I have been absent for over a year from this site. I had only planned to be away for a few weeks.
Thank you for some of you who regularly checked on me.
Thank you for those of you who continued to write and inspire me.
I’m still reading some blogs, especially ShimonZ through his blog the human picture. In ShimonZ’s writing and through his lenses, I see Jerusalem, the everyday life of the people and animals, and ponder over some terribly sad episodes over the last year.
It’s wonderful to know Tilly still enjoys writing and reciting poems. She cried over her son leaving home, watched her son performing, and even decorated her room, in her blog dedicated to sharing the laughter: The Laughing Housewife.
I’m so proud that Nicki Chen successfully published her gripping novel, Tiger Tail Soup. I’ve read the book and would highly recommend it to you. In the past year, Nicki’s blog Behind the Story never fails to entertain (lots of food), and carry me with her on her fascinating recollections of the past, from the East to the West. Continue reading →
Five large murals of scenes from the New Testament were discovered in Changi prisoner of war camp in Singapore. These murals touched many hearts and shocked the world. Who was the artist who painted the near life-size murals in the chapel of St. Luke there? Who was the artist who yearned for hope and peace in the darkest days of despair through his biblical paintings?
Last week, Lorelle vanFossen highlighted an extensive search using satellite images in Google Earth for the aviator and balloonist Steve Fossett, after he was reported missing flying his plane over the Nevada desert in 2007. In the non-digital age in 1958, the search for the prisoner-of-war artist proved difficult. He could have been any of the 50,000 allied soldiers detained by the Japanese. Was the artist British, Australian, Dutch, or Indian? Was he still alive? Did he later get sent to build the Death Railway in Thailand and Burma and manage to return? Continue reading →
The Teachers’ Day in Singapore is on the 6th of September this year. In China, since 1985, Teachers’ Day is on the 10th of September each year. Distinguished Chinese essayist and philosopher HAN Yu (韩愈) from the Tang dynasty explained the roles of a teacher in only six Chinese character, in his famous essay, “On the Teacher”（师说).
The roles of a teacher by HAN Yu, in my translation, are to
Guide students, show them the direction (传道, literally, spread the ‘Tao’).
Impart knowledge to students, to improve their abilities. (授业)
Resolve the students’ doubts. (解惑)
In my blogging existence, I follow the guidance from the best teacher, Lorelle. Since I’ve done 40 posts inspired by Lorelle, I would like to give you 12 reasons why you need Lorelle’s Blog Exercises for your blog. Continue reading →
This morning, I woke to find that my mother-in-law had just subscribed to my blog.
My initial response was: “Oh no! Have I written something that my mother-in-law shouldn’t read? ”
No, but a brief moment of panic was my natural reaction. Actually my very first post was inspired by my mother-in-law. I shouldn’t have panicked. I sent her an email to thank her for her subscription.
I should not have worried about my close relatives reading my blog. I never use my blog to write anything that I would regret in real life. Most of my friends don’t know that I write, and those who know are not regular readers. Who do I write for? My blog is a welcoming, open cafe, which attracts a like-minded audience, who indulges in the comforting aroma of freshly brewed fine tea from China and the grinding sound of dark-roast coffee beans from Italy. They stay because this cafe with a difference suits their temperament. Continue reading →
When kids disagree with each other, you might hear an exchange like this: “I swear if I lie to you, I’ll abandon my surname!” Or, “I swear, if I lose, I’ll no longer carry the surname my father has given me!” Or, “Promised? If you lose, you will drop your surname, and follow my surname?”
When a Chinese kid places his surname as a bet, you need to take him seriously.
Outside Salisbury Cathedral — Boys are superior in Chinese culture
Does it sound strange to you? As a child, when I argued or swore with the boy next door, we used the most valuable bid — our surnames. I’ve never heard an Englishman bet his surname: “OK, if you win, I’ll abandon my surname Smith and adopt your surname Barker.”
Surname is important. Sons are important because sons carry on the family surname and lineage. Sons carry incense sticks when worshipping the ancestors. They preside over ancestral rites, especially during the Tomb Sweeping Day.
When a flash of orange light appears on my WordPress notifications menu informing me of a new comment, it always excites me.
Imagine my joy when the comment is more than a friendly nodding: “Nice post!” “Thank you!” These brief comments are equivalent to the British weather talk with a stranger: “Lovely, isn’t it?” The encounter is friendly, but it lacks substance.
When I was in Year 6 in the south of Malaysia aged 12, it was a tradition that school leavers would write their mottos to one another in a little notebook. Everyone would buy at least a notebook for the teachers and friends to write messages in. Shops were full of pretty leavers’ notebooks for boys and girls to buy, and most of the notebooks had cute adorable Japanese cartoons on the cover with beautiful embellishments.
“There are foxy women in the sky.”
Teachers would write words of encouragement such as “Remember to continue learning, ” or a famous slogan from Chairman Mao, “Work hard and make progress everyday.”
However, we precocious 12-year-olds would write something more profound and abstract. We dished out mottos and quotes that we considered smart. The popular rhyming quotes in Chinese that I received from my 12-year-old friends included:
“There are foxy women in the sky; there are jinxs in the earth. Please be aware who your friends are!”
“A dragon gives birth to a dragon; a phoenix gives birth to a phoenix; the son of a mouse will dig a hole!”
“A mountain will fall; water will flow away; you had better rely on yourself!”
I wrote Share your fear in late June as my first blog post responding to Blog Exercises set by a stranger in the USA called Lorelle. Now I have a staggering collection of 24 blog posts (including this post) from these exercises completed in the past 45 days. You’ll see my full list of the 24 posts at the end of this post.
At the same time, I deleted about 24 old posts from this blog. This is my Yin and Yang approach: I added a well-written post, which I had poured my heart into writing, and I deleted a limp, floppy old post, which was re-blogged or written in haste.
One of my achievements in the process was my creation of a massive Table of Contents with Lorelle’s guidance. This table helps me see my strength, weakness, goal and hit-and-miss attempts in writing.
My son Ben doesn’t like Lego. I used to be quite upset about it.
I wasn’t the most confident new mother when my son was small. Who was? I learnt from parenting books and middle-class stay-at-home mothers that Lego toys were brilliant, and “all boys love Lego,” so I bought him some Lego bricks with joy and played with him.
Roman Banquet Lego Model: in City Museum, Winchester. Roman Banquet was built with 75,000 Lego pieces.
Apparently building Lego toys would boost a child’s maths skill, improve his spatial awareness, and his understanding of fractions and division. Playing with Lego could also foster a child’s physics and engineering skills. Playing with Lego could develop a child’s fine motor skills, high-level problem solving skills, planning and organising skills. Of course I wanted my son to be a scientist, an accountant, an engineer, a heart surgeon, and the youngest Mensa member ever. (Mensa: The High IQ Society) I wanted my son to play Lego.
I bought my son a Lego set, Lego book and some cute Lego model for Christmas, however, he did not open the Lego set for 3 years. He told me he could not see the point of building Lego toys. He had no passion for Lego.
I do compare parenting. I visited a friend whose lounge was turned into a Legoland. They built sophisticated inverted roller-coaster, with motorised chain lifts and working gates. They also built suspension bridges and Technic jet planes. On one visit, we were warned not to knock over their roller-coaster that had taken them 5 days to build. Continue reading →