November, 2006

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There Are Too Many Corys!

blog-too-many-corys.jpgOr so Ling complained the other evening. We’ve been incrementally adding inhabitants to the aquarium over the last week or so now. As these things go, additions of new critters need to be done slowly; adding too many at a go could easily overwhelm the nitrogen and ammonia waste cycle that’s still getting established in the aquarium.

The both of us prefer different critters too. The four Lionheads that Ling bought me on Valentine’s Day ten months ago are still hale and hearty. They’ve been moved to a different tank given their destructive habits on plants and that they’re also pretty messy critters. That said, they’ve also been the most interactive of all the critters we’ve had so far. After the Lionheads, Ling loves Cardinal tetras, and she’s been badgering me to buy a small school of them for our tank.

Me, on the other hand, prefer armoured catfishes, or Corydoras critters. These are bottom dwellers who spend much of their time swimming in the lower strats of a tank, although they occasionally will make a mad dash to the surface for a gulp of air. They’re lovely fellows: peaceful, and never greedy for food. They’re also some of the most gregarious fishes around: they’ll happily school with other Corydoras species. And while they tend to scavenge for food on their own, when they’re at rest, they’ll invariably seek out their own, and gather in a little circle like a catfish convention. And if one stares hard enough, these fellows may just blink at you even.:)

We’ve got quite a number of different Cory species now, and the ones pictured here are the most recent additions: two of the three Leopard Corys that were added yesterday afternoon. They’ve acclimatized to the existing inhabitants quite well, and within an hour were happily exploring the tank and swimming with their brethen. :)


blog-actual-day.jpgBoth Ling and myself are pretty much still feeling amazed at how well our wedding ran on the actual day. We’d both heard quite a few horror stories of things gone wrong from others before. Even our officiating minister, Reverend Huang, shared some of those stories that turned Ling white.:)

In reality, everything turned out perfect. The schedule of events we’d taken months to work out had time redundancy so we arrived early at every one of the four major events and with plenty of time to spare too. Matt, our best man, took both bullets from Ling’s “sisters” when I arrived at Bedok to buy the bride. Danyel, Isaac and Gwen played their roles as ring bearer, page boy, and flower girl perfectly; Ling’s Hai Sing alumni choir sang beautifully, as was the music making from Sean and Lok Hze on piano and violin. There was plenty of food to go around for the lunch reception – too much in fact so a good portion went to waste – and I was glad to see many guests actually enjoy the food. I didn’t get drunk during the evening Banquet either! :)

blog-Wedding-Actual-XueYang.jpgNow that it’s all over, we just can’t be grateful enough to the many persons and helpers who made the occasion possible and had it run without a hitch. The many helpers in reception, ushering, and traffic controlling from ARPC, and especially Grace and her husband Roger, who both put into play the plans we’d spent months making on the actual day. I was thrilled that my parents saw how well Grace and Roger were running things, and asked that we expressed our gratitude to both on their behalf too.

We’re also really thankful to both Matt, who flew from halfway around the world to be our best man, and Doreen, who’s been Ling’s best friend for 18 years now, and was our bridesmaid. We closed off the wedding celebrations with a second thankful dinner last night, and hopefully, Matt will be writing an entry on the event soon enough.:)

Initial Pictures!

blog-carlton-actual-day.jpgThe weekend has been terrifically busy for the both of us: on the day before when we were rushing about making final arrangements, the actual day, and the day after when we were going through the post mortem. The pictures for the events on the wedding day will take a while to arrive. While waiting for the other pictures that friends and relatives may have taken, I managed to snap a few of Ling during our rest periods at our bridal suite. They are right here on this link.:)

Too much fun!

2006-Wedding-Rehearsal-IMAGE_094.jpgWe just had our wedding rehearsal at Wesley yesterday, and it was quite a ball. We were blessed to have a good turnout for the event, and every person who had a role to play could make it.

It was just delightful to see how contrasting did each of the three children take their roles. Isaac, our page boy, Issac, was clearly having the most fun. Instead of holding his bible with two hands and walking solemnly, he skipped and jaunted down the aisle waving the book with outstretch hands.

Gwen, the two boys’ cousin, got her part right on the first try. She’d be carrying a basket and dropping little petals along the way, and Ling said she looked absolutely lovely doing so. As for Danyel, as the ring bearer he looked dead-serious, especially after when Reverend Huang told him he had do his part properly to “Uphold the good name of Anglo-Chinese School.”:)

The vows were hard to get right though: they’re a mouthful, and comprising of many short phrases. I couldn’t get mind absolutely right on the first rehearsal run as Ling was making me laugh too much. Ling fared much better though, and got hers mostly right on both tries. The both of us were really blessed too on how ‘right’ our chosen processional, special item by the Hai Sing alumni choir, recessional music was for the event. Hearing Lok Sze and Sean perform the opening prelude and seeing Ling walk down the aisle certainly moved me nearly to tears.

So, all in all, it seems most things are coming along quite nicely, though as Reverend Huang remarked, anything goes on the actual day. We’re keeping our fingers crossed for sure.:)

From This Moment On

blog-rehersal-at-home.jpgLife feels surreal now that the big day is only 4 days from now. Friends and relatives are congratulating us and the other question that pops up besides the standard wedding preparation question is “Are you excited?”

As for myself, I’m more worn out psychologically and physically than anything else. A brief moment of excitement did come at the beginning of this week but the final preparations weighed me down again. Despite of the maddness, I felt soothed whenever I listened to music and especially that beautiful piano-violin duet piece which Sean (my DG leader) and Lok Sze (my previous choir student pianist) will play for the bridal procession at the church wedding ceremony.

Another song which I have been listening in is ‘From This Moment On’ by Shania Twain. My choir alumni will be singing that piece as a special item at the church. The lyrics are quite lovely and the music definitely stirring.

Thank God for eveything made beautiful. Praise Him in good times and tough times.

Labrador Park

blog-matt-DSCN2860.JPGAfter toying with the idea of remaining on the North-East line until its southern-most conclusion Friday, my trip to Labrador Park on Sunday afternoon found it necessary to do just that. I departed the North-East line at the Harbour Front (NE1) station and intended to proceed to Telok Brangal Rd, but instead I proceeded to somewhere on this side of absolutely lost. No worries—Harbour Front Centre provided me safe, though crowded, refuge, and I took the opportunity to scout around the upper floors of the complex to the departure area for the cruises offered there. A pleasant view of the bay was all mine once I happened outside and onto the deck overlooking the area.

But onward, I said, to Labrador Park, lest Yang laughs at me when I tell him I couldn’t find it. After studying an area map of the outlying area, I found my way to bus stop 14121—close enough to where I needed to be. After a quick ride on bus 57 (and a quick jaunt doubling back to 14161, as I originally missed the stop) I waited at Telok Blangah Rd, opposite Blk 45 . . . and waited, paced a bit, then waited some more, until finally Parks #408 made an appearance. (SBS Parks #408 only appears in half-hour intervals, and only then on weekends and public holidays—glad I decided to go on a Sunday.)

Upon arriving at Labrador Park, I pulled out the camera Yang lent me and basically snapped shots of everything in the area. I have a better visual memory of the former Fort Pasir Panjang through the chambered passage of the viewfinder than through my own eyes, which suits me fine since I find the photographs much more reliable than my memory in most cases. That being said, I absolutely loved every moment spent there. It occurred to me as I navigated the pathways through the bunker area that this is as close as I’ve gotten to some physical semblance of World War II as ever in my life. (Previously, the closest I’d been to WWII was when Yang and I argued over the merits of Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan versus Malick’s The Thin Red Line!)

blog-matt-DSCN2880.jpgThe shore-side park area was quite the sight to behold. Sure, to locals I imagine it might not bear mentioning or be reason for excitement, but based on my experience I wasn’t the only one enjoying myself. Hundreds of fellow visitors enjoyed their day of leisure by service of the shade provided by the copious amounts of—to these eyes—exotic trees. Others took their chances in the direct sunlight while casting multiple fishing rods into the sea. Me, I just walked haphazardly all over the place, confident that my light, Irish complexion would reflect all the sun’s rays right back toward the sky. A group of people near the middle of the shore-side park began setting up tables, on top of which they situated pamphlets and food and drink; perhaps a volunteer-driven benefit of some sort?

There’s a lot of history to digest care of the numerous plaques and information postings spread throughout the park. A WWII buff would get a whole lot out of a visit here. After reading through only a couple I found I was—and still am—woefully ignorant of the island’s role during World War II. And of course, the significance of Labrador Park extends back well before then. If I can retain even half of what I learned during my visit to Labrador Park I’ll be content.

Have I Gained Weight…?

That’s really the fear every bride, and heck bridegroom too, has when they go for their final gown and suit fitting just before the Big Day. While our Ang Moh best man, Matt, was off at Vivo City and Labrador Park yesterday, the two of us headed back to Precious Moment to try out the clothes for next week’s wedding, and for Ling to select the accessories she’ll be wearing too. Mine was done pretty quick. It’s a guy thing; but we just jump in and jump out of the suits real quick and can’t really be bothered with how we look. And even if not, the guests should be looking at the bride and not the groom right?Ling took a while though as the wedding gown required some minor alterations. I was semi-restless throughout the three hour session, but only remembered I could take pictures with my handphone just when Ling was about done. It’s not that great a picture anyway, but since pictures in the preparation stages of our wedding aren’t really that many to begin with, it’ll be a treasure for the both of us.:)

Ang Moh On the Go

Time flies, doesn’t it? It has been nearly four days since I arrived in Singapore, and since then I’ve seen and done quite a lot. Nevertheless, it’s hard for me to believe I haven’t already been kicked out of the country because of some faux pas, real or imagined, on my part. One of the few and admittedly minor concerns I had in coming here is that I’d do something to unintentionally offend someone — or worse, a whole group of people — on a grand scale. After all, it happens all the time at home.

blog-matt-DSCN3052.jpgBut as I was saying, the days in Singapore go by fast, certainly faster than they appear to back in central USA. (And this is even accounting that I’ve awoken each and every morning so far at 6:45 AM, just like clockwork — I never can do that at home for some reason.) I’m having so much fun, I’d just as soon they’d never end.

When I’m not graced with the presence of Yang and Ling, my favorite activity is the journey to one place in Singapore to another. I’m such a county bumpkin that, yes, it’s sort of like an adventure every time I leave The Rivervale apartment buildings. The security guards pay this Ang Moh absolutely no mind as I frequently step out the side gate and traipse toward the nearest bus stop where I generally stand around looking rather clueless to the local stop-side locals waiting for the next bus to arrive and wisp them on their way . . . sometimes I even manage to collect my wits and take the bus, too.

But then it’s on to my very favorite activity: catching the MRT train. The hustle and bustle of Singapore is not at all limited to what one can see on the ground. Quite the contrary, there’s as much commotion occurring down beneath the surface as people push, shove, and generally climb atop and over one another in an effort to catch the docked train before it departs. Taking the escalator down to the docking area of a soon-departing train is quite the experience. If I didn’t get such a kick out of what is the epitome of an atavistic endeavor, I’d just hurl myself down the middle-lying stairs and come out ahead.

If I haven’t come off as a complete greenhorn yet, just wait until I write about the food. The sheer variety of food installations in Singapore — above and below ground — fascinates me. When I go it alone to a hawkers’ center (most easily found in the gazillion shopping plazas), I try to go when it’s not crowded. That way there’s more than enough tables and seating available and I’m not forced to eat so fast I derail a fork or chopstick into my eye. Plus, the hawkers aren’t nearly as eager to get rid of you to clear the impending queue forming behind you!

Yang has loaned me a camera, and I’m just now growing accustomed enough to Singapore to not feel too self-conscious wielding it. I figure any hopes of me not sticking out like a sore thumb are entirely hopeless as it is. I might as well embody the look of the clueless tourist while I’m at it — that’s exactly what I happen to be anyway! Perhaps I’ll have some pictures to exhibit soon. Who knows what is in store?