the mudpond

It's good to let things breathe in your imagination because often your initial response to it is not the best thought-through response. I savour little glimpses of life. Mine and those of people who turn me sideways and around. Friend or stranger. Even a child. (the world looks different from down there) Sometimes an author, photographer, artist. I let things saturate and incubate here. Hopefully, deeper meanings can percolate up and flower.

Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

A stray cat.


Becoming Invisible

I'VE JUST BEGUN a new phase.

I've gone under the gun and behind

I've got to keep my head down...

nose to the grindstone;
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shoulder to the wheel;
ears to the ground;
I've got to keep my eyes peeled.

I've got to peck and plug away, slog across the swamp...

No time to shake a leg.
Or put a finger on the pulse.
Or keep an eye on the ball;
my nose to the winds of Blogosphere...

I will be working my fingers to the bone. With all that pecking, will I still be perky, spot? Was I ever? I dunno.. I do know that my noodles will be in hopeless tangles or even fried by day's end. I am fairly certain I will hardly have time to think or mull or brood or connect here. I am sure I will be quite invisible... most of the week anyway.

Oh, by the by, what is the origin of "nose to the grindstone"? Is there a profession that actually requires you to give yourself massive nasal abrasions to get work done?

Never heard such? Never mind.
Try this anyway.

A Slice of Time, Experience Shared: The Ethics of Seeing

PLAIN THINGS MADE beautiful. Simple things made profound. Austere things made spiritual.

It is in
ordinary places and things that she finds wonder and contemplation:

trees that penetrate the deepest secrets of the Earth, that eloquently speak to the listening heaven;
... nostalgia marbles gently rolling in memories from a faraway time and place;
... absurd storybook whimsy caught in the harsh real world;
... young facades and aging features of buildings and street people;
and in the quotidian, the insignificant, the routine, the familiar.

She sees the unadorned beauty of nature and tries to communicate that spiritual energy in her photographs. She works with the concept of light and shadow to capture and convey the sacredness of the earth and its reflection of light.

She seems to enjoy portraying them with
unusual coloration or perspective, perhaps quite beyond the range of our normal and limited range of senses, to give a feeling of what may exist outside of our ability to understand.

She uses photography to make spiritual expressions.

This is how she makes the ordinary extraordinary, the dismissible noteworthy, the useless instructive, the lowly worthy, the unlovely lovable and the insignificant magnificent.

Perhaps she finds a little humility in the face of creation.

She sees with a compassionate heart and mind. Through the lenses of a tender heart she touches a desolate and weary soul with immense pathos. A dried, dusty and destitute woman is made moving simply because this photographer found her worth looking at.

For she knows It is He who makes the raindrops small…
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Casting her Photographing Eye on this lowly and suffering creature, she gently prods our stubborn hearts for relenting, tender spots. Transforming the profoundly unlovely and unloved into an angel with broken wings, she hold up to us an unlying mirror: a reflection of our own worn-out souls. She stirs our human conscience.

This very ethical way of seeing is also a perfect example of how photos are momento mori in that they let us participate in a person’s mortality and vulnerability. They also have the ability to help us to see our own potential for 'holiness'.

In an age where we perhaps have lost something of our spirituality in a vain, mad attempt to satisfy our basic needs with material acquisitiveness, this is one of the rare few places that can serve as an inspiration to help bring a spirit of peace and harmony to one's life, to uplift and soothe.

This, and another humble patch, amid all the cacophony, caterwauling and endless (sometimes mindless) chatter of the Malaysian Blogosphere.

The Photographing Eye, The Inside Story, A Wuanderful World

The A Slice of Time, Experience Shared blog series is not motivated by any need or desire to please or displease any particular Photographing Eye. It is just a record of my own speculations about particular images I have found remarkable or thought-provoking. The observations are purely based on my own personal interpretations and intuitions.


A Slice of Time, Experience Shared: A Wuanderful World

Point. Shoot. Post. A 'no-frills' photoblog. No commentary accompany the beautiful photos. Just short captions. Sometimes, none. Occasionally, a one-liner describes her relationship with the subject. As if to explain why it deserves her attention, and, by extension, ours.

The world through her eyes appears to be one idealised by the wonders and beauty of God's creation. From such a point of view, it's easy to see why words may sometimes be superflous or inadequate.
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When her photographing eye magnifies the finer details of the Creator's artwork, it seems to aim at achieving an experiential quality. Lensing herself to capture interesting shapes, incredible colors and unique textures, she ocassionally manage to deliver a subtle sense of atmospherics... as if the objects/subjects were tangibly within our reach, or, like we were there.

And when things magnificently vast, immeasurable and unfathomable confront her, it is presented to us in the only way possible - a miniature of the exact opposite. The matchless majesty, beauty and splendor the natural eye held, gets reduced to a visibly manageable frame, and is reduced to a miniscule and pale replica.
The simple lesson we, doubtless, already know, is this: it is impossible to faithfully replicate Creation. Still, typical of all such panoramas, her celestial images strive hard to inspire. Nevertheless, not so much by design, but by default, they do not fail to captivate while pointing out a profound insight - the immense spatial proportions and the immeasurable immensity of the relationship between the Creator and the created.

Related: The Photographing Eye, The Inside Story


The A Slice of Time, Experience Shared blog series is not motivated by any need or desire to please or displease any particular Photographing Eye. It is just a record of my own speculations about particular images I have found remarkable or thought-provoking. The observations are purely based on my own personal interpretations and intuitions.


A Slice of Time, Experience Shared: The Inside Story

RENDERED IN BLACK & white, the image of a 10-year-old momento in her photoblog invokes a mood that creates a pseudo presence, inciting us to reverie on the good ole days...

I find the shots with windows particularly fascinating. As a symbol, windows hold myriad meanings that elicit curiosity and invite speculation. They promise an interesting human interest story within.

Whether we are conscious of it or not, we all have an intuitive feeling about the windows we see. We’ll either like them, dislike them, or feel ambivalent about them. One can view windows as expressing openness or expressing fear of exposure. They can also represent interaction with the exterior environment or, in the case of shuttered and grilled windows, a defense against invasion.

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The ultimate wisdom of her window and tree shadows shots is that they present a surface that invites me to think: “Are they adorned with curtains? Are they bare? And if they have curtains, are the materials cold, cheerful, utilitarian, old...” Thus they make me feel and intuit... what is beyond it, the true story behind the shutters and panes...

And, as if in opppositional commentary to the 'defensiveness' of those two shots, the blogger fling her mental windows wide open and invites comments. and interacting with her reader-viewers, avails herself to potentially enriching perspectives to inform and hone her craft.

Related: The Photographing Eye.

The A Slice of Time, Experience Shared blog series is not motivated by any need or desire to please or displease any particular Photographing Eye. It is just a record of my own speculations about particular images I have found remarkable or thought-provoking. The observations are purely based on my own personal interpretations and intuitions.


The Photographing Eye

THEY GIVE US a sense that we hold the entire world in our heads. They are not so much statements of the world, but pieces of it. They are experience captured.

Still objects or subjects viewed from unusual angles often not only delight the eye. A clever photographing eye can present them to us as a slice of time and space to promote nostalgia, evoke emotions, elicit responses and even reflect ourselves. A phototgraphic image is a random snip of time, place and memory that forms a loose story of a life lived.
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A multitude of image banks, libraries and photoblogs provide a rich source of ideas that continually percolate in my mental mudpond. So while this blog is generally highly textual in content, most of the things blogged about here have often drawn inspiration from the textual analysis of images. They have provided excellent contexts for many of the thoughts that eventually flowered into published entries in this blog of mine.

And so it is, I am delighted with the recent debut of three photoblogs in the Malaysian Blogosphere. Through their photographing eyes, they not only offer us a different worldview, they can also show us a new or different way of seeing.

A Slice of Time, Shared Experiences is an upcoming blog series in which I will share my interpretations from their windows of the world and how photographs can change our notion of what's worth looking at.


The Diamond Glint

A BOLD FEW have actually inquired. Oh-so-subtly, or cattily. Lady-like, they all had a sharp, bright gleam in their eyeshadow-accented eyes when they asked. They tell me they have caught it: the frequent but fleeting hints of glitter.

Well, it wasn’t the sparkle of my just-polished pearlies when I flashed my dazzling smile in greeting. Nor was it the mischievous glint in my eye as I engaged my dinner companions in scintillating conversation :P

Actually, it was when my fingers casually flicked my hair back as I stood beside my car and promised to meet up again soon, that the afternoon sun caught the diamond glints.

It was when I tossed my head back in happy laughter during the after-dinner conversation, that the downlights captured a cascade of tiny, tiny, shiny glints.

No, it wasn’t the winking in my ear-lobes or the swinging drop of brilliance dangling from my neck or the slithering shimmer encircling my wrists.

It is rather like the forgotten, tiny shred of silver tinsel on a dark green arm of the undressed Christmas tree, that quickly catches a child's hungry eyes. It didn't escape their sharp eyes and quicksilver minds. It held their piercing gaze and left them wondering. It left a faint smile on their glossy lips.

Well, I know I certainly have not earned it. Yet. Nor have I suddenly come into any inheritance.

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It seems like only yesterday I was youthful. I awoke one morning this week to find more than a few gray hair strands where once only dark brown lived.


I frantically parted my hair in the mirror, moaning in dismay at the perplexing arrival of the color gray. And then the next morning: more gray strands. Still more the following morning.

This can't be. Others get gray hair, not me. Of course it didn't happen overnight. But it's seemed that way.

This morning, I am an ascending old lady *sniff*

I must be greying at the grind. Like the workplace, my hair bulbs have become an "increasingly hostile place" for melanocytes to work properly. They are slowly losing the battle and my hair is becoming melanin-free.

Amid the hair not as luxurious as the days of yore, the (shallow) wrinkles have also arrived. A limber body is now visited by the odd stiffness. Amid all this, is born, a very hungry desire for sound investments.

Death is just around the corner, my precious.

Such being the case, I think I should wear it pixie-short from now on, whaddaya think? Should I dye it?

Why do flashes of silver or salt and pepper confer dignity on men and not women?


Should I trade in my sparkling bright diamonds for the milky lustre of Mikimoto pearls?

Test: What’s your body’s real age


A Raining Grace

AS A CHILD, I loved the rain. I have always loved the feel of splattering raindrops on my face and bare legs. I would often run wildly through the puddles, jumping forcefully, allowing the rain to pour over my head and into my eyes... and opening my mouth to taste the rain.
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This childlike enjoyment of a refreshing, rinsing rain has remained with me in my adulthood. Dashing outside, face up to the pouring open skies is not unlike delving into a waterfall’s current. The overwhelming sensation of water flooding over is both mystical and magically superb, all at once cleansing and renewing.

The sight of swimsuit-clad kiddies shrieking in glee, jumping in and out of the sprinkler's range on a hot summer's day brings back fond memories of precious and precocious childhood. I still love frolicking in the rain.... the sloshing sound when I ‘accidentally’ step into a puddle and the delicious feeling of squishy shoes and happy toes afterwards.

I love the furious swish-swoosh and flip-flop of windshield wipers and the hiss of rubber tires on rainy streets.

I love the smell of wet grass and raincoats and shaggy coats of dogs... and the sensation of successive showers of soft splatters when the dog shakes and slags it all off.

I love the pitter-patter of heavy raindrops pelting and bouncing off the tightly stretched skin of the umbrella over my head when it’s raining cats and dogs... and the acute, thrilling awareness of my own precariousness: that I am but a mere membrane away from getting thoroughly soaked and drenched.

But more than anything else, I love rain for its power to make indoors seem snugger and safer. With a warm mug cupped between my palms, and looking out the window, rain makes home a refuge from everything outdoors that is un-home, unknown, unfathomable, unsafe...

It has been raining and raining over the past week. And yes, once again, there are signs of new life in the mudpond. Sprouting lettuce and budding water lilies. Busy bees a-buzzin' and butterflies a-flutterin'. And soon those wiggly tadpoles will turn into cute tiny froglets.

But I am reluctant to wander out.

The rain has been hiding much. Dragonflies are hovering and mating above the pond. They’ve been laying their eggs on the water plants. Soon the eggs will hatch into nymphs: tiny feared predators that can overpower the feisty little beady tadpoles and cut short their lives.

Just a-walkin in the rain.. getting soakin' wet...


Morning After

IN THE MORNING after, watery sunlight makes a cobweb sparkle intermittently.
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hard raindrops pelting
the spider's bejewelled web
turns a sparkling swing


Being Water

WATER NEVER WAITS. It changes shape and flows around things and finds the secret paths no one else has thought about – the tiny hole through the roof or the bottom of a box.

There’s no doubt water is the most versatile of the five elements. It can wash away earth; it can put out fire; it can wear a piece of metal down and sweep it away. Even wood which is its natural complement can’t survive without being nurtured by water.

Waiting patiently doesn’t suit me. I have a great deal of H20 in my personality. And yet I haven’t drawn in those strengths in living my life.
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We live our lives like water flowing down a hill. Going more or less in one direction until we splash into something that forces us to find a new course.

I am all puddles, ponds, lakes, and oceans.
I flow in savage splendor down rocky ravines,
laughing as the sound of torrential, thundering water
bounces and echoes from the rocks.
Journey into Nature: A Spiritual Adventure, Michael J. Roads


In Sibilance

ONE WORD HAS snaked into my consciousness, these days.


double syllabled
doubly sibilant
the second reiterating,
reinforcing the first.

hissing with clarity
something coiled-up
deep within
the psyche.

In the torrent-fractured

landscape of the heart
seek and draw upon
an indomitable spirit

Know it?


The Risk of Pleasure

IN HIS BOOK The Exquisite Risk, poet and philosopher Mark Nepo affirms that there are essentially two responses to life - a risky opening up to love and a controlling move into success and isolation.

Well, pleasure is a risk. Of letting go. Yourself - body, heart and soul. You risk losing control. It is a risk of drowning in the exquisite sensation of joy. But you will have to surface sometime. That's the bargain.

Is it worth it? Is it a fair bargain?

And relatedly:

God breaks the heart again and again and again until it stays open.
Hazrat Inayat Khan quoted by Mark Nepo.


The Sparkle of Joy

IF EXUBERANCE WERE a season, it would be spring; if it were a libation, it would be champagne. And champagne would not be champagne without the magical presence of bubbles: the sparkle born of the long marriage of the yeasts and the wines.

Bubbles are the gift of effervescence, the sparkle of irrepressible joy that infects. The contagiousness of laughter, the giddiness of new love, the intoxicating effects of music and of the euphoria of success.

Champagne's bubbles form a pearl necklace on the surface of the wine. They are plentiful, lively and delicate.
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Intense and exuberant, effervescence's rush is fleeting, its sparkling joy, fragile. At some point, the bubbles dissipate, go flat. Or burst. A change of glass will not help.

Exuberance has crossed that thin line, when one is exposed and vulnerable to nature's disappointments -- like the famous snowflake chronicler Wilson Bentley was when he beheld "a wonderful little splinter of ice, incredibly fragile," only to weep at the "tragedy" of its premature melting.

Likewise, when cartwheels abort, in life's disappointments. But never mind. Exuberance, according to Dr Kay Redfield Jamison, author of Exuberance: The Passion for Life, "is a gift of grace that allows us to move on, to seek, to love again." If all were effervescent, the world would be an exhausting and chaotic place, driven to incoherence by competing enthusiasms.

Champagne everyday would make us indifferent to the down-to-earth and mundane requirements of everyday life. It would make us ambivalent to the sparkle of joy in simple pleasures. Such as, the earth laughing, in flowers.

The Solution to All Things

THE IDEOLOGY OF romance is a narrative constructed around a quest: 'love' is the solution to all things; 'love' makes us complete; 'love' makes us full; 'love' makes us whole...

Like the search for 'love', consumption implies an incompleteness; something missing.

The ideology of consumerism – the promise that it makes is that (like 'love') consumption is the answer to all our problems: makes us whole, full, complete again.

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I have consumed copiously. All pigged out, all shopped out.


My Cup Runneth Over

IT'S BEEN GATHERING over the past months. Has grown bigger than words can say. Came up yesterday and swallowed me, whole. I’m now drinking in the torrents.

Crystal stream

sliding down
curved flesh
broken breath
aching sigh
expression of
infinte sorrow.

No pinging this week. Or next...


If I Ran the Zoo

NOW, I DON'T like holes. Especially not tiny, dark and poop-encrusted ones. And to have to share such a filthy, stinky hole… No way, Jose! Get out of my way! Not even if you are the brightest in a bunch of bananas.

I’m not a pigeon, oh kay?!

I don’t bother with personality tests. Not even where the 'test designer' has the marbles (pun not intended) to come up with 10 different species of pigeons you might share or swop your genes with. To be sure, the effort to one-up the usual 4 narrow dimensions is noteworthy. Noteworthy, that’s all. But definitely not something to be taken seriously.

Oh, maybe that’s just the whole point.

It’s just for fun.

I just love whimsical children’s tales and Dr Seuss' "If I Ran the Zoo" is a chuggin’ trainload of fun. Here is life lived as a fantastical experience that’s lit by an imagination that shimmers and bursts like fireworks. It’s a joyride of verse and ridiculous creatures.

"And then, just to show them,
I'll sail to Ka-Troo
And Bring Back
an It-Kutch
a Preep and a Proo
a Nerkle
a Nerd
and a Seersucker, too!"
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Actually, I kinda like this small, comically angry-looking humanoid creature. So in the spirit of fun, I took this test I found in the blog belonging to a spotty mouse named anony. [Birds are for males, apparently]

What’s a nerd? you ask.

Someone with objectionable habits or traits. . . . An uninteresting person, a 'dud', I believe.

And might a nerd want to roost with a geek in the same pigeonhole? you wonder.

Hey, I think not, since I already find him/her so ‘square’. And a geek is... ermm.. err… uhm well, the alphabets that spell 'geek' are so rolly, curly one, mah… [don't notice meh? sheesh!]

Anyway, back to the test.

Well, after some nerdy work, I discover that really, I’m more nerdy than only 25% of people. Ah so. Well, I’m definitely not qualified to answer your gerdy, neeky questions, then.

But no worries, peeps. These bloggers know a whoppin' truckload about such ridorkulous creatures.

Oh kay. Apparently, it would be insulting to a nerd, to be pigeon-holed with a geek. Ah… I so can feel for you, you nerd :D

Now, wartabout dweebs and dorks? Anyone?

oh, horrors! ah pink piang!

A Bunch of Grapes

I WAS UP with the lark this Sunday morning. Full of pep and zest. All synapses firing and raring to go.

Quite unlike most days when I need a full 45 minutes to let the music gently help Mr. Sandman dawdle out. Every muscle wants to flex. My spirit is bubbly, there's a spring to my step. I nearly skipped my way to the market
... and gee... even my hair bounces ~_~

I feel like a bunch of grapes growing toward the sun ^_^

Haha... what a quirky, kooky, peculiar thought!

Hmmm... When I'm feeling fully 'alive' like this, I feel like bursting out into the sunshine, jumping onto a trampoline or heading out to the hills. But not today. There are Sunday things to do and Sunday places to go. But I don't feel like the usual Sunday Reflection thing, either.

One irrepressibly bouncy tune just keeps skittering inside my head. It makes me wanna wiggle a little even while I'm at the keyboard.

Waittaminit. Something I said a few sentences earlier just connected.

That's right! It's Never on a Sunday! Click on it. Even if you're feeling Sunday stiffness because you're not my age ~_^ you probably still can feel what I mean.

Otherise, you should just crawl  back to bed. 


Not So Farnee Airnee More

SO WAS IT a good thing? The feme I mean. After the euphoria… the fallout:

#1 One ‘ugly’ pic sends her saham crashin'
#2 One Dear minishorts letter leads to 'mature content alert' and a dedicated entry to kids in raunchy blog.
#3 Same pretty blogger was later stopped at road block… on suspicion of being Tai Lok Mui [this may be unrelated but, well she's femes, so it's NEWS]
#4. Bystander casualty - 5xmom… go and see lah.
#5. BOTY just feted in Singapura – returns to a thwaking by angry g/fs (other people’s as far as one can see)

More to come? Was it a good thing?

The moment they were selected, they became unwitting Ambassadors of the Malaysian Blogosphere. Role model expectations were literally thrust upon them. Not just from the public, but from fellow bloggers as well.

1. So was this Malaysian Blog Idols (borrowed expression from Screenshots) a good thing?
2. Actually, 'good' for who?
3. How can all this attention and publicity be turned into a really good thing, for the bloggers and Bloggosphere? Turn from adversity to opportunity?

If it doesn’t seem so fun, glam or farnee anymore, it’s because of a simple truism: there is a price to pay for fame. Every celebrity - Princess Di, Tom Cruise, J Lo, David and/or Victoria Beckham et al… past, present and future paid, pays and will pay. The thing is how to make feme worthwhile. Talent casting for ads, movies, spokeman, publishers, ... C'mon marketing professionals, any ideas?

Anyway, for better or for worse, this too shall soon pass. News today, fishwrap tomorrow. So, better make hay while the sun shines. Cheers :)


A Big Deal

I HADN'T EVER thought it something necessary to explain, but it’s come up then, and now and then. In ways mundane as the weather. Or hazardous as fireworks.

It has merited its own dedicated entry, so it’s obviously blogworthy. Some bloggers feel obliged to offer a
polite explanation for their practice. Some have absolutely no need for it. And there are also people who feel compelled to come up with a policy on it.

Etiquette, gratis, protocol... but not everyone finds a request flattering, it could lead to a cyber slugfest.

Means of congeniality. Cause of acrimony. A toolbox. A tinderbox.

Uhm... it can get you dissed or worse :P

Okay, preface loaded. Or was that a loaded preface? *evil grin* No matter. The point is, linking don't seem to be the small deal I originally thought it to be. I hereby revise my earlier opinion. So okay, let me now tell you the what, why and how of my link list, then.

I’m still a neophyte blogger, naturally, I’m still trying to get to know all the blokes... oops... blogs on the block. I'm still scoping blogs, or as the movie production guys might put it, still recee-ing the scene.

Yes, I know recee-ing is done before the shoot, not after, but hey PPS alone has over 1400 members. What about those that don’t *ping*, those you chance upon like a shiny coin on the road - in someone’s post or link list? Were I to check them ALL out before starting to blog, I’ll never have blogged or shot anything, right?

Oops.. digressed.

Just as I give myself time to get to know a person, I’ll also monitor a particular blog over a period of time to acquaint myself with the blog(ger). And so it is, over time, some links will disappear while new ones appear, as I get round to them. Some links come, some links stay, some links go, lah!

Along with my news and resources links, those that stay have obviously entrenched themselves into my daily blog diet. They are habitual, no, addictive clicks; some of which I even visit a few times a day.

On both ends of this link continuum are blogs I NEVER link. That does not mean I don't visit them. Some I visit occasionally, a few, regularly. The former, when they turn up at Petaling Street - if the entry title entices, I click lah! The latter, aiya! they're so wildly popular or femes, links to them are literally scattered helter-skelter, mana-mana aje boleh dapat. Why bother creating links when you can just pick them up wherever you happen to be? :) No need to link, lor.

Yarp*, that’s it. Why and how I link. I think ^_^ So you? What about you ah?

My apologies, this is one of those days I find myself scraping the barrel for a blog topic.

* expression borrowed without permission, from t-boy. Link "aje lah", as they say :)

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