Rabu, 30 Januari 2008

St. Basil & Unstrung Violin

mixed media on canvas, 2001

On one sunny morning
these beautiful things a happening
the air is frangrant and lemony
the dew is still on the roses
dripping a sweet smell of tea
and a faint tune comes out of the bluebells

Sasha is hanging her laundry
under the fences, next to daisies
she is spotting the little cat is a sniffing
the unstrung pink violin
lies awaiting for her to strike it singing

On one sunny morning
these beautiful things a happening

Selasa, 22 Januari 2008


Oom Jumadi is one of the craziest artists i've ever known. He painted hundreds of biblical themes and the holy family, yet his true passion is business. His marketing efforts ranged from food consignment to 'fair trading' plants.

One time he fell in love with palms in the days of palm craze (think of anthurium craze right at the moment). he would collect every kind and pot them. He even flew to Pontianak in search of bottle palms and he prided himself in discovering red palms, like that pictured above.

Then i soon discovered that i too loved palms--as long as they produce something edible :)


water color garden

(water color on paper)

Jumat, 18 Januari 2008

An Unlikely Friendship

It is true that differences often do miracles. Just see the pictures above. The cat befriends the wild buffalo and the croc has a shoulder to rely upon. All happens at Bandung Zoo.

I havent got the explanation of this unusual behavior, but I believe every creature needs friends, right? It is as if they wanna say "You've got a friend" :)


Kamis, 17 Januari 2008

Tupai: Friends in Need

Tree shrews (tupai) are cute petit rodentlike mammals. They are tree dwellers (arboreal) and always curious. These tupai (Tupaia javanica) are common to Java and Bali and adapts well with urban or suburban areas.

I've heard lots of stories of tupai and human relationships. One that is impressive is Mami's. In Pontianak, she was visited by neglected baby tupai. Mami took care of it well and it gave her best companion. I always laugh everytime she retells the story of the mischievous tupai.

So I was excited to enconter with these naughty duo. they peeked and peeked while maintaining a good runaway distance. half minute later when they observed that i brought no food, they disappeared into thick foliage as if to say, "you've got food, you've got our company" :)


Samson Wasp

"Out of the strong comes something sweet"

Samson's riddle came across my mind when I saw a wasp sucking nutrients from a water snake carcass on the beach of Nusa Dua. It really amazed me. I read that wasps often attack smaller insects but i never knew that dead animals are listed on their menu. Beautiful.


Perfume Garden

Wonder why the word 'floral garden' is similar to the blissful feeling of entering one?
Just smell the fragrance! :)

vosem' or eight! (lotus bloom)

poolside frangipani, Nusa Dua

night vision bouquet

Sem (all photos by me)

My Eye Is on the Sparrows

(photo: http://whiteband.deviantart.com)

I sing because I’m happy/I sing because I’m free/For his eye is on the sparrow . . . thus Jessica Simpson sings.

The song reminds me of my very first object: sparrows (Passer domesticus). They perched on Unyil's guava tree every afternoons, chirping and singing. their tune is not the sweetest of all finches, but somehow i love it much. so one evening i grabbed Papi's cam and walked as slowly to the tree since my cam knew nothing about zoom technology.

Sparrows or burung gereja (mentioning its local name brings up the memory of Pak Harry who used to say, "Thanks to Pancasila, burung gereja and emprit haji are now paying each other visits") is ever present everywhere and adapt well with any kind of environments. by the way, emprit haji are cousins to sparrows. they are white headed brown finches that feeds on rice grains.

Apparently they eat anything from scattered nasi, grass, to grains. amazing survival, right? and they seem to show little fear of human.

one of the most exciting thing is to see them bathe in the morning. Put some water in a bowl, place it in the garden. soon they will perch and take some dips. trust me, you'd love the view. And you will hear their most cheerful chirps.


Jeruk Pontianak

Eventually Papi's patience bears fruits, this time it is jerus pontianak (Citrus nobilis var. microcarpa) from one of his three citrus trees in the backyard. It bears small, thin rinded fruits that tastes sour and sweet.

Once its pistils appear, Papi reduces the clusters to make room for only one or two fruits to fully develop. And he left some for me to pick by hands. It was nice of him.

Last week he bought home some jeruk from Pontianak. When i went to Sara's, Kak Tatik insisted it should not be called jeruk pontianak since it is native to neighboring Sambas. So, from now on, I call it jeruk pontianak from Sambas.


Senin, 14 Januari 2008

Metallic Dragon

Very good looking dragonfly poses on a leaf by the river of Curug Cilember. I had never seen this kind before. The ruby red variant is more common.


The trumpeters

Once this plant grew on my backyard. We din know who sow the seed. It looked nice, so we kept it. I guess it belongs to Solanaceae.

Mom said that the petals are edible, but as long as I remember we never touched it. Maybe someday I’ll try to cook it (warning: only the trumpet part, pistils and pollens taste bitter) as salad with pecel sauce.


Parking Moth

At first I thought this was butterfly. But take a closer look. It is a moth. I don’t know how butterflies deal with cold weather, but I am sure this moth adapts well with the average 10 to 20 degree Celcius temperature of Dieng Plateau, Central Java. See the thick body and hairy wings. It is as if the hair is designed to protect the moth from extreme temperature. Beautiful.


Pearly necklace

when i was a little kid i read Bobo magazine: a young slave falls into deep thoughts. He’s disturbed by the fact that he has no money or possession to give to the princess who invites everybody in the castle to her birthday celebration. Long story short, one morning on the d-day, while he’s working in the garden, he sees a spider web sprinkled with the morning dew. It twinkles like diamonds. He runs into the castle and presents it to the princess. “This is the most beautiful gift I’ve ever got,” says the princess.

Don’t worry, since there was no princess around, I left this web untouched on Dieng Plateau :)


Purwaceng! (The Notorious Drink)

“…near that bus stop, you can walk to the left and find a warung. Try purwaceng, our local drink,” said Pak Hengki who works for Wonosobo Tourism Board. The book says, ethymologically it is a combination of Javanese purwa (start) and ceng (stand).

I pronounced it with [e] on ‘mess’. Erika prefered [e] on ‘term’. Erika’s version certainly brings in mind a certain biological activity, if you know what I mean. It turned out that her version rhymes with the local pronunciation.

Purwaceng (from Pimpinella family, cousins to hogweed and anise) is said to grow only on that region and is a valuable crop along with potatoes and cauliflowers.

It is said to be able to boost virility and vitality (so the main target market is without doubt adult men).

People wrote that your journey on Dieng Plateau, Central Java, would not be complete without drinking it, so Fajar, Erika and I decided to give it a try. The ground plant was served with coffee and sugar that we din know the exact taste of the plant.

After that, we walked for one hour to the hostel and had dinner. All we felt was nothing but fatique. We fell asleep right away. The caffeine din work, neither did the purwaceng.

With so many plants claimed to boost this, promote that, or benefits that, I can only say, drink responsibly :)


Crown Them with Many a Crown!

Papi and Mami bought them in Magelang. First Putih (right) and then Petuk (left). They had fountainlike plumage on their heads, making them looked cute. Often I had to trim the feathers around their eyes otherwise they had to rely solely upon instinct. They loved finely chopped vegetables and morning sun. Putih was tender female and Petuk was arrogant and insecure rooster. He would walk chestfirst and produce a faint cockadoodledoo. So funny :)

I have just read that they are bred specifically and are difficult to reproduce. Petuk and Putih were specially bred for ornamentation. (Despite good diet, occasionally Putih laid soft shelled eggs). When Papi and Mami left for Pontianak, they were given to our friend, Pak Junaidi.

I prayed that they grow old gracefully.


Guava Delight

When we were at Lawang, we had a guava tree. Unlike those of Unyil (Heksa) that were soft-skinned and red fleshed, ours was jambu kluthuk that tasted tangy, a bit bitter, hard and had a very slight sweetness. They were best when eaten with a bit salt. And I would not let them ripe on the tree :)

Some time later we had jambu Bangkok (later I learnt that anything that came along with Bangkok, means it is gigantic). This time, the fruits ripened naturally.

But I’m gonna tell you about guava blossoms. They are sweet smelling and very elegant with many a pollen. Look at it. Beautiful and vibrant.

The next time you see a guava tree, please stop and smell the blossom.


Pink Jellies

These four transparent pink jellyfish made me wonder: how could they keep small fishes alive in their body. One got two, another three, and the right one had more than five inside their body. ‘Are they pets?’ asked me to myself on the pier of Pramuka Island, Jakarta.

Apparently no. One local fisherman told me that these cute stingless pink jellies would digest them slowly. Terrible.

But the next day I learnt that these jellies were only part of the food chain. Fish is eaten by jelly, jelly by turtle, and so on. I saw a young man harvested them—they were plenty in the morning—and feed them to turtles. It was a quite nice experience, helping him feeding the turtles in sanctuary. The turtles instantly swallowed the slimy and soft breakfast greedily.


Locust Pocus

This must be adult locust since its size is about 10 cm long with full stomach.

Back in my backyard at Lawang, Papi sometimes called me to observe it. They are easy catch, but be careful their spiny hind legs can scratch your skin. If I got good catch, Papi would tell me to roast it in hot ashes. I dipped it for about two or three minutes until it turned golden brown. Blown off the ashes, it was ready to be . . . eaten! “Even John the Baptist ate it, Son,” said Papi. Yes, they’re tasty. Just don’t chew the head and legs. At first I squirmed. Bizarre food, eh?
Locusts are considered pests by farmers and gardeners alike. So, it was good to turn them into delicacy :)


Minggu, 13 Januari 2008

on wings and a prayer

on wings
it was a delight to visit Pulau Rambut (literary Hair Island), Jakarta. It is about 15 miles from the mainland Jakarta I went there with Vit, Muti and Bayu last May. it is a reputed birds sanctuary. we sailed 20 minutes from neighboring Untung Jawa Island. we were welcomed by cormorants' shrieks and gulls' laughters, not to mention their awful smell.

the ground and the leaves were snow white, covered with drops of jupiter [guanos]. and we kept our heads up to watch the fabulous nests and the calling chicks. as we went deeper, some signs pointed the directions to the birds: storks, hornbills, gulls, cormorants, gannets [?], and . . . many banded kites. Snakes!!! yikes!

several steps further, i leapt and screamed like a madman. "komodooooo!"

a gigantic lizard in the size of komodo dragon crossed my path! as we ran away, so did the giant reptile. hahahahaha

friends also got as scared. when calmed, i learnt that it was only a monitor. i encountered with many of them [smaller ones] in Pulau Bidadari. i guess it became that big because he and the snakes are the only predators on the 50 ha island.

to be honest, i love snakes and monitors . . . from a distance. safe distance :) or in eternity (these creatures in the form of bas or shoes or book jackets)

we were fortunate to have good weather. We climbed up the 20 m tall birdwatch tower. The tower is sturdy and of concrete and steel--replacing the old wooden one that is now scattered around it.

from there we could see the entire island and photograph the lovely, ubiquitous sea birds. Some nest on the tallest kapok [kapuk] tree and made some unforgettable noise up there. beautiful. and i saw a large numbers of bat slept on the top of a tree. they must have been fox bats. next time i come, i will bring binoculars for sure.

We had the tower exclusively for us. Bayu ordained himself DJ, scanning for radio stations for evergreen songs (my!) and made everybody in good mood. Then the wind lulled us and we had a good nap there above the ground amid the shrieks (no signs of songbirds).

Later in the afternoon we made our way safely to the white beach and had some dip there.

loved it.



Kesemek! that's the local name for this beautiful fruit from ebony family, Ebenaceae. you know this by its powdery film coating the fruit and by its mild, fesh and sweet taste. it tastes best when refrigerated.

i had long dreamed to have this plant but the tiny seeds i put on the ground never grew into seedlings.

years later, i saw the trees at Kabanjahe in 2004. they are about 5 m tall with birchlike, gray trunks and yellowish foliage. wonderful slender tree. and i was glad to buy the fresh picked fruits at the local market.

i guess it needs cooler climate to grow. When i have a house of my own, i want to have this tree in my garden.


Missus Hibiscus

(roselle bloom)

i have secret, serial affair with hibiscus.

Fist was at elementary school, class of 4b. we students must line up in three before entering the class. Boys, always stood in the back rows, befriended the hibiscus shrubs. we often picked the stamens and put it on the middle part of boys standing in front, staining the pants with its yellow pollens, and then mischievously yelled, 'hey, he poos!' okay, that was rude.

later when the dirty game lost its appeal, we paid more respect to the plant that we call kembang sepatu. We discovered that the leaves meke excellent bubbles [chop some leaves, mix it well with a pinch of detergent]. we blew it and played bubble catching.

when we were at 6th grade, Bu Etik taught us flower arrangement. She enquired us, divided into small groups, to bring cut flowers from home and display some skill before her.

one forgetful group returned to the shrubs and robbed them off. miraculously Bu Etik found out about the foul act and sent them to apologise to the shrubs :)

Hibiscus has several major families, most notably: Hibiscus and Althea,

but the truth is, my first acquaintance with hibiscus was with gedi, whose family is not Hibiscus, but Abelmoschus. it has fingerlike leaves like those of cassava [singkong]. and if you know tinutuan or bubur manado and wonder why it is gluey, the you know it. real tinutuan always contains daun gedi as a tickening agent. Mom does it well when she partly dried the leaves under the sun to reduce its 'glue' content, even better when she serves it with sambal ikan teri or ikan roa. yum yum

after yeas of eating it, finally i saw its bright yellow flowers when i was in highschool. cool.

Rose of Sharon
Jesus is the rose of Sharon . . . so goes the song. Solomon even likened himself with the flower [check the Songs of Songs book]. I later discovered that it is a hibiscus: H. syriacus. It resembles the flowers of waru (H. tiliaceus) only brighter and more attractive.

We had one back at Lawang. Tall and heavy with leaves. One old lady often harvested the leaves for wrappings at market. One day a man left his cat under the tree but Mami refused our plea to adopt the poor cat. The tree contiually bloomed and dropped the flowers for us to sweep.

Do you know that the sweet, spongey candy was originally taken from the roots of marshmallow (Althea officinalis)?

Mami calls it kacang pontianak. Later i learnt that this too ishibiscus. if you want to thicken your soup, put its pods in the boiling soup minutes before serving. delicious!


(roselle pods)

This lovely plant is often sold at flower shops without leaves. the red appearance makes it a good border plants. Mami likes to make syrup from its pods or dries it to make refreshig bright red tea. lovely. Hibiscus sabdariffa is an annual shrub.

I think I'm gonna have lifelong affair with hibiscus. In fact, you perhaps have the same affair :)


Jumat, 11 Januari 2008


My sis sent me this pic and I am amazed at the shape of the flowers. They are not full circle. Five petals make half cone on single stem and notice that reading-lamplike shape on each half-cone? Perhaps this is from some ginger family or wild gingseng family. It is found at Geger Beach, Bali. I am in the dark and if you know about this unusual plant, please share your knowledge. Thanks :)


Yellow attraction (Dandelions)

This flower of composite family never fails to cheer my trips to highlands. I found them scattered on Dieng Plateau, scattered next to the complex of Hindu temples. The local people don't know that the young shoots make excellent salad. (I wonder how people make wine of them)


Spot it!

Let's play spotting the crab!
this small crab knows how to spell mimicry without double checking dictionary like i do :)
he blended into its surrounding well that i almost crushed him at the beach of Semak Daun Island, Jakarta. look at it. Smart creature, eh?


Oh Deer!

Deer me, it's a cute mammal with delicate look and bouncy personality [my word for active]. This dog-sized deer inhabits Ragunan Zoo, Jakarta. He licks his snout, probably an act of grooming. It reminds me of a picture in World Book Encyclopedia about minerals: a cow licks a salt brick in a farm. I guess animals need to spice up their meals, too.


Kamis, 10 Januari 2008


in one evening, this hard-to-photograph dragonfly took refuge in my room. And I am glad to make acquaintance with it. See the lovely, lacelike wings?


i agree with you sis. this kind of insect rarely gives us opportunity to photograph them. it reminds me of afternoons at Jl Slamet Riadi, Lawang, when swarms of dragonfly occupied the air festively and we tried to catch them with bare hands.


macro hibiscus

My sister's recent discovery: the magic of macro. here she captures the common hibiscus, one that lives in the front garden.

Hibiscus is a flowering shrub, found in much of the world.


Dame de Lotus

Lotus and water lilies are all fascinating. Their blooms are attractive, phylosopical and mysterious. Attractive for its bright colored petals, shooting out of slender stems. Phylosopical and mysterious, it refers to what poetic people used to say when they see a beauty comes up from dark and dirty surrounding (talk about the water).

This pink species towers beautifully on the pond of the Presidential Palace, Bogor Botanical Garden.