30 August 2006


They opened a real thermal spa in Bath. Now I find out about it, one year later!

At least I had the Cadbury.

29 August 2006

Why I'm Cheerful Today

It feels like autumn today - I know it's rainy, but I love that it's not going over the 70's. Layering is fun! (until you're stuck with the big winter coat for 3 months, then not so much.)

I bought some things from Lush - not a crazy shopping splurge, just facial wash and soap. The shopping bag is under my desk and it makes the office smell like Lush. Aromatherapy!

And I'm getting some much-needed appliances - soon my apartment is gonna look like a home again. The prospect of cold-weather tea parties after service is enough to make me cheerful.

Yes, a positive attitude does beat a complaining one.

24 August 2006

Monday Last

I truly enjoyed attending the Jasper Fforde book signing at the Lincoln Square Barnes and Noble on Monday. As he's my favorite living writer, I was maybe a little too excited, but I managed not to giggle too much.
He gave a talk that was about an hour long, followed by Q & A (I couldn't come up with a good question, narrowing it down to one is never good for me). I have to say, he's as funny in front of an audience as he is in the books. He told jokes, and shared his publishing adventures. He's really enthusiastic about his work, and not at all reserved. A friend of mine used to gush about the British Humor (or should I say Humour) like it was the end-all in funny. Fforde's got that kind of wit, not overly dry, but that way with words and twisting them around that is utterly enjoyable (and makes me say, why can't I come up with things like that?)

The only thing I could think of saying to him when it was my turn was that I loved that he never got a degree (I said college, but in England it's university) and yet still comes up with this kind of writing, or something to that effect, and he said, "yeah, that's all rubbish anyway," I think he meant the degrees. His brothers both have doctorates, but who has posterity? I'm not knocking those with degrees, just saying it is possible to make it as a writer without being lettered. In fact, it looks like that's what actually helped him along - otherwise, he may have felt tied down by the need to have a specific genre. When he didn't need to write for other people, things turned out as it should have - the what if's and all that.

The guy who took our picture together did not press hard enough on the button of my digital camera, so it took three tries. I said to Fforde that maybe he's just not photogenic (though in greater likelihood that would be me) and he responded by saying maybe he's Hades (the diabolical character in the Thursday Next books). Man, he's like my literary rock star!

It was also nice to see other readers of his there. I expected a lot more of the sci-fi/fantasy type, and instead there was a vast variety of people. These books appeal to so many different types, and somehow gets translated into 12 languages (he's big in Germany), it's amazing.

By the way, The Fourth Bear - even better than The Big Over Easy! Posted by Picasa


This article says that Rite Aid will be buying Eckerd - which is boring business stuff I know, but I like Eckerd - it's probably my favorite of the "drugstore" chains. Duane Reade isn't bad either, but Rite Aid has always been my least favorite - even when they were the only ones who had 5 X 7 photo albums in my neighborhood. CVS sometimes has Boots items, but not where I live. Of course, if Target came to Astoria, that would be it.

My Fforde post is coming soon.

21 August 2006


I was reading this article about improvements in the works for Port Authority. Man, can they ever use it! Even with Empire Coffee and Tea and Cupcake Cafe being a walk away, it's always been a cruddy spot.

The article refers to Grand Central Terminal's makeover in the 1990's. I started work right before those renovations began, and it was definitely a nice change. Although rumors abound that hygiene is not up to par in the underground dining area, well, the same could probably be said for many swanky eateries all over the City. I don't watch those exposes on the evening news because I'd probably never eat out again. Anyway, Grand Central isn't a bad place to go in extreme weather - there's an underground passageway to the Terminal from the building I work in - I could avoid the weather all day with the exception of my short walk to the subway in the morning. Besides dining there are little shops (still hoping for a Lush someday) and a bookstore. I guess this is the equivalent to Montreal's underground city, though not as extensive.

20 August 2006

Miss Braganza, Ah!

A friend of mine just brought back for me from Harney & Sons their Queen Catherine blend. It's actually one of my favorite black tea blends, very light, stands on its own. Egotistically I love the name of the blend, though of course it wasn't actually named after me. In fact, most people don't know who Queen Catherine was (though thankfully, it's not one of the three married to Henry VIII.)

Catherine of Braganza was in fact Portuguese royalty, and later married to Charles II of England. As a queen she may have been viewed as a failure for not providing any heirs, well, who can blame her? Her husband was far too busy with his mistresses, including famous actresses of the time. Charles II seemed to be kind to her in every other way, and she certainly outlived him by many years, despite being Catholic during a very anti-Catholic time in England. Though she was a quiet woman, she was also strong when she needed to be, and known for her kind and forgiving nature. Sounds like a tea lover to me!

Tea was not widely partaken of during this time in England - it was enjoyed more among the Dutch and Portuguese. Catherine was a tea drinker and helped make this practice popular in the English court, which gradually spread to the rest of the realm - and now people view tea as a "British" practice more so than any other country in Europe (though Ireland and Turkey may have more tea drinkers per capita).

The picture of me next to the oversize teapot was taken in the Bramah Tea and Coffee Museum. Catherine's mug is painted on there along with other tea related pictures. Mr. Bramah happened to be there that day, and besides offering me a job (should have taken it, dang it!), he also enjoyed relating to us the history of tea in England. He linked tea drinking to the overall improved health in England. After all, the last major outbreak of the Plague took place during Charles II's reign. The boiling water for tea (and coffee) probably had a lot to do with this too. Of course, this is all speculation somewhat.

More Stuart Dynasty trivia: Remember in history class when we learned that New York was named after the Duke of York? He was Charles' brother and heir to the throne, James II (though his reign was not too successful). And when New Yorkers paid tribute to their monarch by naming boroughs after them - Kings and Queens County, guess who was the queen? Yes, it was Catherine.

Though I'm not sure Queen Catherine and I would have gotten along (her dowry to Charles was Bombay and she had no issues with the slave trade), perhaps we could have ironed our differences with a nice cup of tea.

15 August 2006

That's It!

I am fed up with stuff. I still love my books and most of my clothes....but after going through three decades' worth of accumulation the past few weeks, I've had enough. I need space. I need organization. I need to save money. I don't need to shop.

Not that I'll never, ever buy anything for fun ever again, that's too extreme, and I'm trying to avoid extremes. But I really want to lay off the shops, either online or on the street. With the exception of necessary home improvement items, my main personal goal right now is to abstain from acquiring. (Though I never frown on gifts ;))

Doesn't this cartoon look like me?

10 August 2006


I was reading about restrictions made for flights coming into the US from the UK, where the US gov't is not allowing lotions and other liquid items from airline passengers arriving from the UK through anymore. I think they exempted medicines and baby formula.

If it was the other way around, I figured at first I'd be a little annoyed. Leaving toiletries behind can make the first day of one's trip a little sketchy. Then I thought of the positives. You don't have to worry about all the little bottles bursting on your clothes while flying over the Atlantic. Most countries nowadays have basically the same products (nothing new under the sun). And, you get to shop guilt-free on your first day.

The last point probably only appeals to select females, but it is fun. I love the different packaging on items from other countries. The UK and Ireland has Boots, one of my favorite cosmetics shops, only sold in limited supply in some Target stores here. I could spend hours in Boots. It doesn't end there, though. Whenever I enter another country (not as often as I'd like), I love to see the grocery stores, the cereal aisles, that kind of thing. The US usually surpasses in variety, though in cat food I've seen many more types of Whiskas cat food in London. Besides this I've also purchased CD's in London because of the different covers, and sometimes there's a bonus or something. I haven't done that in a while, though. The same goes for books. And basically there are no new types of teas overseas (well, maybe in Asia but I haven't been there yet) but I still love buying the tins from Whittard.

It's all marketing really. But everything is packaging, isn't it? Even web design. My blog comes in green packaging. Man, has this post come about as a result of a thwarted terrorist plot? Last days...

09 August 2006

The Warner Brothers Studio Store

I never thought I'd be nostalgic for this place. In the 1990's, theme restaurants and stores were popping up on every block in Manhattan, as well as in malls all over America (remember the Rainforest Cafe?) Though the Disney Store had its moments, the WB was my all-time favorite.

And why not? If the merchandise wasn't appealing to me that day, I always enjoyed the screens placed all over the store showing various cartoons, from the old-time Bugs Bunny clips to the Batman cartoon of the 90's (still probably the best superhero cartoon in recent years), or Pinky and the Brain...it was the best way to be a shopping couch potato, until I got my laptop.

Yes, most of the merch was overpriced. How much for a Powerpuff Girls T-shirt? But it was kind of expected that you weren't going in there for the best possible deal on a stapler. Besides, there was always stuff on sale for a broke college student. It was fun to look either way.

Once in a while there were tea-related items, but only in the past few years has it been easy to find tea things in stores. Still, it didn't matter who you were, something in there was gonna be fun for you.

The WB store ceased to exist around 2001, and I hadn't really thought about it until recently. Nowadays you can try to live the experience by looking on ebay while playing a cartoon, but like many moments of the past, it's just not the same (I'm still waiting for the Jello Pudding Pops to come back!)

08 August 2006

Comfort Food

When grieving, we sometimes turn to certain types of food as comfort, whether they are healthy or not. I've done that somewhat, though with the power outages it hasn't been too convenient to do so. For the most part, my comfort food has been in the form of books. I've read voraciously in the past weeks. One might wonder how I can concentrate on such things as fiction when I have so much occupying my thoughts at the moment. It's been my way of coping, I think, to dive into things - in the past I've done that with certain kinds of music, but usually it's books. Even after 9/11, it took me till the end of the week, and I had my nose in a novel.

It's true we can't hide from our problems, but we can't spend all our waking hours on them either or we will go mad.

The new release from the convention (I don't say what it is in case someone hasn't gone to their convention yet) is good reading without being escapism. It's probably my most stabilizing book right now. Additionally I've been through a few novels this month, and let's not forget The Fourth Bear, which sadly I've almost finished. I'm tempted to read all of Jasper Fforde's books over again.

My other escape of choice is music, but it's rough going right now, being all over the place as I am. I should invest in an ipod I guess.

And time pushes on...

03 August 2006

One Year of Love

I took Zenobia home one year ago today. She started out kind of bratty and retiring, a bit noisy, but has proven to be quite a nice cat.

In the past weeks since I lost my father, Zeno and I have been staying with my sister and her husband. The apartment I shared with Zeno and Dad is undergoing some renovations as I will staying there. Until then, Zeno has been incredibly patient staying in her one bedroom (so she won't be bombarded by the three cats and dogs in residence), rarely complaining. In fact, she's been more affectionate than ever. She's a comfort during this time, almost a new Duforth. I look forward to many more years of Zenobia.

 Posted by Picasa

01 August 2006


I read Ian McEwen's Atonement, and thought they really should make a movie about it. Looks like someone else thought the same thing.