Thursday, November 30, 2006

Talking shyt

All right, y'all who said I haven't written (about) shyt lately. The Diarrhoea Wars are over. Now, we have really solid shyt.

Yesterday, while eating brunch, I saw Rupert go to the pee pad, circle and squat. The good boy has gotten the hang of where to poop (now if only he'd figure that pee pads are good for peeing too). Picking up poop sausages is infinitely easier than cleaning up brown patches of diarrhoea, you only need to pick it up in a tissue and flush it. Which you need to do fast or he has tendency to walk over it and track it about. So shyt disposal was rapid, done while I was still chewing my bagel.

Today, shyt disposal interrupted a bowl of meat ball noodles. You've got to be a hardened dog parent to be able to pick up puppy waste, wash your hands and resume eating. That or I'm becoming one of those harassed parents who cannot eat a meal in one seating.

Last weekend, at the steakhouse we frequent, a family group of papa, mama and two kids were seated next to our usual table. I couldn't help noticing that the mama did not order a main course. She ate what the kids left. After feeding them first. Poor mama, I think she deserves better than that. The mama should be the alpha bitch in the pack, eating first and the kids get the leftovers. At least our furkids got that bit right. :)

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Potential jailbreak averted

This has to do with the resident felon this time. Rupert somehow managed to dip his long snout into his harness and chewed it so I had to do a patch-up job. He's been making me sew more than years of handicraft class at an all girls school ever did and some of the dogs' toys now look like little Frankenstein monsters.

At least my mending box isn't as full as M's. Vivi will make a seamstress out of him yet. I forgot to take a picture of his "Christmas tree" when we were there last weekend. It's a beautiful creative take on the inverted Christmas trees that hang from the ceiling that were all the rage in the US last Christmas. M made his using a Christmas wreath as a base, from which he used fishing string to dangle glass ornaments down in an inverted pyramid shape. Completely Jack Russell terrier proof!

The big picture

... behind the picture of two happy dogs in the previous post -- or how we actually got the two of them standing together in the same frame long enough to take a picture. It has everything to do with Mum cutting her birthday cake.

When I was young, a birthday cake automatically meant a chocolate cake -- the best flavour ever for a cake. And ice cream. But it's been a very, very long time since any family member had a chocolate cake. That happened when we started having dogs. They share in the family celebrations so the cake has to be dog-friendly. That was firmly implanted in my head during my birthday, oh, 10, 15 years ago. Why didn't I get my usual chocolate cake, I asked my Mum. Because the dog needs to eat it too, was her answer. And that's when I realised, my birthday be danged, that wasn't the main thing; it was the dog's dietary requirements.

Yes, the dogs also partake of steamboat during the family reunion dinner every Chinese New Year's eve. But I bet you knew that already.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Jail break

Not mine but Ah Boy and Ah Girl, the two dogs from the ground-floor flat across the field. They had visitors who left the gate open, their owner later explained. There I was, taking down Rupert for a much-needed pee and there were Ah Boy and Ah Girl dashing about to scattering, screaming kids, which only made the dogs skitter some more and the kids scream even more, with the owner in hot pursuit with leashes.

You know what they say about using a thief to catch a thief. Same principle. Use a dog to catch two dogs. All I had to do was stand still with Rupert. All he did as bait was wag his tail at the two dogs and they came running up to him. And then I just grabbed their collars until the owner panted up with the leashes.

A waggly tail is irresistible. To kids, grown-ups and other dogs.

Oh, the tails here are wagging at attention because food is involved.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Ready for Christmas

I've never been so early with Christmas ever. I guess the first Christmas in a new house has everything to do with it -- you want to know how the tree looks like in the new place. It's also kinda nice that this will be Rupert's first Christmas too.

I'm so organised, I even have all my Christmas cards addressed. However, actually writing them and then going to the post office to stamp and mail them is something else. I'm not sure if I can follow up this spurt of sudden organisation.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Megamall bore

I gave in. I went to the new megamall. Quite by accident, though. I was waiting for a train at Outram and that station is just one stop away from HarbourFront, where the Big Huge Exciting Megamall is. Only, it was one stop in the other direction. And that train came before mine did. So I thought ah well, let's hop on. Besides I had an hour to spare.

An hour is more than enough time when you're not a mall rat. One million sq ft of retail space, 300m waterfront promenade, rooftop wading pool, Singapore's largest 15-screen multiplex cinema and a mention in Wikipedia notwithstanding, I was out of there in 20 minutes.

When they said that two million people or half of Singapore's population have visited VivoCity, I didn't think it to mean that they were all there at the same time. It sure seemed that way. And that was mid-afternoon on a Thursday, when I thought it would be free of weekend-type crowds. Apparently less people in Singapore work than I realise.

One of them would be this tai-tai at Marks and Spencer's. I was looking at their Christmas offerings (I'm drawn like a magpie to their glittery and beautifully packaged gift packs) when the tai-tai recognised a saleslady from another branch where she presumably frequented. And bitched about how the last time she went there, she bought six shirts and the cashier put them all into one bag. When she asked for another, the cashier breezily told her that the bag had more than enough room to hold them all. Tai-tai was affronted that she was denied that one extra bag. Tai-tai probably doesn't recycle plastic or save the earth.

Went past the new GAP store -- first in South-east Asia, first in Asia outside Japan -- and didn't even go in. I looked and shrugged off jeans and tees as being the same everywhere and keep on walking.

In the end, the only thing I bought from the spanking new megamall were some pastries and buns -- from a bakery chain that's everywhere and I could have just as well gotten them from the mall down the road from my house.

I was actually looking for a Body Shop, I needed to get one of their items. I gave up looking for one shop out of one million sq ft of shops, took the train to work, dropped off at suburban Toa Payoh where I knew exactly where the Body Shop there is and got it there.

Clearly, megashopping and megamalls are lost on me.

Saturday, November 18, 2006


At first, HRH would take the high ground, relegating Rupert to the lower echelons -- well, it's still that way at night, she still won't let him on the bed. But in the daytime, they at least enjoy the view together. The peace accord doesn't always last, though.

Flat bread

Ikea, of the flat-packed assemble-it-yourself furniture, have a capital new item in their small little Swedish food section: flat-packed assemble-it-yourself gingerbread houses. It's brilliant. They're baked, shaped gingerbread panels and all you need is some icing to hold them together to make your own gingerbread house. And maybe add some candy pieces to decorate and dust some icing sugar for a snow effect. I've never made a gingerbread house before, I thought it was too time-consuming plotting out house panels, measuring and cutting them to size before baking them. Now maybe I'll make one for Christmas.

The Ikea Christmas catalogue arrived today, along with news that their new branch store will open in December, in time for Christmas. I'm looking forward to it. The new store will be less than 10 minutes down the expressway from where I live, so no more one-hour cross-country trips with a taxi fare that could cost more than the cheap Ikea items in the shopping bag. This sounds a whole lot more attractive to me than 1.4 million square feet of retail space in the newly opened megamall -- which I still haven't been too and still haven't drummed up any interest in going.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Counting the costs

Vet fees (plus skin scrape and medication) only to find that there's nothing more than a stubborn bacterial infection on the paws: $117

New bed, more pee pads and odour removal: $100

New set of floor cushions with inner PVC liquid-repellant cover because the inner sponge filling in the current ones are pee soaked: $400

Puppy curled up in new bed: Priceless

Caffeine fix

The coffee percolator broke -- the water reservoir leaked onto the hot plate and I'm not about to plug in a wet appliance -- so this is L's solution: drip the coffee into a pot and then keep it warm on a low gas flame on the stove-top. I just realised that I can't live without a percolator not because it brews the coffee but because it keeps it warm all day so the coffee remains hot whenever I want some. It has spoilt me, I can't drink cold coffee any more.

The broken percolator this time round wasn't such a panic-stricken affair. When you don't start the day till late afternoon, you can at least muse on the problem a while before coming up with the pot rig-up on the stove-top. The previous percolator shot-circuited at a time when I was working the 4.30am shift and I remember staggering around bleary-eyed because L was plugging it into every electrical outlet in the house and the percolator duly tripped out the electricity no matter where it was plugged. Going in to work at 4.30am without any coffee in your system meant that that was a very, very bad day at work.

Tomorrow, we're back to caffeine-induced normality. We bought a spanking new percolator today.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Au naturel

L and I have this thing: everytime we meet another Schnauzer, we check to see how white its paws are. The Schanuzer standard calls for white paws and beard (unless the Schnauzer is brown). We've seen some with perfectly white bits where they're supposed to be white. They've been Photoshopped, I always say. Keeping white paws white is an impossibility. HRH has brown paws (and no beard). They started turning brown from off-white maybe a year or more ago and have remained brown since.

And then on Saturday, we dropped by our Schnauzer's groomer's shop. HRH didn't need grooming, she wasn't even with us, we've just taken in to dropping in when we're at the mall where the groomer's shop is, just to say hi to her and her various dogs that go in to work with her. Most are white hairy dogs -- one's a Westie and and I don't know what the other hairy ones are -- and our favourite is Kayla, the mini-Schnauzer. We've known her since she was a pup -- in fact, Groomer was trying to push her on to us -- with white paws. And that was when we realised it. Kayla, now a little more than a year old, now has brown paws. Our groomer's Schnauzer has brown paws. Our groomer -- who hand-feeds her show Westie so that its muzzle would not be stained -- has given up on keeping her Schnauzer's paws white. I suddenly feel so good about HRH's brown paws.

Sunday, November 12, 2006


Forget about what the boss tells you at work. Multi-tasking is soothing a dog that has vomited while trying to peel off a duvet cover without spilling the vomit while keeping the puppy away from another puddle of vomit on the floor (did not manage to get heaving dog off the duvet in time) while cleaning that up. Without glasses on. At 4am.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Yin and yang

It really wasn't as peaceable as it looks. They weren't lying down in this yin and yang symbol position, they were actually wrestling. I guess finally Queeni is having some fun with him. At least I think she's enjoying the wrestling. Heaven knows, she instigates it most of the time.

Rupert's paws still aren't healing well, despite the satellite dish on his head to stop him from licking them. Yesterday, I realised why. Queeni was licking them for him. I really don't think it's out of commiseration. I suspect a yeast infection may have developed and his paws taste like Marmite to her. Back to the vet.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Trees died for this

One August morning, I woke up to a bulldozer raking up the grass downstairs, hoarding erected round the middle of the field and chainsaws killing off at least three trees behind the hoarding. The town council was building an exercise station.

I say the trees were nicer than these metallic posts -- there's a platform for sit-ups, climbing frame, monkey bars, parallel bars and balance beam. They're all at adult height level so the kids are put off the climbing stuff, though the balance beam is only a few inches off the ground. I honestly don't know why it's there, I can't think of any one that will back flip on a balance beam since Olga Korbut. In the exercise station at the flats near the office, there is at least a stationary cycle and pulleys that let you do arm lifts. I haven't seen anyone use any of this equipment -- except for the mothers who sit on the sit-up platform and chat as their children tear round in the nearby playground.

Thursday, November 09, 2006


A few weeks ago, a (non-Chinese) friend who now works in Beijing asked if I'd ever been to China. My answer was that I'm never going there until the Chinese leave it (and of course the irony that I'm Chinese -- albeit Singaporean -- didn't escape the both of us).

Here's one reason why:
"In one county in the southwestern province of Yunnan, where three people had died of rabies, authorities killed 50,000 dogs, many of them beaten to death in front of their owners.",1,524659.story

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Cheap stuff

I stand corrected. You can get bath salts in Singapore. Japanese imports, which means you don't know what you're getting until you open the packet. I found these in a $2 Japanese goods store -- you know, the type of store that sells cheap Japanese imports like toiletries, plastic ware and kitchen ware and every item is $2. Love those shops, you load up on stuff because everything is so cheap and then you realise at the cashier that $2 each can add up to quite a bit. Only when I read the small print did I realise that while most of the stuff were Japanese imports, they were really made in China, even the bath salts and incense sticks, that's why they're so cheap.

There was a sign with a translation from Japanese explaining the bath salts flavours -- rose, jasmine, lavender, chamomile, bergamot, the usual suspects. But when I got home, I'd forgotten what flavour I'd bought. The one on the left is supposed to be a soya milk bath and I got that because it intrigued me. It's nothing like a Cleopatra milk bath though, the contents of the packet were a bright yellow powder and it made the bath looked like I was stepping into a tub of pee, only it smelt sweet and creamy.

Speaking of pee, we've given up pulling on and off the tight-fitting washable covers on the couch. It's now covered with towels and blankets until you-know-who develops bladder control. He'd better do this by Chinese New Year.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Saturday night out

... and we were home by 10pm. L and I found ourselves downtown by the river yesterday evening after plans to go over to M's fell through because he was nursing a bad throat that sounded worse by the minute.

We went to a pub that we used to go to, ordered a breakfast fry-up (I can quite happily eat breakfast at any time of the day), a bottle of wine and settled back. And talked about HRH's last poop and Rupert's peeing habits. There we were, on the edge of party central on a Saturday night and we were talking about the dogs' toilet habits. I guess we need to get out more.

I miss my food writer soap box. We hadn't been to this pub in a while and while the manager who remembered us (or L at any rate, he goes more often than I do) was welcoming and reserved us a quiet corner table, the rest of the service left a lot to be desired. We were early enough to order a pint during happy hours, so when happy hours was over, were duly presented with the bill. Only by then, we were halfway through dinner. I understand the need to close the happy hour tab, but they could have come round and ask if the food was OK, and could they get us anything else, and by the way, could we settle the happy hour tab instead of shoving it in our face when our mouths were full of food. And when the waitress came back with the credit card slip for us to sign, she didn't think to even look at the name on the card which is clearly a woman's name, she just shoved it at L. I guess I'm grumpy when I have to sign a bill while still chewing my food.

And just about when the night was getting started for those who really had a Saturday night life -- there was a bunch of guys in tuxedo shirts and bowties waist-up, shorts and sandals waist-down who were obviously warming up before heading to the real party and some party that must be to be dressed so -- we finished the wine and went home, mindful that the dogs needed to go and that there'd probably be a puddle to mop up after Rupert (there was, he'd shredded the pee pad).

We used to go clubbing till dawn. Somewhere along the way, we've become homebodies timing our lives round the dogs' needs. I used to spend my days off staying up late and reading. Now, I look forward to my nights off work so that I can go to bed early. I have no idea how it happened.

Not that I'm complaining. I look at Rupert and Queeni snuggled up on the couch and despite the pee stains on that piece of furniture, I think that snuggling with them is a whole lot nicer than queueing up outside Ministry of Sound. Even on a Saturday night. I'm happy to be a middle-aged homebody dog lady.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Read any good books lately?

From Bev's blog ( - darn not being able to hyperlink)

1. Grab the nearest book. If you are currently reading something, that'll be fine too.
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the next 4 sentences on your Blog along with these instructions.
5. Don't you dare dig for that "cool" or "intellectual" book in your closet I know that is what you were thinking!

Here goes:
One feels that Montaigne, Emerson's master, preferred Socrates to Plato, while Emerson's own love went more to the chronicler of Socrates: "The great-eyed Plato proportioned the lights and shades after the genius of our life." Emerson's definition of being a Platonist is very wide: it included Michelangelo, Shakespeare, Swedenborg and Goethe. I like best Emerson's classification of Hamlet as a Platonist, though I disagree with it: Hamlet is a pure Platonist, and 'tis the magnitude only of Shakespeare's proper genious that hinders him from being classed as the most eminent of this school.

What I'm actually reading, or will read after I get off the computer is the SPCA Annual Report which has only 14 pages. The above sentence is from the book on my nightstand -- Genius by Harold Bloom. I'm not showing off or breaking rule #5. Honest. I don't know what possessed me to get the Bloom volume. Good value, I suppose, it's thicker than the phone book. I was browsing in a second-hand bookstore and it called to me from the top shelf. Obviously, that's the kind of book that's relegated to out-of-the-way shelves. I have been reading it on and off for the past three months. And that one sentence alone should tell you why it's been on and off and for three months.

In between, I put it aside for John Grogan, Terry Prachett, Anthony Bourdain, Ruth Reichl and Bill Buford. I pigged out on all of them at my last trip to the bookstore and now that I'm done reading them, I went back to Bloom, which had in the meantime gathered a slight layer of dust on the bedside table. It's not really so bad, it's like literary criticism of 100 creative minds -- all of which are dead, Bloom steadfastly refused to include anyone living. The bits on Shakespeare, Donne, Pope, Swift, Austen, ie the English geniuses, I breezed through because I was familiar with them but the French, German and Spanish ones were heavy going because I hadn't read much of them. From that one paragraph above, I had to break off and look up Swedenborg. That was when badass kitchen prose from Bourdain etc beckoned me over. Now that I've exhausted all the new books and have not been to the library in a while, it's back to Bloom.


Yesterday, on the way to work, I walked past the field to the train station directly after a heavy downpour. The field still had soggy patches of accumulated rain. There was a flurry of activity in one of the wet patches and I realised that a family of mynahs were having baths. They rolled around in the water, shook themselves, fluffed up their wet feathers and then hopped a few feet away to dry off. 

Now all the mynahs need to do is to tell my dogs that baths can be fun.

Ah, here's the clever stitch. I wrote yoinks ago when the bath tub was new and I was spending many happy hours soaking in it (I still do) that there seemed to be the absence of Epsom salts in the country. I finally found them! All the established pharmacy chains didn't have them or don't carry them any longer. I finally found them in a chain that sells over-the-counter medicines and toiletries and they are revamping their outlets to become full-fledged pharmacies with a pharmacist manning an Rx counter. So phooey to the established big boys.

I went into their newly opened outlet in the mall near our home. The pharmacist knew what i wanted but had to scramble to find it because the shop was newly open, he was new and he wasn't sure where everything was. But he was sure he saw Epsom salts in a corner somewhere. He told me to browse around while he hunted for them. He was so pleased when he finally produced a packet for me. Then I asked for two. I figured I might as well get more than one since it took me so long to find them. L said I should take a good dozen if not the whole carton -- Costco would've loved his quantitative approach. What if I never find them again, was his reasoning.

Now that I've found Epsom salts, it's occurred to me that I no longer see bath salts and bath cubes -- stuff that my mother used to have in the bathroom -- on toiletries shelves here. Maybe there's a severe lack of demand because there's just no bath tub culture in a hot country?

Anyway, got home, pleased with the Epsom salts purchase, ran the bath and while I normally just chuck in a couple of handfuls, the compulsive reader in me who reads the cereal boxes on a repetitive basis actually read the instructions for use on the side of the box. It said to use 375g for a normal-sized bath. So what's 375g? I wasn't going to measure out 375g exactly, this isn't baking where you need stuff down to the last gramme. Flipped the box over and did the agak-agak (estimate) lazy measurement method -- every package has a net weight. Just take the net weight and proportion out what you need, ie measure things by halves, quarters, fifths, not grammes.

So I flipped the box round and round for the net weight. 375g. I had to put a whole box of the stuff into a bath. That's finishing up a box almost as soon as I found one. Sheesh.

So I did what I should have done. I ignored the instructions completely

Friday, November 03, 2006

Out and about

I need to get away from my desk more. I didn't brown bag dinner today, I didn't have time to fix any food because L had an early start and I was home alone with the two dogs. It took a while to feed and water them and then walk first one and then the other (I tried walking both together before, it wasn't very successful -- they either tried to head in different directions or got their leashes tangled) , all of which took even longer because in between I had to mop up after Rupert who can seemingly generate pee out of air in five minutes.

All that activity and copious cups of coffee meant that I hadn't time (or the inclination) for lunch, so I slipped out for what I considered to be an early dinner before the workflow started. It was about 6pm, and as I walked through the blocks of flats to the coffee shop, residents were returning home from work. It's a weird feeling to see people heading home, some with grocery bags and others were takeaway food packets, knowing that your own workday is yet to properly begin.

And the dogwalkers were out. I patted one mutt, one shihtzu type hairy dog, one retriever and smiled at two Jack Russells yapping and trotting away in the distance. Suddenly my day got better. And that's when I thought I need to get away from my desk more.