Saturday, June 30, 2007

Watching paint dry

... is not as boring as it sounds. Especially if the rapt audience includes two dogs. The block directly opposite ours is getting painted and the furkids have a grandstand view from the floor-length window.

Our block will probably get painted sometime next week and the gondola with the painters will be just a yard away from the furkids on the other side of the window. I think the rapt audience will by then will break into vociferous running commentary. Heaven help us. And our neighbours.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Who did it?

Yesterday, before leaving for work, I made sure that entertainment was laid out for the furkids in the form of plenty of bones and toys, scattered about the couch and the rest of the living room. OK, the ones that were scattered over the floor were where they had been left, mostly by Rupert.

When I came home, the couch was bare. All the bones were missing. This time, I knew where to look -- that crevice where Rupert found his missing bone. And there I found three bones, stuffed down, one of top of the other. Like somebody had carefully stashed them away there.

The question is who? Queeni (possibly, she's smart enough), Rupert (less possibly, he's not that smart) or the Borrowers?

Thursday, June 28, 2007

It's baaaack!

Missing new expensive much-favoured bone showed up last night at 2am. Rupert found it. We were vegging out on the couch when he suddenly started to dig through the two sections of the couch so I, like the well-trained dog-parent, helpfully reached into the crevice to extract whatever he was after. And there it was.

I can't think how we missed it when we looked behind the cushions and reached down the back of the sofa earlier in our search. L said, in calling off the search party, said that we have Borrowers in the house.

Well, our Borrowers are also returners.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


And the day after I posted about Rupert's lovely new *expensive* bone, it's gone missing. He may have put it down somewhere and forgot about it after his initial excitement with it wore out. But I wouldn't put it past Queeni to hide it somewhere. I just don't know where.

We've looked everywhere. Under the couch and in the crevice of the couch seat where all the missing toys go. Nope. We've looked everywhere floor level -- found one ball behind the shoe rack that I didn't even know was missing but no lovely new expensive bone. We also looked everywhere dog level, in case he left it on a low shelf or dropped it into a waste bin. Nada.

I can't afford to buy Rupert another. All he can do is gaze wistfully yesterday's picture. Luckily we have that for posterity.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Rupert's new bone

I bought Rupert a new bone as all of his are starting to wear out and should be replaced soon. This one cost the princely sum of $17 so I hope it lasts. It's country bacon flavour -- country, as if ordinary bacon isn't good enough.

Queeni is not into chewing so she didn't get anything other than a belly rub when Rupert was presented with his new bone. That mollified her anyway. But later, when Rupert left the bone, she snatched it up and brought it to the bed. You should have seen her expression. It looked really pained as she gnawed away, clearly the bone was too big and too tough for her.

When she gave up and left it, Rupert snatched it up and has been walking around with it since, as if afraid that if he let it go, she would take it away again. He didn't even let go when I put his harness and leash on, ready to go for a walk, and I had to pluck it out of his mouth. I set it in a corner near the door so he would see it straightaway when we came back. And he did, and picked it up and carried it about, not stopping for his leash and harness to be removed.

Well, I'm glad he likes it so much. I just hope the bone lasts.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Little old salesladies

It's been three times last week that little old ladies rang our doorbell, trying to peddle stuff door-to-door -- packaged meat floss, crackers and I can't remember what else. They all used the same approach, they shoved the goods through the gate at your face and launched into how buying the stuff would help them because their husbands were sick and couldn't work. And they were quite aggressive about it too.

Because their stories and methods were the same, L thinks they're part of a syndicate. He felt charitable when the first little old lady showed up and would have bought something but she annoyed him by shoving her product straight at his face and refusing to back down so he decided that he wasn't going to buy anything. He wised up when the second little old lady appeared, suspicious that her story was the same as the first.

I think he's probably right about the syndicate but I think it's more than just peddling stuff. How much are you going to get from selling packets of crackers? I think they make a note of which flats are empty. They all came in the daytime, on work days. We happened to be home since we don't have normal 9 to 5 hours. If they truly wanted to make a sale, they would come round in the evenings, when people are more likely to be home, just like what the Yakult ladies used to do, and they were the genuine stuff, polite and wearing uniforms.

Well, I hope these little old ladies report that this house is protected by two dogs. Well, one, actually. Rupert does not bark at strangers and will welcome anyone into the house. But if you didn't know how friendly he is, he can look fearsome with his black face and huge teeth. Queen looks like a cute teddy bear but she's the one who's a wonderful guard dog with a great vocal alarm. But she stops there, her tiny toothpick-like teeth won't scare anybody off.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Let's play ball!

And what does he do? He sends me another cute Vivi pix.

My two are too tired from running at the dog park (OK, so Queeni mostly stood around) to play ball. When we got there, a fun agility competition was going on so we went into another small fenced-off area which is for small dogs only. I didn't want Rupert running in the way of the agility dogs doing their stuff. But when the competition was over, we went back into the large field and in the crowd of the agility dogs going off and other dogs coming into the field, and more dogs and people milling round the tap and communal water bowl between the two areas, Queeni momentarily lost us. We were watching her from a distance. Poor thing started running frantically around, then went back to the small-dog area where we last were (smart girl) and then Rupert trotted off to fetch her to us. Yep, w'ere a pack.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Thursday, June 21, 2007

It's nice. But what does it do?

The furkids got this for L for Father's Day. Now, if anyone has an idea what good it's for? When I bought it*, it was labelled as a tissue holder. But that's really impossible. There's a slot where the mouth is and another at the bottom and the insides are hollow. The pen shows you just how narrow the bottom slot into the inside cavity is, there is no way you can fit the whole thing over a tissue box, even if it's one of those small square boxes.

*Since I've confessed to L, I can go public with it now. I totally forgot about Father's Day. Even with Mother's Day so well-publicised, it took a colleague's reminder before it reached my consciousness. I had no hope for Father's Day. It just happened that on Saturday, we started the day early because the vet could only see Queeni for her recheck in the morning (clean bill of health, no bumps found and he taught us how to check her lymph node for abnormalities before the next recheck in two months). Otherwise, Saturday would not have started till past lunch time. So that day, because of the early start (see what happens when you actually have a morning?), I was sitting around the house in the mid-afternoon with nothing to do and worse, nothing new to read. So I decided to walk to the mall where the library is to return my books and get new ones. And while I was picking my way through the crowds of Saturday shoppers, I noticed a poster for a Father's Day promotion at one of the restaurants.

Panic attack! I had to SMS that same colleague who gave me advanced warning of Mother's Day to check when Father's Day was. I think I'm going to have to get her to give me reminders every year now. Well, luckily I was at a mall and L was home so I could do some last-minute shopping for him. I had to get something doggish, it was from the furkids after all -- and this was all I could find. It looks more like Bully, J's bull terrier than Queeni or Rupert. But it's kinda cute.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Paint job

The estate is getting a makeover. The exterior of our block used to be a ghastly shade of pink. Pink is a colour I normally like but this shade is just sickly. Now, it's going to be a sickly shade of lemon yellow. The block on the left shows the old colour scheme and the new one is the block on the right. They need to paint over the deeper pink accents but mostly the ledges and details are in lime green.

I usually can't stand the colour yellow, just looking at it gives me a headache. When I was in primary school, I could get out of going to school by forcing on a headache, the vomitty type, just by staring at the yellow cushion covers on the couch. I couldn't decide if I liked the red flowery covers better (because they weren't yellow) or the plain yellow ones because I could make myself sick with them if I wanted to and get out of things like school, tuition classes and piano lessons. Yeah I know, misspent youth.

I suppose L is right, one doesn't look at the exterior wall very much, the minute you get home and close the door, it's the inside you're going to look at all day long. Whew.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

I'm awake!

It wasn't so bad, this 9-to-5 thing. At least, on Monday I was able to get up even before the alarm went off, maybe it was the anticipation of something that was different from the normal workweek. It just got slightly more difficult on today and I think it will probably get worse as the week progresses because despite having been up early, I can't fall asleep early -- at 11pm yesterday, I was wide awake even though I was very sleepy earlier on in the evening. I think my body's primed at that time because 11pm is the busiest hour at work.

Still, I'm enjoying the change in hours, wake-up time aside. It is nice to be home in the evenings, to be able to walk the dogs just as the sun is setting. And then go home to cook a nice dinner. And after that, spend the evening on the couch in front of the TV. Is this what normal people, that is, people who work normal hours do? It feels strange and new to me. And very, very enjoyable.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Dogs' day out

Father's Day was completely overshadowed by the dogs today. Actually, Father's Day was completely overshadowed. We had warning of Mother's Day weeks ahead from advertisements by retailers and restaurants but they didn't give any advance warning of Father's Day, guess they couldn't make as much money out of poor old Dad.

Last weekend, M found a dog restaurant, that is, a restaurant that's dog friendly and welcomes the pooches inside. Unleashed. They even had a menu for the dogs. So of course the extended pack had to gather there this weekend. Five people with five dogs and I stupidly forgot to bring a camera.

The restaurant was so new, they didn't have an alcohol licence. There was no beer to be had. L was disappointed, C was plain horrified. We all had coffees and ordered food for the dogs and decided to go somewhere else for the humans' dinner. With wine.

The dog food looked so good, I wouldn't have minded eating it myself. The mains ranged from meat with rice, stews, pies and also a meat-filled dumpling. Our two dogs had already eaten so we got them dessert -- a crepe filled with yogurt, banana slices and apple cubes. They wolfed down the crepe but left the banana and apple -- fruit that they can't get enough of at home. I think they found the meat and rice the others were having a lot more appealing.

Having fed the dogs, the humans went to a wine bar across the road and then to a Thai place for dinner. This time, it was the dogs' turn to watch us eat. Then we gave everybody a lift home because those who walked there were too stuffed to walk back. Five people in a small car with three dogs at the back and another two in front and again, I didn't have a camera.

The only proof I have of a fantastic Sunday are two comatose dogs.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Taking a tour round my house

On Thursday, I stepped out of the flat to take the garbage out and ran into a group of people clustered at the end of the corridor. They said they were looking at the flat on the fourth floor, which apparently is on the resale market, and wanted to know if the neighbourhood was quiet. In particular, they were concerned about noise from the ground floor because the guy who lives there is some kind of religious medium and they wanted to know if there was chanting noise and that kind of thing.

No noise at all, I answered. They also politely asked, since they were outside my door, if they could peek in and take a look at the flat's layout.

Of course they could. They weren't the first. The flats here are rapidly coming up on the resale market and L had previously let a couple in to have a look-see. He ran into them when he was walking Queeni and they had asked him about the neighbourhood. Maybe next time, we should charge entry fees for flat viewing. :)

There were about five or six people and I was mentally trying to sort out who was the flat buyer (easy, the old lady who asked me how much I paid for our flat and when I bought it -- obviously comparing prices) and who was the agent (I think it was the friendly chatty guy who said if I, immediately upstairs from the medium, wasn't bothered by noise, then they, four floors up, shouldn't have any problem). He also recognised a Schnauzer when he saw Queeni despite her lack of the Fu Manchu beard. There were also relatives/friends brought along for their opinion, I think, because one lady kept comparing the layout of our flat to hers.

I think if the agent cinches this sale, he should pay us a royalty. When the would-be buyers asked about amenities, we pointed out the two train stations, both within an easy 5-minute walk and the mall, also within a 5-minute walk, and that it had a supermarket, library, department store and also the requisite Starbucks, Pizza Hut, KFC and McDonald's.

Rupert was very enthusiastic about the visitors. Queeni was less so, especially when they peeked into the bedroom (L was conducting the tour and was explaining to them that the bedroom door is not its original position, that we had knocked down a wall forthat, and pointed out where the original wall was -- see, we work for the entry fees). She gets very protective of the bedroom as our, excuse me, *her* denning place. And so she started barking. And barking. And wouldn't stop barking.

I think we're the noisy ones in this block, not the guy downstairs.

Hmm. So if the agent doesn't close this deal, then it's also our fault.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Does anything rhyme with orange?

D recently e-mailed from Melbourne that mandarins have come into season and how the smell of one peeled by her co-worker instantly transported her home to Singapore and to Chinese New Year. She would buy a bagful on the way home and she would savour every last bit of them, starting right from the smell.

It made me feel guilty, there are mandarins here almost all year round, pale orange ones from China, glossy deep orange ones from Australia and little green ones from Thailand that look like they are unripe but are really so sweet beneath the green skin. I've taken them for granted like I've taken the smell of oranges for granted. I'm guilty of cutting to the chase where I thought enjoying an orange meant eating it and forgetting that enjoying an orange starts from the moment you sink a finger nail into the skin, prise off a bit of it to peel and release the scent. That to fully enjoy an orange means includes appreciating its smell.

Rupert has also reminded me of that lesson of late. I share a bit of whatever fruit I'm eating with the dogs. He has learnt very fast about oranges. The instant I sink a finger nail into the zesty skin and the faintest whiff of an orange is released, he goes into paroxysms of excitement, he starts racing round the room frenetically in the anticipation of a sweet, juicy wedge. Such joy for a piece of fruit. Everything is Disneyland to Rupert, L once said of him. It is a good approach to life, I guess. Another one of those life's lessons you learn from your dog.

Yesterday, the mandarin turned out to be a little sour. Queeni spat her slice out and looked disgusted as only she can. I don't know where HRH picked up her fussy habits from. Must be a royalty thing. Rupert rapidly moved in to clean up what she didn't want. I guess this is why we have two dogs. :)

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Getting there

It's interesting what you spot while on the road to work. Today, it's a van belonging to an undertaker, with the company's name painted on it -- Promised Land.

Is that a guarantee of an assured destination for the client?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

"Feel as good as you look"

We were driving behind a bus which was painted over with an ad for an all-natural skincare range and that was the slogan.

Erm, what if I don't look good? Even if I used the product, I would just have a very clean face, wouldn't I? I mean, it's not going to do anything in the looks department, it's just going to take dirt off.

I should look as good as I feel, shouldn't I?

In which case, I'm scintillating!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A little less sleep, a little more time

I got up early today because the housekeeping crew comes on Tuesdays, in the late morning. Only to find that almost all the crew are sick today and they had to postpone.

I thought at first I'd go back to bed. But that proved to be impossible. Rupert kept running into the bedroom and taking flying leaps onto the bed to crash-land on me. Queeni wanted to lie in with me but felt the need to defend the bed from Rupert and launched into a series of growls and head butts. Finally, she gave me a pleading get-rid-of-him-please look and that was the end of the attempt to go back to sleep.

I decided to lie on the sofa instead, that was at least shared territory for the two dogs. Amazingly, Rupert settled down straightaway. He's learnt that running around madly is great fun but it's also nice to lie quietly and have your tummy rubbed.

With all that extra time on my hands, I had a long, relaxing soak in the bath and now I'm going to have a leisurely lunch before going to work. OK, I see now what getting up a little earlier can do.

I'm nice and relaxed now but I wonder how long it'll last. Payback time will probably come when I'm at my desk. I just know I'm going to pay for getting up early (and I was up reading till late last night, this morning really, it was 5am when I realised I really should put the book down and turn the light off) and will crash later this evening.

Next week, I'm on a 9 to 5 training session. That's normal hours for most people but insane hours for someone who doesn't start work till 4.30pm. I don't know how I'm going to get up early enough to be in the office by 9am.

Sunday, June 10, 2007


This is Despair. I've never actually met her because she lived in Texas. She died a few days ago. For a dog that I've never skritched behind her ears, never patted her tummy, her death has left me very sad. How do you explain to a dog that they have hearts so big, they can reach right across the other side of the world? Or maybe they know.

Despair was 16 years old when she was given up to the Waco Animal Shelter. Because her people were going on a three-week vacation to Europe. Maybe they really were, maybe they weren't but thought that was a good enough excuse to tell the shelter. Along with other so-called good reasons any rescuer has heard before: new job, new house, new spouse, new baby.

And they would tell you too, it's not easy to rehome a 16-year-old dog. That's when the shelter called round and were given J's name. He has a big, soft heart. He also has like about 12 dogs (I lost count). And yes, he could make room for one more.

And so he took Despair home. He called her that until a name presented itself. And it did. Despair was named Oewyn, after the Lady of Rohan in 'The Lord of the Rings'.

The story should end there, with Despair, now Wyn, living out her days in a home full of love. It didn't. Two days after Despair came home with J, she collapsed and couldn't get up. Maybe it was a stroke. The vet would have some medical answer but J knew the real reason was that Despair was dying of a broken heart. The next day, in his truck as he was taking her on that final ride to the vet, she gave a cry, laid down her head and was gone.

At Rainbow Bridge, a sheltie now waits for her people. They wouldn't let her wait here until they came home from vacation so she has taken her waiting to another place. And when her wait is finally over, doubtless there will be faithfulness in her heart and love in her eyes. That's just the way dogs and people are. Unconditional love for undeserving humans.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Don't shop, won't drop

Not a good time to post this as it's the month-long Great Singapore Sale. Or maybe it's the perfect time, seeing that I'm not much of a shopper.

There's this pact, or "compact" as they call it (,,2094919,00.html) to curb consumerism by pledging to abstain from buying anything new, apart from essentials, for a year. One of those pro-environment, anti-consumerist things.

I think I have unwittingly been a "compacter" for the past four years -- I haven't bought any new clothes since coming back from Hawaii. Also, I haven't bought any new shoes for quite a while (pick your jaw back from off the floor, M). I bought two pairs of Crocs in rapid succession when I discovered they were the next best things to Birkenstocks but that was yoinks ago. I haven't bought any bags either. Or CDs. In fact, I haven't bought anything major since getting furniture, appliances and kitchenware for the house when we moved in. I found great bargains for all the major buys necessary for a new house in the Great Singapore Sale this time last year and obviously the shopping experience was enough to last me for a whole year.

Oh wait, I bought books. Ooh, bad. Books kill trees. Even if I love books. Ooh, I'm a bad-assed shopper.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Fancy that

I came across a brand of cookies at the supermarket that cost twice as much as usual and came in a rustic looking box with hand-drawn illustrations -- like it was meant to give you an impression everything was wholesomely, painstakingly handmade from scratch and worth the money. I picked up the butter cinnamon ones and the cookies were in the shape of butterflies and the box helpfully pointed out that no two looked quite alike, to reinforce that they were handmade, I suppose. The helpful background text tried to set the mood, telling you to imagine you were in the woods, and that there was an English cottage at the edge of it and how lovely baking smells were coming out of the chimney. Ah, traditional English biscuits, I thought, turned the package over and found that they were made in the US of A. Geographically confused now,  I put the box back on the shelf.

But it stayed in my head so much so that I googled it when I got home. They're almost as fanciful in cyberspace. Only on the site, they threw out the English cottage idea and this time, they tell you to picture a lake with water so clear that you couldn't see how deep it was. From my diving experience, you can see exactly how deep it is in clear water, it's silty water where you can't see a thing, let alone the bottom to know how deep it is.

Or maybe the whole point of the fanciful background is to firmly entrench the brand in your memory. It must have worked. I laughed at it too much to buy it and now I still remember it to laugh at it some more. And I still don't know if it tastes any good. And by now, I'm sorely tempted to get it the next time I'm at the supermarket. I might as well now, I suppose.

Damn, that fanciful marketing worked.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Rupert TV

Rupert sneaked into the kitchen where there's a chicken in the oven. He thinks the oven is some kind of marvellous TV with smells instead of sound. There's a cooling mechanism that fans hot air out of it and Rupe was snuffling the chickeny air, inhaling deeply and drooling.

We didn't have the heart to shoo him out, despite the no-dog-in-kitchen rule. Watching him was better than watching actual TV.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Home today

L had a cold last week and despite counter measures, I seem to have caught it. I haven't got it as badly as he did and the worst of it was over the weekend. I slept in yesterday and the clinic was closed by the time I staggered out of bed -- it was Sunday and they open only till lunchtime. No chance of getting an MC so I self-medicated and went to work. The workload wasn't so bad since it was a Sunday and I really wasn't feeling that sick.

I'm no worse today but not entirely better. It's that sort of ill but not really so ill feeling that you can't even summon up a temperature to show to the doctor as she sticks the thermometer in your ear. Still she thought I should stay home and rest. I'm not going to argue, of course, and went home via the supermarket for some ice cream to feed the germs as I'm resting.

When L was snuffling away in the bedroom last week, I decided to sleep on the couch. Rupert stayed with me -- that was no surprise as he's quite the mummy's boy. Besides, the couch is our cuddle time. He's not allowed on the bed (not because I don't want him on it but because Queeni wouldn't stand for it) and in the bedroom, he's confined to his bed in the corner like Cinderella. Queeni went to bed with L -- no surprise either, she's daddy's girl. What was surprising was that as soon as he fell asleep, she came back out to the living room and spent the rest of the night with me. With no climate control -- I don't like the aircon but L and Queeni do. Now that's a great feeling, that the furkids forsook airconditioning to stick it out with me. L woke up feeling very abandoned by his family, he said.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

We're going for the lived-in look

As much as I love M and his doghter Vivi, I should stop posting pictures of her in his flat because next to pix of his sparkling all-white immaculately-decorated flat that looks like it came from the pages of an interior decor magazine, my house looks like a dump and my furkids look scruffy. And I can't even get them to pose close together for a nice picture...

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Spot the dog

I think M has hit on the answer to dog fur in everything -- have a dog that's the same colour as your house and furnishings.

I love this photo. Vi's head on the couch is counterpoint to the buddha bust on the display shelf. Geez, everything in his perfect house matches, even the dog.

The thing about having a guest star ( is that she is almost certainly going to be a constantly recurring one if she's cute.