Garfieldhug's Blog

This & That Including What Ails

Mr Nice’s Thursday’s Surprise Treat For Me At Work

Wednesday was a tough work day for me as the Lord of Lords (Old Coots) were having their Board meeting.

Before this intense all day meetings, Ms Vase will be relying on me to provide her with information to parade before the Old Coots. Both of us worked through lunch till 5pm, without a break. No lunch, no time to get even a drink.

When I shared this with Mr Nice on Thursday, he immediately sent me brunch. He was worried I’d go hungry and struggled home to eat dinner at 8pm, which I did.

Mr Nice is a thought out person and selected an artisanal salmon open sandwich with mesclun salad and egg benedict with roe eggs and Dutch latte.

Dutch Colony Latte
Egg Benedict choked full of salmon roe
Generous serving of raw looking salmon

I thanked Mr Nice for the treat but told him other than the latte, I do not eat these dishes.

I then shared the food with Ms Millenial, Ms Blur and Mr Director.

Mr Nice immediately apologised and said he will re-send me by Grab, another set. This time he will get me food that I will like – scrambled eggs & waffles!

Scrambled eggs
Waffles the artisinal kind with butter and honey
2 slices of rye sourdough bread

It set him back almost SGD60 for both sets.

I am grateful for his kindness and always looking out for me…now you know why I call him Mr Nice!😊

Mr Nice has always shown me genuine care, love and friendship.


Challenges In My Life – My Next Milestone Ahead

Challenges of taking care of elderly parents has taken a toll on my mental and physical well-being. There is no expected gratitude and I live on tenterhooks, with my heart skipping a heartbeat whenever my cell phone rings or if either parent is feeling poorly.

The unending medical appointments with doctors consumes my annual vacation days. I live for them and do not have “self-time” to just leave and go for a long holiday.  

It is tough as conscience reminds me that I am the only one they rely on as there is no one else – their other 2 children have distanced self and uses the reason of not being in Lil Red Dot as an excuse to wash hands off them.

I feel guilt trapped as I cannot say no.

Mum has been thwarting every reasonable way of getting things done for hers and my dad’s care. A live in helper would be reasonable but I know that there will be a lot of friction between my mum and helper as my mum is very caustic and critical. I also envisage trotting off to the authorities whenever the helper seeks refuge in their embassy on basis of being chided. These days, with so much hype on human rights, it is incorrect to even tell the helper where they have gone wrong.

I can understand Mum’s frustration on her hearing disability and her spinal issues. But I reminded her that she caused the spinal issues as she refused to elder proof the home when I wanted to and ignored my pleas telling her to stop climbing up ladder. She fell 3 times and this caused her spinal issues.

Mum is unco-operative.

Dad is muted and wooly in the head. All he wants is to eat, sleep and continue to forget things as he does not want to put in effort to try and be engaged.

I feel sad that I may be forced to quit my job to take care of them as full time helper. This will thwart my own savings plan for my own retirement when time comes. It is hard to get a job once I quit as employers tend to hire younger,  cheaper and people in the thick of things.

It is hard to talk sense to Mum as she refuses to move into the new digital age. She lives in the 1930s when she thinks that old folks homes are located in the forest areas and that cost to live there is cheap and that she will be well taken care of there.

Today’s pricing for private health care facility is SGD7,000 per person and it excludes medical care, transportation and consumables. It means I still have to be driver, medical attendant and take time to travel to the home to get her to see doctor and back to home. With both parents, this will set me back SGD14,000 for 2 parents per month.

Public nursing homes cost $4,500 per parent and I am still out of pocket $9,000 per month. Without a job, this will deplete my entire savings and I end up broke and penniless.

Live in 24 helper cum nurse is SGD21 per hour. I did the math

SGD21x24hrsx30days = SGD15,120 per parent x 2 = SGD30,240 a month. I need to be a tycoon as CEOs get paid SGD48,000 per month

I will grow old too and I pray that when the time comes, I can care for self and or have the financial means to pay for my own home care. I have no children, never married (even marriage does not guarantee a warm family with doting children – case in point, my parents) and will have no one to burden.

I live in challenging times and I am unsure how this will end.



Strength…..brute force or sheer tenacity?

Strength….giving in to avoid confrontation?

Strength….being kind?

Strength….compassionate or being gullible?

Strength…tolerance versus impatience?

Strength comes across as different things to different folks in a myriad of situations.

To the pugilists, I compare brute force boxing or muay thai to qigong or wing chun style of martial arts. “Light force” versus brute force – momentum and poise, almost like a hard hit or soft slap that pushes you off the cliff.

Life has been a challenging journey for me. I go through trials and tribulations and I would be lying if I said that brute force or sheer tenacity was not used as traits to uphold for sake of survival.

As I journey on this life’s journey, I have also adapted to the lighter forces of things i.e. the different ways to  skin a cat and puhleeese, I am not skinning Garfield anytime soon as he is precious to me!

I find that battles or situations can be diffused by acting stupid or giving in as the battle is not worth fighting for. The opportunity cost is far too much to waste my time and energy on after weighing the cost to do battle.

It is not about a loss of face or pride. Ego means squat if one needs to survive or too tired to argue for the sake of arguing.

I have learnt that being nice also sometimes can lead to gullibility and I end up taking the short end of the stick or taking on more responsibilities than I should. My calculative sibling once ticked me off when I challenged her as to why I am the only one taking family responsibilities by turning the tables onto me – She accused me of being calculative and that if I was an only child, then would it not be the case that I had to be responsible?!

Hmm..this got me thinking. She is a brilliant wordsmith to defend self and come out smelling like roses.

I had another jostle with her and lost miserably. I had parted with quite a lot of cash to her (I am not rich and the sum to me, is large) and realised that it had gone down the drain when her lack of appreciation retort was “if I want to part with the money then I can never make mention of it again.”

Hmm…this got me thinking…people who “donate” $5,000 get their names on a wall of appreciation. I got a sarcastic retort and made to feel like a pariah instead of a “feel good moment”

So, what is strength?

Piglet has undergone leg surgery with Dr Bones and is now suffering from neuropathic pain. I told her to garner her strength and focus on recovery. Ignore the noise from H who decides not to clean house or leaves things in a mess…close your eyes to it all as the main focus is to get better and not detract from it as angst, unhappiness acts against a faster recovery.

My latest approach to my challenges are “suck it up and just plod on” until the day comes, when my journey ends!


Sunday View Of Things

My father is out of Covid-19 isolation ward as he tested negative on ART (Antigen Rapid Test).

As I took him home, the conversation I had with him in the car pains me as his memory seems to be worst after Covid, as brain fog sets in.

I had several stiff text exchanges with my sister on her nonchalant, lacksadaisical or non care approach for our dad.

Even with the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, not a peep out from her. Coupled with Covid-19, the silence was deafening.

All I had wanted was for my dad to receive her love and care as my dad loves her the most, alongside with brother. Yet, he gets no love nor care nor concern from her. He gets a little care and concern from his son, at least a teeny more than sister.

Her go to retort is she lives in New Zealand. If I lived in the ends of earth and a flight exists, I will make that journey to see dad as I know his living days are numbered. So I cannot understand her behavior really?!

Maybe being an Asian, I am imbued with filial piety and respect my parents, trying to do my best?

I am speechless other than giving her a piece of my mind, appealing to her conscience and what dad has provided for her.

There is little else I can do. If my sister chooses to continue to ignore parents it is her choice. My only reminder for her was to touch her heart, check her conscience and if that same decision to ignore mum and dad is justifiable to her then it is her decision to live with.

Afterall she has made it clear to me that when they pass from this earth, I have to do the funeral and don’t expect her to be around nor pay respects.

Again, that is her choice.

I have to accept it but I will not stop trying to get her to see our parents.

Silly me!


It’s Spring In Seattle…Duckies Are Back & Neighbor’s Cooking

Jerk Face (“term of endearment for my Econ Professor”) showed me photos of Mallards or I call them “duckies” back at the pond in his estate.

I am always in awe of the green necked ducks and missed seeing them in Eugene, Oregon.

I have also learnt that the females are the dull brown mottled speckled feather colored ducky whilst the green neck beautiful mallard are the males.

Jerk Face shared with me that during winter the mallards disappear and return in Spring whereby he and his wife would feed the ducks twice a day.

I often wondered wondered if these ducks are edible and if they would taste good?

Anyway, I got my duck fix today by buying a roast duck at CS Fresh this morning and some pork ribs.

Inflation has certainly jacked up prices of pork and food. I spent $453 for some pork belly, snapper, minced pork and spare ribs.

I was disappointed that Australian pork is no longer sold at CS Fresh and instead, Indonesian pork is sold. With air freight gone sky high, this supermarket chain turned to neighboring countries for pork.

Meanwhile Neighbor’s cooking for Thursday and Saturday dinners are shared below:-

Sweet sour bean curd cubes with tomatoes
Stir fried chinese greens and pomfret fish head
Bittergourd with doufu and pork rib soup
Rice with stir fried green and pumpkin cubes
Melon, carrot & chickem feet soup
Steamed rice
Mei Chye or preserved veggies stewed with belly pork
Another image of mei chye with pork belly and some pickled daikon radish

Neighbor was worried when I did not respond to her text message and called me. She was worried that I had collapsed at home. She was so nice to tell me if I did not pick up her call she would dash upstairs to look for me and get help if required.

I am glad she looks out for me.


Remnants Of Cough, I’m Alive

Whatever bug that crawled into my system that made me quite ill for 2 weeks is finally tapering off. I can understand why it is important to mask up at all times.

The best part was I did mask up at all times at work but the Coughing Banshee in the office did not and droplets linger in aircon spaces only to invade my lungs when I take it off to have a drink of water.

After 7 days of strong antibiotics, cough mixtures and decongestants, this is really to me, the mother of all flu! It was probably the flu bug taking revenge on me not catching flu for 3 years when I was holed up at home, living with Garfield, me, myself and I.

What did make me feel better was a very thoughtful, useful and practical get well hamper from Piglet.

It has the edibles that I like and welcome treat especially when I am feeling down and out. Boiled Bird’s Nest tonics, chia seed peanut butter, Kombucha tea, organic rice crackers, munchies…..I love them all as it gives me nutrition that I lacked during this time of being unwell.

Yes, Neighbor has been very kind, providing me with soups and meals.

Neighbor cooked Japanese ramen with sliced Beef cheeks and made me a generous helping of pasta with lots of gooey cheese.

My father’s medical appointment will on 26 April 23 and we will be meeting with the Hepato Liver Specialist. I am trying to think positive and that his condition will not be too painful in the coming months ahead.

Death or impending death is never easy to face for me, especially for a loved one. I know no one is immortal, everyone has to take leave from mortality but it still pains me.

My father is nonchalant about it, stating that he has to go when it is time to go. I do like his attitude and that he oblivious to feelings – maybe in his own quiet time, he does feel sad.

I do not feel sad if it was my own mortality as I have been preparing for my own death since my first car accident that spiraled into 33 surgeries I underwent. Also I do not leave behind anyone – no one to mourn my loss nor feel my non presence.

In the case of my father, he will leave Garfield and I behind. Just yesterday I joked with him that his “grandson” my inanimate furball Garfield will miss him and so will I. He smiled and looked at the ceiling – I can swear he rolled his eyes as he must be wondering if he is leaving behind a senile daughter in me.

I am learning to let go of things – letting go of loved ones when the time comes.

It is not going to be easy but I will learn to celebrate my parents’ lives – what they have given me, the times we spent; good, bad and ugly – the love and care they did in their best capacity as they could within the means they had.

That is life, isn’t it?


My Hodge Podge Kinda Week

Admittedly, I get impatient with my folks lately as their extreme stubbornness brings out the ogre in me. I know I am not the “parent” but I had to weigh in as their decisions are really wonky and harms them.

It was time for their geriatric appointment and the session took more than an hour for both. The hustle and bustle of getting them to go is always tense as I have to ensure they arrive on time at the hospital.

I am also angry with self for not being able to lift the wheelchair into my car’s trunk as it is not good for my screwed up spine. Dr Tan has warned me against it as it will aggravate my spine. Yet the walking by my mother with her spinal condition pains me. Short walks to the benches from drop off and I use the hospital’s wheelchairs to move her to the clinic.

It is not easy being the sole caregiver of two seniors. It is easier if the two seniors co-operate with me and stop bickering at each other. Sigh!

Thankfully I am single, never married else my turn will come when I bicker with the unfortunate man I married.

Mr Nice caught up with me and as his birthday was around the corner, I had to find him a nice, unique gift.

Mr Nice has everything he needs and he is not in need of everything but still, I ought to find him something nice.

Our dining venue was Cookhouse at Dempsey by COMO group that also helms Candlenut, Culina etc. Food menu was restricted and honestly I did not like any of the choices. Still I ordered pork chop for the main and an appetizer and a dessert. Each menu cost a bomb and if wine was included, an extra SGD88.

Mr Nice was pleased with his choices of pan seared octopus with potatoes for appetiser, grilled beef for entree and chocolate lava cake for dessert.

I did not like the appetizer I ordered – some sort of buffalo cheese with passion fruit and rockets served with 2 pieces of sourdough toast. I ate the toast but not the rest. The idea of buffalo cheese made me queasy. Obviously I am not a connoisseur of fine foods! LOL!

I do like the breads though and it seems rather silly that my artisanal meal comprised of toast bread as the other items on menu did not appeal to me.

My entree of pork chop arrived medium rare and the thought of worms squiggly around in it made me return it to the chef to ensure it was fully cooked. I don’t think pork should be eaten medium rare! How strange!

But the ambience of the restaurant was nice and I had Mr Nice helped me with the photo of the vase with flowers.

Mr Nice does take very good photos with his camera phone. He just acquired the latest Samsung folding phone.

My Earl Grey Tea arrived in this quaint teapot. Mr Nice’s chamomile tea also arrived in the same type of teapot.

I was excited to present my gift to Mr Nice – he loves collecting pens and I found this old antiquated pen in my family treasure trove box of mine which I felt would be better off with him. I do not appreciate such things and it should go to someone like him who loves Montblanc pens.

Mr Nice took the trouble to stage the photo shot of the pen
Royal blue ink he uses

To be honest I did not know what make or model this Montblanc pen was till he told me it was a Montblanc Rosa circa 1950s.

Aah well, the pen has found a new master that appreciates it more than I as Montblanc pen is not Garfield LOL! He is pleased with it and cleaned it up and immediately filled it with ink to pen me a note.

Before we parted ways, Mr Nice gifted me with fruits as he knows how much I love fruits but cannot carry heavy loads.

The 2 apples were huge, as big as the grapefruit, mini mandarins, capsicums, brown fresh mushrooms, grapes and pink guava.

Neighbor too, was kind as usual, cooking me two meals this week.

Bittergourd and doufu soup
Chicken and pork withveggies
Stir fried rice vermicelli with dried seaweed as garnishing


Neighbor’s Concern For Me Is Deeply Appreciated

Neighbor was worried about me and my bleeding gums and quietly she did her own research to try and find me a method to stop it from continuous bleeding.

A cancer warrior herself, she understood pain.

She texted me on the benefits of Manuka Honey and urged me to collect a jar from her. She bought 3 jars and she found it helpful to alleviate her mouth ulcers.

I told her no need and to keep the jars for herself to self as I could easily get a jar should I need it.

She would not take no for an answer and was soon ringing my doorbell with a jar for me. I could not refuse her and she took the effort to bring it to me.

I could not bear to tell her that it was too costly for me to accept it and wanted to offer her payment but she refused.

Honestly, I do not like honey as it is too sweet and I always worry about sugar levels so I avoid sweets and stuff.

But her kind gesture is appreciated and I will keep it.

It is hard for me to buy her treats as she has a discerning palate and I use to get her gold trinkets but she tells me she hardly wears such things.

I cannot cook her a treat as my cooking is so bad and her cooking is so good. Besides she does not eat treats like cakes or tortes or anything except breads. So I guess I will continue to get her rye bread or some not nutty grain bread.

She genuinely has what I describe a Buddhist Chitra heart as she does things for me without seeking a return of anything.

I am thankful for her care and love.


Thinking Back

Someone I once knew offered nothing but caustic comments whenever I fell ill or required hospitalization. This person, whom I took as a genuine friend, was anything but a friend.

Yesterday, this person texted me to say that he will be undergoing a series of operations ” based on a second opinion” and that he went through a series of “operations” without success. He claimed he ” almost died” from these surgeries.

If I stoop to his level of being caustic, I would have lobbed back at him, a series of caustic comments to let him have a tit for tat experience. But I did not. I wanted to, but I held back, as I refused to stoop to his level.

Also, his story had a lot of loop holes and he could merely be playing the sympathy card to elicit my attention.

He chose to use the government sector for medical treatment. There is nothing wrong with the government sector when it comes to medical treatment as I go to them too, to save on cost. But one needs to discern and realise if the attending doctor has “synergies” to treat you.

In the government sector, under the subsidized care scheme, we do not choose our consultants. Instead we get medical officers or trainee specialists taking care of our case. After four consultations with medical officers, we get a glimpse of the God of Surgeons in charge of thousands of cases.

Knowing this chap, he would have selected a consultant of choice and pays private rate at government sector, which is still cheaper than private medical treatment as a private hospital.

Cost differentials could range between SGD100 more in private sector and private medicines cost about 35% to 40% more than government hospitals as the former has economies of scale for bargaining power.

I thought back to the chap – he claims he is poorly diagnosed and treated. He remains very private as to what is his condition but opines he is at death’s door, which is unlikely as he is happily travelling the world for holidays and supping away.

I gently reminded him to assemble a team of specialists that he can trust and synergize with. Also, he need not be afraid to “sack” morons or incompetent doctors. I know I have!

But more importantly I reminded him to dig deep into his heart as to why he is on this journey and what is he expected to learn from this?

There is always cause and effect or I call Karma and what he is required to do?

At the end of it, only he can make his own decisions and if he chooses to be wafty about his medical care, then it is in his own hands based on his decision – rightfully or wrongly!

Anyway – A large part of me wanted to lash out and tell him that this is karma biting him for showing me zero empathy when I was ill and ticking me off that what I was going through is ” no big deal”

Now that he is facing it – I wonder if he feels it is ” no big deal” or it is a big deal and he cannot confide in anyone due to privacy he wants to protect for self as he feels having an illness is a big shame.

Silly him really!

Cancer is not shameful.

Even if he has AIDs, it is also not shameful…..


Look What My Mum’s Neighbor Gave Her

Mum’s neighbor is a staff nurse at a restructured hospital. She is a frontline warrior as I call her as she braved Covid-19 and up till now, have not been able to take annual leave.

Staff Nurse lives with her brother. Both are singletons and they dote on my parents, helping me by getting my parents their meals on weekends as they work shifts.

Staff Nurse’s colleagues are very creative and used hong bao wrappers to make a nice basket for me.

This is the year of the Rabbit and the hong bao wrappers all carry images of the Rabbit

I find this paper basket useful to hold tissue paper for my use. It is also handy to hold my knick knacks like eraser or that elusive pen or a small bottle of embrocation oil like Tiger Balm or a tube of Bengay.

I had no space to take one of these ornate Chinese New Year decorative centrepieces.

Beautifully done, it decorated my parents side cabinet top and dining table.

Yes, admittedly, nurses are talented artists too. 😀

I am grateful to my mum’s neighbors who shower my mum and dad with love too.

Thank you both for helping me.