Thursday, June 29, 2006

Shark's fin

Some landscape designer's idea of whimsy is to stick a shiny metal fin into the field outside our house. It's part of Sengkang's marine theme. There's another fin stuck into a patch of grass next to the badminton court at the next block. Next to that fin is a cone (R: it looks like a small-scale version of the Warwick Koan, only this one looks incapable of spinning and it certainly doesn't light up) with its tip sliced off. There're some patterns on it, maybe it's supposed to be a metallic sculptural representation of whale tooth scrimshaw. Must be the marine theme thing. Who knows what art is anymore other than whether you like it or not. I like the fin. It's whimsical. The cone just looks odd.

L thinks it's a dolphin's fin because of the hump at the base. It's kinda cute, you keep thinking when the rest of the dolphin will leap out of the grass at you. It's at least a better mental picture than a shark's fin because then I'd wonder if there was a finless shark spiralling away to the depths of the field. You know, like in the pictures of how they cut off the shark's fin and throw the shark back to drown.

We have two wedding dinners coming up in July. I hope nobody serves shark's fin.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

About dogs ... again ...

I caught a glimpse of Yellow Dog ( in his field yesterday, at the distant far end. He had a friend with him. Funny how seeing a dog you don't really know while you're on the way to work makes you feel like it's a good day already.

Everytime P gets on the night transport home with me, I look forward to seeing the dog that lives opposite him -- the one that gets caught in the van's headlights when the driver makes a three-point turn after dropping him off ('s-life)

It doesn't bark at us anymore, it's just resigned. Like it's resigned to sleeping on the concrete driveway. Sometimes, it sleeps pressed with its face against the gate at the end of the driveway. Sometimes, it's pressed up against the front door, like a big furry draught excluder, guaranteed to trip up whoever goes through the door.

Sometimes, the rest of the house is dark, everyone must be comfortable on soft beds while it lies there. HRH would have a fit if she realises how some dogs have to live.

On Friday night, the house was ablaze with lights. Everyone's up watching the World Cup. And dog lying out there by himself. He must wonder what people do indoors. Tonight, I didn't see it although its water bowl was still there. I hope it got to go indoors for a little comfort.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Monday blahs

Blahs, not blues. Since I was off. Monday blues are for people going to work and for the schoolchildren truding back after a month-long break. Ha to them!

You'd think that Monday -- when everyone's at work and also the day school reopens -- would be a good day to go to the mall. No teenagers hanging about, I reasoned. I was dead wrong. True, there were hardly any working adults about but school finished earlier than I expected and the mall was packed with teenagers cluttering every corner. Only this time, they were in school uniform.

Ack, teenagers are like bacteria -- there's no running away from them. And like bacteria, there's the good type and the bad type. The good type opens doors for you when you're loaded with grocery bags. The bad type hangs about in a pack and expect you to give way to them in a narrow passageway because of their sheer numbers. Despite being loaded with grocery bags. Followed M's example and purposely kneed them with a bag. Hope it was the one with the cans and sharp edges.

At the supermarket, the students who spent their vacation working the checkouts have gone. I'm not sure if that's a bad thing. I've had some of them pack my shopping who clearly had never done a spot of grocery shopping in their lives. They put the eggs with the heavy stuff, let the frozen stuff melt into the dry stuff.

Back home, did oven-roasted honey-mustard chicken for dinner. I was going to get Dijon mustard and a pot of honey to make the honey-mustard marinade. While looking for a jar of mustard on the shelves, I came across ready-made honey-mustard marinade in a bottle. So got that instead. I always take a shortcut when I find one. It's called working smart. :)

You know HRH's importance in the family when she has her own little pan of chicken roasting, minus the mustard marinade.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

One month later

I didn't realise until L pointed it out: We've been in this new flat exactly a month. How nice, a one-month anniversary. And to celebrate, there's a pan of brownies in the oven and the house smells deliciously of chocolate. Although the brownies are for Dad, in lieu of a cake for his birthday today. We're going over to have dinner with him later.


There's always some drama to be found on the way to work, whether glimpsed through bus windows or heard among the blocks of flats as I walk from the MRT station to the office.

There's a young lad at the basketball court, shooting hoops. Two kids are loitering by the stairs, watching him. One nudges to the other and calls out to the boy with the basketball: "We don't want to play with you."

"What?" said the boy who was clearly playing with himself.

"Stop following us." He yelled at the boy who clearly wasn't following them because he was shooting hoops by himself.

You think he'll grow up to be Chee Soon Juan?

Friday, June 23, 2006

Caution: Not-so-young-any-longer person ranting

And I'm not the only one, it appears. Hah! There're a lot of people out there who remember the origins of 'Emotion' than they care to admit. They just don't watch Singapore Idol, that's all. And the youngsters who do -- and more importantly, SMS their votes -- don't give two hoots about whose song 'Emotion' is. You'd think if you were singing it on Singapore Idol, you'd at least research it a bit. Ain't that hard. It's on Wikipedia. I just looked.

It's not "Emotion by Destiny's Child" as the contestant said. It is properly, 'Emotion' sung by Destiny's Child. But you're not supposed to sound like the original singer on Singapore Idol, not like that other US contest where you sing, move and look like the original artist. Forgot the name of the show but "Freddie Mercury" was incredible. Ah see, I'm digressing like a not-so-young-any-longer person. On Idol, you're supposed to take the song and make it yours. So even more properly, it's 'Emotion' by the Bee Gees. Because they wrote it. So it's theirs. I think people don't acknowedge song writers enough.

And unlike the Wikipedia entry, I couldn't pinpoint when exactly the Bee Gees recorded it. I wasn't a Bee Gees fan. I wasn't a Samantha Sang fan either, she came to mind only because you can't forget a singer with a name like that. I earlier wrote that the Bee Gees finally recorded it in 2000 or 2001 because I didn't want to say turn of the century. Only Victorians say that. Only now, it wouldn't be far wrong to label me as so last century. I'm pretty sure some kid will do that soon.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Schnauzers are not ergonomic

I didn't think anything of it, HRH wanted up so I scooped her onto my lap. One hand automatically patted her, and then her head got in the way so there was my left shoulder all hunched up as I typed one-handed. L thought it was a Kodak moment, snapped the pix and said I had to put it on the blog so y'all can realise that every artist does suffer a little bit. :)

The work roster is kind to me this week. I worked two days, had a day off (yesterday), work another two days and have another day off (Saturday). So I have to work on Sunday but I'm off on Monday. Good trade off. This meant that I was home yesterday evening to catch Singapore Idol. Which made me realise that I am, erm, older than I realise. I didn't recognise any of the songs the contestants sang. The only one song that I did recognise was Emotions. The contestant introduced it as a Destiny's Child song. I know it as a Samantha Sang song and at the very most, a Bee Gees song (they wrote it in the 70s even if they didn't record it till 2000 or 2001 for the greatest hits album). Now I've half-scared myself that I know all this. None of the judges commented on that, nor the host. C'mon, even Dick Lee must be old enough to know.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Remembering the yellow dogs

Yesterday, the same bus (well, not *the* same bus but you know what I mean -- you take the same bus to work every day) took me past the same field and I looked for Yellow Dog as I passed. Not surprisingly, there was no sign of it. Like it had never been there. But I don't think I could forget it. Like I couldn't forget the other dignified dog in the Kembangan field and I had to look back in my journal to see how long ago that was -- six years.

I am under no illusions about the life of a stray. Kembangan Dog, despite all its quiet dignity, may not have lasted six weeks, let alone six months. And I remember all the animals that have crossed my path. Not just those who came to stay, but also those who took a meal and drink, and went on their way. Some came back regularly enough to get names which they never recognised nor acknowledged. A handful wanted to stay but vociferous objections from current residents whose views had to be respected meant that they had exciting rides to the SPCA. And those whom I watched from a distance and who never knew they had left an impression. And I wonder, do they remember me too? Do they even know that somehow, they have become entwined in my memory, and hence, my life.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Wildlife in Singapore

There *is* wildlife in Singapore. From the bus window on my way to work, I saw a pack of gray monkeys cross the playing fields in front of Pierce Secondary School along Upper Thomson Road. The creeping movement of gray on the grass caught my eye and at first I thought they were cats. But in a split second, I realised cats don't move in packs and certainly not in that undulating creep.

The school students were oblivious, thumping basketballs on the edge of the field. But the monkeys weren't unnoticed. The two teenagers sitting behind me got very excited.

What an eventful bus trip. Earlier, as the bus went down Yio Chu Kang Road, I saw a yellow dog in the field by the MRT track. He was concentrating on his business in a hunched-over squat. Then he walked to the edge of the field, lay down and surveyed his territory. I hope he's comfortable. The field looked muddy. It had rained in the morning. And his leg were bi-coloured, from the ankle down, it was the colour of mud.

I remember seeing another dog, another time, also on another trip to work. I looked it up in my journal. October, 2000. Another dog, another field, but the same quiet dignity in calmly surveying its surroundings. And thoughts of another dog, curled up in sleep, waiting for me at home, in another house. It was like time had gone round in a circle.

The transport van took me past the same field on the way home after work. It was pitch dark. The dog may not be there any more. Good night, Yellow Dog. At least it's not raining now.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Father's Day is a Guy Thing

Women settle into a new kitchen by unpacking, finding a place on the counter for the coffeemaker, a place on the shelf for the coffee powder and the filter bags, making sure the coffee cups are washed clean of the newsprint from the newspaper wrapping in transit to the new kitchen, getting a cultery organiser in the drawer for the spoons and the rest of the flatware (even something as mundane as this was done with pleasure if only because we had no drawers in the previous kitchen).

Men settle in by calling Pizza Hut. Followed by KFC the next day. Thank god L hasn't called McDonald's delivery yet. At least I can swallow a Super Supreme and Hot 'n' Crispy Wings. His point was that it's very important that these venerable institutions have our new phone number, and hence, our new delivery address.

And that's why L's Father's Day present was a sackful (note: not bagful) of chips. Tapioca chips glistening red with chilli sambal.

He elected to stay in on Father's Day instead of going out to dinner, so I guess the chips will come in handy. Later, we're having breakfast for dinner -- sausage, egg and toast: a Bloomsday fry-up two days late. It is a Guy Thing to eat breakfast at any time, apparently. It's also a Guy Thing to lie on the couch and watch TV. But when our TV can only a pick up one station and the World Cup matches are not on that station, it rather diminishes the couch thing somewhat. So it becomes a Guy Thing to nap on the couch.

But HRH saw that we at least got some movement out of him. At about 6pm, just when the other dogs and children are being walked, she wanted to go downstairs and came prancing into the study where I was on the computer. But Daddy's napping, I told her, so we can't go for walkies till he gets up. She turned round and scooted off. Half a minute later, I heard an "oof" from the couch. Daddy's up. From a leaping Schnauzer who crashed-landed onto his belly.

Damn, that bitch is good.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Lost Dog

I almost thought I lost the dog *inside* the house today. I came out after a soak in the tub. And couldn't find her. She was last seen napping in her rattan dog house, the one L calls "Queeniham". Not in Queeniham. Not in the Day Bed -- the rattan basket by the window which is her choice spot in the morning because the sun hits it and she can sunbathe while looking out at the window and grrring at passing children. And the white dog that walks itself. Not on what she has now established as her favourite spot on the sofa. Not on her floor cushion by the sofa. Not on her floor cushion by the bed. Not in the bed. Not under the duvet. You see how many napping spots she has in the house? Not even under my desk where she once went to sulk when I was leaving for work. Not in any of the bedrooms. Not in the kitchen where she is not supposed to go into. Even checked the bathrooms and she feels strongly about places where you have baths.

I was starting to panic. How can you possibly lose a dog in the house? I'm pretty sure she couldn't get the keys to unlock one door and one gate and let herself downstairs to go after that white dog that walks itself. Could she? She' smart. And talented. But even so...

Finally, a little movement gave her away. She was huddled into the backrest of the sofa, nestled among the throw cushions. Perfect camouflage.

Little bitch.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Living a life of luxury

Now that I've actually found a use for plastic champagne flutes, they're not to be had when I went back to the $2 store. Are there so many people who suddenly want to sip wine while lazing in the tub?

So I'm getting dressed for work and realised that I picked a blouse that I would never have bought not so long ago. I got it recently from the Marks and Sparks sale along with a skirt (see, I didn't just buy kitchenware alone, I'm a multi-faceted shopper). The skirt has pleats and the blouse has pin tucks. Not so long ago, I would have put them back on the rack. Simply because I'm incapable of ironing pleats and pin tucks. But now, now I can sip wine in the tub and leave the ironing to the housekeeping service. Ha ha.

Pin tucks! I haven't seen them since I was forced to sew pin tucks in Domestic Science class in secondary school all those years ago. For some reason, pin tucks were deemed to be a necessary skill to learn. Who on earth sews their own clothes any more?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

My Needs

Here's what resulted from the game Milly ( mentioned. Can't do a hyperlink there -- partial Safari support on Blogspot means I'm missing some bells and whistles. The other one is I can't change the time of my postings so it shows up the US time at wherever the Blogspot server is. There was one day the posting interface changed and I could change it to my local time but the next day, that facility disappeared.

Anyway, you type in your name, add "needs" and see what Google tells you you're in need of.
Snugpug only had three needs: needs to find petsitters, is in need of a playmate and needs an editor. Ha!

Adi, however, had more needs. I need to make a considered decision in regard to inclusion or exclusion of people with dementia; need to sign to get access to the source code; check out several maintenance programs to suit my needs; need to provide ASIC with notice in writing of its intention to rely on the relief; need further supporting data; and don't need local storage.

At least nobody said I needed cookie cutters.

Monday, June 12, 2006

And the weekend flew past

Funny how when I get a complete, ie normal two-day, weekend, I wonder how I ever made do with a one-day weekend, quite forgetting that I had a weekday off to do all I want to do sans weekend crowds, and that one-day break in the workweek. So what did I do this weekend, a few friends asked. I, had a bath. Baths. At one point, I was lying in the tub sipping lemonade, looking up at the blank space in the bathroom wall and thinking, a flat-screen TV will go really nicely there. :) Was drinking from a melamine cup, I never ever have glass in the bathroom where I haven't got my glasses on. Mr Magoo and glass is not a good combination in a room where you're bare and vulnerable. And I'm thinking, maybe I should go to the $2 store and get those plastic champagne flutes.

It was a leisurely weekend, and as ES correctly surmised, only a full bladder got me out of bed. Not even the thought of "the dog needs to pee" screaming in my head -- which is the other thing that gets me out of bed. Because said dog was buried deep under the duvet. The last one out of bed. Who cast remorseful looks at L when he made the bed.

Bedmaker then got restless and decided to play with the new oven. He did a baked chicken thing. But it came out a bit dry because the packet of frozen chicken parts that said "thighs" turned out to be breasts when we opened it after defrosting it overnight. So he make it with lots of sauce (which still didn't really help) and asked me to make some steamed rice to go with it. I also did an eggplant gratin. Love, love, lurrrve the oven.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Movin' Along

We're still at that stage of a new house where you move things around to see where they fit. When the deck chair came back on Wednesday with a bright red new canvas backing, I put it in the corner of the window, next to the plants and the bamboo light. My garden corner.

Yesterday, being home on a Saturday with nothing much to do, I decided to shift the couch a bit. The couch is really a chaise longue pushed up against a two-seater sofa missing one arm so that it can be modularly modern for you to fit it whereever you want. Why go for the standard arrangement where furniture is placed in a semi-circle facing the TV when you don't watch much TV (and in our case, are restricted to just one channel the rabbit ears can pick up)? So I swung the chaise longue round to face the other side of the room. Which means that when I sit there and L sits on the couch, we have a Dagwood and Blondie arrangement where we can actually look up at each other when we talk. You remember the comic strip? Dagwood sits facing the TV and Blondie sits facing the other way. He must have been watching the World Cup on TV.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Back to work... again...

The nice thing about working on a roster instead of Monday to Friday like normal people is that you work a couple of days, you get a day off, and then you work another couple of days and it's the weekend. I knew I had Wednesday off when I went back to work on Monday, it made Monday more bearable. Usually, that comes at the expense of working on Sunday. Which isn't a bad thing either. You get to schlep in to work in shorts and sandals, the top bosses aren't in, the workload is lighter and you get to go home early. Only, my Wednesday off, I've just discovered, is in lieu for working on Vesak Day last month. I'd forgotten about that. So I get a proper weekend this week. Like normal people. Woo hoo! L and I have grand plans for a two-day cook-in.

You see what happens when I go back to work? I stop blogging. So I should stay home all the time, eh? I'd like that. HRH would love it even more.

I did try out the oven on my day off. But I didn't bake anything from scratch. I cheated again, I popped in a loaf of frozen French bread dough. Ignored the instructions other than for temperature, put in a pan of water for a steamy oven, and out came a crusty baguette. It didn't fill the house with the smell of fresh bread though. What I got was the smell of new oven. I hadn't properly looked at the oven controls till now. They're in degrees C. My Betty Crocker cookbook isn't in metric, I'm going to have to convert all the degrees F mentally if I follow the baking recipes. And that is a recipe for disaster. I failed Maths, remember?

On Wednesday, I also got more cookware. This was a real bargain as it's the Great Singapore Sale going on now (but since when was it not sale time in Singapore) -- a stock pot plus pasta drainer and steamer, for half price at $90. So I now have two stock pots but L says he will put them to good use.

I also sat down and totalled all that I've spent on the house -- the reno, furniture, cookware, bits and bobs. It's a frightening figure. I am now done getting cookware. I've got enough and I don't need what I haven't yet got. Nope, don't need cookie cutters. Don't feel the urge to make cookies until Christmas anyway, and I can just as well make them round and cut them with coffee mugs, they don't have to be Christmas-tree shaped. Yup, on an austerity drive now. R is right, the house can be a money pit once you get started. But wouldn't Christmas-tree shaped cookies in December be nice?

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Hi ho, hi ho

It's back to work I go. I wonder why were the seven height-challenged gentlemen so happy about going to work? I like what I do, I now even like where I do it and the people I do it with (that can sound horribly wrong but we're talking about WORK for goodness sake) but I'm even happier to stay home and cocoon. Especially as I probably spend more waking hours at work than at home.

Going back to work after a two-week absence means you (OK, *I*) forget your passwords, forget all the F1 to F12 functions on a system as ancient as Coyote. I also momentarily forgot even what floor the office is on. I once famously went back to work in a low-rise building after more than a week in a high-rise hotel room, stepped into the lift and wondered why there were no buttons for the high floor I was used to pressing. That's how fast I snap out of the work mode and how slow I snap back into it.

Took the MRT to work from the newly-opened White Elephant Station. [For overseas readers, the station really is called Buangkok. When the line was built, the station was mothballed because the operator deemed that there weren't enough residents in the area to warrant the costs of opening up the station. There were a lot of protests from the residents which culminated in cardboard cut-outs of white elephants as a cheeky protest when an MP was visiting the area.]
Anyway, the station clearly isn't expecting much traffic -- whether of bono fide commuters or would-be terrorists. The Security Check counter which is now present in all the MRT stations is still swathed under layers of furniture shrink-wrap.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

My Favourite Martian

No, not the one sleeping in the dog house. The one on the top shelf.

We still don't know why we can't get the free-to-air stations, but are too tired to phone and harange the TV people. Besides, the TV set is a temporary one. So last night, Dad gave us a set of rabbit ears. It now lets us receive Channel 5 and Suria, the Malay station. Shame about Channel News Asia. I just realise I prefer my news on TV rather than in print or on the Net. Well, at least I can get Desperate Housewives and Najip Ali. The only thing is, I go back to work tomorrow. Of course the TV kicks in the day before I go back to work. That's two Mondays without Desperate Housewives.

Ah, work. I have happily forgotten my work passwords. Not to mention the F1 to F9 keys on Coyote. I shall be subbing very, very slowly tomorrow.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Coming out of the closet

We now have so much shelving space in the closet that we can organise our Tshirts by colour. L says it looks like a Giordano shop. Except, of course, our Tshirts are much cooler. Aloha Stadium Swap-Meet cool. I wonder how long it'll stay this neat and tidy. Still, it's a far cry from a couple of flats ago when we kept our Tshirts in a hamper (OK, it was a rustic nice-looking woven one) because there was no closet.

Murphy's Law of Renovation has finally been invoked. And we thought we could get by with a problem-free reno. It all started when the window grilles were being installed. They forgotten the ones in the kitchen. So a guy had to come back to measure up the kitchen windows. Measuring Guy screwed up because when the workmen came huffing and puffing with the grilles on Monday, they found that he didn't make allowance for when two windows meet in a corner. There was a lot of cursing in Hokkien (not from me). Yesterday, they were to have come back. They didn't. More cursing. Not in Hokkien. From me. That's two wasted days of leave I've spent at home waiting for window grilles that didn't materialise. Turned out they had a road accident. So now they'll attempt to come and install then next Tuesday. Third time lucky, I hope.

Friday, June 02, 2006

C'mon into the kitchen

... while it's still grease free. Because I haven't yet cooked in it. And to think that I was all hyped up for a new kitchen (finally! an oven!). The desire to cook evaporated rapidly as I unpacked box after box of kitchen stuff. All those new cabinets (finally! storage space!) are now full. Which makes me wonder, how did I manage to squirrel away all that stuff in the former cabinet-less kitchen?

Yesterday, I "cooked" the first meal (we had been living on takeout the past week). "Cooked" because it was cheating cooking. Quick-cook paella from a packet (so help me, Martha Stewart. Bet she doesn't sweat when she's had to pack and unpack 30 boxes of stuff) with roast chicken from the supermarket deli.

But we ate it off new pretty pink (yes! that colour again) and blue dinner plates. There's new cookware and new bakeware too. Now all I need to do is to *use* them. But the thought having to cook something before I can eat it makes me feel tired. Did I actually think I was going to make bread this weekend? Thumping dough is as exhausting as unpacking boxes. I know! I'll go run a bath. :)

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Picture Upon Pictures

OK, those of you who were once horrified that my (old) cellphone could only make and receive calls (fancy that! A phone that only does phone calls!) and rudimentary text messages, let me now say that Pink Phone is armed with camera, video recording and MMS. Ha! Who's your megapixel mama?

The only thing it doesn't have is an MP3 player. And just a few weeks ago, that wouldn't have mattered. Guess M is right, I have to get an iPod next. You see the slippery slope of perdition Slim has set me on? You get an iBook, you fall for iTunes and now you want an iPod and pretty soon, iCreditCard will explode.

And why is this called a candy bar phone? If Mars and Snickers bars came this thin, I'd feel shortchanged. Unless when they said candy bar, they mean stick of gum.

I've worked out how to use the camera and video. But what I haven't worked out is how to get them out of the phone and onto a computer or something so that I can e-mail them to interested parties. They're all stuck on the phone. Pink has a mini-USB port so I could use my digicam cable and link Pink to Slim. I'm just scared to. I'm technophobic. Who's to say that if I connect A to B with wire, it won't hang A or B? Even Macs hang right?

In the meantime, the cutest Q pix is wallpaper on the phone. I have wallpaper on the phone, on the computer, just not on the wall. Does anyone even have wallpaper on walls anymore? The phone wallpaper must be the modern equivalent of the dog/loved one photo in the wallet.

Cellphones sure change the way we live. For instance, I can't remember a single phone number anymore. When I first started school many, many, many moons ago, my Mum made me memorise our home phone number. I have no idea what my home phone number is now but I can tell you it's on quick dial #1 and voice dial on Pink.

And deleting numbers from the phone book is something else. A friend agonised over deleting the ex's number after a break-up. Because it was so final, and if she ever changed her mind, he would be gone forever. Then there's another friend who had a drinks party to ceremoniously delete his ex's number. The difference must be the difference between girls and guys.