Tuesday, July 31, 2012

One's half full, the other half empty -- and I feel half cheated

Ramadan means Hari Raya cookies. This year, I've noticed that some cookie makers are very cleverly using layers of inner clear plastic trays to pack their cookies within the jar. The tray has a convex dimple in the middle, so it effectively means that they just pack a layer of cookies round the side of the jar, and there's nothing in the middle -- like the jar of pineapple tarts on the right. As opposed to the jar on the left, which is filled with cookies through and through. Cheating, I say!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Olympian feat

I'm watching the Olympics coverage in dribs and drabs, partly because of the time difference. Last night, the opening ceremony started at 4am here. I loved how it started with a English village scene to a solo voice singing Jerusalem. That poor boy singing alone though, what a case of nerves he must have had. Loved the Bond skit with the Queen, and Mr Bean with the London Symphony Orchestra -- guess they stole Simon Rattle from Berlin for the day.

By then, it was close to 5am and I started to nod off. Last thing I remember was the rock n roll sequence where girl drops mobile, boy finds mobile, boy and girl find each other, and somehow, I don't know how it connects -- but then I was half asleep -- the scene morphs into the house lifting off to show the inventor of the Internet. And in my half-consciousness, I remember muttering, "What, it wasn't Al Gore?" before falling asleep.

Now, 24 hours later, the swimming heats are on TV, and I keep seeing the swimmers walk out with headphones clamped to their ears. What do you suppose they are listening to? Soothing Bach cantatas? Pumped up hip-hop? Their best mates cheering them on? Their coach going, pay no attention to the wuss in Lane 2, he swims like a girl?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Big brother is watching

The five-year-old across the landing has been a big brother for a little more than a year now, and takes his job very seriously.

When we opened our door and gate to go out for a walk with the dogs, he dashed up to his gate across from ours, forefinger to his lips and whispered urgently: "Ssssh! Thamby (little brother) is sleeping!"

"Okay," I whispered back, "I'll make sure the dogs don't bark."

Half an hour later, I opened the door again, this time to take the garbage out to the communal chute.

He dashed up to his gate again, this time a big smile on his face. "It's OK now," he fairly yelled. "Thamby wake up already!"

Monday, July 16, 2012

The good, the bad, the ugly

A train commute to work last week started off badly when some guy stopped at the bottom of a down-riding escalator to answer his cellphone. And continued to stupidly stand there and talk. While everyone coming down the escalator cannoned straight into him. Oh, how I ranted about the selfishness of the Singaporean commuter. And how people who can't multitask shouldn't be allowed cellphones.

Today, on the bus to work, a guy got off at his stop, then hurried round to the front of the bus and held up his palm in a "stop" sign to the driver. What he saw and we didn't until two boys came puffing up to the bus was that they were running to catch it. He was holding up the bus to help two strangers get on it.

You lose some commutes, you win some.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The uses of Coke

I had half a litre of regular Coke in the fridge. It's not something I drink, and L isn't allowed sugary sodas now, it was for guests who were here a week ago -- and now it was getting fizzless.

I desperately tried to remember all that stuff about the other uses of Coke in those oft-forwarded emails that spring up in your Inbox. I never pay attention and delete them, and damn, now that I actually have Coke in the house that I don't want to drink, I don't know what else to do with it.

Coke is said to be good for cleaning things, the acid is supposed to shine out pennies, silverware and toilet bowls. Well, I didn't think my loose change needed cleaning before I spend them all. I have no silverware. And I didn't really want to pour it down the loo.

So L braised a pork loin in it. And it was good. Very, very good.

Now the conundrum. If he can't drink sugary sodas, can he eat something that's been cooked in it?

Ah. Mine. All mine.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Supermarket queue --
Guy in front with nuts and beer --
Saturday night in.

Curled-up dog

Last night, both dogs slept under the covers. When L came back from using the bathroom, he started patting the lumps on the bed to check that all the dogs were in the room (Rupert had been inadvertently shut out of the bedroom before, when L didn't realise that he had followed him out).

Queeni was easily located, Roop not so. L started patting my side of the bed.

"That's my leg."

He patted another lump.

"That's my other leg."

Now he started smoothening down all the lumps on my side of the bed.

"He's between my legs."

And that's how I slept. Contorted. With one dog between my legs and another pressed up against the small of my back.

Dog yoga, a friend calls it.

Who says I don't exercise?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Sumer is icumen in

Nothing says summer like watermelon and stone fruit -- even in the tropics. What's not in the picture are pineapple slices caramelising in the oven.
Day off in mid-week,
Thumbing nose at the masses.
Payback on Sunday.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Our pack guardians

Last week's Economist had a lovely article on how research backs what any dog owner will tell you -- that man's best friend is capable of empathy.

All they had had to do was to ask someone who lives with dogs. If only the researchers had come to my house first. I know when I cry, one dog presses up against me while the other looks anxiously at me and then starts bringing me toys. When there's an empty spot in bed because one human pack member isn't home, they take up sleeping positions on either side of me, body contact all the time, guarding, comforting, protecting.

Well, I've since realised that their empathy also extends to people not inside our little family pack. L had over some friends from his physio/rehab group -- two fellow patients and a physiotherapist. The little gathering took place partly because the mother of one of the patients asked L if he could hang out with her son, to draw him out a bit, get him out and about. The young man had been disabled after a stroke a year ago, lost his job, lost his fiancee, and didn't do anything other than stay in bed all day if he wasn't at the physio group. Nobody said it but I suspect he was also severely depressed. Well, who wouldn't be?

When he came to our house, he was polite but detached, almost sullen. I tried to get a conversation going but it really was just him answering me. But pretty soon, both dogs had taken up position next to him, one on each side. They were getting into that bookend mode of guarding and comforting. In a minute, the younger one was belly up, getting a chest rub. The older one was pressed up against him, her head in his lap. Well, Rupert is always everybody's friend, and a bit of a slut at that, anything for a chest rub. But Queeni was a surprise. She's normally the stand-offish one, and there she was, snuggling to a stranger, chin pressed into his lap. She clearly knew that was someone who needed to be taken care of. And then he asked to take a photo with the dogs. For a brief moment, the dullness in his eyes was lighted up by a flicker of a smile.

Everybody should have a dog.

Invisible ape's
Paws still heavy on my back.
Get off me, monkey.

A little old lady tugged at my elbow at the train interchange and asked me the way to Tan Tock Seng Hospital. I pointed out to her the platform, where to get off after she had gotten on that train, and which line to change to after that.

I knew the way full well. Not so long ago, I was making the trudge there daily, a knot in the pit of my stomach.

And as soon as I mentally mapped the way when I gave directions, that knotty feeling twisted in my stomach again.

I thought the haikus were doing well in keeping my brain occupied and working my way through things. I suppose they are. But today's pitted stomach has only told me that the monkey is still on my back. Now there's a mixed of bodily metaphors for you. Goes to show, I need more haiku writing.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Training day today,
Joining commuting masses.
Morning start. Ugh. Bleah.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Schoolboys at food court
Counting a shared pile of coins --
Enough for dessert.

Monday, July 02, 2012

UEFA Euro 2012 finals

Italian captain
Pinning back his floppy fringe.
How football has changed.