Garfieldhug's Blog

This & That Including What Ails

Sitting & Waiting For Gantries To Allow Visiting My Dad

I hate it when I am in a time zone of what I refer to as” no man’s land”

Too early to get past the dratted IT controlled gantry that is program to bar early comers and too late to divert to the mall to pick up items for mum.

IT is good in that it stops having inefficient use of manpower standing like a mannequin there.

But IT is bad when the dratted machine cannot read bar codes of my identity card and I am stuck behind gated turnstiles that refuses to let me out.

Boon or bane of technology? I am split. Good when efficient and bad when glitches occur.

I find it convenient to pay bills but hate it when there is no human being to respond to my queries.

I hate those ridiculous bots as they can never answer anything beyond programmed asks.

I am guilty of telling the bot, “you are effectively stoopid” and it replies me, “I’m sorry. I don’t understand your question”

Hahaha…I cannot even successfully scold a bot!

I wonder if the security guards will be replaced? I watched Robo Cop classics. Half man, half bot will work but full bot? Maybe if AI replicates humans! Then if it happens, I am worried as the human race may end, alongside with pet dogs and cats.

Robots all the way!

I don’t know how I will exist then or maybe I will be quite dead then.


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.


Stopping To Smell The Roses As The Proverbial Saying Goes….

I find the tiger lily far more fragrant than the rose. I always loved tiger lilies but they took second place to the cheerful Sunflower as the Sunflower does not have stamens that leave powdery residue that makes it hard to clean off from fabrics or fingers.

I was reminded of when Architect proposed to me by sending me a bouquet of 50 stalks of Tiger Lilies to my office – I called it the “Mother of All Bouquets” as not only did it make a statement, it was a very heavy bouquet! This is fodder for another post sometime in the future!

I am reminded often enough to stop the rat race and take stock of things. But when taking stock of things, I am reminded of the cold hard truths of how to balance the pocket book and ensure that I have financial capabilities to support me should I live beyond my years. This is the frightening facts of life beyond my means.

Everyone is worried about finances. Unless one is endowed with a lifetime of wealth, one cannot help but worry about where the next meal or payment is due.

Singapore or I fondly call my Lil Red Dot is not a Nanny State. It is founded on meritocracy and each citizen has to earn its keep. There are no handouts and handouts are restricted to the truly down and out but on miserly sums of SGD800 a month.

Our Lords realise that we cannot sink to the levels of USA or Australia or countries with handouts as it makes people reliant on handouts and refusing to get back on their feet to work.

I have seen this in Australia where a family literally just surfs and be beach bums and shared with me, that why should they work when the entire family is provided for by the state!

Tax payers suffer and it is for this reason that our taxes are kept lower than countries like Australia, New Zealand, USA or Europe.

But it is a hard slog for people like me here. If anyone is not employed and is frequently in need of medical care, the insurance premiums, follow up care and meds is a must. Then where can the financials come from?

An ex colleague of mine texted me to gripe about the cost of housing and how will his daughter ever afford to buy their own property. I think we are becoming like those countries with handouts – people can only afford to rent and not buy. I wanted to reply to his text to say, ” Worry about self and let the future generation carry their own load” – They are pandered and provided for, overly – I feel! A protected and entitled lot is the future of our generation!

I am none the wiser despite stopping to think. If I do not work, income stops. Wherein does financial flow comes in?

People talk about passive income but to have passive income one must have extra funds to generate income stream.

I am not a savvy investor nor do I have spare funds to begin with for investments. So that is that!

Aah well, what will be, will be!



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!


The Heat Is On….

Singapore is a tiny island state that sits beneath Malaysia. We are an independent island state, once a British Crown Colony. We use the same Commonwealth Laws and I fondly call this little island, my Lil Red Dot as literally, we are a tiny dot on the world map. We became independent in 1965.

Global warming has affected my Lil Red Dot and yesterday the mercury was recorded at 37C, hottest in 40 years! I remember having Indian Summers when I was an undergrad in Eugene, Oregon. But in comparison to what I am feeling now in Lil Red Dot, it is balmy, humid and scorching. Not a nice feeling.

There are some who predict that the mercury will rise to even 40C! I sincerely hope not as I do feel for the people who does manual labor such as construction, road works, NParks etc who need to work under the sky.

I felt quite uncomfortable in my lil futt car though my aircon temp was set at 19.5C and the outside reading from my car dashboard showed temps outside my car was at 36C. Still the high speed blower did make my 15 min drive to a mattress showroom bearable.

I am not one with good spatial sense nor having an idea of distance or if the item such as bed and divan will fit my mother’s flat. I need to convert a king size bed into 2 singles as it is time to get a live in helper for my mother and father.

It was only after much coaxing and issues faced, including literally yelling to my mum that she relented and agreed to having a live in helper.

This will bring with it, a fresh set of problems for me as I need to train, orientate the new helper and let her assimilate into the culture of this family.

All I know is that it will not be easy. If I was the new live in helper, I will have to adapt to a new country’s culture, live in foreign surroundings and missing family all for the sake of earning more money for the family.

I hope it works out well for us all.

I hope the cooler temps return and I need not be gulping so much water as I end up fatter in weight with the water retention in me.


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!


One’s Journey Through Cancer

Cancer to some is a death sentence.

Cancer to others is a journey of tenancity, true grit and making the right choices.

Cancer can be tamed for some, whilst for others it is a delabitating disease that robs one of mobility and life dignity.

When I learnt of my diagnosis of cancer, only 3 of my good friends and Neighbor felt for me.

Mr Nice was one of them and the other 2 were Piglet and Chicken.

The sole doctor that was truly worried for me was Dr Bones. He empathized with my life’s journey and just last Friday, in our 50 minute conversation, we recounted how we met.

Truth be told, anaesthesia wiped out all my memories. Dr Bones reminded me that we met because Dr Celebrity opined that the bone spur cutting into my tendon was not a necessity to fix. Dr Lui disagreed with Dr Celebrity and found me Dr Bones.

The rest is history. Dr Bones and I got along smashingly well as doctor and patient. Along the way, he became a brother, a friend and a confidante. We yak about food, his sons, his busy schedule and his chores after being a professional surgeon.

Dr Bones showed me he was no different than other men with families except he has no time to dawdle on golf, drive a fancy sports car and be an idler.

Dr Bones stood by me in my cancer journey. Without him as my primary care physician giving me strength, courage and solutions, I might not have overcome.

Now that my dad has been diagnosed with lesions on the pancreas and possibly cancerous (?), it is now my turn to walk him through this cancer journey with him. 26 April 23 is when I meet with the hepato doctor.

Perhaps with age comes calmness or perhaps it is his dementia blocking his think thoughts. But I find him pretty lucid if he chooses to be.

Perhaps it is his way to cope with life’s challenges.

In opening up and sharing on my blog site, others have reached out to comfort me. I also learnt that Chronosfer is a survivor of bowel cancer. Chronosfer takes beautiful photos and never gives up. I admire his true grit and kindness to reach out to me.

All of us have some form of worry, life’s challenges or a gripe or two. Yet, each reader that I have met, has been very kind to offer me a kind word or two or remind me that I am not alone in my struggles.

Just when I thought no one would care if I was erased from face of this earth, Barracuda Ally, my physiotherapist texted me out of the blue to ask how was I doing.

I am glad that I am not forgotten yet.


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.


Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Fitri To My Muslim Friends

This saturday is Hari Raya Aidil Fitri, which marks the end of Ramadan.

I am always amazed at the strict regime that Muslims adhere to i.e. waking up early to eat and fast the whole day.

It will be a first full fledged no safe distancing measures as we are in an endemic Covid-19 stage and I know my Muslim friends will be so happy to be out and about doing home visits and feasting, just like Chinese during Chinese New Year celebrations.

I will always eagerly look out for their Hari Raya apparel as usually families are color coordinated and seeing them all in the same cloth colored outfits is just to inclusive and cohesive as a family, I feel.

The Malay kueh kueh (“kueh” is a Malay word for cakes) is quite similar to our Chinese New Year cookies too. I think it is like a melting pot as they too have Kueh Bangkit, Kueh Tart (pineapple tarts), Kueh Bauhlu, Love Letters etc.

Their money gift packets are in green wrappers whereas our Chinese version is red to signify auspicious color. Green is auspicious to the Muslims.

I wish all my Muslim friends a happy, joyous Raya filled with delectable treats, lots of green packets of money and may they enjoy the festivities to mark the end of Ramadan.


Just When One Thinks He Is Lucky…

I am in the people business. I take care of minions and recently my department was tasked to hire a migrant worker from Bangladesh. He was a blue collar worker at a construction site, holding the lowest grade of work pass as he had not much education.

But Monkey Lord liked his work style and felt that we ought to “steal him” and I was tasked to begin the thieving act.

Mr Bangladesh was happy to be poached by us as the offer to him was a higher work permit class and his wages gets bumped up by an additional SGD Two Thousand a month and this in foreign exchange would make him a rich man, considering his current measly salary income.

He was happy and off we went to process the papers to make his transfer to us legal.

Two weeks into the process, we were told he struck lottery (“Toto”) winnings of SGD5.8 million! A single winner in the draw and based on numbers he picked himself. A winning of equivalent 456,344,580 Bangladeshi Taka, he need not work – in fact his future generations of several lineages will not need to work.

So, it was unexpected that he told us he was packing up and going home!

But his future supervisor spoke with him. Announcing to the world in Bangladesh that he is now obscenely rich would have him killed sooner or later or kidnapped.

All sorts of relatives will crawl out of the woodwork claiming to be his missing cousin, aunty, uncle or what nots cousins many times removed.

We managed to persuade him to continue to work with us and quietly keep his finances safely locked up in Singapore and giving to his family what they needed to subsist and buy things needed.

I think he made a counter wise decision to stay on and earn more big bucks and not learn to gamble away his wealth.

I asked myself what would I do if I was in his shoes?

Without hesitation, I replied to myself that I would continue to work. I could then relax a little and not worry that if tomorrow I lost my job, I am done for.

I will then invest in 1 to 2 pieces of property and hopefully get passive income as a regular stream of income flow.

But I cannot kid myself, I am never lucky. I have never won anything in my life – not even a lucky draw or find couple of bucks on the road. I have friends who can find $10, $50 dollars just lying in front of their footpath!

Perhaps I am lucky in just being alive and with a job. There are others struggling to find or keep a job as well as battling terminal illnesses.

Rabbit’s foot, four leaf clover or throwing salt over your shoulder…..may luck accost us all.

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