted a whole gang landscapers putting in new plants and flowers in Devonport. As we are a temperate country, these flower beds get changed according to the season.

This may be why Auckland are rated as the 4th best city in the world.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Autumn is here 2

Autumn is here when the trees shred their leaves and cover my car and come in through my window.  These leaves are gold, not brown. Soon, the trees will be bare.
How I wish they are real gold.
We are in Down Under, New Zealand. Where, when the Northern Hemisphere are having Spring, we have Autumn.

New Zealand: Sky diving

You may say New Zealand has a lot of dare devils. My daughter G who bungy jumped at sixteen went sky diving in Taupo two weeks ago.
I wonder why they painted the plane like a wide mouth shark? Was it to make the divers feel more invinsible? That they entered the belly of the yellow shark and jumped out alive.
Summer here is winter in the Northern Hemisphere.  Another post for you. Seethroughgreen 

The Oasis, Australia

When it is cold and wet in New Zealand, the Gold Coast is a great place to visit. In deed, it is like an Oasis like this shopping centre.


When I was young, I loved it when the fun fair came to town. We hung around to see how the cotton candy vender spun a handful of white sugar crystals round and round in his machine. With a stick, like a magic wand, he made a big fluffy ball of pink cotton candy.

My head must have spun around as well, because the moment I got on the horse on the Merry-go-round, I already felt giddy. I remember grabbing the pole very tightly, and when the torture had finished, I was going to puke. Mum said, next time you don't go on it.

Did I listen? Next time, the fun fair came, I wanted to go on it. Mum didn't say, don't you puke. You can't stop puking from taking place. It just happens.

Mums are mums. It's going to be Mother's day soon. Happy Mother's Day to all the mums. Mine included if she can hear me from Heaven above.  

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Hunua Falls

In the past, I used to moan and groan when the water engineer  drove miles and miles to see some structure of engineering interests. Five years into our marriage, we met a son of an engineer, he "passionately" talked about how he hated to be dragged to such places. I stopped complaining and just went with him. If I didn't like the place, I just sat in the car grudgingly. Five years ago, I met this long suffering engineer's wife. What did she say about their holidays?  I just LOL and play Sudoku in the car if I didn't like to go.

However, since I started blogging, I am grateful for his photos. In fact, now, it is the water engineer's turn to be patient while I snapped away.

This is a fall south of Auckland. Called Hunua falls and people have water play and there are eels. There is a cave near by, but it was towards the end of our trip. I didn't venture inside.

Water Fountain in a Thai restaurant

We saw this unusual contraption in this Jungle Flavour Thai restaurant when we went there last month. The water wasn't turned on and they were in the process of building it. This month, I was delighted to see water flowing down the tubs. Before we knew it, the diners at the table nearby had to evacuate themselves. Water was spraying towards their direction and they were drenched.
The water engineer said, the water pressure was turned on too high. I teased him to go and over his technical advice. We might get free food for the rest of our lives. But the water engineer wasn't liberal with his advice. He wanted helicopter rides like he had in Papaua New Guinea.


We are really lucky to have mild weather and sea all round us. We go to the beach even in Winter even if we have to bundle up in warm clothing. Two weeks ago, we went to four beaches on the same day.

Here is Awhitu peninsula where we spent a quiet Christmas holiday at the beach and horse riding. The farmer's daughter and daughter in law came up with the concept of opening up his farm for people for horse riding through his rolling farm and buy their organic herbs. We had afternoon tea on the beach, and he showed how the land had been eroded. Where it was farm land when he was a boy was now part of the sea.

There is a tranquil park with safe sandy beaches lies tucked inside the southern headland of the Manukau Harbour on Auckland's west coast.

We drove to a viewing platform at the signal station and lookout. From 244 metres above the sea you can enjoy a bird's-eye view of the harbour entrance with its turbulent waters and ever-shifting sand bars.

Awhitu Peninsula is about 80 minutes drive south and then west from the centre of Auckland.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Sam the giant

Following the pun, Harry Potter in Potter's park, some one casted a spell. They either made Sam a giant or they shrunked a house.

We found this tiny model of a house at Potter's park. On the ground, it has inscription of Haere Mai, or welcome to the Pah. It is made of solid material. A Pah is a fort in Maori.

You have tolook carefully, otherwise you will miss it. The man I asked told me that the house was there a long time ago. Kiwis are very friendly. Today, two men spoke to me and I learn something new everyday.

To Baruch of http://awalkthroughauckland.blogspot.com/ Potter's Park is at the junction of Dominion Road and Balmoral Road.

Autumn is here

Sam had fun walking along leaves fallen at the footpath. He was making such a rusling sound that the woman infront of him turned back and LOL.

Autumn is here, when the leaves start falling.  I have no idea what these are. I looked up, and saw a pine tree. Perhaps it's the fruits/cones.

Papua New Guinea: Traditional houses

The water engineer had a canoe ride up the Sepik River , which is 700 km from river mouth – 3oom wide or more. He saw on the river bank, houses of the Papua New Guinea river tribe.

The houses are on stilts, and is similar to the tribes in Borneo, except in Borneo, they have long houses.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

ANZAC Day: Poppy Day.

Tomorrow, 25 April is Anzac Day .
It commemorates all New Zealanders and Australians killed in war and also honours returned servicemen and women.
The date itself marks the anniversary of the landing of New Zealand and Australian soldiers – the Anzacs – on the Gallipoli Peninsula in 1915.
The poppy's significance to Remembrance Day is a result of Canadian military physician John McCrae's poem In Flanders Fields. The poppy emblem was chosen because of the poppies that bloomed across some of the worst battlefields of Flanders in World War I, their red colour an appropriate symbol for the bloodshed of trench warfare
Every year, the Vets and their families sell these poppy flowers. When I was in primary school in Borneo, we used to buy them. My teacher told me that the money was  ex-Services and dependants. Later, when Sarawak became part of Malaysia, they stopped selling poppies. feathers were sold instead.                                                                                                 
In my ESOL adult class, I teach ANZAC day to the new immigrants. I was glad to have L and E who lived through the war to assist me. "Lest we forget" doesn't mean as much as those who lived thhrough those horrible days.                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Western Springs: Do not feed the ducks?

Western Springs is one of my favourite places in Auckland for myself and my visitors. You will read many posts in my other blog. Only yesterday, I took a friend I haven't seen for almost forty years and she loved it. Her husband was saying that perhaps all the junk food was hurting the geese which had funny feathers sticking out of their wings. 

I did not dare to reveal this piece of news that was in last week's Central Leader. Apparently, the Auckland City Council was meant to put up signs seveal weeks ago to stop the public from throwing bread into the lakes to feed, zillions of ducks, geese, swans, pukekoes and eels. The park rangers report that the bread was causing botulism and killing the ducks.

But no official steps were taken, and when the rangers tell people not to throw bread in the water, they tell him to bugger off. 

Lucky for me, nature has taken it cause. The rain came, the temperature went down, and botulism was reduced. We are all back feeding the ducks and no more telling the ranger to bugger off.

Seriously, if I go on a Sunday afternoon, when hordes of well meaning families have thrown loads of bread into the lake, the feathered friends are stuffed up to their necks. I do see the ducks not eating, because they have had so much food. The bread stay floating in the water. A very ugly sight.

Perhaps,  people can be told not to throw bread in the lakes on Sunday afternoon. The water engineer sees another problem. The weir that water drains to the stream are filled with leaves and flotsum. If the weirs are cleared, perhaps the bread will drain off.

I remember another little pond at the Domain next to the Auckland hospital. I used to go and spend my lunch time feeding the ducks. In May when the official duck shooting is opening, you will see a zillion ducks seeking shelter in the tiny pond. You hardy see the water at all. Years later when I came back from Singapore, I found botulism had killed the ducks, and the pond was a smelly mess. The water engineer said this can be saved. In deed, some smart water engineer had widen the pond, put in a few fountains that pumped air into the water, and the pond is now a beautiful family and tourist attraction place again.

This phot was taken beginning of the month, the ducks and geese were very hungry. It was a Thursday. The geese were so hungry that they dashed towards us fifty meters away to greet us.

Recycling bottles

Two days ago, after I posted on plastics and littering, memories from fellow blogger and New Zealander, Pete from Hamilton collecting glass bottles for a cash refund, prompted this post. I must have been born at the same era as Pete because I did the same.

In the 60s, in Borneo, there were basically two types of soft drinks. The local produced soft drink which we  called "Native" brand, and the imported brand, Coca cola. We didn't have soft drinks often, or rather only during Chinese New year and once in a while when we have a big celebration. Drinking soft drink especially coca cola was a big deal. Even the Water Engineer's colleagues who are now university professors reminsce fondly how they slowly nurse their bottle of cola.

We would wash our empties and wait for the the old man, "rag and bone man" who comes in his special trishaw to recycle the bottles. He rings a bell and we kids would rush to him with our bottles. The coca cola bottles were worth twice the money of the "Native" brand. Other glass bottles were worth nothing. The catch was, Coca Cola demanded their customers to return their bottles. I think they kept a retainer to make sure all the bottles were returned to their stores. So if we sold a coca cola bottle to  the rag and bottle man, we never heard the end from Mum. 

"The Rag and bone man pays you 2 cents, and I have to forfeit 10 cents to the coca cola company."

That was the first time I heard the unpleasantness of the MNC Coca cola.

In the mid 1970s, when I was in Canada, I flatted with L. I recall the Coca cola branch in Sarawak made to our Marketing text book. My friend P said that our Coca cola won a prize as the best cola ever made. In deed, our Cola was different. It was more fizzy than the ones we drank in US and Canada. Apparently Coca Cola allowed their branches to make the cola to suit local taste. Any way, L who's family ran a successful coffee shop told us that:

"If you have more empties, the Cola company takes them away without giving you any money, it sees it as helping you to clear your rubbish, but if you don't return enough, they forfeit you." 

Fast forward to mid 1990s, I took my teenaged daughters back to Borneo to visit my second sister Elizabeth. Her husband Kalang was the principal of a school. Next door, the woman ran a canteen for the school. There we saw crates and crates of Cola bottles. I asked her what they were doing gathering dust.

"The Cola company stopped making Cola in glass bottles, nobody wants them."

My Daughter Deborah asked if she could have a bottle for souvenir,

"Take the whole lot for all I care."

When Deborah took one bottle to Singapore, her friend Oooh Aahed. 

"Why didn't you bring more?"

In mid 2000, we moved back to New Zealand, Deborah has lost the novelty of that cola bottle which meant more to me than to her. It broke my heart to drop it in the recycling bin.


That very day, I posted on Plastics, I saw these little cars advertising for Cola. The bottle has the same shape as the old bottle. But I guess, it is a plastic bottle.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Aloe Flower in April

titania-yesterdaytodayandtomorrow on her post on flowering aloe in April, and despite my recent post with my own flowering aloe vera.

My mind was still wondering why for the 16 years I grew aloe in Singapore, I didn't have a single bloom.

Was it the species?

Then yesterday, I went for a walk with Sam. First I saw the aloe that looked like my Singapore species, there were no flower. Just a house down, there was a big bush with a dozen flowers.

It was like nature screaming out loud, "Ann, don't be a doubting Thomas."

As we walked further, I saw three more bushes with flowers.

Thank you Titania for teaching me something.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Separating twins con-joint in the head.

When I lived in Singapore, in 2001, I was involved with the separation of  Siamese Twins 
I was actively organising a drive to raise funds  and I got to know the parents and their grand father. I was very privileged to see Ganga and Jamuna while they were still conjointed in their heads. Their mum, Mrs. Shrestha asked me why I worked so hard for her babies. I told her about my deceased son Andrew, I didn't have a chance to fight for Andrew. But if I thought her daughters had a chance, I wanted to give my utmost to  Mrs. Shrestha to fight for the survival of her baies.
The separation process was a success, but things didn't end up happily ever after. Ganga died, and Jamuna is not exactly a healthy child.
Then the doctors operated on a pair of adult conjoint twins from Iran. Ladan and Laleh Bijani were leading successful lives. The operation failed, and they died.
My opinion of the doctors changed. Why did they go ahead with the operation? Were they getting too ambitious?
Now, they are having another chance, Indian twins Vani and Veena, five, may go under the knife at East Shore Hospital in August if the medical team under the same Neurosurgeon Keith Gohdecides to proceed with the operation.
For me, I say no more, the risk is too great.
My achived photo taken with Mrs. Shrestha seated on the hospital bed, my friend Manchala and a Nepalese visitor.

Pigeons at Potters Park.

We had a lot of buns that Sam reckon was passed their use by date, so we went to Potters park where twenty years ago, I used to take his sisters D and G to play in the park and feed the pigeons. The pigeon population has grown and when we first arrived at the park, the pigeons were about 100 meters away.
Even before Sam opened his plastic bag of buns, they flew towards us. It was like a zillion pigeons have come to attack us and it was quite frightening. I actually bend down to make myself very small and had my hands to protect my head.
You probably would LOL if you saw us. I told Sam it was like a Harry Potter movie. The Pun? Harry Potter in Potter's park?
When they started eating, they were quite docile. Only the sea gulls were more vicious.

Red Hibiscus : Bunga Raya

The red Hibiscus flower is the national flower of Malaysia. The country I lived for more than ten years. They call it the Bunga Raya or Royal flower. This photo, I just spotted at one of the houses I walked past today. It happened to be the red hibiscus, but the photo doesn't do it justice.

I have  a big  pinkish bush outside my daughter's window. This flower is much bigger than the Bunga Raya.

Just last week, I was at a fruit and vegetable shop. At the check out counter was a couple of bottles with red liquid. As usual, I am very curious and saw that it is a Hibiscus drink. I did not know that you can have a drink made of hibiscus flower.

I asked the woman at the check out counter, "Is it nice?" 

She replied," People buy them."

I bought a bottle for two reasons. One to blog and two, for Sam to recycle the glass bottle. For some reason, Sam doesn't like to drink water from a plastic bottle.

According to the bottle, it is a fresh cooling drink made from the exotic Hibiscus flower. Popular for centuries, it became part of folklore and folk medicine in the Caribean, Egypt, and Asia.

Today the ruby red pigment of the Hibiscus flower is stimulating scientific inquiry into its many possible heath benefits and antioxidant properties.

I haven't drank my bottle because I have it in my fridge and my doctor tells me not to drink cold fluid when I have a flu.

Perhaps we should all go out and plant more Bunya Rayas. No wonder it is called the Royal flower.

Besides it is an exotic name to give your daughter. Actually I made it up when I wrote that short story. May be you may like a good laugh. http://annkschin.blogspot.com/2008/11/romantic-island-wedding-in-fiji.html.

Plastic! Plastic! Plastic!

These photos were taken at Walker Park . I took my students to this nature reserve park where we were to " take nothing, and leave nothing." I let my students to draw their own conclusions about these rubbish and what their effects will impact on our envirnoment. They have a lot of knowledge and imagination about how the bottles and bags will kill the whales.
Our biggest supermarket chain and a giant retailer have taken steps against the plastic war to charge customers for the plastic bags. Some more extreme advocates are protesting other supermarkets to do the same. People interviewed are indifferent.
An extreme group even suggested burning the bags as fuel. 
I doubt if burning all these chemical laden bags will be accepted. I did, a long time ago, visit a plastic bag factory. They showed me how little granules twice the size of sugar can be melted to a liquid glue like substance, and at the end of the chain become plastic sheet and then made into plastic bags. I wonder, if the process could be reversed, and the bags be reverted to those granules and remade into bags again. If men can go to the moon, surely they can solve a simple thing like plastic recycling.
In my other blog, I have written quite passionately about rubbish and plastic bags. While I am against littering, I do use the plastic bags to line my rubbish bins before I throw them out to my once a week emptied wheely. I also get involved in zero waste rubbish recycling. 

skywatch: From a plane looking down some Australian Islands

For skywatch@Friday. 

The water engineer took this photo on one of his work assignments to Queensland Australia while flying to a remote place. There are many islands with pristine white sand.

Once he bought some sand for Sam's sandpit. They were white and powderly. http://annkschin.blogspot.com/2008/11/popular-tourist-place-in-singapore.html, Sam had the best sandpit in NTU.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Aloe Vera

I was intriqued by fellow blogger's post on aloe flower, titania-yesterdaytodayandtomorrow. Before I started blogging, I didn't pay much attention to the world around me. I took this flower without registering that they bloom in April. So I learn something everyday. This photo was taken indeed in April. Come to think of it, my oldest sister Rose was visiting me during ANZAC day, and we were at Western Springs Park.

This flower captiviated me because the aloes I grew in Singapore, and I grew plenty, never bloomed. titania set me thinking. I think because I used to cut the leaves for medicinal use. The plants were either punishing me for that and refusing me the joy of seeing the beautiful flowers, or the plants converted the goodness to medicine, and were rewarding enough.

In Singapore, hordes of female workers come from Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Philipines come to this, more advance city state to work as domestic helpers or just known as maids. Yes, you read it right, maids to be used and some abused.

I lived in an upper strata of society where the employers were university professors. I never employed a maid, because it just wasn't me, to keep a maid 24/7. I was a champion for many of them.

One day, by accident. one showed me her hand which was festering with pus. I asked her what had happened? 

"Aunty Ann, I was frying fish, and accidentally the oil spatter on me."

"Did you tell your employer?"

"No! I afraid?"

"What you afraid of?"

"She scold me for being careless."

My blood was boiling, but it was not in my place to interfer, so I went to my garden of aloe veras, broke a couple of leaves to tell her to apply on the burn.

"Aunty Ann, it is very good, I feel the cooling, and not so painful."

I gave her two pots of aloe vera to take back to her apartment.

"Aunty Ann, no I afraid, my boss will find out."

Exasperated, I told her then to come to help herself to my leaves. Couple of months later, the maid showed me her hand, it had fully recovered, and the scar was fading. 

Aloe vera was medicine in a leaf. I ran a gardening column and introduce everyone to this miracle plant.

Shakespear park,

We were together with another family this weekend. The kids and parents had a discoussion about the name. No, it is not the famous author's name. There was no E. Why? I don't know.

From wild and windy Orewa, we drove to Whangaparoa Peninsula. Here the beach was calm and I went out for a long walk along the beach and picking shells on the way. There I found shells of snails.

I have never seen so many native bird pukekoes at one area. They looked like sheep grazing grass. There were friendly peacocks. I couldn't resist taking this photo of a peacock coming close to the boy for his crisps.

Shakespear Regional Park
The park offers a sanctuary with magnificent panoramic views. The inner Hauraki Gulf can be admired in all its glory and Auckland City can be seen on the horizon.

Birds from nearby Tiritiri Matangi Island sanctuary have migrated across to the regenerating native forest on Shakespear. You can hear bellbirds and see the occasional kakariki. In the spring you are able to enjoy the newborn lambs amongst the expansive rural pastural setting.

At Te Haruhi Bay the resident peacocks display. White-faced herons, stilts and dotterels frequent the tidal flats of Okoromai Bay, and tui and native pigeons flourish in the regenerating forest of Waterfall Gully.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Helen Clark: incoming head of the United Nations Development Programme

If Jean Batten was, in my opinion, the Number One daughter of New Zealand, then Helen Clark is the Number Two.

I took this photo when Helen visited my school. I also had a photo taken with her which I posted earlier last month.The water engineer was overseas when I has the photo taken, and he couldn't believe his eyes.

At that time, she had lost the election, lost her prime ministership she held for nine years. My friend C said Helen was destined for higher places. 

True to C's words, Helen is now, the incoming head of the United Nations Development Programme, being appointed unanimously by the 192-member General Assembly.Her new position is the third most powerful in the UN, behind only the secretary general and his deputy. She replaces Kemal Dervis, a former Turkish cabinet minister.

Way to go, Ka Pai!  Helen. 

Monday, April 13, 2009

Boot Camp

No computer, no cell phones, no TV, Sam spent his Easter in a Boot Camp.

It was mum who was more worried as the weather was cold during the weekend, dropping to 5 degrees. Like all  mums. she over packed his bag, "just in case."

He came back on Monday afternoon, tired but happy. I asked if his leader made him wear his thermal tops, and he said. "yes" and feeling bored from the 101 questions I was bombarding him.

My baby is growing up. My friend wants to know if her daughter could go on one.

Tongariro Crossing

For Skywatch@Friday, My world
We were standing at the edge of Lake Taupo and gazed unto the mountains where we could see snow on the slopes despite it was early Autumn. The Water engineer and his mates had crossed this mountain range and describes in great passion about his nine hour ardous climb. He has great plans to do it again inviting 12 year old Sam. He told me that I had to train if I wanted to go with him next January. The photos are tempting, but oh! my poor knees.
The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a world-renowned trek.The crossing spans the length of Mt Tongariro (18.5 Kilometres) and takes about 7-9 hours. It is New Zealand best one day hike, commonly known as the Tongariro crossings. 
The Tongariro National Park is rich in cultural identity, it has dramatic scenery and unique land forms this combines to make the Tongariro Alpine Crossing a world-renowned trek. (Rated as the best one day trek in New Zealand and listed by many in the top 10 day treks in the world) Many who complete the 18.5 kilometre journey will tell you the climbs can be steep and the weather can be unpredictable. 
Tongariro still smokes, the ancestral fires still burn and the land lives on for all. Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu have all erupted in recent times. In 1990 the park was recognised as a World Heritaghe Site for its outstanding natural value. The Volcanoes in particular are noted for the frequency of eruptions, their highly explosive nature and the high density of volcanic vents. Then in 1993, Tongairo National Park became the first palce in the world to bge listed as a World Heritage Site for the Spiritual and cultural values that the landscape holds for indigenous people


Friday, April 10, 2009

A "Nuts" Picking Experience

Last week, my sister Elizabeth and her husband Kalang came over from Borneo for a fleeting visit. My Brother Charles in Australia told me that I had to take her to a pipi aka shellfish picking. My uncle D was happy to take us even though the pipis might be polluted and the pipis could be miles and miles and hours and hours away.
I said," Never mind, we just want that experience."
Unfortunately, it was high tide, and the water engineer said that there was no way that we could go. So we went to a public park where we saw this tree with lots of nuts under it. It looked like macademia nuts.
When Mum moved to her Australian house, the neighbour had a giant macademia tree. It had branches growing over to our section. Mum and I would pick the nuts on our side of the garden. Dad told us off that it wasn't very good to start off as new neighbours stealing their nuts.  I joked about the anecdote of the fruit outside the fence, our aunties' famous saying.
In my school compound, we have a macademia tree, and the school kids look for macademia nuts at lunch time. I have a student J who won't sit still. I go with him to look for nuts.
I am quite confident that this tree with all the nuts lying on the ground was a macademia tree. We started collecting the nuts. We got home and with my nut cracker, I opened a nut and served it to Elizabeth. It was bitter. Uncle D said it probably isn't macademia, and it could be poisonous. I had tried to poison my sister. We remembered a mushroom poisoning incident in the family.
What an experience!  We felt "Nuts."

Gingko Biloba: PAK GOU


When I was little, I used to help Grandpa and Mum gently hammer the Gingko Biloba aka PAK GOU in Chinese in Mum's pestle and mortar. I have to use the right force, too hard, and I mesh the expensive kernel, and too lightly, the shell of the kernel won't crack open. Then we had to gently peel the skin and finally remove the germ. It is this germ which must be removed as it has a bitter taste and could be poisonious. These are then used to make sweets or the filling for the Chinese Glutinious rice dumpling, our CHUNG. It was tedious work and I vowed I would never buy the stuff when I grew up.

But when I grew up, Mum and Grandpa had died. Dad said he loved eating them, and I went to buy the PAK GOU. They retailed more than $25 dollars a kilo. It wasn't so much the money, but the work I anticipated. I told Dad, I buy them, and you hammer them, while I peeled the skin. So there we were having a bonding time, Dad and I. I also heard how good Gingko was for memory and I search and intenet and found that they grew in Canada. So I bought processed Gingko in a bottle. So much easier on the hands. Dad had gone to Heaven, and it is unlikely I would cook PAK GOU again.

I came to New Zealand in the 1970s, little did I know that there are Gongko trees in ther public parks in Auckland until two days ago.

On Thursday, when I sent the elderly couple home, it hailed badly in Auckland. Parts of the roads were white with big blobs of ice. The hail brought down gingko fruits from my friend M's tree. Her husband B picked them up, and she brought it to our dinner. I had never seen a fresh gingko fruit, and I happily accepted.

My friend C said I was lucky because B had already processed the hard bit. Wikipeadiea mentions that the pulp smell like faeces. That was how bad they smelt. C. even said after cleaning the flesh, she could smell it on her body and clothing.

With my stuffed up nose, initially I couldn't smell anything when the water engineer complained how bad it was and only the Chinese would go for such obxious stuff. I made him search the internet so he won't throw them away. I left them on the deck outside, as by now I could smell the awful smell.

After a day in the sun away from the house, they don't smelt as bad. Still the water engineer won't let me take them inside the house.

When they are dried, I will have good nostalgic moments of hammering an dpeeling. Days when I was young. I had already emailed my siblings.

Yesterday, we were early for Good Friday service, we went for a walk in a public park. I saw these little fruits about one inch in diameter.

I asked a little Kiwi boy what fruits they are.

He said," Some Chinese Fruit."

"Are they edible?"

"Yes, the Chinese people pick them all the time."

I stood on one and meshed the pulp. I exclaimed with joy, this is a Gingko tree!!!!! I wish my sister Elizabeth was still here visiting me.

A note of caution, in case you rush out to your garden or park to collect the fruits, remember the pulp smell of faeces.
Read an informative article from the University of Maryland where leaves are used.