Wednesday 29 April 2009

Joy joy

The day wasn't that bad afterall. By the time I drove to the yard to inspect some containers in the afternoon, I wasn't feeling sleepy anymore.

I always drop by my parent's place after yard visits because of the close proximity. Before that, I swung by the neighbouring farm to buy a bag of earthworms.

I knew that would make my nieces very happy. Soon, they were crouched over the bag of wriggly worms, squealing with delight! Oh, they sure know how to light up my day!

Tuesday 28 April 2009

Like a zombie

Some good things are better left unspoken or you would be cursed with bad luck afterwards. I proclaimed that I was feeling on top of the world yesterday, I think I must have hit rock bottom this morning. I entered the office feeling fine but after a simple breakfast of madeleines and coffee, my eyes refused to stay open.

Now I feel like a zombie on the loose. Of course there is nothing quite frightening about zombies because they are so zoned out, they cannot destroy anything in its way. Not that there is anyone in my way today... I'm all alone at the office.

I used to think it was the water fountain droning in the background that lulled me to sleep. So my colleague moved it to the farthest corner of our office but the sleepy spell refuses to go away.

I've always wondered about the huge concrete beam above my desk. Now I don't know alot about fengshui but I do know that sitting under a heavy beam is not good news. I have to do something about this quickly.

Many people don't subscribe to the theories of fengshui but I see the significance of harnessing the positive energies and avoiding negative ones. It can get very complex but some things are pure common sense. Anyway it is one of those things that you can discuss no end. So I shall stop here and try to keep myself awake for the rest of the day.


I'm still surprisingly energetic at 9.30pm despite an unusually hectic day. It has a lot to do with the fabulous food and people I've been meeting.

For a start, my dear friend EE treated me to a fantastic Japanese lunch. The good thing about eating out with her is I can leave all the ordering to her. She has got great taste and she knows what I like, my job is to gobble up everything presented before me. Today, we feasted on a spread of baby squid, sashimi, Kurobuta pork loin, handrolls and a special hard boiled egg with an extra soft texture.

Since we were out merry making, how can we not drink Japanese sake? Well, she did. Mine was a yummilicious lychee sake martini. She's too smart, she even knows my tipple of choice. Oh, I could drink 10 glasses of that if I didn't have to go to the container yard after lunch! We ended up with a big fat bill which she insisted on paying. Thanks EE, from the bottom of my heart!

Something keeps lingering on my mind today. It's like this. I keep asking myself what is the most important attribute a person should have? After much thought, my answer is 'sincerity'.

A meeting with my supplier from Seoul must have triggered this. This is her first business trip to Singapore and it made her very nervous. Before we met, I had imagined a gentle and young lady. True enough, she's also polite, soft spoken and very sincere.

She had an important meeting with a big corporation in the afternoon, so it was a good idea for us to meet in the morning. I like to think that I'm the least intimidating person in the industry, and I had wanted her feel at home in a strange country.

Fortunately she hit it off with me and soon I could see her relaxing and enjoying the chat. When she asked what I majored in at the university, I said "I didn't go to the university."

"But you look so intelligent!" was all she could say with so much sincerity. As she looked at me with her big brown eyes, I could hear myself uttering "Can I buy you lunch before you leave Singapore?"

By the end of the meeting, my status had been elevated to that of a mentor (thanks to my age) and she was all pumped up for her next scary meeting. What I'm trying to say here is while flattery can get you everywhere, doing it with heaps of sincerity will help you score alot more brownie points.

But seriously, in all my years of living and working, I find that you don't have to be very smart or scheming to succeed in life. Sincerity of the genuine kind will get you places too.

Monday 27 April 2009

Goodnight sweetie pie!

It's almost bedtime and an email arrived. Oh, my god-daughter's getting ready for bed. Goodnight sweetie pie!

Fry came by

I'm in such high spirits today I don't really where to start. Fry came by this morning to teach me meditation. Then she stayed around to chat, eat curry chicken and pamper Rusty.

Fry's a brilliant girl who's really fun and interesting to talk to. Her quirky sense of humour cracks me up all the time. Don't even get me started on her 'botak' head and funny expressions....

Her extensive knowledge of fengshui and so many other things makes her a very good consultant. We discussed about everything under the sun from morning to evening. Time really flies when you're talking non-stop and soon she had to leave. Thankfully we're meeting again for a feast at my house this Friday.

We're going to have a blast and Rusty is so looking forward to seeing Fry again!

Sunday 26 April 2009

Three birthdays

We had a joint birthday celebration for my nieces and YK last night. There were 3 cakes. I know this may sound rather indulgent but every parent want their kid to feel special on their birthday. The younger kids like the whole process of lighting candles, making wishes and blowing out the candles more than eating the cake. I love cakes, so the more the merrier!

I coordinated with my sis-in-laws to make sure we don't end up buying the same kind. We feasted on chocolate cheese brownie cake (for the 12 year old), sponge cake covered with really pretty pink icing and mixed fruits (for the 2 year old) and finally a strawberry ice cream cake for YK.

Here's the birthday girl! She's no longer a baby.

The girls kept themselves busy while waiting for the party to start.

Waiting eagerly to dig in!

Friday 24 April 2009

Worn out

I have a good reason for being missing in action here today. Morning was spent at the dentist where mum had a tooth extracted. It was a long drawn affair which started last year. We jumped through so many hoops and mum coughed out so much money but the problem wasn't resolved until today. Finally this dental surgeon was sharp enough to detect the root of the problem (a fractured pre-molar) and hopefully the extraction will put an end to her misery.

Until now, I still believe we must always seek a second opinion when it comes to health matters. This is the 4th dentist she has seen and only he could identify the problem. To think that the other one was so mean to mum when she sought her out after the treatment wasn't effective. To cut the story short, if mum had not persisted, she would have to live painfully with a broken tooth in her mouth.

It's been a tiring day. I had a busy day at work. After a hurried dinner with CH, we spent hours scouring for birthday presents for my nieces. We're having a joint birthday celebration tomorrow for oldest and youngest nieces. It's YK birthday too. So we'll have 3 cakes! Thank goodness I'm exempted from buying presents for YK. It's more practical for me to give him some money. That way, he can go buy whatever he fancies.

It's another busy day tomorrow. Mum needs to go back to the dentist in the morning. I'm attending a gardening talk in the afternoon. Then we're heading to my parent's place for dinner. I shall go to bed now.

Wednesday 22 April 2009

Larger than life

It's strange how I ended up in this business. This morning I was being driven around on a forklift inspecting containers at the depot. Being a male-dominated environment, the yard workers get rather amused and sometimes worried when they see me climbing up the equipment or skipping over muddy puddles.

It's part and parcel of my job but really, I don't do this very often unless requested by our customers. This time, I was selecting some units which will be sent to an offshore oil rig. That means the containers must be rust-free to withstand the harsh marine environment.

Typically I will check the interior, exterior and bottom rails and document them in photos for the customer's perusal later. The inspection is the easiest part. I have alot of respect for the equipment operator who has to shift through stacks of containers to get to the one I want. It takes years of experience and good judgement skills for them to manoeuvre these giant boxes through tight spaces without knocking into one another. I always worry for my safety and theirs when I'm out there.

After inspecting half a dozen boxes under the scorching sun, I was more than happy to leave the yard. I drove straight to my parent's farm which isn't too far away.

I couldn't wait to sow the cabbage seeds I bought yesterday. Cabbage requires alot of space, so the only place I can grow them is at the farm. It was a short stopover, so I didn't bother to change into my gardening gear. By the time I finished sowing and watering all my plants, I was sweating like a labourer.

Yesterday, I changed the ceiling lights in YK's bedroom without any help. I didn't want to wait until the kids return or it would be too dark for me to see clearly. While I'm afraid of heights, I managed to keep my cool, balance myself on the highest rung of the ladder and change the tubes without any incident. Rusty stood below looking at me while I worked. If only he could be more useful around the house!

Isn't it strange that the jobs I do are not very ladylike? No wonder when I met Huier recently, the first thing she said was "But you're so gentle and soft spoken! I was expecting someone loud."

I've been blogging about my outdoor and gardening activities, my blog personality is probably louder, bolder and more interesting than the real Ting.

Tuesday 21 April 2009

What is this?

When my sis-in-law emailed me this link to a 5-minute Greek film, I almost missed it. When I finally watched it this morning, gosh, it's a life lesson we all must learn. For all that our parents had done for us, we need to return them the kindness they deserve.

A new routine

Now that YK is back in school, our routine needs a little tweaking. Unlike the regular school hours in the past, I'm still grappling with his new timetable. By the time he gets home, it is already late at night.

We're not used to having late dinners so SK and I will eat first and leave something for YK. I find myself cooking more stewed dishes that can withstand reheating without getting soggy and unappetising like stir fries. I made curry vegetables and herbal chicken yesterday.

He didn't get home until 8.30pm last night. I met him at the train station when I was out walking Rusty. It was nice to walk home together, listening to him talk about his day in school. I like hearing about his friends especially the antics of his buddy Andrew aka the joker.

Classes start at 9am this morning and he found himself in a mad rush. School is a long train ride away and I can imagine him crushed in a train groaning with working executives. He was already running late for his lecture and with the peak hour traffic... that's not a very good start. I'm sure he'll cheer up when he sees his friends.

I forgot to ask what time I can expect him home today. It's funny when the kids were in primary school, their schedule ran like clockwork and they were out of the school gate at 1.20pm sharp. In secondary school, they finish a little later but they're always home before dark.

Now I can say that YK has reached another milestone. Before you know it, they'll become working adults. The day will come when they leave the nest and then it's just me and my dog for company.

Rubber boots

I swung by my parent's place in the afternoon to visit mum and check on my vegetables in the green house. Both my nieces were home after school. Here's the littlest one who had just stepped off the bus, munching on a cookie from the bus driver under the watchful eyes of her sister.

"You better listen to me huh!"

Guess what mum got me? A pair of brown wellington boots! She always insists that I put on a pair of rubber boots to prevent slipping or accidents in the farm. Well, actually dad bought it for our farm workers but mum wants me to have it. So, I wore it to make her happy and to keep myself out of trouble. But these are not the most comfy thing to wear.

It's fruiting season at the farm. Check out our mulberries and dragon fruits here.

Monday 20 April 2009

Fickle as the weather

Though we grew up speaking Teochew (a Chinese dialect) at home, I was often intrigued and impressed with mum's English vocabularly from young. Today she still speaks fondly of her old English teacher, a perfect gentleman who enriched their lessons with loads of proverbs and idioms. He taught them the intricacies of grammar and expected them to speak nothing less than proper British English.

Later when she was working alongside her British colleagues at the Royal Airforce, she was once again communicating with native English speakers. Naturally her Teochew sentences were often peppered with English words and sayings.

She likes to use the phrase "as fickle as the weather" simply because she is often at the mercy of the exasperating weather as an orchid farmer. This is how I would describe this morning's weather.

I walked out to the patio at 6.10am to see a bright crescent moon and stars twinkling against a clear blue sky. Thinking that we're in for a sunny day, I watered the plants and brought the laundry out to dry.

The air was strangely still when I brought Rusty for a walk yet when I looked up, the sky was no longer blue. Within a span of 10 minutes, white clouds had completely taken over.

When we got back to the apartment, little raindrops were pelting down on the patio, threatening to drench my laundry. We drove through the rain to get to school. Many students were caught unaware by the sudden downpour as they dashed for the nearest cover. Rusty must be cowering in fear at home, probably shivering under YK's warm blanket.

Traveling along Geylang Road, ominous clouds roiling overhead sent foreign workers scurrying across the road in the dark, paying scant attention to traffic. 7am felt more than 6am now. The dark, angry clouds looked like they were ready to dump sheetloads of rain upon us but all we got was a spritz.

Now that the rainclouds have moved away, what we're left with is a dull grey sky. It's only 9am and the weather has already flaunted its fickleness for all to see.


Like all Mondays, today is a uneventful day except for the fact that YK's school term officially starts. I had wanted to be the good mum and be all excited and ask about his first day in school.... but things don't always turn out the way you anticipated.

The trouble is he called while I was cooking dinner. I was sweaty, oily and not in the best mood when the phone rang. I picked up the call using my oily fingers and shouted "Hello! Hello!" He couldn't hear me but I could hear his voice and the sounds of the train in the background. Then he hung up.

I tried calling back but his phone was engaged. Fair enough, he must be trying to call me back. My temperature was rising in tandem with the burning stove. The phone rang again and I lost my cool. "Why must you ask me to pick you from the train station? You can't walk home?" I was having a bitch fit.

I stormed out of the house to pick him. His face was as black as mine when he got in the car. He reminded me about my offer to pick him up from the train station when he returns from a long day in school. I must have said that days ago and forgot my promise. I felt guilty as hell but instead of apologising, I blurted, "But you had to call while I was cooking what!"

"You could have told me you're busy instead of yelling at me right?" We made our way into the house annoyed with each other. I took Rusty out for a long walk while he went for a shower.

During the walk, I felt sorry for my bad behavoir. He's turning 17 this Saturday and this is not the right way to treat a teenager. Just this morning, I was thinking of what to get him for his birthday.

When I got back into the house, he was at his computer chatting with friends, music playing in the background. Then he started talking to me first. He told me about his lecturers and what he learned in school. He enjoyed the lessons and wanted to share his excitement with me. My kids and I are all softies. We don't stay mad at each other for very long.

He requested for 'cheng tng', his favourite Asian dessert, and it's now boiling on the stove. Soon, we'll all be enjoying a bowl of sweet dessert together. Sweet isn't it?

Sunday 19 April 2009

Walking the dog

It's Monday morning and I'm tired and aching all over. And sleepy too. Gosh, something is quite wrong with my life. What have I been doing with my weekends?

I think it's all my fault. I just can't sit still and watch the 'imaginary' dust balls roll all over the house. Last night, YK finally told me off.

When I was hanging out laundry to dry at 9.30pm, Rusty waddled over. As he sat watching me with his tail wagging earnestly, I grumbled to YK, "See, Rusty wants me to take him out for a walk again."

YK said, "Maybe he just wants to keep you company? Or he wants a cuddle? I think you're the one who likes the walk. Maybe Rusty doesn't even want it. Just like when I say I like Hokkien mee, it doesn't mean I want to eat it now. But if you insist on giving me a plate, I'll eat it lah."

Well, he has a point. Why must I be so super-ON about everything, from housework to walking the dog? I turned to Rusty and said, "No walk tonight, let's go to sleep!"

He went to bed without a whimper. Technically the kids had already walked him around the farm at my parent's place earlier, so I shouldn't be worried about him peeing at night. Rusty's such a good dog anyway, he holds his bladder until I take him out. Of course it helps that he has an enthusiastic dog owner who never forgets.

7 loads and counting

It's 9pm and the washer is still spinning. I'm hoping it doesn't break down after a day of abuse. It's currently working on the 7th load and I'm contemplating if I should throw in one final one before I go to bed.

It started with my bedsheets when I got out of bed. The mattress protector went in next, followed by SK's quilt, then quilt cover. After that, I loaded his mattress protector and the sheets. By the time I tossed in YK's quilt, it was already late afternoon.

By evening, the laundry had piled into a humongous heap. That's the one the washer is working on right now.

In between the washes, I swept under the bed, mopped the floor, showered and walked Rusty, dusted the shelves, wiped away cobwebs and washed my car to the beat of Mandarin pop songs in the background. I was fueled by two cups of coffee, one cup of tea, two pieces of tau sar piah, two pieces of peanut pancake and a handful of nuts. Thank goodness we were treated to a nutritious dinner at my parent's house.

Oh, weekend is hardwork! I can't wait to sit in the office tomorrow and get some rest.

Saturday 18 April 2009

Baby sitting

I went over to my friend's place to babysit my god-daughter EH this morning. I don't see her often enough, yet she enjoys my company. How she's grown! She's at the age where she wants to do everything herself, like getting her own water, washing the cup, throwing away trash... you know, every single thing.

She has been brought up to be very independent and is not whiny or spoilt at all, indeed a joy to be with. I like her alot and had a wonderful morning keeping her company.

She was still in her pajamas, drinking milk from the bottle when I arrived.

When she was done with her feed, it was Rusty's turn. Here she is, grabbing a handful of dry food from Schee's stash.

How she adores Rusty! She handfed Rusty one pellet at a time.

While feeding Rusty...

Schee sat watching. He gets along really well with Rusty like good friends. Rusty was soon drinking from his water bowl and sleeping in his bed. Schee didn't mind it one bit.

While showering EH, she insisted on dispensing her own body soap and scrubbing herself. Here she is, nice and clean, ready to pose for the camera. Oops, I forgot to brush her hair. That cheeky girl is trying to emulate my smile here.

She loves having her photos taken and she's really smart. She was operating my digital camera in no time and spent the entire morning admiring her own photos.

While I sat reading the papers from cover to cover, I encouraged her to do the same.

We didn't just read the papers, we played hide and seek behind the curtains too.

Friday 17 April 2009

One nightstand

When CH mentioned that he's looking for one nightstand, I completely understand. I mean, he has had the same one for years now, surely he must be quite jaded looking at the same old same old night after night. Like most men, he likes new things every now and then, no matter how sensible he is.

We discussed about it this morning. He said something about being torn between the threesome and the other cute, more desirable one. Being the supportive and attentive partner, I gave him my two-cents worth and wished him luck. If I were him, I would go for the first choice but then again, it's not about me this time. He's going to live with this, so it's up to him really.

I was even about to suggest going together with him later tonight to have a touch and feel session before making the final decision. The more charming one will follow him home and sit by his bed of course.

Perhaps I should ask my readers instead. Which would you pick? See below:
(A) Nest of tables

(B) One nightstand

And what sort of nightstand were you thinking?

Thursday 16 April 2009

Mummy's home

To make this happy day even happier, I think I shall leave the office now. Rusty, mummy's coming home!

Psst. It's only 2pm.

A happy day

Some days are just happier than others. Days like these don't come very often but they strike you out of the blue.

I received a call from my Italian friend Cesco in the morning. I was just thinking about him especially after reading about the earthquake in Italy. He's been missing in action for months, since I saw him in UK last December, and I was getting concerned. So you can imagine my surprise when I heard his cheery accented voice from somewhere out there.

Well, he is in Chennai at this moment and loving it. Prior to that, he was working on a post-tsunami project in Sri Lanka. He's an anthropologist you see. He's now at the airport waiting for his Japanese girlfriend's arrival. When he saw 'Singapore' flashing on the airport screen, he decided to give me a call. That's Cesco, always thinking about how others are doing. That's why this job suits him to a tee.

We chatted happily for a while. I'm glad things are going well for them. He's heading back to Europe soon where another exciting project awaits. His life is mostly exciting and so colourful like that.

With a hearthy 'Ciao! See you soon!", he was gone and will be out of touch for god knows how long depending on which god-forsaken places he will be working in next.

Fueled by happy vibes, I went about blog hopping. One of my favourite gardeners, who is also a really prolific writer, is growing chamomile seedlings for Blur Ting. For me? She's such a sweetheart! She knows of my failed attempts to grow them from seeds. Thanks Petunia!

To add to my list of happy events, an email came in from Fry. She has offered to come by to my place to teach me the fine techniques of meditation. She's such a cool-cat. I mean, she's doing this amidst her very busy schedule. I'm so privileged.

Another email came in from EE. They're coming in fast and furious now! "Would you be able to babysit EH tomorrow morning?" Why of course! I would be more than happy to babysit my god daughter. I'll bring Rusty along too so they can play together. So yay, I can't wait to see her tomorrow!

And then mum called. She's in high spirits because a long-lost friend came by to visit her yesterday. They went to primary school together donkey years ago. It was a happy reunion for them and I heard a primary school gathering is in the works. Wow, the bunch of grannies is quite happening I must say.

It's 1pm now. The morning has been fantastic so far. YK has gone to Sentosa and SK will go for dinner with his friends after Tae KwonDo class today. Me? I have a date with CH tonight. I love this happy day!

A different world

Like clockwork, I drive through Geylang to get to my office every morning. When I mention Geylang, one will surely conjure images of brothels and skimpily clad women. It's a red-light district afterall, the only area in Singapore where prostitution is legal.

Now, my office is not in Geylang or anywhere near there but after dropping SK in school, the fastest way to get to work is to cut through this infamous area. To be honest, at 7am in the morning, you'll be lucky if you can find anything exciting going on. Still, traversing along Geylang Road is not exactly any driver's dream. It's a mayhem at 7am, can you imagine driving there at night?

While Singapore is a pristine and efficient city, going to Geylang is like visiting another planet. When I drive through the streets of Geylang, I keep my eyes peeled, not on the prostitutes mind you, but on everyone else on the road. I'm always ready to slam on the brake pedal in case of emergency.

Geylang is inhabited by foreign workers, loads of them. I see bleary-eyed labourers in their rumpled clothes getting ready for work in the morning. Whether they are in a big group or walking alone, they don't give a shit about the traffic. They jaywalk, jump across road dividers, sit along the kerbs or simply appear in front of your moving car, scaring the daylights out of you.

As if dealing with them is not enough, you have the cyclists who switch lanes nonchalantly without looking behind or junk dealers trundling huge loads of oversized cardboard along the road, risking their own lives and yours.

While waiting for the traffic light to change at the traffic junction, I've seen prostitutes soliciting in the public, cajoling and tugging the arms of elderly men. Today I saw an emaciated young man, obviously high on drugs or alcohol, staggering across the road, oblivious to the traffic around him.

Of course Geylang is also synonymous with glorious food. With such a bustling nightlife, it is no surprise the restaurants enjoy thriving business all year round. From turtle soup to frog leg porridge, 24-hour beancurd to steaming hotpot, you can find everything here. My friend swears that beers in Geylang kopitiams are the cheapest in Singapore. Unfortunately, the Geylang food scene has been in the news recently for the wrong reasons. There were two cases of mass food poisoning which killed two women and left hundreds ill.

I can't help but write about Geylang today. To be honest, I feel the urge to write about it every single day because it makes my drive to the office so much more challenging and eye opening. To me, it's like traveling through a different world.

Wednesday 15 April 2009

Everyone's got talent

While driving SK to school yesterday, I pointed out a school nearby where students with difficulties handling the academic-oriented mainstream curriculum go to. This institution takes in students who are at risk of dropping out of school.

As a parent, I always make it a point to tell my kids that if one is not academically inclined, that doesn't mean they're not bright. We've been told there are at least 8kinds of intelligence - linguistic, logical, kinesthetic, spatial, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal and naturalistic. Hence everyone is intelligent in his own way.

In fact, those who don't do well in school may end up becoming very successful in life. So, when I read about Susan Boyle in the papers, I had to check her out. At first look, she a frumpy village girl with frizzy hair and bushy eyebrows but when she opens her mouth to sing, oh BOY, she can really sing! In fact, her extraordinary rendition of I Dreamed a Dream from Les Miserables was so astounding, it rendered the hard-to-please judges of Britain's Got Talent speechless.

In the beginning, when she stepped on stage, everyone laughed at her. But now she has won the heart of the British public and fans worldwide. I stand up for underdogs like her. Where has she been all these 47 years? We really need to look at everyone differently and stop making silly judgements from now on.

Rusty the puppy

Many things in my life didn't go according to plan. Not that I do much planning anyway... Rusty is one of them. He came into our life quite by accident, or shall I say by whim.

We had just moved back to live with my parents. The kids were still young and were suddenly thrown into a different environment and coping with a new lifestyle. There were loads of stuff to explore around the farm. I drove them around the neighbourhood alot to show them life around the farm can be rather 'happening' too.

One weekend, when YK's friend was over to visit, I brought them to Farmart nearby. For the clueless, Farmart has a cluster of small shops selling pets, vegetables and farm produce. We always stopped by the pet store to admire the cute puppies. While interacting with puppies in the enclosures, YK asked, "Can we buy one?"

I surprised myself by saying yes. Even the kids were surprised. Maybe I was feeling sorry for the kids. We've moved so far away from their friends and even their closest playmate/nanny whom they fondly refer to as Kak Kak, had decided to return to Indonesia after working for 8 years.

We already had a mongrel called Spooky at my parent's place. It didn't even occur to me to seek my parent's permission or if both dogs could get along. The excited kids started choosing the cutest one in the litter that had just arrived from Australia. I wanted something small and rugged. A dog who loves the farm life. More importantly, I didn't want to end up with a house full of fur or my parents may throw us out.

Rusty was the most inquisitive and active one. He also had the most irresistibly cute face. Within minutes, the boys became proud owners of a little puppy. At first they named him Felix but by the end of the day, we had settled on Rusty. I think the name suits him better.

Mum was a little surprised but not exactly too thrilled to see our latest acquisition. Afraid of hearing a lecture, we told her we paid a special (low low) price for him. When dad came home, he said he could even get a free one from a dog-breeder friend. Oh well, too late. Rusty was here to stay.

Of course Rusty was the object of adoration all day long. While I was out for a business dinner that night, I received a frantic call from YK. Rusty was choking and throwing up. YK was sobbing, "Mummy, quick hurry home! Rusty is going to die!"

My business associate who had reared several Jack Russells in the past assured me Rusty must be choking on shredded newspapers. Indeed, he was so right. Rusty was tearing up his newspaper bedding the whole time. The kids removed the papers and soon Rusty was sound asleep on his rug.

Here are two photos of baby Rusty.

Oh, to be young again!

This post will show you how vain I really am. So please bear with me for a while, I promise I will scoot off and get a life after this.

I parked myself in front of the TV last night to watch the inaugural episode of Spain - On the Road Again. Actually, I tuned in to see Gwyneth Paltrow and how she fares in the programme. Honestly I got bored after a while and went off to do other things.

Here's the thing, she seems rather bored and distracted in the show, like she's homesick or something. Even being recognised by her fans on the streets didn't bring her much joy. Funny thing is when her co-host commented on her idol status, she mumbled something about being mumsy with two kids and so forth. I was like, what's with this woman? She one of the sexiest women in the world! Either she's very modest or she no longer feels young and attractive.

And I thought I was the only one. At the food centre today, I heard someone calling my name. He's the father of YK's classmate. While chatting with him, his wife whom I was seeing for the first time, kept gushing, "You're YK's mum? But you're so young!" I was flattered but immensely embarrassed.

Well, I'm not that young actually. I didn't give birth to YK when I was a teenager you know. Recently I met some of YK's new friends through his marine reef club. One chap in his 20s greeted me and promptly whispered to YK that he felt bad calling me 'aunty'. Later, he said "Bye ma'am!" when he left. Hello young man, I'm old enough to be your mum ok!

Just the other day, another of YK's friend told him "Your mum looks very young. But she also looks cranky." Why of course. Do you expect me to be Ms Congeniality after driving all the way here to pick YK? When that same friend came by yesterday, I stood at the main door and flashed my most brilliant smile. I don't want to be a cranky mum.

When I was walking Rusty this evening, we came across a young man along the way who kept turning back to look at me and Rusty. I can only imagine two scenarios. He could be my reader or he could have mistaken me for a local celebrity.

Well, that local celebrity also lives in the East and has a dog like mine. So, the only thing we have in common here is our Jack Russell. Granted our hairstyle is quite similar from a distance but other than that, we've nothing else in common. Maybe that guy forgot his glasses and had mistaken me for the sexy, youthful, leggy and beautiful Jamie Yeo. He needs his eyes checked.

Image taken from Jamie's blog.

You're dreaming Blur Ting. Now shoo, go get a life!

Tuesday 14 April 2009

Odd couple

My mum and dad make an odd couple. While dad is strong and muscular, mum is small and frail. Dad is always calm while mum is the anxious one. I remember mum had a temper when she was younger but now she's mostly quiet. Even then, dad is still the quieter one. I always look at them in bewilderment when it comes to communication between the two.

At home, dad is always seated at his desk, head burried in the newspapers. You will find mum across the table, talking about things, mostly centering around the farm and her health problems. More often than not, she would be holding a monologue because dad appears oblivious to the chatter. I used to frown at his lack of response.

I suddenly found myself doing the same thing yesterday. There I was, seated at my father's desk, head buried in the papers. Mum, who was seated across, suddenly launched into her "I haven't been feeling well at all and my head has been spinning all week..." spiel.

I was shocked that I let the words fly above my head without attempting to reply or offer any words of consolation. I find myself behaving just like my dad. Well, it's not that I'm not concerned about her ailments but I just didn't know what to say.

Since I can't offer any advice or solution, the most sensible thing to do would be to give her a hug. That also I didn't do. The trouble with us is we're not brought up on hugs and kisses. It would seem really awkward for me to envelop her in my arms.

I was observing passengers walking out through the arrival gate at the airport that day. While most of the caucasians greeted their loved ones enthusiastically with tight hugs and kisses, the Asians mostly smiled or shook hands. The cultural difference was apparent. Asians tend to be more reserved but that doesn't mean they're not loving or caring. In fact, filial piety is considered a prime virtue amongst us.

Back to the story. I looked up at mum, with concern and sympathy showing on my face, folded up the newspapers and said, "I have to leave for work now."

Now I feel a little guilty and sorry. I should have been kinder. Maybe that's how my dad feels too.

Monday 13 April 2009


I took the "What colour is your aura?" test on Facebook and guess what, my colour is Orange. Well, I've always liked orange, so I'm very pleased. More importantly, I like what the results reveal. Then again, these tests always show the positive side, so it's all good. Here goes:

Orange personalities are the creative adventurers in the color spectrum. They have an inner urge to be creative, active and enjoy life to its fullest. They are also individual and independent and integrate physical and mental qualities. They enjoy the challenge and excitement of forming and shaping physical reality. Orange personalities love to imagine and plan strategies for their next adventure or project and then put those plans into action. They need to be involved in the actual working process and want to physically shape and form their own ideas. They have difficulty sitting back and letting other people do things for them. They are always busy building, organizing and shaping their projects and physical reality. An Orange personality's motivation in life is based on how much pleasure and satisfaction they get out of their own adventures, challenges and creative projects. They want to be adventurous, creative and live out their own ideas.

I usually don't take these tests seriously but hey, that paragraph up there describes me so perfectly, I can't help but believe every word. I do have difficulty sitting back and letting people do things for me. I need to be busy doing something in order to feel accomplished.

Take this morning for example. I built a crude trellis in the patio for my cucumber and soybean plants to climb on. Even though the finished product looks goofy (like crap actually), I am so pleased that I've created something useful out of scrap. These were wooden bamboo poles that were sawn off my bamboo plants months ago.

Then I drove to my parents' farm and got some more work done. I changed into my old gardening clothes, grabbed a wheel burrow full of soil and trundled down to the yard. Within an hour, I planted a whole load of pandan, curry plants, brinjal, ladys fingers and mulberry. I figured I should just get out there and plant something instead of strategising on paper week after week.

I guess that's the difference between me and best friend. She's the corporate type who's used to the methodological way of working and reporting whereas I'm simply the 'just do it' kind of girl. While I like strategising and visualising, I get immense satisfaction doing physical work and putting plans to action. Maybe I'm just impatient but I get bored with analytical and mundane tasks.

But of course, now I know, it's because I am Orange!

Sunday 12 April 2009

Charged up

When I read about how a Shanghai lady who came to Singapore 20 years ago selling vacuum cleaners door to door has become a successful businesswoman with two companies turning over more than S$1 million a month, I know it's time for me to buck up.

The difference between immigrants and Singapore-bred citizens is this: we're too complacent and comfortable, we lose our survival instincts and we clearly lack that sense of urgency.

I can see this happening right before my very eyes. Our new business is moving at snail speed. Why is that so? Simply because both partners are not doing this on a full time basis. In other words, we don't depend on this for a living.

The scenario was very different many years ago. After I registered my company, I was desperate to see it work even if it meant working round the clock simply because I had to feed the kids. The desire to succeed gave me immense amount of courage to knock on doors and speak to people in the industry. I was a newbie but my drive and earnesty won people over.

This time, I find myself lacking the drive to push new boundaries. I give myself too many excuses and I'm procrastinating all the time. Given the rate we're working, we'll find ourselves lagging behind the competition in no time. We all know in any business, time is of the essence.

Well, it's time we get serious. Enough of pottering around like a snail, we should put on our turbo engine and charge ahead. Watch out, here comes the turbo snail!

End of a long weekend

It's almost the end of a cool and restful day. What a difference an extra off-day makes! I find myself with more time for other things besides housework. How I wish I have more long weekends like that.

It helps that I didn't drive back to my parent's place for dinner tonight because I met with a customer at the airport in the evening. I didn't feel like rushing from one end of Singapore to another for dinner. Not only was the timing bad, YK has a mouth full of ulcers and looks like he's coming down with a cold. So we chose to stay home.

When I announced I was making glass noodle soup for dinner, he thought I was going to force a bowl of bland and colourless meal down his throat. I can see why. I've never cooked glass noodles before and he had only tasted the healthy (tasteless) version made by my mother.

When I served the noodles, chockful of chicken, shrimp, fishcake and home-grown vegetables, he liked it so much, I offered him some of mine and settled for cheese and crackers myself. The block of cheese had been sitting in the fridge for so long, I'm glad I finally finished it. It would have been better if I had some wine at home.

Like I've said, I'm grateful for the restful day. It's back to work tomorrow. I do wish there is more work to do in the office though. Business hasn't resumed to orginal level yet but it is slowly getting better.

Saturday 11 April 2009

Great finds

While moseying along Arab Street last night, we poked our nose into a nice gallery selling sculptures and wooden furniture crafted from natural wood. I'm certainly not in need of any art pieces but my nosiness led me to some great finds.

Laid out on a display table were some beautiful pieces of crockery, some handcrafted in Japan and Thailand, for sale at S$1 (USD65 cts) a piece. According to the attractive lady at the store, they were previously used as props in the showroom.

I picked some nice bowls even though I'm not short of them at home.

I like the holes in this tall one.

This shallow green bowl is from Japan. The nice lady threw in 4 little spoons as a gift.

I like these simple bowls with passionfruit graphics and words.

I bought two big lilac bowls because of the handpainted flowers.

All these for S$6 (USD4). What a great find!

Friday 10 April 2009

The socialising continues

It has been a really long day, I'm exhausted but in a good way. We spent the day at Sentosa Beach with a bunch of friends. They're the fun-loving type, so we had a great time playing frisbee, eating prata, drinking beer, bouncing to music and enjoying the sunshine until... the clouds moved in.

Then we spent the next hour huddled under a small shelter as rain pelted down around us. There was nothing to do but watch lightning streak through the sky and wish for the rain to stop.

When the sky finally cleared, we were back playing frisbee again until my body was too tired to move. I'm so going to be in pain tomorrow.

We joined Chris and wife for dinner at Kampong Glam cafe for Malay food. We tried all their specialities - mee siam, soto ayam, tauhu goreng and sayur lodeh. The dishes were good. I especially like the rich chicken broth of the soto ayam.

We explored Kampong Glam on foot after dinner just like a group of tourists. We stopped by the Malay Cultural Centre which showcases the rich history and culture of Singapore’s Malay community. Sometimes you don't have to travel anywhere to discover new places.

We walked until we ended up at the same cafe again. After a cup of coffee, I was too tired to do anything else, so we parted ways. I'm so glad to be in the comfort of my home again. Home sweet home.

Wednesday 8 April 2009

The man and his kilt

By now, too many people have asked me "What's with CH and his kilt/skirt/whatever?" Well, it's time I address his enthusiasm for this MUG (male un-bifurcated garment) and help to debunk some myths about the wearer.

People ask him why he wears a skirt. It's a kilt dammit!

I can't remember when it started but he showed up one day in a khaki kilt from America. Sure, it raised some eyebrows at first but after seeing him in those things ever so often, I just roll my eyes now. But seriously, he looks alright in them though I think his legs are too hairy.

He claims it's airy, comfy and so convenient, it makes the perfect weekend outfit. It's like, once you've worn a kilt, you don't ever want to put on trousers again. Tradition has it that a true Scotsman should wear nothing under his kilt, it's no wonder there are so many enthusiasts around the world. They post photos of their kilted selves and discuss endlessly about the perfect pleat and cutting.

Apparently it's not as simple as our skirts and dresses. The history of the kilt stretches back to at least late 16th century. With a long and rich history like that, you start learning about the tradition, variants, fabrications, patterns, pleats and accessories associated with kilts. Yes, plenty of accessories like kilt hose, kilt pin, sporan and belt.

CH has most of those things. In fact, his kilt collection has grown rather quickly. In addition to the few utility kilts for daily wear, he has a tradtitional tartan for formal occasions and even a camo-kilt he designed and tailored locally. He insists there is nothing girly or unusual about wearing a kilt. Real men spanning the globe wear them on a daily basis.

I've only seen a caucasian man wearing the tartan kilt in Singapore, so it is no surprise that the people here are still not accustomed to seeing a man in one. Someone took a photo of CH and post it online a while back which drew alot of interest. Needless to say, there were good and downright nasty comments that went on for a long time.

That didn't bother him one bit. That's what I like about him. When I tell people CH writes for a living, they go "Aha! He's the artistic type. No wonder!"

Too distracting

It's too distracting being at home. Some friends are coming over for dinner tonight, so I went to the market to get some fresh meat in the morning.

I wanted to put everything away in the fridge and head to the office. That's when it all started. Since everything is so fresh, I might as well prepare chicken curry in the morning so I don't have to rush in the evening. Sounds like a great plan. It wouldn't take too long anyway. I'll be in the office in no time.

While peeling potatoes by the kitchen sink, the washing machine caught my eye. I might as well put the clothes in the washer while I'm cooking. Then I make a cup of coffee and steam some buns for breakfast. Rusty comes along and I give him some food.

The curry is now simmering away. I clean the stove and find the kitchen floor too oily, so I give it a good wash. Now everything's spick and span. I should go shower.

Wait, let me get some curry leaves from the garden first. The sun is shining brightly, I should water the plants. While I'm at it, I think the patio floor needs cleaning too. The garden is looking good again. I walk into the house and forget all about the curry leaves.

I bump into Rusty near my bathroom. He looks like he needs a good scrub down too. He gets his bath and scurried out to dry himself on the rug. Since I'm already wet, I might as well wash the toilet. Finally I shower and get dressed for work.

It's now 11.30am and I'm still at home. Maybe I should eat lunch before I leave. Or perhaps I should just work from home today...

Blog encounters

This must be my most 'happening' week in a long time. I met my reader Fresh Fry on Monday. Huier, whom I met through my blog, treated me to coffee and cake today. CH came by for dinner yesterday. His friend Chris and wife are coming for dinner tomorrow. We're joining a group of friends at the beach this Friday. I've invited a friend and her family over for lunch on Sunday.

I get a buzz when my social life becomes active like that. Maybe I should open a cafe so that people can drop by and visit every now and then.

When we met up this morning, Huier probably knows all about me whereas I knew nothing about her but we clicked so well, we were like soul sisters within minutes. Maybe she's drawn to my blog because our personalities are quite similar though physically, we're rather different. She's petite, pretty and gentle with a luxurious head of hair. Just like I had imagined.

One thing for sure, her vivaciousness is infectious. We both smile and laugh easily, and we're rather excitable and spontaneous. We hop from one topic to another seamlessly like we're long lost friends.

All these would not have happened if not for today's technology. Who would have imagined that a blog can bring like-minded people together. Why do we choose to read one blog over another? It's got alot to do with being able to relate to the writer. Naturally when writer and reader finally meet in the flesh, the barrier is lessened and there's so much to talk about.

So far I've met several readers including Casey, Karen, Fresh Fry, Huier, Nikki and Amel, and I've had nothing but encounters of the wonderful kind. Thank you readers, for making my day.

Monday 6 April 2009

Needs and wants

As if I'm not busy enough, I have started writing a book. Don't ask me what kind of book because who knows how long my interest is going to last this time? I'm only at chapter one and maybe that's all to it. The beginning and the end.

My mind is all over the place as usual. I want to meet my blogging friends (I've met one yesterday and will meet another one tomorrow). I want to invite old friends over for lunch. I want to catch up with my cousins. I want to get the new business off the ground. I want to bring the kids on holiday. I want to travel to new destinations. I want to start meditating. I want to check out the new Capoeira class in my neighbourhood. I want to attend gardening talks. I want to grow more vegetables. I want, I want, I want!

So many things, so little time. My mind is cluttered with too many thoughts. I need to make a list lest I forget. My memory is failing me. I need to prioritise. I need to save money so I can afford that holiday. I need to reorganise my time so I can be more effective. I need to meet my partner and get some work done. I need to stop running around like a headless chicken. I need to sit still and listen to what I really want.

Meeting Fry

It's one of the unusual Mondays without the blues. In fact, I went to bed last night hoping that morning would come quickly because I have a date this morning.

Funny thing is, just when dawn was breaking, I dreamt that a local actor declared his admiration for me. He was heartbroken that I was already dating CH but I told him we could still be good friends, albeit platonic ones. Told you my dreams are always exciting.

Anyway what was this morning's excitement all about? I was meeting fellow blogger Fresh Fry for the first time! We had arranged to meet at Ya Kun coffee. I've only seen her baby photos on her blog and was wandering if I would be able to recognise her.

She was about to bite into a piece of kaya toast when I walked in. Without any hesitation, she flashed her biggest smile at me. Oh, what a cute girl, just like I had imagined!

We began chatting the moment I sat down. Conversation flowed so easily between us like we were old friends. We covered so many things in under 2 hours and vowed to meet again as she had to rush off to another meeting.

It's strange how strangers can become fast friends. Some call it fate, others say it is chemistry. I call it karma. Whatever it is, I'm glad we got along very well.

It's funny how she had always thought Rusty's a rather big dog because of his big ears. From the photos, Rusty does look pretty big but in real life, he's the size of an adult cat. That's why cats like to pick a fight with him!

Saturday 4 April 2009

Under the mangosteen trees

I grew up in a small village where most of the roads that led to the houses had no names. Yet the postmen knew how to find us. Our house was at the end of a track off the 17.5-mile mark along Lim Chu Kang Road.

The area we lived in was also famously known as "mung hick kar" which loosely translates to "underneath the mangosteen tree". I remember the huge mangosteen tree by the bus stop. It was so big and tall, we could hardly see any fruits high up on the tree, yet the ground below was often scattered with fruits.

Imagine my amusement when I discovered a cluster of mangosteen trees just outside our development's back gate recently.

I wouldn't have recognised the trees if not for the cute fruits hanging on the branches.

The trees are not very tall yet they are filled with fruits. Seeing the trees remind me of our old village. It seems like life has come full circle. After 20 years, I am living in a place that I can officially call "mung hick kar" again!

My dress cute?

I found an old dress at my parent's place when I was looking for something to wear after my work clothes were drenched in sweat. I have several interesting pieces from Spanish label Desigual. YK thinks it's cute and makes me look like a painter. CH likes it too.

Come to think of it, it looks especially cute hanging out to dry in the garden but why was it languishing in the wardrobe?

Friday 3 April 2009

Pampered night

I've been known to make decisions in every area of my life, from simple household decisions to business ones. Even the doting CH lets me choose the restaurants for our friday dinners. Last night, he suddenly took things into his hands and reserved a table for us at Porta Porta - a little Italian restaurant tucked away in Changi North that serves good and robust Italian food.

Some time ago, our plans to go to Porta Porta was thwarted by something that I can't remember now. Seeing that I have been busy and slightly distracted lately, he wanted to give me a nice treat. His plan worked of course because no matter how independent a woman is, it feels good to be pampered every now and than.

Upon entering the small restaurant with burgundy walls that are lined with the owner's art collection and knick-knacks, I felt like I was transported back to a trattoria in Italy.

I was seated next to this naked baby statue. The 'cloud and blue sky' ceiling panel lends an interesting touch to the otherwise boring ceiling.

The restaurant prides itself in serving nothing but authentic Italian cuisine. We've read some pretty good reviews, so the best way to sample their food is to order the house menu where the chef chooses what you get to eat. The servings are small but good enough for two to share.

In addition to that, we ordered an ala-carte dish - squid ink pasta which was cooked to perfection.

The antipasto comprised mushroom, zucchini vinaigrette, capsicum in olive oil and egg plant.

The home-made bread was of the yeasty and crusty variety. I piled mine with a little of everything. Yum!

Next up, chicken broth. Nothing much to shout about except that it was clear but flavourful with bits of chicken and vegetable pieces in it.

The squid ink pasta arrived soon after. This must be the best one we had tasted so far. The pasta was al-dente with enough spring in every bite. We found small pieces of squid which add even more texture and taste to the flavourful dish.

CH was eager to show off his inky black teeth. Let's just say this isn't the best dish to order when you're out on a first date. One piece fell on my dress and left a black stain.

The tortellini in pesto sauce was excellent. I'm not a big fan of cheese but this was so well made, I'm sure it would even convert a non-cheese eater like YK.

The chef certainly knows his stuff. I was really impressed with the vongole pasta. I cook this very often at home, yet with the freshest ingredients (live clams), I still cannot come close to the flavours that he had managed to achieve. I'm sure there are some secret ingredients in there, he must have used rich seafood stock to blanche the clams in.

The calamari is simply fried in a very light batter sans seasoning to allow the sweetness of the fresh squid to come through. The pieces were tender and succulent, in other words, perfect!

By the time we had eaten all the food above, I was feeling quite stuffed. The waitress came by to ask if we preferred chicken or mutton, I picked mutton because I like how CH loves the meat. Wise choice. The mutton was tender with a melt-in-the mouth texture, it must have been cooked for hours.

Finally, dessert! To be honest, that was what I looked at first on the menu. I'm glad they served tiramisu, my favourite Italian dessert. It didn't disappoint of course. We could taste the liquor in the sponge buried beneath the layer of mascorpone and cocoa powder. The apple pie was a tad too sour for my liking but I liked the buttery crust.

It has been a while since we had a memorable dinner together. Last week's dinner at Sentosa was crap, so this really made up for it. We left the restaurant very impressed with the food and level of service bestowed upon us. Thank you CH!

For those who are interested, Porta Porta is at 971 Upper Changi North Road at Changi Garden. Tel 6545-3108.

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