Something Pithy Here

"Begin at the beginning, and go on till you come to the end: then stop." -- The King of Hearts

I'm an adopted Texan. As they say, "I wasn't born in Texas, but I got here as fast as I could!" I post pictures and opinions as suits my mood, mostly because I can. Hooray Internet! 

So far I have three blogs here. By the Way is the oldest. I started it in 2003. I lost a couple of years to Vox because I was too lazy to bother to export when they shut down. I consider it an exercise in accepting impermanence. When I followed my husband to Singapore for his first expat assignment, I started (T)expatriate: A Southern Girl in Singapore. That covers 2010 and 2011, give or take. Next came Oslo, and (T)expat 2: Norwegian Boogaloo,  in 2012. Now I'm back home, and back on By the Way.

Pix live on Flickr. I toss links out on Twitter when I feel like it. I'm still not sure what to do with G+ but I kinda like it.


International Cats

The cats are on a plane! And they thought they were just going to the vet, which would have been bad enough…. They arrive tomorrow, spend Friday night in quarantine at the airport, then on Saturday go to some other quarantine place. We’ll get to go visit them there on Saturday afternoon. Ten days later, they get sprung from kitty jail, and FINALLY the household will be complete :-)

(This video is from before we left, when I took them to the vet for the first of their series of shots and other indignities required by International Travel Cat Bureau of Paperwork and Frustration.)

Stuff! We got stuff!

The excitement of receiving our container last Saturday is slowing evolving into standing around looking at stuff, muttering, "Why on earth did we bring this?" Which at least is a bit better than the standing around not looking at stuff, muttering, "Why didn't we bring that?!"

But either way, having Stuff is much nicer than not having Stuff. Even if we're not quite sure where we're going to put it all just yet.

The kitchen was the first priority. We actually filled up all those cabinets pretty well, but the best part is now the MO has cooking utensils, and he has set to with a vengeance. First thing he made? Mexican food, of course :-) It requires a bit of ingenuity here and there, working around missing or not-sure-if-this-is-the-same-thing ingredients, but so far so good. Salsa? Check--with Thai chilis instead of habaneros. Drunken beans? Yep--brown beans instead of pintos, some kind of big green chili instead of seranos, and something that looked like cilantro but is neither cilantro nor parsley.... Nearly every dish he cooks involves some experimentation.

Another interesting part of the Singapore cooking experience is the stove. No pilot light, you get to use a match. And watch out, because that big wok burner is one serious flame! (Actually two flames--one ring inside the other.) I think one of those spark-on-a-stick gadgets is in our future. If you don't twist the knob just so, the flame goes right out, so (for me, at least) it takes a few matches to get it right. If I don't remember to buy some more matches (or a sparky thing) pretty soon, no more soup for us!

Next we tackled our offices. Oooooh, did you notice the "s" on the end of that? OfficeS. As in, we each have one. Two, count 'em, two. One for he and one for me. Rooms of our very own.... This is a huuuuge luxury. The MO is building a man cave in the basement, the coolest (temperature-wise) room in the house, and I'm claiming the back room on the top floor, the coolest (view-wise) room in the house. I've already learned to make sure everything is weighted down or tucked away, because the breeze up here is prodigious. With all the doors and windows open, I'm comfy all day. (So far. We'll see how July goes when we get there.) The only bummer is that I can't leave everything open when it rains. There are no window screens, so even if it's just sprinkling, it splashes in. And when it really comes down, well, forget it. As much as I'd love to listen to a soothing downpour and take advantage of the lower temps, I can't exactly justify hosing down the wood floors in the process.

One down, 35 to go...

So, one month in, how are things going? Well, I certainly don't want to undo it :-) Most everything is pretty awesome, actually.

The heat isn't that bad, although my neighbors assure me it gets worse towards July and August. The saving grace is the breeze. I can imagine that if the summer months are still, it will be rather unpleasant. But meanwhile, most of the day is livable, and the mornings and evenings are quite nice. And we do have aircon, after all, so it's not like you can't escape when you need to. Oh, and there's the pool! I am really loving the pool. It's a lap pool, so you feel kind of compelled to go back and forth a bit, but what a lovely way to cool down in the afternoon.

I was expecting to enjoy the food, and I  haven't been let down on that front. Fruit and veggies everywhere, and you can go days without even being tempted to eat anything fried. Lots of chicken, lots of seafood, and of course rice. Yum :-) More garlic than you can shake a stick at, and many dishes are really spicy, in that omg-it-burns-but-I-can't-stop-eating-it kind of way. Sometimes they warn you, sometimes they don't bother.

I know the MO is missing "real" iced tea, but I never really drank it at home, so the sweet lemonade-type stuff they pass off as cold tea here doesn't bother me at all. I have one every now and then and figure it's the same as drinking a Coke. As I've mentioned before, you can get hot tea anywhere, and I do like that. It does suck that alcohol is so expensive. If you see a bottle of wine at the store for $20, you're wondering just how plonk it might be.... A six-pack (cans, warm) runs about $15. Sooooo, drink less and figure it's good for you.

And walk more! Not having a car is interesting. For the most part, it's not too bad, esp. when the MO is in town, because he does have a car, so evening or weekend trips are possible. It's about a ten-minute walk from the house to the local MRT/mall. Uphill on the way home, though ;-) (And thus many excursions conclude with a dip in the pool.) I love wearing cute sandals all the time, although sometimes my feet protest the thin soles. I generally don't go barefoot in the house just because it is hard on my tootsies. The ground floor is marble and it's really hard. And here's a thing: when people come into your house (delivery guys are the only visitors we've had thus far, but this has been true for every single one) they take off their shoes and leave them on the porch. It can't be an I-don't-want-to-get-your-floor-dirty thing because the windows are wide open, so the floor is already dusty. I wonder if I'm supposed to be offering house slippers or something?

I know, all that's great and all, but you want the dirt on all the bad stuff! Well, there really isn't much. Here are some things I still haven't quite adjusted to:

  • I still get surprised when I see the money, and tend to ooh and ah over the pretty colors and that cool plastic window instead of counting out how much I need. And all the coins! Jeez. Our anniversary wine piggy bank is going to get fat fast, I think.

  • I have to really pay attention to understand people, in general, but that's just me. I have a tin ear when it comes to accents.

  • Eeeeverything involving the exchange of money takes longer than you think it should. And every store you go to wants to sign you up as their most favorite customer, complete with yet another card for your wallet.

  • Don't plan on doing anything before noon, because it won't be open. Don't plan on doing it *at* noon because it will be too crowded. After noon, it will be raining.

  • Being a pedestrian is an exercise in frustration until you realize that half the folks looking at their cell phones while they walk really aren't watching where they're going and the other half don't care. Dodge and weave, and call it an exercise in spatial awareness and honing your reflexes.

Oh! And the po-po carry EBRs! That'll stop you in your tracks the first time you see a squad of them moseying down Orchard Street. (And it might make you a bit jealous if you had to leave all your guns on the other side of the ocean.)

Windows, Water and Cats (but not all at once)

Apparently we are having a heatwave here in Singapore. It's still nice in the mornings, actually until about 12:30 or 1pm. Then I start to notice that the breeze isn't so breezy, and things start to feel a bit stickier than normal, and I'll get up and close the windows and turn on the a/c in one room and stay there for a few hours. Depending on when it rains, it either gets steamier or cooler, so that governs whether I open the windows again in the afternoon. It is hotter in the afternoon no matter what, but I'm a sucker for the fresh air and this house has windows EVERYwhere, so you can usually get quite a nice current going through and sometimes that's enough to make it worth having the windows open.

I'm also learning to love our swimming pool. Those of you who know me well are aware of my less-than-stellar swimming capabilities, so I think it's kind of funny that I've been in the water more this last week than I probably have been in the last, oh, two years or so.... Enough that I'm already realizing I'm going to have to protect my hair from the chlorine if I'm going to keep up this schedule, and that is definitely something I've never worried about. It is super-convenient to walk out the front door and practically fall into the pool. You just have to get over the fact that you're basically right outside everybody's living room.

Our container is scheduled to arrive on the 9th. Hopefully it zips through customs and we'll have All Our Stuff shortly thereafter! I suppose then we may be wishing for the days when the house felt big and empty, but it will be nice to have a larger selection of clothing, some kitchenware, the server, my beading and bookmaking supplies, etc.

G1 sent some pictures of the cats, including one Rare Sighting of All Three Cats at the Same Time, without even any hissing going on (at least it looked that way). Two more months, and then he'll be back to one-cat-normal and Melvin and Lorax will be here figuring out how to maximize the sunbeam collection on the top floor. I wonder what they'll think of all the stairs....

Looking up the top stairs


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Waiting Game

I'm taking a shopping break this morning but I miscalculated the store opening times. I figured 10 would be plenty late but it's looking like 11 is more realistic. At least the mall is air-conditioned, so it's not really a hardship to sit here and wait a bit.

This morning I met Jessie, a neighbor cat. She came right in and made herself at home, despite the protestations of her person. While we watched Jessie explore the still mostly-empty house I learned that several other neighbors have cats, too. Everybody lets them roam and they all tend to hang out on their own front porches, without even having conflicts with the few dogs that also live here. I wonder if Lorax will be so well-behaved? I'm sure she'd be delighted to be a sometimes outdoor cat....

I also heard about the neighbor who found a python in her kitchen cabinet after a big rain, and a monkey-sighting. (I typoed "minkey" there and immediately heard Inspector Clouseau.) I could do without either of those wildlife encounters, but I admit the minkey would bother me more than the snake.

The working at home thing has some nice benefits, like ready access to snacks, and your own bathroom, but I can tell already that I'll be talking to myself soon. It's just sooo quiet. Watching out for minkeys might take my mind off the silence, though ;-)

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