Thursday, August 31, 2006

Ugly Duckling

Last weekend, we went to our church food and fun fair because my in laws had set up a stall. It's always fun to go, especially around closing time because everyone is trying to get rid of their wares for close to nothing. I totally profitted from the fish ball stall that started giving away their fish balls.

Anyway, walking around, it revealed something telling about the way men and women take in information and process it.

We saw this.

roast duck

My reaction: Extremely turned off. The poor duck looked like it was standing up when it got roasted, involuntarily. And they were expecting people to find it appealing enough to buy at fun fair prices?

His reaction: Duck. Mmmmm. Yum..... Count coupons, see if we have enough to buy one of them birds.

Apparently, to him, it's meat, it's cooked and it's crispy. Who cares how it's presented? Presentation Smazentaion! Same reason why Tym and I could go to places like Bunalan and I have to go to places like Brazil with him.

Well, I guess some would say, I have the best of both worlds. Others would say I have a seriously schizophrenic food personality.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 22:43

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Miss Universe

She walked into the spare room to find him pulling out clothes from their dry cleaning bags.

"What in the world are you doing?" she demanded to know.

"Getting out my suit." he replied with his head still stuck in the cupboard.

"But these are our formal clothes. Hey...that's your wedding suit!" she exclaimed with realisation dawning on her slowly.

"Yup, I'm wearing it tonight!" he proudly proclaimed.

"But it's not your wedding!" she whined, slightly miffed that he gets to dress up while she stays at home in scruffy clothes. She's feeling a little bit like Cinderella having not been invited to the ball.

So the husband goes for the whole ensemble. 3/4 length jacket and pants, french cuffs, cufflinks, vest, the whole nine yards. He does look quite spiffy and for a split second, as he stood half in the shadows and the only light from the other room, he gave me quite a start. He looked like a combination of Lestat and Angel- all dark, skulking, dangerous and possibly deadly. Of course that's just for the half a second before he flashes what he thinks is his most winsome grin. Vampires don't grin, so I'm safe.

3 hours later, he returns. And not barehanded. In one hand are some shopping vouchers that he's won. In the other, a sash. My husband, in his full Angel/Lestat meets Keanu Reeves in the Matrix glory was crowned best dressed for the night. His first beauty pageant, sash and all. And should the winner not be able to carry out his duties, the first runner up will take his place.

And they named him too. Not Vlad the Impaler or anything cool like that. It was Packrat the Overdressed.

My husband, the beauty pageant winnner. Every girl's dream. :)

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 07:45

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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Sod off...

Olie asked today when our teachers' day celebrations were. Well, it's tomorrow but it'll be rather anti-climactic seeing that the students I teach, won't be around for it. So, like I told Olie, no gifts. She thought I sounded totally desperate for gifts. I'm not. I think it's just the idea that these kids, won't come back because they don't really think they're indebted to us. Rather, that it is expected that we slave the way we do because it's what we have to do for them.

Imagine my shock when a student approaches a teacher and demands that the teacher buys the entire class lunch for Teachers' Day. Rationale? It's Teachers' Day so the teachers should treat the students. So, apparently, our sleepless nights, our increased blood pressures, shortened lives, brittle throats and voices aren't enough for them. They still want more. All you can do when they show their true ingrate selves is to stare at them, aghast and mouth agape.

In the words of my colleague who does a mean French accent "You want my blood???"

But they're not all like that. I had lots of fun the last couple of years with snazzy and thoughtful gifts that sent me into stitches. There were the fruit and then there was a fancy chalk drawing they did for me and then photographed for posterity and then there was the T-shirt which I still use.

The joys of being a moulder of the future generation.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 09:42

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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

I need my Jimmy Choos

Since I've been pretty absent with the blogging, I've been thinking that my next blog post should be something with a more serious ring to it. Unfortunately, the ditzy posts are always the easiest ones to blog and even though this is ditzy by some people's standards, it's no laughing matter to me.

Last July, I did a stock take of all the shoes I own. It added up to about forty pairs. Add a couple more that I've bought since then like this one. The problem is that I have never used my shoes till then broke on me. It was always me, one day realising "what on earth possessed me to buy those shoes since they're uncomfortable/too high/too flat/painful/cannot go shopping/cannot go travelling..." and deciding that it was time to retire the shoe. But not in the recent months.

It all started with the sole of the heel coming off 2 months ago that seemed to have brought about this avalanche of shoes deciding to break on me at the most inopportune of times. That was very soon followed by a heel of a shoe that I had recently re-soled developing a fatal 2 inch fracture. There were also shoes that I thought were ready for a second stab at life newly returned from the cobbler's like this and another that I had painstakingly glued back together with shoe goo that gave out on me.

It's led me to the conclusion that I really need to throw out some of my shoes before they embarrass me in the middle of a lecture/an interview/walking down Orchard Road/going to the supermarket. I think it's my payback for using them till they had nothing left to give. After all, when one is a teacher, there is the constant walking to and from different classrooms, the climbing of many flights of stairs, the pacing up and down classrooms when one teaches/ invigilates exams/or is just plain bored, all of which are tough on shoes that were meant to look pretty and made only to do the occasional trudge from the car to the office/cinema/restaurant.

So, if I am able to complete the grading of my papers quick enough, I shall spend my September break trying to find some shoes to replace the ones that have been failing me. It's a tough world- the minute you stop being able to bring me from place to place, you are sent to shoe heaven.

But that's life, Bub. It's a shoe eat shoe world.


N.B. I realised when writing this blog that I really blog quite a bit about my shoes even though I like bags more than shoes. Heh.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 08:05

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Saturday, August 26, 2006

Sorry, not free...

I'm totally swamped now but have much to blog. Unfortunately, work has to come first. So in lieu of a real post, here are some exam bloopers.

  1. Little people like the absence of choice. (Yup, midgets like being told exactly what to do, all the time.)
  2. Young people should not be blamed for all their harmful additions. (But can we blame them for the harmful divisions or subtractions?)
  3. Plato is the smallest planet in our solar system. (One, wrong! Two, Pluto is no longer considered a planet!)
  4. Options add spices to our life. (Like oregano, thyme, sage and rosemary)
That's it for now.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 17:15

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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Dozy, the 8th dwarf

You know when you're in need of a long good holiday when you doze off during a staff meeting and your principal asks with concern if you're ok, because you look really tired.

The answer you really want to give: yeah, no shit

The answer that eventually leaves your lips: A little bit, have had marking to clear.

Understatement of the year.

So, I fight traffic and sleep all the way home and nap for 2 1/2 hours only to just wake up and wonder whether it's time to go to school because it's dark and quiet all around me.

They really ought to start giving out MCs for exhaustion. Especially for teachers. Especially when it's near exams.

Now, that should have been in the PM's Rally speech.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 20:02

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Monday, August 21, 2006

Domestic Goddess

After my last post about playing house, I have been inspired to do cook something totally grown up. We're not having pasta or grilled chicken or grilled anything. I'm going to go for the traditional, in my books, difficult dish of steamed fish.

My mother promises that it's idiot proof. Afterall, she's cleaned and skinned (I swear, people really should genetically enginner fish to have NO skin)them. Let's see if I am indeed an idiot and how big of an idiot I am if I botch this up.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 17:52

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Playing House

Even though I've lived away from home since I was twenty two, sometimes it's still strange. At that point, I knew I was a student and I knew I would go home to my parents' house when I graduated. And I did.

But then, I moved out again, for good. When I got married. And that was about 4 years ago.

Strange thing is I still feel, one day I'm moving home and what I'm doing now, living out is just a temporary thing. Even though I pay taxes, I have my own car and basically stock my own fridge, I think part of me still doesn't want to be grown up. And accepting that I am living out for good would mean admitting that.

I caught myself buying a blanket and looking at place mats a few days ago and I wondered, why was I more interested in the new Corelle design than the new line of Alannah Hill stuff 3 floors up? It was a sensation rather new to me and rather unwelcomed as well.

Yes, we all grow up, we all have flown the coop but it's hard not to look back at those days where these things didn't matter much. And when they did, it was to furnish the doll house or when we stole the pots from the kitchen to play Easy bake kitchen in the bedroom.

I think, also, the truth of the matter is that our parents think in the exact same way. My brother complains about how our mother treats him like he's 8 even though he's a distinguished judge. In the same grain, my parents-in-law get antsy just by the mere mention of their son moving to a different part of the island, much less a whole different country.

I'm not sure how long more this will go on for- where everyone thinks everyone else is playing house. But till then, I'm going to make my house pretty when specific credit card members get more rebate at Tangs later this week. :)

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 07:43

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Friday, August 18, 2006

Circa 1955

This was sent to me this morning. We all had a good laugh because there were so many things that were bizarre. It really is out of Pleasantville and it's hard to believe that, that was what was expected of wives at that time.

The good wife guide - 1955

How many of us, wives, actually do these things?

Of course, my all time favourite is the point that says I should be a little gay and a little more interesting when I greet him.

In the current day context, that would require some deviation in my sexual orientation and another woman in the house.

And from what I hear, it will be a real big hit and it will really make it more interesting when I greet him!

But seriously.... We help facilitate marriage prep in church and we have to go through the oh so controversial issue of wives submitting but this really takes the cake!

And I'm not about to put on an apron and bake one!

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 11:22

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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Nobility

Many people expound as one of the great perks of teaching is the satisfaction you get when your students succeed. It's akin to getting pat on the back and being told "hey, that's a job well done."

But I've realised that it can also be one of the great downers.

With the US and UK fall terms about to start, students are coming back to say goodbye before they embark on their great adventures. So far, there's been a girl who's off to Vassar, a guy off to Purdue and some off to Cambridge. And we've got one who's in Brown and often drops by to visit when he's on vacation.

On the one hand, it's great that they've done well and they deserve these big adventures they're going off on. But on the other hand, when they say with great certainty "I'll come back and visit next year", you begin to wonder why they don't expect you to move on. Why they expect you to stay around when they move on to better things. Batches come and batches go but the teachers stay the same. There are teachers here who have taught here since the inception of the school. And it begs the question, why?

I see great danger in being in the same place while your young 'uns spread their wings and take flight. Especially when they are able to do it because of you. You become the half way house, somewhere they stop for a while before going on. And the point is that they go on, and you're left tending to the half way house all your life. Isn't there the danger of becoming resentful?

As it is, when they come and say their goodbyes and you see their faces flushed with excitement, you wish you were going too. You wish you were the one embarking on that wild roller coaster ride. But you're not. You're stuck preparing them, so that they can be ready for that wild ride.

I've not been in it long enough to resent anyone for their successes. But even in these short years that I've been teaching, I've met a girl who is a President's Scholar, one with 10 distinctions, a boy who's been offered the most prestigious of scholarships to Cambridge. A boy whom we thought was the last person on earth to actually want to be tied to the government by the strings of the scholarship but did so anyway because in his words "they made it too damn attractive". And they will go on to really be our future leaders, while we, the ones who helped them get there, will always remain teachers.

I see teachers around me, deal with this envy in different ways. Some become bitchy, some make snide comments, some send them on their way and whine about how they wish they had such opportunities and some pretend it's no big deal. It's true what they say. It is a noble profession but how many truly are?


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Ondine tossed this thought in at 13:06

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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Lost in Translation

The ironic thing about my self-professed "kantang" husband is that he has 2 aunts on his father's side who are Chinese teachers. And as luck would have it, these two aunts married Chinese teachers too. So, all in all, there are 4 relatives of Packrat's that speak flawless Chinese. And the combined efforts of the four of them could not make Packrat more bilingual than he is now.

We met 3 of them today and had the privillege of sending one of them home. All the way home, I felt it necessary to make conversation with her. Even if it was in my extremely halting Chinese. What we chatted about amounted to what would be small talk. Except, for me, it really wasn't small talk. It was my more earnest and sincere effort at trying to make conversation.

I came to realise 2 things.

1. I am not funny when I speak Chinese. Well, not intentionally anyway. I lose my ability to be caustic, snarky, ditzy, witty. I just don't have the ability to make fun of "porta-potties" in Chinese. I don't even know where to begin.

2. If a cruel joke was to be played on me and I was made to find a husband only by speaking Chinese, I would end up a spinster for life! It would be even harder than Ariel trying to make the Prince fall in love with her without her voice. I would be so boring that I wouldn't want to date myself, let alone, spend the rest of my life with someone who's linguistic ability was just about sufficient to order fish ball noodles dry and with chilli but without oil and perhaps, on a good day, talk about the weather.

Although I do have a sneaking suspicion that there are couples out there who have that little in common that all they do talk about is the weather and what food to order. But that's a different post, for a different time.

For now, I'm going to rest my tongue (now, no funny ideas here!) . It's been all twisted from trying my darndest to wrap itself round words that I haven't used for the past 10 years. And so much, in the last 10 years, has been lost in translation.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 22:27

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Friday, August 11, 2006

Future Generations

Packrat and I had yesterday off, much to the chagrin of Olie who basically tore some guys a new one (You go Girl!!) for forgetting that she didn't. I attempted to stay home and get some work done while Packrat went out to play with his friends at the World Cybergame thingyinmmagig.

Sweet boy that he is, brought me back a gift. Well, it was a goodie bag and in it was a T-shirt. At first, I thought "cool" . It was a nice green t-shirt with a white trim. And a funky cartoon boy on it.

But as always, looks deceive. Upon closer inspection, I decided that I was not going to wear the T-shirt out. Ever. And it goes beyond I can't do it because it's against my religion or I can't do it cos I don't wear green. I can't do it because it says this.

Future gamer

And there's no way I would ever be a future gamer. Fat hope, y'all. It takes more than a t-shirt to convert me. In fact, I'm not sure how I could ever be converted, even if the gaming Mossad comes in and tries to break me by brainwashing me, strap me down into a seat and tape my hand over a Razor mouse.

Perhaps, the only way, I would ever deign to wear it would be if I were expecting and knew for sure that it was going to be a Mini-Packrat in his entirety. Only then and only then, might I actually consider wearing it.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 22:08

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Thursday, August 10, 2006

What is ...

Colonism?

a) The study of the colon- the body part
b) The study of the movement brought about by the punctuation mark
c) A typo- what was meant was COLONIALISM

Ah, the joys of marking on a holiday. The snarkiness rears its ugly head.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 12:59

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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Caught on digital

It feels like the weekend but it isn't. It's the interruption we have once a year to celebrate our nation's birthday and strangely enough, everyone feels obligated to wear red. Gee, I don't know about that one.

Anyway, we decided that since KL was profitting from our National Day by charging a Singapore National Day surcharge on all hotel rooms during this time, we weren't going to drive up to KL as originally planned. Instead, we decided to thumb our noses at the Malaysian Tourist Promotion people and check ourselves into a hotel that faces the Esplanade where fireworks were set off last night. This was a much better choice than to park in the middle of the expressway, climb the barrier and gawk at the fireworks while irate passing motorists stuck involunatarily in the incosiderate jam fantasise about crushing all parked vehicles in sight.

People really make an outing out of it. We'd decided that even though our harbour view room put us at a 14 floor up advantage to marvel at the pyrotechnics, we wanted to go across and be out in the open and watch it up close. There were people camping everywhere. Any empty space was taken up, by families, groups of friends, tourists, gawkers like us. And soon, you couldn't see the ground. Packrat and I had choice spots. The only problem was being packed in like sardines, by the end of it, I had the sweat of a large teenage boy on my arm that I desperately needed to disinfect off.

We didn't bring a camera or anything to take photos. But every other person there did. And when the fire show started, the entire esplanade ground was illuminated. Not by the show in the sky but by thousands of individual irridescent screens pointing up at the sky.

Phones

Amazing.

What does it show of our nation? That we're all rich enough to afford little digital play things, that we're all cut from the same cookie mould- with quality varying, about a thousand people would be uploading the same picture of the same fireworks display today, that we're a tech savvy nation and also, that we're all sitting ducks if some jihad-ist decided to send one of those explosives across the bay right into the crowd. And all that, would also be caught on digital.

Oooh... fireworks, pretty, makes big sound, firework, coming closer, pretty..pretty... bigger...bigger...uh oh.... BOOM.

Ow! That burns.

Yes, I'm being morbid, but it is National Day. :)

Happy National Day!

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 15:05

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Sunday, August 06, 2006

There is great danger in having only a little bit of knowledge

A while back, I taught my students what a slippery slope argument was. I wasn't sure how much of it they got and it's something we occasionally revisit.

Today, I had a peek into how much one particular student understood. And it was not good.

She's talking about why the advancement in science is particularly dangerous.

This is her explanation.

Medical science creates cures for diseases. When there is a cure for diseases and illnesses, people will no longer fear it. This brings about social problems with undesirable outcomes. For example, if a cure for aids (all lower case) is found, the presence of it being an incurable disease will no longer be present. This will then, no longer prohibit the activities that lead to aids as people will have become less afraird of contracting aids. This will in turn, cause a rise in prostitution. And this, is the social problem it will cause.


I'm still amazed. Unfortunately, I no longer find it funny.

Ondine tossed this thought in at 22:28

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Saturday, August 05, 2006

Disclaimer

I had no idea that my last post sounded like I was totally pissed off with Packrat. I really wasn't. I was merely paraphrasing this Straits Times article about gaming- Virtual Addiction is no Fun and Games- (I don't think it can be accessed unless you actually pay money and subscribe to the darn newspaper) and adding my own comments to it.

But I do have proof that it's totally addictive and it can secretly worm itself into one's consciousness.

While I was blogging about it, Packrat was indeed gaming. I went to bed first. Who knew how long the molten core run would take (I don't actually know what it is, I'm imagining it's got something to do with some hot liquid rock out of Mt Merapi)?

Early this morning, I discover he's finally in bed and roll toward him, angling for some cuddling when all of a sudden he sticks his hand right into my face and commands me to "Stop!"

Followed by " Don't take another step forward! There's GOLD here!".

This is like at 5.25 am and it is happening in a clear voice while he's totally asleep. I am left going "What the $&*(!!!" and conclude even though in body, he's beside me, sleeping, his mind, is still on the darn game.

He hasn't heard the end of it yet from me although he claims, as do the other WIDOW MAKERS, that there really isn't such a scenario. I don't believe them.

Why should I? After all, they are all one kind.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 23:51

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Friday, August 04, 2006

Hooked

They call it behaviourial abuse. You spend as much time as you possibly can on it during weekdays and you spend even more time during weekends, sometimes till early hours in the morning. You tell yourself you'll just see what the fuss is about and try it out. But you start to be pre-occupied with it, reading about it when you have no access to it, being on forum pages trying to figure out the best way to get ahead, all the time feeling twitchy. When they actually have time to play it, they realise they need to spend more and more time playing it before they can feel satisfied. The really hard core ones skip school to do it or lie to their loved ones.

One child ran away because his parents banned him from it. Another failed his exams and couldn't care less. Some have become aggressive and uncontrollable and have had to seek treatment. Ohters have been checked into the mental institutions. Now, these addicts aren't usually from broken homes or have had a troubled childhood, they're usually fairly well-adjusted and successful as students or grown ups.

Apparently it's a dangerous addiction because it's a quiet one. You don't manifest many physical symptoms apart from feeling twitchy when you spend too much time away from it. Treatment usually begins with counselling to make the addict realise the impact of his addiction and this is often followed by encouragement and ways of breaking the addiction. The most effective cure, unfortunately, is self-control and willpower, which is often inadequate compared to the eerie siren song that calls out, especially at night when the wives or girlfriends are asleep and they think they can get away with a quick fix.

The problem is the quick fix isn't usally long enough and ten minutes lead to half an hour that leads to an hour that leads to even more...It's a new addiction and it's here to stay.

"I won't have a problem stopping; I will miss it a lot"

Brave words.

Some compare it to gambling.

They call it behavioural abuse.

But I call it as I see, and I call it the World of Warcraft.

Same difference.

Thus, I repeat myself.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 23:15

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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Alley Cat

We're just back from watching The Silence of the Kittens, an Ovidia Yu play for the Singapore Theatre Festival. We were reminded, more than once, that we were the audience to the first production of the first play of the first Singapore Theatre Festival. Yay us.

Anyway, it's a play about overprotecting and overdoing, all in the name of doing what's best for the people. And it's about cats. On the surface anyway.

It made me think about a lot of things. Some of the thoughts are still swimming around, being chewed on, cud like thoughts at this point. Some of them, the simpler ones are more well-formed.
The most straight forward one is how I miss having cats. There was a line in the play, not so much relevant to the main content of the play, but resounds very loudly to me because it's the middle of Term 3 and I would really like some time and space to just. breathe.

The line went something along the lines of "An ancient Chinese legend has it that cats once ruled the earth and they could speak. But they decided to let the humans do all the running around while they just laid about". And the cats that I always stop and marvel at are those who just lie around languidly, watching the world go by, or napping, all stretched out, without a care in the world and totally oblivious to what is going on around it. Someone once said that I'm an observer. Not in the sense that I'm visiting somewhere and sitting in somewhere to see how and what others do, but that in most situations, I just sit and watch and listen and process... of course, what they don't know is I'm processing precious blog fodder.

Anyway, there's a cat that lives in the walkway that I pass everyday to lunch and we admire it everyday for its ability to just be there, watching us scurry around while it decides where the next best place to take a nap is. And I always long to take a picture of it but I never have my phone with me.

However, I managed to take this, last weekend, at my parents'. I love how wide its mouth is, how relaxed it looks, with its eyes shut and its paws all tucked in, how in the next moment, it might just doze off and not care that there are people walking by because it was enough to just be.


Yawn

Right beside it was this one.

Pretty Kitty

Wide awake but also equally likely to end up looking like her friend in the next instant.

Nice.
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Ondine tossed this thought in at 22:54

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" Far in the stillness, a cat languishes loudly"