Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Days 426, 427 -Chinese Tea

The pleasure of tea is doubled 
when you have company sharing it.

Great having you over, Carmen, Claude, Fabiola, Veronique. 
Thank you for bringing your own cups. 

Happy to see familiar faces from way back and far away, Josje, Piikko, and Maria Ireland. 
Glad you like Chinese Tea.

Warm welcome back, Drora, Illona, Kikka 
You who have shared and have warmed my heart.

Grateful for the company of friends whom I have not spoken for a while and yet linger constantly in my thoughts, Birgit, Ewa, Betsy.

And always thrilled to share our regular chats again, Ro. 

You brought colours to my living room in the garden and gave nourishments to my tea. 


Flowering tea leaves - Before

My dad loved Chinese tea. He taught me the subtle yet distinct differences between good and great Oolong and showed me the simple but rigid steps to brewing.


We learnt from him and mum how a cup of tea is more than just a beverage. It is a powerful instrument for expressing emotions that often beggar words; and it bridges what may appears to be the irreconcilable. 

For us Chinese, presenting a cup of tea on our knees is not simply saying I am sorry, it is also showing sorrow and remorse for having hurt so deeply. 

On your wedding day, it is an expression of immense gratitude for all the years your elders have loved, protected and gifted. That cup of tea says at once: thank you, I am now leaving your shelter and I am sad yet glad and I know you are glad yet sad too. It is that flash when your life before that cup of tea were instances when you were educated, scolded or praised. It was for all the tears and laughter leading up to this day when you are finally no longer a child but a man, woman, spouse and maybe parent.

I bought the 2 tiny teapots and the teacup from the National Palace Museum of Taiwan in 2009. Taiwan was also a special trip I made just with my mum and dad in 2013 over the Chinese New Year that year. 

In my little world and the abandoned house, that Chinese teacup from Taiwan will always be dad's special cup.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Days 426 & 427- The Garden's Living Room

If I am to sit in my garden, watch weeds grow, 
earth settles 
and stones erode; 

It will still be time better spent then meddling with the madness, 
chasing wants, 
lamenting regrets.

I knew when this abandoned house finally completes, the garden is where I will want to do most of my living. It is where I will sit, work, think when I am alone; chat, laugh, eat and drink when I am not. 

And so I built this living room of simple yet hardy furniture. A living room I can bring anywhere in the garden, for me; and you if you wish for my company; and of course, those special moments when I want a chat with the Old Man. 


The humble beginnings. 

Much of the construction was in the painting.

Version 1 when I only used 1 piece for the table top. The final version had 3. 
Pillows made from trimmings and the tiniest, shiniest beads.

Monday, 7 December 2015

The Day He Left - Nirvana

This was a mini sculpture I made in October last year. Shortly after, my dad was taken ill and was admitted to the hospital. He never came home.

What do you say when someone you thought would be there always leave? Everything and nothing really. 

On 3 December 2015, we commemorated the 1 year since my dad left with a meal. I echo here my brother's words to him:

Hey dad. We bought some of your favourites tonight for dinner. It's been a year now. We're all doing great. And yes, we know you're with us. I know you always are.


Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Days 420-422 Water Garden

I am a water garden. 
I am home to rare orchid and sacred lotus, 
wild flowers and rambling reeds.
Life in my pond is quiet but vibrant,
restraint but free. 


My water garden was of humble beginnings. I still recall how on that really hot Sunday afternoon, I took out an egg crate I kept for years and started building the rock surfaces. The Abandoned House was crying out for a water source and it was between a well and the deep blue pond. I chose the pond. 

The pond's first life after I laid the tiny pebbles and poured some E-6000  over, was a plastic plant from an old project called "Heaven For Dead Cars".  I wanted something special amidst the foliage so I thought, why not a lone stalk of pretty flower?

The rare orchid in my myriad flora collection was the obvious choice. This was a flower made by a Thai artisan bought from a stall in my favourite flea mart, Chatuchak Market in Bangkok. I think it is a variety of the super rare Lady Slipper Orchid.  

The next weekend, I poured more glue into the pond. This time I used an epoxy mix from Elmer's that promised Super Fast something. It wasn't very super anything nor fast. 

I was soon bored watching glue dry so I decided then my pond would be a water garden. I found more discarded flowers, like the lotus buds and placed them into the middle of the pond.

These rather realistic succulents which I love, I planted at the side of the pond.

These dried flowers were souvenirs I plucked when I was in Australia. I knew I could use them in one of my projects someday.

Rambling reeds, another plucked apart dried flower and the pure white paper lotus in full bloom were additions I made on the 3rd weekend when I poured the last layer of E-6000.  The glue had bubbles teeming, suggesting vibrancy and life.

When I brought the house out for a shoot and the various plants by the pond started swaying in the breeze, for a moment there as I looked through the lens of my camera, I saw myself standing over my water garden, dreaming up poetry and enjoying the wind in my hair.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Day 417- The Perspective Of A Fruit Tree

I was "growing" a fruit tree for the Abandoned House when I was once again confronted with the issue of "scale". It was some rambutans I bought from a Thai artisan which I wanted for my tree but these rambutans were a little on the big side (even by my very imprecise standards). 

As some of you may know of me, I am not one to measure down to the last millimeter for a flawless 1:12/24/48 scale. After all, the same object can be different things in different scale. For instance, my Abandoned House could be a 1:48 chateau or a 1:24 shed or even a 1:12 pigsty.  Conversely, an object can, and do, come in many sizes. There are large, medium or small sunflowers or tables or maybe even....


So at the end of the day, how do I tell when something is of the right size? Simple, really. It just must look right, 

Or if it doesn't quite, we can always call it a dragon fruit tree instead of a rambutan tree, maybe even a red durian tree. 

Surely our small world can be anything we want it to be, right?

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