Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
I have to admit that in these years of being a Christian, reading the Bible is seldom a rewarding experience for me. Is it not strange that while the words of the Bible offer rich promises of peace and salvation, so little of it translates into my daily life? I cannot claim to feel that I "lay down in green pastures", or "rest beside quiet waters."
Romans 8 tells us that "nothing separates us from the love of Christ." What could be more reassuring than the love of the most powerful being in this world? Yet I could read this repeatedly, memorising it, with little change in how I feel towards myself, my troubles and God. Somehow the significance of the all these amazing verses gets muted and diminished, as my old self and familiar patterns of thinking always make me respond to trouble in the old ways - in fear or in anger, and then in guilt.
I have come to realise that, at least for me, this is due to distorted perception of the world, leading to disproportionate responses because of deception - by the senses of the flesh, and by the lies of the evil one. During a stressful period of my life, the simple loss of a notebook made me feel like giving up a major project, because I couldn't imagine replacing what was recorded. Yet eventually, the problem was corrected in just a few hours. On many occasions, the offences of others look more intentional than they are and hence trigger greater annoyance than they should. Troubles loom huge in my lenses but help from our all-powerful God seem so far away, when the truth is really the opposite. It is like seeing the world reflected in funny mirrors.
Surely this is what Jesus means when he says that some "have ears but do not hear, they have eyes but do not see." The heart is so troubled by the old ways of responding to trouble that it is bound by anger or fear. And this heart is our "well-spring of life". No wonder one could be a Christian for many years, and still experience little victory or joy.
So my new year goal is, to replace each lie with God's truth, and let the truth will set me free. God, open my eyes that I may see the chariots of fire that are on my side.
This new hay is a hit with the rabbits - a delectable mixture of timothy hay and fragrant flowers and herbs. Blackie is so excited about it that he can't even wait for me to put it into his hay rack. Instead, he insists on sticking in his nose and munching straight out of the bag.
Greedy boy, I know you are just picking out all the flowers and leaving the hay behind.
Slightly more than two years ago, I brought home two tiny, young hamsters - Friendly and Ninja, collectively known as the TwinSqueaks, because we couldn't tell them apart. Friendly has long passed away, so Ninja now lives alone. Perfectly healthy in other ways, she developed a strange dental problem - the upper and lower front teeth don't meet anymore.
Who could have foreseen this development when we were choosing a pet? They were so young and energetic, full of life. Now taking care of Ninja is such intensive labour of love. Apart from grinding and pounding her food for her, I have to bring her to the vet extremely regularly to trim her teeth. Sometimes, it feels like such a tiring commitment. But to give up trimming her teeth is unthinkable, since the overgrown teeth would pierce her throat.
Because I chose her and named her, I feel responsible for her, even if now she is aging, and not quite as cute as she used to be.
Christmas is almost here and Chinese New Year follows shortly. It is the season to be asking again.
Traditionally a time to renew family ties and friendships, it inevitably turns into an occasion when one's private life undergoes invasive scrutiny, accompanied by probing questions and exhortations. Dear me, woe betides anyone who falls short of the "married with kids" ideal. I am so tempted to flee the country for the season, if only I could get pet boarding.
The trouble is, people have such difficulty accepting others' life choices and circumstances, especially in the light of our government's push to reverse our low birthrates. This is certainly one policy that is seeing support from the whole village. Singles are encouraged with (measly) dating vouchers, and I have to explain (repeatedly) the absence of happy little feet (furry ones don't count here). It doesn't matter that the media has done us miscreants a favor by highlighting the unpopularity of these questions. Those who would ask, always ask. Sometimes one suspects they do so out of sheer bloody-mindness.
It is a little premature to be griping about this actually. But you are living in an Asian society and reading this, remember my complaints when the real CNY season begins, and "think before you shoot".
Suddenly, there was a terrific crash. Instinct told me that it wasn't normal mischief.
I dashed into the yard, and to my horror, the rabbits were standing in the midst of broken ceramics! One of them, probably Blackie, had pushed their feeding bowl off the top of their cage and shattered it. I shouted for V, who raced over to pick the silly rabbits out of danger. While I gingerly picked up the shards, he examined their feet carefully. We then vacuumed the place twice to ensure that nothing was left behind to hurt the rabbits.
It was an exhausting night, and the two of them, as usual, had no idea what trouble they created. Whitty even thumped indignantly at the vacuum cleaner!
Huffily sitting in a corner waiting for their slaves to complete the cleaning job.
The rabbits' visitors always come to the same conclusions. They find Whitty prettier, but Blackie is always their eventual favourite because he is more affectionate. Whitty's only focus is food, and once the treats are done, she goes off to find other tasty things, like this oat mix hay.
How many more of such massacres must happen before the obvious preventive measure is taken? I know gun ownership is considered an constitutional right in the US, but when the 2nd Amendment was written, guns were not the automatic, rapid-fire mowing machines they are today. How can anyone be allowed to walk along the streets carrying weapons that are made for the battlefield?
So, "guns don't kill, people do", huh? Much has been suggested about the boy's troubled psychology. There will always be troubled people in our society, but at least, keep lethal weapons out of their hands. It would have been so much easier to subdue him, if he were not so heavily armed. Is it because I am not American that I cannot understand this fierce protection of the right to bear arms?
Once again, our evenings have been punctuated with the sounds of rabbits gnawing their toys and an occasional crash as they kick their furniture about. In the middle of the night, Ninja wakes up to scrabble in her bedding and run on her wheel. After the long stay our animals had at pet boarding, our home is filled with the noises of animals making happy mischief. It has been so quiet without them.
In the middle of their stay at pet boarding's, their Nanny sent a message to reassure this anxious pet mummy owner, "your rabbits are having a ball of a time bullying me." Oops...I'm relieved that she is still willing to look after them when we go away this weekend.
Blackie - as picky and willful an eater as ever. I had been chasing him around the yard with vegetables, and he finally agreed to eat them, but only in his favourite BusyBunny mini haven.
Massive destruction wrecked upon the mini haven. I had better get a new tunnel for them before they start eyeing my doors again.
"There isn't going to be much pain, though you will smell...your skin burning."
Isn't it amazing, what women are willing to go through for the sake of beauty? There seems to be more raised freckles on my skin lately, and before Christmas, I thought I would go and get them removed at the doctor's.
He applied a numbing cream unto the major spots, and explained to me that the raised skin have to be burnt off! As the bigger spots would hurt more, he would also use injections to control the pain. Lying there in the cold room, with my face tingling from the cream, I wondered if I regretted walking into the clinic. This was the basic procedure - tiny injection of anaethesia (which hurt pretty much actually), followed by zapping, then the wound is wiped firmly. I tried not to think that he was cleaning off blood :P After that, he moved on to the next spot.
The ordeal isn't completely over yet. I have to hibernate at home because I can't use sun screen and make up for the next two days :P And the entire treatment cost a whopping sum too. Excuse me while I go and clean my wounds with antiseptic cream now :(
Incidentally, I have to say that the smell of my burnt skin was...less scary than I expected. It wasn't exactly a "Silence of the Lambs" moment.
After the stress of all the term papers, boredom is a luxury.
We packed the animals off to their nanny, and took a ferry to Bintan, where for three days, we did nothing but eat and sleep and look at the beach. There was plenty of lush greenery to roam through after meals. For a misanthrope like me, it is such a relief to be far from the madding crowd :P I asked specifically for a quiet room, and the resort was kind enough to put us so far from the everyone that we were the only guests in the entire wing!
Fascinated by the antics of greedy sparrows during breakfast. A whole flock of them lined up on the rafters of the ceiling, flying down to dip into the milk jugs on the tables every now and then. It was only after I added milk into my coffee that I realised they had probably taken a drink out of my milk jug too :P Eek!
This naughty one is hogging the milk, chirping angrily to chase the others away.
The war scenes in Ah Boys to Men are more frightening than World War Z.
It was terrifying to imagine our familiar landscape bombed to bits, landmarks demolished, and civilians shot, cowering. Singaporeans, complacent in our daily safety, scrambled to make sense of sudden disaster and survive. Most of the war scenes in our shows have been based on the Japanese Occupation - our latest memory of military aggression, and comfortably remote. War scenes, updated and transplanted into modern Singapore, brought close to home how fragile our way of life is. It struck me abruptly that I do not even know where the nearest bomb shelter is!
That aside, the rest of the movie was peppered with many laugh-out-loud moments, and for female audience, illuminating revelations about the army. Hm...I must admit that I hadn't expected such a great amount of vulgarities. The movie had certainly exceeded my expectations, and there are scenes to appeal to every one, including moments of nostalgia for retired army men.
Indignantly, I asked V what can be done about those who shamelessly "geng" (fake illness) during training. Sadly, he said nothing much could be done. Hey guys, we are counting on you, you know. I suppose the opening scenes were intended to remind everyone that while National Service demands a lot on our men, we cannot dilute the training or reduce the rigor. Nothing can ever be taken for granted. I mean, even if we gripe about the architecture of the "Durian", we don't want to see it bombed, right?
Quite accidentally, I discovered a superfood - cherry tomato.
Poor Ninja can't bite, and has been feeding on assorted powdered food, like wheatgerm and ground flax seeds. I thought she would probably be able to enjoy at least the soft, pulpy parts of a tomato, and sure enough, she loves it!
Then I realised that fresh cherry tomatoes must be remarkably rejuvenating! This hamster is more than 2 years old now, and was getting distinctly geriatric in behaviour. After weeks of cherry tomatoes, she has become so active and energetic that she has gone back to running on her wheel. We could the whirling of the wheel throughout the night, and what a welcome sound it is! We are now feeding ourselves with the rest of the cherry tomatoes since she needs only so few a week :)
It has been frightfully tiring for poor V to take care of the animals when I was ill. Since our new neighbour is doing intensive drilling, and we want to take a holiday, what more reasons do we need to send the animals off to their nanny?
Just as I was starting to miss them, their nanny sent this lovely picture. Thanks, Little Pet Hotel Spa! I know they are a handful :P I love them, but it is also quite pleasant not to have to worry about feeding and cleaning up after them all the time :)
This strange flying animal has been flitting around my home for a few days. Is it a moth? Close up, you can see that it has a tail that curves up. I don't think it is a sting though. Hm...a refugee from the constructon site across the river, I guess.
How do they know? How do they know I have been giving them the cheaper xiao bai cai instead of the more expensive China caixin?
When they get the premium vegetable, they chomped everything down, stalks and all. But apparently, to these naughty things, only the leaves of the xiao bai cai is fit for consumption. Hey you two! Even we humans eat the stalks too!
I put the vegetables there the whole day but nothing, nothing would make them eat the stalks :P Naughty rabbits!
Overhead at the management office. The cleaning supervisor explained to the estate manager that he had immense difficulty getting new gardeners. Then came some negotiation over whether the gardeners should help with area cleaning since that was short-handed too. Oh no, we are going to need to start picking up after ourselves soon.
Wait...isn't it something we should be doing anyway? Strange isn't it, that our beautiful city requires such a huge army just to keep the litter off the streets. I have always wondered who on earth are the people scattering litter everywhere, when there are so many rubbish bins everywhere!
What is the point of paying a million for an apartment, only to spoil the whole place with dirty habits?
How do they know? Just as they spurn cheap vegetables and love premium leaves, they can somehow tell that this Busybunny mini maze is of high quality. To us humans, a cardboard box is a cardboard box. I gave the rabbits many boxes, but they just like this one better! These two rabbits have such expensive taste!
See? Blackie loves BusyBunny too :P He has spent long hours ripping, chewing, digging and generally being busy, and has left my doors alone. Hm...it looks like they need a new mini maze soon :P
Just a thought...don't you think Blackie looks so handsome here?
The great news is that they are reconsidering the animal protection laws in Singapore. It is heart wrenching and infuriating to see animals badly treated. I have a few suggestions:
1. Establish minimum living standards for pets e.g. suitable size for cages, daily care routine etc
2. Everyone buying or adopting a pet should be made to sign an undertaking that he/she understands what is needed to keep this pet healthy, and is willing to take up such a commitment. i.e. it ISN'T AN IMPULSE BUY!
3. Pet abandonment should be punishable by fine or jail. This isn't a frivolous suggestion. Pet abandonment is at once cruel and also a hazard to our local ecosystem. Imagine people releasing turtles into our river, for example. These would rapidly reproduce and be threat to native species of water animals!
We don't want to be draconian, but having these laws show people that animal welfare should be respected.
Chief bunny slave has been out of action, but the wheatgrass and treats have kept up. Hm...well done, reserve bunny slave.
I stocked up on wheatgrass before the op, but even those have run out by now. This morning I dug up some older organic carrots which they don't seem to mind. I am going to need to go to the supermart soon.
The rabbits had been having guests - Little Fish and the Fat One utterly love them. These furballs are so strategic - they really know how to beg in their cutest manner when our guests are around, kissing their ankles and sitting near them. It always baffles me when people say that rabbits are passive and boring. Blackie and Whitty are perfectly responsive and affectionate, full of personality.
Hadn't posted much in the past few days, was knocked out...literally.
It was considered a relatively minor surgical procedure, staying overnight at the hospital. The wounds are still sore and tender, but well, at least I'm sitting up and able to blog, surf the Net and generally keep myself fairly amused.
Hadn't much chance to see the rabbits. Didn't even feel like I could crawl over to the yard to look at them. V had been feeding them, but without my usual attention and love, they seem extra feisty and bad-tempered. *sigh* be good, little ones. I shall be able to play with you soon.
Thank God for the people who love me, who had been preparing nutritious meals for me and kept me company through those long, boring hours when I couldn't do anything much. And poor V has to manage all the chores and take care of me. I can't wait to get well.
Just in time, I remembered that two is a party, three is a crowd. So luckily for Blackie and Whitty, the adoption didn't happen after all.
The House Rabbit Society organised a rabbit adoption drive last week. It was quite a fantasy come true for me, to be in a room full of fluffy rabbits frisking everywhere - dashing across my path, nosing around my ankles, and nibbling shoes. Yes, even the last part was unbearably cute :P Anyway, those were V's shoes, not mine. As it was neutral grounds for all rabbits involved, there wasn't any fighting. And I could pat and play with all the rabbits there freely. One little grey Netherland dwarf didn't seem to have any friend, though he went from litter box to litter box. They all seem to ignore him. If I were to adopt any of them, it would be him.
But you see, three is a crowd. What would my two spoilt rabbits at home think? Maybe they would ostracize him, or eat up all his treats. What if he gets funny ideas about Whitty!
I was sad to see two handicapped rabbits at the adoption drive. One had only one hind leg, the other lost a front paw. By the time they were rescued, apparently they had already met with some mishap. It always makes me infuriated to see how some people treat animals, just because animals are weaker than them. These people don't ever deserve to have power over any animal again.
We left empty handed...well, not exactly. I parted with $5 for homemade cookies as part of the fund raising. Hope some rabbit gets to benefit from it!
The weather has been frightfully hot, and herbal soups are such a good way to have a satisfying but light meal. NTUC has a nice range of affordable mixes, so you don't even need to be a herbalist to know how to brew one. I made 四神湯 that day. In the package you get fuling, Chinese yam, lotus seed and qian shi. For better taste, I added lean pork, some dried scallops and two slivers of smoked ham. It just has to simmer on low heat for one hour.
This soup nourishes the spleen to help with digestion, and drains dampness from the body. You can also add barley if you want it to be even more cooling.
I know...it is like rewarding the rabbit for his naughtiness. Remember that Blackie:
1. Nibbled my new shoes
2. Spoilt my vacuum cleaner
3. Chewed holes in my door frames...
And the result is, we concluded he is bored. He gets to run in our yard and kitchen, and has a pretty bunbride, but these are not enough to keep this naughty rabbit occupied. So he gets new toys. This BusyBunny mini maze had better do the trick.
Ok Blackie, now you get a giant slipper of your own to chew. So please leave my shoes alone!
Thanks very much, bunny slave. I shall be very interested in them...for a few days.
Isn't it ironic? Our country has never been wealthier but people have never been angrier. Reading people's comments on the Singapore Conversation dismays me - with their cynicism, nitpicking, fault finding and general discontentment. Friends, look around you. Women are beautifuly dressed and toting branded bags, our roads are full of flashy cars. It is hard to get a table at popular restaurants at any time. Even the mrt stations are gleaming! Our shop shelves are laden with choices and even pets go to spa. There is much anxiety about making sure that one's children get into a prestigious school. But, even if one doesn't, any public school in Singapore can boast of good facilities and well-trained teachers. I dare say that every school in Singapore has its fair share of successful alumni.
I quite agree with Sumiko Tan that we are in our nation's golden age. Know that a country will not always be rich, so we are lucky to have experienced this era. There might come a time when we decline, then, is one going to be even angrier? Or perhaps paradoxically, the chastening of poverty would bring about a more appreciative attitude instead.
I am still feeling the pinch from my spoilt vacuum cleaner, mind you. But you see, they are so lovely and cute, it is hard to be mean to them. They are still getting their favourite hay, delicious fresh vegetables, and yes, still running around everywhere at home :P Though I have increased the rabbit proofing somewhat.
The weather has been terribly hot so now the two of them are too lazy to much roaming. They just flopped around on the cool ceramic floor.
Aww...this is such a rare sight. Blackie is usually the one grooming Whitty, but today she decides to be nice.
Bemused by the contributions to our national conversation. Apparently, many people want our society to be a happier one, to be more caring, less selfish, more generous, less demanding, to allocate more resources to the poor, old, weak and sick. BUT...
At the same time, there are so many reports of neighbourly discord, conflict over noise pollution, poor driving, animal abuse and other niggling social discomforts. Something just doesn't gel.
The paradox is, while we dream of a better society, we don't behave according to the ideals of this improved society. Since our country is made up of people like you and me, if we remain the same, the society remains the same. Somebody has to start making these ideals come true. Somebody has to start by loving his/her neighbour.
But I am in no position to speak, as I have just called on my neighbour (politely, if perhaps coldly) to ask them to reduce their noise level, late last night. And whose fault is it? Should they have been more considerate? Could I have been more tolerant? I really can't tell.
Trying to replace the vacuum cleaner which the rabbits destroyed, I went online to buy a cheaper version, and picked up this swivel sweeper for $40.
It doesn't work >:I
Firstly, it isn't a vacuum cleaner. It simply has silly tiny brushes which whirl around uselessly when you switch the motor on. If it even manages to pick anything up, it vomits it a little while later, when you are still cleaning elsewhere! I experimented by getting it to remove an itsy bitsy piece of tissue, and 3 swipes later, the paper is still there! WHAT THE ...! To think the TV commercial dares to show it picking up IRON NAILS! LIARS!
I want my money back! But this is an online purchase, and there is no one to harass :( I feel soooooo cheated! This is just going straight down the rubbish chute >:I
Apart from COE and property prices, what else has seen astronomical inflation in recent years?
Read on this blog Wedding Dinner that the latest red packet rates are now going at $120-$160! My dear friends, this is too, too dear for a meal. My goodness! It isn't too long ago that $100 was sufficient as a gift. And that is already a pretty penny. I mean, I am happy for my friends who are getting married...but I won't be very glad to part with such a big packet for a meal, really.
As I was a reasonably frugal bride (someone asked me if my dinner was at a community centre), I am really very baffled by people who seem willing to empty their coffers for one day. And worse, to invite their friends who then have to cough up to help subsidize their grand celebrations.
Yeah, this post sounds so mean huh. It is people's event of a lifetime, and here I am, being such a Scrooge about it. But you know, I'm sure I'm not the only one feeling sore about the price of goodwill. You have been warned.
Just look at them, sleeping without a care in the world, not knowing that I am scouting around for the cheapest way to replace the vacuum cleaner, which they spoilt. In the meanwhile, the floor is just getting dirtier than ever :(
It is amazing just how disapproving rabbits look even when they are sleeping huh.
It is a hot and lazy afternoon so these furballs are really lethargic. They aren't waking up for anything less than dried apple.
There are increasing calls to remove the PSLE from our national school system, because it is causing too much stress to our children (and parents).
Many complain that our education scene is no longer a level playing field for all children because rich parents can afford more resources and tuition for their children. But would removing the PSLE change that? If anything, I have always thought that the exam hall is the place where, stripped of all external help, each child gets a fair shot at doing his very best.
If there isn't such objective yardstick anymore, we would have to rely on other measures that could require far more resources, such as cultivating niche skills, or elaborate project work (which parents won't be able to resist helping in).
Some mentioned the possibility of a through-train system from primary to secondary school so that children do not have to take an exam so early. Wouldn't that mean even greater stress at the annual P1 registration? Imagine if one registration determines the child's experience for the next ten years! At least our present system allows children again, a fair shot, at getting into their preferred secondary school, where admission cannot be influenced by their parents' volunteer work or other such advantages.
I come to realise that the stress does not come from external factors in the system but inherently from parents' keen desire for the best for their children. Come on, as long as resources are finite, one always wants a headstart over others and be in a position of strength. Isn't this the true source of anxiety?
While we shouldn't be afraid to reexamine sacred cows and slay them if necessary, we cannot become trigger happy! These are features in our educational system that served us so well for so long, for good reasons. Remember that once Humpty Dumpty has a great fall, all the King's horses and all the King's men cannot put him together again.
The rabbits are very pleased to get their favourite mountain hay again. The bag of orchard grass remains unloved, uneaten and I don't really know what to do with it. Probably line their litter box with it, but what a waste of expensive hay!
Nom...nom...nom...we know that you will give in after a while, and surrender the true hay to us. Remember you are a bunny slave