It happened a week ago, in the middle of my evening walk with the Dog. The string was lying on the strip of grass between the main road and the five-foot way. As dogs and grass go together like butt and toilet seat, she was on the grass when she started stumbling.
“What’s the matter, Girl?” I asked. And then I spotted the nearly-invisible red string. I stopped immediately and untangled it from her legs. Luckily, it was easy enough; these things are impossible to break with just your hands.
I started reeling in the string and found that a kite was still attached to the other end. The kite was also red. It had fallen on the other end of a field, with a deep monsoon drain between us. As I looped the string around my hand, the kite stumbled across the grass. A breeze snatched it from the ground and it soared.
I wish I could say I was enchanted, but I was only annoyed. Someone somewhere lost a kite, which fell into my neighbourhood and posed an invisible danger to motorcyclists, cyclists, pedestrians and animals. My animal. And here was this mofo of a kite, flying merrily like it was built to.
I reeled it in and smashed it into the prickly weeds growing from an abandoned oil drum. It will have to do since I can’t find anything to weigh it down. The thorns will anchor both the kite and the string down so it won’t go flying unauthorised. The Dog was getting restless so we left.
We went back there this afternoon and the kite was gone. The string was still there (Roll #1), and there was more of the string. I was the one to walk into it this time.
Again, I spent some time tracking it down and looping it around my hand as I reeled the loose ends in. I added the new roll (Roll #2) to the first, and then found another one leading away from the oil drum. I reeled that one in too, and it took a while (Roll #3). Now the whole thing is anchored to the weeds, and hopefully won’t be going anywhere. Any passerby can take it for all I care, but if it’s still there the next time we go, I’ll snip it up and dispose of it properly.
The first time I walked into a kite string was last year. It was hanging across the five-foot way and high enough that the Dog walked under it. The middle was caught in a small tree planted by the road. One end went to the roof of a nearby house and the other end was caught on top of a large tree in the same field I mentioned above.
I rang the bell of the house, told the owners what happened, and asked to borrow a pair of scissors. They did better. While the auntie went back into the house for the scissors, the uncle came outside to track down the string. They were understandably concerned and mindful of how dangerous it was to have invisible, unbreakable string hanging around nearby.
Between the three of us, we found all of the string, cut it up and the uncle took it with him to toss in the bin. He even managed to get it out of the big tree.
Which brings us to this matter of flying kites and losing it. Kites have seen quite a revival lately, perhaps because fancy ones are easy enough to get these days or perhaps it’s windy all the time. I don’t want to stop people from playing but I don’t want to get a nasty surprise when out walking or cycling one of these days.
I will be carrying scissors from now on, but it doesn’t answer the question of what happens if nobody sees the kite string in time.
When buying a new piece of luggage at The Travel Store KLCC, I found that they carry the Sea to Summit brand. I’ve been interested in their soap leaves since reading about them some years ago, so I bought one to try. Cyn asked for a review, so here you go.
There are 50 leaves of soap inside the plastic dispenser, which weighs less than a pack of gum. Definite plus point if you need to travel super light and save space. I picked the shampoo with conditioner because anything that does double duty saves just a little bit more space.
Here’s how it works: Remove a few leaves of shampoo with dry hands. The instructions suggested 1-2 leaves, which should work if you have short hair. I have thick, shoulder-length hair so only on the second try with 6 leaves did I get any decent cleansing done.
Drop your leaves into some kind of receptacle (I used a glass from the hotel bathroom) and add enough water to dilute. You’ll have to swish it around a bit to mix it once the leaves melt.
Congratulations! You’ve made shampoo, which you can now use normally.
Now I’ve been waiting for my hair to air dry to feel the results after my second try with 6 leaves, and I’m pleased to report that my hair feels clean and conditioned. My hair wasn’t very dirty today, so 6 leaves did a great job with just enough cleansing power. If I went without a hair wash for more than 2 days, I expect I’ll have to use 7-8 leaves.
Now let’s talk about how expensive this shit is versus how it shouldn’t be vital part of your ‘travelling light’ gear unless you are going some place where they don’t have convenience stores. Or you’re going some place where bottles of liquid will explode under pressure.
At RM18.90 a pop (a travel products site listed this as USD$4.50), we’re talking nearly RM0.40 per leaf. This means my hair wash today cost nearly RM2.30 in product alone. I’m quite sure that I’ve bought small trial bottles of shampoo (with or without conditioner) for under RM3 before, and those things last nearly forever.
So if you want to travel light to some place where new bottles of shampoo and conditioner doesn’t magically appear on the bathroom counter every day, try these tips instead:
- get travel-size bottles and fill it with stuff from your own bathroom
- hoard the unused bottles from your hotel stays
- hoard samples you get from magazines or promotion counters
- buy something small and cheap when you get to your destination
If you’re afraid your bottles will leak, stick a bit of cling film over the mouth before you screw the cap back down.
As for me, I’ll stick to regular shampoo. This pack will go into my toiletry bag, to be forgotten until I run out of shampoo while standing in a towel in a bathroom somewhere. Fortunately, it’s light and inconspicuous like that.
Sea to Summit products are eco friendly and biodegradable.
On Aug 26, I left home for a morning function at BCCK. My route took me past the large traffic lights where Jalan Foochow No 1 and Jalan Rengas emptied into Jalan Tun Razak. Perhaps it wasn’t a coincidence that I ended up being the first in line at the lights to turn right, because I saw this:
I didn’t know how it got there, an island of grass between busy lanes. I drove by as slowly as I could when the lights went green. The cat was stressed and panting. I could not stop so I posted the photo on Facebook, hoping someone else will get there while I was stuck at work.
By the time my morning work was done, I haven’t gotten any respond, so I went back. It was still there, but no longer on the grass. It was on the road, pressed against the curb. I didn’t have an opportunity to stop, so I made another huge round and found a place I can leave my car.
Picture this: A person wearing a bright turquoise shirt strolling up a busy main road, carrying a bundle of cloth. I thought I’d give the cat something stable but soft to lie on in case it was injured. As I approached, I saw a black lump on the other side of the ‘island’. I thought it was a black plastic bag. Until it stuck out a leg and tried hauling itself onto the road. Now picture me breaking into a run.
After I scooped it up, I checked around the ‘island’ to be sure it was the only cat there. It was little more than a kitten, and I couldn’t believe it hauled itself around the island in the 10-15 minutes I took to double back. If I was a bit slower, I might only find a flat furry pancake on the road.
I hurried us both back to the car, cranked up the a/c and tried to give it water. It was badly dehydrated and had heatstroke, and won’t take the water. I wet its little tongue and rushed it to my vet.
I was exchanging messages with Joanna all the while, as she responded to my SOS around the same time I went back. I asked her to meet me at the vet. She arrived while I was still in the waiting room.
Dr Davies treated the female kitten, which I’ve named Taffy, and told me he’ll be holding on to it a few days for observation. Over the next few days, Joanna and I took turns dropping by. Taffy recovered from the dehydration and heatstroke, but had coordination problems which made Dr Davies suspect that she was hit by a vehicle and suffered some nerve damage. Taffy was on her feet and meowing, but she kept walking in circles.
And she kinda loses her shit a bit when I first pick her up…
…but calms down after some reassuring strokes.
After about three days, Dr Davies told me that Taffy is ready to leave. The circling problem needs more time to heal on its own. Here’s the part of the rescue process that I hate the most – finding a foster parent or adopter. I wasn’t comfortable about offering Taffy up for adoption because she’s not completely healthy, so I posted looking for a foster parent. A friend with admin access to SSPCA’s Facebook page shared it, and almost immediately, there was a response for adoption.
To cut the long story short, a couple with a soft spot for cats was interested in adopting. Interestingly enough, the main draw is because Taffy is a black cat.
I had no idea who I was handing slightly-damaged Taffy over to so I had Nicholas come down to the vet’s to meet us. As it turned out, he is an experienced cat person with quite a number of cats at home. He and his wife thought that Taffy would make a great addition to their feline family… bonk on the head or not. So Taffy got some supplements and a box and went home with Nicholas.
I just checked in with Nicolas on Taffy and he said that she’s doing well and is being naughty. If a kitten has the energy to be naughty, it usually means she’s fine. They have renamed her Pepe. As for me, I’m just relieved that this story ended well.
The bill for Taffy/Pepe’s hospitalisation and treatment came in at nearly RM300. Thanks to many generous donations, it only cost me RM10 in money and a few days in time. Totally worth it.