Friday, January 30, 2009

CNY Fireworks

Although thwarted by the crowds at the fair, SB and I were adamant about watching the fireworks live. Aside from Yves Pépin and Christophe Berthonneau's absolutely stunning New Year 2000 light show on the Eiffel Tower (you must check out this link to it), which I did not see live, I think the HK fireworks are the best I have seen. The sheer volume is impressive, the setting of Victoria Harbour and the festively lit buildings is ideal, and the added perk of the launching barge catching fire every few years adds to the excitement.

I have posted some of my pictures, as well as a couple quick videos that captured what I could not get as an image.

The beginning, with little flairs shooting off into the air, and SB humming along for added entertainment.

Everything gets sparkly!

A giant explosion of lights

Brightly changing colors

The finale, in thick smoke

CNY Activities

SB and I were motivated to make the most of our time off by partaking in come of the activities provided. First, we took to the hills for a few paces and then descended to Central for some random urban exploration, a la Baudelaire's flâneur. Hong Kong is an ideal city to become lost into, to randomly explore, participate, and portray.

Later in the evening we strolled past Tin Hau to the fair being held in Victoria Park. SB had only been to the fair years ago, in foul weather, and he recalled visions of wet, trampled flowers laying in the cold ground. We were excited to see this fair in good weather. But it was not to be. As we approached the gates we were overwhelmed with the volume of people waiting to be admitted. There easily were a thousand people in line. As SB and I began moving out of the way, debating whether or not to go in, a policeman came up to us and told us to leave. "If you don't need to buy anything inside, then go. There is nothing to see!" He was amusingly adamant about the horror that awaited us so we heeded his advice and beat a hasty retreat. We have some friends who were flying above in a helicopter and they agreed that it was madness below.

All was not lost because as we were rounding the corner to go home in Happy Valley, we looked into the Jockey and saw one of SB's ice hockey mates at the bar. We went inside and shared a beer (yes, we did indeed morph into a blob of indistinct parts like those couples we make fun of) and wished him a happy new year. He invited us to a private skate practice that he had arranged for the next afternoon, which we wasted no time in accepting.

Look! They had small glasses for each of us to have a half pint! How cute is that?

We phoned him the next morning to make sure that it was a sincere invitation (he was very drunk) and then rushed over. SB had a fun skate with the other hockey players and they ran a few passing and shooting drills while I laced up my little skates and wobbled around on the ice with my own stick and puck. Fun times were had by all.

his feet, my feet

Jumbo, next door

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Tai Cheong Bakery and Central Wanderings

Like many, many residents here, SB and I love dan tats (egg tarts). Our favorite Happy Valley neighborhood provider is the Cheung Sing Cafe. Their tarts have the best custard taste with a flaky pastry crust. Dan tats come in two basic containers: the flaky pastry crust or the shortbread crust. King's Bakery makes a close runner up to favorite dan tat in a shortbread crust. I prefer King's Bakery in the afternoon because I know that they have a batch of freshly baked dan tat coming out of the oven right before 4pm.

I had heard that the most famous purveyor of dan tat is the Tai Cheong Bakery. Apparently Governor Chris Patten was smitten with the tarts baked up by Au Yeung and there are plenty of hilariously unflattering newspaper images of him scarfing down multiples of dan tats posted in the front of the bakery.

SB and I winded down the stone path of Lyndhurst Terrace, looking for this famous bakery. We didn't have to look very hard because there was one storefront near the end of the block that had a queue of people outside. SB peeked inside to make sure and then informed me in a shocked voice that the tarts were $5 HKD as opposed to $3.5o at Cheung Sing and $3 at King's. I brushed off his protests and pushed him into the line.

A few moments later he emerged with a bag containing four very warm tarts, not so long ago removed from an oven. I took a bite...and it was heavenly. The custard was light and creamy; I almost expected it to ooze out of the tart because it was so luscious but it held its shape. The crust was a combination of the two typologies, both lightly pastry-like and chock full of buttery goodness. It was so good that I fought off SB to eat my second one that he was reaching for, having inhaled his share.

wolfing it down

At this point another mass of people had arrived to make the line even longer but SB had no choice: he was hooked. He stood in line again for a couple more tarts. These, he could not eat immediately because they had literally just been removed from the oven and were scorchingly hot. He wolfed them down as soon as they cooled slightly.

We then walked about the neighborhood, making our way up and down the winding streets to look at historic buildings and temples. We made our yearly visit to Man Mo Temple on Hollywood and Ladder Streets, which is one of Hong Kong's oldest temples (built in 1847) and dedicated to the god of literature and the god of war. A long time ago the temple was utilized similarly to a court of law with people going there to have an arbitrator resolve differences.

And that concludes my lesson for the day.

35 Lyndhurst Terrace,
Central, Hong Kong

Monday, January 26, 2009

Gung Hei Fat Choi!

Happy Year of the Cow! This year is predicted to be one of hardship and hard work. We hope that in these tough times, we are able to find comfort in the company of family and friends.

Times Square has set up another of their lovely and uplifting displays.

and in case you aren't so uplifted, they have erected plexi walls to prevent jumpers from the upper floors.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Mail roundup

Look what a birdie placed in the mail! Do you think it was intended for me? I noticed writing in the bottom left hand corner. I wonder which girl left her details? Should I call her? I can't read Chinese so I don't think I understand what she's advertising. I would have thrown this away but SB grabbed it out of my hands excitedly and said it would only be polite to call her back. Hmm...

Is anyone else getting this in their mail or are we lucky?

It is almost as enriching as back in grad school when one of my roommates began receiving International Male catalogs. He swore he had no idea why they were addressed to him but regardless, the other female roommate and I thoroughly enjoyed flipping through pages of men in pimp suits and tight leather pants. I recommend ordering all your dashing male ensembles from this company.

oh yeah. SB would look splendid in this

In other mail news, we also got the December issue of Hunting Fool. I don't know where the other issues are, but SB is happy for one. Judging from the wear and tear on the cover when I discovered it by the door (it was too big to fit in the mailbox) I would say that these magazines probably generate a lot of interest from the local mail carrier. The picture of the big horn sheep on the front is impressive.

SB liked this magazine because it provided details and forms for applying for some of the restricted hunting licenses in several states. Applying for an elk tag and receiving it have odds not too far off from the lottery but SB applied every year fruitlessly. Tags for out of state hunters were even more of a crap shoot and even though he was born and raised in Colorado, he had to apply for a license as a New York resident. I never was so crazed about nice looking game; I was happy to shoot and eat the local rodents of Texas: white tail deer, although once I got an African goat that must have escaped from a wild game ranch. You don't need a tag for invasive species. I hope that ranch lost a lot of money over it and will be better about containing their stock in the future.

Meanwhile, this New York resident did get a license and an elk tag, and he made the news, but for all the wrong reasons. As stated by the Billings Gazette:

.30-06 rifle with Leupold Scope - $650.
Out of state elk license - $600.
Gas to drive from New York - $700.
Taking a trophy Montana llama - priceless

Yes, he actually confused a feral llama for an elk, shot it, field dressed it, and tagged it. He was from New York. Stereotypes exist for a reason.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Chinese New Year Design

I have updated my blog to honor the year of the Ox! Gung hay fat choy!

Losing never tasted so good

SB's rugby team had to reschedule the match against Football Club, that they missed when they went to Thailand to play the Thai Navy. It was last night, and with Richie's suspension, Tory's bum toe, and some boys having to work, they fielded a team of 13. I had mentioned that they could ask some of the fourth division men to fill in but I guess they didn't make the call. Then in the opening minutes the national team player had to go to the hospital. So they were down to 12. Then the captain got his chin split open and had to leave the pitch for ten minutes. They were down to 11. If they went down to 10 the match would have been called.

Despite this motley crew we were better behaved and more motivated than we were at last week's pounding against DEA. I thoroughly enjoyed watching Causeway Bay and was proud of the way they played, unlike last week. The referee was deplorable and worked hard to earn his membership card at the Football Club, but I am beginning to get used to the uneven execution of rugby law. Now, I know that I have aired many a grievance against the Club due to some really snobbish and entitled behavior (backed up by a string of FC member referees) but this time I was impressed by their sportsmanship. They correctly exploited our holes out wide due to 11 men being on the pitch, but gone was the smugness. I noticed that at least one wing was probably from the second division team and the fullback was mentoring him during the match. They also did not seem overjoyed when the referee did his best to hand them the match and reversed two penalties and marched us back twenty meters as we were creeping toward the FC try line. It would have been a miracle if we had scored, although we did once. I thought referees could only give penalties if they were spoken to, but he gleefully docked us when he heard the prop and the scrum half arguing over a line out.

So here is what did work out for us: we played as a team. Several of the players broke through three or four tackles, which was the only way we could advance with so much coverage against us. SB carried the ball more to make up for the lack of forwards, and he made some important tackles, although one could say that all tackles are important in these matches. The Frenchies came by late in the second half to watch the match and I coerced them to take to the pitch in their training shirts. Xavier had a great catch and counterattack on his only touch of the ball and Max made several spectacular tackles in his training shoes. Thomas, our more senior Chinese scrum half, also took up the mantle and joined the match. I wish someone had a camera because it would have been great to present Thomas with a portrait of himself playing in the first division. The women's team showed up to support them and we outnumbered the home crowd.

Even better, after the match SB and I went with the Chinese men and women to eat at the Bowrington food centre (the market is one of my favorites for fresh produce). I have been there several times to order the delicious mutton curry noodles recommended by Chaxiubao. Yes, they are spectacular and no, the vendor doesn't speak a word of English but all I had to do was find shop number 3 and point at the curry. Anyway, this time we were there for another part of the food center that I had never ventured to. To the left of the elevator was a section with white plastic tablecloths that served quite a variety of food.

It was probably one of the best dinners that I have had, and for a huge feast we only paid $54 HKD each. I went crazy for the fluffy scallion and oyster omelet and the aubergine while SB went after the mapo tofu and beef in vermicelli. The locals were very into a clay pot with lamb and tofu skin but it was too salty for me, which was great because while they were attacking the clay pot, I was inhaling the rest of the dishes. Now I really was wishing for my camera because I don't know the names of everything.

On the street level are restaurants that serve seafood, like you would find near Temple Street or on the islands. I will have to go there next but due to SB's seafood limitations I need to find a local seafood eater.

In the meantime I shall dream of a return to Bowrington Street.

picture from FEHD

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


And because I don't want to end my day snarking at some one's rightfully entitled (though still wrong) opinion, I will end it by telling you about a very happy find.

I was in the dark bowels of Times Square, in City Super because it was the only place I could think of that carried an overload of grooming products and I desperately needed one of those pumice stones to remove the five layers of deep blisters of each of my big toes (thanks to the lack of softness, or even grass in most cases, of Hong Kong pitches).

Only too late did I realize that every other inhabitant of the city was also in City Super, buying up all sorts of beautiful treats for the Chinese New Year. Doh! Well, I was literally limping so I needed that pumice. Since the line was wrapping down the side of the store and I was starving, I decided that my best bet was to send SB to the bakery for some snacks. I had seen in the corner of the bakery some round, chocolatey globs that caught my interest.

He returned with a chocolate mochi ball, $7 HKD from the bakery. He took a bite of it and then as I was leaning in for my bite, he popped the whole thing into his mouth! Apparently it was delicious. He went back for more, and I finally got a taste. Yes, it was delicious. It was a chocolate shell of soft mochi-like dough surrounding a dark and creamy center. Yum! It is surely going to become one of those foods that I will occasionally make the dreaded descent into City Super's crowded halls to retrieve.

word of the day: acumen

Another HK blogger used her soapbox to criticize the US. Although I have several of my own very serious criticisms, I was annoyed by her seemingly complete lack of intellect. Where are your facts?

"The US has become so very insignificant except still being good at killing people in other countries and starting economic recessions..."

"Apart from the fact that anyone who wants to be president of the United States must be deeply weird..."

and my favorite, about Obama:

"Are the Americans and others so small and scared and have so little trust in themselves that they need to deify this guy, heaping upon him all the good properties they would have liked their father to have and then some, and, more ridiculously, think that he’s going to save them?"

Yes my dear, there is a great deal of excitement surrounding the new president. There is hope that the new administration will be able to more effectively find solutions and enforce policies in keeping with our nation's principles. I find it nearly impossible to intelligently address your accusations. Deification? I will address the ideas of him carrying the hopes of his nation because that is how he has acknowledged wanting to be for the US- someone who can carry the dreams of the people.

The "hype" is due to an historic moment occurring in the United States, where a minority person who did not grow up in the ruling class is chosen to lead the country. Considering our painful history of inequality and racism I would consider this to be a very major event in history. Ability conquers hegemony.

By the way, you are sitting in a glass house.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Wild and Untamed Territory?

Today in the Sunday Morning Post: five hikers were rescued after 21 hours of being stranded at the slope of Ma On Shan (a large peak in the New Territories). Two helicopters and nearly 100 fire service and Civil Aid Service rescuers took part in an overnight search after receiving a 6 pm phone call from the hikers, who said that they were lost. They were airlifted out! No one was actually injured.

SB and I are wondering, where is this wonderful place where it is actually possible to get lost? I would be sadly disappointed if the hikers' inexperience and lack of necessary preparation led to them having to be rescued, rather than the vastness and wildness around Ma On Shan.

And to be airlifted?! Why didn't the rescuers just walk them out? Were they too cold?

Recently in my former home of Ithaca it was -9 F (-22 C). That is cold. SB's cousin in Stowe, Vermont, reported -30 F (-34 C) overnight. Those two grew up with the Adirondack mountains as their playground. They lived in a wildlife preserve that spanned over 50,000 acres, managed by less than 400 members, most of whom do not own private homes on the preserve. SB knows a lot of the features like the back of his hand from frequent explorations throughout childhood. Other places are still unfamiliar to him and he has no fear of bushwhacking into the unknown. Even with his expert knowledge, the two of us have never gone on a long hike without provisions. There is no possibility of being able to use a mobile phone in most of the preserve.

Has anyone been to Ma On Shan? Is there vastness of wilderness still within Hong Kong?

Friday, January 16, 2009

Is there ever too much Bourdain?

I have a wee bit of a crush on Anthony Bourdain. I enjoy his dry wit as well as his sincere love of food. I like his rustic French recipes and I even like the over-the-top, brain and bug eating No Reservations show that he hosts.

Time published Ten Questions for him a few years ago, and I still like to swoon over his responses, much like SB's teenage sister might swoon over her poster sized magazine inserts of that guy from the Twilight Vampires book series.

That being said, I never thought that I would actually have the opportunity to test if there was ever a situation where my beloved Bourdain would become overexposed. Then Melanie Dunea came out with My Last Supper, a wonderful collection of portraits, interview, and recipes from 50 great chefs, detailing what their last meals would be. Now I know what Bourdain looks like dressed in a bone, and that he really enjoys marrow (actually, I think I already knew that).

But now, this is from Chewing the Fat. I am okay with sex. I am okay with food. I am okay if they mix sex and food. I am even okay after listening to Bourdain talk about sex and food. I am not okay that he had to do it along with hirsute, croc- wearing Mario Batalli. Now every time I think of Bourdain in a less than gastronomic way I will be seared with the image of Batalli smirking alongside.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Cooking with the hunny

"It would be understandable if you thought this was deep fried."

That sums up the joy and pain and laughter of this latest dinner collaboration. SB and I teamed up (somewhat unwillingly on my part) for quesadilla night. The scene: our tiny, tiny kitchen in our shoebox apartment. It is maybe five meters by four meters, with a small amount of standing room.

Having lived in San Antonio for almost five years, I consider myself to have a decent grasp of Mexican and Tex-Mex food. I make one heck of a roasted green chili salsa. I do a good job on enchiladas and quesadillas. SB has his own ideas of what constitutes a perfect quesadilla. We ended up making several different versions of them for dinner.

The basics include large flour tortillas and a good mix of cheese that can melt. Tonight we found some Monterrey Jack, cheddar, and other white cheeses. To this we added various mixtures of cilantro, onions, chopped green chili, and bacon. I made a nice batch of guacamole to go along with the green and red salsas that we like to dip the quesadillas in.

Dinner with SB is always enjoyable. I like having someone nearby to talk to while fixing the meal, even if he is literally bumping into me. So what if he grated part of his finger with the cheese and doused the quesadilla in too much oil when it was his turn to mind the cooking. Or that he thought AC/DC made for good dinner music. Or that he samples too much of the meal. I love having him with me. That is why I could only laugh when he deep fried our dinner.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Thirty-six going on seventy

Isn't he just adorable?

One of these days SB may find out that I am posting pictures of him sleeping and will strangle me. But most likely he will never know because he sleeps through the morning when I am stalking him with my camera, and he isn't able to remember my blog address when he wants to turn the tables and stalk me. So I am safe.

His memory is sometimes worrisome. I have attributed it to stress and most recently, to lack of sleep. He goes to bed very late on weekdays and gets about 7 hours of sleep, which is good for me but apparently not as good for him. This seven hour rest includes the time that he takes to do his "princess and the pea" fluffing and refluffing of his multiple pillows (my single pillow has a mis-matched case so he can't annex it). He also needs the bottom sheet to be unwrinkled and tucked very snugly to the mattress that has yet to be replaced. Finally, he has to thrash about and sprawl in many positions before settling down into the sleep position that is the most uncomfortable for me, usually with an elbow into my neck and large leg thrown over my rib cage or bladder.

Then, the next morning he gets up and stumbles around. One Monday evening he was packing up his kit when he could not find his shorts. Yes, somehow he had misplaced all three pairs. After quizzing him I discovered that two pairs were at the laundromat, where he was supposed to pick up his laundry over the weekend. Oops. Did I mention that last time SB came for his much delayed laundry pick-up the man behind the counter punched him? Yeah. SB yelled, "Oww!" as the man's wife giggled from the back area. This time SB sent me for the laundry but I managed to avoid the punching.

Despite packing his kit, he managed to leave it at home (again) and I had to carry his kit and mine to training (again). As I put his kit together I noticed a lack of scrum cap (again). I phoned him and got an earful about how he was sure that he remembered packing it in a bag after his shower after the match on Saturday. It is hard to convince me of this when he has been sure about packing up the cap on three other occasions where it has never been found again. I'm not sure who he thought he should be yelling at but I wasn't interested. Then I could not locate his cleats. That phone call yielded more frustration on both our parts. When I arrived at the pitch with some trainers for him, I discovered that there were a pair of large cleats and a scrum cap in the lost and found. Apparently some goblin crept into his bag, removed the smelliest items, and hid them in plain sight in the locker room for the staff to happen upon later that night. After marinating in a plastic bag in the closet for several days these items were not fit for use.

We went to a pub after training and I suggested that SB and I try something from the happy hour draft specials. "How do we know if it is draft?" he asked. "Because it says 'draft specials'," I replied. It took him so long to choose a beer from the list of FOUR happy hour choices that the server came by three times and I had to flee, but not before telling him what I wanted to drink. When I came back to the table he had forgotten to order my drink. Because one beer order (for himself) is all he can manage. Then came dinner. "Let's split a burger and large order of fries," I suggested. "OK." he replied. Five minutes later when the server came by to take our order he asked for just a burger and then turned to me and asked what I wanted to eat.

"Have you had a stroke?" was my reply.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Mango Bread

It sounded so tasty. It sounded like a good addition to my sweet bread basket of Puligi. I looked around the Internet and settled for the one by Wandering Chopsticks. It was very good but I thought the cinnamon overwhelmed the mango flavor. To my surprise, my resident mango addict preferred the Puligi.

I readjusted the amount of cinnamon and increased the mango factor. I switched the vegetable oil with butter. I also omitted the walnuts from the bread but added a ground almond streusel on top. SB liked this a lot better.

Mango Bread:
2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup mango nectar or mango juice concentrate
1/2 cup butter
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3 fresh mangoes, diced

Preheat oven to 350 F (176 C).

Dice the mangoes and set aside. Try not to sample. Shoo your mangoholic from the room.

Sift together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, and baking soda. Mix in the salt. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and then add in the mango nectar (or juice), vanilla, and eggs. Slowly fold in the dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly and finally add in the mangoes.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/4 cup ground almonds
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

Combine flour, sugar, almonds, cinnamon, and salt. Using a pastry blender, folk, or two cold knives, cut in the butter until fine crumbs form.

Using your hands, squeeze together most of the mixture to form large clumps.

Pour the mango bread batter into a loaf pan. Sprinkle the streusel over the top.

Bake for one hour, or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Samoan Puligi (baked pudding)

There were so many variations online so I took what I thought were the tastiest suggestions and combined them into my own recipe. I used less sugar than some other recipes and chose to use the coconut milk rather than water. It came out moist and tasty.


Burnt Sugar mixture:
1 cup sugar
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

3 1/2 cups flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
2 tablespoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons nutmeg
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 can evaporated milk
3/4 cup coconut milk
2 large or 3 medium eggs

*usually a can of coconut milk yields just enough for the 1 3/4 cups you will need in both parts of the recipe.

Begin with the burnt sugar. Place the sugar in a saucepan over medium heat and stir as it dissolves. Continue to stir until it becomes a brown syrup. Remove the saucepan from heat and slowly add the coconut milk and vanilla, stirring quickly so that nothing caramelizes at the bottom of the pan.

In a mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg. In another bowl cream the butter and sugar. slowly add the evaporated milk, coconut milk, and eggs. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well (the batter will be soupy). Add the burnt sugar mixture and mix. Pour the batter into a bundt pan or loaf pan that is well buttered and lined with foil. Seal the top of the pan with foil so that steam does not escape.

Place the pan on the middle rack of an oven. If you can, place the pan in a water bath with water halfway up the sides. I only had a shallow roasting pan that I filled with water but it worked out. Bake at 350 F (176 C) for two hours.

You may also steam the pudding in a pan for two hours.

The pudding was fragrant and moist. It was a hit with SB, which was quite a coup considering what a snob he is about sweets.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


I received news that my coach's brother was killed. He lived in Calgary, Canada, and was eating at a local Vietnamese restaurant when some gang members entered and killed two people inside. He tried to leave but was caught in the parking lot by other associates and gunned down.

My coach is an exceptional man. He is a joy to be around, always with a kind word and encouragement. I cannot think of a person who does not like him, despite that he ran over quite a few first division men before injury ended his career. His most striking characteristic is that he is humble. He does not accept credit for our team's success; he even insisted that other than the "coach" picture, he did not want to be included in the team photos on our website. He works tirelessly for us, and for others, and he never accepts praise for his work. Despite the immense grief that he is feeling, he has continued to hold training because we have our first game after the sabbatical this Saturday. He never lets us down.

I imagine that his brother was an exceptional man as well. My coach told me that he was worried for his mother because the brother was very close to her. I am distressed that there is no reason for this tragedy, it is all so stupid and meaningless. Never has the term "innocent bystander" made so much impact. I feel sad thinking that this man went from Samoa to a foreign country only to die there. Now his Canadian wife will have to bring his body home to his family and my heart breaks for her, and for his family.

I know that it is a bit ridiculous but I feel embarrassment that the killers were probably members of a Vietnamese gang. Ten years ago if you had told me that there were Vietnamese gangs I would been in disbelief. How could such stupidity arise from my culture? The answer is that it does not, that violence is not cultural. These people who gunned down an innocent man (or any men for that matter) have no culture. I can only believe that they must have very empty lives to have to fill them with so much hatred. They must be miserable, pitiful people with no comprehension of the beauty and value of life to be able to take another life so easily.

I have asked my coach to let me know if there is anything that I can do. Of course I knew that he would not ask for anything. I can only offer him my sympathy and willingness to listen as he recounts what happened over and over in disbelief. Right now, not knowing what else to do, I am making food. It is something that we do in the States. It is an act of providing for a family in grief but it is also a way for those of us who cannot do anything else express that we are thinking of them.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

What do you mean I'm not sexy?!

SB gets points for being long suffering in this department, although it is partially his fault. I was much more put together when we met (and no, it had nothing to do with trying to impress him). I had taken my eclectic style to Italy the previous year and had returned with more panache. The problem was that he was a mountain man and my shoe collection was virtually rendered useless when taken to his Adirondack stomping grounds. I have attached a picture of some of my shoes illustrate their uselessness.

I did not mind dressing in a more casual style but I occasionally did put on a pair of heels to go out with the girls. I take pride in choosing beautiful shoes first and then trying to match the clothing. I liked it that my aunt once told me that when she was waiting for me to arrive at a restaurant, she knew I had entered because the women sitting opposite to her in the lounge suddenly looked over past her at my shoes. Except for the occasion when we were at a formal event, SB has not appreciated my efforts.

That is why it is his fault that I have fallen apart. After spending a great deal of effort trying to look sexy, only to have him not even notice, I have given up. It is much easier to give up because it frees up that twenty minutes it took for me to run a brush through my hair and slip into something cute for when he came home. Instead I have been able to remain in my large t-shirt and pair of his boxer shorts that feel much more comfortable.

Then quite suddenly, last night he looked up from his fixated, glazed, addicted, viewing of The Onion TV and stared at me like I was a Martian. "What?" I asked. "Have you seen yourself in a mirror," he asked. I looked over at the teeny, tiny mirrors on the wall and saw a perfectly comfortable, petite woman in some slightly large gym shorts belonging to SB. "What? Are you saying that I'm not sexy?" I demanded to know. He slowly looked me up and down and shook his head in bemusement.

I can't believe it. He finally noticed something. This is the man who still doesn't know that I stopped shaving my legs last month, who had to be shown that I had a black eye after one of my rugby matches, who can't tell the difference if I wear makeup. The problem is that it has taken him so long to register an objection that it will take a while for me to build up any effort to change. Those big shorts are so comfortable, and why should he care that I pair them with my monkey house slippers? He knew long ago that I have an affinity for monkeys. I have told him that I will wear more feminine lounge clothing if he gives me something to wear. Considering that he bought my Christmas presents in February last year, I shall be floating around the flat in my giant shorts for quite some time.

It could be worse. I could be this guy. Although my message to SB is somewhat similar :)