More Bookbinding at Naiise!

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This September, please join me at Naiise, my favorite destination for carefully chosen, well-designed, quality goods across a variety of price points, for another bookbinding workshop.

The workshop is limited to 12 participants, so register now! All workshops are SG$40.00 per person, which includes a set of professional-quality tools and materials.

Saturday, September 3, 2pm – 5pm
Five Fast Bookbinding Techniques
In this fun and relaxed workshop, participants will become pros at five simple techniques. This is a perfect for class for the beginner!

Singapore Clouds

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Over the years, I’ve marvelled at Singapore’s rain and sunsets. And now, an ode to Singapore’s amazing clouds.

I’ve never seen such beautiful and mercurial clouds. On an average day, cumulus clouds start to develop in the mid-morning. During the afternoon and early evening, these cumulus clouds often develop into spectacular cumulonimbus (thunderstorm) clouds. These clouds then diminish and begin to flatten into layers by dusk, and slowly disperse during the night.

My favorite clouds—yes, I have a “favorite”—are cumulus congestus, or towering cumulus, clouds. From a distance, they have the appearance of gigantic inflatable creatures; their crisp, voluminous shapes swell into the middle atmosphere. Cumulus congestus clouds develop from smaller cumulus clouds when the atmospheric conditions are unstable, which encourages a rising column of warm, moist air at the centre of the cloud to keep lifting higher and higher. Such unchecked convection makes these clouds swell to formidable proportions. (Once these clouds grow tall enough, the tops of the clouds begin to glaciate, their droplets freezing into ice crystals, and the crisp, sharp edges of their summits soften and become more blurred. This is the point at which these clouds have officially turned into a cumulonimbus storm clouds.)

Cloud watching and nephelococcygia, the act of seeking and finding shapes in clouds, is such a meditative pursuit. I highly recommend it.

Birds!

5400602322_b692ef4ab7We recently added one more entry in our nature journal!

The other afternoon, I saw an egret-like bird in Geylang, perched near a canal. I immediately emailed a friend (an expert in Singapore’s biodiversity IMO) who told me that it was a cattle egret (Bubulcus ibis).

The cattle egret is a species of heron, and this particular bird was sporting its breeding plumage, according to my friend. During the breeding season, adults develop yellowish plumes on the back, breast and crown, and the bill, legs and irises become bright red for a brief period prior to pairing.

According to A Field Guide to the Birds of Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore, free-flying resident egrets from Jurong Bird Park are often seen in Western Singapore, where they are indistinguishable from migratory populations (which frequent Serangoon Sewage Works).

Bookbinding at Naiise!

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This August, please join me at Naiise, my favorite destination for carefully chosen, well-designed, quality goods across a variety of price points, for two very special bookbinding workshops.

Each workshop is limited to 12 participants, so register now! All workshops are SG$40.00 per person, which includes a set of professional-quality tools and materials.

Saturday, August 13, 2pm – 5pm
Bookbinding for Teachers
In this workshop, create classroom-tested book structures that are quick, simple and mess-free. This workshop is designed for Primary School teachers, with methods, techniques, and ideas that may be modified to accommodate other age groups.

Saturday, August 27, 2pm – 5pm
Five Fast Bookbinding Techniques
In this fun and relaxed workshop, participants will become pros at five simple techniques.

Keep Me Posted by Lisa Beazley

29d6916d33a41211950f6a706700a9f9Over the long weekend, I read a breezy and entertaining novel, Keep Me Posted, by Lisa Beazley, a fellow American writer in Singapore. In it, Singapore-based luddite Sid challenges her New York City-living, social media-obsessed sister Cassie to write real, old-fashioned letters to one another, rather than use email or Facebook to stay in touch. But hijinks ensue and their heartfelt and confessional letters become an internet sensation. Keep me Posted was a quick read (admittedly, I read fast) and I appreciated Beazley’s witty observations on motherhood.

But despite the flap copy, Singapore isn’t a character in the book, but only serves as the exotic backdrop to this lighthearted novel about sisterhood and marriage. And after a slew of reading expat novels, I’ve come to realize that this seems to be par for the course. These foreign locations are insignificant to the plot, and merely serve as color for our, in this case, white protagonists. Beasley also relies on stock characters of the genre: philandering husbands, Bali-jaunting wives, must-be-saved foreign domestic workers (“helpers”).

Keep Me Posted makes no claim of being literary, and was exactly the sort of candy floss novel I needed this weekend.

Read this informative interview with Lisa on Wall Street Journal‘s Expat blog, a hub for expatriates and global nomads with stories about expat living (housing, education, healthcare), expat jobs, and managing finances abroad.

 

Baby Zoey: Our Search for Life and Family by Olivia Chiong

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I recently read Baby Zoey: Our Search for Life and Family by Olivia Chiong, a parenting memoir about Olivia and her wife Irene’s quest to create a family. They face one bureaucratic obstacle after another, from acquiring sperm to naming their daughter, in pursuing their dream of having a biological child.

Baby Zoey is a skimming over of a series of chronological events, rather than a true and literary memoir. Many of the passages in the book were previously published on Olivia’s blog, where she writes about life with Irene and Zoey. But, no matter, because Baby Zoey is an important book. It serves as a guide to other parents who may be considering the same journey, and reminds readers what “pro-family” in Singapore really  means and how citizens might work to change that.

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On Saturday, I attended the launch of the book at Trehaus.

There, Olivia said that one of the the reasons that she wrote Baby Zoey is because she has the privilege to do so, while other families do not. She described a culture of fear in making one’s family situation public, and the love and support (emotional and financial) that she had to make this book happen. She also indicated that her next project would be a series of children’s books set in Singapore featuring protagonists with “alternative” family structures. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: children need books that offer them opportunities for them to see how others go through experiences similar to theirs, to develop strategies to cope with issues in their life, and spark a sense of pride and validation. I can’t wait to see these books, Olivia!

When an audience member asked whether the book would be available in the National Library, the book’s publicist guffawed. However, he and his colleagues suggested that members of the public request that their branch librarians purchase it for circulation. In the meantime, Baby Zoey is available now in all major bookstores and via Epigram Books.

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