31 May 2006

Sino's Long Lost Relative?

We were a little crazy when we saw this cat outside a building in Astoria. I love the friendly ones that actually like the attention. Cats are just as affectionate as dogs when they want to be.

30 May 2006

On my own....

I had my first beach day yesterday. For the very first time in my life, I went to the beach alone. I'm sure that's not a major accomplishment, but some people won't even see a movie by themselves.

This picture is a view from the bathroom line. Half an hour: you'd think for a $7 admission they could have better facilities... and do something so that there would be no shards of glass scattered randomly about the sand. A little scary for barefoot grounds. My last negative thought: um, is there a no smoking area? I came here for fresh air, which I needed after a day of being laid up with a migraine.

Still, it was a pleasant, breezy day at the beach, which left me with the slightest of tans and a gorgeous nap. The actual highlight of my day was the Starbucks near the LIRR station in Long Beach. It's got so much seating area, I felt more spacious there than I did at the beach. The train ride back and forth was rather nice. Cozy. I tend to go for train travel. If I had more vacation time, I'd go all over Europe via train, possibly a cross country in the US would be fun too.

It's nice to be on my own sometimes. I rather like my company - solitude is underrated. Only thing is, there was no one to watch my stuff if I wanted to do my frolicking on the shore line. I did get to finish one of my books, though. I felt good, really good.

I still like going out with my friends. I'm only a part-time hermit.

Hair She Is!

I'm going to document Zeno's fur growth throughout the weeks. It seems to be coming in nicely - I like her better as a short hair, but I can't have her groomed all the time or I'll be completely broke!

24 May 2006

Not That Noble

I'm decidedly cranky today.
I normally go out to lunch at noon, which some people consider early, but I've grown accustomed to it. More importantly, I am conditioned to get a little manic if I haven't gone out by 1230. Today I had to go out at a quarter to two, which is unusual, but it is good to be flexible when possible. Sadly, my stomach/head/equilibrium, thought otherwise. Bon went out a little earlier than me, and she said she'd be getting lunch at the Barnes and Noble cafe. So when my time came I figured I'd meet her, even though I was not in the mood for the lunch items they have on offer there. I was especially not up to the long wait a customer is subjected to whenever they are ordering a food item instead of just a drink. So on the way to the bookshop I went to another place and picked up a turkey burger and fries to go. I thought I could just get a drink at B & N and eat my food at one of the tables with Bon, just like I've seen many customers doing.
Of course, the day I try this one of the workers (possibly the manager) tried very politely to tell me that it's against their policy to have outside food - one of the main reasons being the smell. Then he backtracked a little (after I remarked on my past observations of outside food in the vicinity), making an American Hugh Grant apology about calling my food offensive smelling, blah blah blah, and said it's okay today, but in future please don't do it.
Now I'm certainly not one to step on company policy, I'm not a rebel or anything. Still, the way I was approached gave me a bad vibe. I mean, I'm in the middle of chewing, there's not a sign in sight regarding this policy, and I'm a paying customer nevertheless. Besides, I'm accompanying a person who bought her entire meal, and then dessert, and possibly a magazine, from B & N. Why must they split hairs with me? This is not to mention (here's where I get huffy) that I'm a Barnes and Noble customer for decades, a book addict, a music lover, and (unfortunately) a Starbucks patron. I had one of those Members Cards, where you pay $25 a year to get 10% off all your purchases. I don't think it was such a deal, so I never renewed it. Notwithstanding, I have spent more money in Barnes and Noble than I've spent on all the other book related companies combined! Perhaps they don't know this by looking by me, but it should be a consideration.
Anyway, I'm now suffering from indigestion and the threat of a migraine. I think I'm gonna lay off B&N for a while. Unless I'm in the area and I need to use the bathroom, ha ha. Let's see them try to stop me from doing that!

23 May 2006

Doing Without

Is it possible to live without TV? Of course it is! Ask the average American to do so, and they may last a day or two. For many it is easier to give up smoking than their gleaming box of rubbish.

This weekend, after a rather violent storm, my roommate (Dad) and I were left for three days without our cable. As a result, Dad had no channels on his TV while I had two somewhat fuzzy network channels. I was a bit excited at the prospect of putting more time into reading, but my Dad was absolutely bereft. He spent an hour reading before he could take it no longer. Suddenly he was digging out old video cassettes of Sherlock Holmes from the early 1990's, then visiting Blockbuster. He even watched my Napoleon Dynamite DVD, and other choice features of my small DVD collection.

The cable repairman arrived late yesterday afternoon, and know it's business as usual at home. It's a shame, really. So many hours are wasted watching programs that are usually worthless. One should really cut down on the news as it's depressing: I try to catch the weather and the main headlines, and then get on with my life. Besides, it didn't rain all weekend and the weather is looking up now. A pleasant walk to the park in the spring is so much better than afternoon reruns.

During the hour he read, I made tea and broke out the Trader Joe's Blueberry Lemon Tea Cake. It was fantastic. If only people could appreciate the simpler moments in life. Hey, I was able to read 200 pages of a book, completing it after months of enjoying it. Would I have done that if I were watching some Friday night something or other? Doubt it!

16 May 2006

Books! Books! Books!

I'm a nerd. It's not an all-around thing: I dress less nerdy than I did in Junior High School, and I'm not a computer geek, that's for sure. I suppose it's a categorical thing for me; in my profile I list myself as a book nerd. How do I know I deserve this title? Consider some clues:

  • I have two library cards: one for Queens and one for Manhattan. I've memorized the card numbers for both of them.
  • My dream vacation includes a visit to Hay-on-Wye, the book town in Wales. I'm almost afraid to go there as I may never want to leave.
  • I get regular bulletins from at least five book related websites, that suggest other books based on previous orders.
  • I'm a terrible interior designer, the two rooms in my apartment that are all mine are not stylish or even neat at all. However, one of those rooms I've selected for the sole purpose of being my personal library. It's the most organized and attractive-looking part of the house, and it's stocked with tons of books I've never even read. That's because I'm too busy taking books out from two boroughs of libraries. Did I mention I have a separate set of bookshelves just for tea books?
  • I love reading books about books. It's crazy: here are some of the best ones I've read in recent years: Sixpence House, Reading Lolita in Tehran, The King's English, Leave Me Alone I'm Reading, Library: An Unquiet History, 84 Charing Cross Road, not to mention Jasper Fforde's creations.
  • I have terrible eyesight.
  • Even when I go away, I must have books near me. If I neglected to bring any, I will without fail end up purchasing at least two books, if I'm in an English-speaking country anyway. In Quebec I refrained actually buying, as most of the books were French, and it was only a long weekend. Still, I know the names of most of the chain bookstores in my favorite vacation spots. Bon and I have been tempted to go into libraries while away together, until we realize how ridiculous that is.
  • In elementary school we had a library teached, Ms. Oral. If you forgot to bring your books back the day of "library class", you would have to sit at the table and lose out on the chance of perusing the bookshelves. Her famous pronouncment was to bring the book back "tomorrow morning before nine, and no books for you today." The only time I did forget I actually cried.
  • I love blank books too, journals, that sort of thing. I have a bunch of empty ones waiting to be filled. They will be, eventually.

There's more, but I think you've seen enough evidence. My flesh is wearisome, that's for sure.

15 May 2006

This is so cute, it's stupid

Look at the big furry paw! (imagine me saying this in cute language)

Really, Zeno's been a lot better-natured since the haircut.

11 May 2006

My newest blog

In my gasping efforts to be organized, I've created a new blog. It's stuff I want to share that I did not write. Sometimes I open up other people's blogs and see a poem and love it, only to find another person's name on the bottom. There's nothing wrong with that, I just don't want it on my own blog. It's pretty empty right now, but I'll be updating it soon!


09 May 2006

And some animals that don't hate me

From my housesitting gig last week...

My Cat Officially Hates Me

If she'd only let me brush her, I would not have to resort to this. Zenobia was groomed on Sunday, and now she looks pretty odd.

08 May 2006

It's one of those What I Did On My Weekend moments

More like what didn't I do this weekend? I'm a little exhausted, if that's possible.

On Friday night I went with the girls to Stanton Social. It's in one of my favorite NY locations, the Lower East Side, down the block from Teany. First you feast with your eyes, then the food. I did like trying different kinds of food, though I agree with Steph that the fish was so-so...but I am not a fish person. Predictably, I ordered the Social Tea for my drink, and it was citrusy with real gunpowder green tea. Dessert was a delight. My "stomach" was a bit wild that night, but otherwise I'm glad I came out and spent time with such fabulous people. Normally I'm not a big fan of needing reservations, even for tearooms. I enjoyed myself nonetheless - sometimes doing something a bit different gives out the feeling that one is away on vacation (I think one of the ladies remarked on this, and they are right.)

Whilst walking off our meal, Cathy B. and I saw a place in St. Marks Place called "Sympathy for the Kettle." It sounded familiar, probably from one of the tea websites I frequent. Instantly my curiositea kicked in, and I knew I'd need to check this place out as soon as possible.

I spent most of Saturday morning in brooding mode. I had much on my mind and the black cloud began to hover. The best therapy for me is a long walk on a nice day, and as I have the unlimited metrocard this month I took the subway down to 8th Street and walked and walked. After a parasol run in Pearl River, I got away from crowded Broadway and explored the East Village. When I passed by Sympathy for the Kettle, a sign said "Closed for Private Party from 3 to 5PM." At this point it was 430, so I decided to have a rest in Tompkins Square Park. Around this time I also managed to buy some books - I must write about my home library soon.

How nice to relax, with no obligation to anyone for the rest of the day! Of course one must not make a habit of treating the weekends as one long holiday, but here and there it's all right.

When the party was over, mine began. The staff at Sympathy were friendly without being gushy, and more than informative. The owner, Jodie Holiday, must be in my age range, and for a young person (yes, we're young! Objective overruled!) she has remarkable tea wisdom. She creates her own blends of tea, one of which, Green Paradise, I was able to try and love. I drank a whole pot and became quite conversational with her and another frequent patron whose name I did not get. I told them about Laura Childs' tea mysteries, because something about this place reminded me of the teashop in those novels. Of course - the helpful suggestions! Though the walls were a cheerful pink it was not overgirly - I noticed there were couples. I did not see any scones, but the baked items on offer were more than sufficient. I sat with a slice of red velvet cake that perfectly complemented my fruity tea, making me reminisce about the Strawberry Shortcake dolls. Actually, the whole room smelled heavenly. Did I mention they have board games? Scrabble, anyone? Oh, and free wifi???? Gata get a laptop! I recommend this place over most tearooms in NY - 4 3/4 teacups out of 5 - only because it's a little small, nothing to do with the quality of the place, people or fare. (Marie, it's right across the street from the Crooked Tree!)

Afterwards I shopped till I dropped at Trader Joe's. What a bargain! Not as crowded as I'd feared, but busy nevertheless.

Later in the evening I visited my sister's home (Pam and Carlos) and had some barbecued food. So far, a completely varied gastronomic weekend.

Sunday was the conclusion of the CO visit (fantastic last talk.) Had marvelous masaman curry at a Thai place on 30th Ave (not Angel or Pavilion, the other one.) Then on to Cold Stone for a final food explosion.

Comic relief came in the form of Zenobia, whose picture I will share with you soon. I took her to be groomed in the morning, and now the matted mess is completely bald, and quite the sight! Haven't laughed that hard in a while.

04 May 2006

How Opal Mehta Got Sticky Fingers

Kaavya Viswanathan (think I spelled that right) is the young author of 'How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life,' a chick-lit book I thought about reading myself. And now she's accused of plagiarism. Apparently too many lines in her book bear strong similarities to parts of other novels in the same genre and perhaps even a Salmon Rushdie book.

I don't know this girl, and I can't help but feel slightly sad for anyone getting busted after receiving so much acclaim in recent months. Still, it just goes to show that nobody seems to have an original thought nowadays. Also, I think publishers are all too eager to come out with their new "discoveries", writers who obviously haven't lived enough to acquire their own life experiences to draw from. I know, Jane Austen completed Pride and Prejudice around the time she was 20: there are always exceptions.

The other issue is all these fancy university students who need to gain a reputation or something, so they write a book. Rarely do I pick up a new novel nowadays without seeing an extensive resume of degrees in the "About the Author" section. It rather nauseates me.

Maybe Ms. Viswanathan can pen a tell-all about plagiarism - if she needs some creative help, she can ask James Frey.

03 May 2006

Better Than Bollywood

I look like an extra in a 3 hour film, sans the actual ability to dance.

02 May 2006

Death of a Tearoom

I happened to be on Chambers Street this morning, so I checked to see how Tea Time was doing. Since I'm rarely in the City Hall area long enough to stop for tea, it's been a long time since I'd been there. So I was rather dismayed to find that in its place was a Blue Spoon Coffee Co.! I suppose I'm happy for whatever entrepreneur is having a go at a beverage business. It just seems to add insult to injury to supplant a teashop in favor of a coffee company! Now the tea lovers of that neighborhood will have to hike into Chinatown for a decent cup of tea. (If readers know of other places in the area, feel free to comment.)

This illustrates the sad state of affairs for the tea lovers in New York. When Tealuxe opened in Midtown, I was eager to give it a shot - but I never made it there before it closed. Tea Time would have been out of my radar completely if Marie had not informed me of its existence a couple of years back. She was going to school downtown and liked to check out new places between classes. When I first visited Tea Time I liked the place - kind of small, and even smaller on my return visit, but just the right size for a busy area like that. I was slightly put off by the unreasonable prices of their retail loose tea. I remember thinking: "that's uncalled for!" Maybe the owners were too greedy for their own good: I don't know, and probably never shall.

Hope the Tavalons and Communiteas of this world can enjoy a longer life.

01 May 2006

Got Milk?

Bubuck is a pleasure to cat-sit. He was on my lap when I took these pictures (hence the editing of my morning face from the pics) and he didn't leave for a while afterwards. I don't think my Zeno would have stood (or sat) for that!