from my window

I cannot let LittlePiecesOfMe’s LPM Photo Adventure: Sunrise/Sunset for March pass by without contributing this once (had every intention to make several contributions, but the month just slipped away from me) as I adore Sunrises & Sunsets: the images they create as well as the symbolism they hold.

As I peer out my window trying to catch the sun setting above the 7th floor treeline, I look for the parakeets making a ruckus as they play and feed this evening. Instead, I spot a couple of doves quietly roosting. 


Today is Day 3 of  Isolation in my bedroom – I have to remain here for another 3 days. Meanwhile, life for the rest of my family continues outside my door while we laugh and joke from afar.

I developed a sore throat last Thursday. Which quickly became a cough and a stuffy nose. The warning bells began. When a fever started on Saturday, we quickly moved me into my bedroom and everyone else out to the rest of the apartment. On the surface that sounds fairly simple, but because my bedroom is where we all seem to congregate & hangout, it was a sizeable chore.

Spoke to Cousin Doc 1 that evening and made a plan. Went to see Cousin Doc 2 on Sunday morning for him to check me out. He wrote a referral letter and sent me to the Singapore General Hospital to get tested for the Covid19 virus, as I “had a significant fever (above 38 degrees C) and respiratory symptoms”.  Although my fever had pretty much abated by then, he was concerned that whatever virus I might have may have gone to my lungs. Given my previous hospitalisation and history, he didn’t want to take any chances.

So, Loving Husband dropped me off at the hospital A&E. I spent the next three hours going through the paces of screening: swab for testing, chest x-ray, consult with the doctors. As I was not in any discomfort, I could marvel at the efficiency & professionalism with which the health workers did their work in a diagnostic facility converted from a multi-story carpark.

In retrospect, my intellectual detachment was in part a defence mechanism to the situation I found myself. Just the night before, I had written farewell letters to my family in case my illness turned badly like it did the last time (I went from a GP visit in the afternoon to being warded in the ICU that very night). But all things said, I was very appreciative of the care I received and the consideration that was afforded me.

My chest x-ray came back clear. I was discharged to go home to wait for the results of the Covid19 swab.

The results are supposed to be out within 3 days. But Cousin Docs said that if I tested positive, an ambulance would come to whisk me off to a quarantine facility within 24 hours. 

It has been more than 24 hours and I am still at home.  My congestion has subsided, my head has cleared and energy levels have returned. I have to stay home for another 3 days before I can contemplate going out for a run or to pick up groceries. 

I am luckier than most: a comfortable place to hang out, nature & her diversions just outside my window, loved ones to cater to my needs. And now, I have first-hand experience at a Covid19 diagnostic facility. For these, I am grateful.

I also give thanks to those who are toiling to fight this crisis all over the world. I salute you for the sacrifices and risks you take as you work towards the care of those of us in need.

To fellow-stayhomers, I wish you safety and wellness, as you bring light in your own ways in a time where hope is very much needed.

Minty Dark Chocolate Cupcakes: a family Speciality

My word learning this week in response to One Word Sunday: Speciality hosted by Debbie at TravelWithIntent, is the difference between speciality and specialty. I had to look several times before I could spot the difference in the spelling of the two – may I plead aging eyes coupled with an aversion to reading glasses as an excuse?

  • Speciality, could mean a pursuit/area of study/skill which one has put much time & effort into and are an expert in the area, or a branch of medicine/surgery. There are 2 roots from which it derives: Latin – specialis & Old French – especialite.
  • Specialty, is used in North America synonymously as speciality, to refer to a branch of medicine/surgery. Or in law circles, a contract under seal. It derives from the Old French: especial/especialte.

I find these word curiosities extremely entertaining and a reminder that our English as it exists today is really a montage of so many cultures.

In considering a pursuit which we have put in much time & effort, I think of these minty dark chocolate cupcakes which are a favourite of Loving Husband and requested often by friends & family.

Sharing the recipe with you, the chocolate lovers.

We adapted these recipes from Benjamin Wong’s Cupcakes with Attitude.

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes (12-15 cupcakes) Cupcake2

  • 200g sugar
  • 130g all purpose flour
  • 60g cocoa powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 125 ml milk
  • 4 Tbsp vegetable oil (I use olive oil)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 125 ml boiling water
  1. Pre-heat the over to 180 degrees centigrade.  Line muffin trays with cupcake liners.
  2. Combine sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda & salt in a bowl.  Mix well.
  3. Add egg, milk, oil & vanilla extract.  Beat well until glossy.
  4. Gently stir in the boiling water.
  5. Pour the liquid batter into the cupcake liners until about 2/3 full.
  6. Bake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  7. Remove from the oven and let the cupcakes sit in the tray for about 5 minutes.
  8. Remove cupcakes from the tray & place on wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

Minty Dark Chocolate Buttercream 

  • 200g butter
  • 1 tsp peppermint extract
  • 200g icing sugar
  • 85g cocoa powder
  • 3 Tbsp water
  1. Cream the butter until light & creamy.
  2. Add peppermint extract & mix well.
  3. Sift in icing sugar & cocoa powder.  Combine well.
  4. Gradually add water, a little a time, beating it in.  Stop when you achieve the desired consistency.



Tea Time with Pecan Bars

I remember my first mouthful of pecan pie – just like it was yesterday when in fact, it was decades ago while I was still living in Texas. Although many more slices followed, that first encounter with buttery, nutty, gooey bliss remains etched in my senses. Pecan pie is the ultimate in Southern Hospitality: generous, warm, sweet & plenty of it, as exhibited by the many lovely people who fed my indulgence. Continue reading “Tea Time with Pecan Bars”

part of a whole

A fraction is a part of a whole.

In my unmathematical mind (despite having taken numerous Calculus classes), that pretty much sums up my understanding of fractions. Everything in school math involving fractions was done by rote. After school, encounters were largely practical (1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tablespoon vanilla essence, etc) Continue reading “part of a whole”