The Powerless Poet

On July 2 I lost the use of my right arm after a biopsy .  A 15cm tumour that is attached to a nerve was damaging the use of my right hand.  The tumour is not cancerous but I don’t see why they call it benign.  Perhaps it was the surgery that was malignant.

Life went on, assisted by friends who made life more bearable by being almost unbearably kind.



But for this

We would embrace


But for this

I would be safe from

Feeling crushed by


How hard you hug me 

When I can’t hug you

Mary Tang 鄧許文蘭


On July 21 a gang of armed pro-China thugs charged at an assembly of pro-democracy demonstrators and violently assaulted them in Hong Kong.  When I saw the footage on television, again I felt paralysed by events that are beyond my control.  As the Chinese say, “there is not one useful scholar in a hundred”.


Being a feeble poet, all I can do is to write a poem.  My brother, John Hui sent his version in Chinese, from Vancouver, Canada.


on 721 Hong Kong


Shoots for stir fries and spring roll stuffings

Winter ones stew in slow cooking crocks

Split sticks for creating kites in summer

While kids cool in its shelter where


Poets and lovers left their vows

On those proud and upright trunks

Symbol of an enduring spirit

Symbol of an upright scholar


Now my brothers are wielding bamboo

Poles that break the backs of brothers

The rush and whoosh between the poles

Once bound now torn at their roots

Mary Tang 鄧許文蘭

John Hui許孝威
Posted in ., Health, History, Poetry | Tagged , , , | 11 Comments

This blog is Full – please visit my new one

I have ran out of room here despite deleting a lot of files so please visit at:  and follow that site if you wish.


Due to interruptions from pop-ups I will  not be posting as often but hope to see you there occasionally.

Thank you for visiting.

Regards, Mx



Posted in blogging | 16 Comments

“The Homeless Chose to be Homeless”

So I was told by a friend who perhaps disapprove of my support of the Wayside Chapel.

I gave it some thought for a couple of seconds and said,

Yes, I guess we all find ourselves where we are due to the choices we made in life.

My friend said,

We are responsible for where we find ourselves?  …..I don’t like the sound of that!


Posted in . | Tagged | 10 Comments

Why I am Not Renewing on WordPress


Screen Shot 2018-05-10 at 10.02.10 PM

First, for weeks now I have not been able to read or write on my site without interruptions from WordPress with messages requesting usage of space on my drive.

Screen Shot 2018-04-21 at 12.47.58 AM

These messages blocked any effective use of the site; they come and go unpredictably and when they appear I have to leave the site hoping that they will stay away the next time I visit, but those occasions are few.  If I press ‘Allow’ they come back asking for more space each time.   If I press ‘Don’t Allow’ they just kept sending the messages, effectively blocking any use of the site.  The thugs are extortionists!

Consequently some posts take a long time to write, according to when WordPress would allow it.

Second, I have not been able to ‘like’ some bloggers’ posts.  Again occasionally they stop blocking me from doing so but it’s unpredictable.

Third, I must log in separately each time I want to post a comment.  This happens often.

Fourth, I thought paying extra money for a premium site means no advertisements but no, WordPress advertises other bloggers’ posts when my readers log on to mine.  I don’t know how much people pay WordPress to do this but I know that they are not there due to their merit.

I suggest readers do not visit these advertised sites.  I do not recommend them.

Since WP insists on inserting items on my page whether it be pop-ups or advertisements, I feel that it would be foolish to pay for a premium account.

Time to  go.  I’m on my way.






Posted in blogging | Tagged , , , , | 22 Comments

Barangaroo Reserve to Circular Quay


From the centre of Sydney one is within walking distance from the harbour.  Barangaroo Reserve, the once industrialised and degraded land has been reconstructed with local sandstones and planted with Australian natives.

Part of the trade off for this development is a new built up centre where the dust has yet to settle but I walked with friends away from the roar of bull dozers and the multitudes of cranes to look around the reserve and from there onwards to Circular Quay.




There was a pedestrian walkway right around the reserve, side by side with a path for cyclists that my friends from out of town were determined to share.


Someone remarked that the place will look good in twenty to thirty years.



We sat for a while under the white gum trees at a playground but were driven away by a maintenance crew with leaf blowers.


Rounding Dawe’s Point under the Harbour Bridge we saw a number of brides and grooms having their photographs taken.  So I took their photos before taking the ferry home.







My photo was taken by the ferry man


Posted in Diary, Travel | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

Catholic Cardinal George Pell to stand trial on historical sexual offences

This morning’s headline read:

Pell to stand trial for sexual offences

George Pell is a Catholic cardinal, Australia’s most senior Catholic, treasurer of the Vatican.

A Melbourne magistrate this morning announced that there is enough evidence to commit Cardinal George Pell to stand trial on historical sexual offences involving multiple complainants.

He pleads not guilty.

Posted in Australian News | Tagged , , | 16 Comments

That was my April


Posted in Garden | Tagged , , | 19 Comments

Seeking Family for Oncidium Cabramatta

I have been searching online for a familiar face that is related to my Cabramatta, so named because I bought it at the side of the road in that suburb.  It had no tag and was clinging to half a pot of poor soil; half dead.

This morning  I chanced upon the website of a nursery in India and I think I’ve found its sibling:

Screen Shot 2018-04-24 at 4.48.11 AM.png

Screen Shot 2018-04-24 at 4.47.23 AM.png

Bai Pai @ Rise n Shine Plant Nursery, India; a much smaller plant (6 – 12 inches)


My Cabramatta – a sister flower?

The culture notes, unfortunately, are useless for growing outdoors in Sydney.  They recommend growing indoors and spraying twice a day (in India, I presume).

That is typical of most advice I find in books or online – useless, that is.  The writers grow orchids in a green house or shade house or somewhere indoors.  Cabramatta hangs in the open, under my jacaranda tree.  It will retain its unique title of Oncidium Cabramatta.

Posted in Garden | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Expiring in 21 days

Screen Shot 2018-04-21 at 1.42.28 AM

My premium account  with WordPress expires in 21 days.  I thank WordPress for providing a platform for my writing and a means of sharing my love of gardening.  My original account was free but there was the potential of having advertisements placed on my blog so I paid the price of avoiding that.  I think that’s fair.

However, I have noticed that advertisements for other blogs are now appearing on my posts.  These are not posts that I’d read so I cannot assure my readers of their merit.  I refuse to read them because they were thus imposed on me.

Recently I had problems with messages appearing on my page as I tried to write.  I have already written about that and it is still happening. I have taken screen shots of these disruptions that happens continuously while I am typing.  They will only go away if I click ‘allow’ but comes back later asking for more disk space.  It has done so about fifty times since I started writing this post because I always click ‘Don’t Allow’ now.  Another reason for my discontent.

I have taken screen shots of these disruptions and they are appearing as I write:

Screen Shot 2018-04-21 at 12.25.50 AM.png

My first impulse was to quit.  However, I examined my reasons for blogging and they still hold so I will write off site and import the content to minimise the disruptions.  It would not be the same as writing ‘live’ but life is like that. It would be too tedious to post photographs.

I will also be making the site private to discourage advertisements – surely then it would not be worth their while?  This also means that I will have very few ‘hits’ but again, such is life.  I am philosophical.


Posted in blogging | Tagged , , | 26 Comments

Must Leave WordPress

I have been bombarded with this sort of messages from WordPress – pop-ups that won’t go away and won’t allow me to write anything while they are on my screen.

I must quit if this does not stop.  My contract runs out in three weeks anyway.  Three years writing this blog has been rewarding but not worth the constant irritation that these messages have  forced upon me.

Allowing them the space does not stop them; they just ask for more and more:  first 5MB then 10MB and now 50MB.

I had a chat with Support who suggested I try turning on Flash.  I don’t really see how that would help but guess we’ll see.  So if I disappear one day you will know the reason.

P.S:  it didn’t work – I got another message immediately after trying the suggested solution

Screen Shot 2018-04-19 at 12.40.38 AM

Posted in blogging | Tagged | 21 Comments

Final Delivery to The Huge Plant Sale

This morning Ang and I took more of my cutting grown plants to Keith & Maureene’s place for their April 29 charity sale to raise funds for the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

We could see that preparations are earnestly underway: the lawn looks like tent city (necessary with temperatures of mid 30s) as the hedges were being trimmed.



I was pleased to see that the rooted cuttings that I donated a few weeks ago are now fruiting fig trees.  However, I am glad I am not part of the crew who will move all those plants indoors!  Fortunately, the grandchildren brigade will take over that task.






Keith and Maureene’s garden won first prize in the open section at a garden competition recently and they used to be part of the Open Garden scheme.  Now they propagate plants from their garden and host a sale twice a year; admission to their garden is now free on the day.

Put the date in your diary and do call in!  See details below:


Posted in . | 2 Comments

Even now–the sun rises

Recently my friend Ang had to undergo surgery so he went into a hospital for the first time in his life. I gave him the pillow that Irene made for me so long ago. I am so glad I found this post as Irene has moved on to a great job as a Product Designer.


My mother-in-law’s long-time friend, Mary Tang, is a poet. She lives in Australia and recently contacted me about a custom Froo & Boo order. She sent me a poem that she wrote and wanted some of the words sewn onto my Sunshine & Grey Skies cloud pillow. After playing around with the words and the placement on the cloud, this is what we came up with:
even now--the sun rises
Mary had 2 pillows made: one to keep and one to give to her friend who is in the hospital. The words of the poem are really powerful and have such a strong message of hope. It is my hope that Mary’s friend will be comforted by the words of the poem and the softness of the pillow. This was a collaboration that truly inspired me. Mary has given me permission to share her poem on my blog:

even now

even the moon…

View original post 313 more words

Posted in . | 8 Comments

Vireya Rhododendrons

I often pick up ‘hospital plants’ on visits to the nurseries.  They are always marked down to a fraction of their original price as they are usually unhappy in some way and on their way out.  I like to rescue them and nursing them back to health.



This vireya seems to be enjoying the Sydney summer weather that is persisting at present.  It is also known as Tropical Rhododendron.


Update:  This cultivar is called Cara Mia.

Posted in Garden | Tagged | 11 Comments

Deflasking Orchid Seedlings


Who would not covet this?

Recently I succumbed to a fit of orchid madness and bought 30 seedlings of the Dockrillia Teretifolium ‘Bridal Vail’ in a flask.  I saw a mature specimen on display at an orchid show and was smitten at once.

These are laboratory babies that arrived in a sealed plastic flask – their artificial womb that provided the perfect condition for their development.  They had been kept in sterile condition with 100% humidity and optimum temperatures in a jelly rich in nutrients.  To say that I was nervous about introducing them to the world in my bathroom basin would be an understatement.  However, this I did.


First I washed the black jelly off them in running lukewarm water then gently tease the clump of seedlings apart, lining them up on some paper towels to take a breath while I prepare a tray of 50mm pots to house them.

It was a struggle: despite their size they are wiry and wilful creatures and fought me all the way into the pots then tried to climb out again:


I think the potting mix supplied by the vendor was far too coarse and added to the difficulty of bedding them down but at last I had them in 22 pots and covered them with some cling wrap.

For the next couple of days I was obsessed with them and checked them frequently, taking photographs day and night.  The next challenge would be to take them outside.  They need to learn to sleep rough.









Posted in ., Garden | Tagged , , , | 14 Comments

An Old Chinese Rose and the Hoverfly



The Rosa chinensis ‘Mutabilis’ left China ‘prior to 1894’.  The flowers change colour as they age from a pale yellow to deep crimson.


I love their simple five-petal blooms and it seems that the hoverfly is also a fan.  This morning I was able to catch one gorging on the pollens.  It is an untidy eater but it did try to clean up after itself by licking up the ‘crumbs’ that he scattered on the petals.


Posted in Garden | Tagged , | 8 Comments

January to March in my Garden

This has become such a long post that perhaps I should have posted each month instead of quarterly,  but no doubt things will slow down in the coming months.


Cabramatta, my Oncidium orchid has sent out its eighth spike of blooms many weeks after the other seven have faded.  March was a month of heatwaves and fluctuating temperatures though there was some blessed rain.  It is the end of Summer : 14ºC when I started this post though it was 33ºC a couple of days earlier.

Here’s what I have photographed in my garden in harbour-side Sydney, Australia for the last three months:

JANUARY was dominated by the Oncidium Orchids which made a splash on New Year’s Day, leading the floral parade :

I was excited to see that one of them had attached itself to a tree:   orchids don’t flower until they feel secure.



The Jaffa Orchid Frenchtown in its second flowering year

The Oxalis Iron Cross (found in the compost), the Bossa Nova Begonia and Pink Lightning (above) all came back to life after dying back to nothing.



A praying mantis found a perch on a Dragon Fruit stem

The cutting grown hibiscuses were all performing well; they are spectacular but the small blooms are just as beautiful:


My Cecile Brunner rose was not able to screen the structure put up by someone who obviously has no sense of the ugly


Tree full of figs that will ripen by the end of the month



This Scaevola has since been ripped out by a neighbour who probably piled all that rubbish on top of the garden outside my fence



The highlight of the month was the discovery of the Blue Triangle butterfly in my cinnamon tree.   The tree itself is quite spectacular when it sprouts new leaves that resemble orchids.



Praying mantis are supposed to be the good guys but they are not butterfly friendly


The Davidson Plum flowered well without fruiting this year

A weed chilli is spreading itself everywhere in my garden (above) but good to see cuttings of fuchias, abutilons, begonias and the fire spike producing flowers (below)


The crepe myrtle is mingling with the begonia

The azaleas decided to mix in


…and this ginger is not too shy to join the party


MARCH – Summer must end on a high note:


Rosa chinensis mutabilis, red daisy and carpet rose with mauve epidendrum:


Oxalis triangularis


Will the flowers of the loquat make fruit?


Baby Pink Lightning begonia is cutting grown and flowering


The citrus trees are bearing fruit


The camellia is coming forward


The salvias are not ready to say goodbye:


Some figs are still hanging on


Yes, the loquat is fruiting


as the Jasminum sambac Grand Duke of Tuscany perfumes the garden

Posted in . | 17 Comments

A Bouquet for a Writing Workshop


I facilitated a writing workshop for the Biennial 2015 at a local City Council.  It was my brain child: born when their Curator and Visual Arts Co-ordinator asked me to help her plan an event that would include the ethnic communities in their municipality.  I’d met V a couple of years before, when she curated a students’ exhibition which included works from my Chinese Calligraphy class.


I told her that I’m a writer, not an artist and suggested the workshop.  So they invited local citizens from twelve different ethnic backgrounds to write their stories with reference to ‘Imagining Place’, the theme of the Biennial.

It was a humbling experience.  I’d planned a program to guide the writers through the process of storytelling but was forced to abort it.

Some of the participants arrived with their stories already written and refused to work on them further.  One sixteen year old boy bolted.  Two announced that they had prior appointments and must leave early.

Yet, two hours before the workshop was to end, I had eleven stories – six on a USB memory stick (from those who wrote on laptops that Council provided), two on emails (from writers who brought their own laptops) and three on paper.

It took me hours to decipher and edit those stories, preparing them for publication.  There was a book launch; the booklet displayed and made available as part of the Biennial.

Although nothing went as planned at the workshop, the book is a moving tribute to the experiences of migrants who now call Australia home.

One of the authors who sent me his story by email wrote to me in reply to my acknowledgement (he was one of those who had to leave early):

This post is an updated version previously published in 2015
Posted in Memoir, Volunteering, Writing | Tagged | 13 Comments

Pollination at Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney

Yesterday Ang and I met in town for a Prawn Noodle then visited the Royal Botanic Garden after lunch.  The Calyx had an exhibition called ‘Pollination’  with sprouting bees and floral alphabets:


It was a dull day so I was delighted to see that there was no shadows from the roof that usually mars every photo.



My friend Ang admiring the orchids



The blue banded bee is an Australian native

We didn’t linger as I wanted to visit the Friends’ nursery and ‘maybe’ buy a few plants.  On the way we visited Latitude 23, one of the green houses where they had a bat flower and a number of flowering orchids on display:


Relieved to be outside of the steam room we had to stop for this begonia before I took a boxful of plants home:


Thank you, Ang for carrying the plants for me all the way home by bus and ferry; you are a prince.

Posted in Garden | Tagged , , , | 15 Comments