I'm still wearing shorts, because although it's 18F-ish outside, my brain thinks the sunshine streaming in through the deck door is 91F sunshine, like the Equator sunshine we left just 48 hours ago.
This is one of my favorite beaches. And here is Grandma playing with the girls in the sand.
Zooming out even more - Mum, Dad and me hanging out in the shade,
where, in spite of the shadow, it is still sunny.
The beach(es) - we went to three different ones - were the #2 most-visited place on this trip.
#1 was the pool.
This is the same public swimming complex at which I swam as a younger person, until I discovered the more private swimming clubs. There are four pools - two Olympic sized (although only one was Olympic-depth; the other was a mid-depth training pool) and two wading/teaching pools for kids:
Years ago, I used to spend all my time in the Olympic pools, doing laps. But on this trip, I spent all my time in the kiddie pool.
How the kids loved it! We swam six days out of twelve. Here in MN the only chance the kids get to be in pools is when they have swimming lessons. Indoor heated pools crowded with other kids and swimming instructors are sooooooooooo not fun. In this Singapore pool, the girls goofed around and experimented with their strokes in an environment as warm as bathwater (I kid you not), and by the end of the six visits, swam better than they ever had in swimming class.
How could they not? Swimming pools under the tropical sun are magic. They make a person sane like sewing never could. Emily asked me, "Mum, are there any pools like this in MN where you can just swim whenever you want for fun without having swimming lessons?" Apart from water parks? I've been asking that same question since I first got here.
One more photo before we return to the business of the day - here are Kate and Nikhi, Jen's little girl. Yes!! That Jen! We finally had a playdate of sorts, as if we were regular, normal mom-friends. It was fun to pretend that we still lived in the same country. Incidentally, none of those clothes were sewn by either of us. We support store-bought!!!!!
So now we're home - gorgeously tanned but dreadfully disoriented. The kids have been up at 1am/3am/5am the past two nights(? mornings?). Last night/this morning, Emily read a novel and did Math homework at 3 am in her room because she was so wide awake. Kate has been wandering about the house in the darkness, trying to sleep in various beds. I think Dave and I would've been over our jet lag by now were we not sabotaged by the children coming to visit us at unearthly hours with whispers and daft questions like "Are you awake?" (Darn it, we weren't, till you made us think about it. Grrrr.)
And then yesterday afternoon, when I called the kids to lunch, Jenna asked me, "Mum, is this lunch or supper?" Poor kids - eating too many meals on the plane with the sun shining at hours that don't agree with our watches has done us in. Ugh, coming home (to MN, I mean) is hard. Saying goodbye to family and sunshine aside, traveling between the two worlds I call home, only one of which has decent curry, is an assault on the system in so many ways.
I'm coping the only way I know how - by shopping for large, expensive, non-mainstream items like these:
They're all lockstitch industrial sewing machines. I've wanted one of these since I was a teenager, sewing custom bags and specialty musical instrument cases and struggling with their thick, bulky unwieldiness. The obvious benefits of an industrial machine - its long arm, greater power, higher allowance, needle feed, just to name a few - would've made such a difference even back then.
That first photo on the top left is of my Aim-For-In-The-Cheap*-Category machine. It's a Pfaff, and it will nicely match my other two Pfaffs (the home machine and the serger). It's $2K++, which is cheap* for a Pfaff. And it sews leather and other medium-to-heavyweights. And has a walking foot. But still.... $2000.....
So I'm trying to be a bit frugal (hahahahahahahaha) and look at other brands. That Juki on the bottom right is a lightweight apparel sewing machine. It's cheap, like cheaper than even my Pfaff home sewing machine, but it doesn't sew vinyl and other materials of that category.
While in Singapore, I've been learning about these workhorses. Behold:
Do you see it? Here, I'll circle it for you:
See? Industrial sewing machine!!!!
Let me tell you a bit about these alteration tailors. Many people in Singapore live in apartments, and these apartments are grouped into small, compact neighborhoods with shared amenities like a market, an al fresco food court called a hawker center, a supermarket, sports facilities and dozens of miscellaneous stores that provide a mind-boggling array of anything from optometric services and photo developing to baked goods, traditional medicine, lingerie and stationery. Within the markets themselves are similar shops - and in the market near Mum's apartment building (i.e. my childhood home), I counted no fewer than three such alteration tailors (excluding the men's tailor, whose shop -which is between the watch repair shop and the shop selling fresh fruit and joss-paper - is stacked with bales/bolts of suiting fabric). I've never patronized any of these because we did all our own sewing, but there they sit, these illustrious ladies -and man-, sewing for other people. They all have industrial sewing machines - nobody uses one of those ubiquitous white plastic home Singers, Janomes, Vikings or Berninas.
But I digress. The ones used by these alterations tailors are probably lightweight apparel machines or industrial overlockers and therefore not the sort I am looking for, since I can easily sew clothes, upholstery and drapes on my home Pfaff. Also, I've learnt that industrial machines are very task-specific: they often do just one stitch - either a straight stitch (aka lockstitch) , or a zig-zag stitch, or bartack, or overlocking, or chain stitch. I need a medium-weight straight-stitch flat-bed thing that can take vinyl and leather. Last Christmas I decided I'd buy myself one large, extravagant electrical gift -either a stand mixer or one of these babies. Chickened out and bought a stand mixer because it took up less room and cost far less. I've been enjoying my mixer, and it's been feeding my family, but it doesn't get me all excited like an industrial sewing machine does. Sigh. I don't know anything else that I've coveted for so long but haven't yet bought for myself.
The four machines in the photos above are all new, incidentally. I am probably ultimately getting a used one because it's just more cost-effective. But it's easier to do objective research on the brand-new ones at dealer sites, to compare features and check out relative prices before looking on ebay or wherever for deals. Which brings me to you guys - thank you all for the suggestions in the comments to that post in which I first mentioned these machines. But I need more! More! Tell me of your experiences with yours (if you own one), where to buy one, where I can go to try one out, what to look for when choosing one, what a good price would be for a used one, what models are great and which are duds, anything! I appreciate all the help you can give me!