Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Testing...testing...anyone still reading this thing?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Songbird Culture

A few Saturday mornings ago, Larry and I were up and at em early. We had errands to run, and roti prata to eat. It was a pretty, vaguely cool morning. As we were pulling out of our complex, Larry asked if I had my camera, so I could take a quick picture of something funny for his brother. That reminded us that we have been wanting to go to the our local aviary and take pictures. What's an aviary? In the more central, or heartland neighborhoods, there is often a park set up for Singapore's Songbird enthusiasts. I've tried to do a little research on it, but it's been harder to dig up info on it than I expected.

This park is in our neighborhood, tucked away, behind a wet market and hawker court. Early mornings, before it gets too hot, people bring their Songbirds in intricately carved, teak wood cages. The cages are beautiful, ornate, most custom made, with special ornaments and adornments. Cages are handed down from generation to generation. The birds are often prinices, robins, shikes, merboks, china thrushes, ect.

Larry and I parked the car (well, he parked, I just sat there looking cute), and I gave us a pep talk that we were very much the outsiders in this adventure, and that we had to be super respectful. We got a few curious glances, but though we weren't heartily welcomed, the people were friendly and polite. I tried to stay towards the edge, I didn't want to disturb the men chatting and swapping bird tips. Larry went off to take pictures, and explore a little further. It was truly a beautiful place. The noise level was amazing...the birds were singing their little hearts out. And though it was loud, it was also very peaceful and relaxing.

Once again, I was pleasantly surprised to find another little piece of this curious Singapore puzzle. They build huge high rises, are one of the biggest and most powerful shipping ports, adhere to and make strident rules, demand cleanliness and strive for an utopian society. But tucked away in little nooks, you can still glimpse the way Singapore used to be...a little slower, a little less clean, a little less flashy. Larry and I both say all the time that we love living in the 'heartland' rather than in the expat part of town. We never would have had the chance to see this wonderful place. oh, and I got my tea in a bag too, so I felt very local too!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

I Started this post On Easter...

Yep, that's what it's come many have asked why I don't post more, and it pretty simply comes down to 1. Laziness. 2. Busyness 3. Not much to say. I'm still here, and think about posting all the fact, I thought this post from Deb says it perfectly! Check it out, it's cute.

A quick catchup:
January 2010 came blowing in, and with it, a whirlwind of getting ready for our annual home leave trip, and for Larry to volunteer at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, B.C. Lots of packing, shopping, clearing out and prep, until Larry left at the end of the month. He met up with his brother in Vancouver, and they had a busy few weeks before the families arrived. Beka and I joined the guys, me for a week, her for 3 (I think). It was such a blast...I highly recommend checking out Vancouver if you ever get the chance, it is so, so gorgeous there. I've fallen for the Pacific northwest, big time. Larry and I got the chance to see ice dancing, which was waaay too fun. I felt like a little kid, seeing the ice capades for the first time (yes, I know I just dated myself...I had the Dorothy Hamil haircut too, so???) And though my time there was short (6 days) I really got caught up in the olympic spirit. I'm really looking forward to participating in future games. Anyone have a house we can use in London, 2012? We're willing to swap!
I also got some good, quality Grammy/Annabella time. I stayed with Ryan and Annabella for a few days, before I shoved off to Detroit. To say it was fab is putting it lightly. She was an angel baby, as usual, and we had a blast. Larry and I bought her a new bed for her birthday (4!!) and I may have gone slightly overboard in the execution of the princess bed theme....well worth it though, her face was worth every penny and four hour web search. At one point someone said " see Annabella, now you really are a princess!" She replied, hand on her hip, cute red curls cocked to the side " Course I am!". There ya have it. Job accomplished, as far as I'm concerned.
From Seattle, I flew onto Detroit to spend time with my parents, friends and family. It was a shorter trip this go around, but it was super fun. The first week my mom took of work, so we did lots of stuff, just the three of us. It was nice to have my parents all to myself for a bit. I miss them all the time living over here, but when I get back home, it always becomes apparent just how much. Ya know? Same with Deb...we can skype, and chat all the time on the phone, but face to face time is precious. That goes for everyone I saw really....time there is short, and far between, so to be able to hold your babies (even if they are 5'5 and taller than me, and have bigger boobs) rub your pregnant bellies, have coffee in my jammies with you, listen to how your year was, read your child a bedtime story, share a meal, cry with you, or just sit with you, I take those moments, shove them down in my heart, and take them out, one by one, like the shells and sea glass we collect and look at them when I come back to this life in Singapore. Sometimes I wish for more, but usually, I'm just really grateful I got to have those moments with you, even if it was just for a bit.
One of the hi-lights of this trip was timing it perfectly (with a little rearranging) to be able to go to Chalfonte house this year for Women's weekend. I've been going since 2 weeks after my sister died, in 1996. It is a group of women, all from similar, but varied backgrounds, roughly the same age, but in varied stages of womanhood. There are single people, some married for 2o years, some widowed, and some newly married. New moms, or expecting, and moms of teenagers. There is a doctor, a few nurses, artists, insurance adjusters, stay at home moms and writers. Oh, and there is a really old guy that facilitates the whole thing and occasionally dresses in drag (that's a story for another day). There are usually about 12 of us, sometimes the cast of characters change slightly, but for the most part the core hasn't. I've missed the past 2 years. I was bummed about it, when it happened, but like most things in my life, if it's unpleasant, I just skate over it, trying no to feel it too much. Um, yeah...that bit me in the ass. Being there was such a spirit lifter. I didn't know how much I needed it. I need those women, who laugh with me, cry with me, and even though I am a gazillion miles away, hold me up and support me, even when I think I am alone. Something pretty special happens when you get us all in the same room. Sure, it's loud. Chocolate is flying, someone is probably beating someone in backgammon, there is laughter, tears, a little wine. Walls come down, and spirits that were sagging, lift a little. When someone is doing great, we celebrate, when someone is struggling, we lift them up, and when someone is too damn proud to admit they need support, we push. Grateful doesn't seem like a big enough word for my women's weekend ladies. They have woven an invisible net around me, and really, I feel the love and support from here. I may not be able to go next year, but I know I need to try.
I'm pretty grateful for facebook these days too. Say what you will about the social networking site that can suck time and allow old boyfriends to find you, but it is also great place to reconnect with people. I will save that for another day, but just a teaser: I had a grade school reunion while I was back in detroit. Stay tuned, I'll write more about it soon. It was a HOOT.

Back to the post: May 2, 2010. I originally started this post on East Sunday, and really the time has flown, and whirred by me...Like I said before, I do think about this ol blog a lot. I mean to sit down and write, but usually, 20 other things get in the way. So, back to the catch up. I've mentioned before on here that I have a sister that died from complications of Cystic Fibrosis. I've also mentioned on here that my best friend, also has the disease, and is preparing to be listed for a double lung transplant. Fundraising has begun, and Larry has thrown his hat in. He is trying to lose weight for better health, so he decided to tie losing weight into raising Deb some cold hard cash. For the next 90 days, for every pound he loses, friends and family have pledged a dollar. It's a win win! We're pretty excited about it. We bought a scale this weekend. Good news: Larry is down a few more lbs. Bad news: Frank weighs 15 pounds.

Friends in Singapore have agreed to help me raise money for Debbie many great ideas have been coming in, and I am so grateful. I'm really looking forward to these next few months, and seeing how much we can raise. Being so far away is hard, but having this to focus on has been great. I will likely use this blog as an update place, so check back to see how Deb is doing.

Visitors....we LOVE em. Anyone out there thinking about a visit to Singapore? We have the room, and would love to have you.

One of the hardest parts of expat life is hitting me square in the face this next week. My dear friend, Sarah, is leaving to go back to the states...this is my first time experiencing having a friend leave, and I'm pretty much in denial. I think it will hit me for real when I go to call or message her for a last minute lunch in little india, or a pedicure. She and her husband have been very good pals to Larry and I, and they will be missed so, so much.

Thanks for those of you that still check this blog, and for the gentle nudges. I'm listening.

Do These Toes Make My Butt Look Fat?
Random Frank

Sunday, December 27, 2009

It's A Wonderful Life

I love that movie....I watch it every year. Every year, I get a little teary. Sure, it's sappy, but it also makes a good point. Slow down a little, and enjoy what you have. You only have one life, make it count, and cherish the little things, because they can be taken away in an instant. It also suggests we appreciate things when times get tough. I know I needed a gentle reminder of that, especially this year.

Here is a list of some of the things that make my life wonderful.

So, in no particular order, here goes:

The quiet moments of my mornings...I am very lucky to be able to arrange my hair schedule to give myself time in the mornings to chat with family and friends at home on skype, email, or procrastinate blogging. I usually have a 900 pound furry monster on my lap, and a hot cup of coffee. It's so nice, and such a huge departure from my old life of having 2 and 3 jobs, school, or my daycare and 12 hour days of nose and bum wiping. I don't take it for granted for a minute.

Exploring southeast Asia...we're still liking it, and though it still sucks some of the time, being so far away, overall, I feel really, really lucky to have this opportunity. I've said it before, but I never in a million years would have tagged myself to be the one to leave Michigan and live in a foreign country, but I did. The experiences and people we have met are truly a gift.

That brings me to friends. My friends here have made my life richer, and broadened my world scope in a way I never thought imaginable. I have buddies from Scotland (I delight daily in the great sayings and no nonsense attitude of my Scottish buddies. Salt of the earth, those birds.) Friends from the foreign to me Southern states of Texas and Louisiana (also salty birds of the earth, they make my life here a LOT more sane) I have friends from England, Ireland, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Africa, Canada, Australia, Brazil, South Africa's truly amazing, and I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have met them in Detroit. So, even though we're living in Asia, I have been lucky enough to be exposed to some really unique and fun traditions of lots of other cultures.

Friends back home, the ones I can wake up at any hour and know they will be there, groggy, but happy to hear my voice. Debbie has been an amazing source of comfort in this last year, even when her own life has been turned upside down and given a hard shake. The generosity of that is humbling. The friends that still call and write, just to say hi...even though the newness of me being gone has long since worn off. The ones that haven't forgotten I'm still around, you know who you are; I appreciate it more than you will know. Thanks for still missing me.

Family...I cannot begin to scratch the surface on how much family has meant to both Larry and I this past year. I haven't come clean as to the personal struggles we have had, because they are just that, personal. But like most things, I think it might be easier to just throw it on the table. We are struggling with fertility issues, and both of our families have been a great source of love and comfort. I am very, very thankful for that. The loss of my sister, Larry's loss of his parents, moving away from home, and all the other struggles we've shared have made us a lot stronger. However, this struggle has thrown me for a great big, fat loop. We are slowly getting around to fine, and doing what we need to, but when we first found out, it was hard...just really stinkin hard. Devastating really...and that's not me being my normal dramatic self. Everything I knew and all the hopes and dreams I've had forever were challenged in an instant. Being away only added to the devastation I felt. Family (and friends) were what got us through. That and a lot of holding onto each other for dear life, and large boxes of cheeze-its and swedish fish. I have been very reluctant to share this struggle with those not in our inner circle, because the wound is still so tender, but I have decided, with Larry's blessing to make this blog more "real" and share the good, bad and ugly. I am personally dealing with the very real possibility of not becoming a mom. Some days I am fine with it and very philosophical, knowing I can still have a very happy and fulfilled life and lucky to have Ryan and Annabella. Some days I cry. A lot. Some days I ignore it all together and focus on my job, my husband and my cat. Not sure which is better to be honest, because it all comes around in the end to bite me on the ass. I have learned not to expect people to get it, or understand at the level I need them to. But when it happens, it is a gift and it helps a lot.

Being a Step-Mom, and a Grammy. Again, another thing that has pushed me as far out of my safe little box as possible. I would not, for one second trade it. It has pushed me, challenged me, and made me a better person. Ryan is pushing 27, and far too old to have me "mothering" him, but he is a good sport about me being a nudge in his life, and this past year we have gotten to know each other more and more. He's all right, as step kids go. I think I'll keep him. Annabella is a light in our lives and I am so stinkin grateful for that little bundle of red headed joy. She is also extremely patient with me, and is truly a delight. Her no nonsense, eager to please personality is so much fun to be around. She tells it like it is, and if I could somehow bottle her zest for life and fun, well, I think I might have the cure for the world's trouble. I wish every single day we could somehow teleport her her to Singapore for a nice, long visit. Asia wouldn't know what hit it.

Frank, the furry band-aid. I've said it before, but he really is a helpful guy to have around. It's hard to dwell on shittiness when you have a goofball, slightly dim little fellow running back and forth at a high rate of speed.
And last but not least, the guy that I often wake up to holding my hand. The ups and owns of a new marriage (oh yeah, they are real baby, straight up), living as physically far away from our family and friends as we can, struggles with infertility, purchasing a new house in the Seattle area and all the other fun stresses we've had this year, cannot dim the fact that I still really like the big lug, and I wouldn't trade his middle of the night hand holding for anything.

These are the big and little things...each one, even the yucky struggles, I wouldn't want to swap, it makes life wonderful, messy and never dull.

Merry Christmas, near and far, and here's to kick ass 2010.



Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I'm Braggin...

The Incredible Shrinking Husband!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Taxi Cab Speech Therapy

I've mentioned it on here before a few times, but for those that don't know, I am a lifelong stutterer.    Sometimes my fluency is better than others, and depends on lots of factors.  I hate the phone, and public speaking is a big hell no.  Some conversations are smooth and easy, other times I struggle. If I am tired, or have had a drink or two, my speech gets sticky. Larry was the first person to successfully get me to speak on the phone for any length of time, pretty quickly putting me at ease.  Good thing too, or we'd never be the power couple we are today.  It's a very personal thing, and my family and friends have gone to the ends of the earth to help me in my fluency.  Stuttering is a neurological issue, not a learned behavior.  My brain is wired differently than others, and the signals to my mouth and vocal chords get mixed up.  I've learn how to deal with it over the years, and I do a fairly good job of not letting it hold me back on stuff.  Not always...sometimes I shy away from the phone and other difficult situations for me, but I normally push through it.  It is part of who I am, and I've learned in my advanced age that if someone has an issue with it, they can take a long walk off a short pier.

So today, I hopped into a cab, and was expecting my usual quiet ride, where I rifle through my bag, looking for sunglasses, mints, money, ect.  Sometimes I pass the time texting friends or Larry.  Every once in a while I will have a chatty cab driver though.  Today was one of those days.

Conversation between Me and Mokithar ("you can call me Mo"):

Mo: Where you from, Lah?

Me: America (stuttered on the m)

Mo: aaaaahhh....nice, nice, very nice.  Very Big.  You Like my country, lah?

Me: Yes, very much.

Mo: How long you live here?

Me: Two years.

Mo: How much your rent? (I get asked this all the seems normal now)

Me: Too much, lah!

Mo: hahahahaha....I see, I see.

We drive along in silence for a bit....Mo is dodging motor cycles.  I'm trying not to bring up my breakfast.

Mo: Ma'am, if I may?

Me: (thinking oooh boy, here it comes...gonna ask me how much I weigh, or some other screamingly personal thing)  Sighing, Sure, go ahead?

Mo: When I was a little boy, I also talk like you, always getting stuck on my words.  I think you and I were frightened as children, so we afraid to let out words.

Me: hhmm, oh really (not very interested....I've heard all sorts of stuttering stories, and well, it's a very, very personal thing.  I rarely discus it, and if I do, it is with the very inner circle of family and friends)

Mo: Yes, yes, lah!  And my Grandmother, she cure me!

Me: Really?  (ok, I'll bite...) How did she do that?

Mo:  Well, whenever I would talk, and my words would get stuck, she would very quietly come up behind me and hit me with a pillow.  This would shock me, and my words would get unstuck.

Me: (shocked, slightly freaked out) Mo!  Really?  and this worked?

Mo: yes, yes, you try lah!  can!

Me: hhmm...I don't know...I don't really want to be hit.

Mo: ask your husband or friends to use a pillow....softly, lah!  this will shock the words out of you, and you won't be stuck.

Me:  ok, ok....maybe I will try.

This pleases Mo, and he is quiet for a few more minutes.  Then he looks worried.

Mo: ask your husband to use a pillow....not a hard stick,lah!  If he use a hard stick, you will hurt head, and you talk no more, lah!  

Me: Guffawing....I know, I know, something soft!  hahahahahaha....(we both were giggling at this point...the visual was great)

Mo: You try, you try. I help you with this, yes?

Me: ok, I will tell my husband.

He then went on to talk to me about his grandmother, and all her ideas for healthy living. Kidney health was big with her, and Mo suggested I go into the jungle and find some herbs to eat for good kidney function.  I'm gonna get right on that.

So, Mom, Dad, and other family and friends that have spent years and years encouraging my fluency, not to mention the thousands and thousands of dollars and hours spent on speech therapy, I guess we had it wrong.  All you had to do was sneak up behind me and bop me over the head with a pillow!  Softly, lah!  And for goodness sake, don't use a hard stick!