Thursday, December 31, 2009

First Glimpse of Beach!

We left in the dark cold morning in Rochester and landed in the sunny Cancun 8 hours later! I'm not the one to get pumped up before a trip but when we finally got a glimpse of the beach from the plane I couldn't wait to get to the hotel and put on some beachwear!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tips for Trips to China

At end every trip, big or small, I always leave with a bit more insight than I had before. Sometimes I research before I go, reading up online and with Rick Steves guidebooks. There's usually no preparation before going to China since I've always got bunch of eager relatives waiting for my arrival and taking me to their favorite eateries. Still, there are things I wish I had known and here are some of them:
1. Exchange currency at the Beijing or Shanghai airport upon arrival. It is difficult to find banks that exchange US dollars in small cities and they often have very unfavorable exchange rate (at times more than 10% less than major cities).
2. Buy tea from supermarkets rather than specialty shops. Prices are usually cheaper and quality should be reliable. Jasmine and TeiGuanyin are two good ones.
3. Terrible traffic condition in all major cities. Take the subway whenever available to avoid delay and expensive taxi rides.
4. Stay near the airport to catch early flights.
5. Although group tours are a bit restrictive, it is still the best way to get everywhere and see everything on a tight time frame. Traveling in China is not always the most easy and convenient. If you are not sure where you're going, take an organized tour.
6. If group tour is not your thing or unavailable, taxi can be hired for a negotiate daily rate. It's good to ask the hotel people the "average" rate depending on where you are going and how long you plan to reserve the taxi for. Drivers are willing to wait at different tourist sites to be paid at end of the day. But do let the driver know approximately how long you plan to stay at each place.
7. If a restaurant is packed it is probably good. Be courageous and try different things than you usually would. If everyone's eating it, it probably won't kill you.
8. Do mingle with the locals. Try a few words in Chinese just to say hi or bargain with vendors. Everyone will get a good laugh out of it.
9. Relax and have fun. The great thing about travel is that there is always a sense of uncertainty and room for spontaneity. Do make plans but if a plan falls through be prepared to quickly take another. There are always plenty of sights of see and experiences to be had.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Chinese Food

Welcome to the land of lazy susans! Here are some pictures to wet your appetite:

Spicy Crab

Hot Pot

QGD Duck. The most authentic roasted duck in Beijing. Ate there on my 9th birthday and taste just as delicious as I remembered.

The Family

Most people who knows me knows that I have a thing for food. The truth is that the love of food is really not a personal thing, but rather the result of being brought up by a country full of food lovers. In fact, I shy in comparison to other individuals in my family. A trip back home is not complete without seeing lots of relatives and eating a humongous amount of food... Unfortunately, with restaurants being so affordable now, a home-cooked meal is really hard to come by. The first meal out was so spicy that it made me dizzy! Lack of icy water to put out the heat made it even worse. The subsequent meals where a bit more tolerable...but I always manage to feel it a day later.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Bird Nest

The bird nest might have been an ok idea for a stadium but I'd rather not have that on my head! With no heat in the house, I haven't taken a shower since I left Beijing. Changing into fresh cloth wasn't a problem but I could sure use a hair wash. Instead of washing hair at home, many Chinese do it at the salon. Since my hair grows like weeds, I had no issues granting the hairdresser an all access pass to cut my hair however he saw fit. Well, that's where it went terribly wrong! I have noticed from all these years of living overseas that what is fashionable and good looking in one country may not translate to another. And this is especially true with hair styles! My hair wasn't long to begin with and it got cut way short, permed and shaped...you've guessed it...into a what looked like a bird nest to me! My relatives seem to like it but I do have to show up at work in a week in the US, where I don't think people would have quite the same reaction! One more lesson learned, never have another hair cut in China, ever again!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

ChangSha

I always tell people, out of all the places I travel to around the world, I'm most stressed out about going to China. This is especially apparent as soon as one leaves the premise of a five-star hotel and it worsens as one travels deeper into the interior of the country. Well, that is not to discourage anyone from traveling to China of course, but do be mentally prepared to not see any toilet seats everywhere you go! Since my flight to Changsha was 8 in the morning, I checked into a small hotel near the airport to avoid having to deal with morning traffic. The hotel is worse than most hostel I've stayed at...well, at least it was for same price, $25/night. I'm sure the company will be pretty happy when I expense this one... Exhausted from a long day, I rolled into the hard cold bed with all my cloth on and snoozed until 4am.
The flight to ChangSha was tolerable and my aunt picked me up at the airport with her company car. As soon as I stepped out of the airport, my nose confirmed that: yes, this is the place! I can't really assign the scent to anything in particular but I wouldn't be surprised if somewhere in there was a dash of red hot chili pepper. The sky was gray just like how most people with describe China, even though the locals called it a sunny day. Having never lived here for more than couple weeks at a time, I really don't know many streets in ChangSha other than the ones immediately adjacent to my grandparents' condo. The grandparents on my mother side are by far my favorite relatives. As they get older I feel more and more obligated to visit, which is tough to do now that I have a full time job. They were recently hospitalized for a bad case of cold. Luckily, both of recovered from it. I'm very grateful for having the opportunity to see them during this short trip. When kids are young they expose raw emotions and express things more directly than adults because they don't know any better. When people get old, they do the same for they don't know when their last day will be. They live a very simple life now mostly confined to stay inside due to the weather and gradually deteriorating health. I feel guilty for not being able to take care of them better. I felt I've always known my grandparents but with every visit I hear and see more of them. For the first time my 88-year-old grandmother said to me, "I often feel that I haven't lived enough." And for the first time I felt how difficult it must be when death seem so imminent. I wanted to stay and hug her forever but I know deep down they just want me to be happy. I owe it to myself and I owe it to them.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tananmen Square

Tananmen Square may be known around the world for certain political events but for me it will always be personal, endearing, colorful and magnificent. I remember watching the flag ceremony here early in the morning with meticulously dressed guards walking across perfectly silenced Changan street. I remember statues made from thousands upon thousands of flowers in various colors during the national holiday in October. I remember buses and crowds of bicyclists rushing in front of the gates to the Forbidden City. Of all the cities in China, Beijing holds a special place in my heart, perhaps even more so than Hunan, where I spent most of my childhood. To me the Beijing dialogue sounds especially warm which in turn makes the Beijing people equally amicable. I was thrilled to have had the chance to revisit the Square and the neighborhood where mom used to live this afternoon. The weather was clear and cold, just like how I remembered. Nothing was really recognizable other than the structures that have stood here for thousands of years. I felled matching the streets around it to my memory despite having tried in vein. To many people, China have advanced in speed of light in the last decade or two. To me, I'd prefer to remember it the way it was.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Beijing at 5:30am

Lack of sleep and dinner the night before the 13-hour flight made it feel even worse than it sounds. I had a persistent headache throughout and was quite nauseous when we finally landed in Beijing on Monday afternoon around 5pm local time. Fortunately, recovery came as soon as I stepped off the plane and into the spacious airport with tall oblique ceiling adorned with small lights like stars. Custom and luggage claim was a breeze. Nothing seemed recognizable despite having lived in Beijing in my early childhood. Before we knew it we were checked into our hotel just a short distance from the Olympic Stadium. The giant bird nest rests silently in the darkness. Perched in 10 degrees of cool air, it’s hard to imagine that this was the center of it all just a little over a year ago. We gathered for a convenient dinner in the hotel. The food was nothing to write home about but I’m happy to be here. I slept solid between 10pm and 5am. A great start to adjust to the new time zone. To me, it always seems that the going back is the hard part.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Liren's Workshop



Yes I DID! Cubical decoration contest...Bring it on!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving

Out of all the US holidays I'm pretty sure my parents follow the traditions of Thanksgiving the best. They always manage to make the juiciest turkey and participate in the annual Black Friday festival. This year we joined them on the celebration and were not disappointed. We started the drive on Wednesday afternoon and arrived at Rob's parents' house just past midnight. Conveniently they have recently moved from Vegas to New Castle, just east of Indianapolis, which means we can now visit both sets of parents on one trip. Rob's mom made us a lovely brunch with pancakes, quiche and sausage links. Dinner with my folks was even more delicious than I remembered from the past. Before we could sleep off the turkey, it was time for early bird deals at Menard's. We joined hundreds of other eager shoppers at 6am hunting down deals on things we have no needs for: a nice big $8 wok and some kitchen mats. Few more stores later we spent the rest of the morning at the mall where I some much needed cloth and shoes...
Can't call myself a big fan of Indianapolis. Although mom attempts to talk me into moving there every now and then, I don't think that's going to happen anytime soon. The only reason for me to go is to visit my parents...well, that is until the opening of the Brazilian BBQ house, Fogo de Chao, on the corner of Pennsylvania and Washington. I've been meaning to go there for quite sometime now but never found a good opportunity since my parents are always making amazing meals at home. Luckily, all the shopping have worked up quite an appetite and with some minor arm twisting, mom finally agreed to let me take everyone to the steakhouse as an early birthday meal for Dad. The filet mignon was easily the best I've ever had in the States, rivaling the best beef in Argentina and Brazil. Most Chinese people like their meat well done. Fortunately, my parents adopted very quickly to having steaks more on the medium side during lunch. I was happy to see that everyone enjoyed the food just as much as I did. The meal wasn't cheap but it was worth every penny.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

FLFAA


Ernie is featured on the Four Legged Friends Animal Adoption website. Despite a recent earmite infestation and stomach upset, Ernie is a little cutie.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Morning Call with Rose

Before I even begin I already know the more I say the more I will be misunderstood (except to the very few, but to those there is no need for me to say anything at all). However, I must try because this is who I am and in some ways this is all I have left. The call came in perfect timing since all I need to do today is to catch a 1pm flight to Orlando. Rose and I have been both too swiped away by our personal lives lately to have extended conversations. Finally, we had some time to catch up.

The topic of the day, feral. It takes one to know one. Some people thrive in law and order. They need well defined boundaries to feel a sense of purpose, men especially, which is why they seem to benefit more from marriage. People like consistency and sense of ease.

"We" on the other hand, are a more independent breed that likes to make our own decisions at our own will. To an undiscerning eye there is no visible difference between the two as the separation lays deep within. I always liked the feel of being free. Not that I would act on it constantly but to know that I could do anything at anytime I wish to was liberating. I needed no one's permission with no distraction of guilt or worries of consequences. All I had to do was to catch the 21 bus and meet Rose for a milonga in San Telmo. Those days are long gone. I'm ok with that. At some point everyone moves on.

The real issue here is not what I do or don't do; what happened or can't happen. It's about how I feel inside and I feel trapped. Surely, I can meet friends for coffee, if I still can find one, but the spontaneity is gone. No one calls me out of the blue for coffee anymore and even if some one did I would have to discuss it with my significant other, feel guilty the whole time I'm out and keep an watchful eye to my cellphone on the time and in case he calls. Rather than fighting that, it was easier to live without friends.

To explain to an outsider what travel means to me is a lost cause. I don't just want to jet away to Jamaica alone. I want to see and experience a place to the fullest with whatever resource I have. When couples travel they see the world through a filter; everything is muffled. Traveling solo makes one more susceptible to things. Besides, I don't need to travel constantly. I'm perfectly fine sitting at home and going to work. I just want to feel that I could travel if I so choose to. Rather than fighting that feeling, it was just easier to drop the whole subject.

People put so much emphasis on sex as if everything we do is for getting laid. There were times when someone responded to the fact that I travel is because I want to get laid. I dress nice because I want attention. And the whole world wants to fuck me. The reality is that I like food much more than sex. And if Rose and I can go a whole day in Paris without food, I think I'd be ok without sex too. Rather than fight that, it was easier to not dress up and "appear" to be a sexual being. My hair is short, no more shaving, high heels and short skirts to avoid being associated with one of those girls, slut, player, striper.

Now domesticated, I experience relapse two or three days out of each month when I get completely depressed about what my life have become and how dismal the future seems. It was easier to feel sexy when I was looking at myself naked in full length mirror and high heels all the time. Now I'm frumpy by my mother's standard and have no appetite for sex. To me I need that sense of freedom and independence internally to feel happiness. However, unlike the ones who can't govern themselves, freedom to me has nothing to do with lavish vacations, late night bar hunts or random dates. I just want to FEEL like I can go sip a cup of coffee whenever, wherever and with whoever I want to, not that I actually need to do it! I'm at a lost as to what I or we could do to change this, or if it can be changed. Maybe there is no compromise between domestic and feral.

I can't say that I'm happy but for now at least I have Rose, someone who can truly understand me effortlessly. In this world, that's worth more than anything I can imagine.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Columbus Day Off

No work today. I spend a little time this morning to catch upon my blog about the big Salmon. Thinking back on all the dreadful essays I had to write in school, who knew I would actually enjoy writing one day. Blogging is therapeutic. Although I don't think more than a handful of people actually read the stuff, it nevertheless makes me happy. Sometimes there are things worth writing about and other times, things seem more worthy after I write about it. Either way, it makes all my experiences seem more complete and memorable. Rarely do I actually look back and read my blogs but when I do I feel as if I can relive the moment. What's life if one can't remember all that had happened. An experience seem more richer with every remembrance. At least more nostalgic.

The day is half over, now time for errands.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A Day at Letchworth

It's our annual autumn trip to Letchworth State Park. The weather was quite chilly but one can't complain about the sun and clear sky. We had been looking forward to this years Arts and Craft festival, partly to spot an opportunity to sell our whirligigs. The park was packed and the fact that most people had driven quite a ways for this festival, no one was leaving empty-handed. We picked up couple small ornaments for the doors and one for our down stair neighbor, Charlies. For most of the day I walked around with the blue blanket to stay warm.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Opening Night

After an extensive and expensive renovation, tonight is the re-opening night for Kodak Hall at Eastman Theater. Honestly I was quite skeptical when I first heard of the renovation and plan to build box seats along the sides of the theater. Tonight we rushed onto the grand balcony seconds before the concert and were shocked to find very little has changed! On the way up we noticed the new carpet on the hallway and stairs and all the seats were refurbished with same patterned fabric. The box seats blended in so well with the existing theater just above the orchestra section one can barely see it from the grand balcony. I was relived at how well the construction have preserved the integrity of the theater. Upon hearing the first beat of Beethoven's overture I was overwhelmed by just how amazing the sound was! Having listened to the orchestra from all section of the theater before, the new improvement in sound was just fantastic! The biggest difference was volume. Everything was noticeably louder. The violins really resonate in the theater and the woodwinds were crisp and clear. Be sure to checkout the new sound! I guarantee that you won't be disappointed!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Moore on Capitalism

It's Wednesday free pop corn night at the Pittsford movie theater. We splurged $15 for movie for two to Michael Moore's latest and greatest work: Capitalism: A Love Story. Maybe a Love-Hate Story would have been a more appropriate title. Like most of his other works, the film plays out like a sensational dime novel with images of laid off workers and evicted homeowners to evoke strong emotional response from the viewers. Capitalism is of course a bit more complex than that. But to make my stands clear, being one of the bottom 95% of Americans I must side with the "people". While I believe it was necessary to bail out the financial industry but to give out taxpayers money with no check as to how it's expensed is quite absurd. Something evil had been growing all along and it wasn't just the corporate CEOs. After years of uninterrupted growth Americans were fooled into believing that a strong economy can be built on non-existing fundamentals and that money can indeed be made out from nothing. The big players knew when to cash in the chips leaving the unsuspecting taxpayers to clean up the mess. To say that no one saw the coming of the financial crisis is a lie. And for Allen Greenspan to claim that he did not take human greed into the equation when he made the speeches and recommendations is simply inconceivable. I read his autobiography and was happy to have learned that he was a Juilliard graduate. It's quite impressive to get a slim glimpse into his mind but he is far too brilliant and insightful to factor greed out of capitalism. Something more sinister had been lurking around all these years like cancer. Generations of people, here and abroad, have been fed into believing in the American Dream, the rags to rich story. Just as Gladswell's pointed out in Outliers, people are often the product of their circumstances. And to take that point a step farther, the richest of the rich most likely have gotten to where they are through unconventional or even immoral path. Still, they lead the rest into believing that they too can join the club only if they work hard enough. A donkey can chase after a piece of carrot all his life but he's still a donkey. Surly that's not how we want to look at things. How about Wegmans make a new blend of optimism coffee for me to get through the day. It seems to me the only thing a poor person can afford is the thought that money can make them happier. The riches have already forgone that luxury. But are they happy?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Salmon River

There's an old saying, might even have been Chinese, that if you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day; teach a man how to fish, you feed him for life. Well, whoever said that obviously have never gotten a 15lb+ salmon. That thing can surely feed a man for a week!

On the way back we took the Seaway Trail along St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario. It's no PCH but the New York equivalent and a very pleasant drive. Traveling from Clayton south west wards we passed by St. Lawrence, Jefferson, Oswego, Cayuga, Wayne and eventually entered back into Monroe County.

The Tibbetts Point Lighthouse at Cape Vincent marks where Lake Ontario meets St. Lawrence River. Built in 1827, the lighthouse quarters now serves as an international hostel, sounds like a place I would stay at. The main structure preserves the only original Fresnel lens on Lake Ontario that is still in function. A deep and somewhat eerie tone can be heard in the vicinity produced by the air-diaphone operated by a diesel engine with automatically timed blasts. After few photos we moved onto our next unplanned stop at Dexter, NY.

Driving south on Rt. 180 I spotted a welcome sign for the village of Dexter, formerly known as "Fish Island". Nothing jumped out at me until we crossed the Brown Street bridge. The water dam seemed picturesque enough for a photo stop but it was the small crowd of fishermen in the middle of the current that perked up my curiosity. Everything became clear shortly after we walked up the rocky side of Black River. Fishermen dressed in their rubber suites stood knee deep in the current with a small crowd of spectators scattered around. I could feel the excitement in the air. Within minutes we saw a guy running down down the river slowly rilling in what looked like an enormous catch. The big fish flapped along the surface of the water and eventually got away. But there's no shortage of fish here, moments later, another one was caught and this time it wasn't so lucky to get away. The locals told us that the big fish here is King Salmon and tis the season for them to swim up stream to spawn. The young man gave the fish away and only wanted a photo opt. We stood around for another 15 minutes or so and called for his second catch! We were still in disbelief as Rob carried the huge salmon to the car. With no proper container or even a plastic bag, we had to stuff the fish in an fabric T.J. Maxx bag. To avoid driving back smelling like fish, we are now on a mission to find large garbage bags and ice!


Alas, a gas station was not easy to find on the country road! 50 miles later we started to run out of gas on Rt. 3. Unwilling to risk any farther, I decided to take a detour to Sandy Creek towards Highway 81. There should always be a gas station or two around major highway exits. Luckily we were not disappointed. However, unbeknownst to us, the next unplanned stop was just down the road from the gas station. In order to get back on the Seaway and eventually onto Rt. 104, we had to drive south on Rt. 11 passing by the town of Pulaski. I noticed the sign for Salmon River right away but it was the FishOnMotel that really got my attention. There were many fishermen in the river. Across the river there was a yellow building with a big sign that reads "$3 Fish Fillet". What does that mean? Are they selling fish fillets for $3 or are they filleting the fish? All along the way we had been discussion on how we can clean the fish in our small kitchen. The thing looks pretty monstrous and I wasn't looking forward to chop its head off! Now no more worries. An u-turn later, we found out that we can get the fish cleaned for $3. That's a bargain and half. So we washed our fish and took couple last photos before it was stripped down to two large fillets weighting five and half pound total.

The rest of the drive went by quickly and long behold, our fish dinner was here!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Friday, October 2, 2009

Heading North

We got an early start to the weekend. By 8pm we have already checked into our favorite place to stay in the 1,000 Island area, the West Winds, in Clayton, NY. The drive up was less than perfect with unrelenting rain and low visibility. The air was chilly and damp with winds picking up every now and then. As we pressed forward on the last stretch of the drive on Route 12, hungry and a bit tired, a sign for spaghetti dinner on the side of the road grabbed our attention. We found a spot in the full lot and stepped back in time. It was a fund raiser for the Lion Club. Old men in yellow jackets and young kids serving dinner. We paid $7 per ticket and wolfed down our plate of spaghetti and two meatballs. The food wasn't nothing to write home about but I could probably have eaten more if my ticket allowed it. We cranked up the little heater in the cottage on the river and settled in early. Hope tomorrow will be a better day.

Two is Better than One

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Bookstore

Stopped by the Eastman bookstore today and got a little present for my parents. The school, although one of the best in the world, was never their favorite. When I was accepted there I bought my mom an "Eastman Mom" shirt and I have not seen it since then. This time to her insistence I am stuck with the mini-van until Thanksgiving, so I got her an Eastman license plate holder. I will have to make sure that it is secured extra well so it won't fall off "accidentally"!

Although I never got anywhere with my musical pursuit, I am nevertheless eternally grateful for everything that I've experienced at Eastman. After moving to Pittsford we rarely visited the Gibbs Street area. Driving through garage brought back many memories of the school, the days of listening to and memorizing Schubert songs just before an aural skills class, reviewing keyboard progressions, writing musical analysis... the list goes on. I ran into my old Italian professor in the garage and on the way back I saw Allen Harris, the cello professor, sipping coffee at his usual spot, Javas. Students are everywhere, some carrying their instruments and some riding bicycles. Indeed those were the good days. Sometime I think to myself, maybe it's not too late. I can still get back to practice and go get a masters in guitar performance just for fun. But then, in reality, we all have to work at some point. And there goes playing and traveling the world...

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Lyons, NY


Another day on the water, this time from the launch at Abbey Park in Lyons, NY. Instead of tracking the Erie Canal this time we explored the Clyde River, just north of the canal. Located in midway between Rochester and Syracuse, driving through the village of Lyons is like stepping back in time. I wish I had more time to linger but the forecast had called for afternoon rain so we had to hurry.

This is the fifth launch site we have tried on the Erie Canal (Pittsford, Fairport, Palmyra, Newark and Lyons). While they are all very enjoyable, I believe Widewaters is still our favorite. The launch here at Abbey Park is located between Lock 27 and 28A with about a mile of canal in between, rather a short distance. I wanted to come here to check out the peculiar shape of the canal. Not sure why it is like that...maybe it's made so that large boats can get out of the traffic between the two locks.

The winding Clyde River was quite interesting. With many large trees fallen in the river making it less navigable for larger boats, we saw no other boat traffic during our 4-hour excursion. As the wind picked up in the early afternoon we turned around and headed back to the launch. The river is mostly calm with current only in isolated spots, rather strange. Fall has made its presence known here. As we paddled through the rustic countryside autumn leaves fell around us and are taken up by the current. With the Erie Canal book in hand, I too felt inspired by the early explorers that sailed through this part of Western New York.

Two Brothers


Cheez-It has been renamed to Ernie after Hemingway. Here you see Teddy on the left and Ernie on the right with the hand-me-down flea collard (it was getting too small for Teddy). Ernie has made a big improvement on getting acclimated into the family. Now the two brothers are inseparable, chasing each other all over the apartment. I love these two cuties!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Kitties


I'm happy to announce that the new kitty is finally out of the couch! He's the one on the lower left side of the photo with more gray tint. I hope Cheeze-It will like his new home here. Although the same age, he's a big skinnier than Teddy. And he has extra toes that makes him look like he's wearing mittens! Instead of four toes and a dewclaw thumb, Cheeze-It has a real thumb on the front paws making him a polydactyl cat. I read online that a particular strain native to Ithaca, New York, is known as the "Ithacats". There's no way of me telling if Cheeze-It is a Ithacat but he's a little cutie, just need to put some more weight on.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

hmmm,,,ok

I was made aware today that my blogs mentioning the company name is not appreciated. Ok, that's a good heads up, and I'm sure you know how I feel about it. Talking about how oppressive communism is. Anyways, it's better to not talk about work. Nothing really exciting happens there anyways. Out of the 12 awaking hours of my day, 8 of them will not be mentioned from now on.

One a separate note, our kitty family is growing. I found Cheeze-It on the location cat adoption website. After meeting him (and many others) at the Four Legged Friends cat shelter in Penfield, we signed the papers and brought him home. I apologize that there are no pictures of Cheeze-It because we have not seen much of him since we came home. The little cat about the same age, size and color as Teddy, is simply too timid. He has been hiding under the couch since yesterday evening. I hope he is eating and going to the bathroom... Teddy has been pretty friendly, although he always seem to make his way to the treats I try to entice Cheeze-It with. I'm confident that the new kitty will eventually warm up to us. For one thing Teddy seems to be happy with his new brother; he's not meowing anymore when we come home.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Lunch Lady and another Sunday at the Canal

Suburb, minivan, kitty mom and 8-5, you can hardly tell it's me we're talking about! Had a late start to this Sunday, but once up I was ready to get busy in the kitchen to make lunches for the coming week. Although the new Wegmans is right down the street from work, lunch brought from home is always tasty and more economical. It also allows me to eat at my desk and venture out during my lunch hour. Menu for next week: Indian beef curry with onions, mushroom and peas; thin sliced lamb with asparagus and baked tofu. I always liked being in project mood. It keeps me focused. By the time I was done and prepared lunch for Sunday as well, I was ready for my siesta. But to budget our time better and take advantage of the beautiful weather, we decided to take the row boat back to Widewaters Canal Park in Palmyra.

To take it easy this time I decided to bring a book along for the boat ride. Bond of Union: Building the Erie Canal and the American Empire by Gerard Koeppel. How appropriate I thought, rowing on the Erie Canal and reading about its history at the same time. The fact is most of us upstate New Yorkers (or New Yorkers in general), take the canal for granted. Whenever we mentioned to people that we take the boat to the canal they seem to turn their noses up at the idea. The canal is in my opinion quite scenic and intriguing. At the time of its completion in 1825, the Canal was by far the most advanced engineering feat and expensive civil project of its era. The principle of the locking system dates itself back to Leonardo de Vinci but it wasn't until the workmen invented water-proof cement during the construction of Erie that made the 363 miles of canal a feasible project.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Taken by the Spirit

As part of Friends of Mt.Hope Society, we have been participating in many Mt. Hope walks in the cemetery this year. The special tours are centered around a variety of themes ranging from the old wealthy of East Ave. to the infamous law breakers in the area. The America's first municipal Victorian cemetery in picturesque setting serves as a valuable history museum for the city of Rochester. Today's tour was on the ancient geology of Mt. Hope held by geologist Bill Chaisson from the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the U of R. I have to say some tours are a bit more captivating the others, and Dr. Chaisson was not by any means dry or enthused. He started with some background information on glacial geology of Western New York with high tech hand drawn cartoons. Personally I found the stuff to be quite interesting, especially since I have seen glaciers up close and personal while traveling down Patagonia.

So here it goes:
During the "ice age" (18-19 thousand years ago?) the glacier came down from Hudson Bay and advanced pass the northern Pennsylvania state line forming the "Moraine of the Second Glacial Epoch". As the climate changed, the ice retreated back through New York state, halting in different spots to form other recessional moraines, one just south of the Finger Lakes and one across Henrietta and Brighton. Moraines are formed when the glacier reaches a state of equilibrium and ice front lingers for a prolong period of time at the same place. As we walked through the cemetery, Dr. Chaisson pointed out many striking features in the landscape as evidences left by the terminal moraine. We learned about the formation of Kames (hills formed by sand and gravel deposit), Kettles (circular depressions made by a large chunk of fallen ice) and glacial erratics (non native rocks left by the glacier that have been molded into a particular shape resembling a little boat). The ridge now marked as the "Indian Trail" was formed by an Esker, a subglacial stream channel filled with sediments.

Everyone seemed high spirited as we walked up and down the hills and along the ridges on a beautiful early autumn day. However, the tour was interrupted by an rather freaky emergency stop! As the group gathered up at top of a hill, an older woman stepped out on my left side in a half running speed, took two steps towards the guide and collapse straight onto the ground. I was startled to say the least. The way she was walking before she went down looked as if she was possessed, or perhaps I've just never seen anyone pass out like that. Her legs completely gave out as she fell forward facing the ground, arms to the sides without attempting to catch herself in anyway. As she laid in front of me motionless I could see blood on the ground. "Who has a cell phone? Somebody call 911!" a woman shouted from the group. I stepped back as the others helped her to roll over. Moments later the lady regained consciousness and seemed to be ok other than a cut above her eye. But judging from the way she fell I hope she doesn't have more serious head injuries. Some say she could have had a seizure. The ambulance eventually made it up the hill and took her to the hospital. I was a little shaken up from the whole thing as she was right in front of me and even now I can recall the whole event with vivid clarity.

Later in the afternoon we had a relaxing boat ride on Lake Conesus with Teddy. We had originally planned to take our boat to Hemlock Lake but the gradual gravel ramp made it rather impossible to launch our boat without both of us getting wet and scratching up the bottom of the boat. As you can see from the picture Teddy really enjoyed sitting on the side of the boat and looking into the water as if he was trying to find fishes!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Cat Toys

Having a 8-5 job means lesser time home and lesser time with the cat. I don't think Teddy likes being home alone all the time but then I'm not sure which one of us feels worse because I feel pretty guilty for leaving him. It's not like there's a kitty daycare I can send him to. I had the intention to adopt another orange cat around his age from Petco over the weekend but decided against the idea since we didn't pay the pet deposit here and the adoption agency was going to contact my landlord to verify the lease agreement. Now when I get home at 5:30 Teddy meows for a good hour like an attention-starved kid. Last night just as we were on the way out to go to Aladins for dinner Teddy followed us out to the porch and proceeded to cry loudly as we walked to the car. Being a softie, I had to go back home and make my own dinner (it was probably better anyways, I made pan-seared rack of lamb with garlic and rosemary). Hoping to keep Teddy entertained while I'm at work I have ordered two cat toys on Amazon. I can't wait to get them tomorrow!

That being said, I really don't understand how working people manage to have kids. I feel terrible just to leave my cat at home! And when I do get home I feel too guilty to even go anywhere in the evening! Teddy sleeps right on top of me all night and licks my lips and nose in the morning to wake me up. He's a little cutie.

Having kids is a luxury. Not that I would know it all but physically, at minimum it would take time, money, energy, good example and guidance. But then rats have kids too (so does Brittney), so I guess it really depend on the quality of childhood one is striving to provide. A full time job usually means about 4 hours of awaking hours with the little ones 6-10, depending on the age. That's just ridiculous. I don't think I would like to go through all the trouble of having kids only to spend less than 4 hours a day with them. And that's just with a "normal" working schedule. The boss for example has two little kids (4 and 6 I believe) and travels overseas for at least half of the calender year. I'm not trying to criticize anyone here, just not sure if I would be able to do the same. Well, no plans to have kids anytime soon, or having them at all. Right now, I'm just trying to figure out how to handle the cat guilt.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Widewaters Canal Park


Widewater Canal Park in Palmyra, NY. is the newest boat launch on the Erie Canal that we've tried, and so far our most favorite one. It is located about 40 minutes east of Pittsford going down Rt. 31. We have been spending a good chunk of time there for the last two afternoons/evenings exploring the surroundings. The boat ramp is at one end of a lake called Widewaters, little over a one mile long with some small houses and fishing huts on one side and a wooded trail on the other. It takes me about 45 minutes to get through the lake going west and get into the narrower part of the canal. The area is rather rustic with many fallen trees and branches on the edges. Lots of great blue herons live here. They seems to be annoyed and fly away while making loud duck noises when we come within 50 meters of them. Once we saw a really mean looking one walking down a tree branch in Fairport. There are also countless schools of bait fish swimming around at the eastern end of the lake going into the canal. They can be easily spotted from the rough patches of water on the otherwise calm surface. If we sneak up on them quietly we can see the little fishes swim around our boat often going in circles uniformly just like the huge bait balls seen on the Discovery channel. I've never seen anything like it. At times they all jump out of the water simultaneously making a splashing sound and leaving bubbles on the surface when they fall back down.

Knowing that there are many fishes here we brought our fishing pole along this afternoon. I rowed four miles east from the dock to Galloway's Rd bridge. The water is more stagnant here but with so many bait fish around it almost looks like the surface is boiling especially under the bright sunlight. I started to cast my lure into the rough patches and within minutes I got a big one on the hook. A bit unsure, I passed the pole to Rob hoping he would wheel it in. As I reached for the camera the big fish gave a good jolt just as it came close to the surface and broke the line. We probably had a 8-lb bass on the line and almost a delicious fish dinner. Too bad he took everything and now he's got a lip piercing with a minnow attached to it. I paid good money for that cute hand-painted French-made minnow! :(
The sun was setting quickly and we were loosing daylight. It was dark by the time we finally got back to the dock. The mosquitoes were out and so were the bats. I trust that they would not fly into us with their advanced radar system but still, at times they speed by just a bit too close for my comfort. Luckily by now we've gotten more experienced with launching and loading the boat, doing it in the dark wasn't too bad. Although no fish dinner were caught I really enjoyed being out on the water and getting some upper body exercise. Definitely a spot we will be coming back soon.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Tastings

I know I've been slacking on photos and reviews on food for been such a food addict. No worries, my enthusiasm has not faded and there has not been lack of new dinning experiences even though the world wide traveling have slowed in recent months. Tonight we celebrated Rob's first week at his new job with dinner at Tastings, a Wegman's owned and operated restaurant adjacent to Pittsford Plaza. The decor was tasteful, presentation excellent, food delicious, and service impeccable. I would definitely recommend the halibut as it was one of the best I've ever had. This was my first time dinning at Tastings and it really exceeded my expectations.

Recently I also had a wonderful meal at Los Amigos in Penfield. I had been there years ago but the last meal was possibly the best Mexican I've had in a long time, yes better than Salina's and Mex. The food was simple and fresh. The Fajita al Diablo was so spicy even I had to ask for a second glass of water.

On the other had, a trip to Garlic Pit on Empire Blvd. was more like Garlic Hell. The place was a bit busy during dinner hour so the waitress was very rushed with us. When I asked if I could substitute a different pasta for my side I never got a reply. Instead my food came 45 minutes later with the side I asked about and when the bill came they had charged my $4 extra. Now I don't mind paying for my side but the waitress never verified my order with me nor did she ever mention about the extra charge ahead of time. Besides, $4 is just way to excessive for a pasta side that was already included with the meal. A full size pasta dish at the place was only $7-8! In return, the waitress got was she served. I left with no tip or discussing the problem, instead I wrote on the receipt, take the tip out of the side. Oh, yeah, and the food was not worth the waiting. That's one place I will not go back ever again.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

War on Fleas

Ever since I discovered fleas on Teddy I've been seeking different ways to terminate the little bugs. First we tried the flea bath which I thought had got rid of most of the fleas on the cat. Then on goes the flea collar. Neither one of us got any flea bites and none were seen on our furniture so we were not too worried. I got a flea comb and work on Teddy almost everyday. Just before we left for Indiana Teddy got his first treatment of Frontline Plus and it seemed that we had successfully combated the war on fleas. Mission accomplished!

Damn was I wrong. The bugs had been multiplying during our absents and eagerly awaited for us to come home. As soon as I stepped in the bloodthirsty fleas jumped all over my ankles and ate me alive! Worse of all I'm allergic to the bites so they swallow up and get blistery looking. I must have like 30 bites on each leg! For the last two days I've been too itchy to even sleep at night!

The immediate thought was to flea bomb the place but we would have to evacuate for a good 24 hours with the cat for it to be fully effective. And then upon returning there would be at least a good half day of cleaning up. We would also have to move furniture off the carpet, covering up some stuff, seal windows and clean all the dishes and bedding so we don't inject any harmful chemicals. If that sounds like a huge hassle you're right!

In order to avoid the hassle of flea bomb I've been using flea killing carpet spray, vacuuming twice a day and doing huge piles of laundry. Teddy is also helping by gathering up fleas and killing them with Frontline Plus. Although things seems to be getting better I have a feeling the war on fleas will be very much a long term project as the larvae can hibernate quite sometime before hatching and there are many places for them to hide.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Pumpkin Seed Fish

Soon after we got the boat I picked up fishing as my new hobby. It was nothing serious but casting and playing with the pole made the ride even more fun. This evening I caught my first fish in the canal just a bit down from the Ayrault launch in Fairport. It was a cute little Pumpkin seed fish slightly better than my hand. I guess it was a good size for a Pumpkin Seed fish and I thought it was super cute with little eyes. The first one was hooked on the lip and we freed it back in the water. Within 3 minutes another one got on the hook but it wasn't so lucky. The little fish had swallowed the whole bait and got the hook stuck way in. I was quite upset on the way back that we killed a cute Pumpkin Seed fish. Of course, Rob kept saying the fish was doing fine, but I tucked away the pole and decided that was enough fishing for me.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Trail of Tears

There is fine balance between visiting my parents and my mental health. While it's part of my duty as a daughter to spend quality time with them in Indiana the constant nagging and disapproval for everything I do just drives me off the walls. Over the years I've learn to dispose as little information as possible, not to talk back and simply nod my head to all mom's demands and criticisms. It doesn't mean that I agree with her or follow up with them. There's just no simple solution. I've tried to explain to her my point of view but there's no changing her mind. This last visit for example I tried to make it as positive and pleasant as possible yet she despised everything. My car is not safe, my hair is too short, my eyes are too small, my nose is too flat and my cloth is frumpy. I don't have a real job and I don't make any money. I need to get plastic surgery and go back to school to get an advanced degree. Maybe I would have a better chance at a job if I looked better. But of course, I should have listened to her long time ago and went the med school route. Now I'm getting older I need to settle down find a good husband and give her two grandkids. Gees, the complaints are endless and they repeat like a broken record through every conversation phone or visit. And they wonder why I dread the weekly phone calls.

For her information, not that she would read this, I have great fashion sense and the only jobs I've never had problem getting were solely based on looks alone. My jeans fits just fine and my ass looks even finer. I love my short haircut and so do everyone else! I'm happy and excited about my new job and I will go back to school for an advanced degree at my own will when the time is appropriate. And as for marriage and kids, she's only swaying me in the other way. I'm not in a hurry for either.

However, the visit is only half of the suffering, when it's over the other half catches up on the way back. Kids, no matter how headstrong they are, will always want to seek their parents' approval. In my case that seem more impossible than winning the lottery. What exactly is so bad about me??? The 600 miles drive back feels more like the Trail of Tears. I get to reflect on everything that was said over the weekend and feel like a total failure.

And so what if today is my birthday? There is no break from the usual speech from Mom who pleads in desperation about how my job is not worth a dime and I need to better myself by going back to school as if the 178K price tag on an UR degree wasn't enough for my student loan. Luckily my loan is only a tiny fraction of the cost still it was absolutely not worth it.

We went to Pare on Monroe for dinner. The mixed grill for two was excellent with shrimp, scallop, lobster, steak, lamb kabob, sweet potato and asparagus. I spent the rest of the evening watching America's Got Talent and cried myself to sleep.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Somebody call AAA

We got the car loaded to start the drive back to Rochester and I locked the keys in the trunk! No big deal right? I got trunk release...well, that's locked too. What about the backseat, locked also. Hmmm...I'm sure AAA would be able to get to it, NOT! What about a locksmith? NO! I guess when the Germans made this convertible they really made the trunk impenetrable in case anything valuable is stored there. The only way to get in without taking the car completely apart is with the car key. The two options are either to find someone to overnight the spare key from home or wait until the dealer opens tomorrow and have a new key made. In our case we need to get back to Rochester so Rob can start his new job on Tuesday.

So off we went with my parents mini van! And I'll be stuck with it until we visit them again on Thanksgiving. I tried to insist on switching the cars this week before I start my new job but mom won't let me drive the 9 hours alone. I'm 26 and have driven around the country a couple times now damn it. No point to argue with her, she'll never change her mindset.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Hired and Hired

One month after interviewing with the president of the International Division at Pictometry I was finally offered a full time position there earlier today. Rob was offered a Project Manager position with Corsair yesterday in Canandaigua. So we are Hired and Hired!

Here are the words from Robert Carroll: "Liren, based on our discussions, I believe you will make a great addition to the International Department and will become an asset to Pictometry. I look forward to working with you in this new capacity. I am confident that you will make an immediate and substantial impact."

Later in the morning my parents and I went fishing at Morse Reservoir with their homemade cereal bait mixed with catchup. Eventually we got a cat fish. :) I would have enjoyed it more if I didn't have a gigantic headache.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Driving to Indiana

Teddy's First Road Trip! He napped the whole time, yes, he found a spot on the floor and passed out like that!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Clean Reboot

After backing up all of my photos and music the laptop was badly in needed of a clean reload. Luckily, with help from Dave and the owner's manual, reload was a breeze. Now my computer is as good as new. Why pay for MS Office when you can get open source softwares like GIMP and Open Office for free?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Hitch and Trailer

Who knew getting the boat was the easiest part of the puzzle. We finally got the hitch from etrailer.com yesterday. After few hours of dirty work and couple different drills Rob was able to get the hitch on ok. Now the problem is the wiring harness. I guess when Subaru Impresa's owners manual said the car is not designed to tow anything they really meant it. After taking the car apart two separate times we couldn't find the wiring connection to save our lives. Everyone we talked to keeps saying, oh, they should be right next to the spare tire. Well, they're not! I searched all morning in my bathrobe! Yes, it was the first thing I did after been woken up by the frustrated home mechanic. So when we talked to the Subaru dealer for the third time they finally told is there is no such wire connector on our car! If we are fixed on having trailer lights hooked on we will have to hard wire it from the front battery (or something like that). Since neither one of us is electrically inclined I decided to bite the bullet and pay $100 for Uhaul to install the harness so we don't burn down our car.
Finally we got that taken care of by lunch time. Then I called Joe in Geneva to pick up the trailer I found on Craigslist. And even that wasn't easy...

We showed up in Manchester, NY and found Joe working on the trailer in his shop because he just noticed that the new tail lights are not working. After the two men wondering around the old rusty trailer for almost an hour installing a new wire the thing finally lit up. Now we've got the hitch and the trailer! With some much needed TLC we should be able to load the boat on it soon.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Hasta la Vista!

Help! I'm in Vista Hell!

After a whole day of attempting to troubleshoot the damn computer I'm finally coming to term with it. Although the laptop market is getting competitive these days, the average lifespan of a laptop is without a question getting shorter either due to hardware failures or the need for upgrades. My first Dell lasted about 3 years and then the CD drive, USB connection and battery died. I bought this Dell XPS M1330 as a replacement on June 13th, 2008. The Dell tech people gladly reminded me over the phone that it's over the one-year warranty period.

The problem: computer starts in Safe Mode but would not start normally in Vista. I can get to the password prompt for log in. Once I enter the password I get black screen with an error message that says "An unauthorized change was made to Windows"
The "Learn More Online" option takes me to www.microsoft.com/genuine, where Microsoft tells me "This copy of Windows did not pass genuine validation.
Either an unauthorized change was made to your Windows license or a software program installed on this computer is not currently compatible with Windows Vista."
This is unlikely since Vista came pre-installed on my laptop when I ordered it from Dell.


The attempted solution: I searched all over the cyberspace for possible solutions and started to fidget with Windows recovery and removing latest Windows updates but nothing seemed to help. I have not installed any new software for quite sometime. The last software update was for Firefox about 3 weeks ago. I am not aware of any virus on the computer. What's going on?

Call for help: The Dell people said they would be happy to help me with this single incident software support of a single payment of $129. The tech guy insisted that it was my fault for not buying the yearly software protection for $239. That's insane! Two years of software protection is enough to buy a brand new computer. And that doesn't even cover any kind of hardware failure. i asked what the possible solution would be and the tech people suspected a corruption with Windows files. They told me the last resort would be to reinstall Vista. My patience was running out, I said, no, that's not an option if I have to pay for the service! I can reinstall the damn Windows myself for free! I then contacted the GeekSquad, they won't even look at it for under $199.

Now: I live in safe mode. The resolution really sucks but at least I'm still functional. I finally ordered a 500GB external harddrive to get ready to backup all my files. The only option now is to reinstall Vista. One of two things might happen, 1, the clean reinstall solves the problem, or 2, re-installation fails due to hardware problems. I have read online that some people were getting the same error message due to harddrive or RAM problems. Either way all my files are fucked. So hence the mega external drive coming in the mail...

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Rowing on the Erie Canal

With the hitch coming in the mail all we need now is a boat trailer. After looking high and low I just couldn't find one within our price range. I found a good deal at Harbor Freight but they are out of stock until mid September. Unwilling to wait for a whole month to take the boat out, we went to Uhaul for a truck this morning and took our boat out to Erie Canal Lock 32 in Pittsford, just down the road from the apartment. Although forecast had called for rain, the weather nevertheless looked pretty decent. Since the boat is pretty lightweight, launching it from a Uhaul truck wasn't all that difficult. We rowed from Lock 32 to Bushnells Basin and turned around at the 490 overpass. Including a quick lunch stop at Aladin's in the Pittsford Village, we spent about 5 hours on the water. We passed the gigantic Colonial Bell from Fairport 3 times. The thing is truly a monstrosity on the canal, somewhat of a bully, since it pretty much takes up the whole width of canal at the narrow parts. Other tour boats like the Sam Patch is much more fitting and scenic. Here's a picture of me working hard on the boat... Next time definitely a seat cushion!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Out for a Walk

Time to take Teddy out for his first walk. The little kitty was hesitant at first so I tried to lure him down the stairs with some kitty treats. He wasn't biting. I think he had some fun on the grass though. He's such a cute little baby!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Delivery Day


The boat is delivered today by the boat maker himself, David Young. We invited him upstairs for some ice tea and had a lovely conversation. David told us the boat is built in the style of a Lawton Tender, with a layer of fiberglass inside and out, three layers of epoxy and one coat of marine varnish. The boat is sturdy, low maintenance and built to last. We're so excited to take it out on the water soon!

Monday, August 17, 2009

We got the Boat!

Even though we got no jobs, no income, no hitch and no trailer, we got the boat! It’s one of a kind and hopefully we’ll get lots of enjoyment out of it. David Young, the boat maker, will be delivering the boat to us himself on Wednesday evening. After that it’s going to sit in our garage until we can figure out how to transport it. I’ve been pricing everything out for couple days now and it’s going to be at least another $500 worth of expenses before we can get it on the water.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Love at First Sight

As a free marketing tool, we have decided to take our WhirlyBirds around to all the festivals we attend to get some exposure and feedback. This weekend is the Oak Orchard Harborfest, Regatta & Wooden Boat Show just past Hamlin Beach. Summer has finally made it's late arrival here in Upstate New York. We drove west in my open top Beetle convertible. The breeze off the lake shore was sublime.
Our appearance at the Harborfest was rather brief. Although not many boats were there, a group of 4 handmade wooden boats instantly grab hold of all our attention: two kayaks, a row boat and a canoe. These were the proud works of a local boat maker, David Young, from Kendall, NY. As I pull out my camera to snatch up few photos of these precious boats, David came over to greet us. The two guys conversed about wood material and building techniques. David, originally from Rochester, had been building these boats as a hobby for many years now and took some woodworking classes from RIT. The two hit off well and it didn't take long for David to give us a deal for the small row boat to make room in his shop and fund his habit. Upon hearing the incredible offer we couldn't refuse! Next, we immediately hopped back in the car and started our search for a hitch and trailer!

Kitty Care Day

Teddy’s got fleas! Since we have no other animals around here we suspect that Teddy brought the bugs with him when he came. The drop treatment we got from Walmart last night didn’t seem to be too affective so we got the fleas shampoo first thing in the morning and I got to work! I was determined to be the flea terminator! I striped down and got wet and dirty with Teddy in the shower. He’s got surprisingly good temper for being an energetic little kitty. I soaked and rubbed him down with fleas shampoo at least 3 times. A quick roll under the hair dryer and voila, a new fresh scented kitty with soft fluffy fur! Even cuter than before! On goes the flea collard and let’s hope he’ll be bug free now from now on.
While getting the shampoo from Petco we noticed the onsite pet clinic for today so the ordeal wasn’t over until I took the new fluffy kitty to get his first round of deworming and vaccination. To my relief, Teddy is tested negative for Feline Leukemia. Other than being freaked out that he’s out of the apartment, Teddy didn’t even meow during the shot. It was barely past noon by the time we got home and the kitty has already had a long day! As soon as I put him down he crawled under his maroon cat tree and went to sleepy land.
However, the day is only half over for us humans. Now onto the Harborfest.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Photo Op for Teddy

My photographer friend, Dan Olek, stopped by after work and snatched few nice shots of our 4 mos old Teddy.

Teddy

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Pink Flamingo

Our newest whirligig addition: the Pink Flamingo! And it glows in the dark! So proud of the design and paint job. Hope it will be a hot seller!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Mad Dash to Home Depot

Sunday evening, after a causal stroll down the lumber line at Home Depot we were ecstatic to find out the main ingredient for our whirligig, ¾ pine, was on sale for almost 40% discount. We sorted through the couple dozen of them that were available at the HD on Jefferson Road and took home a few good ones in my Beetle. Since the material is relatively “cheap” some of them come with too many knots to be workable, so we always try to select the clearest pieces for our production.
Next we made a quick stop at home to switch cars to go to the HD in Victory next to Eastview Mall hoping for a bigger selection. The Subaru Impreza Hatchback, although looks compact, is really amazingly roomy inside, especially with the back seats folded down. We’ve carried countless boxes in the car during the last two moves. Anyways, we were disappointed to find only 6 pieces laying around at the 2nd HD. Now I start to feel a sense of urgency. We must find more wood before they are sold out!

The job was short lived. To my worst fear, my initial hunch was confirmed at HD #3 in Penfield. The 1X10 pines are on final clearance due to the fact that they are to be discontinued! A contractor had called ahead and reserved all the pieces at Penfield. Now what are we going to do?!

I looked at the time on my cell phone, 7:14, and thought if we hurry we could make it to two more Home Depots in the area before they close at 8!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Maroon #5


This is the 5th Cat Tree we've made in a month. Two of them were sold on Craigslist to fund our carpet expenses for these ones. Two more of the basic designs are for sale but so far no bites yet. This little orange cat has really inspired us. I've been making frequent trips to Home Depot in the last couple weeks to either pricing out material for the whirligig production or looking for carpet remnants. I had rarely gone to HD before but now I have learned to enjoy it. Each trip leads to a new project. However small they might be, the excitement and anticipation they generate always bring up interesting discussions or even debates. Now I associate the smell of HD with hope and progress, like the smell of fresh paint in a new house. Every isle is a dream waiting to be assembled.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Going Once, Twice, SOLD!

Who knew cat trees were such hot sellers. The new tree we made last night is already sold to Ken from Penfield for $65. That's two cat trees in a week, faster than we can make them! Our cat trees got good quality and value (and I'm not just saying this for a shameless self promotion). The trees sold at Petco can go anywhere between $129 to $349! The next one just might have to be $75!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Cat Tree #2

The first cat tree was sold in two days on Craigslist to a woman with 8 cats! So here's the replacement for Teddy. He can't seem to figure out how to get down yet so he gets on the top level and meows for the fireman!