A couple of months ago we were cleaning and knocked my ‘Dumbo’s feather’ of a writer’s muse off it’s perch beside the wifi modem. It was one of my greatest finds during the last day of a six-week ASEAN audit trip 2016 ending in Ho Chi Minh City.
I remember it well. We had been holed up in a downtown hotel and checked in for more than two weeks so received a handful of hotel vouchers. We used the food and beverage vouchers quickly and still had a variety of spa and massage vouchers for the hotel’s spa on the mezzanine floor (honestly, I don’t know why I bother with typing entries on Tripadvisor anymore when I could just as easily name drop here and the establishment concerned could get direct bookings).
On the last day, the rest of my audit team flew back that morning to their respective countries and because I had booked a cheaper (three kids will do that to ya, even when you don’t have to) flight in the evening, I had a whole day to fill. Starting with a breakfast and colleagues, watching their luggage as they checked out and a relaxing pipe on the front porch, my own late check out was assured.
As I walked up the stairs to the mezzanine to book a spa and massage for the rest of the day, the ominous sound of sledge hammers and electric tools made my stomach turn. The clouds of cement dust and bamboo baskets with broken bricks confirmed my suspicions. Dammit! They had decided to renovate the spa the very day I had planned a six-hour binge of parent-friendly pore-opening pampering.
There was a eight to nine hour void before my plane that needed to be filled and I would need a nap somewhere before the flight. Still full from breakfast, I walked down the block and turned east along the road towards the most famous fried dumpling restaurant in HCMC (Tripadvisor account, your days are numbered!), opposite which there is a very decent Bahn-mii bar. As I was taking the slowest and most mindful bites of their signature chicken and pork sandwich, killing as much time as possible, only interrupting to taking minuscule sips from a deliberately sugarless iced coffee. It was there Stayatworkfatherofthree spotted a shop across the street selling fancy clothes for little girls.
Biding my time until my second morning meal was finished and the bill was paid, a visit was made to the small shop opposite and filled with every kind of mini-prom dress you could think of if you wanted your daughter to enter a US beauty pageant. Not my thoughts at all, yet my only daughter could do with at least one posh frock and Stayathomemotheroffour would be excited by the matching purple and equally faux jeweled Alice band and bracelet included with the eventual sale.
Stopping at every other store along the way back to the hotel and doing best as could be managed with my two-word Vietnamese vocabulary (the three words I always try to carry to any new country are Hello, Thank you and Sorry, although Vietnam commands a respect and decorum where sorry is rarely needed, if at all).
Directly opposite the hotel was a souvenir shop with all the usual pop-art paintings, Chinese urns and key-ring kitsch you can find on every second corner of Ho Chi Minh City. Something that had obviously aided my best friend in Vietnam to immediately settle in the significantly duller and colder Hanoi.
Here it was found. The perfect muse for my writings. A pen stand (without a pen included;-) and mounted with a real light-bulb containing a miniature ship. What better way to remind me of this blog being the vehicle to write about our family’s boating adventures and the light-bulb highlighting the need to constantly come up with new ideas. Well not just come up with ideas. Hell I have been carrying files around the World and back filled with ideas from musicals to mathematical theorems for three decades. No, the purpose of the blog would be to publish those ideas on the blog.
Upon returning home, none of the pens we use with any frequency would fit into the little wooden pen holding cylinder, so what to do? Many years ago our great family friend who has been a librarian forever had sent us this little Sherlock Holmes finger puppet (which includes a magnet for attaching to a fridge when not in use).
The finger puppet would fit nicely over the pen holding cylinder and the picture would be complete. After 30 decades following the World’s most famous detective, it was time to follow his creator.
That was two-years ago. Now each of its respective elements was broken off during our house cleaning and separated from the whole. Stayatworkfatherofthree then tried to position the separate parts in different parts of the house with moderate success. The finger puppet was stuck up on the fridge with the built-in magnet. The broken light-bulb was swept up and put in the trash. The little ship was Blu-tacked to the window sill without great success or inspiration.
Some weeks later I found myself in Hong Kong planning a conference in Bangkok and for environmentally-friendly reasons we decided not to have a new batch of business cards printed. Instead opting for a QR code to be printed on the conference materials for all attendees. Bing!!!! It was natural then to create a QR code for this blog and perhaps use it for the new logo this year.
The finger puppet is stuck on the fridge again in our new island home and the little ship is still packed away from the move. It’s fate still unknown.
Regardless, the new moon has approached and the tide is amazingly high. Last night our boat looked so majestic in the marina because the high tide had raised the pontoon almost to the level of the footpath surrounding the marina. Normally the tide leaves the pontoon and our boat so far below eye level that its mere six-meters just reminds us even more of the small size.
By changing to a QR code logo, this will perhaps remind me after two years of practice that a writer must not just write. A writer must not just be read. But with so much wonderful technology available and mobility so readily accommodated, writing needs to be paid for. Publish or perish indeed!
What you may ask, did I do with the remaining 6.5 hours of that day in HCMC? A quick taxi ride straight to the airport and celebratory beers and pipes amongst the exhaust fumes and bustling masses trying to escape the sun and humidity. Slowly followed by a highly interrupted alcohol-induced nap in one of those electronic coin-operated massage Lazy-boy chairs you sometimes find in malls and airports. 50% of something is better than nothing, sometimes.