Saturday, June 23, 2018

Ame's 39th!


Celebrated Ame's 39th before she flew off on a well-deserved vacation. Time is tight since this is like a super busy period at work for us (on separate projects), and we were hard-pressed to find a date to meet. We love catching up with one another IRL and it isn't too difficult to go down the list of dates to squeeze out a slot for a loooong lunch and a few cups of coffee.

We got gifts for the birthday girl, but we didn't manage to do cakes or dessert or candles. Hurhurhur. Never mind, we'll buy her loads of ice-cream when she gets back. She's an ice-cream monster. For all the talk of cutting down on dessert, she definitely inhales like four scoops of ice-cream a week. I'm not exaggerating.

This is a momentous year of changes for Ame. She finally made the decision to quit her job. It's been a decision that she has mulled over for almost three years. She has made plans and will devote her time to her heart's calling.

May your paths lead straight and your heart stays light and true. Happy Birthday, dearest Ame. To the new beginnings. 

[6] Therefore having always confidence, knowing that, while we are in the body, we are absent from the Lord. [7] (For we walk by faith, and not by sight.) [8] But we are confident, and have a good will to be absent rather from the body, and to be present with the Lord. 
~ Corinthians 2:5, Douay-Rheims

Friday, June 22, 2018

Cast Iron Cookware


By now, the man and I know what pots and pans we use often, and those we can do without. Re-assessing our cook-ware means throwing out (up cycling, rather, and passing on to the friends or the recycle table at our estate) stuff and replacing items. Besides the usual pasta and stock pots, we also needed two cast iron pots and a new grill pan. For dunno-what reason, the man took a great interest in Le Creuset pots. 😒

I heartily dislike the colors of Le Cresuset. While I'm less resistant to its range of grays, white and black, I'm not interested in its combination of porcelain or enamel. I'm not fond of colors in the kitchen. I'm a black and steel girl. We went to the mall to check out the discounts at its kitchen section. I had this 😑 face when the man was looking through options at Le Creuset. I had earlier told him that I wouldn't use anything from Le Creuset and hence I wouldn't wash it either. Some pots shouldn't be cleaned in the dishwasher. He's welcome to sort it out all by himself. He wisely wondered if there were other options of cast iron pots.

I gently pointed him in the direction of Staub. While the brand is similar to Le Creuset, providing choices of ceramic in its cookware and serveware, it offers a full cast iron option. In black, of course. That is what I want. I’ve always fancied items from Staub except that I haven't bought any because of earlier space constraints and I didn’t want to let on that I occasionally cook. When it's really your MIL's kitchen, trust me, you do not want to use it. Now that our own kitchen is being renovated, we could streamline everything, and I would cook something for myself (since what I cook don't always fit general tastebuds), I could justify the purchases of Staub cast iron cook-ware. The man had forgotten that Staub existed. He was quite excited about it. He went to and fro the two brands' display shelves at the mall, mulling over options. I was relieved that he preferred how the Staub cocotte felt in his hands compared to the Le Creuset French oven. In the end, we went home with a number of gorgeous Staub pots and pans. ✌🏻

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Be Clear, Sinuses!

The sinuses decided to flare, and wham, overnight, I woke up with clogged sinuses and muffled hearing in one clogged ear. Each time I pinch my nose to pop the airways, clear mucus comes out of my eyes. What the. I’m not totally sure what caused this round of allergies. Not caused by food for sure. Airborne particles. Air? Dust? 🤷🏻‍♀️ After a week of pharmacy meds, I caved and went to the GP to get stronger meds and had him take a look inside the ear canal.

The meds helped for sure, but effects are slow—180mg of fexofenadine, and fluticasone propionate in the form of corticosteroids in a bottle of Flixonase nasal spray. The allergies abate, then return. Arrrrrgh. The clogged ear is most irritating. It’s not entirely blocked and it doesn’t cause any sort of pain. Hearing my own voice echo when I speak is disconcerting. It unclogs when I lie supine, and while exercising. The eustachian tube in one ear remains half-blocked, and it simply refuses to clear. It doesn’t hurt, and it’s clearly not infected.

Somebody suggested chilling out in a salt room. Halotherapy. I'm highly skeptical. However, I had an hour to kill, and the gym has a salt inhalation room filled with heated Himalayan salt rocks, so I went. Popped in the ear buds, turned on the music and snoozed in there. I was like...whatever... Lying down unclogged the ear. Like the mucus sloshed the other way. When I got up, it sloshed back- there didn’t seem to be any perceived improvement to the congested ear.

The girlfriend breezily suggested I roll into karnapidasana twice a day and hold it there. Wait, what? I had to google. Oh, a yoga asana. The Karnapidasana is not a pose you want to get into with cold muscles. I wouldn’t attempt it till the end of the day. I can do this pose, but I rather just take it easy and do the halasana. It’s just an extension of the Pilates rollover. But man, it is painful on old bones!

There isn't any fever, pain or nausea. I decided to use the nasal spray for the ear too. What? Don’t tsk. They’re interconnected. It’s just a stop-gap two-day action before I dig up a non-expired anti-bacterial ear spray from somewhere. I wasn’t about to go to the GP again. If this doesn’t subside in another week, I’m off to the ENT specialist.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Rolling It Out On The MOTR


After a particularly grueling week both at work and signing up for crazy weights and cardio at the gym, and having missed all scheduled Reformer classes, the body was aching like crazy. Took a break from gym classes, and I'm glad to have private sessions at the pilates studio to fall back on.

Early on a Monday morning, the pilates instructor set me on the MOTR (Movement on the Roller) to isolate and stretch out those tiny muscles. But first, she insisted on some cardio. With feet in its resistance straps and the MOTR upright, I had to run for three minutes like that. Yucks. That's always one way of getting the heart rate up a little bit before doing balance and core work.

The MOTR is quite a nifty inexpensive equipment that doesn't take up much storage space. I'm considering of buying it for home use. While it doesn't actually substitute for a Reformer, many similar movements can be modified to be done on the MOTR as well. I don't bother with buying any weights for home use. My body weight will suffice, along with TRX straps and a pull-up bar. Everything else is done at the gym. But if I'm thinking of being less reliant on the gym or giving up that membership altogether, then adding a MOTR to the home exercise regime would totally be the answer. Functional training + strength and core. ✅

Unsurprisingly, I've never thought about stopping pilates sessions at a dedicated studio. I love those! Sure, I can totally practice mat pilates on my own, but without equipment, it isn't as fun. With the gym providing decent Reformer sessions, I veer away from it at proper pilates sessions, and focus on the Cadillac, Chair and the Ladder Barrel. It helps to have the instructor spot any mistakes in form and pacing. With a good instructor, these pilates sessions meet a different set of needs and they're able to condition those muscles deeper and better.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Folklore With The Parentals


Took the man's parents to Folklore for lunch. They hadn't visited and were curious about it. We thought that the restaurant would have settled into an organized hum, and decided to brave it on a Sunday for lunch.

Well... a peak lunch hour, the wait for food still averages 40 minutes. I suppose that can't be helped if the kitchen choose to keep to its logistics structure in spite of complaints about it for a whole year. We were prepared to wait a little, and thankfully, our food turned up in 35 minutes. I like it that the dishes came altogether at the same time, instead of how many other restaurants do it one by one. Tucking in to your orders and enjoying all the flavors make for a better dining experience.

The food is still good, but it has scaled back on the heat, making it friendlier for people who don't that much chilli and spices. The sambal belchan is still as fiery, and dry. :P The parentals enjoyed the oxtail stew and chap chye. They were very taken by the sambal buah keluak fried rice, but they still preferred to have their food with steamed white rice. Remember, this not a Peranakan restaurant. It's an Eurasian interpretation. We got to dessert since it was a table of four. Sago gula melaka and kueh kosui shared around made for a nice end to the meal.

Years ago, the parentals had asked us if we intended to have children. Our honest reply was, "No, we don't." This is a fundamental agreement that has never shifted from the time the man and I met. The parentals gently tried to understand our reasons behind it, and we patiently explained them. Once they heard us out, they never asked again. We're quite relieved at how they've respected our decision. They've never even insinuated or hinted at anything otherwise on birthdays, special days and commercial occasions. It helps greatly when they're not the kind who would or could be caregivers for any potential grandchildren. (Not that we ever expected them to.)

Happy Father's Day to my FIL. He's quite amazing for tolerating this fierce and quirky daughter-in-law who doesn't share any of his food preferences or hobbies, and tends to say a firm NO to his requests or rejects his hypotheses and assumptions outright. I'm immensely glad that we don't disagree too much on regional and American politics and social causes. It's awesome that he stays out of my business and I stay out of his. 😉

Monday, June 18, 2018

The Mind Works In Different Ways


Bought Lapham's Quarterly's Winter 2018 issue themed 'States of Mind'. Contributors and essays talk about the mind and the brain. They're discussed in tandem and separately as a thing of science, and also a thing of the arts and of course, philosophy.

The topics are wide-ranging, and different in nature. The science is always fun, and we usually roll eyes at articles of the mind since that's super subjective. It's how I always roll eyes at quotes by Carl Jung, or some of his writings. Of course Carl Jung came up in this issue.

In Damion Searls's essay 'The Difficult Task of the Future', he picks an angle which explores Carl Jung's correspondence and fierce debates with psychiatrist Hans Schmid-Guisan on the topic of introvert and extrovert personality types. This is Carl Jung's bid to find psychological types, resulting in a summary known as the Myers-Briggs test.

The introvert’s need to find hidden meanings behind the actions of others—which drove Schmid crazy during his correspondence with Jung—undergirds the entire project of Psychological Types, of course: Jung is doing what introverts do. And yet he manages a delicate dance around his own limitations. Even as he attempts a kind of Olympian insight into all the different types, he again and again admits his own partiality, saying straight-out that Freud is as right in his way as Jung is in his, and that the desire for a totalized view, which leads to a theory like Jung’s, is a fact of Jung’s own psychology—that it was almost impossible for Jung to recognize the existence of types other than his own, that it took years, and that he presents them inadequately in his book.

Anyway, within the issue is a little map of some of the untranslatable words in the world's languages created by Haisam Hussein. I like this one quite a bit. It's fun to see some of these words. There're many words I come across in my usual translation work that I struggle to find equivalents in the other language. Well, there're many which we've already adopted through social media trends, say, the familiar fika, hygge, ikigai, and lagom.

In this map, there are 22 words in total, here're some of my picks,

7. HANISA, a Yamana verb prefix, to do something haphazardly. hoping but hardly expecting to accomplish the desired aim. (We would have done this many times for different reasons.)

9. TORSCHLUSSPANIK, a German noun, a sense of alarm or anxiety caused by the suspicion that life's opportunities are passing one by. (Would we feel this at age 25, 30, 35 and 40?)

13. YOIN, as a Japanese noun, that describes the lingering memory of an experience that continues to reverberate.

14. SHEN3MEI3 PÍLÁO, as a Chinese verb, illustrating that to see so much beauty that one tires of it. (This one tickles me because it's written in hanyu pinyin- 审美疲劳.)

22. JALANYPA-MULYU-MULYU, a Warlpiri noun referring to the rapid, repeated poking of the tongue in and out of the mouth, typically in anger. (Besides having to google to learn about Warlpiri as a language, people and culture, this totally cracked me up. I mean, imagine it, pronounce it. Ha!) 

Kept this image in a larger resolution. Hope you can read it if you save it!

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Leica Women In Photography :: Silvia S. Hagge


Organized by Leica Singapore under their year-long series titled ‘Leica Women in Photography’, tonight’s mini-lecture celebrated Argentine photographer Silvia S. Hagge. She has been based in Singapore for two decades, and still views photography with such passion. She took a break in between to dabble in multi-media and ceramics, eventually returning to photography.

Silvia Hagge spoke about her journey in photography through the decades, and her penchant for black and white street photography, sharing with us her photos and her unique eye in capturing street scenes focusing on humans, and often finding angles from ground up. While she might have had used a point and shoot to begin with, as most of us did, she now enjoys using a Leica M (Typ 240). She shoots exclusively with a 35mm.

I grinned when she said that in a day of which she might have done 100 shots, she would only probably be pleased with one, or two. In a trip, she might only be really pleased with five or six shots, at the most. I totally get that. The 'money shot', is only that one or two shots out of hundreds of them. I enjoyed her travel tales and how she gets her inspiration, and how she decides what her strengths are, and how she sees photography as a practice. It's a matter of getting out there to shoot, just practicing till one gets better at it. Walking the streets to find a shot, no matter in which city or which country, is also a matter of focusing and not let everything else distract you.

I love my Leicas—the M, T and Q are all meant for different purposes. Often, the M is taken out when I'm on my own in whichever city, wandering the streets to frame shots. I rarely take the M out to socials... Hahahaha. Socials are done by the T or the Q. Photography is still a hobby for me. I'm kinda serious about it, but it's also something very private. I certainly do not share many shots with friends and not even with my partner. Tonight's talk was nice. Lovely to hear Silvia Hagge's voice and listen to her inspirations and what drives her to shoot the way she does. I don't attend all of Leica's events, but when time permits, I try to attend talks and masterclasses by photographers whose works I admire.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Martha Argerich in Concert

As wonderful a pianist as Martha Argerich is, I’m not a fangirl. I didn't even block out the calendar for her concerts or think about buying tickets. But the girlfriend graciously extended the tickets to me when she had to fly out for a last-minute work trip and couldn’t make it to both concerts in Singapore, so I shouldn’t waste the tickets. After all, why pass up the chance to see and hear a superbly talented pianist? The much loved Argentine classical pianist just turned 77 years old last week, and no longer performs solo recitals, preferring to shy away from press coverage.

The first concert saw Martha Argerich and long-time collaborator, fellow Argentine conductor-pianist Darío Alejandro Ntaca in a double piano recital. The program was a standard Schubert, Mozart and Brahms, flawlessly executed. However, I very much preferred their two other choices since I like those composers’ style- the night’s quiet opening piece, Debussy’s Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune, L.86 which has been transcribed for two pianos, and of course, Rachmaninov’s fierce and fast Suite No. 2 Op. 17. Loved the two easy and short encore pieces, which were Debussy’s En Bateau and Rachmaninov’s Waltz.

The second concert saw Martha Argerich with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO), conducted by Darío Alejandro Ntaca. The night opened with safe and popular (and boring to me) pieces in Beethoven’s Leonore Overture No. 3 and Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 17 in G major, K. 453. I was just so happy that Martha Argerich finally began her evening with a wonderful rendition of Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in C major, Op. 26. It was the only piece I was looking forward to hear tonight. At least I had that to hold on to. For her encore pieces, she played Scarlatti's Sonata in D minor, K.141 and Debussy's La soirée dans Grenade from Estampes.

The girlfriend had fantastic seats for both nights, putting me in the stalls smack on the left of the concert hall where Martha Argerich sat. Those fingers were magical. Imagine the talent and decades of hard work that went into creating the pianist today, overcoming personal battles and cancer. She has not lost that touch. Even though I'm still not a huge fan, watching a great performer live on stage is always a treat. It was wondrous to have seen Martha Argerich play, twice.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Tanzanite For Its Blues

While the MIL wouldn't abandon her diamonds, I might have convinced her to give tanzanite some love. She came back with a pouch-ful of tanzanite from her recent trip to Africa. Earrings, rings and bracelets. Very nice. Nowhere better than to buy tanzanite from its source. She bought the pieces from a reputable jeweler in the country, and had it examined again when she got back home. All properly certified. It's quite refreshing to see her wear another glittering gem besides precious stones like diamonds and rubies.

My jewelry are strictly functional, and restricted by skin allergies to weight and material. It's just a bonus if the jewelry lines are kept clean, non-floral and nothing dramatic. They can be boring, I don't mind. I lean towards tanzanite in the hues of bluish-violet and blue. Tanzanite is named as such for these specific hues on the color spectrum. It's formed from from zoisite, which also occurs naturally in brown, gray, green, pink, yellow and of course violet (the purple hues). It's a semi-precious stone that's apparently going to be mined out. Ermmm. Well....

I appreciated the MIL's gift of those simple tanzanite earrings that are of the loveliest hue of deep purple-blue. It's not a color match with my current favorite tanzanite ring, which I can't seem to stop wearing. Doesn't matter! While I don't need to wear matching jewelry of the same design or even of the same shade, it's nice to have similar hues, so I'm happy to have this option.  Blue is probably the one color I wear if I'm not in varying shades of black, white or gray. Oof! The shades of blue that lean towards cobalt and aquamarine. Never teal.