Our contrarian garden

Living on the Island Garden City of Samal (otherwise known as IGaCoS), it behoves us to keep an attractive garden of our own. Previously, a fern I photographed at Davao’s Kadayawan festival gained some attention from an Australian gardening magazine. A new (and exciting) growth in our kitchen garden prompts me to illustrate some of the plants we surround ourselves with.

Elephant Yam (Amorphophallus paeoniifolius)

I had a complaint the other day about a terrible smell outside the kitchen. I went off to investigate and discovered an amazing flower about the circumference of a dinner plate stinking like a rotting corpse and covered in flies.

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We were given the ‘jungle’ plant by a relative, it was just a strange prehistoric looking plant with a scaly stem which grew to about 5′ tall. The flower was a bit of a surprise.

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While I had the camera in my hand, I also took a photo of another curious flower living outside the kitchen.

Blood flower, Fireball Lily (Scadoxus multiflorus)

Blood flower, Fireball Lily (Scadoxus multiflorus)

 

 

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the garden…

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Caladium

Caladium

Crepe Ginger/Spiral Ginger (Costas speciosus)

Crepe Ginger/Spiral Ginger (Costas speciosus)

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Allamanda

Croton (Codiaeum variegatum)

Croton (Codiaeum variegatum)

Codiaeum

Codiaeum

Cabbage tree (Cordyline)

Cabbage tree (Cordyline)

Powderpuff (Calliandra)

Powderpuff (Calliandra)

Jungle Flame (Ixora)

Jungle geranium (Ixora coccinea)

Dwarf palm (Chamaedorea)

Dwarf palm (Chamaedorea)

Cactus

Cactus

Euphorbia canariensis

Euphorbia canariensis

Furcraea

Furcraea

Pineapple

Pineapple

Off-cuts

Update 4

When the local lumberjacks cut up coco-lumber with their oversized chainsaws, they inevitably leave behind large wedge-shaped offcuts as they turn trees into planks. The offcuts are from the base of the tree trunk and consist of incredibly heavy dense wood. Because of its odd shape and weight, this wood is usually left to rot and occasionally burnt on the spot. What a waste! So last August (2013) when our local road was widened, it required the felling of a number of coconut trees. After the locals had helped themselves to all the wood they wanted, I loaded the large wedges and scraps into the multicab and brought them home for the right moment of inspiration.

Wedge-shaped coco-lumber offcuts

Wedge-shaped coco-lumber offcuts

More 'scrap' wood

More ‘scrap’ wood

 

Note the long fibres in the coco-lumber planks

Note the long fibres in the coco-lumber planks

 

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A smokin' joint!

A smokin’ joint!

 

Final assembly and a coat of varnish

Final assembly and a coat of varnish

 

Turning 'waste' into something with long-term use - cost: a handful of screws and a small can of varnish!

Turning ‘waste’ into something with long-term use – cost: a handful of screws and a small can of varnish!

 

Update 3

Even the apprentice has got in on the act.

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I know what you're thinking, but this bookcase is in active service and is rock steady and full of large books!

I know what you’re thinking, but this bookcase is in active service and is rock steady and full of large books!

As you can probably tell, we're almost out of off-cuts.

As you can probably tell, we’re almost out of off-cuts.

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Update 2

I’ve finally got some time on my hands during the kids long summer holiday to sort through some of the other off-cuts left over from the house building and other projects. I decided that I needed some book cases and we had so much applause from visitors for our table (see original story, below) that I thought we’d have a second bite of the cherry to see if we could sell one.

First the book shelves (as they are mostly complete).

First up, my own very simple shelf 'crafted' from just six pieces of wood. The two planks were rescued from a hedge (the lower one having cement on it). The top plank was painted dark brown and then disposed of. It's not pretty or clever, but it will hold coffee table books.

First up, my own very simple shelf ‘crafted’ from just six pieces of wood. The two planks were rescued from a hedge (the lower one having cement on it). The top plank was painted dark brown and then disposed of. It’s not pretty or clever, but it will hold coffee table books.

While I was working on the simple bookcase and practicing my mortise and tenon joints (after about 38 years since my last woodwork lesson), my homestay guest got inspired and beat me to the pile of uneven lumber for the more ambitious project.

While I was working on the simple bookcase and practicing my mortise and tenon joints (after about 38 years since my last woodwork lesson), my home-stay guest got inspired and beat me to the pile of uneven lumber for the more ambitious project.

To the untutored, Sasha used ‘cross-halving’ joints.

To be fair, he is an interior designer, and I'm not!

To be fair, he is an interior designer, and I’m not!

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If you are interested in rediscovering woodwork as a hobby, the internet is full of useful sites such as Woodworking Joints and a Project Gutenberg manual Woodwork Joints.

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Laying out the next table-top. I'm hoping that the variety of woods will give interesting shapes and colours when it's planed and varnished

Laying out the next table-top. I’m hoping that the variety of woods will give interesting shapes and colours when it’s planed and varnished

Update 1

Having been building on our land for almost two years, we’ve accumulated a lot of off-cuts of wood, bamboo and also sea shells from the beach, driftwood and coconut shells. When we’re doing nothing else (which, to be fair, is rare) we get creative and make wind chimes. Here are some of the experimental chimes we’ve made (and sold) recently.

Made from sea shells and bent bamboo

Made from sea shells and bent bamboo

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Bamboo off-cuts make nice noises in a strong wind

Bamboo off-cuts make nice noises in a strong wind

Coconut shell and bamboo

Coconut shell and bamboo

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Original story

In the course of erecting a new wooden staircase for a new building, we produced a lot of odd shaped wooden off cuts. In the normal course of things (in the Philippines and on building sites everywhere) off cuts get thrown on a fire or in a skip. Having spent a lot of money buying the timber, I was determined to re-use and recycle as much as possible.

A pile of offcuts

After a few practices setting out to find an interesting shape, the pieces were joined together by craftsman ‘Dodong’ Baldon

No legs, but a driftwood base to the table

The table in its raw state

After a few coats of varnish

The offspring table in the foreground and the parent staircase in the background

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Davao’s Kadayawan Festival 2016

As previously described here and here, Kadayawan is Davao City’s harvest or thanksgiving festival.

Photographs from this year’s Indak indak (the competitive cultural street dance)

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Meanwhile, on the other side of the city at SM Ecoland…

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Opposite Farmer’s V – Penaplata, Samal

The Bahay Kubo - Restaurant & Bar

20160612_122959 Call/Text 0999-663-4703 for directions

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千奇百怪的英文名 – funny English names in Asia

Back in the late 90s, our office used to issue every staff member with their own copy of a printed telephone list that was reissued every time staff left or joined. First job of the day that the list arrived was to read through it and find the new hilarious names.
Cute Fok
Smile
Rocky
Rambo
Augustine
Stephanous
And so on.
When the Asian financial crisis set in and there were more lay-offs than joiners, we started a rival to the Hang Seng index – the Wong-Chan index to see if the Wongs or the Chans suffered more when the lay offs came. Gallows humour!

My Hong Kong Husband

There are things in life we don’t get to chose – we cannot choose the color of our skin, our nationality or as funny-Asian-kid-namewe say in Poland, you cannot choose your family. That’s not necessarily true, but it’s not going to be my today’s post’s topic. I want to talk about something that not everyone gets to choose, yet some are lucky enough to be able to.

Names. In Poland by the law you are required to give your child a name that’s consisting maximum 2 names (like Maria Magdalena), cannot be ridicule, inappropriate or the name has to determinate the gender. Fun fact: all female names in Polish language are ending with ‘-a’. 

In Hong Kong, however, you are allowed to choose your own English name that will be shown on your HKID aside of your so-called Chinese name.
The traditional name is usually chosen by the father’s…

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The Metaphorical Durians

Durian Writer

This is an extended version of a Project 2 speech I delivered on April 14, 2016 at Malang Toastmasters Club. Originally titled Durians and Southeast Asians, I decided to rename this post The Metaphorical Durians so as not to confuse with my older piece in January, which by the way is what influenced me to discuss about a similar topic, this time delivered as a speech before fellow Southeast Asians.

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2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 74,000 times in 2015. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 3 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

ieltsbootcamp

ieltsbootcamp

Fastest Way to the UK for Nurses.

Diamonds on the Soles of Their Shoes – Chapter One

Caroline Kennedy: My Travels

Sulu Archipelago, Philippine Islands, 3 January 1762

As I gazed out over the massive bows of the “London”, it seemed to me that in all my Eastern wanderings, I had rarely seen anything to compare with this enchanting spot. The surroundings islands – and there were many – appeared fertile, lush and well-cultivated. Gentle, undulating slopes rose up in places to over 4000 feet, presenting an ever-varying contrast of dense forest and wide open savannah, of harsh sunlight and textured shadows, of cool waterfalls tumbling into fast-flowing rivers, of gently smoldering volcanoes and bubbling hot springs – a profusion of all the creative and destructive powers Nature could offer.

Down by the shoreline the coral coves, capes and headlands seemed to rise up almost perpendicularly from the surrounding lagoons. And, dotted here and there, on the flanks of the rich, sun-drenched foothills, among the stately coconut palms whose luxuriant fronds…

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