Posts tagged ‘Family’

Never got much closer to reprieve

I always feel sorry for foreigners who land in my ward because they developed one problem or another while on holiday. Now I can almost say moi aussi (“almost” because my experience had nothing to do with being admitted). My big European holiday ended after just three days in Paris when, in the wee hours of the morning, Mr. Manx and I received an SMS from Wedoryn saying that my ninety-five-year-old grandmother had died in her sleep. I am aware that we took the Eurostar to England and met some dear friends in Cambridge while waiting for our rescheduled flight, but much of that time passed with me in a miserable, numbed haze.

By now, of course, the acute tragedy is over. We’ve made our way back to Singapore (in an airplane cabin full of squalling children – there really is no better description for them than ‘chain-reaction nuclear bombs’), attended the final day of the wake and the cremation, and have collected the ashes and carried them to their final resting place.

Having had a few days to keep busy and sleep on things, I think that, on the whole, I am happy (as far as the word can be used here) that my granny died this way. Over the past ten years, she had to be admitted to hospital for things like knee replacement surgery, a gastric ulcer and a gallbladder infection, and each time, she would have to dragged in kicking and screaming because she was convinced that she would end up dying in a strange place. Well, she made it to a remarkable age with all her faculties intact, and left the living in a way that I would choose for myself if I could.

October 22, 2010 at 19:30 Leave a comment

Ode to the family

This post is written about and because of my family and its shenanigans over the past week.

My grandma – the grande dame of the family who raised me to speak fluent Teochew and helped me believe that I was not stupid, despite much evidence to the contrary at many times during my life. At the age of 95, she reads the Chinese news highlights faster than I can and has opinions on the cost of living in most countries. She was admitted to hospital a week ago with abdominal pain and, frankly, I think most of us, herself included, feared that that would be it. Thank God, it turned out to be acalculous cholecystitis (translation: gallbladder inflammation in the absence of stones) which resolved on antibiotics. When she got to the point of making loud comments on which other patients in the ward had just come in, or were going for an X-ray, or had what number of visitors, she was discharged.

My dad – who, after the kind docs at the hospital saved my grandma’s life and gave me detailed updates, proceeded to launch a bloody complaint because he felt that they discharged her too soon. Instead of talking to them when he learnt of the discharge plan, he sent me a non-specific, FYI-sorta SMS. Then when I went to the hospital on the morning of discharge, he was uncontactable till past noon, then called me to ask why I hadn’t gotten the discharge postponed. Then he asked me who the best person was to lodge a strong complaint with. I’m still not bloody speaking to him.

My bro-bro – who generally turns out to be the highlight of my visits home. He’s Down Under at the moment, and made my day with his observation that the adult urinals there were too high for him. He’s due back on his birthday and it will be good to see him again.

This week has been more eventful than I would have liked. I hope the next will be more peaceful.

December 6, 2009 at 20:23 Leave a comment

Suburbian Wedding Dinner

Comp s-BouquetSlantMy cousin J got married and had her wedding dinner last night at open-air Suburbia on Sentosa. It was a lovely place to have it, particularly since it was as cool and balmy as Singapore weather is capable of being. It was also a thoroughly modern way of throwing a wedding dinner, being buffet-style at long tables. No traditional Chinese eight-course banquet at round tables, which was pretty much inevitable at mine, as there were so many elderly folk to please. It would have been nice to have had mine like this – so much more relaxed and familiar. But I cannot complain. The wedding is a small detail when compared to the married life that comes after, and I am having a good one. I hope J and her husband have a long and happy life together ahead! 

August 16, 2009 at 15:25 1 comment

Dragon Beard Candy

 DBCandy

OK, these look heck of a lot like maggots, but maggots they are not. These things are dragon beard candy, made from hand-pulled sugar strands wrapped around crushed peanuts. They’ve been around a long time – supposedly thousands of years, when they were made purely for royal consumption.

This candy brings back memories every time I see it, because my mum introduced me to them when I was about five. There was a vendor in Thomson Plaza who actually made the stuff on site. I cannot begin to describe how fascinating the process is. You start with a stiff golden lump of melted blended sugar, work it supple, then pull it till it’s like a floppy donut. Then you double the donut, and twist, and pull, and double it again and again, dipping it often into a pile of flour, until suddenly there’s masses of super-fine, snowy-white threads that waft at the ends. That’s the beard. It looks exactly like the most perfect beard. Then you cut it, use it to wrap small heaps of crushed nuts, and that’s that.

In Singapore’s humid climate, the shelf life of this candy is negligible, but that makes it all the more exquisite. You have to eat it all up fast, before it gets sticky and hard. My favourite part is always the beard. Nothing else on earth has quite that texture of semi-sweet dry threads that wilt on the tongue and vanish. The other way to eat it is in big chunks, chewing on the gooey crunchiness till it melts away.

My mum loved this stuff, and I think of her each time I see a box of dragon beard candy. This is one of my childhood memories.

July 4, 2009 at 08:56 3 comments


Welcome to my blog!


My blog-name is Katie but I will not respond if you call me that in real life because it's not my real name. Yes, I do practise virtual-world paranoia. No, I do not enjoy stalkers. But I do enjoy writing and having folks reading said writing, so welcome to my world. It's nice to meet you.

Playing in my head over and over again argh

I'll Have To Say I Love You In A Song (Jim Croce)

Book(s) of the moment

Hogfather (Terry Pratchett)

Books read in 2010 and 2011

Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows (JK Rowling) - 'cos the movie's coming out!
Frankenstein: Lost Souls (Dean Koontz) - ah, bugger, it's part of a series! Now I hafta find all the books...
Dismantled (Jennifer McMahon) - oh, good one
Tigerlily's Orchids (Ruth Rendell)
Shutter Island (Dennis LeHane) - reminds me too much of work
Holy Fools (Joanne Harris) - it's official: I prefer her scary books
A Series of Unfortunate Events; The Unauthorized Autobiography; The Beatrice Letters (Lemony Snicket)
The Little Friend (Donna Tartt)
The main books - 11 so far - of the Southern Vampire series; the Aurora Teagarden series except for A Fool & His Honey - that makes it 7; Sweet & Deadly (Charlaine Harris)
The Woman in Black (Susan Hill)
Full Dark, No Stars (Stephen King)
Room: A Novel (Emma Donaghue)
Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children (Ransom Riggs)
The Bachman Books (Stephen King)
Men At Arms (Terry Pratchett)
Carpe Jugulum (Terry Pratchett)
The Fifth Elephant (Terry Pratchett)
Beauty (Robin McKinley)
The Sandman, Vol 1 (Neil Gaiman)
The Burden (Agatha Christie) - her crime novels are waaay better
Snuff (Terry Pratchett)

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I started my first photoblog on 3 May, 2009. Each post features one picture, with a little story of how it came about. Do take a look by clicking on: Manx Pictures
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Disclaimers: 1) I cannot help but bitch about work sometimes, but everything here comes under the realm of personal remarks, and nothing here is said in my professional capacity. Nor does anything here reflect the opinion of the institutions that employ me. This is just me shooting off. 2) Most identities have been anonymized, particularly those of folks I know on a personal basis. Same goes for my workplaces. However, commercial and public places and figures remain named. Otherwise some things just wouldn't make sense. 3) Links and sources have been provided where appropriate and possible. They are not meant to challenge anyone's ownership. If this causes any discomfort or offence, please let me know.

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