Saturday, 31 March 2012

I Will Not Fall

My brother leaps, my father catches. This is how I imagine God.
I find the most frustrating thing about faith is that it requires complete and sincere abandon. 

Friday, 30 March 2012

How to Save Your Marriage

"Pappa," I asked, "did you ever call her anything other than 'honey'?"
"Besides her name."
"You there."

After thirty years of marriage, my parents still find the time to enjoy homemade smoothies and each other's company. Time and smoothies--the bedrock of any successful marriage.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Tintin Reimagined

Knowing of my love for all things Tintin, Oscar and Jenny handed me this picture in church. I thought I'd share. I'm not sure why people have been so generous lately, but who am I to complain?

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Yen Feng: Photographer

I like talent and creativity, and whenever I discover a new such source of inspiration, I like to share it with the world. By happy accident I stumbled upon Yen Feng's album "60 minutes Singapore" filled with the most vibrant street photography. I promptly wrote him a note of appreciation, and he was kind enough to answer. We were mere acquaintances. I had no business asking if I could feature him on my blog--yet I did, and he obliged. Sometimes it pays to throw common sense out the window.

What's your name?

Yen Feng

Would you consider yourself an amateur photographer? (Don't worry. I'm an amateur blogger.)

Yes, an amateur photographer sounds right.

What inspired you for this street photography session of Singapore?

It comes down to two things: creative outlet and access to technology. I started using Instagram in Dec 2011 during a visit to NYC, where I lived for several years before moving back to Singapore. I wanted a way to document my trip that would be easy/convenient. After taking a few photos, I realised that I should develop the idea into a creative project--hence the 60 minutes concept. The concept is to record moments in life that reflect the city I am in. I don't really like posed shots, and these "stolen" moments have a journalistic feel to them that I was drawn to. By ‘journalistic’ I suppose I mean to be an outsider recording what was happening, what I observed. 
When I returned to Singapore, I decided to do the same here - this is obviously an on-going project and it has already exceeded far beyond collecting the initial 60 moments I had for the NYC project.

I was also inspired by all the great street photos I saw on Instagram. Another source was my good friend, who is also an avid Instragram user. He introduced me to new photographers to follow and some editing apps, which I now use in my work.

What kind of camera do you use?

I use my iPhone. That's it. In NYC, that was the iPhone4. Now it's the 4s.

With the advent of camera phones, it is now possible to snap pictures of unsuspecting passersby, while it's decidedly harder to catch them 'in the moment' if you whip out your camera. How do you feel the medium of photography has changed? 

I think it is still possible to capture great street photography using a proper camera. Lots of people do so. For me I suppose because the iPhone is so convenient, I get to shoot wherever I go. I have a Leica but I am not used to carrying it with me all the time.

What do you want this colletion of photos to represent?

I don't think my photos represent anything in particular - to me I see them as moments in a silent film - viewers fill in the stories as they imagine. If there is one thing, however, I hope they represent in its small way the incredible richness of human life.

What are your favorite subjects for photography?

People, patterns

Do you have any advice for the novice photographer?

Shoot often and a lot. Give yourself projects to work on that can give you focus. Instagram's weekend hashtag project I've found is really useful to break out of habit and experiment with new subjects and perspectives.

Like what you see? These pictures are only a small sample of the album; you can check out the rest of his work here:

Facebook web:
Instagram:   @yenfeng

Further details regarding fanmail and upcoming art shows will be provided upon request. 

Spring Cheer

Mother has redecorated for spring and Easter. Green curtains and yellow feathers. 

Mother loves flowers of all kinds, and she has always longed for a garden, but because of the constraints of an apartment, she told me she could never plant her own. Then she saw that Elsa has filled her entire house with little dirt boxes with delicately green sprouts and heating lamps and plant-filled beakers and very small greenhouses in preparation for spring, and she cheered up immediately and sowed her own seeds the very next day. She placed the tray in front of the window, proving once again that where there's a will, there's a way. 

Monday, 26 March 2012

It Ain't Worth It If It Doesn't Bruise

Shihan caught up to me in the middle of my warm ups before karate. "Good news! You get to keep these." He hands me a pair of padded shin guards for sparring. "They're second-hand, so...half-price."
"Wonderful!" I stop and correct myself, "OSU! Arigatoo gozaimashita!"
"And don't use mine."
 I try to picture myself trying to sneak off with Shihan's shin guards tucked under my arm, to no success. I'm not sure why he pegged me for a black-hearted thief, but you can't blame a man for being perceptive.

The shin guards did come in handy. I was missing my sparring partner when 7.45 rolled around, and Shihan stepped in to help me to my sudden but inevitable demise. Everyone knows you work at 150% when the boss is watching, or in my case, when the boss is trying to kill you. (Let's just say I can no longer lie on my left side.) I did get in one good, but unfortunately cheap shot. Shihan stepped back to let me catch my breath (or so I assumed) and I hit him right in the solar plexus.
"Oh," he groaned. "I had bowed out!"
I bow in deep shame of great distress. "Doomo sumimasen."

Forgiveness has never been so sweet or so necessary for my survival.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012


Cousin Amelia made the first page of Västerbottenskuriren, the local newspaper, a few months ago, and as any proud cousin would, I kept the newspaper. Here she is, flying through the air in a long jump on the school sports day. The caption reads "Unga Hopp," which aptly means both "Young jumps" and "Young hope." Ain't Swedish grand?

 One morning I found the paper on the kitchen table with none other than Erika from my dojo on the first page. She was photographed before her first full-contact competition (which she won, I'll have you know.) Not only is she a lean, mean, blonde and blue-eyed muscle machine, she is also scary good.

"Go ahead, punk. Make my day."

Monday, 12 March 2012


My parents and I spent Wednesday, Thursday, Friday in Stockholm. We were delayed two days by illness, but we finally set off. Wednesday mother and my grandparents went to IKEA and bought bedsheets. Thursday we all drove to Sigtuna to have tea at Tant Bruns (literally Aunt Brown's.) Aunt Brown is one of three women who feature in Elsa Beskow's beloved children stories published between 1918 and 1947.

From left: Aunt Violet, Aunt Green, Aunt Brown, and Uncle Blue

Sigtuna is not, contrary to popular belief, the location of these stories, though the two are often confused because of its tiny-town feel with narrow streets and cozy houses. I visited in the summertime with my brother two years ago and I bought a porcelain hairclasp at a flea market and had mint ice-cream.

At the doorway to Tant Brun, I met two elderly gentlemen backpackers. One of them said to the other, "Is it this door or is it the one in the front?"
"Yes," I said, dropping in on their conversation to help them along. "That's the right door."
One of the gentlemen backpackers looked at me. "Painting your lips?"
"Yes, I am." I slipped my cherry red lipgloss into my coat pocket.
"Looks nice," he said and ducked inside. 
I laughed.

Tea and apple donut

Copper pot coffee

Me laughing at my father trying to fix grandfather's camera which is set to Polish in the language settings

Tintin's tuft strikes again

Sunday, 11 March 2012

The Dynamism of Hamster Piracy

Ida turned up for worship practice last night with a ship. She bought me a ship! She had been in a loppis and saw it on the shelf and thought, "That belongs to Sanna." I feel I have been overwhelmed with piratical gifts of late. First Natalie's golden spyglass and then Alicia's pirate parrot postcard and now this. What ever have I done to deserve such kindness?

Barbarossa and Wynne have, of course, already commandeered the vessel. They are pirates, and one cannot hope to dissuade them from their chosen profession.

Barbarossa rouses the crew with a speech 

Checking the rigging. All seems ship-shape.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Traveling, Delayed

I am map, spread flat against the world
too brittle to be rolled up without crinkles;
bending unkindly, paper burning,
fevered, my travels delayed by frailty,
that thin tissue of the human condition--

I burst.

Monday, 5 March 2012

The Amazing Traveling Hamsters

Tomorrow I will go traveling with my hamsters. It's so hard to find a good hamstersitter these days, and as I was out late, I was also out of luck. Therefore I will pack Wynne and Barbarossa into the car, and together we shall drive to Uppsala to celebrate my grandfather's eighty-fifth birthday. I shall feel very much like Beatrix Potter and her two white mice. Sans hedgehog.

Life Imitates Poetry

Lovers sit apart.

All That's Past

Very old are the woods;
And the buds that break
Out of the brier's boughs,
When March winds wake,
So old with their beauty are--
Oh, no man knows
Through what wild centuries
Roves back the rose.
Very old are the brooks;
And the rills that rise
Where snow sleeps cold beneath
The azure skies
Sing such a history
Of come and gone,
Their every drop is as wise
As Solomon.

Very old are we men;
Our dreams are tales
Told in dim Eden
By Eve's nightingales;
We wake and whisper awhile,
But, the day gone by,
Silence and sleep like fields
Of amaranth lie.

- Walter de la Mare

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Snoveling Show Once More

 Ah, the joys of living in Sweden. 

Taking a break with sandwiches and hot chocolate 

Spot the airplane. 

The hero returns triumphant upon defeating the barbarous Ice Beast of the North