Friday, August 31, 2007

Bottle to go and the cups also came

We had dinner at a Korean restaurant a couple of days ago and L ordered a bottle of Korean sake to go with it. I didn't know Koreans had sake. I didn't like it. It was like drinking neat alcohol, there was no flavour nor fragrance to it. We couldn't finish it, so L screwed the cap back on and asked the waitress for a plastic bag to take the bottle away with us. To our surprise, she also put into the bag two sake cups, carefully wrapped up in paper napkins. That was nice. Wish I could say the same of the sake.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Holding paws

Last night, L was scrupulously wiping Queeni's paws after the last walk of the night and she was fussing. He remonstrated with her: "It was muddy outside and Daddy must wipe you clean so later we can hold paws in bed."

It's our fifth anniversary of being Properly Married tomorrow and what happened to holding hands with the wife?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Water, water everywhere

Along with the new paths, we seem also to have got canals and a swimming pool when a monsoonal downpour hit us yesterday.

When the path was relaid, the excess cement powder was swept off the path onto the grass, which meant that the grass at the edge of the path died and created a ditch-like depression which filled up with water when it rained.

If that gives us a mosquito problem next, who do we offer as a blood sacrifice? The town council people, the workers who did the path or their supervisor who came and gave them directions and then retreated into the shade?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


Nine years today and missed as much as ever.

Schwarz belongs to that era before my camera went digital and I've realised I haven't any e-pictures of him. I have tons of olde worlde physical photos -- matt and glossy, remember even that? -- and I know some people helped me scan them but that was about two hard disks ago. Which means I haven't got any in this iBook.

This picture, I got off a cobwebby geocities site that I'm surprised is still around.

It's nice to think of the two boys together still like that.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Going home

At work the other day, a colleague was using the office's night transport booking system for the first time and asked me to check if her booking was done correctly because my name was the only one on the booking list at that point in time.

Quite a lot of people take the office transport home, it's just that most of my colleagues book it just before they leave as you only need to book your ride home 30 minutes in advance. Me, I book it the minute I arrive at the office. That was why at the start of the work day, only my name showed up on the booking list.

"You mean you think of going home the minute you come in?" my colleague asked, quite incredulously.

I do, actually. How can I not? Look at these two sad faces. It's a guilt trip every time I leave.

Is it so wrong to want to go home the minute I reach the office?

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Don't play that again

There's a Malay wedding going on downstairs, complete with DJ and karaoke. Which means that we're hearing some pretty okay music (from the DJ) alternating with caterwauling (from the karaoke singers -- and why are tone-deaf people so damn fond of karaoke?)

So far, the only song I can recognise, ie the only English number, is a Roxette song -- the one in 'Pretty Woman' with the chorus "it must've been love, but it's over now" ...

Erm, isn't that a little inappropriate for a wedding?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Where are we, really?

"What place is this?" demanded the caller when I picked up the phone.

This was the place where minutes ago, I had just woken up to a mopping job -- left directly outside the bedroom door by a foxie protesting that I was sleeping in too long. And as if that wasn't enough, That Dog stepped into his own pee and tracked it round, leaving a trail of paw prints in pee. And just after I finished rinsing the mop, That Dog produced a follow-up job -- a neat little pile of poop. On exactly the same spot.

The sixth level of hell, my pre-caffeinated being was sorely tempted to tell the caller. But I don't think that was the answer he was looking for.

It turned out that he was returning a missed call on his mobile. L must have called him earlier in the morning from the home phone before he left for work. "He's a lawyer," he explained later, "they all talk like that." Brusquely, I think he means, not existentially.

Insert your preferred lawyer joke here.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Goodbye Riley

Riley (with his sister Hannah on the left in this lovely picture) was diagnosed with epilepsy when he was 2 years old and with Cushing's Disease when he was 4. Two months ago, at age 6, he had a brain tumour. That's a lot to bear for a little guy.

He isn't one of mine but lives in Texas. Funny how a little dog at the other side of the world can take a little piece of your heart when he leaves.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

International infamy

ES writes from Sydney that Sera "has been doing Ruperts" on their balcony. Wow, my lean, mean pee 'n' poop machine has coined a new word. OED, here he comes!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Scary stuff

Nowadays, there's nothing scarier than a label like this.

Oh wait, there is. Like applying for permission to reincarnate. ( Hey, that's a China thing too! Don't you just feel for the lamas? I mean, imagine having to fill out an application in triplicate before even deciding how and who you want to come back as.

The chicken jerky dog treats the dogs love is an American brand, and when it ran out, I got another bag, only this time, I noticed the little scary label that just because it's American, it's not necessarily made in the US of A.

The brand checks out okay, it's not on the list of recalled pet food. But now Wal-Mart has taken its chicken jerky off its shelves ( on customer concerns and before any testing even shows any nasties. Just in case.

Well last night, we threw out the bag of jerky. Just in case. We're scared of all China-made pet food now.

On the news the other night, the Chinese authorities defended the safety of their food, saying that 85% of it passes muster. For something that you consume into your body, 85% doesn't sound like a high passing grade, you'd expect something no less than 98%.

The last time I was buying toothpaste, I looked long and hard for where it was made -- in Malaysia. Ah, good stuff, said L, as he plonked it into the supermarket trolley. Not so long ago, when I was a kid (of course it's not that long ago), my mum used to scorn Malaysia-made goods because it was local and must therefore be inferior to imported goods.

How times have changed. Now, if it's local, you at least know where to go to sic your dogs on the erring manufacturer. First you brush his teeth, then the lapdogs can lick him to death.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Remembering a friend

I don't think any one dwells on Paddy's ( death anniversary much, I think he's more thought of during the Candlelight Memorial in May.

I only remember the August date because this is a difficult month -- both my furboys left me in August, and Paddy's death anniversary is just a week before Schwarz's.

Also, one of the August associations with Paddy is how much he loved the National Day Parades. Every year when National Day comes round, I remember watching his last parade with him in the hospital room where his sister had rigged up a portable TV. He would have loved this year's parade on water at the new Marina Bay location.

It's also apt to remember Paddy now. MediaCorp has a locally filmed biographical series called 'Life Story' which reenacts the lives of local heroes. Judging from the trailers of the new second season (, Paddy's life story is deemed inspiring enough to be told. How nice, that finally the Establishment gives a nod to an Aids activist. And an out gay man at that. Only the MediaCorp site refers to him as an "Aids sufferer", which sounds so passive and well, so unPaddy. And judging from the trailer, the actor who portrays him is completely unPaddy too. I just know Paddy's going to bitch about how it wasn't glam enough.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Being neighbourly

L can't manage walking the two dogs together so he takes them out one at a time. Which means that when he meets any of our canine neighbours downstairs, he is very conscious -- guilty, even -- that the dog left at home is missing out on the social niceties of butt sniffing.

His solution? Bring them all home. Last week, he met Harvey (the Papillion from the flat directly upstairs) and Jagger (the giant Jack Russell from the next block) downstairs while walking Queeni. Doggy socials took a while and all this time L was fretting that Rupert would be up to no good home alone.

So that's how doggy social hour ended up at our flat. I was at work and L kindly took pictures so I wouldn't miss out. However, most of them aren't worth posting because they are all of dog butts.

Rupert, he said, was the consummate host, moving about the two visiting dogs, showing them his toys and leading them to the water bowl, where everyone had a communal drink.

A few nights later, I came home to be met at the door by *three* dogs. Ginger the English springer spaniel is from down the corridor, the only other female dog around and fondly referred to as Rupert's girlfriend. He had no niceties with her, no offering of toys, no nothing, they simply chased each other round the room, on and off the couch -- for an hour. Queeni, if you can even see her at all in the above photo, is sulking under the table. The hostess with the mostess she is not. Luckily, Rupert more than makes up.

If Roop, given his lack of brain matter, can represent Clueless Male, then this must be indicative of how Clueless Male -- canine and human -- treat their buddies vs their girlfriends. The buddies get the beer (well, the canine equivalent in the water bowl) and the girl gets the chase.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Home improvement

The kids in the neighbourhood and the dogs are going to be screwed this weekend. The path that runs round the field -- which the kiddie cyclists use as their racetrack -- has been cordoned off.

Along with the paint job the exterior of our blocks received, we are getting the paths redone. That really involves drilling up the existing path, laying cement over it, with a sprinkle of fine gravel that dries into the cement. I guess it's an improvement over the current path, which is paved with a glazed tile that is slippery in wet weather.

But you'd think that estate designers in the first place would have realised that problem with glazed tiles outdoors -- even if they were pretty, and some of them have a fish motif stamped on them, to go along with the nautical theme running through the estate. I guess my tax dollars are still hard at work.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

This is the face of desperation

Here's Vivi so desperate to play ball that she ventured into the bathroom and dropped her ball-ball enticingly into the shower stall when her dad was erm, sitting on the throne.
[Here's where my finely trained journo brain races to ask: Why does M have a camera with him when he's on the loo?]

Mine, on the other hand, will never go into the bathroom because they know that it is a place where horrible things involving water and shampoo are done to them.

Rupert though, sweetheart of a mama's boy that he is, will poke his head round and check on me when I've been soaking in the tub for a while. But he'll back out hurriedly once he's sure that I haven't been harmed by soap and water.

Queeni, let's just say that should I die unexpectedly in the tub, when CSI finds my calcified remains, they will find a Schnauzer snoring peacefully in the next room. OK, to be fair, she may wake up. But only because she's hungry.

But then again, I wonder. If I don't get her out of bed and take her downstairs and then serve her lunch after that, I wonder how long she'll sleep before she feels the need to pee and eat.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The possibility of pigs flying

It's National Day season and there're displays of buntings and banners all over with the theme of this year's National Day printed on them: Celebration Singapore, City of Possibilities. You can't run from them. There're a few all over my estate and there's a huge one on the office perimeter fence.

So what sort of possibilities are in store for Singaporeans?

The Penal Code will be revamped to suit the times but there is no possibility of revoking Section 377A that makes homosexuality a criminal act.

There's even less possibility of same sex marriage, and economically active sons and daughters of the country have to move elsewhere to marry the love of their lives.

There's no possibility of a single mother and her children being recognised as a family unit that qualifies them for assisted public housing.

There's no possibility of subsidised antiretrovirals even though the health minister wants to make Aids testing more inclusive, even mandatory. In other words, there's no follow-up help once you're found positive.

There's even less possibility of generic ARVs because we want to be First World and play nice with patents. Thailand, on the other hand, stuck its finger at Big Pharma and went its own way to make generics -- with the surprising possibility that some firms would contribute their formulas rather than to lose a market altogether.

And there's absolutely no possibility that my furkids will be welcome at Bring Your Child To Work Day.

But we did achieve one possibility -- we constructed the world's largest floating platform for the National Day Parade off Marina Bay.

Wow. My tax dollars at work.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


Six years today and still much missed.

I don't know what else to say that I didn't already write this time last year. But now, I have Rupert. And I see bits of his devilry in Roop the Poop. But there's nothing like the old scamp.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Generation gap

I don't feel my age although parts of my body make me painfully aware of it now and then.

Then I got to know one of the interns in the building at work and realise that he's leaving next month for my alma mater. It's been 20 years since I was at Warwick but even so, that wasn't any more than a figure in my head -- even if two decades sound like a scarily long time. But you don't feel like someone's auntie, not when you can yakk about Neil Gaiman with him.

Nice fella that he is, he agreed to keep in touch. And promptly asked me for my MSN and Facebook contacts. I have neither. And that was the only time I felt Old. Was it so long ago that keeping in touch with friends when I was at Warwick meant writing them snail mail. The type that you need to stick a stamp on, post, and then wait maybe a couple of weeks for a reply.

Okay, I don't write snail mail anymore -- even if I do send out Christmas cards that way, there's nothing like a seasonal stamp on an envelope for an olde world festive touch. Oh lord, if I'm going on about the Good Old Days, that can only mean I am Old. But don't call me Auntie.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Internationally mixed up

I've never wondered what made a Swiss roll Swiss until now, when L came home with a vending machine snack that apparently didn't think being Swiss was foreign enough -- this cake (made in Malaysia) felt it had to be London and Swiss to get some consumer cred. Even if it was a very South-East Asian coconut pandan flavour.

Or is this what globalisation is all about?

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Lost in translation

I had the Chinese TV station on when the news came on, and there was this fun item about workers abseilling down to clean Big Ben in London. And in Mandarin, the transliteration of Big Ben was da ben zhong -- which for a moment, I thought was big stupid clock.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Clean sweep

I actually woke up early enough this morning (thanks to Rupert's bladder) to see the cleaner sweeping the leaves and the paths of the grounds downstairs.

Can you actually say you've woken up when you've never really slept? Napped for two hours was more like it -- a combination of having a hard time fallling asleep and not being able to stay asleep.

Anyway, the early morning cleaner. She had a pan and broom and was clutching what I thought at first was an inflated plastic bag but I soon realised was a red heart-shaped balloon. I guess she must have found it somewhere in the field and picked it up, saving it to take it to a child who would be surprised later in the day with a red balloon. And who wouldn't want one (other than whoever left it behind)? How nice, working with a balloon in hand. Maybe I should take a balloon in to work with me today.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

My food is talking to me

And it has some wacky things to say. I was happily tucking into assorted pastries -- croissants, fruit and chocolate rolls -- and reading the label and ingredients list like the compulsive reader that I am. "Product of France, baked in Singapore", it said. That's a new one to me. I don't know what that really means -- if some of the dough originated in France or the French were laying claim to have invented croissants, even the ones baked in Singapore. It's a whole new take on copyright.

Speaking of food labels, I switched to another brand of chamomile tea. This one isn't just any old chamomile, the label on the tea bag says: "Quietly chamomile". Like it's a little more soothing than one that's just plain chamomile. (Yes, R, it can only be Australian, sort of on the same basis as Cat's Piss wine.)

I'm looking for something that's louder for a morning drink. "Screaming caffeine" would do, I think. Or how about "Loud, in your face green tea"?

Friday, August 03, 2007

"Machine break down"

That's not a sign you want to see on the coffee machine -- the fancy one manned by the Spinelli's barista in the office canteen -- when you're desperately in need of caffeine. I was seriously in need of something to spring my eyelids open because I had been up early. I had been up early because L started a new job and is now out of the house first thing in the morning and I cannot lie in because he's no longer around to take Roop the Poop out. Well, he does, first thing in the morning but Roop needs to go again. And again.

Anyway, I'm rambling. You see why I needed caffeine?

The barista could only handle ice blended drinks (pooh, those are more like desserts than a serious caffeine injection) and the only coffee to be had was the roast of the day, that is, the stuff in the coffee pot. Normal coffee.

That's when I realised that I only drink "normal" coffee at home. When I pay for someone to make my coffee, I want the fancy stuff from the machine -- espressos, cappuccinos and lattes.

I don't know how I became this way. How did I even drink instant coffee not so long ago?