Saturday, September 29, 2012

It's Sunday morning, I wait for a Skype

I can not believe the significance that Skype calls have for me.
My sister is supposed to call in a few minutes. When it happens, I am so happy, and if for some reason it doesn't I am like a shunned lover. I sit and mope, and wait, and mope. Like a high school girl!
To be connected by voice, but more importantly, visually, really helps to feel connected.

I did a yoga retreat for the day yesterday. It was delightful. At a spa right downtown off Orchard Road. It is a very fancy area, and prime real estate. Where all the pucci/gucci malls are. (There are 371 malls in Singapore!). Just a short block off this fancy street, is a home with a beautiful garden. In the garden they have built a huge platform, and it is covered, and has big ceiling fans. We did yoga from 9-5 (with breaks) outdoors in this outdoor room. The teacher said it is as close as you can get to what it is like in Bali doing yoga. It was wonderful. I did an awful lot to this complaining body. I was very smug, thinking I had finally remembered to buy epsom salts. I will have a tub when I get back, to stave off the inevitable stiffness next morning. So I draw a tub, and the plug does not work; I can not hold water in the tub. So no epsom salts soak. And so very stiff this morning. It no doubt will loosen up as I move around today, but at 6 a.m. I limped out of bed to take a Tylenol to start the day.

Went to my first symphony concert last week. I bought 4 tickets for each concert. I don't have that many friends, so it is taking a chance. Tim had the day off so he was coming. Until he saw that he went to work the next day, but at 1 a.m. So he reneged to nap in the evening before going to work at midnight. Rod was working, and Nancy was able to come. I asked a friend, whom I met at a CAS gathering. She is Chinese, from Beijing, studied at the Beijing Conservatory, and then moved to Toronto and studied music at U of T. To fill Tim's last minute change of plans, I called a friend Farzana, a young (28? year old) woman I have befriended in our complex. It was lovely. Such an eclectic gathering of women.
The concert was wonderful. J C Bach Sinfonietta, Mozart Piano Concerto, and Beethoven 4. It was a feast. The hall is beautiful. I would like to search out more about it- architect, acoustician. It is really wonderful. It is quite like Roy Thomson, in that it is round, a circular theatre within a larger circular lobby. But wood. Imagine that - wood, not poured concrete like RT. But wood, which vibrates. A gorgeous wood, the name of which I don't know. The audience is very well trained. They are silent. The magical silent bars in the music are gorgeous, because there is no coughing, rustling of programs or paper. Electric silences. The orchestra is very formal about bowing. No chatting amongst each other, but looking out at the audience and bowing.

We are almost a year from when we first came to Singapore. October 16th or so, 2011. We came for 10 days to check out whether we would move here. When we arrived there was this bird that called out "oh no, oh no". After about 6 months we didn't hear it any more. I wondered why, because I would think if they can live in the climate here in October they can live in this climate all year. Why would they migrate? But It is coming up October and the "oh no" bird is back.

Such mysteries I live with.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


My last post mentioned the hotel that we stayed at in Cebu. I had not been particularly complimentary, but mentioned Tim had a good dive. The day after my post, I got an email from the hotel, thanking me for mentioning our visit to their hotel, and looking forward to seeing photos of Tim's dive on my next post!!!! May I never forget that everything I say here is public domain. I guess either they do a search of every new customer or flag the name of their hotel (which I am not mentioning because I do not want them back reading here) . It REALLY spooked me.

Maybe next time photos of Cebu! Not today.

Well I am definitely feeling better. I got out for a bike ride! My knees are so limited in ROM that getting on the bike was the hardest part. The next hardest was getting it over to the beach. You have to walk it through an underground tunnel, under the highway. They have a ramp to the side of the steps for the bike. But the bike is heavy, and my arms are so darn weak that it was my limit to walk it up and down the ramp. But it was a good workout. The biking is wonderful. Tim goes with his buddies, and they bike hard, and go 35 k. up to the airport and then back. It is about 2-3 hours. They sweat a bucket and feel very deservedly smug. It is a workout. Tim took me over to the bike route. It is lovely. Flat and along the beach, and goes for k's. We did not go far, my first day in years, but as I work up my arm muscles up for the trek over, it will be great. In spite of the relentless heat and humidity, you make your own breeze, and as long as you are moving it is great. We came back hot and sweaty, and me flushed scarlet, and went swimming to cool off! Life is tough in the fast lane!

My activities have started up.

I went on a tour of the Black and Whites. And what are the black and whites you ask. There is a style of home here, very reminiscent of English homes, white stucco with  black timbers. Many think the B&W here are because of the British occupation of this colony. But it is a very practical way to build here in this climate. Often the houses are on stilts- to keep wild animals at bay (they had no glass in their windows, wanting to grasp any breezes). In the 1800's Singapore had tigers (and still have monkeys!). Also for floods. The tide here at the equator is 3 meters. In a storm, much of the city would flood. It was pretty swampy. The creosoat in the timbers is to keep the bugs out of the timbers. We saw homes of all state of repair. One we went in to, an exec with Shell Oil. Beautiful high ceilings (hot air rises away). Built in the shape of a cross, so each four rooms the arms of the cross, had ventilation on three sides. Saw an artist's home with wonderful artifacts from all over the world. The outdoor rooms, outdoor kitchen, all so practical for here. There are bamboo blinds to pull down for privacy or rain, shutters on all windows, and even sometimes the walls are louvered to be like shutters to let in the breeze. Each room would have a ceiling fan. It was an interesting tour. I love seeing in to people's homes.

I did a tour today of the port. It was not what I expected, but always interesting and with a wonderful group of people. (my FOM (Friends of the Museum) membership). We met downtown, were taken by bus, to the bum boat river tour. I had done this before, but interesting to see it again, having got to know some of what I was seeing. (The guide said the bum is bump, because of their big rubber bumpers.) We then took a bus to one of the ports where the big container ships unload. It is massive. Their are 6 of these ports in Singapore. One downtown on prime real estate is being moved outside the busy expensive downtown area. I had expected more touring of this area, and was a little disappointed. When we look out our balcony, each and every huge ship has a story, each sailor a story. I would have loved to get a bit of that. We then took a cable car ride that shows the port from the air. Again, I had done this before, but fun to do with these women. Saw the port by water, land and air!

Tomorrow I have my first Singapore Symphony concert. I got 4 seats hoping I'd find three people free to join me. Well, Tim is free. I rarely have gone to concerts with him. I am looking forward to that. Nancy is coming. Rod is working. So the fourth is a friend from CAS (Canadian Association Singapore) She is a pianist and studied at U of T and went to the TSO all the time. She was blown away to meet me! HA.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Getting back in the swing of things

September things start to roll again. The two organizations to which I belong start up their activities.
 I have signed my life away.
I went to a very interesting demonstration of classical Indian temple dance. She was beautiful, and the dance was beautiful. She danced to poetry of Gita love ballads. Beautiful movements and extraordinary facial expressions. There were musicians accompanying her. A flute, drum, violin, voice. The dance has a name I did not get but it include the syllables "pre" for facial expression, "raga" for melody, and "thala" for rhythm. These dances told love stories of Krishna. I found it a great deal of information, and a lot of dance, because it was all so new to me. A second time I would take in more and get more out of it. But to be exposed to these cultural forms is wonderful. (Also I was fairly new back in Sg and not fully copus mentis- or that's my excuse this time)

Yesterday I took a bus tour. I got an email telling me about this woman, whose business is organizing tours around Singapore. This tour was of shophouses. Shophouses are row housing, where the business is at the front of the house, and the family lives at the back and upstairs. These houses  are beautiful, practical, surprisingly spacious, and starting to be protected by historical preservation. The ceilings are very high (to take the hot air up), there are windows at the front and back, and a huge skylight in the middle. Often the skylight will be open to the sky, and the rain would fall into a pond on the first floor! We saw some old and preserved traditionally, some not renovated (yet?), and some with the exterior traditional, but the interior modern and out of this world. I don't know why I did not take photos of these modern interiors. They were spectacular. Minimalist, and art. Such amazing art. I know I was to be looking at the houses, but I was awestruck by the art. (As I post these photos I have no idea where they will appear on the blog!)
I am a member of a book club back in TO. I have been able to be a part of most meetings while I am here. I Skype them Friday morning to take part in their Thursday night meeting. It is wonderful to stay connected this way. But this past week I didn't make the connection. Not to press a point, girls, but we in the book club are all learning new skills on the computer, and learning Skype, finding our where our passwords are, etc etc. I so love these Skype connections to stay connected with my wonderful life back home.
I think I mentioned we were going to Cebu for the weekend. A long weekend. We flew out Friday morning and came back Monday evening. Cebu, as I learned, is in The Philippines. Tim had heard that there was really good diving in Cebu. We went to a hotel he picked on a website "Agoda", Plantation Bay Resort. A half hour drive from the airport, past very third world areas. Shacks made of tin and  blue plastic sheets, kids, goats, chickens sitting and wandering very close to the road. Then through very grand gates of "the plantation" to fantasy land. Man made all of it, well almost all of it. Their shore line was not glamourous but it was off this shore line that Tim had one of the best dives ever. There is a wall drop off, 100 meters down just 50 meters off the beach. He saw lots and was not disappointed. But the hotel grounds were not our usual style. Man made ponds, pools, "cliffs" to dive off, "waterfalls". (a little Disneyland, a little Club Med) The room was very nice, Philippine furniture, the food mediocre, but we had a nice time. Not a place I would die to go back to, but Tim would go back to dive again. I guess I would just have to go for more spa treatments. That's what I do when he goes snorkelling or diving. I will put pics on the next blog. Tim took lots of pics, I took none. I will get them from him, and share with you next entry.
I am back at yoga, as often as I can attend (3-4 times a week). I continue to stretch and work at yoga. At this wonderful studio "Yoga for Normal People- Calm and Bendy". I love it!
Went to an osteopath today and he mentioned an ugly word- fibromyalgia. He said I could have this for ever. Yuck yuck yuck. I really wish I could get a strong voice telling me what is going on, and what to do about it. One that tells me something I don't  mind hearing!
Kate and Will were here last week. I am so bad. I did not go downtown to see them. More accurately see the tops of their heads. They went to that wonderful Gardens by the Bay, amongst other places. I just see so many crowds all the time I didn't want to see more. Am I just getting old?
The grand prix is here this weekend- a huge event for Singapore. You can buy tickets to the stands, and watch the cars zip by, for $200, or really good seats for thousands $$$, or you can get a walkabout ticket for about $80. There is so much activity, and it is supposed to be quite exciting. But I think we will pass it by. They race at night. One reason being it uses streets in the downtown, but also, the sun is down , and it might be a degree or so cooler. It is raining today. It starts tonight. I would think wet roads are not good. hmmmm.
Ciao for now


Sunday, September 9, 2012

I left home and now am home

It was a tough one, to leave "home", Muskoka, and  Toronto, and head to Singapore, where my husband is, and "my duty calls". HA.
It is tough, though, to leave all that makes me happy, my kids, my family, my friends, Southwinds, and head to Singapore, which is beautiful, Tim is here, and I made a commitment for two years, dammit, to live here. (1 1/2 left, but who's counting!)
My flights were good, if 20 hours in the air and 26 hours door to door can be good. I got on. That is the good. Flight AC 001 (!) to Narita, a 777, I had a window seat and an empty seat beside me. What a difference that makes. Shoulder room, head falling over drooling room, room for carryon under seat beside, not up  above, so much more accessible. One of the flight attendants was from my flight to TO end of July and she sent me back a big "business class " pillow, what a difference, and a red wine and almonds. Very sweet. I didn't even touch the wine, though. I really follow the rules. No alcohol (me!) lots of water, up every two hours, I take "no jet lag " pills every 2 hours. It seems to work. I still feel like a dog's breakfast when I get here, and hard to imagine I could feel worse, but positive thinking and I think it all works. Only a 3 hour layover in Narita, and a row of seats to myself to Singapore. My bags had been checked through YES!, a BIG help, so it was a smooth as could be.
(You leave TO at 2:00 p.m. Wednesday, are in the air for 13 hours, sunlight the whole way, and arrive in Tokyo in sunlight at 3 p.m. But it is Thursday! All day in the 2:00 sun, and a day passes! Is this called chasing the sun? Then you get on the Sg flight at 5:00 p.m. and get in to Singapore at midnight Thursday. Your body is still back at noon Thursday! A killer. How do those pilots do it?)
Changi Airport is terrific. No line-ups. Because I have my dependant's pass, so resident of Singapore, I have no immigration, no forms to fill out. I go through a gate where they scan my passport. Then the gate opens and I wait in a stall. I press my right thumb on a window, and the sign says "Welcome Callahan Jane" and the gate opens. Very slick. Baggage is fast, taxi no line ups, and home in the apartment within  45 minutes of landing! Impressed upon arrival at midnight at the temperature 80'. and at how clean the highway is, in to town. And the bougainvillaea in full bloom. They do do things well.
It was so sweet to arrive home to emails from friends here. My Chinese doctor Albert!  A young Bangladesh woman I have befriended, Farzana. Laurie, who is transferred back to Calgary in a few weeks. Norm came up to welcome me back. It was very touching to be noticed that I was away, and welcomed back.
Activities start up now. I am off this morning to a FOM lecture at the Asian Civilization Museum. I don't know what it is on, but do know it will be about something about which I know nothing, so it is a safe bet.
Then to a nursery to see if I can do some damage control on plants that have suffered while I was away. I really think they have been overwatered.
It is good to be back in our little IKEA apartment, to our self-centred  simple life. We are heading away to Cebu, Philippines, this weekend for four days. It helps with the missing Muskoka! It is a beach holiday.
Off to get learned.

Monday, September 3, 2012

It's time to leave

I am leaving in 1 1/2 days. I am sad. It has been so wonderful to see my kids, my sisters, my friends. I have eaten out most meals and am a stuffed sausage heading home.
AND I am so much better. Is it the Muskoka air? Is it just time passing? Is it doing yoga every morning? Is it being so damn happy?
It is probably a little bit of all those things.
But also I have had some appointments with my chiropractor, who does acupuncture and active relief therapy.
AND I also have done 2 appointments of myofascial release therapy. It was not what I was expecting. I thought it would be a deep massage. It is a little new age, but I feel remarkably better for two appointments with her. The theory is fascia is throughout our bodies, holding everything in place- between muscles and skin ( you know when you skin a chicken- that clear film over the meat - fascia), holding organs in place in our abdomen. If it gets locked/frozen anywhere in the body it can affect you anywhere. By treating one area, you actually treat the whole body. Sounds new age to me, but I sure feel better for it. I had been told my remaining problem was that my connective tissue was locked up. Tendons. Well, the MFR certainly has helped that. Unfortunately she does not know of anyone in Singapore doing this technique. But she does in Perth. I might  have to head to Perth for a few days for intensive treatment.
Last week I had to lock up Southwinds. For the first time in my life. My mother was always there. Bittersweet. Also I don't know when I will be back. It could be 2 years. Ouch.
In TO I have seen the kids, and I was a part of Heidi and Alex's move to TO. I am so glad to see where they are going to be living, so I can think of them in their context. They have a great apartment in a great area, Lesleyville. It will be terrific for them.
I went to visit my sister in Port Colborne, saw her kids and grandkids there, and  had an evening with my sister Marnie. Lots of visiting.
One very special thing I did was be a part of "Kelley's tree". My dearest friend Kelley died 1 1/2 years ago and last summer we planted a tree in her memory , at Toronto Island. We said we would do an annual visit, take a photo each year, and watch the tree grow in our photos each year. The luncheon happened while I was here, so I was a part of the gathering. It so warmed my heart to be there. A wonderful tribute to Dear Kell.
This visit home is going to have to do me for a while. The kids are coming to Singapore in January. I hope to get back next summer/fall to do Stratford and Shaw with them. I love theatre so much and really hope to keep our visits annual. But we are not moving home until January  2014.
Right now, Singapore seems a long way away. From here. From the kids. From family. From friends.
But it is beautiful there, and we do have some great trips. And Tim is there. So I am very split.
Next post will be back in Singapore. 26 hours of traveling on Wednesday. I am dreading that. Yuck.

Til then.