observation and inspiration

To love beauty is to see light.

- Victor Hugo


Sacramento River Bridge

tower bridge

The bridge with the city skyline in the background.

Sacramento may not be as well-known as other Californian cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco. But it serves an important role as the state capital. The California State Capitol building houses the state legislature and the office of the Governor.

A landmark of the city is the Tower Bridge across the Sacramento River. It is also known as the Sacramento River Bridge.

The Tower Bridge was the first vertical lift bridge in the California Highway System, inaugurated in 1935. The bridge is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

The bridge has ample space for pedestrian traffic, and it is a wonderful experience walking along the bridge and watching the flow of the old river.

Sequin Wings

enchanting insect

There is a dragonfly in my backyard that seems to come closer and closer to me.

One day, it comes close enough for me to notice, for the first time, that it has two sets of wings.

The wings are quite magical. Each time I see them, a new word comes to mind: gossamer, paper-thin, silvery, sequined.

It dances around, buoyant and light, then it floats away, perhaps to another garden, to enchant another human.

Bright Companions

writer's helpers

Flowers from the garden, to soothe the eyes, while I work on my book.



Coffee Break


Coffee break
– a simple treat.

hari raya food

Encik Aziz displaying his cooked ketupat in a manner that reminds me of my childhood kampung home.

Shopping for Eid, or Hari Raya as it is known in Malay, is in full swing in Geylang Serai, the Malay district in Singapore. In the last few days of Ramadan, the stores and bazaar offer almost everything in preparation for the celebrations.

As I wander around, I take in the colors. I see things new and things traditional. Festive food sold includes ketupat, rice dumplings eaten with meat dishes and a variety of sauces.

It takes a lot of work to prepare the ketupat from scratch – the way my grandmother and grandaunt did. We all helped, too, with the various tasks.

It starts with buying stalks of young coconut leaves. The leaves are woven into pouches using age-old techniques. The pouches are then partly filled with rice, and sealed. The final stage, the cooking, requires boiling the ketupat for at least four hours till the rice expands to a nicely firm texture.

It’s good that some people are selling the ketupat in various stages of preparation, providing that convenience for many households.

I come across Encik (Mr in Malay) Aziz selling fully prepared ketupat. Stop by for a little chat, and convey my respect for folks like him who keep our traditional foods and arts alive in the face of changing times.

I smile at the way he stores the ketupat – hanging on a pole. My grandmother used to do that in our kampung or childhood home. I really don’t know why, but as a kid, I loved the sight of the wooden pole laden with ketupat hanging in our kitchen.

Memories come rushing back: the ketupat and food prepared by my grandmother’s loving, meticulous hands, enjoyed by our extended family every festive season.

Selamat Hari Raya. Happy Eid.

hari raya feasting

Ready-made ketupat pouches at the Geylang Serai Market.

Sunshine Fruit



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