Monday, May 12, 2014

In conclusion: So long and thanks for all the fish

Looking back, this blog has been running for a decade now.

Started on a whim, somehow it has turned into a documentary of the different stages in my life, from the time I was a backpacking swinging single to dating and marriage. Then the stories on little animals began with my first pets - PipSqueak and BigSqueak, and progressed to bigger furkids, Blackie and Whitty. In between, I also had the TwinSqueaks (Ninja and Friendly). Potato the hamster and the rabbits are still with us.

As my readership grew, ads appeared, but I regret to admit that I earned little beyond a trickle of dollars and cents.

I think people generally prefer the animal stories to the articles expounding my political, social and religious views, but this blog saw me indulging in airing my opinions anyway.

If this entry sounds like an epilogue of sorts, well, I guess that is essentially my intention.

Dear friends, our household has a new addition.

It has been a frenetically busy time as V and I adjust to our new roles as parents to a human baby. She is wonderfully adorable, but I am left with much less time to ponder and write. It does seem like the entries in this blog are not going to be as regular in future.

This seems an appropriate time to conclude this blog rather than to let the entries dwindle disappointingly. Thank you very much for all your support. I am honored that so many of you like my homely, simple tales enough to follow this blog.

Who knows, when we get our act together, a new blog would begin with this new chapter in our lives.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Rabbit bonding time

Aww...good girl, Whitty! She is grooming Blackie, for once. See how much he enjoys the moment.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Where had masterofboots been?

Mostly in bed.

It has been weeks
and weeks of 
bed rest, upon doctor's orders.

Maybe to my dear readers, busy with all the activities you have every day, this sounds delightful. But the truth is, I was bored to tears waiting for the hours to pass each day, and waiting for the days to turn into weeks. It was difficult to sit up even to use the computer or watch TV, so if not for my Kindle, I wouldn't have known how to while the time away. 

Poor V had taken over all the work for the rabbits, and they reciprocated by peeing into their hay box ALL THE TIME! I think they miss me :(

Well, somehow, the weeks have become months, and now this enforced inactivity would soon turn into a whole lot of bustling and excitement. Someone told me that though the hours of bed rest pass slowly, the weeks fly past. Seems to be true. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Somebody please love Blackie

Poor Blackie :( He always grooms Whitty with assiduous care, but the naughty girl seldom reciprocates.

For those of you who don't understand rabbit language, let me explain what is happening in the picture:

Blackie is requesting for some grooming by lowering his head. In case Whitty doesn't get the message, he nudges her to get her to respond. Too bad, Whitty ignores him completely, because she knows I'm getting their vegetables ready. Nothing comes between Whitty and her breakfast, not even love. Come on Whitty, be nice! You are such a spoilt thing.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Where are the rabbits?

After coughing up a tidy sum to get the BusyBunny cottage for the rabbits, I'm now wondering if I regret being so indulgent. The rabbits love their new hideout. In fact, they are so happy with it that they refuse to come out and play with me! See? Now I have to stretch my hand in to pet Blackie :(
Whitty is wondering if there are treats. Nope, there isn't, so she will not come out.

Isn't this why you bought this for us? Now go and prepare some vegetables for rabbit King and Queen.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Cyber Lynch Mob

It isn't justice, whatever it pretends to be.

The swift, devastating retribution that engulfed Anton Casey and the Bad Honda Driver (BHD) isn't justice.What I observe is merciless harassment by a lynch mob, by people who are not even personally injured by the deeds of the two unfortunate culprits. 

While Casey and BHD might have behaved disgracefully, the responses that took place in cyberspace were nothing short of a public lynching. And did they deserve to be treated like that? Were they pedophiles, serial rapists or mass murderers? They were simply ordinary citizens who have been guilty of some incivility, that's all. Sure, they should have been chastised. But it is terrifying to see how punishment was poured out without measure, not just unto them, but upon their family members and loved ones. It is as if their acts of transgression somehow unleashed pent-up fury of origins which are surely different from the igniting spark. In short, they have become excuses for a raging mob to inflict pain mindlessly, without restraint, and probably for their own spiteful enjoyment.

I think we will regret the day we allow Internet vigilantes to judge, sentence and execute in the name of free speech and justice. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Obedience training for hamster

This proud mummy pet owner shall insist that she has the smartest hamster around.

Potato is really extraordinarily responsive. Unlike the TwinSqueaks, who remain oblivious no matter what happens around them, Potato pokes his head out as soon as he hears human voices. If you continue to talk to him, he soon comes out to look at you. He would even stand up like a mini polar bear.

Then, if you give him a treat and rattle the bars of his cage gently, he might climb out of it, right into your hand. Isn't this so sweet and trusting?

Friday, February 07, 2014

Speak Mandarin Campaign: 30 years on

One day, Mummy came home and announced: from then on, we will only speak Mandarin at home (and English, of course). No longer will we speak Teochew, the language of our dialect group. Up to that time, Teochew was the only language I knew, so imagine my trepidation upon receiving this news. What was I going to use then?

Still, being only 4 year old, adapting to the new languages was quite an effortless process for me. Without remembering how it happened, Mandarin and English completely replaced Teochew in my thoughts and expression. I hardly understood the dialect now.

If only it were as easy for the older generations.

A few days ago, V and I had breakfast at a coffee shop, sharing a table with an old man. He spoke only Teochew, and when V was able to respond in his dialect, his delight was palpable. Though there was so little in common to talk about, he couldn't stop chattering. He told us he was 9 when the Japanese occupation took place, and his former job as a noodle seller. How lonely it must be to wander around a city where few speak your language, even though it is your home.

Am very glad that this Chinese New Year, there are gifts prepared for this pioneer generation, who have lost so much as our country progressed, from the primitive village to today's metropolitan city.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Rabbit Bandit

For days, we had noticed serious signs of rabbit attack upon the treats on top of their cage. Someone has been rampaging through all the stores, gnawing and chewing its way to delicious tidbits. The bandit even ripped open the bag of pellets! We had transfer all the remaining pellets to another container, and who knows how much the greedy rabbit had gobbled down before we noticed?

 Whitty - caught in the act and trying to look innocent. Of course we should have known it is her! Blackie is too clumsy to do this.

You know, rabbits are never sorry for the naughty things they do. They just run off, like this white blurry furball now.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Tingkat delivery - Empire Catering

It is such relief to come home to dinner, freshly cooked and delivered right to my doorstep. Considering that our home is somewhat inaccessible, we are grateful that Empire Catering agreed to take up our orders. So here we are, joining the thousands of busy Singaporean couples who tuck into tingkat meals after a full day at work. Dinner arrives before we get home, so it is left outside our home. Every now and then we get a bill, and leave a cheque inside the tiffin container. Simple and convenient arrangement isn't it? 

Well, the only slight drawback is, the food does get somewhat monotonous. Though different dishes are offered everyday, I guess it is hard to be imaginative about the seasonings and style of cooking. This is after all mass-cooked food. The meals invariably come with 1 clear broth of some kind, 1 kind of vegetable, 1 meat, and 1 side dish. See, Day 1 and Day 2 look dismally similar:

Still, nothing beats the convenience offered. The food tends to be more oily and salty than my own cooking, but it is tasty and comes in generous portions. And frankly, it still tastes healthier than a typical zi-char or veg-rice stall. To make myself feel better, I cook brown rice to go with the food.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Bath time for Potato

Potato the hamster is having a nice time investigating our belongings, while we are cleaning his cage. Hey hamster, be careful of the scissors ok. 

Then, he got a light dousing of shampoo, which he hates. We try not to bathe him, since he dislikes being wet, but sometimes, he smells terrible. The problem is, he has decided to use his bathing sand pit as a toilet instead, though he still rolls in it! Why do animals get such silly ideas into their heads?

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Sorry is the hardest thing to say

An expatriate in Singapore sneered at “poor people” – the suffering plebeians in public transport, and triggered a storm in the social media. 

Public fury never seemed more futile and impotent.

Insulated in his fast cars, luxury housing and privileged social circle, what does it matter to him that the 99% hate him? Maybe he would find this furor childish, laughable even. He issued an apology through a public relations firm. I never knew that saying sorry so hard that it takes a professionally paid team to help one do it. 

I guess I became envious of the rich, the powerful, and the bullying. It is hard not to be, strap-hanging in crammed buses while porsches zip by. Though the Bible promises that God loves the humble, and that the meek will inherit the earth, daily life certainly does not always feel that way. How gratifying it would be to see everyone get his comeuppance or reward instantaneously. The fat of the land should go only to those who deserve it, and everyone pays an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. At that time, surely it would be a no-brainer to choose to do good, in order to merit rewards.

Yet patience is perhaps the greatest test of faith. God’s word is indubitable on the ultimate outcomes for who honor him, and those who mock at him. Each of us then get to choose our path accordingly to how much we believe in these promises. In this sense, we are truly walking by faith and not by sight, whether this faith is in His word, or in the worldly rules that often reward greed. I think that it is His mercy which is delaying the immediate consequences of our actions. We have many decades to discover the results of our choices, and to change our minds. For the sneering man in his Porsche, maybe the public condemnation could be a wake-up call, before the eternal one. That too, is his choice to make. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Whitty the Bully

All I can say is, Whitty is really a bully.

I gave the rabbits their favourite willow ring, and they started demolishing it with enthusiasm. Not surprisingly, Whitty decided that it would be even more fun if she had it all to herself, dashed off with it. 

 Blackie is always so sweet about his naughty bunbride, but I can't let him give up his favourite toy in this meek manner. I took the ring out of Whitty's mouth, and returned it to Blackie.
 Nothing can stop the determined girl from getting her share though. Here she is, back again to get at the precious ring. Hm...I should just give them one each, but they are so frightfully expensive.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Fare Hikes: what we asked for

Fares are going up again.

The furore is inevitable, since nobody likes to have to cough up more for something we pay every day. However, at the risk of being abused, I have to conclude that this is what we, as a socially-aware public, have asked for. Isn't this the logical outcome of the feedback the government has been receiving?

In this latest round of fee revision, concessions are being given to more vulnerable groups in our country, such as students from polytechnics and the disabled. This is indeed what has been repeatedly requested in the official press, online media and other occasions for social dialogue. Being neither young nor old nor poor, I fall precisely into the category of middle class working adults whose full fares would indirectly subsidize these concessions. Somebody has to pay to keep the vehicles moving, and if there isn't a fare hike, how would these concessions be funded?

In popular Yahoo parlance, "the gahman should pay". But if the "gahman" pays, it simply means that you, and I, and every taxpayer pays! Since economic resources are limited, it eventually works out to higher taxes in our country. Is this a preferable distribution of the cost of transport?

To be honest, I scrutinized all the categories of concessions, wondering if somehow I qualify for something. I don't. I suppose, not being in need of help is something to be grateful for too.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Post grooming sulk

It is playtime, so why is the yard curiously empty? 

Blackie is hiding in the cage, Whitty is lurking in their tiny box. The rabbits are still cross about getting their nails cut. I had to appease them with a papaya pill, two treats and a new chew toy before they are willing to come out to play again. Luckily, grooming takes place only once every two months. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Love Your Neighbour

Sometimes, I suspect that it is easier to be a martyr than to persist in daily God-fearing walk. It takes only a moment of (painful) execution to launch one into glorious life in heaven, but discipling the flesh require long-term endurance and self-denial.

I came home after morning service full of goodwill and determination to follow the Preacher's exhortation, only to discover that Next Door is having a mini children riot, complete with tinkling toys that make more noise than music. The halo of well-being evaporated instantly. Though I resisted the urge to chide them, I vaguely wondered if I could persuade them to lay carpets so that the children could throw smash their toys on the floor without creating such havoc on a Sunday afternoon. Have I also mentioned how much I envy but dread their state-of-the-art movie sound system? 

When there are thousands of individuals living in high-rise apartments which are densely built, it is not surprising that neighbourly disputes become one of the major sources of social strain in our society. 

Despite the comfort and security our homes provide or heavy investment in interior decorations, the unfortunate truth is that it only takes one inconsiderate family to significantly reduce the quality of life for others. Take for example, the noise issue that seems to plague everyone. Insubstantial yet pervasive, noise is impossible to block. It creeps through the tiniest cracks in window openings, and even penetrates walls. In a typical day, during normal waking hours, and even ungodly ones actually, I could hear the conversations of my neighbours reverberating through my home, even if I kept my doors and windows closed. I'm sure they could hear me when I sing as well.

And God says, "love your neighbours". In fact, of all the Ten Commandments in the Bible, Jesus told us that if we were only able to keep two, these are the two - love God, and love your neighbour. Why can't he choose something easier to follow, like, "do not murder" instead? 

Yet, maybe it is best to see this as a form of the training to love those who are less than lovable, just as God loves us, despite knowing all our faults and sins. If there isn't a test, we would have no opportunity to choose the better option and thereby please Him. For the sake of his love, we can obey by loving, even if it does not come naturally. And when my neighbours  indulge in inconsiderate behaviour, may God help me to count it as my glory to overlook an offense (Proverbs 19:11), and to live in peace with them. 

Thursday, January 09, 2014

5-minute meal

Pretend pizza, using wholemeal bread. Layered with cheese, cherry tomatoes and turkey ham. Spent 5 minutes in the toaster oven. I think this makes a nutritious and reasonably low-fat dinner :) 

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Rabbits reunited

Blackie is back to his rascally self, so we decided to let him live with Whitty again. Awww, look at how sweet they are when reunited. 

We still have to feed him antibiotics, to complete the course of treatment. But you know, the funny thing is, he never sneezed even once right after the vet visit, so we are wondering what actually happened to him to trigger off that sneezing fit. 

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Night at the vet's

Blackie gave us a terrible fright when he started sneezing loudly. He had been sneezing occasionally the whole day, but at night, the sneezes became loud enough to cause alarm. 

We frantically called a few animal hospitals looking for small animal experts. Blackie was whisked there late at night. The diagnosis was flu...rabbits get flu? V and I had to learn how to feed him medication using a syringe :P The sneezes stopped, but to minimise contagion, the rabbits are now in separate cages. Neither are happy about it, and have been throwing their bowls around to show us their displeasure. 

Relieved that Blackie is well enough to resist going back to cage after medication. We had to chase him around before he went back, and he had sufficient energy to throw another tantrum when he got it. I guess, it's worth all the expensive vet fees :P