Thursday, October 01, 2015


When our mum died last Friday morning, my brother and I were present. I held her hand and we talked to her as her breathing slowed, slowed until it stopped completely.

I was glad that we were there at the end. But I don't know if she was aware of us.

She was probably aware of our presence the night before, after the doctor had given her something to calm her down, after she urged us to come to the rest home because this might be our last chance to see mum alive.

When we saw her that night mum was snoring loudly, sleeping deeply. Probably, it was the best sleep she'd had in weeks if not months. There was a moment when she was semi-awake and made us think she wanted to get up and go to the loo. Then we realised mum was still asleep, so we and the nurse and the carer lay her back down on her bed.

That was probably the time to talk to mum, when she was still not so deeply asleep that I couldn't be sure she was still with us.

The next morning we returned to the bedside and mum was no longer snoring, just breathing. I worry now that she was already gone by then and we were just watching her body go through the motions until it couldn't any more. By then it is too late to hold hands and say comforting things, isn't it?

Sunday, September 06, 2015

a pink knit

Knit from Maniototo wool in barn red.

More details on Ravelry.

I have so many hand knits, all of which have to be dried flat after washing, that by this time of year I'm hesitant to bring out another one from my box (of finished knits) to wear. But as it's Father's Day and I was taking the family out for lunch I decided to go for it.

It is perhaps not as A-line as I'd hoped, but I still like it - mostly because I love the collar.

It's funny how it's not until I see a photo of my outfits, that I see the flaws in them. Like, in this case, how the long sleeved tee Im wearing with this has such baggy sleeves.

Full-on fair-isle part two

This is where I have go to with my boxy sweater. Since the photo was taken I've narrow the sleeves significantly so that now they are almost too tight (not intentionally). But it is now finished (unless I get around to re-sewing the sleeves).
More pictures on the Ravelry post.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Full-on fair isle

This is what I have been working on (and off) for the last couple of years,  in between other knitting projects.

And it is still not finished!

See my Ravelry post if you're desperate to see more....

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Surviving a decade of parenthood

Last Tuesday TLM turned 10.

To TLM it was not a more important or exciting birthday than any other, though apparently for some it is very significant as it ends in zero.

She got a range of stationery/crafts thingies from us (the loving parents), some lovely tin flutes from Nanna and a very spendable amount of birthday cash from her Poh Poh.

Then she got to celebrate it all over again today when  her friends turned up for a birthday yum cha.

It's interested to see what kids will eat at a yum cha - the prawn dumplings went untouched, the pork spare ribs were ignored and I was the only one who lusted after the taro puffs. BUT - the kids scrambled after the spring rolls, there were never enough roast pork buns and the sticky rice was surprisingly popular. The squid wasn't that popular either but that was okay because it meant more for me.

The only downside to a social yum char - at this particular restaurant anyway - is that we were only allocated 45 minutes at our table. I guess I should have worked this out when I first called to make the booking, because they asked whether we wanted a 11.30 am booking or a 12.30 pm booking.

45 is in no way long enough for a social food-oriented gathering. Sure, we were finished eating by then. But there was no time for just mucking around with the presents (a fantastic variety, from a pink hot glue gun to a cool puzzle game with a plumbing theme) or general chatting without your mouth full.

If we do it again in the future I'd consider scheduling an activity immediately after everyone's finished eating, such as a walk to the park or something.

In any case, everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and we even got to bring a few leftovers home to snack on!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Chinese authors I have loved (to read)

Temporarily on a break from Kazoo Ishiguro, I have harked back to the Chinese authors I have often sought when looking for fiction I can relate to:

Of course, I enjoy Amy Tan immensely (apart from Valley of Amazement, which to me was like a Chinese Memoirs of a Geisha). I must find myself another copy of The Kitchen God's Wife, because I lent it to my brother a decade ago and never saw it again.The last one I read by Tan was Saving Fish from Drowning. This wasn't a mother-daughter themed story - quite a departure for her - but a good read nonetheless.

I have a copy of David Wong Louie's book of short stories, Pangs of love, which are mostly (but solely) about flawed Chinese American men just trying to have relationships, good and bad. The first few are my favourites, I suppose because they confront the cultural divide rather than ignore.

Wayson Choy wrote The Jade Peony which is set in Canada in the 30's and follows the stories of three members of a Cantonese-speaking family. It forced me to learn just how hard life must have been for Chinese in Western countries and back in old China (especially if you were female). But it's not an "educational" book. They are stories of three children growing up in a particular time and place and are very accessible. The grandmother is familiar, both annoyingly old-fashioned and refreshingly wise. I also recently finished another of his books which is about the same family but from the perspective of just the eldest son.

Patricia Chao's Monkey King is a dark tale of a young woman who tries to kill herself because of stuff that happened to her as a child, and how she deals with those things in a mental institution afterwards. It's not utterly depressing though so don't let that put you off.

The above are all North American writers. Why haven't I found the works of any Chinese-British authors at my library? Or those of Chinese Australians or even Chinese New Zealanders?

(Actually I do have two books by a Chinese New Zealander - When the Moon Turns Silver by Alison Wong, plus a book of her poetry. They are great. )

I need to read fiction that feels like my kind of reality. The only way to find it these day is do what Phil Twyford did to try and convince us that overseas Chinese are buying up all of the Auckland houses - I look out for Asian-sounding surnames along the stacks.

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Fuzzy slouchy beanie

I had a ball of fuzzy alpaca/merino yarn and decided to knit a hat from it. It's very light and wide so fits both TLM and me. I reckon it would fit the boy too, but he is fundamentally opposed to slouchy hats.

As TLM is the more photogenic of the two of us willing to wear it, she's the one you get to see modelling it.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

I fell off the wagon

In the last couple of months it hit me that we had better rein in our spending, since we have been living off one salary since the end of January.

I went from daily visits to my favourite sushi shop for lunch, to only lunching out once per week (excluding weekends - where we transitioned from weekend lunches at "nice" eateries to alternating between home cooking and the more affordable Malaysian options.

I clamped down on clothing and yarn shopping - in the last month or so the only clothes shopping I've done has been for my mum (and on her card) who, since moving into the rest home, suddenly had a need for non-holey pyjamas and undershirts.

Even yesterday, I boasted to The Little Madam (who knows well my addiction to both knitting-related activities and sales) that in my lunch break I went to my local yarn shop where there was a yarn sale, and didn't buy anything.

But today I fell off the wagon, because I went to the Social Wool Fair and bought a scarf's worth of heathery blue merino and a stack of old knitting magazines.

I feel a little guilty, but in all I spent only a few dollars more than I did on the boy's packet of cigarettes.