Thursday, September 24, 2009

Dust Dust Go Away!

We woke up to a very orange sunrise yesterday morning following a very stormy night. Brad and I were actually hiding under the bed and Mama had a tough time luring us out. You would hide too if you could hear the terrible sound of the wind.
Now, back to the orange skyline. Mama was supposed to go to work after a long weekend of festivities. But as soon as she opened the balcony door, she coughed and wheezed terribly. Quickly switched on the telly and the people were broadcasting news that Sydney was enveloped in a dust storm. It was what the night storm brought from further inland.

Sydney's iconic Harbour Bridge was "painted" orange, no climbs for tourists! (pix: AP)

Among the bits and pieces of the news we picked up:
SYDNEY – Australia's worst dust storm in 70 years blanketed the heavily populated east coast Wednesday in a cloud of red Outback grit, nearly closed the country's largest airport and left millions of people coughing and sputtering in the streets.
No one was hurt as a result of the pall that swept in overnight, bringing an eerie orange dawn to Sydney, but ambulance services reported a spike in emergency calls from people with breathing difficulties, and police warned drivers to take it easy on the roads.
Dust clouds blowing east from Australia's dry interior — parched even further by the worst drought on record — covered dozens of towns and cities in two states as strong winds snatched up tons of topsoil, threw it high into the sky and carried it hundreds of miles (kilometers).
International flights were diverted from Sydney to other cities — three from New Zealand were turned around altogether — and domestic schedules were thrown into chaos as operations at Sydney Airport were curtailed by unsafe visibility levels. Passenger ferries on the city's famous harbor were also stopped for several hours for safety reasons.
The dust over Sydney had largely cleared by midafternoon, though national carrier Qantas said severe delays would last all day because of diverted and late-running flights.
The dust was still flying further north, however, and the sky over the Queensland state capital of Brisbane was clogged with dust into the early evening.
Such thick dust is rare over Sydney, and came along with other uncommon weather conditions across the country in recent days. Hailstorms have pummeled parts of the country this week, while other parts have been hit with an early spring mini-heatwave, and wildfires.
"It did feel like Armageddon because when I was in the kitchen looking out the skylight, there was this red glow coming through," Sydney resident Karen told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio.
The storms — visible as a huge brown smudge in satellite photographs of Australia on Wednesday — are the most severe since the 1940s, experts said. One was recorded traveling from southern Australia all the way to New Zealand some 1,400 miles (2,220 kilometers) away.
Officials said particle pollution in Sydney's air rose to the worst on record Wednesday, and the New South Wales state ambulance service said it had received more than 250 calls before midday from people suffering breathing problems.
People with asthma or heart or lung diseases were urged not to go outside and to keep their medicine inhalers handy.
"Keeping yourself indoors today is the main thing to do if you have any of those conditions and particularly if you're a known sensitive sufferer such as children, older adults or pregnant women," said Wayne Smith, a senior state health official.
Sydney residents coughed and hacked their way through their morning commute, rubbing grit from their eyes. Some wore masks, wrapped their faces in scarves or pressed cloths over their noses and mouths.
"These dust storms are some of the largest in the last 70 years," said Nigel Tapper, an environmental scientist at Monash University. "Ten very dry years over inland southern Australia and very strong westerlies have conspired to produce these storms."

So Mama didn't go to work as she wasn't taking any chances, with her delicate health and all. We all stayed indoor, didn't open any doors or windows, except the bathroom window. Mama had to clean up the reddish dust settling on the sink, bathtub, tiles and towels. Heheheh...and she had just cleaned the bathroom last weekend...poor Mama.
Mama took some photos in the afternoon. We couldn't see much beyond the houses at the back of ours. Eerie, I thought.

View from our balcony in the afternoon.

Today, we could all hear Mama's shrieking as she walked to her car. The white thingy is now "pink". At least she has a valid reason to breach water restriction and wash her car. Or just go to the nearest carwash centre. teeheehee...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

What? No Cookies?

It's public knowledge that Mama's been sick since her return. Besides the cough and fever she had to deal with, she also has to deal with the side effects of the medications she's been given. Can't tell what it is but it's messy. Really messy.

Mama's also worried that the house is untidy and unclean. She's been putting off the annual property inspection requested by the landlord as well. Also, her friends may come visit her in the coming festival of Eid. Usually, by this time, she'd have several types of yummylicious cookies already baked and stored in piles upon piles of tupperwares and containers in the kitchen. We've seen no such activity this year. So unusual for Mama.

"I'm sick Angelina. Can't be bothered to do all those stuffs. I know that you're looking forward to my choc chip cookies, jam tarts and what not. Tell you what, maybe I can whip up something simple just for you and Brad, OK?" that's what she told me two nights ago.

Thus, I saw her with some eggs and butter that she bought from the corner shop yesterday. Then we heard some commotion in the kitchen, oven doors banging and all that. But none of us dare go into the kitchen while all those were going on. Never know if we may end up in the oven instead. However, there were some serious aroma wafting around the house. Hmmmm....addictive.

Anyway, glad to report that Mama made us some gorgeous looking cupcakes based on her chocolate and orange butter cake recipe. She even put some icing and decorations on them. Oh Mama...we lurve lurve lurve you......

My favourite - orange cupcakes with hundreds and thousands on icing.

Will the cupcakes last till Sunday? promises...Brad is wolfing them down two at a time. Such a glutton this boy.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Stork Delivers!

What a pleasant surprise!

Mama picked up her mails that came while she was away. And, among others, is a large envelope from Purina. Inside - a box of Royale Fancy Feast. Nine cans in total plus a magnetic frame that Mama says she'll stick on the fridge door. Thank you Justine! (she's the generous lady from Purina who sent the package)

What triggered this gift? A few months ago Mama complained to Purina that she couldn't find stock of this particular brand at either Coles or Woolies. It was the pouches that she was looking for. Not for me though. For Tom and his family. They simply love this gourmet cat food. Usually Mama or Dad would carry a suitcase full of the stuff for Tom. It's not as if they're not sold in shops back in the old country. It's just that they would cost a bomb. Even though the Aussie dollar is stronger, it's still cheaper to buy them here.

Brad and I only get a taste when there are extra boxes that wouldn't fit into the overweight bags. Oh well, something's better than nothing. As for this particular box, for sure we'll get a taste coz Mama has just returned from visiting Tom and family. Can't wait for breakfast time....

"Mama, may I have one for supper?" I pleaded.

"No, Angelina," came Mama's stern answer. "You and Brad were overfed when you were staying with Aunty If. Now back to normal routine, OK?"

Well, at least she doesn't insist that we fast during daytime like her. Thank God for small mercies, eh? Meow!

What's in the box? 3X virgin flaked tuna, 3X tuna whitemeat supreme and 3X tuna banquet with whole prawns.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Purrfect Wedding

My Mama attended a very interesting wedding that took place at Aunty If and Uncle Is' place today.

First, it's very unusual for people to get married in Ramadan. Second, it was all decided, confirmed and arranged within days, not even a week. Third, the bride, Aisha, when asked what would she like as mahar, said, "I'd like a kitten, please."

Here he is. DanDan the mahar kitten.

Thus, in between arranging for some sheikhs to come and solemnise the katb kitab ceremony, inviting friends and family to the occasion, then re-inviting them because initially gave the wrong address, the bridegroom, Yusuf, had to look for a suitable kitten all over Sydney. It just so happen that most pet shops don't seem to have kittens in stock this time of the year. "If would have been easier if she had asked for a diamond stud," he said.

"You should have seen the sheikhs faces when told that the mahar is a kitten," Mama said. She's imagining a meeting of the council of imams tonight where the talks will all be centred on this particular wedding.

In accepting the fact that the couple was unanimous in their decision, the sheikhs said usually the mahar is something that you can put a value to like jewellery, land titles etc. However, in history, there have been cases where a few verses from the Holy Book were given as mahar. Anyway, as long as the bride accepts wholeheartedly, it is valid.

Ah, cats do rule this world. Watch out for more people following Yusuf and Aisha's footsteps. Meow!

The Phone Call

Ring ring ring ring...

'Angelina Jolie's residence!'

'Hello. May I speak with Angelina, please.'

'One moment, please. Who shall I say calling?'

'It's her brother Tom.'

'Oh, very well. A moment, please.'

'Angelina, Tom's on the line. For you.'

'Thanks, Brad.'

'Hi Tom. Angelina here.'

'Hey pretty girl, howzit going?'

'Silly boy. Stop using American slang. I'm Aussie, mate. What's up?'

'Nothing. Just wondering how y'all holding up down under. How's Mama?'

'Not good. Mama's been sick since she got back. I heard her complaining to Dad about her body clock being topsy turvy.'

'Well, she's been having this persistent cough when she came back from her travel to the Middle East.'

'Yeah. That too. Plus she got caught in the drizzle when she fetched us from Uncle Is and Auntie If's place. And it's cold here compared with where she's been in the past six weeks.'

'Is she having a flu? Any fever?'

'I think it's the combination of everything. And lack of sleep. Hasn't been to work too.'

'That's a bit worrying. How are you coping?'

'Well, we've been doing our bit to help ease her suffering. I've been giving her massages while Brad keeps her warm by cuddling her. We hope that helps.'

'We'll pray for her too. Hope she'll recover soon. At least Dad is not sick. A bit busy though. He comes home late almost everynight.'

'Yeah. Send my love, hugs and kisses to Dad.'

'The same from us to Mama, OK?'

'Righto, bro.'

'Hey, who's being American now?'

'Teeheehee. You started it.'

'Don't be cheeky sister.'

'Sorry....send my love to Nicole and the kids, OK!'

'Oh, all right.'