Friday, August 31, 2012


Ole!  There are many things in Tucson that I enjoy.  I enjoy the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and its live exhibits of birds of prey, reptiles and desert nightlife.  I like hiking in the foothills and washes.  I really like visiting the Kit Peak National Observatory.  Of course, I like doing all of these things when it isn't summer in the desert.  Summer in Tucson is miserable.  Inhabitants, human or otherwise, are forced to hide indoors until the setting sun allows them to slink outside to gather food and hydration.  If my grandparents weren't there I would have skipped the visit and asked my parents to visit me elsewhere.  As it was, they left for Colorado a few days after my arrival.

The one highlight of my visit was the trip to the Mexican supermarket.  I LOVE Mexican food, especially the stuff that they don't sell in fancy, gringo restaurants.  I love all the combinations of sweet and sour snacks.  I love all the ways to cook difficult cuts of meat.  And I really, really love all of the funky salsas.

I apologize for the photo quality but all I had was my camera phone.

 pastries from  the in-house panaderia

dried fruit, nuts and candies in front of a large selection of fresh chiles 

 Mexican candy!  I love every version of dulce de leche

 dozens and dozens of canned chiles

 agua fresca: fruit juice in many flavors

homemade tortillas in all shapes and sizes

Not from the supermercado.  This is the view of my parents' former snack cabinet. 
No wonder I freaked out on the candies.

Friday, August 17, 2012

gone to the dogs

Okay, it's been a week and I  have self medicated enough to think about those two days in an outlying camp with the family and dogs without going to pieces.  Usually my highlight of our time in the Adirondacks is when  we travel to an outlying camp and spend a few days in the deep woods with nothing but a lake, some logs for a fire, and a cabin with a wood burning stove and a couple of propane lamps.  However, I have recently discovered that two days in the deep woods with no one to help you when things go south is the opposite of paradise.  Gawd it was awful.

SB's dad prefers standard poodles.  He says that they are just fine as long as you treat them with a "heavy hand."  No one else in the family cares to use a heavy hand, not that any of us believe that it works anyway.  The fact is that this rather inactive man owns a rather active breed of animal, that he also refuses to neuter because it somehow might emasculate him or something.  Any visit to SB's father's house has resulted in the victim visitor being jumped on, slobbered on, and humped.  Meanwhile SB's father yells in his most threatening tones despite the marked lack of effect, and then eventually grabs the nearest offending dog by its neck, shakes it violently, whacks it about the head, and throws it into an undersized cage where it will stay and bark nonstop for the rest of the visit.  SB's sister won't bring her children to their father's house because they have been traumatized.

Their father went to Boston and left the youngest daughter to care for the dogs.  It took less than 24 hours for us to realize that the poor girl was in over her head.  They barked all night long so that she didn't sleep a wink.  Then she went to let them out to do their business in the morning and one of the poodles ran away.  The f*#king dog ran a good distance for such a fat slob and SB's sister and I had to help retrieve it.  We then knew that we had no choice but to take the dogs with us on our excursion into the woods.

The situation was similar to a coaching situation when I discovered that one of my boys was ostracized by the others.  I felt badly for him and tried to help him fit in and be included but then I discovered that there was a good reason why he was being excluded.  I feel that way about the dogs. It took less than an hour after arrival at the outlying camp for them to be leashed to trees for their destructive behavior.  Then the barking commenced.  Even after we exercised them to exhaustion they continued to bark at anything including the puppy that belonged to SB's sister, any human within earshot, and inanimate objects like tables and leaves.  SB finally resorted to what he referred to as his "bucket of discipline."  He filled a bucket with water and every time the dogs barked he would pour a cup of water over them.  The method worked but only barely.  We still had to refill the bucket four times.  And the dogs barked all night because we were too exhausted to refill the bucket.

And then there was the urinating and humping.  They had to exert their un-neutered masculinity over anything and everything.  They urinated on the picnic table.  They urinated on my camp cookware.  They urinated on my clothing.  One of the dogs urinated on the puppy while trying to hump her.  I escaped to the lake to lie down and they followed me and urinated on the corner of my towel before trying to hump each other.  I managed to hold my composure but just barely.

I usually am sad to leave the outlying camp and return to civilization but this time I couldn't get out fast enough.  I packed everything up in record time and was waiting by the porch for SB to take me away.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

gin and juice

I didn't pack any perfume on this trip because I was going to be in the woods for the majority of the time and I don't wear fragrances all that much anyway, even though I love my Prada L'eau Ambree.  I bought the Ambree for the purpose of having a more casual scent than the Samsara, which I previously wrote about.  So of course SB and my flight had to be delayed due to storms and we were rerouted several times before arriving in NYC more than 36 hours after we embarked on our journey.  We were no longer fresh and fluffy but rather stale (at best) and sour (at worst).  I was about to meet his childhood friend and neighbor, Molly, and I was not thrilled at my condition.  With no showers in sight I rushed to the duty free perfume area and began searching for a tester that didn't smell like potpourri.  I found my Ambree's more popular cousin, Infusion d'Iris but decided to peruse a few more scents before deciding.  That is when I found an intriguing scent.

The Voyage d'Hermes that I was sniffing was very unusual and crisp.  It seemed to be a very familiar scent to me and evoked memories of sailing with Aunt Jane and Uncle Jon, or more specifically, of the gin and tonic with a squeeze of lime that was never far from reach when sailing with Aunt Jane and Uncle Jon.  "What do you think?" I asked SB as I waved the tester under his nose.  He is very picky about perfumes and doesn't like a lot of scents but he liked this one.  "Does this smell like Bombay Sapphire to you?" Yes it did, he agreed.  I walked around the shop some more but I kept coming back to sniff my gin and tonic scent.  In the end I chose it for my hippie bath.  I would have purchased it but apparently you can only purchase duty free on departure.  Only later did I wonder if I wanted to meet Molly smelling like gin, albeit very fine gin with a twist of citrus.

When I looked it up online, I found out that this is a unisex fragrance. It is not supposed to evoke any type of nostalgia but is supposed to "call to you" rather than remind you.  According to the Hermes website, Voyage is a contradiction: "Voyage d'Hermès is lively and reassuring, new and familiar. Radiant and soft, it is a woody fresh, amber scent. A fragrance to share for both men and women."

Notes: citron, bergamot, coriander, ginger, artemisia, cardamom, black pepper, tea, birch, white musk, amber and cedar. I would like to add my own observation of citrus as well.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

there she blows

I have just returned to camp after spending two very, very, very long days in an outlying camp with SB, his youngest sister, his other sister, her husband, and their three children.  Oh yes, and three dogs.  One dog is his sister's 7 month old, neurotic but well trained rescue dog and the other two are the most horrible poodles that you could ever meet.  I will post the story later but right now I can't think about those two days without feeling like a pressure cooker about to boil over.

The weather was perfectly sunny for the time that we were at the outlying camp but this is the Adirondacks and things can change on a dime.  It is now windy and raining heavily.  I paced the dock while a lightning storm rolled through and then finally I headed out in the sunfish for a nice, quiet, solo journey.  Just me and the loons.  Finally, peace.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

every day, a different view

Every time I am on the dock of the boathouse, the view is different.  I have hundreds (literally) of pictures capturing this view at all times of day, during all weather conditions.  As I am typing this, a family of Mergansers is paddling by and I am out of reach of the camera.  SB and I have been traipsing all over the woods nonstop but I know that I can get a small rest if I can lure him to the boathouse.  I sometimes need the rest since I have had four years of a much more sedentary life in Hong Kong.  In the week that we have been here, we have whipped around the lake in the sunfish, in a guide boat, in kayaks, on canoes, and on windsurfers.  I am probably not going skulling this summer.  I am a wretched skuller.  SB prefers the speed of the windsurfer while I prefer the beauty of the Adirondack guide boat.  

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

into the woods

I am in the Adirondack mountains for the next three weeks.  Internet is nonexistent and mobile phone coverage is spotty at best so I can only update when I go to town for supplies.  It is almost the same as before; quiet, pristine, and yet full of excitement.  Every year there is some bear that moves into the area.  This year's bear has learned how to open car doors.  No one locks vehicles here and to do so would be insulting so the bear has been making its way around the lake, opening doors and looking for snacks. We found SB's aunt's back door open this morning and had the poor woman worried that she was getting senile and leaving things ajar.  But there were paw prints on the windows and later when we stopped by the summer house we heard that half a dozen camps had been visited.  The bear found success in a kitchen three  lots down from us.  I fear that the bear is not long for this world.

On our first night here I woke up feeling panicked and disoriented.  It was so quiet and I have become so used to Hong Kong that the silence seemed to have caused some sort of sensory deprivation.  I couldn't see a thing in our room and without any sound, I had no idea where anything was.  It was the strangest feeling, almost like I was having a sinus problem.  Luckily a few minutes later a couple of loons started calling.  If you have never heard the hauntingly beautiful sounds of a loon I have included a video from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Later  I was again awakened by a horrible noise.  A bird was making the most horrible squawks and shrieks, followed by the sound of some very large wings flapping near our roof and then a bang as whatever bird it was caught another bird or some type of small critter.  I was told that it most likely was an owl but my only owl experiences have been in the Southwest United States and they didn't sound anything like this creature.  After conducting an internet search I have decided that I may have heard a Barred Owl making a kill.  Behold the most horrible sound to wake up to.

I look forward to posting more stories from deep in the woods.  I have plenty more tales involving squirrels, foxes, and of course the famous Adirondack insects including the black fly, the biting house fly, the deer fly, and the horse fly.  They all bite.