Saturday, August 19, 2017

Sophia is starting a new blog!

I am excited to announce today that Sophia is starting a new blog. It is over at check it out!

Anjali's experiment

I had an interesting conversation with Anjali this morning which merits recording. WE were talking about the need for kids to learn to spell (not very high because there are spell checkers) and have good grammar (not very high also) and to write fun stuff (high)

I was telling her that I thought that schools made kids learn rote is because they wanted to train factory workers a hundred years ago.

Me: Imagine a toothpaste factory that needed workers to screw caps on toothpastes. They need to be highly disciplined cap screwers otherwise there wont be good toothpastes

Anjali: Yay! Then we wont need to brush our teeth

Me: Well, then your teeth will get rotten and you cant eat any chocolates

Anjali: Actually no. I did an experiment and didnt brush my teeth for one week. They were still fine afterward.


Monday, August 14, 2017

On cookies and such

So Anjali is making a cookie book. She has it decorated, gets books from the library and copies down only cookie recipes. And makes the cookies. Funny things

"We need to make a fat removing cookie because if we eat all the cookies I bake we will all get fat"

On video conf with thattha
"Why are you cooking?"
"Because my mom doesnt cook properly, so I am cooking"

Anyway, she has baked three batches of cookies last week alone. Anjali has become quite the chatter.

Thattha: When you come to India, we will go to 8 temples
Anjali: I will only go to one temple
Thattha: Why?
Anjali: Because you only came hiking with us to one hill


Me: You dont even give me a glass of water, how will you take care of me when I am old
Sophia: I will give you 20 Quid pocket money each day
Me: But how will that cover my food and housing?
Sophia: I will cook the food. and you will live with me
Me: What if your husband does not like me to live with you?
Sophia: I will kick him if he doesnt.
Anjali: No you dont. You call your sister who will have - no - who has six pack abs to kick him
Sophia: I can kick him myself. unless its something serious then I'll call you
Anjali: like what
Sophia: Like my husband has 12 pack abs I cant kick him.


Sunday, August 13, 2017

Adventures in glass

Over the course of my work, I have gotten to know a lot of good artists. And I have seen something about them. They always make their work seem so easy. Three weeks ago, the girls and I attended a marbling workshop by Garip Ay. He made this lovely painting of an elephant in an african jungle. And I tried to copy it, and my elephant looked like a malformed hippo with a mutation. Ofcourrse Garip did his painting in 10 minutes or so, while I slogged over mine for 45 minutes and then consoled myself by saying that Picasso's elephants didnt look like elephants, but thats besides the point.

 Yesterday, the girls and I visited Anjali Venkat's studio to play with glass. We have known Anjali through three years worth of maker faires, but ofcourse, I never have the opportunity to attend her workshops during the faire on account off fighting random fires and being too tired to go more than a general observation and soaking the spirit after all teh fires are extinguished. When we reached her workshop, there were two women already there spending their Saturday afternoon, both of whom (it gave me a little thril to know), had found out about her studio through maker faire SG and drop in regularly to work and one of whom had been coming in regularly since the 2015 faire. Something nice to know :) It was just simply fun to cut and arrange glass. We learnt to score, cut and shape glass. The objective of the session was ofcourse to make jewellery as gifts for Sabreesh and his wife, and we had previously decides that we wanted to make earrings, a hairclip and a pendant.

Quickly, we distributed work. Sophia, who always takes on projects more challenging than herself, was inspired by the Ganeshas that Anjali had recently posted online and which Sophia wanted to take up. Anjali and I decided to use a lotus theme for the hairclip and the earring

I am surprised by Sophia's artistic ability. I know that she attends art club in school, but I dont have a high opinion of the school clubs, especially since sessions are irregular and break for holidays nd exams and stuff.

Anjali Venkat proposed a design for Ganesha and Sophia counter proposed her design. I proposed a design for the lotus and Sophia proposed another design. We used mine, but Sophia's was better :(

Here is Sophia's Ganesha

After we made our pieces, we decided to make a few more- it is addictive this cutting up glass business, especially since we wont be able to cut glass at home. And obviously, the kids wanted to make stuff for themselves.

Sophia made a beautiful pendant with powdered glass and Anjali made a lovely one with three concentric circles. I played around with layers and tried to make something three dimensional. I'll know how it turns out on Tuesday when it comes out of Anjali's kiln.

We put all out pieces in the kiln. where they will be cooked and fused for 3 hours and then anneal for 24 hours.

We learnt a lot of stuff - how to score glass with a diamond tipped cutter, how to put pressure on the score line and break it up, how to use a grinder (also diamond tipped) to grind the cut glass to smoothen the edges, how to use powdered glass to accentuate the artwork and make it look like glitter, how to soften a thin strip of glass over a hot flame and bend it carefully using a pair of tweezers. And ofcourse chatting with people as we worked.

Rather like Garip's workshop on marble painting, where the girls spent a solid five hours working and not getting bored, they were at Anjali's studio for three solid hours, and would have stayed longer except that Anjali had another appointment and had to leave.

I have to stop writing now. The girls are making pistachio cookes and the kitchen reeks of rose essence. I am supposed to chase Anjali to revise her spelling, but then they learn so much more by making cookies. So we'll get to the spelling when we get to the spelling.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Cycling around

I wish I could blog a bit more. its been ages and though I post regularly on facebook, I miss the depth of reflection that writing a blog used to give me. It was a lot more personal and a lot less flashy. Yesterday, Husband, the kids and myself set out on a bike ride. It had been a long time since we had a free day, and it will be a long time from now that we have a free day - our weekends seem to get chock blocked months in advance. Husband did his research and came up with the 10 river trail. That sounded exciting. And before you get too excited, we ended up covering, I believe, 7 of the rivers.
 River 1 and 2: Home to Clementi. I didnt know that the Pandan river and the Ulu Pandan river were two separate entities, but according to Husband they were. As we cycles along near IMM, we noticed how what had appeared to be largely a drainage canal opened up in the middle of nowhere and became a river. I assume that the Pandan river has an underground source *Update: Google maps thinks that the two are the same, but according to Lee Khong Chien museum, they are two rivers. * At this point, husband said something about how we would cycle to Kallang and then cycle back home via Ang Mo Kio (through the forest? Through Kranji??), whereupon both Anjali and I both raised a mother of all tantrums River 3: Alexandra canal This was a bit of a surprise to us. We didnt quite see the canal, but the park connector was beautiful
 River 4. Singapore river.

  It was quite a surprise to me and also, i believe, to the fat frog that was happily sitting on the steps, when we reached the Singapore river along river valley. From there, we cycled to the possibly frog filled waters near clarke quay and had lunch at Clarke Quay central (the waterfront restaurants were way too expensive). Its after we finished lunch that we ran into our road blocks. I mean them literally, since the spaces from esplanade to the F1 pit were closed for national day parade. Husband who knew the roads, led us through the main streets to the F1 pit, where we hit Kallang river


Look carefully and you can see Anjali zooming down the bridge We couldnt go down Kallang river because of the road closures, so we went up river to Rochor River and then down Kallang river till Kallang Wave mall and guess what we found there? ' The Milo van! Both girls had never drunk from the milo van before (whats the world coming to?) and so we queued up (not too long thankfully), drank milo, exclaimed over the refreshing quality of milo van milo and then went on our way till Marina Barrage!

 The girls had their dam engineering education (from husband) and then we went up the dam roof to see the kites. It was too loud (dam music) and the dam learning centre was closed for renovation so we came down and ate dam ice cream and drank dam smoothie before turning back We passed by the now starting to get crowded Marina Bay area where everyone was gathering to watch the fireworks and came across Kooza (Note to self to book tickets) and then found ourselves at the end of the Singapore river, where the fat frog no longer rested on the step. It took an hour and a half from there to home and we took a ten minute break at clementi to give some relief to my poor hindquarters.

 A highlight for Sophia was when a woman pushing her bike pointed to her and said "She is so small and see how well she balances". Of course, Sophia is well known for riding a bike that is bigger than her.

Friday, April 24, 2015

On malice

The girls and their friends put up a short yoga demonstration at an event last weekend. They had been practicing for over a month and were very proud of their routine.

The next yoga class after the performance was last Tuesday and after the class, the teacher sat the kids down to discuss their feelings about the programme.

When it was Anjali's turn, she said, "first i felt nervous, then i felt angry and then i felt happy".

'Why were you angry', we asked.

"because some of the children watching said 'eeeuh-they are touching their nose with their legs and eeeuh-they are lying down on the dirty floor'"

That started a volley of comments from the other kids as well and it was clear to us that the children felt strongly towards the issue.

"they are jealous of you",said the teacher. "because they can't do the poses that you can"

"but if they can't do, why don't they learn", asked Sophia, who is very vocal at pointing out obvious solutions.

"that's what they should do", we said, "but some people are just malicious."

I would have let the matter pass for the most part except that something else happened this week which made us revisit the incident. A friend of mine became the victim of cyberbullying which, from the looks of it, stems from the same kind of malice.

On one of our walks together, i shared the story of this friend with the girls and drew a parallel between her experience and theirs.

"if people are jealous, why dont they work better? We can teach them!", asked Anjali. "why do they say and do things that hurt?"

That is a million dollar question. I am not a psychologist to analyse the darker side of human behavior that seems to manifest even in kids or the beauty that shines in those who have been hurt which brings out their strength, or the importance of family and friends who can lend a listening ear and a steady shoulder in these times.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Nature studies box

Its nature studies on Thursday again. Have put together a quick nature lab in a box. Journal. Magnifyers. Pencils. Water colors. Crayons. Random containers and funnel. The box will grow in time