Tuesday, 25 October 2016

How to polish a rusty cross stitch needle

Polishing a fat rusty cross stitch needle is as simple as ABC
VERY simple. You just put the rusty needle on the rough cement floor and use your shoe to roll it back and forth a few times. And there, your needle is, not bright as a new pin, but almost there.

There used to be needlework classes way back during my primary school days. (Not sure whether they still have them? Guess not.)

My first cross stitch lesson was an awful mess and my crosses ended up getting a BIG cross from the teacher.

I just couldn't grasp how to stitch that cross -- even after the teacher had demonstrated several times. We were each given thick threads and fat needles, and a small piece of cross stitch cloth. The teacher was exasperated and sort of slam the cloth over my head (not very hard) and said "Why are you so stupid?" (That teacher had a good reputation for being stern, strict but good.)

Back home, Mum showed me how to do those stitches. And soon, I became a whiz kid at it. Taking patterns from a table cloth at home, Mum and I worked out a splendid design that no one had in class. It was selected, among other good pieces, to grace the seats of tiny wooden stools (done by the boys) -- and exhibited at the end of term!

But the polishing of the needle back to its original health, was something my good old classmate taught me. What a great trick!

Monday, 17 October 2016

Ringing in the cash

THE owner of this provision shop is very proud of this shiny tin. While many shopkeepers have swapped their rusty Milo or Ovaltine cans for the cash register, this shiny tin has remained, very much treasured, more or less the family heirloom.

It keeps its shine through two generations of handling -- the bell making a nice tinkling sound when being pulled down from the ceiling, whenever change is needed. Then, it slides smoothly up again to a safer height. Works faster than the cash register, says the daughter of the owner.

This tin was customised for him by a skilled crafstman.  It took some time to make, as it had to be hammered into a smooth, round shape. You probably won't find such crafstmen today in Singapore.

Yes, the tinkling of the bell sounds better than the kerching of the cash register -- anytime.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Hail Hartono, for the Milo idea

I THINK Sing! China finalist Nathan Hartono has a really good idea. He said he would treat everyone to a drink (or more I hope) from the Milo van if he wins. And now the Nestle people say it doesn't matter whether or not he wins, the van will go round Singapore anyway. How cool.

The Milo van spans so many generations. The drink itself, according to Wikipedia, was developed by Thomas Mayne, an Australian chemist and inventor -- way back in 1934. So indeed, the drink has been around and been places.

The first time I drank Milo was at a sports day during primary school. There was a long queue of sweaty and panting kids snaking to the green van. You gulped down the drink in one fell swoop and then dumped the pointy cup into this humongous bin next to the van. I thought it was the best drink I had ever tasted.

My mum bought Ovaltine for the house and so I didn't know Milo until then. Later, mum also bought Milo but always insisted that we drink it piping hot.

But I think it tastes best ice cold and nothing comes close to the Milo served by the van. Hartono is right, the Milo van folks must have put in something more. Don't know what it is.

Wonder whether he will he be paraded round Singapore in the Milo van when he returns a champion?

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

The essential software of neighbourhood shops

This neighbourhood shop is rather big and has bright and neat window display. Well and good. Some may not have such orderly display, but that's ok too, because the service inside is usually warm and friendly. What's important for neighbourhood shops is their software.

SOME time ago, Bharati Jadish and Keith de Souza (Talkback on radio) were getting opinions from the public on how neighbourhood shops can be improved to attract more traffic. Government has given these shops funding. Which is a good thing.

Some said window displays can be improved. Some said the goods can be better packaged. And one said there should be more promotional campaigns by these shops.

We heartlanders go to neighbourhood shops, sometimes in our pyjamas, for practical reasons -- and for a touch of warmth. So, they don't have to look like a mini Cold Storage or mini NTUC Fairprice or even a mini Seven-Eleven.

The charm of neighbourhood shops lies in their haphazard window display -- a hodgepodge of items not arranged aesthetically nor even neatly. And stepping on the tail of the shop's resident cat is all part of the happy experience  (maybe not for the cat) of shopping at a neighbourhood shop.

The wares they stock are not exactly brand names unless you count Ayam brand or Mei Ling. So I don't really care how glam their window displays are.

What do I usually get from these shops -- heavy or unwieldy stuffs like toilet rolls, washing liquids (giant sized), mops and brooms, pails, bottles of various sauces including my favourite Bull Dog brand vinegar for making trotters. You don't want to be carrying these around town while doing your shopping.

I do buy smaller things from these shops too, like Brands essence of chicken, tissue paper -- and canned drinks (which are much cheaper than those sold at coffee shops). DIY items are fantastic. A provision shop near my place also sells sliced fruits and freshly squeezed juice, so that's great. They even sell pet food. If you browse around, some actually stock a whole lot of things like needles and thread, rubber bands, raffia, face powder, hair sprays, colognes, baby powder, Panadol... the list goes on.

I know in some neighbourhoods, there are furniture shops too. That's excellent because I can lug a stool, a foldable mattress, or even a shoe rack home without having to take a cab.

These shops deserve whatever funding they can get -- and I think some of the money can go into maintaining the personal service they have been providing so well. Hopefully, this would include maintaining the health and welfare of the proprietor too -- the smiley old man sitting outside on a crate -- so that he will be around for a long time. He is so much a part of the shop and he is the best window display I can think of -- and the best promo the shop can get.

It would be a sad day if these shops are ousted out because of rising rents. They are important to our lives.