Saturday, 16 September 2017

COMPANY RETREAT - CASSIA BINTAN


 
Spent Thursday and Friday in a brand new resort by Banyan Tree.
 
I shared a room with Charmaine, and it was a sweet little apartment with a private balcony ...


... and a fully equipped kitchenette

 


 
The weather was erratic.  Sometimes bright and sunny.


 
Sometimes there was heavy rain.
 

At other times it was cloudy.

 
I enjoyed a 90-minute full body massage at the Angsana Spa.
 
 

For the rest of my time I was in the company of crazy people.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

DAD CELEBRATES 88


Dad is 88 today.  To celebrate, we went to eat chicken rice. On a normal day, he will tell you that he doesn't like chicken. But for his birthday, he'd always ask for chicken rice!  As I recall, he also requested for chicken rice on his 80th birthday


Dad's appetite was surprisingly good.  We ordered half a chicken, large portions of roasted pork belly with crispy skin and honeyed char siew, and a bowl of laksa. Dad isn't fond of spicy food, yet he polished off all the laksa gravy, leaving us with just the noodles.


In the afternoon, when he was beaming after he devoured a creamy durian crepe, I asked him, "Are you happy?" He replied, "VERY happy!"

Being bogged down by illnesses and dementia Dad sinks deeper into depression day by day.  He is rarely happy so today is a day to be cherished.


This is my mother.  She complains that I take shitty photographs of her.  "You make me look like an old woman!"

Sunday, 9 July 2017

FINALLY FOCACCIA!



Dad is in one of his foul moods - he has been so for the last five days or so.  On August 1st, he'll be seeing his doctor at the polyclinic.  I really ought to recommend that Dad be tested for dementia.  

A few weeks ago, Dad's bank passbook ran out of pages.  Since he was hard of walking and hearing he did not want to go personally to the bank to get a new passbook.  I explained to him that the bank account is in his name so it would be make sense for him to make a trip.  While we were both in the bank, I enquired if I might apply for new passbooks on Dad's behalf in the future.  Yes, was the answer.  Dad simply needs to place his thumbprint on an authorisation form.  Two bank officers explained this to him separately in Mandarin before Dad affixed his thumbprint.

This week he suddenly felt insecure about the whole thing.  He claims that he didn't sign the form out of his own free will and no one at the bank ever explained anything to him.  Then he even told my Mum that that form would allow me, his daughter, to tap into his bank account and withdraw all his cash!

Each time Dad acts crazy, I'd withdraw into my own bedroom - tormented and depressed - thereby ruining too many perfectly good weekends.  Today, I decided that life is too short to wallow in another person's misery.  Today, nothing would come between and my beloved baking. Today, I made a focaccia that is by far the best one that came out of my kitchen yet.


I keep my focaccia simple.  Light olive oil,  a hint of Italian herbs, a generous scatter of coarse sea salt on the top.  No elaborate topping that would turn it into a pizza.  


This focaccia smells incredible.  Finally, that perfect recipe.  Finally, a focaccia that's everything I wanted it to be.


Bread dough: 300 grams Blue Jacket Bread Flour, 4 grams instant yeast, 4 grams dried Italian herbs, 2 grams caster sugar, 5 grams salt, 1 tablespoon light olive oil, 220 - 240 grams water.  Topping: light olive oil and coarse sea salt

Sunday, 2 July 2017

BELGIAN PRALINES

Look what my BFF brought me all the way from Belgium!  Dark and intense.  Smooth and creamy.  Luxury chocolates of every shape and size.  




Friday, 23 June 2017

THE DREAM


Dad has good days and bad days. On a good day, he is utterly sweet, doting and forgiving. On a bad day, he would refuse his meds, hurl verbal abuses at Mum and I, trash the apartment, and threatens to kill himself by jumping off the building. Having lived this same drama for 3 decades, it takes all of my willpower to suppress the urge to utter, “You promise?” 

Well, this wicked daughter had a strange dream last night. Most of the time any details of my dreams would’ve fled by the time I awoke. Other times the dream doesn't quite add up.  For instance, in one dream I was in a mall with my friend and then poof!  I was in a fire engine racing towards a school or college of some sort.  My friend had disappeared only to be replaced by a very large sparrow.  My dreams can be very Alice In Wonderland.

Last night’s dream actually played out like a movie. 

In the dream my father and I sit, legs dangling from the back of a pale blue pick-up truck. My mother is nowhere to be seen. There is a row of two-storey buildings behind us. Facing us is a row of similar looking two-storey architecture. It is late afternoon and for some reason I know we are in Hong Kong (even though the setting is really Ang Mo Kio Industrial Park). I see a queue forming outside an ice cream shop directly in front of us. I look up and the sun turns into a runny egg yolk. Sunset! People are leaving the shop and scurrying away. I jumped off the truck and asks my father for 40 dollars. Was it 40 HKD? It must be so for we are in Hong Kong, no? 

I walk into the shop and removed two large chocolate ice cream cones from a freezer compartment. Even as I make my way to the cashier the ice cream begins to soften. The biscuit cones are going limp before my very eyes. There isn’t a moment to lose! The cashier tells me, “You can choose to pay with HKD or TWD.” At this point I notice that I have a money pouch hanging upon my waist. It is filled with TWD. With an ice cream cone in each hand, I allow the cashier to help herself to cash from the pouch. Hurry, I wanted to say to her.  Can’t you see I’m running out of time? 

I step out of the shop and it was already night. Our little pale blue pick-up truck is still in the same place, illuminated by white florescent lights from the building behind it. I spot my mother but do not see my father. I push one of the fast-melting chocolate ice cream cones into my mother’s hand. She takes a bite and I actually hear the biscuit crunch. I ask her, “Where’s papa?” and she answers, “Didn’t you know? He has gone to the hospital.” I’m looking down at the melted ice cream in my hand. It’s too late, it’s too late! 

I start to weep. 

My face was wet with tears when I awoke. That was too vivid and too weird!  I was crying so hard my nose was congested and I had to sit up in bed. The apartment was silent except for Dad’s snores that vibrated from the next room. Wave upon wave of sadness hit me. My eyes were like two unmanned taps. I was crying when I was inside the bathroom. I was crying as I drank a glass of water. I think it took another two hours or so before I fell asleep once more. 

I guess despite the heart ache, frustration, and mental abuse I’m not ready to let my father go.

May you share happy times with your loved ones before time runs out.


Sunday, 18 June 2017

遇上好心人

父亲节。一家人开开心心到小红楼享用点心。用餐后才惊觉手机弄丢了!一时不知所错,过了好一阵子才想到借用餐厅的电话拨自己的手机号码。果然手机是遗留在Uber车内,被一位男孩上车时拾到了,替我保管着。庆幸男孩的家离我家不远,很顺利便把手机领了回来。

好心的男孩,你会有福报的!