Reading Bug ~ Act of Kindness #10

I came across this Reading Corner at the airport, of all places.

IMG_20180217_135204.JPG

Intrigued, I wanted to inspect the titles and savour this joyful moment of discovering such a corner in an airport. First, however, I wanted to take a photo to prove I wasn’t hallucinating.

But as I lifted my camera, a little poppet galloped towards the shelves, shrieking, “Book! Book!”

I paused. A Reading Corner in a public space with books and a poppet excited by books?

Life had more surprises for me. The father grabbed the poppet. “Meimei, wait. Let the auntie take her photo first.”

It really was too much. I snapped the photo, thanked the father, waved at the poppet and retreated.

Inspecting book titles can wait. Celebrating this little vignette cannot. I am warmed by a father’s kind understanding and gracious patience, and a tiny child’s enthusiasm for books. And by the use of potential retail space for encouraging reading.

There is hope yet.

Clothes Maketh The Man

Son: What’s a costume?

Dad: An outfit we wear when we pretend to be somebody else.

Son: Like at Halloween?

Dad: Yes.

Son: Like Superman?

Dad: Yes.

Son: Which is his costume? The cape clothes or the ordinary clothes?

Dad: The cape clothes. He only wears that when he needs to rescue somebody. The rest of the time he’s in ordinary clothes, like us.

Son: But doesn’t he wear cape clothes all the time? Cos when he changes, he doesn’t have a bag. So they must be under the ordinary clothes.

Dad: Okaa-aay. You have a point.

Son: So his ordinary clothes are his costume, right? To hide the fact he’s Superman? He’s pretending to be ordinary?

Dad: Well, yes. He probably doesn’t want everyone to know who he really is.

Son: Why? He’s a good guy, right? Why does a Superhero want to pretend to be ordinary?

Dad: So that he can do his job better. And be among the people he can help.

Son: So when you go to work in your suit, are you pretending to be somebody else? Cos you said you like your shorts.

Dad: That’s my office attire. It’s like your school uniform – you need to wear a certain set of clothes at a certain time so people know who you are. That’s not pretending.

Son: Huh. So what about a birthday suit? Is that a costume too?

————-

DAILY PROMPT ~ COSTUME

The Umbrella ~ Act of Kindness #9

WP15 140218

We moved into the neighbourhood about ten years ago.

For some reason, I never really got to know the neighbours. We would nod awkwardly when our paths crossed or we would politely return misdirected mail but that was it. Perhaps it was my work schedule. Perhaps it was theirs. Or, as The Munchkin suggested, perhaps it was my face, which looks even worse when I smile.

Anyway, sometime in 2016, The Munchkin and I went shopping in the neighbourhood mall. As we prepared to leave, we were confronted with relentless rain. At the edge of the covered walkway stood Mr K. He was clutching his phone and we heard him say, “I can’t come right now because it’s raining,” as we drew nearer.

I handed him my umbrella. “Take it.”

I’ve never seen greater flabbergasted relief. “I … yes … no … yes … yourself?”

The Munchkin brandished our second umbrella (nobody remembers why we had two), and I assured Mr K that we would be fine. He grabbed the umbrella like a life vest and shot off across the street. We continued home.

We had barely put away our shopping when the doorbell rang. There was Mr K, Junior K, and my umbrella. There were thanks and pleasantries all round and that was that.

But it wasn’t. Thereafter, Mr K and his family never failed to say hi or stop to chat. Then the other neighbours started saying hi. And now we pretty much know everybody, and it feels like we’re a community.

Thanks, of all things, to an umbrella.

Johnny Depp and the Five Stars

WP16 110218

FANBOYS, ROY B GIV, MICE … No matter what the subject, mnemonics have served learners all over the world well.

My country’s flag has five stars and a crescent moon. At school, most kids have no problems explaining what the moon represents. But the five stars? We’ve heard everything from lights to twinkles.

About a decade ago, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End reached our shores. Somewhere in the movie is a scene where Captain Sao Feng (Chow Yun Fatt), the Pirate Lord of Singapore, says, “Welcome to Singapore,” to the merry band of sailors here to rescue Jack Sparrow.

Historically, that wasn’t even what our country was called in the 1700s. But that’s not the point. My friends and I had an epiphany: Sparrow – Johnny Depp – star – Singapore! That was it!

Justice, Democracy, Equality, Peace, Progress. Those are the ideals as depicted by the five stars on the state flag.

And thanks to J Depp, I haven’t forgotten them yet.

———–

DAILY PROMPT ~ MNEMONIC

His Dream ~ Act of Kindness #7

WP14 050218

photo credit: nick karvounis

Paul Simon had a dream: he wanted to cook for his President someday. He also dreamed of opening his own restaurant where he would cook dishes from his mother’s recipes; but that would come later.

A graduate of ASPN (Association for Persons with Special Needs) Delta Senior School, he was employed in a leading hotel as a cook, where his mild intellectual disability was not an issue to him, his supervisors or the hotel guests.

In December 2017, Mr Simon was interviewedย  for an article celebrating the International Day of Disabled Persons. In it, he mentioned his two dreams.

On 24 January 2018, Mr Simon fulfilled one of these dreams. The President had read the article and had her staff contact him, extending an invitation to cook for her. So, on that day, that’s what he did. He cooked and served a three-course lunch for President Halimah at the Istana (the official residence and office of the President). And joined her for a chat as she had her dessert.

Thank you, Madam President, for that invitation and for making a dream come true.

Purls Of Wisdom, Learnt By A Knitwit

WP13 020218

CAST ON 37 STITCHES

I was taught to knit when I was eight. This had nothing to do with my dexterity or artistic tendencies. It had everything to do with how The Powers That Be decided I had to learn about Patience, Persistence, Precision, and Pride In My Work. From two sticks and a ball of something that the cat played with that was once taken from a sheep? Right.

ROW 1: KNIT

My first project was meant to be a potholder. Cast on 37 stitches and knit for 50 rows. Repetition, I was told, would develop even tension and create perfectly formed stitches. My hands would develop dexterity and muscle memory, and the knit stitch would become second nature.

Naturally, the potholder was a disaster. It wasn’t even a square. It was a blob, a shapeless rag that even the cat sniffed at.

“So what do you think you should do?” asked The Powers That Be.

I had plenty of wonderful ideas: climb the tree so I could escape into the neighbour’s garden, get Dad to take me to the beach, bathe the cat … But I dutifully replied that I should try again. Correct answer. And The Powers That Be were pleased.

ROW 2: PURL

The blob became a polygon, then a trapezium, then a rectangle and eventually a square. Sort of. There followed a mysterious process of wetting it and blocking it on a mat to dry, and behold! a proper square that would live life as a potholder.

“See? You practised and persisted and succeeded. That was the garter stitch. Now learn to purl and use the stockinette stitch.”

What?

CONTINUE IN PATTERN TO ROW 50

Years later, there are numerous potholders (the victims of learning different stitches), wash cloths, table mats, rugs and towels. Then there are blankets made up of squares, and scarves, sweaters and shawls.

There is also an ever growing stash of yarns and a collection of needles. And boxes of patterns. And bookmarked YouTube videos.

BIND OFF

Did I actually learn any of the lessons as intended?

Patience? Check. Boatloads of it.

Persistence? Check. There are no shortcuts in knitting. To reach Row 142, you knit loop by loop till you get there.

Precision? Check. If a stitch looks odd or gets dropped, or the tension’s wrong, there may be nothing for it except to tink or frog.

Pride In My Work? Check. I’ll admit there’s a certain satisfaction in having handmade odds and ends scattered around the home. Or wound round a neck in winter.

There you have it: purls of wisdom, as learnt by a knitwit.

—————-

DAILY PROMPT ~ KNIT

Thank you, Tara R at Thin spiral notebook, for the inspiration.

The Many Faceted Egg

Egg. Perfectly formed, self-contained, nutritious, a cradle of life … is there anything more perfect than this?

WP8 260118

photo credit: michal grosicki

‘Egg’ – the noun – has survived centuries of use but remains relatively unchanged from the Middle English ‘egg’ and its ancestor, the Old Norse ‘egg’. A simple word, it has contributed to a range of expressions over time: good egg, rotten eggย (reportedly 1848),ย egg on your face (reportedly 1936), nest egg. It is part of relevant advice today: don’t put all your eggs in one basket (Cervantes in Don Quixote, 1605) and it is also an insult: go suck an egg (1930s).

WP9 260118

photo credit: rebekah howell

‘Egg’ – the verb – represents encouragement, e.g., egg someone on. The thing is, the Old Norse etymology of ‘egg’ is the same as ‘edge’. So to egg someone on, back in the day, was to edge someone on, i.e., to provoke or drive to the edge. Technically, therefore, you could egg an egg to the egg. But I digress.

‘Egg’ – the food – is even more, well, egg-citing. Its cooking methods are diverse: hard-boiled, coddled, poached, fried, scrambled. It is integral in souffles, custards, soups and drinks. And let’s not forget caviar.

WP11 260118

photo credit: john baker

‘Egg’ is a poster child of cultural diversity: Huevos Rancheros, tamagoyaki, century egg, omelette, frittata. If you’re interested, see here for international breakfast egg recipes! By the way, while a London firm claims to have invented the Scotch Egg in the 1700s, it was apparently already being served during the Mughal Empire, founded in 1526!

‘Egg’ has synonyms. Kind of. I’m thinking of ovum, roe, spawn.

‘Egg’ becomes a tool for vandalism when it is thrown at someone’s house, i.e., egging. I know of a much-hated teacher whose students once cracked raw eggs on his car; it was parked in the sun.

‘Egg’ is part of folklore and tradition. It is said to cure illnesses, hangovers and foretell the future. It symbolises new life, birth and resurrection. The Chinese, for instance, distribute hard-boiled eggs dyed red to friends and family to celebrate a baby’s first month or first year.

‘Egg’ is a decorative item – who can ignore the beauty of an ostrich egg lamp? Or a Faberge egg?

‘Egg’ has cult followings – an egg yolk called Gudetama has spawned restaurants, merchandise and a near rock star status. And who has never heard of Humpty Dumpty?

I’d love to hear how the egg features in your culture. Please do share by leaving a comment!

[references: english.stackexchange.com and www.etymonline.com]

—————-

DAILY PROMPT ~ EGG