Thursday, December 27, 2007

Chek Jawa, Christmas 2007

24 & 25 Dec 2007

Dearest Flying Fish Friends,

I have been visiting various shores over the past few days, including Chek Jawa where I met some angels. : )
It was wonderful chatting with them. They were on the boardwalk above, and I was on the sandflat below. I found them polite and very curious. They were asking me many questions. One of them wants to be a botanist like me! : )

I must tell you it has been a very special Christmas eve for me at Chek Jawa. I came across an abandoned cage floundering by the waterline and found a few fishes trapped inside. They were still alive though badly shaken by the pounding waves. I took out my trusty pliers to cut open the cage-wire and rescued the two butterfly fishes and three filefishes.

Poor fellows! They would have suffered a very slow and meaningless death if I had not chanced upon them in time. What a special Christmas it has been for me, don't you agree? : ) I felt so blessed.

Most of all, I celebrated Life on Christmas. I rejoiced with the myriad forms of living organisms present at Chek Jawa. It was truly an awesome feeling. Chek Jawa - our natural heritage - for you and me. I want to share with you what I saw on Christmas.

My Chek Jawa photos can be found here:

This is my new attempt at Flicker dot com's information sharing. You are invited to download any photos to teach your friends about life in Chek Jawa.

My last photographic shot of Chek Jawa on Christmas Day is shown below. It was dusk and night was falling fast. I stood for a while absorbing the scene 800m out on the seabed east of the boardwalk. Seastars... so many around me. I found myself dreaming a starry dream with them. I don't think I will ever have a 'christmas tree' experience better lit than this special moment in time on the sandflat! : ) Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Inspiration for Young Writers: Rachel Carson

23 Dec 2007

Dear Flying Fish Friends,

Do you know Rachel Carson? She is a famous educator, scientist and writer. Rachel actually started writing at a tender young age. By ten, she had her first work published in a children magazine dedicated to young writers.

Here's a picture of her taken from her famous book, The Sea Around Us. It was first published in 1951. My own copy (below) is an adaptation for young readers.

From the names of her radio program and her books (listed below), you can tell she loved the sea very much.

Radio program:
Romance Under the Waters (1936)

Under the Sea-Wind (1941)
The Sea Around Us (1951)
The Edge of the Sea (1956)
Silent Spring (1962)

Find out more about Rachel here:
Rachel Carson: A Conservation Legacy

Be inspired! Flying Fish Friends! You can write too!

And don't forget to explore outdoors.
Always remember this: It is very important to learn 'with' Nature and not just 'about' Nature.

If you want to find out more about the animals you have seen on the beaches or the seas around Singapore, you may want to visit these websites with your parents:

1) Animal Diversity Web
2) Enchanted Learning

In the meantime, keep writing and keep smiling! : )

Uncle Joe

Saturday, December 8, 2007

A Day With Garden Angels!

7 Dec 2007: Love is the Greatest, they say.

Heaven is here, so they say too.

There are angels living amongst us too, they say.

But where?... the swans seem to know.

On this beautiful day, I know too.
Look... their smiles...

their playfulness...

their laughter...

Today, I have been touched by angels! Never mind the missing
mist in the Coolhouse... I know I am in heaven today!

Bless you all, little Flying Fishes... my garden angels.
We will meet again one day soon!

Footnote: Thanks to the generosity of some good Christians [ esp. my good friend, Joseph Chun: )] who sponsored the bus and entrance fees to the National Orchid Garden, poor-me was able to volunteer my time for these lovely angels from Covenant Family Service. I must say that it was a wonderful break for me too. It's nothing like seeing the smiles of happy children to drive away the gloom and doom of writing about rogue scientists selling out on nature for a buck... yes, in our own backyard! Ha Ha! : )

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Visit to Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research

5 Dec 2007 (Photo credit to Clarence Chua, NTU)

We flooded the hall with boys and girls.

Their eyes were bright and shiny with curiosity and expectations.

We breezed through classification and the major phylla of animals with the greatest of ease.

Although they knew alot about the animals already, they were all ears and readily fired questions at me. Whew! I got through alive, didn't I? ; )

But I love every minute of it. It was fun. The children were fun be with and the session incredibly lively. Daddies and mummies were like children too. Ha Ha!

Bless you, little Flying Fishes!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Book Review by Lai Min: The Otters' Tale

I have just read a book. It's The Otters' Tale written by Gavin Maxwell in 1962. My dad asked me if I enjoyed the story. I told him it's mostly about everyday's stuff; that the author wrote about his pet otters and what they did. I felt the story wasn't really exciting.
My dad looked at me and said that one of the greatest challenge is to write things which are ordinary and seemingly insignificant. Dad took the book and leafed through the pages and pointed out to me three consecutive paragraphs to prove his point.
"In the sea, Mij found his true, breathtaking powers; until he came to Scotland he had never swum in deep waters, for the lakes and lagoons of his native marshes are shallow. Now he would swim beside me as I rowed in the little dinghy, and in the glass-clear waters of Camusfearna bay, I could watch him as he dived down, down, down through fathom after fathom to explore the gaudy sea forests at the bottom, with their flowered shell glades and mysterious, shadowed caverns. For hours he would keep pace with the boat, appearing now on this side and now on that, sometimes mischieviously seizing an oar with both arms and dragging on it, and from time to time bouncing inboard with a flurry of water.
He caught a number of fish on his daily outings, and in the burn he learned to feel under stones for eels, reaching in with one paw; and I in turn learned to turn over the largest stones for him, so that after a time he would stand in front of some boulder too heavy for him to move, and chitter at me to come and lift it for him.
He loved rough seas too. He rejoiced in the waves; he would hurl himself straight as an arrow right into the great roaring grey wall of an oncoming breaker and go clean through it as if it had neither weight nor momentum; he would swim far out to sea through wave after wave until the black dot of his head was lost among the distant white manes, and more than once I thought that some wild urge to seek new lands had seized him and that he would go on swimming west into the sea of the Hebrides and that I should not see him again. But though there were anxious times when he was away too long for my peace of mind he always came back".
Dad admired the way Gavin describes Mij's actions and the sea. He also impressed on me how the author wrote about his emotions - his anxiety and fear. Dad said Gavin captured the mood of the outing very well. It revealed the intimate relationship between the author and his pet, and the sea that they both love.
I agree with my dad's observation. As I re-read Gavin's dedication I realized why he wrote the book in the first place. It read, "To all, but more particularly children, who also seek understanding between humans and other animals".
I have a cat. Her name is Gila. One day if I were to write an account of my life with her, I will draw inspiration from Gavin's book and his style of writing.
boulders - large rocks
breaker - a wave breaking into foam
burn - (Scot) a small stream
Camusfearna bay - a bay in Scotland
cavern - underground chamber or cave
fathom - a unit of depth equals six feet
gaudy - brightly ornamented
glades - clear area within woods
Hebrides - Scottish islands
marshes - swamps
white manes - sea foam

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Bat Memories

Remember our night hike at Fort Canning on Friday, the 9th of November?

I hope you and your kids are still enjoying folding paper bats! I still do! Here's a few of mine!

Besides looking for bats, we have had a great time playing the blindfold-game of 'bat and moth'. The dark and 'spooky' courtyard up on the hill certainly added suspense to our game!

Here's a photo of a boy who loves bats! I met him in Botanic Garden one day. He thinks bats are our friends too!

Do you still remember what a bat is? Don't worry if you have forgotten. You can still ask Uncle Joe about bats on our trip to the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research this coming Wednesday, 28 November (meeting 2pm, Canteen 4 - see map).
We are going to see and learn lots of different animals. That's what 'Biodiversity' actually is: many and different life forms! 'Bio' is a word which indicates life. In the sense of 'diversity' (which means many and different), 'bio' comes to mean 'life forms'. It's that easy! : )
See you soon. We shall play another game, ok? : )

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Scout Law - Values for our kids to live by

Saturday 10 November 2007: Our budding open scout group, The Vikings, came together in Seletar Camp to learn the scouts' way of life.

They did admirably well pulling the whole team together to do everything...
collecting firewood...

building campfires and cooking...

rigging tents to spend a night under the stars...

There were difficulties, of course, but they learned to overcome them together. All the time remembering the golden Scout Law which our Scout leader Eric helped to reinforce.

Here's the Scout Law - values for all homeschool kids to live by...

A Scout is to be trusted.
A Scout is loyal.
A Scout makes friends, establishes and maintains harmonious relations.
A Scout is disciplined and considerate.
A Scout has courage in all difficulties.

[Thanks Eric, Spencer, Hui Fang, Mummy Julia! We are blessed by you! : )]

Friday, November 9, 2007

Homeschoolers at Home with Rainbow Warriors!

Friday 9 November 2007: Capturing some unforgetable moments that the homeschoolers had with the kindly crew of Rainbow Warrior who took precious time off to show us around their beloved sailing ship and share with us their passion to save the environment.

All smiles onboard!

Little Flying Fish Friends climbing high on a spirited flight up the companionway!

Navigator Patrick charts a new course with Little Geographers!
[Thanks Patrick! : )]

All hands on deck! Little Sailors, unfurl the sails! Our friend, the Wind, is here!
[Thanks Lesley! : )]

Little 'Eyes of Fire' see the urgent need to save the earth!
Rainbow Warrior got its name from a Cree Indian legend!
[Thanks Emma! : )]

We saw the bell that refuses to be silenced! Greenpeace salvaged the bell from the orignal first Rainbow Warrior which was bombed in 1985 by agents of the French government.

We came and we saw the Rainbow that cannot be sunk!
And we left carrying the spirit of the rainbow in our Little Hearts!

We can Save Our Forests and Our Climate!
[Thanks Sue & company!]

Warning: Hot red spots burning around our tiny Red Dot Singapore!
Be Little Red Chilli Padi for the environment!
We are small but can be very spicy! We CAN save the forests from being destroyed!
At this moment, Forest Defenders are working hard to stop more forest destruction in Sumatra!

Be earth-loving Flying Fish Friends - to live, to love, to learn - forever!
With love and hugs,
Uncle Joe : )

Monday, October 22, 2007

Logo for Flying Fish Friends

Flying Fish Friends have a logo of our own now! : )

It captures the spirit of courage - the fish that is not just satisfied with swimming in the sea but breaks out to fly in the air!
Bon Voyage, my dear young writers!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Children Can Change the World!

Encourage your child to write! They can change the world for the better!
Anne Frank once wrote, 'I want to go on living after my death. And therefore I am grateful to God for giving me this gift... of expressing all that is in me.'
If we are to live this life to the fullest, let's do it by living, loving and learning with all our heart!
It's scary how we were told (to this effect) recently - 'Forget about living forever. Aim for a good life and hope for a happy death.' It would be tragic if we ever subscribe to such a notion.
Teach our children to express all that is in them - living, loving and learning with all their might. As sentient beings, we can definitely live 'forever' with the fullest and purest of joy everlasting!
Flying Fish Friends, we are free!
joe lai : )