Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Swimming On the Edge

When I was on the plane traveling to Singapore, the guy next to me started talking about all his trips to Singapore and things he’d seen and done. I was amazed that he was telling me to go places that hadn’t been featured in any of the tour books I’d read. Then he pulled out his ipad and showed me a picture he took of this Infinity pool at night with Singapore’s gorgeous skyline in the background, and I knew I had to make a trip to this hotel.

It’s supposed to cost $20 to go up to the Skypark at the top if you’re not a hotel guest, but for some reason, my co-worker and I were waved on as long as we went to Ku De Ta at the top for a drink. We did. Our drinks were $25 a piece, but I have to say, the views were worth it. We would have stayed for the breathtaking views of the skyline at night like my plane companion had, but a storn was rolling in.

Still, I was not disppointed. From here I saw the Infinity pool on one side and then all the ships pulling into port off the other side. I loved that view even more! They looked like little toy battleships all askew, as far as I could see. Imagine it. This is just what fit into my viewfinder, but there were ships as far as the eye could see. It was magnificent!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Holiday Traffic

Fifteen miles of backed-up Thanksgiving holiday traffic made us wonder: is family really worth this?

(We said yes, since we were traveling the opposite way.)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

What I Learned at the Peranakan Museum

One of the best things about traveling is learning about other cultures. I knew that Singapore was made up of Chinese, Indian and Malay (not Malaysian, as I always thought), but I knew little about the Peranakan people until I took a fabulous tour of their heritage museum.

I joined a lovely group of women from Tasmania and we all fawned over the beautiful intricacy of the museum's treasures.

Our tour guide explained the things we were looking at and told us a little about the culture and beliefs. His stories were fantastic. For instance, he told us about this funeral altar. You can just make out the coffin behind the flowered altar, covered in an intricate quilt. This coffin would have been left open for three days while the doctor and the wife of the dead sat beside it, keeping away pregnant cats so that they did not suck out the soul of the deceased. And what would have happened if a cat got past them and did that very thing? The deceased would have turned into a zombie!

But hold on. Let's back up. Before death comes marriage, and there are lots of wedding traditions among the Peranakan. For one thing, the Peranakan women are known for their intricate beadwork and embroidery skills. Traditionally, the bride-to-be would embroider beautiful beaded slippers for her mother-in-law. It made me think about my soon-to-be daughter-in-law. Should I tell her I expect some? Think she has time to whip up a pair while she works on wedding plans? Probably not. I'll let it go.

But wait! Before we can talk about wedding presents and ceremonies, we need to talk about how I would have picked her as a bride for my son if we were Peranakan. What I would value most highly is her cooking abilities. Girls are raised very traditionally and master embroidery and cooking. Then, when they're 16, they're married off to boys aged 19 or 20. But how to choose, how to choose? Oh, here's how. As a mother, I would hang out around the kitchen windows of the girls' houses and listen in to what's going on while she cooks. If her mother is telling her to pay attention, or pots and pans are falling, she may not be "The One."

But once I have chosen the right girl, they will have a beautiful wedding procession.

Then, on their wedding night, they will be presented with two chickens: a hen and a cock. These chickens will have been starved for a day or two and put underneath the wedding couple's bed. Then, the father (Baba) will throw down some rice and the first chicken to emerge will be a prediction of the sex of their firstborn child. Apparently 8 of of 10 times, the fowl are right.

Hhmmm.. I'd been struggling with what to get the wedding couple for a present. Maybe a couple of chickens? If my daughter-in-law beads me some slippers, I'll do this for her in return.
The wedding bed is actually comprised of two beds: a single and a double. If the couple is fighting, one can sleep in the single bed. Smart!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Spectacular Singapore Skyline

Forgive me, Cincinnati, but I think I have a new favorite skyline.

The Merlion statue spouting water into the Singapore River
From Merlion Park, the Esplanade bank and to the right, the Singapore Flyer.
Buildings reflected on the Singapore River.
The beautiful lotus flower-shaped Arts & Sciences Museum.
In back, the Sands Marina hotel and Sky Bar. In front, part of the double helix pedestrian bridge.

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Long, Long Campaign

Isn't it enough that the city of West Chester had to close roads, put 47 policemen on duty,
and bring in a sound stage, lights, stadium bleachers, and dozens of tractor trailers for
the Romney rally? Did they really have to close the library, too? Apparently so.
It's been four days since the rally and no one has packed it all up and carted it away yet.

Could there be any state more ready to be done with this election than the state of Ohio? Folks, we Buckeyes are campaign-weary. We're bombarded with political messages, phone calls, appearances, signs, and heated controversy over who is winning our all-important state. The news says that Ohio will pick the winner, and we are a state very much divided.

I don't think I've seen a television commercial in weeks that isn't a slam against one opponent or another. I can't imagine the millions spent on ads in our state.

On any given day we can open the newspaper and see which Presidential candidate, wife of a candidate, or running-mate is making another appearance in Ohio.

Our roads are closed for motorcades.

The signs in our yards are plucked out almost as soon as they're put up.

There are empty chairs lining the street like pitiful yard sales of dilapidated fiurniture left in the rain.

Our phones ring as early as 8am with recorded messages from every interest group that shouldn't have our names in the first place. Seriously -- don't they know who they're calling?

We've been polled.

We've had our hands shaken.

We've been re-routed on our way to work.

We're ready for the long campaign to be over.

We'll be out in droves to vote tomorrow. We are Buckeyes.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

NaNoWriMo Has Begun!

Book sculpture/waterfall outside the Cincinnati Public Library.
I'd better kick it into gear if I ever want to see my book on the shelves there.

Here it is. November 1st. The start of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) 2012.

One of my managers is doing it with me this year. We sat at lunch yesterday and talked all about it. There were common themes that ran through our conversation and I realized that my imagination runs wild every October 31st, just before I sit down to start. Here's what I thought last night:

This book is going to be so good. Oh my gosh. This is the best idea ever. I can't believe nobody else has written this. Nobody else has probably ever thought of this. I'll be able to find a publisher right away. Probably by December. This book is probably going to write itself. After I get a publisher, they'll probably want me to turn this into a series, but I think it's better as a stand-alone. I'd better start thinking of the next book after that. I'll probably have a lot of book signings. I wonder if I'll be able to retire right away? I'm going to take my co-workers to the bookstore and surprise them and walk over to where my book is on the shelf. That'll be so funny. I'll probably be a common household name, like Stephen King. Oh my gosh -- this book is going to be great!

I could barely sleep for all my delusions of grandeur.

Then I woke up and went to my computer to start this Great American Middle-School Novel. I typed 300 words and it's already going wrong.

Wish me luck.