Odds & Sods


I detest fruit flies. They multiply so quickly and easily that they feel like a plague invading my living space.

Since Saturday, I have been intensely focussed on getting rid of them from my apartment. Found the source yesterday in an unlikely place: in a basket of dry goods. Someone accidentally dropped a couple of blueberries there … they oozed through the weave of the basket, creating a hidden breeding ground. Yuck.

I had some people over for breakfast on Saturday–blueberries were served. I suspect that some baby or toddler might have randomly made the drop.

Last night, I amazingly noticed a dried dark spot on the serving table resulting from the ooze. I say amazingly, because the spot looks like a knot in the wood. I picked up the basket and noticed another more gummy spot of the same purple-blue colour … this was where the eggs were being laid. Double yuck. I salvaged the basket by running hot water through the affected areas to melt the sugary goop away.

Then I set out a couple traps … one with balsamic vinegar and the other with red wine. The fruit flies loved the wine. I called Dot to see how she was dealing with her fruit fly problem. She uses banana peel, and her landlord upstairs uses rum.

My mom swears by Heinz vinegar. She tried using President’s Choice vinegar as a cheaper alternative, but it is apparently not the same.

My traps caught a couple more tonight (a recently finished bottle of red wine with a smidge of liquid at the bottom works well), and I am only too aware of at least one remaining somewhere in my apartment. I am paranoid that the flies have found another breeding ground unbeknownst to me. I really hope that’s not the case though.

Ooohh, I feel so grossed out.

Yesterday, in between social engagements, I amazingly managed to squeeze in a trip to the Park Theatre to watch Once. I was first alerted to this movie by Nick, who asked me to pick up the soundtrack for him in NYC. A low budget production that won an award at the 2007 Sundance Film Fest, this modern day “musical” (if you had to call it something) stars musicians Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, who play a Guy and Girl whose relationship develops in a such way that seamlessly and brilliantly integrates the music with the storyline. Visually, it has a very raw and grass roots feel; parts of the film are shot like a documentary. If you like acoustic guitar music and appreciate the creative, collaborative process of music-making, this film is for you (especially you, coko). The music is achingly poignant and expressive, underscored by the unresolved (oh, did I just give it away?), romantic tension in the relationship between Guy and Girl.

Here’s a live performance by Hansard and Irglova of one of the more popular songs from the soundtrack, “Falling Slowly”:

While I didn’t like how the trilogy His Dark Materials turned out, nor do I subscribe to Philip Pullman’s theology, I *did* enjoy reading The Golden Compass. The premise and fantasy world established is fascinatingly unique; his characterizations and plot development in this first book gripped me to the point of sacrificing a night’s rest so I could finish reading it in one sitting. A movie, based on the first book, is being made (starring Daniel Craig, Nicole Kidman, Eva Green), to be released on December 7, 2007. I am very curious to see it. It will be controversial, especially among conservative religious circles.

Anyways, I was alerted to this bit of movie marketing by ziasudra, where you get to figure out what your daemon is. Mine is a gibbon named Thalius. Great. (If you’ve really got nothing better to do, feel free to comment on my results. Very possibly, your input might morph it into something else.)

I’ve been sick the entire week beginning last weekend. Came down with a sore throat, which has developed into a persistent cough. Getting sick is not a surprise to me, because I was really worn out from my trip. In fact, I noticed some lymph nodes swelling up during my last few days in NYC. My doctor couldn’t really tell what was wrong with me … he just put me on some antibiotics and sent me in for some blood work. Went back to work for a couple days, but by Thursday, it became clear to me that I was getting worse, not better, so I went home early and then took yesterday off to rest properly.

Hence, I’ve been doing a lot of reading, lying down, because I notice that I have fewer coughing fits on my back. Finished The Namesake this morning, and now moving onto Volume 7 of the Tin Tin 3 Complete Adventures in 1 Volume series.

During my time in NYC, I managed to squeeze in a visit to The Strand, an pretty amazing secondhand bookstore. Picked up the two books mentioned earlier, as well as Mark Bittman’s highly readable How to Cook Everything. I was so excited to see the Strand carry all of the Tin Tin volumes at very discounted prices (I have only vols. 3 and 4 at home), but reality set in very quickly regarding how little room remained in my luggage, so I disciplined myself into choosing just one to bring home. Also, at the time, I couldn’t remember which volumes I owned, so it was good to play it safe and pick the one I was absolutely sure I didn’t have yet.

Anyways, after I complete this editing job over a modest meal of noodles and fishballs, I will get to fully absorb myself in the world of Tin Tin. It is a way of “being kind” to myself, which the Spirit is exhorting me to do in these uncertain times.

The trip to NYC put me back in touch with some (shallow) things about myself that I’ve been suppressing ever since I started living on a stricter budget. So that I wouldn’t feel desire so acutely, I’ve either been talking myself out of wanting certain things or staying away from those things as much as possible.

That was very difficult to do in NYC, nor did I try very hard to resist, knowing that I had a little give in my travelling budget and especially after having received some very generous financial gifts from family (it helped that it was my birthday in early May).

Going into the trip, I was prepared to fully indulge in entertainment and food. And that I did. What was surprising was how often I visited Sephora and how much time I spent there at every visit. Easily an hour! It didn’t help that there was a Sephora at seemingly every corner in Manhattan. Amazingly, considering how much time I spent there, I bought very little makeup. Just a Laura Geller eyeshadow palette, a tin of Smith’s minted rose lip balm, and a pot of Stila eye smudge. Since coming back, I’ve been wearing makeup everyday! And dressing with greater care. Which means getting up at least 15 minutes earlier! I couldn’t have been bothered before, but some reason I’m making more an effort. I suppose if I buy stuff, I might as well use it, lest it goes bad or out-of-date. My fashionista co-workers and inspiration, Susie and Helen, have noticed and remarked on the change. Haha, I must have been in really bad shape before!

I also bought some new clothes, shoes and accessories, all very good deals and finds. When I came back, I found myself very comfortable, too comfortable actually, walking through the malls and department stores. The shopping urge was so strong, I even made some impulse non-sale purchases! But frugal me reemerged from her shell and put the spendthrift me back in her place. And so I refunded them. But I still like makeup. And am looking forward to going to Seattle at the end of the month, where I plan to hit another Sephora and a Trader Joe’s for some unique goodies.

Got back early this morning from NYC. Had lots of fun. Ate very well. The shopping was great. Entertainment was first class. Got to learn new things about my family’s history. But I must say, I’m very happy to come home. Three weeks in Gotham is a long time and incredibly tiring. And I missed the wide, open, green and clean spaces of home.

Fortunately, I have a day off to myself before going back to work.

When I get a chance to, I’ll try to write about some of the highlights of the trip in greater detail.

In addition to live shows and performances, I’ve had no qualms about spending on food during my stay in NYC.

Yesterday, we started our day in Chinatown, where we bought a dozen sponge cakes that my family loves so much. Our NY relatives always bring a box of these amazingly soft treats when they visit Vancouver. They are made in this hole-in-the-wall shop called Kam Hing, on Baxter Street just off Canal Street. The bakery is operated by some Puerto Ricans who can speak and understand Cantonese! A & I wolfed down a couple of these cakes right in front of the shop. Jen was hugely amused by the ferocity with which we ingested them.

Next, we wandered aimlessly into Soho, where many delightful boutiques and various clothing chain stores can be found. We visited Kate’s Paperie, where there was a major moving sale. At John Fluevog, Jen bought a pair of commanding red patent leather open toe steel reinforced heels. A picked up a couple pairs of Campers. I was tempted at the Camper store, but refrained. May go back when I make a second round in Soho with Dot.

For lunch, we ate at Dean and Deluca, a really high end market in the centre of Soho. I was overwhelmed by the assortment of fine goods and delicacies there. Jen introduced me to Fiji water there, and I must say it’s the best bottled water I’ve ever tasted.

Then it was back to shopping. A purchased a leather bag from Bag. The bags are quite fun, stylish, and affordable there, but I wasn’t too keen on the feel and quality of the leather. Call me a leather snob, but as a fan of Coach products, it hard to settle for anything less. I took a nasty spill in front of the store because of an even step and ripped a small hole in the knee of my FAVOURITE jeans. Booooooooo! I guess I’ll have to shop for another pair, perhaps when we go to Woodbury this coming Monday.

Because we had the Itzhak Perlman concert to attend, we decided to have supper back at the apartment. We made a meal of assorted cheese, crackers, pate, and bread, which we acquired from the nearby Whole Foods. Incredibly rich and filling.

The violin concert was mind-blowing. Itzhak Perlman’s virtuosity is absolutely dazzling and wondrous to behold. I forgot that he is crippled by polio, so I was taken aback to see him hobble onto the stage in crutches. The program was quite varied, from romantic to modern pieces, from unknown to popular.

A was curious to check out Serendipity 3 afterwards, so we went to see what the big deal was. It turns out that the famous chocolate frozen hot chocolate is highly overrated and overpriced. It was essentially a chocolate milkshake that is waaaay too sweet. Was glad I went, just to see, but I think I could have better spent the $8.50 elsewhere.

This morning, I indulged in sleeping in, while the girls went up the Empire State Building, which I’ve visited many years ago. They came back for lunch and we finished up leftover cheese and pate before setting out for Greenwich Village.

Enroute to the Village, we stopped briefly in Soho where we checked out a few stores that we missed yesterday (e.g. BCBG, Anthropologie). Also made it to a yarn shop (called Purl) that I discovered through blog surfing.

Our excursion to Greenwich Village was rather disappointing, probably because we didn’t give ourselves enough time to explore the best parts of the neighbourhood. Maybe I can redeem the experience with Dot next week. We tried hot dogs from Papaya Dog and they were totally unremarkable, despite the rave reviews from NYC guidebooks. For a great hot dog, just go to the Granville Island food fair, or the Japadog man on corner of Burrard and Smithe. A & I tried hot dogs from Nathan’s on our surreal visit to Coney Island on Wednesday, and they were also unremarkable. The lemonade in Nathan’s is something else though. It’s the best lemonade ever! I’ll try to post about Coney Island when I find the time. To sum it up quickly, it was like a setting for the end of the world, ghost-town-like, creepy and queer.

Then we split up to do our own thing. A went to get tickets to a show starring David Hyde Pierce, and Jen and I shopped around Rockefeller Centre and parts of Fifth Ave. before our dinner at BLT Fish. We each picked up a dress at Ann Taylor.

I will have to write about my experience at BLT Fish another time, as it is late here and my brain is too tired to try recalling specific details. It was a GREAT fine dining experience, from the food to the service to the ambience.

Later on, we met up with A at the Artisanal Bistro, which is famous for their cheese selection. Jen and I were too full from dinner to eat anymore, so we simply watched and interrogated A as she polished off three unusual cheeses. I just had a glass of red wine, while Jen capped her evening of good eating off with a raspberry sorbet.

Okay, time to hit the sack!

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