Garfieldhug's Blog

This & That Including What Ails

My Favorite Garfield

My Favorite Garfield

Garfield first came into my life when I was in HK. I received my furry friend then in 1989 but did not think much of it as Beng decided it would keep me company in a new land.

Whenever Beng visited me on weekends as a commuter, he would give me a Garfield.

I soon grew fond of Garfield as I liked his plastic eyes and always gave a good cuddle. Soon my bed filled with Garfields, as friends who visited me thought I liked Garfield and would seek out to provide me with a Garfield for any occasion I celebrated.

I bawled my eyes out in 1998 when the first Garfield I received from Beng, got left behind in Turkey. I did not have a photo of this Garfield and it meant the world to me as by then Beng had made a huge impact on my life. JL, KP and JC who were with me on that trip consoled me and said I was silly to offer up to USD300 for the driver to return to the hotel where I left him when I had already arrived in Ankara.

I left Turkey very sad. My mum then bought me this Garfield ( she was sweet to ensure that this Garfield measured larger than the tiny one to avoid being left behind) and he has been with me since then. 15 years now and raggedy with cataracts, Garfield has travelled with me faithfully to Hainan, Guang Zhou, Zhuhai, Macau, HK, Adelaide, Perth, Brighton, Stavanger, Malaysia, Batam – wherever I went, Garfield went.

Today my collection of Garfields is coming close to 475 collectibles. To me, each Garfield is precious as it comes with precious memories of the giver and the occasion it signified. I thank Jim Davis’ creativity for drawing Garfield and giving Garfield and Friends a name!

I can safely say I love Garfield, my huggable stuffed toy fan! Thank you Jim Davis!


Directionally Challenged

I am not famous for anything but one thing – I am directionally challenged! Sigh!

I am a rare strain of homo sapiens that cannot find self out of a building sometimes. As for roads, I am on who would tilt the map in the belief that I can better understand it. left or right? North or South? East or West? Does it make a difference?

Unfortunately it does as I always tend to take the scenic route. If there is a road block, chances are I would follow the trail till I get to my destination of choice. The non directionally impaired would find themselves out of this lurch and get to their destination in a jiffy, but not I!

My Mr Ex That Nobody Knows would often watch me in my befuddled state as I lead him to nowhere. He has learnt that when I say I know the way, I ought to take the opposite direction. Sometimes Mr Ex That Nobody Knows would patiently watch me struggle to get out of a car park zone into the mall or vice versa and actually follow me before giving me a break to get to where I want to be.

He is patient and I often laugh about it privately and stifle a laugh as when I look over it, it is rather humorous.

I confess I am not illiterate. I am in fact somewhat intelligent people say. I graduated happily sitting on the Dean’s List of Students but admittedly just directionally challenged.

I envy those who can sniff their way out. My brother is one such navigator. He does not need a map but would look at the sun and drive himself out of the salt pans or some bush land. I would feel safe going with him on any road trip as I know we will get to where we want to be, by a certain time.

My brother once drove from Perth Airport, all the way to Albany in one go! That is as many kilometres as we flew from Singapore to Perth. I am proud of his ability to drive and I think he loves driving.

I drive no more than 30 km a day now I that I work in the west in Singapore. Well doggone it, Singapore roads are not on a grid system or block system. I cannot just make a right and start over again!

Mind you, I did drive from Eugene, Oregon to Vancouver once and other drives include from Eugene to Portland  or to Florence and or to Seattle, Washington! Multiple times!

But that was a previous life experience where roads seem a lot less complex!

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U Of O

I studied at the University of Oregon (UO) and graduated with a double major in Economics and Political Science and a minor in Art History (Western Art & Architecture). I arrived in Eugene on 1 January 1986 and was greeted with “Ducky” weather. Small wonder as to why Donald Duck was UO’s official mascot! I soon understood wet winters – it was just wet and wetter. The brolly was an important implement to use and snowfall was little and even if it did snow, it turned to water very quickly, adding to the water puddles.

Most of my classes were at Deady Hall or Prince Lucien Campbell Hall. I found walking more conducive than riding a bicycle as I lived 3 blocks away from UO and I did not like riding a bicycle in Winter. Lunch was my favourite Taco Salad at Fish Bowl (EMU) or a bagel off the van.

The American Culture was unique. I was hosted by delightful host parents; Lucile and Dean McKenzie and they brought me much warmth and love throughout my stay in UO. To date, Lucile and Dean keeps in touch with me and their last visit was in 1990. Dean is an Emeritus Professor at UO in Art History and Lucile is a Historian.

I remember my first Christmas tree they brought me after I moved out of J’s apartment and into my 2 storey townhouse. It was fresh Douglas Fir and I must say, the fresh pine cone needles smelt great. My only gripe was when it started falling onto the carpet!

I learnt the American lifestyle. I was amazed with “ihop” (International House Of Pancakes) and the House of Pies (100 different kinds of pies of which I found Rhubarb Pie delectable). King’s Table was the favourite haunt of students and I always marvelled the way we could balance food on a single plate. It required weaving skills of Alaskan King Crabs onto salads!

Clark our apartment manager was a shaggy bearded guy but an absolute dear as he would be running around fixing things up in the 10 unit properties within Ferry Street. He was an aspiring Ansel Adam and largely shot black and whites or sepia tones still shots of scenery.

Summers were spent horse riding, going to Sahalie Falls, Willamette River, Coos Bay, Old Florence Town (Clam Chowder) or to the dunes. But nothing excited me more than Clam digging. In hip boots we would go and soon we will be rolling in mud as we dug our ration of 10 clams were pax. As I do not eat shellfish, I was always an important and much needed guest, as my ration was wolfed down by the others.Trout fishing was also my favourite as I learnt fly flying.

Summer is not summer without picking berries; blackberries grew wildly and freely along the Willamette River whereas picking Strawberries by the bucket at 99cents was a steal. A lot of it went into our tummies before it ended up in the bucket.

Being typical Singaporeans, we would drive 3 hours to Portland to get our Chinese groceries, finishing it with Tim Sum. When we had more time, we would drive a further 3 hours to Seattle and if we were really adventourous we would drive south to San Francisco for a two day trip.

Being an undergraduate at UO was the best years of my life as my only worry was getting straight As. I graduated on the Dean’s List (3 consecutive terms) and did not pursue my MBA there. Instead I chose NTU, but that is another story!

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A Tribute To Fairy Lim

Ms Ability To Overcome lost Fairy Lim to lung cancer last year. My heart sobbed with Ms Ability To Overcome as I knew she loved Fairy Lim a lot.

Fairy Lim was a joker in his family and he worked hard to achieve the lifestyle for his brood. I felt helpless as I could see how fast Fairy Lim succumbed to Lung Cancer.

In months, from hospital to hospice and soon after Fairy Lim became legendary after reporting to Heaven.

Fairy Lim did not smoke and yet he contracted Lung Cancer. Not long after, another dear friend of mine, The Nun, told me that her mother was also diagnosed with Lung Cancer.

Cancer is horrid as it yields to no human. Can Cancer be stopped in its tracks? I suppose so, depending on age and extent of the war Cancer cells have raged. It can also rear its ugly head whenever it chooses too.

Though in another realm, Fairy Lim continued to bless and appeared in Ms Ability To Overcome’s night images, showering her with money, love or funny imagery.

What I admire about her, is her ability to overcome and stand firm. Ms Ability To Overcome is stoic and I sometimes see how firmly she can discern on money grabbers and being realistic without wavering in her ideals. I wonder if I will have her strength and character in the event of any calamity.

Part of living is dying and part of dying is living. Any religion teaches us good but sometimes religion is silent and open to interpretation. I used to joke with the people I know that the faith I was brought up in is in dire need of re-branding as it is losing out to the more funky and hip methods of worshipping. What is real? What is not? I do not know. Is there a heaven and is there a hell? Can a person be given absolute forgiveness and enter eternal bliss? Or is it the need for the living to find solace? No departed soul has returned to advise me and I believe, it could be the case of the living trying to make sense of the meaning of “departure” from this world.

What I do know is to practise religion (regardless of which religion) with conscience and with sincerity. If religion is used to purport a monetary goal then it becomes cloudy.

I am no expert in religion and am in Spiritual Limbo after losing antenna connection to the faith I was born with. Till I achieve an understanding, will I make a mindful choice.

This is my tribute to Fairy Lim – in remembering his life and what he has done for Ms Ability To Overcome!

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Fishing In Perth

I longed for the cool and sometimes cold breeze as I dangle a jig over the jetty. I can see the fishes below and a squid or two gracefully gliding through the crystal clear waters. Puffers are plentiful and above me, the cry of the gulls as they swirl. Scavengers I feel they can be as they would swoop in for the dive when I land a fish.

John who lives in his boat at the marina where I live during this fishing trip, is an old salt. He helped me pull in an octopus once, when it took my bait on line. John pulled it out from the rocks when the octopus tried to crawl and cling onto for support. It filled a bucket and weighed more than 5 kilos! A whopper by my standard.

I once sat at the jetty and reeled in more than 52 Trumpeters! It was fun eating my daily catch with family after. I was careful to fish enough but not too much.

Daily my usual trips to the jetty would yield me a squid or two in the mornings, before 7am; 2pm and 6pm.

In between my busy fishing schedule, I would be out with family to the vineyards. Trawling the roads and off roads, I get to see Canolas in full bloom and pick off apples or kiwis left out in Winter.

Though much of the land is dry and brown, I can occasionally see the bushland and spot a Kangaroo’s paw or an Austalian wattle.

Perth is pretty and it leaves me good memories to return every winter for fishing and wine.

I feel I am Born to Fish But Forced To Work…Alas!!

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Tribute To Goldlin Gretchen

Goldlin Gretchen or my family members and I would affectionately call “Gretchen” was a magnificent Doberman Pinscher. She had a satin black coat and displayed great intelligence, compassion, bravery and love for her family.

I remembered the day she was brought home to our family. Just a month old but tall lanky with weak legs. She wobbled and trembled as she walked. Mum immediately bought her Vitamin B Complex to boost Gretchen’s muscles.

Gretchen grew up strong and became the love of my mum and I. I remembered whenever my mum potted in the garden, weeding carpet grass, Gretchen would lie beside her, accompanying mum till she finished.

I remembered one evening after returning from clubbing, a cobra slithered into our garden and came at me after I drove into the car porch. Gretchen lunged at the cobra and barked furiously to protect me. I was more afraid of the Cobra hurting Gretchen. Gretchen won this match as Cobra slithered away cowardly!

Gretchen loved her Saturday baths. She would stand very still as I soap her, brushed her teeth, cleaned her ears and wiped her face. Once I was done, she would run off and wriggle on the fresh lawn as if to say, aha I like the way I am now. I can picture her smiling face, tongue lolling out of her jaw, legs in the air.

I left for school in Oregon and then after to work as an expat in HK. I missed Gretchen and I was told, she missed me terribly too. She would sit at the gate and wait for me to return.

Gretchen lived to a ripe old age of 13 human years or 91 dog years. She died of heartworm infection that left her kidneys failing. Hospitalisation did not bode well with her and she finally passed peacefully at home after waiting for my arrival, hearing me speak with her and patting her. I wished I sat through that evening with her but I had stepped off the plane with bronchitis and was too ill to sit with her too. She passed without me by her side.

Loyalty, bravery and a heart filled with warmth and love was what Gretchen always showered us. My mum and I would often speak of Gretchen and rate her as the top dog in our lives.

Gretchen was not a pet. She was a valued family member!

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Monday Blues…Bah Humbug

Monday….alarm clock within me will ring at 4am. I cannot dawdle as the trailer trucks will accumulate on the roads, alongside tonnes of humans waiting to load selves to trucks.

I make my way to work in the dark and would park at my usual parking bay. The 1960s make shift “bus shelter” reminds of the nostalgic old bus stops of Punggol and comparatively speaking, today’s bus shelters are spankingly new and nice with little sentiments of a person waiting at the stop.

Workers would congregate there for a smoke. It is their self made designated smoking zone within the factory area. Dressed in PPEs they chat for a bit, their reprieve from the night shilft which is fast ending and me starting mine.

I have a nice office – big, roomy and self controlled fan coil for air. I can control temperatures to suit me if I feel like wanting to be in the Artic or in the tropics. Bird always complain her setting outside in the common area too warm to her liking. But hey Bird has met her tundra blastings and is now down with a cold!

Bird is nice as she makes me laugh. Simple but sometimes forgetful she plays her persona as bird well! Often times, Flamingo or Peacock but most times just being Birdy. She gets away with it too.

There is another valued member in my team. I call her Ms Ability To Overcome. Small but sprightly, loud but cheery and intelligent. Fast like lightning too and terribly good at Excel and numbers! A qualified CPA!

I love my team mates. They complement me and make me happy when sad. I cry with them when they are in trouble and in short they form a part of my pseudo family.

I am glad I have a pseudo family.

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Today’s Natter

Sunday…Sunday Times is always a delight to receive as I enjoy the many articles within. Light reading it makes over coffee and walnut toast. Weekends are quiet without Beng poking in with his “brekkie” or “brunchie” requests. I was his filler in space hobby. Still I wonder how he is faring these days in solitude. But I do remember that Beng is a survivor and probably is having a whale of a time doing something FUN!

Money does help in making a man his life’s choices. It also restrains man and makes man beholden to the giver of money!

A colleague asked me once, are there friends at work? I firmly said “No” – Being in a posiiton whereby I may be seen as bias or unfair practice, I said I cannot be friends with all but can be friendly and helpful. This way – arm’s length is best way of managing humans!

Friends are chosen carefully. If I die and can count with my fingers the people I have as true friends, it would be great. Other than that, for now, the cynical me says “be used or used” – this epitomises of how I have been “befriended”. I remember how people sought help to get a leg up in business or asked me to do their bidding or garner a door into my networks, but hey once the usefulness is done, people tend to do a Houdini on you.

On to nicer things. I managed to catch the season finale of Gregory House. I admired his loyalty to Wilson and I winced as to if something happens to me would Beng be there. I doubt and can firmly say, NO.

Wilson and House are truly good friends to each other and I admire the cyncial House who is seen most times as a selfish and rude intelligent man, a softie at heart.

Here is to wishing when end times draw near, there is someone to sit with me and be there for me.

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All About House

Hugh Laurie plays a fantastic diagnostician in House M.D. Cynical, brilliant but with little social skills or graciousness. I would say brusque to a certain extent. His love for solving puzzles seems obsessive but he is focused on nothing, but solving a medical issue. Would such a character make a good friend? You either love or hate such a chap.

SG claims a self diagnosed ADHD condition. I call it “ants in his pants” as SG thinks he is omnipresent. SG is unlike House as he does not solve problems but dumps problems and or accuses others as the problem. SG bites off more than he can chew really but does not realise it as he needs to feel important – the source and wealth of information – a “God like persona” I would say.

SG embraces praise, applause and people around him telling him how “good or great or fantastic” he is. Quite like the Emperor’s New Clothes syndrome!

Unfortunately I told SG I hate GOD! I hate GOD because HE sent me SG who spout untruths or as House would say “everybody lies”. SG can fib without batting an eyelid. You will need to practice good listening and hearing what SG says and be a good diagnostician like Gregory House to piece the puzzle to realise that you must discount 99.9% of what SG says or claims as “truths” as you can catch SG tripping on his “truths”.

Yup, I am in spiritual limbo folks. I listen and read Buddhist teachings, I learn and hear of Taoist beliefs and respect all deities. I believe in co-existence.

SG insists he is a staunch Christian and he had little respect for other religions. I explained to him the need to respect others. It fell on deaf ears! Whenever I needed help, SG made himself scarce. But if he needed help, my mobile device does not understand “busy” as it keeps ringing non stop. I never remembered SG saying thanks for things I assisted SG in.

SG I suspect may have inferior complex as he sees the need for dramatics to match his level of achievement in society. I believe in simplicity and have no need for riches. I save pennies for a rainy day and try to live frugally. SG chided me once by saying that “small” savings lead me no where. I wonder what does the saying “tiny drops of water makes a mighty ocean” means.

SG opines that a few hundred bucks is tiny! Such tiny values do make big impact on the poor who worries about daily livelihood.

I differed in my views with SG on basic needs most times. In fact a whole lot of things.

So, should I love or hate SG or both?


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Sincerity Versus Greed

SG purported responsibility, doing charitable deeds, serving the people.

Thinking back, to give graciously means not seeking recognition nor fame. SG differed. SG wanted large print thank you notes from donees.

SG used it for publicity and glamour. I often wonder what is to give and give unconditionally. Fame? Recognition? Glamour? Or subtle quiet giving without wanting anything in return?

SG wafted into my life in 1989.

SG got married and returned in 2001 explaining his unhappy marriage and debts he owed. I believed yet did not believe as I remember House used to say “people lie all the time”.

SG’s perennial lying did not gel as his stories did not seem to flow. If one sought to lie, one ought to lie with finesse!

SG lived in a magnificent 3 storey house. SG was served by servants, did not have to lift a finger to boil water and had even a maid to pack his travel bag. So much for a hardship life. Hmm.. I used to think how the poor in less fortunate situations would compare.

SG constantly reminded me of his debts but his frivolous actions of “throwing wealth” made me think very hard.

If there was any conster larger than Bonnie or Clyde, I would think SG would excel. The birds in the trees would swoop down in belief of a safer life on the ground.

SG is a good marketer and I admired his ability to spin a yarn to suit his selfish needs – SG would arguably say, I was the selfish one.

SG is an opportunist and I suppose all good businessmen would say to be an opportunist was the road to great entrepreneurial success.

Wherein lies the ethics, morality or sincerity? How does one discern from living in a world of truthfulness versus lies? Does one accept a single aged lady of 80 years + as god mother as she has a successful business and no one to inherit her wealth through much aplomb amidst Las Vegas or California glamour? Or does one seek not to gain but have an altruistic view of life? A morally hard question to answer I think!