Manja Cats, Singapore & Us

Manja Cats: Tigger, Ve Ching, Harmony & Missy (in order of adoption); Singapore: Where we are currently living; Us: Alex's British, Tarsier Girl is Singaporean.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Ve Ching's Impersonation

One of the great places to visit in Singapore is the Singapore Night Safari. On one of our visits there, I remember that at the leopard enclosure, one of them had climbed up a tree and was lying along a branch with all his/her legs hanging down on either side of it.

We haven’t taken Ve Ching to see his cousins at the Night Safari or the Zoo, but he’s still able to do a good impersonation of a leopard on a branch.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Hitler Cats

While browsing the BBC World website tonight, Alex came across a link to a website called Hitler Cats, featuring cats who look like Hitler. If your cat looks like Hitler, that is, if it has a little 'moustache', you can also send it in to the webmaster. Have a look, some of them look really cute! My favourite is the one posted on 21 June 2006.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Last Beginner's Art Class

Today was my 4th and final beginner's art class. The picture at the top is the final product plus slight additions by the instructor, while the picture below it is my finished picture without the instructor's help. Strangely, all my white highlights have turned out yellow in both photos. For this monochrome painting, we were limited to blue and white. I have no idea how the white became yellow but I'm sure it's got something to do with my phone's VGA camera.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Art Class # 3

Today we had to paint a gigantic nose! It reminded me very much of the great Kahuna from the Sherman's Lagoon comics. At the base of the nose is a banana and an apple.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Kitty's Email

When I was out this morning, I had put my computer on standby mode. But when I got back, I noticed that the computer was active. Seeing as there was no one else in the flat except for the 4 kitties, one of them must have trampled on my keyboard or moved the mouse to activate the computer. This is not a big deal as kitties are always stomping on my keyboard or lying on the mouse when I'm using the computer. But what's unusual is that he/she had somehow managed to open 5 new message boxes. The first 4 boxes had a letter 't' in the addressee (To:) section, while the last box, the one above, had a string of 't's, followed by 1 'p' and three and a half lines of 'o's. Silly kitties! Just can't leave them alone.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Anniversary Present

Each year, for our wedding anniversary, we would get a gift that the both of us can share. This year, we decided to get a pair of wedding goats from Oxfam Unwrapped. Don't worry, you won't actually get a pair of goats delivered to your HDB flat. Instead, the goats are sent to families in 3rd world countries who need them more than you do. What you do get is a card (1st picture) that contains a photo of a pair of wedding goats (2nd picture) and at the back of the photo, is a little write-up on what it means to buy the goats (3rd picture). The card is in 3 sections and if you fold the 1st and 3rd sections backwards, it becomes a little stand which you can then use to display the adorable picture of the wedding goats on your desk. They also have other unusualy gifts such as a school desk and chair, a bee hive or a share in a mango plantation. I'm eyeing the donkey or camel next!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

New Home-made Toy

Tigger is a greedy little cat who really loves his treats. I thought it might be more interesting for him to actually work for his treats instead of having them handed to him, so I came up with this little 'toy'. All you need is the cover of a Slurpee drink. The next time you buy a Slurpee from 7-11, just save the cup cover. Put your cat's treats on the floor, cover it with the cup cover and voila!, you have a new cat toy! Note: it only works with greedy cats who would do anything to get their paws on the treats! He can see the treats because the cover is transparent and he can also smell the treats because there's a hole on top of the cover. Tigger usually takes about 5-10 minutes to get the cover off the treats.

Art Class #2

At art class today, we learnt about paints (tone, intensity, hue & temperature) and how to mix them. I didn't think that mixing paints would be so hard, after all we had done it as kids, but it is.

Initially, the instructor told us to just go ahead and paint one of the fruits, mixing the colours whichever way we deemed fit. So I proceeded to paint the lemon (that's the one on the left, it looked like a mango to a number of us), happily mixing paints based on instinct. After we had completed the first fruit. He taught us the basics about paint and also how to mix the colours. We then proceeded to paint the second fruit, which in my case was an apple. But the second time around, I had to think so hard that it was difficult to get the colours I wanted. Also, my ability to see the subtleties of lighting has not improved and unless something is obviously dark or light, I'd miss it. :(

Friday, June 09, 2006

38 cent lesson in Karma

On Monday night I bought 3litres of drinking water from the provision store in the hotel. It cost S$6.69, (and the Americans whine about US$3/gal for petrol). I was sure it was a lot cheaper than that at the expensive supermarket nearby so last night I thought I make a shopping trip there.

However on my walk home I pass a local supermarket and although it was about a 10 minute walk back to the hotel, I decided that carrying a laptop and 3litres of water from there was doable. As it turned out the same water as the hotel was only 6.6Yuan or only S$1.40!

When the cashier gave me my change from the 10 Yuan note I handed over, I just stuffed it into my pocket and off I went. However this morning when I went to put the change into my wallet, I found I’d been scammed again. What the cashier did, was instead of giving me one 1Yuan note and one 2 Yuan note as part of my change, she’d given me a 2 Jiao note. 1 Jiao is 0.1 Yuan.

Of course, at first I was really annoyed, but eventually it did dawn on me that I was more annoyed by being cheated of 38cents by a crappy little corner store struggling to survive than I was about being “cheated” of $5.30 by the hotel that is already, presumably, changing me an arm and a leg for my room.

However getting my wallet out at lunchtime reminded me of it, so as I had lunch I tried to remember what Ajhan Brahm said in his talk on injustice. In his talk he explains that there is no such thing as injustice in Buddhism. That this was just the fruition of karma created when I had cheated someone else, (also well explained in The Diamond Cutter : The Buddha on Strategies for Managing Your Business and Your Life by Geshe Michael Roach). Between them they explain karma is neither or good or bad, it is us that decides if it is "good" or "bad" based on our observation, (the Dalai Lama explains it clearly in his book The Buddha on Strategies for Managing Your Business and Your Life were he compares it to how light can behave as a particle or a wave, it depends how you observe it), or rather what we want the world to be, rather than what it is.

So, I finished my lunch happy in the knowledge that some “bad” or perhaps it’s better to say unpleasant karma had come to fruition in such a mild manner.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Eeewww!! It Stinks!

Sometimes, I get awaken in the middle of the night by a horrendous pooey smell. The first few times this happened, I would get up and search the room thinking that maybe one of the cats has had an 'accident'. But I always fail to find anything. It then occurred to me that perhaps one of the cats or Alex had farted in their sleep (is that possible or does one have to be conscious?). But looking at them, I couldn't figure out who could have done it as it was impossible to tell from looking at their sweet sleeping faces.

But this afternoon, as I walked into the study, I was definitely hit by a nausea-inducing fart and the only living creature in the room, large enough to produce such a stink, was... TIGGER! I should have known that he was the most likely culprit! Cos he has the second most stinky poo in the household (after Missy) and he sleeps in our bedroom every single night, sometimes right in front of my nose!

Harmony in the Bathroom

This is my view of Harmony when she is in the bathroom asking to be stroked. Harmony is a funny little cat in that she has very specific locations in the flat where she wants/demands to be stroked. Her favourite stroking place is in the master bathroom. The study table comes second and every other place in the flat is off limits for stroking. When we try to stroke her in any place other than the bathroom or study table, she will curve her body away from our hands and walk away.

When either of us is in the bathroom, especially in the morning and at night, Harmony will come running. This is because Harmony loves, not just getting strokes in the bathroom, but also drinking from the taps in the bathroom, particularly the one in the shower (pictured below). She will meow till we turn on the tap for her. She doesn't mind getting all wet in the process of lapping up her 'nectar'.

When she wants her strokes, she will first stare at you, willing you to stroke her. But if you ignore her, she'll start meowing at you. And if I continue to ignore her, she'll give up and either walk out of the bathroom or just lie down on the bathroom mat. But if Alex continues to ignore her (e.g. if he's shaving, brushing his teeth), she'll nip him around the ankles. As I've always said, the cats know who they can bully.

“It’s a beautiful day, The sun is shining…”

So sings Queen.

Yesterday morning I came out of the hotel to see sunlight breaking through the clouds and shadows on the ground. After a morning in a windowless cube farm I came out for lunch to see patches of blue sky and a strong breeze blowing. After an afternoon in “the cubes”, I emerged to find a bright blue nearly cloudless sky.This is the resulting view from my room in the evening. A bit more round to the right I can see mountains in the distance. Unfortunately I couldn’t photograph them because the window doesn’t open and there were reflections of the room in the window.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

A Relaxed, Confidant Cat at Last!

Missy (above) usually doesn't lie on the ground with her chest and stomach so fully exposed. I guess this is a good sign, showing that she's become more confident and relaxed in this household, after 3 years! She has certainly come a long way from hiding under the sofa 24/7.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Sticking Out Tongue II

You can't really see it cos I took this picture with my low resolution camera phone, but Harmony is actually fast asleep with her left eye slightly open and her tongue sticking out. Unlike Missy, Harmony hardly ever sticks her tongue out, regardless of whether she's awake or asleep. So it's amazing that I should be able to get two shots of kitties with their tongues sticking out in 1 day!

Odd Sights in Beijing

My hotel is near the embassy district, (it's the green bit that can be seen from my hotel room), and I included a bit of it in my exercise walks over the weekend. While doing so I came across this road sign, I have no idea what it’s supposed to mean.
I also have no idea what taking the restaurant staff out and making them march around, stand on parade and sing (patriotic?) songs is supposed to do. But it’s quite a popular thing for restaurants to do.

An Ikea Cat Perch

Harmony likes looking out the window. So for our study, we wanted to get her something she can lie on while having a window view at the same time. A few weeks ago, we went to Ikea and bought this desk top shelf. All it needed was a cushion and it was all set for Harmony to use. As we'd predicted, she loves it and has used it everyday since she discovered it.

Back in Beijing

I’ve been in Beijing for a week now for work. The hotel and work are on the north east of Beijing just off the third ring round and near the embassy district.



Yes the sky is as grey as it looks in the pictures. It’s been like this all day, every day I’ve been here. I’m not sure what the cause is, because I’m not suffering from the effects of heavy pollution, runny nose or eyes, sore throat, but the visibility is appalling for some reason. I miss my Singapore summer’s days.

A room with a view please

If you think it looks depressing now, wait till the winter when most of the trees are bare, then the place is really grey.

The hotel room isn’t bad, though a bit small and like many hotels although there is a desk no one thought to provide a proper chair to you can comfortably at it. However it has a really nice shower.

The restaurant is nice and roomy and with a conservatory overlooking a garden along the longest wall, it is nice and bright. It also has a wide selection of pastries for breakfast, though not all are tasty.

To try and work off the breakfast pastries I’ve been walking back from work. If I take the long route it’s about a brisk twenty five walk and it gives me the chance to listen to about half of one of Ajahn Brahm’s talks, (which can be down loaded from the Buddhist Society of Western Australia) on my iPod nano. On my way back to the hotel I pass the following sculptures and vaguely familiar looking fast food outlet

Who does this remind you of?

Along the sides of the road news papers hung up to be read, which is the traditional way in which people got the news.

Sticking Out Tongue

The first cat that I saw with her tongue sticking out was my mother-in-law's favourite cat (she had more than 8 at the time), Amelia, or Melia for short. In many ways, Missy (pictured above) reminds me of Melia, who has since passed away. When I first met Melia, I thought she was the prettiest little thing. She was small, round and gray, just like Missy is now, although I know a lot of people will dispute the part about Missy being small... Anyway, Melia wasn't a very friendly cat except to my mother-in-law who she adored. She would reject all my attempts to befriend her and continued to be standoffish towards me. Nevertheless, I still liked her a lot 'cos she had a lot of character.

There is one particular incident that I will always remember when I think of Melia. It took place during my first visit to my in-laws' house in the UK. Only then, they were not yet my in-laws as I got engaged only on that trip. I was trying to make a good impression, which is what made this incident particularly memorable.

At the time, my in-laws' house did not have central heating. And as we were visiting in winter, that meant that I was freezing my butt off most of the time. Luckily, what they did have was a small little portable heater that I carried around the house with me when I went from room to room. One night at dinner, I had this heater next to my legs. I could feel the hot air blowing against my legs and was very happy to be warm. As the meal progressed, the hot air came on intermittently. One minute it was hot and the next, it was cold. I paid no mind to it at first, but when it kept happening, I looked down and saw little Melia sitting on top of the heater. Unfortunately, the on-off button for the heater was also at the top of the heater and she was merrily pushing it on and off. Now, remember that this was the first time that I was meeting my potential mother-in-law and I was trying to make a good impression. How would it look if I push her favourite cat off its cosy perch? All the other cats are not allowed in the dining room except for Melia, so I know she definitely has favoured cat status. That is why, for the rest of the night, I kept my mouth shut and just tolerated the hot, cold, hot, cold temperature changes taking place around my legs, all due to the whims of a little gray cat.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Cat Alarm

This morning, I was awaken at 6.05am by my cat alarm, alerting me to the fact that the food bowls were empty! I usually fill the kitties' food bowls at 9 in the morning and night. But last night, as I was going out for a late dinner with friends, I filled their bowls at 7pm and forgot to top it up when I got home later.

So this morning, Ve Ching took it upon himself, as the kitties' self-appointed leader, to stand on my arm as I lay asleep on my side, bend over and scream into my ear! He has done this before and will usually give up after 4 or 5 cries if I pretend to remain asleep. But this morning, he just wouldn't give it up. He yelled and yelled directly into my left ear until I finally got up and filled his bowls. I then went back to sleep and when I got up later, he was happily napping on the blue cushion in my bedroom.


One October night in 2002, I received a phone call from Alex telling me that while on his walk with Loy Loy, a little black and white kitten had appeared out of nowhere in the open air car park and had tailed them back to our void deck. I went downstairs to see if I could find the kitten's mother, while Alex brought Loy Loy back upstairs so as not to frighten the kitten's mother away. He came back down and we waited for a few hours at the void deck to see if the kitten's mother would turn up. In that time, the little kitten tried to play with us, but we avoided contact as we knew that its mother may not recognise it once its body was covered with our scent.

Finding us to be less than suitable playmates, the kitten then went up to all and sundry who passed through the void deck. As usual, some people screeched and were visibly frightened by this tiny kitten, others warned their children not to touch the 'dirty' creature and a few just ignored it while it tried to engage them in play. Watching her, we were thankful that no one had done any actual harm to her (maybe it's because we were staring). But we knew then, that we had to take her home with us before somebody rejects her advances by kicking her away.

As we did with the previous lot of strays (a litter of 5 kittens) that we had found, we immediately set out to look for a home for her. We took photos of her and plastered them at the vets, supermarkets, pet stores and also on Cat Welfare Society's website. We also named her Harmony, because her face reminded us of the yin-yang symbol. But weeks past, and there was not a single enquiry from anyone. I knew it would not be easy to find a home for a black and white kitten (black kittens and tortoiseshell ones are just as difficult), but given how cute she looked in the photo, I didn't think I would have any trouble in Harmony's case. I guess 'cuteness' is in the eye of the beholder.

Anyway, after 9 weeks, we finally got a bite! A man called looking for a kitten for his son. He said he would call again after he had consulted his wife. But when I told Alex about the call, his face was filled with dismay. He had assumed that we were keeping her after all this time. Luckily, the potential adopter did not call again, and we got to keep her as our own.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

My First Art Class

Attended my first art class this morning. It's in oil painting. My friend, Iris, was there with me, which made it even more fun. The teacher, Chankerk, was a pretty laid back guy who gave very specific instructions, something that was much needed and appreciated. The above is my first 'masterpiece'.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Funny Sight

Outside Tangs Plaza today, I saw a guy with a huge tummy, not just huge but very round too. Just imagine what a pregnant man would look like and you'd have captured what I saw. Strangely enough, he was wearing a tank top that said "Body Fitness". Either he doesn't know how to read or he has a tremendous amount of confidence in himself. I would have loved to have got a shot of him for this blog, but I don't think he would have obliged.

Expensive Cat Toy

This is one lucky kitten, to have an owner/parent/guardian that allows it to play on a laptop. I don't think I would be that indulgent with my lot. Also, I don't own a laptop! :) Thanks Dawn for sending this to me.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Pesky Cats

Some days, I wish that kitties could be trained to help around the house, or at least to clean up after themselves. Unfortunately, not only are they not a help, some of them are perfect hindrances! How do they hinder? Let me count the ways:

Ve Ching lying on the clothes I'm about to iron and shedding his fur all over them.

Tigger sleeping on the filing container just as I am about to put away some paperwork.

Harmony dirtying our towels after pulling them off the rack. A trick taught to her by Ve Ching.