A Valentine’s Day Bike Ride

I can’t remember the last time I rode my bike. It was probably in September before I was leveled by mycoplasma for 6-8 weeks.  In any case, it felt great to be with Kent and to be riding my bike today. The weather was perfect, sunny, breezy and cooler than usual.  Not cool; just cooler than usual.

Lots of other creatures seemed to agree that the weather was lovely.  I had lots of fun catching glimpses of the creatures below. None of the photos are mine. Hover over the photos for the credits.

First were the changeable lizards.  They are actually an interloper here in Singapore, pushing out the native green lizards.  Even so, I enjoy them. I occasionally catch a glimpse of them sunning on a tree or scampering across a sidewalk in my neighborhood.  Today, as we rode on a trail along a ridge, most of the trees sported a sunning lizard.
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After we passed under the freeway and were on the trail between the greenhouse and the military base, I saw a flash of red in the jungle.  Perched on a tree was a common holdback. Or at least I think it was. I could only see the head and the breast, not the back.

Common Flameback , male (Dinopium javanense) - Flickr - Lip Kee

We often encounter long tailed macaques on the Mandai Park Connector.  Today they were aggressive.   It is mating season and we saw them loudly scolding children. They also chased Kent’s bike for a short distance. I rang my bike bell like crazy and they watched me intently but didn’t offer chase. I was more frightened one would dash erratically in front of me and we’d both get hurt.

Long-Tailed Macaque (7668280042)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As we rode out over the Seletar dam in the Upper Seletar Reservoir, there was a raptor riding the thermals far above the reservoir.  Unfortunately I couldn’t see it well enough to identify which raptor.

In the park by the dam we spotted a collared kingfisher on our way out and on our way back.  It was flying from the same spot each time. I wonder if it is nesting time for them.

Collared kingfisher (Todiramphus chloris) - Flickr - Lip Kee

On our way home, we were on Mandai Road near the crematorium.  We heard a crashing on the hill across the street.  It was a wild board. We just glimpsed it before in slipped into denser vegetation. Back in January I was in a taxi on the BKE at night and saw one eating the plants in the embankment. Before this year I don’t know that I’ve seen them here in Singapore.

Chek Jawa Wetlands 47 - Wild Boars

 

In addition to these animals, there were many butterflies. Most common were the yellow ones, the orange ones and black ones with a greenish-yellow stripe.  However, I never had a clear enough view to identify them – just enjoyed them.

The entire ride was 10.75 miles.  We walked in smelling the Slow Cooker Creamy Tortellini, Spinach and Chicken soup.

Batu and Ella Make a New Friend

We have been very fortunate that in all our years in Singapore, we’ve always had someone stay with our cats. This summer, we are fortunate to have a kind and responsible friend who will stop by each day to care for them and give them some attention. Still, in my heart I felt sad because our cats are very social. I knew they would be lonely.

Yesterday something wonderful happened. We found a wonderful playmate for our cats. One of Kent’s colleagues just moved into our condo complex.  She has an elementary-aged daughter whom I will call E and a pre-school son.  Her daughter is going to come over to play with the cats this summer.

Our first year here I was able to arrange for a colleague’s daughter to care for the cats when we were on short trips.  My cats sleep around 18 hours per day, so they really don’t need someone here all the time.  I decided I would pay her x amount per visit, and she could visit up to four times per day.  It turned out to be a great deal for both of us.  She was an animal lover who really enjoyed the time with the cats. Even my timid Kapas eventually came out from hiding to be with her. I am hoping this new arrangement will work out as well.  I am thinking it will.

Last night E came over to meet the cats.  As usual, Batu was hesitant at first, wanting to watch her a bit to make certain she was safe.  Ella warmed up to her right away, especially when she brushed Ella’s coat. Ella loves to be brushed.

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E was a real trooper. She gamely tried each different way we suggested of playing with Batu.  Batu was clearly interested but not yet comfortable enough to play.  Here E is trying to entice Batu to play by tempting her with a toy in her playbox under the coffee table.  (Ella watches on from the coffee table.)

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As you can see, she had Batu’s attention but Batu wouldn’t play.

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Eventually, Batu did play for a few moments, much to E’s delight.

Later, E  spent time with her in the bedroom. As long as I wasn’t in the room, Batu would snuggle with her.  It’s almost as though Batu doesn’t want to hurt our feelings by being too friendly with other people.  Or, she’s not willing to let us feel less guilty for leaving her.

E stayed for quite a while. Since our two cats don’t hang out together, E kept going from one to the other.  Soon, they were following her.   The best sign came when E left. We walked her part way home.  When we came back in the condo, Batu was in the entry way. Rather than greet us, she was staring past us to see where E was.

E returned today with cat treats she had purchased with her own money.  Batu really isn’t interested in treats, but Ella was delighted. She licked her lips with relish after each treat.

My heart is no longer sad.  I am grateful that E, who took great care of her own pet bunny, will bring joy and comfort to my cats this summer.

P.S. E had been caught in a downpour which is why she is looking a bit soggy.

Corner Garden

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Isn’t that lovely? Many of the first floor tenants at our condo building like to garden. I enjoy them when I am out for my walks. This little garden is on the corner of my condo.

New Sofa Set

One of the delights of spring in an international school is that all the people who are leaving start selling off their belongings. We have a mail group at work for people can post the things they are selling. Those of us who are staying start hunting that list looking for good buys.

Our best buy this spring was a new living room set. These are the photos taken by the person who sold it.  They turned out better than the ones in our living room since his light was better.

 

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We are delighted with how comfortable it is.  Thankfully, the cats have not been scratching it.  They like that they can walk along the back edge of it. They also like the laying on the wide arms.

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Kent’s students are delighted that we brought the old sofa to school. It is very economical. At our place it usually only sat three people. In his classroom it regularly seats eight.

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Bork! Bork! Bork!

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Yes. Swedish meatballs were eaten today. We also walked 3.5 miles in the 3.5 hours we were at the store. We now have new anti- slip mats to put beneath the carpets to replace the ones that disintegrated in the Singapore humidity.

We have an additional towel rack for the guest bathroom so that when we have four guests they can all hang their towels. We also have enough glasses and bowls for all of them.

We have a new ottoman to go with our new chair and a new kitchen light fixture to replace the one that keeps blowing halogen bulbs.

That was most of our list so we did well. I am glad we arrived early. By the time we left it was so crowded we could barely stand it.

Knitting for Others

The Geri Johnson, the director of our Early Childhood program at school is highly involved with FreeSchools.org, an organization which provides a free, basic education to poor children. Most of their work is with girls. Most of it is in India.  For $25 a year I can fund a full year scholarship for a child. My friends and families know I love to give scholarships in other people’s names as a stocking stuffer at Christmas time.

Geri has visited project schools often.  She mentioned to my friend Maggie how cold it was there in the winter and that the children had no hats or scarves.  Maggie, being Maggie, promptly started knitting hats and scarves for Geri to bring on her next trip.

I have finally joined in.  I dug through my stash. I have lots of sock yarn.  I thought sock yarn would take forever to knit into a hat, and would make such a thin hat that it wouldn’t be very warm.  I decide to experiment with holding two strands of the yarn together. It worked quite well.  I created this hat using the Baby Pixy Hat pattern and some frogged stash yarn.

Baby Pixy hat

I love how stretchy and warm the hat is. Holding the yarn double made for a nicely heathered fabric. Only problem is that the hat is a bit small.  Geri, being Geri was nonplussed.  She said it would fit a younger sib.

I tried the Hurricane Hat pattern for my next hat.  Holding the Araucania Ranco Multy yarn double made for a lovely, dense fabric.  I was very pleased with the yarn, the pattern and the size of the hat. I tried it on a few first grade noggins and it fit well.  The FreeSchools.org children tend to be very petite compared to the students at our school so it should be a good fit. It looks uneven here but when it is blocked it will be awesome.

Hurricane Hat

For the next hat, I used a simple stocking cap pattern.  I can’t remember which one. I used Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock Mediumweight in the Pink Granite Colorway.  This isn’t the hat, but it is the colorway. I gave the hat to Geri before I snapped a photo. The fabric was dense but the hat wasn’t very stretchy.  I didn’t love the way the colorway was knitting up. Holding the yarn double was making the colorway do weird things. Screenshot_4_27_13_6_33_PM

I had two other hats in progress but last weekend I started this hat because I was going to have a bunch of knitting time but needed it to be mindless knitting at the salon and on the train.  Both of those hats had reasons they weren’t the best choice for that environment.   This new hat is in worsted weight which made it knit up quickly.  The yarn is RichMore Spectre Modem Printed.  It is lovely yarn and the colorway worked well with the Hats of Hope pattern. This is a super pattern. It is dead simple, makes a warm, dense fabric, and his very stretchy.  The kid child who receives this hat will likely lose the hat long before they outgrow it. [Note: the top looks funky in this photo. However, the decreases look fine when the hat is actually on a head.]
Hats of Hope #1I hope to finish one of the other works in progress by Monday so that Geri can take it with her Tuesday night when she flies to India.  If I finish it, you’ll see it here.

The Incredible, Merging Blogs

It is with great sadness that I mark the demise of Posterous.com. I thought it was a brilliant blogging platform. If you could send an email, then you could blog.

During my first year in Singapore I started a Posterous blog called Eye of the Beholder.  I loved being able to email photos as blog posts. I even made a few short-lived attempts at Photo 365 challenges. It has been a simple way to document my life here.

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When Posterous announced it would be closing, I tried to find a service that could print that blogs into a book for me. That service is available for other blogging platforms but not this one. I wondered what to do with my blog.

Fortunately, WordPress.com created an importer for Posterous .xml files. This afternoon, I sucked my Eye of the Beholder Posterous blog into this one. Other that a few missing videos and a few sideways photos, it came in cleanly. I am appreciative and impressed.

So, hence forth, this is both a knitting and a daily life blog. You’ve been warned.