Thursday, July 18, 2019

SNEC Toilet Wisdom

I was fretting badly at SNEC (Singapore National Eye Centre) enduring a marathon wait from 1.30-630pm when I decided to take a toilet break where I encountered Robert Frost's words of wisdom to refresh me. 😇

Words of Wisdom hidden in SNEC's toilet cubicles

Meeting Frost's pithy saying in the not so scruffy toilet cubicles tickled my funny bones ....who was the angel who put him there?  Thank you for diverting a fatigued patient like me.😀

I have been acquainted with Frost's poetry many years ago but its my first meeting with this 3 nuggets of wisdom  about Life.
I T   GOES   ON 
Thank you Frost for your brief insightful message. Yes and agree, no matter what the present situation is,  life ultimately goes on..

According to a google search Frost uttered this proverbial wisdom on his 80th birthday when asked what was the most important lesson he had learned in life and his spontaneous  reply was:

Frost's words of wisdom

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Homage to Libraries and Librarians

While searching for books to read in the Clementi Library I was nicely surprised to see this title The Beautiful Librarians  written by poet Sean O'Brien on the shelves. In this collection there are altogether 39 poems and The Beautiful Librarians, the title poem of the collection is a nostalgic homage to the glory of libraries and librarians.

A homage to libraries and librarians

As a former librarian I was chaffed to read O'Brien's  fascination with the mysterious female staff of his local library.  But were librarians really that romantically memorable to stir a poet to "adoration"😊 

On quiet evenings at the issue desk, 
Stamping books and never looking up
At where I stood in adoration

I liked that he remembered and immortalised librarians with nostalgia and elevated us to the realms of poetry. Instead of depicting our role as repressive tyrants maintaining the golden rule of silence and crusty custodians  of dusty books we are recaptured  as guardian angels of "realms of gold" (meaning books or the collection)

Never to even brush in passing
Yet nonetheless keep faith with them
The ice queens in their realms of gold -

The ice queens and their realms of gold! 1960s - 2017 

Because I am a book addict and library person the poem resonates with me. Like O'Brien I too have kept faith with libraries, books and reading. But for him the future is bleak as he laments the UK government's cuts in library and funding services.

Book after book I kept my word
Elsewhere, long after they were gone
And all the brilliant stock was sold


Thursday, June 8, 2017

Next to Nature Art

Nature I loved; and next to Nature Art*

Pretty as a picture, the golden leaves strewn along the boardwalk  in the Windsor Nature Park.

 Composed by Nature

Windsor Nature Park is not only a Nature park, in many ways it is an art gallery of  Nature. Below a collage of leaf prints on the boardwalk.

Leaf prints on the boardwalk

And a close up of the fragile leaf print

A leaf print

Strolling along the narrow path one encounters numerous little art compositions from fallen coconuts to blooming mushrooms to logs of life depending on how one's eyes see and interpret the raw creations of Mother Earth.

Mushrooms bloom admidst the decay

Here's one celebrating fallen coconuts

Fallen Coconuts

Large  Log coexists with smaller plants

A kaleidoscopic view  of nature's raw art

The path through the woods is a narrow squeeze and walking along it can be a stressful experience especially when it gets crowded. On the other hand at quiet moments, it allows an intimate brush with nature while you make  your way  on a safe cemented track. Although the encroaching jungle is a hairs breath away I found the Windsor Woods  neither imposing nor sinister. Instead it presents a tranquil, benign   face  for  communion.

Just a closer walk with Nature

And here's a picture of Sophie my grandchild with her dad at the Windsor Nature Park, on a walk organised by her Childcare Centre My first Skool

Sophie's artwork inspired by her romp through the Forest

Artwork from Sophie my grandchild the Nature artist 👧

A collage of activities in the Park

 * Verse by Walter Savage Landor

I strove with none, for none was worth my strife;
Nature I loved; and next to Nature Art

Monday, April 17, 2017

Sixth Avenue Woods

Stopping by woods on a December morning.....

tranquil path through the woods
....the woods are lovely dark and deep.....

I have lived here for more than 40 years and yet this is my  first  attempt to explore  the green woods right behind my backyard. For this privilege I have to thank the authorities, whoever they be, that built this tranquil path for us to walk through.

 The Path meaders along a shady route ending at the newly opened Green Leaf View Playground and serves as a shortcut between Sixth Avenue and Greenleaf Estate residents. It is one of the so called "desired paths" in the vicinity.

The Playground
Facilities at the Playground

Starting from Sixth Avenue, the Path runs on a paved track  flanked by greenery and trees and there are many surprising encounters   enroute -- picturesque houses overlooking green meadows with running stream, a family of wild roosters and tiny flowers patterned with raindrops are some of the refreshing sights I  spotted.

Houses "green to the very door"

More communion with Nature along the way as recorded  below

Above left a family of wild roosters
Below left a clump of blossoms on palm tree
Right Rain splattered purple petals and enlargement below

Raindrops on purple petals
 Although  not jam packed  the Path is  well used, with a constant stream of  walkers, joggers, skateboarders, short cutters, cyclists, helpers, prams,  dogs frequenting this desired Path all day long sometimes into the early evenings.
                                          The well used Path

The Playground and the Path are a bonus for the community and  I feel churlish to be complaining but if there is one tiny improvement I wish for this green haven, it is that dogs be disallowed from roaming so freely at the Playground or along the lovely wooded Path. Indeed there is a mild notice up on the Playground (but none on the Path) that dogs must be on leash.
Notice on Playground only

However I myself have witnessed countless times, dogs wandering unleashed and even playing catch the ball with their minders, or racing down the Path as shown in video below.
Should dogs be allowed to roam free ??

Not that I want to be a party pooper,  but as a courtesy to young children and elderly folk, dogs who traipse this Path, and they number no less than human traffic ( no kidding) my feeling is they should be leashed. Hope I will not be castigated as a dog hater or misocyny, (I just learned this word)  for raising this issue,  because dog hater I am not, having gone the extra mile not so long ago to feed  abandoned dogs that came to my fence.
We fed these dogs that came to our fence

The dogs pictured above were eventually caught (hope its not for culling) by  animal activists who considered leaving them in the wild to beg for food was too cruel a fate, but that, is another story.

 To get back to our green haven, come rambutan and durian season there will be more  activities to celebrate.  And I have yet to shoot and toast the birds, butterflies, insects and a neighbor has been telling me there is a family of monkeys inhabiting the long live the Woods and Wilderness!
Long Live Woods and Wilderness !

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Bukit Timah Nature Reserve Revisited

How things have changed.....

.....A tattered coat upon a stick...

Stick wielding Senior

Although I am not yet (I hope) a tattered coat upon a stick, but still when it comes to BTNR I am a stick wielding senior 😩
South View Path. Difficulty Moderate

whereas 30 years ago the nature reserve was my regular training ground for treks to Himalayan mountains, I could summit twice ...

Old Summit Path I need assistance of a walking stick and can't even summit once.... so maybe instead of mountains, I should contemplate sailing away with WB Yeats to the golden city of Byzantium. 😇
Sailing to Byzantium

...An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium....
from WB Yeats Sailing to Byzatium

Wednesday, March 22, 2017


Hello Sorbee
Looking for me?
Peering through the window panes

Hello ! Is it me you're looking for?

In my darkest hour you turned up again
altho I cannot capture you well
thro the window panes
I can see your curved beak
What are you trying
to express ?

Welcome to my world !

Sitting silently at my window pane.

dear yellow bird
with olive back
thanks for your visit

Sorbee the olive sunbird

Update Dec 2018

Chance Encounter at Botanic Gardens

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Sleepy Hollow Holland Drive Wet Market receives an Unexpected Visitor

What a rare treat ! While walking out to the Holland Drive market one bright and sunny morning, I ran into a Hornbill resting against  a tree trunk.

Hornbills like to nest in tall trees

The Hornbill is a large  bird with a  yellow helmet like casque on top of its massive bill. This striking combination gives it an awesome  appearance. 

Amazing bird with its massive bill topped by a casque

It drew the attention of aunties and uncles out marketing, (including me) to pause and gawk and ask excitedly "kwa see me ? kwa see me?"  "Kwa jeow kwa jeow" is my jocular reply and on hindsight, hope it didn't get misinterpreted as a vulgarity !:)

Aunties and uncles crane their necks to get a better view

Shutterbugs and bird watchers   gathered with their cameras, telephoto lenses, tripods, smart phones and  binoculars to grab a picture or a view of this unexpected visitor.
Birders and Shutterbugs all agog

Waiting patiently with their long telephoto lenses 

As I had with me only a low end phone camera I could only get this not so sharp picture of the bird. Still, I can see it is peering into the hole of the tree trunk which I guess  must be the nest. Is the female bird with eggs inside ?

Is he feeding the family ..? be continued when chicks are hatched and learn to fly.....

Update 1 Christmas Eve 24 Dec 2016 10.30 am

Shutterbugs are still staking out at Holland Drive

According to the market talk the male hornbill comes every few hours to feed the female (who is sitting in the hole hatching the eggs) I was not lucky enough to catch sight of it during my visit. Nevertheless, thank you Hornbill for bringing joy and wonder this Christmas 2016 to the elderly uncles and aunties in this sleepy community of Holland Drive.

Holland Drive Wet Market
thank you Hornbill be Updated....
Update 2 Jan 17 2017  Morning....
Sad ! No sign of the bird on my market visits since I last saw it in Dec. Heng managed to catch a brief glimpse a few days ago with this rather hazy picture as it was late afternoon.
Bird is still around.

.......Hopefully there will be more dramatic updates when baby birds learn to fly......
Final Update March 3rd 2017
Well I guess its chapter close and good bye Hornbill as I have no more sightings of it on my regular visits to the market and all the shutterbugs and bird watchers have disappeared too.
One final word, the bird was highlighted in ST Feb 27 as shown in picture below:
Straits Times Feb 27 picture

Thursday, January 5, 2017

My Haiku Page

Breeze ripples
Boughs bow and sigh
Coolness !
Falling leaves:
a gust of wind showers the ground
gold at my feet
Visitor @ my window
wings folded, hanging upside down
a little bat.
Dec 31st 2007:
sunny & breezy, foliage rustling
in Botanic Gardens
Dec storms:
water down soaking walls
drip, drip, drip

Boom City:
a forest of cranes gouging the earth
scarring my homeland


Jan drizzles:
on the leaves the crystals


Enright's bench:
sits among tall trees and birdsong
on a sunlit knoll



bike ride to the village
amidst raindrops and breeze
the trees raced


Deprung Monastery:
temple bells reverberate on cold crags
all around


In the park
crystals shimmer on the leaves
freshness there


Bike ride to the village
chickens in bamboo coops chug by
to some market


Rejection is
a cat without shelter
in the rain


Boredom is
a long afternoon
in an empty house


Fear is
encountering that figure in the dark
brandishing a knife


Loneliness is
a brown parched leaf
on a pavement


Happiness is
a breeze in the Park
on a hot day


Incoming tide:
a blue soft crepe of folds
rolls landwards


After rains
olive sunbirds on my willows
begin to whistle


Waves on rocks beat
along the shoreline foams splutter
water fountains


SNEC treatment
patients with eyes dilated sit and wait like
patience upon a monument.


40 years on
I finally made my way
to Angkor


Sitting still:
a white crested thrush above and I below
in Kent Ridge Woods


Agony is
lying on the stretcher waiting your turn
to undergo the knife


Lifestyle choice:
an old couple living in an old house
full of old stuff



Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Mid Autumn Festival 2016

Rediscovering this beautiful Sung Dynasty verse (ci) by Sudongpo commemorating the Moon and celebrating friendship during Mid Autumn Festival

The universal moon

Yes, tonight (Sept 15 2016) the moon is full as we celebrate Mid Autumn Festival with my family and Sophie my granddaughter enjoys a lantern party in my backyard while I recall friends from far and near.
 Full Moon on Mid Autumn Festival

Sophie's lantern and candles party

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Sea Burial

Sea Burial

Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes;
Nothing of him that does fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell:
Hark! Now I hear them – Ding-dong, bell.
(from the Tempest by Shakespeare) 

Mum passed away on 18th May  and was buried at sea on 22nd May
Wake at Mt Vernon prior to sea burial
Dearest mum you will always be remembered for your great beauty, your creativity and talent (as successful hairdresser)  and  for your kind and loving ways. 
In her prime Mum's  beauty  turned many heads and made many hearts flutter.... many loved your moments of glad grace..... 

....glad grace.....

She ran a flourishing hair dressing business in the 60s and 70s.
Mum's hairdressing saloon in the 60s and 70s

Mum  the creative  hairdresser
Her saloon was always packed to overflowing and she was the Tim ho wan of her generation with customers lining up at the door. During the pre lunar new year season, business continued into the wee hours of morning !
Always full house!
No room to walk
Packed end to end
Her customers came from all walks of life, rich tai tais, office workers, housewives, the rich and famous including starlets, songstress, bargirls and many other offbeat characters.  All came to have their hair cut and dressed by mum and her assistants.

mum seen cutting the hair of popular starlet of the 60s MsCheong Suet Fong

Mum (centre) with her 2 chief assistants

In her heyday Mum had more than 20 girls to help her run her business. During the Spring Festival or Chinese New Year she would hold an annual dinner to thank them for their hard work.


Mum extreme left with some of her staff during lunar new year celebrations

Mum you were a true Pioneer of your age and thank you for your legacy.
 Still feisty and lovely into old age, celebrating with family and friends, she loved music, karaoke, travel, jackpot, good food,..... loving life living it.
Globe trotting after retirement


Mum waving

Jaunts to Malaysia with jackpot and karaoke kakis (mum sitting @centre)

Childlike at heart mum loved Santa Claus and Christmas

Mum's 85th birthday celebration @ Shangrilla (2009)
For the final journey we boarded a ferry at Marina South
A nun chants scriptures in a simple ceremony of farewell

Mum's ashes float away in a pink sea shell accompanied by flowers and bread crumbs

Do not look for my grave and weep
I am not there
The stillness of calm waves will gently drift by
I will be as one with the sea.
Mum's Song