Monday, November 22, 2010

Introducing the `3 in 1'..


I've coined a new name today for the 3 Js.

I used to have a self-made keychain which I put the word `JOLLY' - which signifies JOjo+JeLLY. Now that Jam is here.. the new name for the three of them would be:

Anyway.. Jam has grown quite a bit.. but have not taken photos of the 3 of them, I mean Jollyam together. The pix here are from the first week..

Will upload more new pix of Jollyam soon!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Ah! Beautiful Morning...

It's right that they say morning is the most beautiful time of the day.

If a day is a year - I would say early morning is like fresh spring time, afternoon is well, hot summer, evenings signifying the sombre autumn and the night is gloomy winter.

How interesting - as this obvious simile just dawned on me..

Why? Because I just rediscovered the beauty and preciousness of mornings - that had eluded me for far too long.

I am a self-confessed `owl' - meaning I thrive and live my day to the wee hours of the morning. Since my last posting was with an afternoon paper and doing entertainment, my work-hours were so flexible that I used to wake up close to noon, grab lunch and only enter office - since my editor did that himself! I would work till around dinner time or later.. went home and slept only about 3am.

And then, since I became a freelance writer, my sleeping hours became even more ridiculous. I blamed the Internet for such a habit at first and then, my cousin who is an even chronic owl herself told me about DSPS (Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome) so we both have a valid `medical' reason to justify our indulgence and lack of discipline.. and just blame it on having a `sleep disorder syndrome' that we had no control of..

Not that I am proud of it and in fact many times, I've mentally taken note to want to change and adjust this habit. I posted on FB and G-chat status that Ee-Tan wants to `kill the owl' But alas, the spirit is willing but the flesh is week. I continue to let myself be consumed by this so called DSPS and it came to a stage so bad that I was sleeping at close to 5am every day and wake up after 1pm!!

My day started only after 2pm and many times, I could not do the things I wanted to do because evening and nights also have their distractions.. I found myself not being productive and fruitful in my work. And then a few times I fell ill because of that - ie. after World Cup and also before my prolong flu from Shanghai.

Another area that took a toll from my sleeping habit was the quiet time and devotion with God. It's true that morning is the best time for devotions as I personally have experienced and agree. But during morning, I was in slumber land. When I got up, I quickly checked my emails/FB and then lunch and usually out after that. I was either watching Astro on Demand or glued to the PC and by the time I realised I had to sleep, it's like 4am plus? I was already too tired and felt it's too late to speak to God!!

But God is good! He pulled me back in time.. last week, I began to feel the stress from work - as I have quite a lot of on-going as well as new workload to keep me occupied. But because of my sleeping hours and also still trying to watch Astro and do many things, I couldn't get enough sleep. Instead of waking up after 1pm, I woke up earlier and could not sleep again.. That means I only had like 5-6 hours of sleep which was not enough for me (i'm one of those who need 8 optimum hours of sleep). The patterned continue for a few days until I decided to see my doctor for help and medication.

I already was exhausted in the last few days so I took the medication earlier (ie before midnight) And somehow automatically wake up earlier. Of course it took a few days to adjust.. Finally this morning, I woke up at 7:30am (thanks to puppy Jam), laid in bed a bit, and got ready by 8am. The birds were chirping still and the weather was good. Suddenly God prompted me to do my devotion.. and ya, it's the perfect timing!

So i took my Bible and some Bible reading aids and sat at our front patio, which Dad calls` JJ Corner' (not should be JJJ!) I prayed, sang some songs of praises and read 2 Corinthian 1. I haven't felt so close to God for ages.. even if I was in church service or leading songs on stage. There was a personal connection with Him and my soul felt lifted. Oh the joy of reading and meditating on His Word!

It was 8:30am or so when I had breakfast.. and I hadn't had breakfast except a rushed one on Sunday late morning before going to church. I practice my singing as I have vocal class at 2pn today, and then proceeded to the Internet to do the necessary things - work related mainly.

Now, it's almost noon and I had done so much already... I couldn't believe I still have more than half a day (of sunlight) ahead of me!! And I even wrote such a long blog entry! And imagine I have wasted all the mornings in my working adult life!!!?

I know it's not easy to change.. old habits die hard and maybe DSPS is true though most people don't buy it. But this vicious cycle has to be broken, once and for all.. These few days since I still have the medication to help me sleep well, I think I must aim to be in bed by midnight so that I have enough sleep and would get up in the morning!! And hopefully later I will adjust to live a `normal' life!

All I need is determination and discipline.. And I pray that God will give me the strength to do it.

Mornings are too beautiful and precious to waste away... where as the dark and quiet night (wee hours pre-morning) are best for slumbering anyway..

Yes, I finally see the light, and I want to see many many more beautiful mornings

Friday, October 29, 2010

Has it been FOUR years??

Four years.. I've been a freelance writer for four years already!! Gosh, how time has flown by!

From a reminder from this post, Oct 27, 2006 was my last day with the newspaper company that I had worked for more than 12 years. Actually when I left I never thought of going freelance, and never thought I would be doing it for this long.. I thought of just taking a break and find something else to do - most likely joining another publication full-time.

Not long after that, I was asked to contribute some articles for a couple of newspapers..So gradually, I drifted into doing freelance writing work. More opportunities came by and soon I was making quite a decent income. There had been a couple of times when I wanted to go back into full-time employment.. by somehow they just didn't work out at the end! It was as if I was led by God's invisible hand to do what I love to do..

Of course this `career' is quite unstable and I can tell you that throughout these four years, there had been so many changes and challenges. For instance, I was quite happy in 2007-2008 as I got to contribute regular to about 4-5 publications. But due to the set back in economy and various reasons.. I lost all these jobs one by one and had to pro-actively look for more jobs.

In the last one to two years, I have diversified to doing copywriting and translation work. They are quite tedious and can be boring but to be honest, they pay better than editorial work. THe set back however is that I feel my creative writing has become stale because I don't get to write free flow articles like I used to. It's quite frustrating but the fact is, it's not so easy to break into editorial features as many newspapers and magazines have enough writers already..

But thankfully, I still have a few platforms where I can contribute such articles.. though they really can't become my bread and butter..

As recent as just two months back, I thought I would be bidding goodbye to my free lifestyle as I verbally agreed to take up a full-time job as an editor of a yet-to-be-launched magazine. I was supposed to start work in October. But then I was having second thoughts and after a discussion with my dad, I turned it down. Why? Well, it's a long story - the job looked quite uncertain and potentially very stressful and even risky. But I guess at the back of my mind, I still could not give up the `luxury' of a freelance lifestyle that I've so accustomed to!

But God is good! He has provided me with quite a lot of work since - and many are new ones! :) In fact, I still have a few deadlines looming very soon right now.

Yes, I would say I really have enjoyed my years as a journalist with the newspaper - I've learned so much and got to go many places and meet many people. And it's my dream job anyway since I was in my teen. But again, if you ask me, I have never regretted a bit quitting my job four years ago. It's a welcome change. Despite its ups and downs, I wouldn't trade anything for this freelance writing `career' (if you could call it that!)

So here's wishing a `Happy Fourth Anniversary' to my freelancing career!! May there be many more (lucrative and fruitful) years to come! :D

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Oh those sickly days..

Thank God I finally recovered from a nasty flu that lasted 3 weeks!!

It's not a norm that I get ill for so long.. normally my flu/fever never lasted more than 3 days or so.

Caught this pretty nasty viral flu while we went to Shanghai last month for the World Expo. I already had a cough and had not been resting enough. The hectic schedule and the change of temperature didn't help.. By the end of the 3rd day, I was feeling really lousy and needed to see a doctor when I got up on the 4th day - supposedly our `rest' day in between the Expo visit.

The doctor gave me anti-biotic, cough mixture and other flu med. I was told that rest was what I needed. I was thinking maybe if I rested enough I could make it to the Expo the following day.. but that was just wishful thinking.

It was indeed miserable to fall sick while travelling. I spent two whole days sleeping in our hotel room :( And then on Friday afternoon, we needed to fly back. I was afraid I couldn't make it but God gave me just enough strength to make the journey. Though I was like sleeping on the chairs when mom did her last round of shopping in the departure hall.

The 5-hour plus flight was not good.. I slept (or tried to sleep) most of it.. speaking of sleep. I had trouble sleeping when ill - mostly because the cough was so bad that it affected me, and I think the medicine too had some effect. So ya, it was terrible.. :(

I felt like collapsing when I reached home that night.. forced myself to eat a little and just climbed into bed..

Since the med had finished, I went to my trusted GP the next day. I was upset that I had to miss 3 events that I was looking forward to attend - a friend's son's dedication in the morning, an old friend's wedding luncheon and the OKR mid-autumn festival celebration in the evening! Yup, had to just cancel all and just rested at home..

Took this pic of my old (China) medicine and the medicines my GP gave

Normally, my GP's medications are very effective. But not this time. I completed the anti-biotic and everything else (he gave me 5 diff. meds) but I had not recovered. The cough was still very bad and I still felt weak.. I have abstained from lots of stuff - of course cold, icy drinks and food, fried oily stuff, spicy stuff.. and even chicken and egg!! Ya, I know it sounds like old-wife tale but somehow when I took chicken I ended up coughing really badly. So I rather just `believe' on the safe side. I also tried various remedy like Manukka honey, garlic essence and so on... in desperation to get well..

The cough was still unbearable, so I decided to try alternative treatment - ie Chinese traditional medicine since many people have recommended this for treatment of cough. And since the anti-biotics and the many meds that my GP gave me had made me feel quite week, I thot the change would be good.

I went to see a doctor from China practising at the Tung Shin Hospital in KL. He basically just felt my pulse and looked at my tongue.. also took my blood pressure. And then he wrote a long list of `prescription' for us to pick up. The `herbs' included things like tree barks, roots and even rocks!!

Comparing to Western medicine, Chinese medicine is quite a hassle to prepare. The cooking time for the medicine daily is around 1.5 hours.. And this is how it looks like

For the following six days, I faithfully cooked the Chinese herbs (ok, my maid helped) and drank two bowls of it every day. To me, the taste at least was bearable, not too bitter.. but it's not exactly very palatable too..

But sigh.. the Chinese medicine didn't have much effect on my cough. In fact, after a few days, I started having slight fever again... and the cough was still really bad, until I even felt like I wanted to die - and even ranted on my Facebook status..

I was wondering what was wrong.. and deliberating what doctor I should see next. My wise parents suggested I should go see a specialist physician - my parents' doctor actually. I also agreed.

I think it was the most thorough check-up I had - and she was my 4th doctor already! After doing some checking, she declared my lungs to be cleared.. but because I was still having slight fever, she wanted me to do an chest Xray as well as blood-count test. Good thing that the labs and all were just next door. But it took an extra hour or more for the results to be out.

Phew, everything was fine.. but, she has to give me medicine again and it included a different type of anti-biotic too. It's my third round already..

And if by miracle, the medicines were working! Just a couple of days after, I already felt vast improvement - including my cough. But I was quite tired as I think that was the side effect of the meds.

By the following Tues (this week), I already felt like I've recovered.. at least 95 per cent! I had the energy again to go out and do things.. and even looked forward to sing - having not been able to go for my vocal class for 3 weeks..

And these few days, I feel the energy was coming back. Just now I even went out to see a friend and we went for massage, dinner and shopped a bit. Yey, finally I have recovered.

(ok, I know this post is rather pathetic but like I said, is not usual that I felt this ill and for so long...)

So, yes.. so long, nasty flu. Good riddance once and for all!

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Oh Jam - my miracle puppy!

This afternoon, I brought Jam to another vet. The one that I brought him to last week didn't seem very promising to me - the elderly vet hardly even looked at him or said much.. So after a media friend's recommendation, we brought him to this veterinary hospital in Gasing, Petaling Jaya that is supposedly very good and popular.

A young female vet attended to us. After looking at Jam's Xray, she said: `If I hadn't seen the dog and just by looking at this Xray, I would have thought the dog is already paralysed. Indeed it is a miracle that he recovers so well!"

I was slightly taken aback and my first reaction was to utter a silent prayer of thanksgiving to God.

"I was really praying for him.." was all I could say to the vet, who returned a smile.

Just like what the other vets have said, there's nothing much we could do for Jam's condition, said the vet. Jam's vertebral column at the lower back has been fractured from the fall - causing his spinal cord being slightly bent. There is no corrective surgery that can be done nor medication that could correct it.

But God has been merciful to this little pup and he has healed very well indeed.. and my only wish for him is for him to grow up normal and healthy

And he is such an active little pup. He is totally oblivious to his own handicap.. he is a playful, naughty and a happy little pup. When he runs, he hops like a bunny because of his weak back legs..

However, although he can lives a normal life, he is not exactly normal. The vet said we must be careful not to let him to be TOO active. Just 4 days after arriving home, he already learned how to walk, no, run or hop, up and down the stairs! I got a shock one day when I found him outside my door when no one brought him up!

Going up and down staircase is NOT good for him, said the vet, so is jumping or running too much. Therefore we really need to watch out for him. Maybe an idea is to confine him to a playpan of sort when no one is around looking out for him.. And it is better to carry him - the vet also showed us the proper way of carrying a pup - it's not the same way as carrying a human baby!

We spent a good some time chatting with the vet and again she emphasised and reassured us that Jam is doing very well already. And there's a good possibility that his condition would improve as he grows up, but of course there may also be the dreaded opposite. I think a lot also depends on how well we look after him.

So darling Jam, mommy promise you to take very good care of you. And in return, be a good pup and grow up healthy and well, ok?

I love you, my miracle puppy! :)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Little Jam with his elder siblings - and photo gallore!

Jam has been here for six days already! I've changed the title of this blog - well, it's only appropriate.. So, now it's officially `Jess' three Js'!

It's quite funny to see how the two Js got on with him.. Of course the initial reactions were curiosity from both Jojo and Jelly. But soon, Jelly somehow had an adverse `feeling' or should I say `reaction' of Jam! Well, I think party she feels jealous and her `queen' status threatened, but also because Jam loves to `terrorise' her!!

He is really quite active and is at a stage of teething so anything becomes his `target' - not only he likes to nibble at our feet or fingers but he also always chasing Jelly to bite her tail!

No wonder she couldn't stand him.. in fact, she runs away from him and at times even growls at him.. :(

Jojo, on the other hand is always his gracious self. Like how he welcomed Jelly as his sister, so he seems to be quite to have the company of little Jam too! And he doesn't seem to feel threatened at all by Jam's presence. In fact, he seems to adore him and always getting near him..

For the first 3 nites, Jelly refused to come into my room to sleep like she usually did! Reason being Jam is inside with me. But for the last few nites, she came.. and made sure she is a good distance away from her younger brother..

As we can see from the photographs - it's quite an interesting `triangular' relationship the 3 Js share.. well maybe things will be different later.

At first Jelly was very curious and was trying to sniff Jam out!
Jam sleeping in his bed next to my bed.. :)
2nd night - taking photos with Jam!

Jelly is so reluctant to have her photo taken with Jam!!
Finally a more decent one where Jelly succumbed to struggling!
look how grouchy Jelly is! :S
The next day getting all the three Js together!

Yes you can see Jojo is quite taken by Jam still!
The diva looking unhappy :p
Jojo welcoming Jelly at his side
But Jelly rather stays a distance from him!

Thursday, September 09, 2010

My `accidental' puppy

This is a twist to an almost `tragic' story of a dog..

Last Saturday afternoon, I went to my usual pet shop to get dog food for the two Js. A cute little miniature schnauzer puppy caught my eyes and he was walking around! The pet shop owner said the pup was for sale but was letting him out for some exercise.. I couldn't help but cuddle him and play with him.

When I put some items on the counter, I didn't think twice but also carry the puppy and put him on the counter and played with him a while. I thought the owner who was behind the cash register saw what I did but didn't object; I turned round to talk to him and proceeded to pay.. and then suddenly there was a loud yelping sound!

As I turned round, imagine my horror to see the little puppy had fallen from the counter onto the floor! He was lying still, yelping and crying loudly and non-stop, clearly in agony! Seeing the way he lie motionless, it looked like he could have broken his leg! I was so shocked and in utter anguish.. What have I done!??

The owner said how could I put the puppy on the counter! (He didn't see me doing that he claimed..) He carried the pup and carefully massage his legs and kept listening to his heartbeat too.. he then put the pup on a cushioned bed.. the little pup still didn't move at all..

Words couldn't describe my feeling - I kept uttering `sorry, sorry, sorry' to the dog and also apologised to the owner.. I felt so distressed and heartbroken seeing the pup. Just minutes ago, he was so active and lively and now... If not for my stupidity.. :*(

I spent another 15 minutes or more with the puppy.. which by then had not made anymore noise. Thank goodness he was conscious and alert but looked so pitiful.. the owner said he would bring him to see a vet soon.

My heart was so heavy when I went home.. The whole night I couldn't stop thinking of the pup and was praying for him.. At night I tried calling the owner but could not get him.

I managed to contact the owner the next day and he said the pup was with the vet, and he still could not walk. They were trying to find out where the injury was. Two days later, I was told by the pet shop owner that they did an x'ray on the pup and found his spinal cord was injured! And he had only 50-50 chance of recovery.. and he still couldn't walk!

I was wretched and miserable! I felt like a murderer.. a dog's life is ruined because of my mistake. When I shared this with my family and one or two friends, some of them said if there's no chance of recovery, it's more humane to put the dog to sleep.. but this option deeply troubled me.

Then thanks to another friend who told me that paralysed dog could also live a `normal' life with the help of wheels.. and even showed me Youtube clip and website on it, I decided unless the vet recommended euthanasia, I would adopt the crippled pup and take good care of him and give him a good life to compensate him...

Yesterday afternoon when I contacted the pet shop owner, I was told the pup was back already. I went to see him, preparing myself to be heartbroken again.. and then to my joy and surprise, the owner said the pup could walk already! Not only could he walk, he could also jump up!

I saw the x'ray and it showed a column of his spinal cord has jut out' due to the impact of the fall. Although he seems pretty normal now, extra care needs to be given especially in keeping his body small.. If he grows heavy that would put strain on his spine and he may not be able to walk.

I must say I was so relief seeing and knowing that the pup could now walk and has no life danger from the fall.. So even though I have to fork out RM1K (a discount of RM200 apparently) to buy the pup - although the owner did not spell it out in the beginning, he finally admitted I HAD to take on the responsibility of buying the dog as he could not sell him anymore! Ya, I know I couldn't argue with the case...

So, this cute pup is my new `accidental' dog and I will be his new `accidental' `mom'. I am actually very excited although its under such circumstance that I have a third dog. But I love min. schnauzer and he is such a beautiful pup!

I somehow felt we had established a bond. And he seemed very happy to see me - totally oblivious to the fact that I was the one who caused him such pain and sorrow..

Because both my parents and I would be travelling in the coming week, the owner agreed to take care of him till we are back.

I spent the evening thinking of a name for my new pup - finally, I decided to call him `Jammy' or `Jam' for short.. According to the Urban dictionary, a meaning of Jammy is `flukey, lucky, defying probability with outrageous good fortune' - quite appropriate indeed!

Guess soon I will have to change my blog's name to `Jess' three Js'! And can't wait to welcome little Jammy home next weekend! :))

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Dad's 70th Birthday: Celebrations and Surprises!

What exciting celebrations we had for dad's 70th Birthday!

Knowing that he's quite a low-key person and would not organise his own birthday party, I thought of throwing a surprise birthday dinner for him. After discussing with mom and sis, we decided to keep it as a family affairs - ie. have a nice Chinese dinner and invite his siblings and family as well as my mom's side.

To accommodate my sis and brother-in-law who are able to be back only after work on Friday, we decided to hold it on Saturday, after all, his Chinese birthday is not over yet.. I called my two aunts in Singapore and as well my other aunts and uncles in KL. Finally we got 29 people confirmed!

Of course he knew nothing about it. Instead, he thought of calling a few of his close friends over for dinner and drinks, and that happened on Wednesday (and some of them couldn't make it on Fri) And he didn't want to tell them it was for his birthday.

He really had a whale of a time on Wed night - after dinner, they went down for karaoke and really sang and drank the night a way!! Yes, he got pretty drunk...

And on his birthday proper, I told him I would cook him a nice Western meal. Ya, I do like cooking especially Western meals once in a while. :)

Dinner menu:
  • fresh mushroom soup with dinner roll
  • arugula, avocado and aspragus salad
  • ribeye steak with red wine sauce
  • roasted new potatoes
  • buttered baby carrots
  • molten chocolate cake with pecan vanilla ice-cream (no, i didn't make this ;p)
  • red wine, brie with grapes
It was quite fun preparing for dinner and since I've had some experiences (ahem), the timing was pretty perfect and I thought I was quite organised! So everything was ready and dinner was served at 7:30pm sharp as expected!

And dad thought that was it, not knowing that the real two surprises were awaiting him.
He had no idea that my sister would come back for his birthday (it was a secret the whole family hid from him.. )

Earlier in the morning, sis has already sms him to wish him happy birthday and then in the afternoon, called and asked the kids to greet him too - telling him that they were going out that night!

Well, sis and brother-in-law took the late flight home from Hong Kong (as they were working and arrived at about 10pm. It was so funny when she returned dad's call, she was already on the cab home from airport! She even apologised for not being able to be with him on his birthday to which my dad said it's ok..

So, imagine his shock and surprise when my sis and b-i-l turned up at the gate at about 11:25pm! Dad's jaw dropped and his mouth agape. It was something he never thought of! And after hugs and all, I could see he was so touched and happy that tears welded in his eyes..

Dad would have thought was the ultimate birthday surprise for him..

The next day, we acted as usual and since sis and b-i-l were around, it was natural that we planned to go out for a meal. And we told him that the venue has been planned in advance. He was curious but I insisted we wanted to keep it as `secret'..

Of course, all the guests ie. our aunts and uncles from both sides and our cousins had all been informed personally about this surprise dinner and had been playing along with it. I found out that an uncle had to make up stories to dad about the date he was coming over (since he does come here quite often)

I texted the guests to remind them to be there at 7:30pm and we would arrive a bit late.. so dad would be greeted by a sea of people.

Perhaps dad was already elated enough to have sis back to celebrate his birthday with him, he really didn't suspect anything at all. Even when he saw an uncle's car parked at the car park of the restaurant, he just presumed it was a coincidence that they were also dining at the same place!

As we entered Elegant Inn, the restaurant manager played along and even pretended to have mixed up my booking and fumbling to find a table for us, as he led us to a darkened room. When dad pushed open the door, voices shouted `Happy Birthday!' and he was shell shocked as the lights were switched on.

Yes, he was literally stunned for a couple of seconds!

I think dad's reaction was a mixed one - of course he was happy to see all of them, including my two aunts who came specially from Singapore. But knowing him he also felt a bit bad as well.. he never wanted to trouble anyone and has always quite low profil.

But hey it's his 70th birthday after all, and that only happens once in a life time! :D

So all in there were 28 of us, seated in two big tables. It was a time of reunion and good company, to catch up with one another.

Of course, it was a time for feasting and drinking! The food was nice - I had spent some time and effort pondering over the menu and really glad it up to standard. And the service was very good (all included in the rather expensive prices!)

Drink wise, we had dad's favourite - whisky and also a few bottles of red wine.

Finally, we had special homemade birthday cake - a Rum & Raisin Cheesecake - ordered from my friend FBB. It was a really yummy, as extra rum has been added! Everyone loved it!

Besides a few quite hefty angpows, dad also received a beautiful framed painting and a collectable huge bottle of Johnny Walker that's more 20 years old.

But I'm sure, more importantly, it was the family get-together that surely made his birthday extra memorable..

... and not to mention the two big birthday surprises he would never forget! (phew, so glad we pulled it off and I gave myself a pat on my back as the mastermind.)

Happy 70th Birthday (again) dad, and ya, you deserve all the attention!! :D