Sunday, July 29, 2007

Mile-Away Campground, New Hampshire

After the spin at Lake Canobie, we headed for the Mile- Away Campground - which my children refered to as Miles..away! - in Henniker, New Hampshire; to be greeted by Laila, Lina and their family. Laila booked 4 campsites; one for us to share with 2 more families, Tini's and Isma's. Satu tapak is rather big, boleh masuk 3 atau 4 khemah. Provided with water and electricity; a wooden bench and fireplace. A common, well maintained bathroom - come with sinks, coin operated showers, and toilets - is easily accessible nearby. While Laila & family are 'veterans' in the camping game, me & mine have never camped before.. So, I was shocked to see the 'tons' of food and cooking equipment, as well as fans, TV, several big ice coolers and other camping stuff that were brought along with them. One whole designated tent for just food and whatever's connected to food! Note the image of the closedup tent, our 'cafetaria' for the weekend.
Notice Laila making apam balik..
Melayu mana boleh hidup tanpa nasi, kan? So there was a rice cooker. Sate dengan kita kan dah sinonim. So sate dah siap di cucuk - tinggal bakar jer. Not forgetting chicken wings marinated & ready to be grilled. Dapur kayu...firewood...& even acuan apam balik! Breakfast..of course nasi lemak! This Singaporean lady, but ber- kampung in Johor Bahru really amazes me with the way she cooks; her asam pedas is the BEST!!
The campground is like a small kampung with Recreational Vehicles (RV) or Mobile Homes parked at most of the sites. Some even have permanent addresses there!
One campsite for tents cost $28 per night and it's just a few dollars more for RV sites.
The huge lake that is part of the campground offers quite a few activities such as kayak-ing, boating, fishing and a swimming area.
Camping has become an annual treat for this bank manager's 5 children, her niece, her neighbors' children & her friends..

Lake Canobie Again.... With FMCNA

FMC or Fresenius Medical Care is the world's leading provider of dialysis products and services. It has more than 60,000 employees in North America, Europe, Latin America, Middle East & Africa as well as Asia-Pacific, working together to guarantee best-possible quality of life for 171,687 patients with chronic kidney failure in their 2,209 dialysis clinics. My friend Yasmin Saulnier works at the FMC North America Headquarters in Waltham and she was gracious enough to invite us for their annual outing at Lake Canobie. A normal adult ticket would have cost us $28 each.

Queue before boarding the 'screw-driver'...
I understand there were about 700 family and friends of the employees at Canobie that rainy, wet Saturday morning. Thank goodness for the BIG tent in the yard beside the lake, that hosted food for the group!. If not, we would be soaking wet even before going up the rides. Did I mention the place is like Genting Highlands Theme Park? Second time around, its confirmed GHTP has better rides. But to me Canobie is more natural, thus more beautiful. If you want more challenging rides, maybe Six-Flags would be the right
place to be.

Best nyer kalau dapat tinggal kat tasik..One of the lake houses for me to dream on....

Muslim girls astronauts as mentioned by Gilles...

Saturday, July 28, 2007

New England Dinner

We had a taste of New England dinner when my friend Yasmin prepared a few dishes for her cousin Raja Datuk Seri Eleena at my house.
It was lovely meeting Datuk Seri and family; as well as Adam Farouk and his sweet wife Elizabeth..

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Berry Picking & ignorant 'mat salleh'

After the scare that Atiqah gave us at the Children's Hospital, we thought of de-stressing ourselves with some 'intensive work' of picking berries. Lagi pun kami tak ada peluang berjalan-jalan semasa hari kerja, jadi hari minggu saja-lah yang boleh kami tengok keindahan alam ciptaan Allah ni. Bagi saya, daripada pergi 'shopping' yang akan menjana lagi ekonomi negara ni, baik la buat aktiviti-aktiviti yang macam gini! Sunnycrest Farm is situated in New Hampshire which is like one and half hour drive from our house. We missed the cherries and strawberries; apples as well peaches are still not due until early September. So we opted for blueberries & raspberries which are after all very high in antioxidant; which the 'mat sallehs' are very well aware of looking at their turnout at the farm. Pick Your Own (PYO) blueberries cost $2.25 per pound, however raspberries cost a bit more - $4.50 per pint. Pokok blueberries mengingatkan saya akan pokok kopi yang mak dengan arwah ayah tanam sekeliling rumah di Selama semasa kecil dulu. Kena berperang dulu dengan nyamuk kalau nak kutip biji kopi yang dah masak tu... Pokok raspberries pula lebih rendah dan merimbun. Upon entering the farm we were greeted with hi-s and friendly smiles from several other fellow pickers which to me was very welcoming indeed! My initial thought, "Ooo..orang New Hampshire ni lebih ramah..."

Notice the apples and grapes ... but they are not ready yet for picking.

Picking and eating is permissible at this kind of farms, but how much can you eat blueberries that taste a bit sour-ish?. The big ones however, taste sweeter. But, I would much prefer them with a squeeze of lime and honey. Lagi sedap! Of course, the children would go for blueberry cake and muffins which Anis is getting the 'hang of it' in making. Masuk jer or ...ask recipes from Sairah Glick and Yasmin Saulnier's oven - they'ld be everwilling to share them!

Food Fight

Overall, it was a good day and experience at Sunnycrest Farm except for the statement made by the lady in the checkered shirt - "They might be terrorists! " - which I regretted overhearing and too shocked to respond.
We left the place with me feeling remorse. I could have at least said.."Get out of your peanut shell, you ignorant mat salleh!!!"

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Atiqah at the Children's Hospital Boston

I never liked going to hospitals; except visiting newborn babies. I think hospitals here are the same as those back home... in terms of the waiting time! Maybe there are not enough doctors back home or doctors here analyse & scrutinise results more.. so they need more time. I don't know! But I pray I don't have to go through it again. My worry during the wait was as agonising as Atiqah's pain in her tummy. Is it ovarian cyst or is it appendicytis? Should she really go through the surgery as recommended by the surgeons? What if her appendics burst? Surely the doctors here are the what I've heard! After all, Ultrasound, X-rays, CATscan semua dah buat. Thank goodness for insurance! At last after 24 hours of waiting, the Chief of the Children's Hospital himself (Dr Linden) came and explained on the analysis of Atiqah's tests - power point slides and all! With his support we decided not to go through the surgery. Alhamdulillah... by then her pain have also subsided. I think the 'drip' helped. What I appreciate most was his call early the next morning asking about my daughter's condition...

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Cape Cod: Hyannis, Falmouth & PeeTown

I have always wondered what's there at the very tip of Massachusetts 'arm' where Provincetown or better known as 'PeeTown' is located. PeeTown is famous for being the 'gay-est' town in Massachusetts. If you know what I mean...
They looked at us; - wondering from which planet we come from, all covered from head to toe! - we looked back at them; - wondering why in the world would 2 grownup men be holding hands, hugging and kissing each other!. Well, that's life.. macam2 ada... cabaran kiri & kanan, atas & bawah. I am glad my children are old enough to understand them. The only response from Atiqah with face and all is...eewwww.. I told her, as long as we don't disturb them, hopefully they won't harm us. I guess I was wrong, when one man purposely shoved me while I was taking a picture of the towering landmark. He definitely didn't want me to be there! I tell you, we don't get that kind of treatment from anywhere else here..especially not a Bostonian.. He must have dropped from some crazy planet and landed, right smack in the middle of the Pilgrim's First Landing Park! To be gay with the rest of the merry men..
Provincetown is historically famous for being the Pilgrims First Landing Ground. Unfortunately, as Prof told us, not all were Pilgrims from the English Land..some of them were crooks that came to raid the natives (Red Indians) out of their land and lives! I guess every place has got its own history.... Visitors to PeeTown can also take a cruise ship from Boston. Bicycles can be brought along on the ship at a minimal fee. It really beats the heavy traffic coming in to Cape Cod! I hear the town will be even gay-er at night time. Too bad we couldn't stay longer; it would be interesting to see the dragqueens lining the streets and pubs.
The stoned walkway leads to 2 lighthouses and also acts as a barrier to stop the waves from eroding the beach. It took the group almost 2 hours walking towards the end and back. and the 'drivers' surrendered! I salute Prof Mohammad Salleh and wife for their strength and endurance..
We put up a night at Hyannis in a hotel which is run by a Chinese family. It really amazes me to find this versatile race surviving even in this part of the 'woods'..kat ceruk ni pun ada...I must say I am glad; because what would I do without Asian produce like Chaokoh(santan)...daun pandan... and the daun kesum!. Hyannis is almost like Langkawi.. a beach town!

Tini & Hassan with 2 'minah salleh' seen wearing kain sarong batik..
A view of the marina..where boats dock at several private homes.
Cape Cod is also known for its historical lighthouses. If I am not mistaken there are 4 famous ones. One of the biggest is the Nobska Lighthouse in Falmouth.
Double click on the image to get a bigger view.
I think this is Nauset...can't remember.
Lighthouses have always managed to be on artists' canvasses..

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Royal Visit To Boston

I will never forget the days I got to spend with DYMM Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin Ibni Al-Marhum Tuanku Syed Putra Jamalullail - Tuanku Raja Perlis and DYMM Tuanku Fauziah Binti Al-Marhum Tengku Abdul Rashid - Tuanku Raja Perempuan Perlis, accompanied by Datuk Dr. Vanamaly K.S Menon, En Kamil Busu and a travel coordinator during their private visit to Boston from June 28th 2007 till July 1st 2007. The Royal Couple were traveling from Canada, on their way to New York City and Washington DC. From the very first day the Royal Highnesses, former King and Queen of Malaysia - Seri Paduka Baginda Yang di Pertuan Agong and Raja Permaisuri Agong ke-X11 - showed graciousness and appreciation towards whatever was presented to them. Meeting both the 'modest', caring couple was a real honour. Not that I get to meet many royalties before me Tuanku Fauziah reflects a true 'Queen'. Her mannerism..., her appearance..., no 'dayang2' or maids with her but she still managed an elegant and sophisticated look, that captivated me! She just laughed when I summed up the courage to ask her on her spotless, untarnished, glowing complexion. I could see she misses her grandchildren very much as her mind and thoughts were mostly on them. Her days at the Istana Negara were refered to as 'kerja' .. but she has fond thoughts of the staff that she had then. " ...kasih kita dekat Istana Negara, sayang kita dekat Istana Perlis" confirmed that she is a very loving and caring person, indeed!
Of course the King didn't hold much conversation with me but I could see him 'lightened up' whenever he was telling stories about his army days. Quite a few times he had Dr Menon- his personal doctor, and my husband chuckling listening to his stories. The Royal Couple took in the sights of Cambridge - took pictures in front of MIT and entered Harvard Yard; walked on the cobbled stones of Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall; and also shopped for both family and friends. I really hope they had a sweet and memorable time while they were here.
"Ampun Tuanku sekiranya terdapat cacat-cela dan Menjunjung Kasih Tuanku dari kami di Boston."

Thursday, July 5, 2007

4th of July in the U.S of A

US Independence Day is the birthday of the United States of America and is celebrated on the Fourth of July each year. It is the anniversary of the day on which the Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776. That means America has celebrated 231 years of independence! In terms of age, my 'beloved country' seems a toddler when compared to this 'old' nation. I wonder what Malaysia would be like when she reached 200?!. If wishes could come true... I wish to see her growing old gracefully, preserving her natural beauty - forests, mountains, rivers and valleys , able to tap her existing resources & generate new, abundant in knowledge and wealth, practice positive values - culturally and spiritually. I also wish to see her safe, healthy and wise. It's sad to even think she would be infested with many negative values that America practices at her age today!

Hear Ye The Declaration of Independence signed by America's forefathers, I guess holds many meanings and may be interpreted however way that benefits anyone. Quoting part of it: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness".
Case in point : the recently passed law for Gay Marriages in Massachusetts! What will they think of NExt?
Question Mark
One event that's similar to all when celebrating Independence Day is the fireworks!. Quoting John Adams, one of the founders of this nation, said, "I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty ( doa selamat la tuu..!!). It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward for evermore."

Back home, we normally 'sparked' after the midnight countdown of the day before. However, here it's held on the evening of July 4th around 9 or 10pm. That way, it won't be too late in the night and the whole family including babies can stay and watch the one hour spectacular show!. Boston's Independence Day fireworks is ranked 3rd BEST after New York City, so a group of us : 2 men, 3 teens, 2 children, 3 ladies + one 7 months pregnant :), decided to walk alongside others, thrudging through the 'drizzle' (which later turned to 'shower'!), towards Charles River just to witness Boston City Skies exploded & lit up like creations of art to the tune of the amazingly designed fireworks. It was a cold wet night but that didn't stop hundreds - some even setup tents!- to fill up the banks of Charles River. But, somehow like Shahmi, the 9year old who huddled close to me for warmth and kept me occupied with his knowledge of fireworks, we WISHed we were in front of the TV! No