Tulips Galore @ Rose Heritage Garden, Carmel

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Yesterday was a beautiful day, despite intermittent showers & cold wind. We went for lunch with Raymond & Hazel at the Rose Heritage Garden in Carmel, Kalamunda.

Hazel is profoundly in love with beautiful flowers & we had hope to see roses in bloom there. Instead to our utter surprise, a sea of beautiful tulips greeted our unbelieving eyes. Tulips of different hues, vibrant colours welcoming us & other visitors in all their glorious splendour.

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I was so enraptured that my trigger-happy fingers went on clicking my digital camera non-stop. Hungry stomachs were momentarily forgotten. In the absence of blooming roses, for which the place is famous, tulips greeted us with even greater glory & colourful splendour.

People living in Kalamunda don’t have to go to Araluen to catch the tulip show every Spring, now that this is at our door step!

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Winter shower has seen its last day, for Spring is now in the air. Lovers of nature & those young at hearts can delight themselves feasting their eyes with inexpensive delicious lunches or be there at the Rose heritage Garden in Carmel for afternoon tea or coffee.

Have  a wonderful day today!

Happy Father’s Day

Australians celebrate this day on the First Sunday of September each year.

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IKEA – The World of Home Furnishing

English: Logo of Ikea.
English: Logo of Ikea. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A good product should be accompanied by good service & customers’ satisfaction.

Undoubtedly IKEA, featuring Scandinavian modern style furniture and accessories, has taken the world by storm with composite warehousing showrooms sprawling on an international scale.They are home decorating specialists providing interior design ideas and homewares, including furniture and accessories for the bedroom, office, children and kitchen.

However, be aware of their trappings & extra expenses that will throw you off your wonder!

Thought we were the only unfortunate victims, but since I have come to know of others who weren’t compensated for dissatisfaction & mistakes made by IKEA installers, I thought I should go public for the sake of others thinking high & mighty of IKEA.

Like many people IKEA appealed to our dream of making-over our age-old kitchen. First, their showroom display enthrals you . . . their design pleases you . . . and then their price floors you. Compared to others, IKEA was the thing to go for!

Everything was professionally carried out. We started off with the qualified kitchen designer calling at our home to inspect & measure the lay-out of our old kitchen. Equipped with a laptop, he soon came up with the design to suit our needs. Of course, there was a non-refundable fee of $99.00 to be paid for the service. From this professional visit, the estimated price of $10,000 plus was quoted for the cabinet units required with the specially made-to-order bench top. I must stress that the designer knew full well of our needs & requirements.

We decided & proceeded. After a week or two, IKEA packaged units were delivered to our home. We thought we had the good fortune of securing the ‘excellent’ service of a well qualified carpenter who happened to be a lady newly migrated from Germany. Her installation fee was quoted as $2,340.

The shocking thing was she had only dollar sign in her head . . . kept reminding us that she was very well qualified . . . her time was valuable as much as $100 an hour & “every single cut” she had to make with her saw would cost us $50.00 extra. IKEA kitchen units are all modular type & any handyman could easily assemble them anyway. So you’ve got to make sure, you don’t have to deviate from the design to incur additional costs. Incidental & additional purchases are often unforeseen.

By the way, lest you forget, IKEA’s quoted price does not include all appliances & accessories. Rangehood had to be bought & installed separately by another with the chute opening through the roof.

Vertical blind dangling crookedly from the top. Measurement & installation skill went wrong!

In the process of installation, the vertical blinds of our bay window were roughly handed & when the bench top was finally fixed, the blinds couldn’t be drawn & opened as before. They are touching the bench top surface even now & hanging down as being too long to fit. We complained that we would have to incur an unnecessary expense to refit another set of curtain blind. But this was ignored by IKEA who claimed not to be their responsibility.

Cubical void too small to fit our old microwave oven. Had to purchase another alternative to place therein, as well as an additional IKEA cabinet

Another area of our dissatisfaction & complaint has to do with the size of the cubical void intended for our existing microwave oven. We found our oven too big to fit in. We complained that we had to buy a new one in order to fit. The designer was made aware from the start when he came to measure up. So what happened, we had to buy another modular unit with three drawers specially for our microwave oven, and I had to assemble it myself.

An additional cabinet purchased especially for our old microwave oven

IKEA modular units are never made or equipped to fit kitchen with bay window. Yet, we were assured that there would be no problem. But problem did arise when we were left with two open corner areas, rather unsightly. We had to get another carpenter, who happened to offer a cheaper service to solve the problem. IKEA again claimed no responsibility. That was over $300 drained from my wallet which should not have to incur.

Left corner void of the bay window cabinet
Splashback short of measured requirement. Exposed gap beneath the rangehood

   Associate mis-measured the size of the required splashback over the cook top area & left us with an exposed area uncovered & unprotected from cooking loil & grease. Again, IKEA would do nothing. Of course, the splashback is an additional area of expense , costing us about $1,000 more. As it was made to order, there was considerable waiting time & delay because of Christmas holidays.

Another area of delay had to do with the made-to-order laminated bench top which costs in excess of $2,300 plus.

Right side of the bay window void

Talking of extras, not pre-warned, are the services of the electrician & the plumber. Apart from having the problem of coordinating them in the whole process of installation, there was this additional costs of $2,200 & $1,000 respectively. Headaches don’t come by cheaply!

Knocking off the wall & cabinets of the old kitchen was going to cost us some $500 extra with the IKEA team. So I got it done ahead separately for just $100.

The installer left a lot of uncleared rubbish & dust . . . gosh my time for clearing them was not considered. This was expectedly part of the service which was not rendered. She said her vacuum cleaner was out of function.

We told the kitchen designer that the wall cabinets must all cover right up to the ceiling. But when assembled & done, there was this gap which would be good hide-out for dust, cobweb & insects. Another additional cost of $240 was incurred. (Below: Picture on right)

Sealing the ceiling gap cost additional $240

Where is the service?

The onus of responsibility rests entirely with the customer!

You deal with IKEA at your own risks!!

Last but not least, we started the IKEA project in the first week of October 2011 & it didn’t finish till March/April 2012 . . . a considerable delay & inconvenience.

In business, goodwill & image take a long time to build

It takes great expenses too through advertisements

Preservation of them will indeed be most important

Lest competitors & ill-will come along for the kill.








Money in Origami

English: Origami crane folded from one uncut s...
English: Origami crane folded from one uncut square of paper Français : Grue en origami, pliée avec une seule feuille de papier non-coupée (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

. . . the Japanese art of folding paper into decorative shapes & figures.

As featured in my preceding article “Beautiful Life on the Drive”, Won Park  the owner & master of origami, actually made a living out of this traditional Japanese art. He does so characteristically unique with featuring the American dollar bills & displaying them in various shapes , sizes & forms.

Bending, twisting & folding he creates life-like shapes in stunning details.

Won Park is invariably known as “Money Folder”.

Be amazed by his creations!

One Dollar Fish
One Dollar – Butterfly
One Dollar – Camera
Two Dollars – Battle Tank
Two Dollars – Chinese Dragon
One Dollar – Crab
One Dollar – Dolphin
Two Dollars – Jacket
Two Dollars – Spider
One Dollar – Scorpion
One Dollar – Bat
One Dollar – Toilet Bowl
One Dollar – Penguin
One Dollar Shark
One Dollar – Jet
One Dollar – Hammer Head Shark

ISN’T THIS WILD & AWESOME? 

He   lives in a converted garbage truck! You have to look  at
his   place . . .
Chasin' the Light
Chasin’ the Light (Photo credit: – Dave Morrow -)

Reminiscing & Reflecting

 

Life is worth the living

Though it may be fleeting

Three scores or more would slip you by

Rejoice in the Lord always as the years go by.

Kids say the most refreshing things in their own ways to make

you realise interestingly of their innocence.

My young grandson, Nathanael (4), asked me once upon wishing me Happy Birthday. He asked me how old I was, and I told him, 74. My grandson was quiet for a moment, and then asked,”Did you start at 1?”

Yes, one day, one week, one month, one year . . . but where did all the years go? Is our life’s journey merely a doomed destination? Were we born to die? Realistically, from the womb to the tomb, there’s but one room – 3 by 6 by 6 . . . it’s a dreaded hole for most to inter our flesh & bones. But then, we can look ascendingly unto Heaven to meet our Maker & God. Be prepared for that glorious day when we all must bid farewell to our loved ones & friends.

If you are not sure of your age, as old people tend to become forgetful, listen to this. “Look in your underwear, Grandpa,” my grandson would advise “Mine says I’m 4 to 6.” That is, if you are still wearing underwear!

Talking of birthdays, the more you have . . . the longer you are going to live. We should rejoice and celebrate as the years go by & let our doctors worry about our chronological age . . . it’s just a number.

Funny, we seniors are beginning to attend more funerals than birthday or wedding parties. It’s a morbid thought. It’s so sad to see your loved ones & buddies go when the use-by date expires. There’s no coming back. It’s a journey of no return. AsEtienne de Grellet (1773 – 1855) would say: “I shall pass through this world but once. Any good, therefore, I can do or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”

There’s enough of dying as it is without having dominant world leaders adding it on with senseless wars. What does war achieve?

 

Stop the wars!

Stop killing one another

To what end & purpose?

Let’s all live harmoniously

&

Appreciate what God has given us!

All nations can survive & prosper without having to dominate!

Camouflaged Village in Afghanistan


At the bottom of the sandstone slope is a village, looking very much like the natural cliffs at the top of the picture.

This is really unbelievable! You would never know this is a village looking down from above!

The best natural camouflage ever!!! Amazing nature’s camouflage!

Can you believe it??

Environmentally friendly

Cave dwellings that blend absolutely with the environment.

Long lasting & maintenance free.

Militarily, it’s excellent natural defence.

No cause for alarm even with the most sophisticated modern weapons.

And you wonder why they couldn’t find Osama 
bin Laden?

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Photos by 3rd Recon Bn RVN USMC

A Star Is Born

Cover of "Candle in Wind 1997 / Something...
Cover via Amazon


Let your hearts be swayed

Your spirit free

Your eyes & ears be tuned

to the melodious voice of Steve,

as he renders with such ease & finesse

two great popular songs:

Candle in the Wind” & “When You Say Nothing At All”.

Rest assured you’ll have lots to say & sing about,

as you listen with awe & admiration.

Where have you been, Steve, all these years?

Grieving For The Dear Departed

 

Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska — The Aurora Bo...
Image via Wikipedia

 

By P Chong                                                         Sat. 23 Oct. 2010

Grieving is universal. It doesn’t differentiate between colour, race or creed. There’re no boundaries between classes of economic status. Grieving is essential for the soul, mind & body. However, how does one grieve?

Personally, there’s no set form for grief. People grieve for relief, solace, or sadness & there’s no right or wrong way in expressing it. According to sociologists at various universities opinion can differ from one to the other.

There should however be stages of grief. First comes the acceptance to be expected out of this natural phenomenon. This is followed by the healing process and then there has to be the moving-on process. You can’t keep on grieving for the rest of your natural life. For the living, life goes on and so must you.

When a person passed on, it’s not not just a digital statistic, he or she is someone’s grandparent, father or mother, husband or wife, uncle or aunty and so on. The deceased is many persons in one . . . dear to someone. For the widow or widower, it could mean moving on in finding new partner. To love again? Why not?

What about attendance at funeral? Your presence of course is a question of honour & due respect for the departed. But some people can’t bear being at funeral. So long some representation of kind or person is being arranged, it’s the heart within that really counts. There are in fact hypocrites who wail and cry aloud at funeral, but to what end and purpose?

Modern technology has replaced or substitute for cases who simply cannot make it for the funeral because of distances & circumstances. Out of town or country mourners keep vigil & pay respect via electronic media where video clips or slide shows are available for viewing. This is the burgeoning trend that allowed people to share memories & eulogies.

Video or slide show tributes chronicling the deceased’s past are shown during visitations and memorial services are being held at funeral parlours. The trend is towards celebrating the life of the dear departed.

As a matter of fact, we cry from the cradle to the grave. The day we were born, we uttered our first cry . . . then we were crying for this & that . . . and sooner or later, we cry for others or others cry for us! What a life of crying! It’s crying to no end. We celebrate our birth. We celebrate our marriage. Why not we celebrate or let others celebrate our good life?

In the presentation of the eulogy, the speaker may well moderate emotion enough to focus on the joyous & good experiences of the dear departed with a clear mind.

Healing process comes through looking back on the past experiences & reminisces & sharing the joy rather than the sadness among relatives & friends. It is not to say that it’s unnatural to feel pain & the sense of loss.

At funerals & hereafter, in observing devotion & dedication, there are these actions to consider:

To take a look at one’s own life

A time for reflection

A time for resolution

A time to act

That life is a journey not a destination

Try to make it as interesting & loving for self & others!

In recent memory of my brother-in-law Brother Kheng in Taipei, Taiwan.


Oregano – The Herbal Cure For Cough

Oregano with Pinky Flowers

From the Editors of ‘Bottom Line Health’ in the edition of “Uncommon Cures for Everyday Ailments I came across these lines:

“The herb Oregano can be a powerful cough soother. Make as tea with a teaspoon of dried Oregano steeped in a cup of hot water. Strain before sipping. You may drink up to three cups a day during a cold or coughing spell.”

Ref: http://www.BottomLineinternational.com

The warm, balsamic and aromatic flavour of oregano makes it the perfect addition to Mediterranean and Mexican cuisines. This popular herb whose name means “mountain joy” is available throughout the year.

Oregano is known botanically as Oreganum vulgare and is called wild marjoram in many parts of Europe since it is closely related to the herb that we know as sweet marjoram. It is a small shrub with multi-branched stems covered with small greyish-green oval leaves and small white or pink flowers. In Mediterranean climates oregano grows as a perennial plant, but in the harsher climates of North America, they grow as annuals. It’s a good ground-cover too.

Culinary oregano is a signature flavour of many Italian, Mexican and Spanish dishes. Most cooks are familiar with it in its dried form, but oregano is a hardy perennial plant that is easy to grow in the home garden. A handful of plants will provide you with enough oregano to use fresh in season and to dry for use throughout the winter.

Oregano seems like a straightforward enough herb. Anyone who has tasted a tomato-sauce-topped pizza can recall its flavour, which is hearty and assertive with a peppery bite and a zing. Yet once you take a closer look at oregano, things get a little confusing.

Many plants are loosely classified as oregano. Their flavour depends largely on where they’re cultivated; in general the hotter the sun, the stronger the flavour. To add to the confusion, some reference books call oregano “wild marjoram,” and many recipes suggest that the two herbs, both members of the mint family, are interchangeable. In fact, there are so many varieties of oregano that rather than thinking of oregano as a specific plant, one ought to think of it as a particular flavour.

Fortunately (or not, depending on how you look at it), when you buy fresh oregano, you’re rarely given a choice of variety. For much of the year, most stores sell Greek oregano, which is what the largest herb suppliers offer. But depending on the season and the availability of Greek oregano, you might instead find Mexican oregano, or some other variety. Though the flavours of these oreganos may be a little more or less intense (Mexican is usually stronger) they can be used interchangeably, so there’s no need to bring your botany book along to the grocery store.

An Oregano by Any Other Name, Would Not Taste as Sweet.

The Beauty of Colours

By Paul Chong

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A Kaleidoscope of Colours

Colours are naturally positive

Nothing about colours is negative

How sad & dull it would be

In a world without any colours to see.

Behold the glorious sunset or rainbow

Behold the colourful flowers in rows

The rainbow attracts both young & old

Flowers delight the eyes, heart, mind & soul.

In art colours render their part

In films colours rapture our hearts

One colour alone cannot claim the glory

Different hue of colours magnify the story.

The world is never to be just black or white

Neither is sunlight of pure coloured light

It’s the mix and blend

That made all things grand.


Colour is not a personal or human reality, but has a political overtone attached. In dressing & art, white matches well with other colours, and whatever the mix & blend, the result is often grand. It seems a shame that politically it’s not workable. Instead of easy mixing & blending, we see ugliness, repulsion & all sorts of conflict.

A Good Mix of Colours

In the cinematography, black & white filming has long been out. Glorious technicolour is the result. There is beauty in a colour mix and the best qualities of each colour are often manifested. Qualitatively & quantitatively, the world will be a lovelier place with all its colours, like the sunrise or sunset, the rainbow and the flowers in different hue & rows. It does take a lot of colours to paint a beautiful picture.

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As can be seen, colours add beauty. There should always be a flow and blending of colours. If God had intended the world to be just white or black, yellow or brown, He would have created it so.

Ironically, white people would go to great length to get a suntan and risk having skin cancer. Freckles and other unsightly spots show clearly through white skin. Thus getting a good suntan gives that nice brown shine.

Let not our eyes turn green with envy or jealousy, but rather to let the beauty of the eyes – blue, green, brown, grey or black shine through for all to appreciate. As a matter of fact, white people are more fortunately endowed, apart from their eyes, with a variety & shade of hair colours too.

The world is interestingly full of colours. Can you imagine what the world would be like without colours? Or just White? Black? Yellow or Brown?

Paul Chong

A Chinese by Descent

An Australian by Consent

Friday, 17 July 2009

Qualitative and Quantitative Service

Qualitative and Quantitative Service

SANY1839A Typical Self-Service Store

We are living in a time when the question of being personally attended to seems such a rare treat. The old adage of consumer being king is no longer fashionably true. Gone are the days when your pint of milk was delivered to your doorstep or your personal physician making house calls. The worst is being attended to by electronic recording over the phone. Everything is so impersonal. In time we are likely to be replaced by machines. As it is, the computers and calculating machines are functioning in our place.

In retrospect, the corner store is fast disappearing, engulfed by giant supermarkets. Onto the stage of marketing, online buying and selling is evolving to be part of our daily lives. The most prominent and frustrating aspects of the Internet era will be a world devoid of humans. In highlighting the automated age, its scenario will evidently be:

  • the phobia of dealing with ghostly machine

  • the absolute challenge of making contact with the human face or voice

  • big bucks are channelled towards the objective of making sales rather than helping solving your shopping problem

  • modern systems keep customer service at arm’s length

  • speaking to a machine programmed to understand human speech

  • to access information you’ll face the daunting task of punching or typing in a sequence of numbers

  • the exasperating experience of wearing out your human patience

  • the frequent endless waiting of being served by a human.

    unknownLast Time When – wind screen wiped, water & oil checked, tyre pressure pumped?

As a starter, try calling up your neighbours or friends, and increasingly you’ll get the answering machine. Taking a step further, with large commercial establishments or departments, you’ll be confronted with the labyrinthine menus that accompany most phone-based systems. The maze and impersonal instruction will infuriate your patience and load you with frustration.

Increasingly, it is the phone and the Internet that engender the frustration. Everything is digitised. Sales items are bar-coded. The human brain is increasingly functioning less and less and no doubt robots will replace humans. You and I must be prepared to be bar-coded or fitted with “smart card” and be treated as mere digitals in this fast changing world.

Last but not least, there is nothing you can  label in terms of qualitative & quantitative service with the like of such  tradesmen as the electrician, plumber & carpenter. Even the smallest  job is measured out by the hour. They’re just minting gold much more than would any professional. Discounting good will & customer relationship, it’s a one-off kill!

Don’t look back to the good old days . . . brave yourself to the GREED of this corrupted world.

Paul Chong ©

A Chinese by Descent

An Australian by Consent