Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Right turns

In prepartion for my upcoming vacation, I ordered a sport skirt online. I figure since I'll be going to a place where the temperature is averaging 22C to 26C that I can enjoy wearing a few skirts and allow my pale legs to get some sun.

Alas, I ordered on Saturday morning so the package was not processed until Monday afternoon. I had hoped I stood a chance of it arriving on Friday since UPS has 3-6 day shipping.

I've been anxiously checking the shipping status every day. And today, I was really annoyed and perplexed at the route my package has taken. It start in Chattanooga on Monday and arrive in Knoxville early the next morning. It sat at the location for 24 hours before being sent to Nashville. Why did it have to sit around for an entire day? Today, it left Nashville for some unknown destination.

What perplexes me is my discovery of the route. If you look at a map of Tennessee, you'll see that the three cities and connecting freeways form a triangle with Chattanooga at the bottom, Knoxville off to the right, and Nashville at the top left. So... if there's a highway that connects Chattanooga to Nashville, why did my package have to spend two days to travel 291 miles via Knoxville when it would have been in Nashville on Tuesday after driving only 134 miles?

Is this part of that new policy about only making right turns? A union thing?

Sigh... I guess that skirt will just have to wait until the summer to see daylight. No matter, I'm going on vacation with Tim and we're gonna have an awesome time!

Monday, February 18, 2008

The life of food

The recent beef recall combined with learning about the industry through books such as "Omnivore's Dilemma" make a visit to the meat counter all the more bizarre.

At any time, you'll find chicken and pork products frozen in my refrigerator. For whatever reason I rarely cook beef. That's not to say that I don't eat it. I will order beef for lunch if there are fajitas or burgers. It's certainly nice to order a plate of stir-fry beef when I eat Chinese food. Most of the time, however, I eat chicken.

I really do wonder how this recall and news footage will affect people's eating habits. Sadly, I don't think people will think about this the right way. People will think they're more safe avoiding beef products when the truth is that any meat product could be questionably raised and processed. Do people actually think the 3lb. tray of pork or chicken they buy at Costco is that much safer? Pigs probably sit in just as much filth as cows. Chickens are locked inside huge coops for the six weeks they are grown. All animals (minus truly hand-raised, organic) for consumption are injected with all sorts of antibiotics and growth or vitamin supplements. Out of sight, out of mind... . Sorry if you're eating as you read this, but it makes you think about how little we question what goes into out bodies.

I'm thinking about all this because I just spent the past few hours folding dumplings. My hands still smell of the raw pork that I mixed and dolloped into wonton and potsticker wraps. A couple times during the year, I buy a couple pounds of pork along with various ingredients, mix them together, and stock my freezer with bags of freshly made dumplings. It's more work than buying a bag from the store, but at least I know what goes into them. By having both wontons and potstickers, I can choose between soup or frying. And I love being able to come home and have something to cook up when I'm lazy or have a craving for them. They last me a couple months since I only eat them once per week. Wonton soup today was perfect with the cooler weather returning.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Family away from home

It's been a month of many family gatherings. For years, I was the only one in the area. A cousin relocated here several years ago. We see each other when we can but she's 30 miles away and always expects me to visit her neighborhood. Then, all of a sudden, my brother and a cousin moved here a little over a year ago.

I have to say it's really nice to have family around. We can complain about the crazy things our parents say and request of us. There is the girl my mother wants me to set up with my cousin. I vehemently refuse to get involved; he is thankful that I'm standing my ground; she is upset with me. He also must contend with his mother asking him to help set up our younger cousin if she comes here for grad school. Then, there are the impractical requests like my cousin loaning his winter coat to his younger brother via my brother's wife is she is going to be visiting her parents in the next couple of weeks. My cousin tried to explain to his mother that it would be easier if he just bought a coat. Oh the efforts we put in for blood.

A group of us met for dinner on Chinese New Year's Eve. It included Tim and Ricer's (my sister-in-law) sister. Having a mix of family is really nice. For me, it's important that Tim feel that he's included. I also think it's a good way to start learning some of the dynamics of my family as I don't think he's as involved with his.

On Saturday, another cousin was coming through on his way to China. None of us had seen him in at least a couple years. As a child, he was always the black sheep of the family due to his parents' terrible tempers and his carefree attitude. This dinner was only cousins plus Ricer.

First we met at my place for a little recreational fun, otherwise known as Rock Band for Playstation. In my cramped living room, five of us switched off playing guitar, drums or singing. Out-of-town cousin had never seen this before and got more excited about it after we had him take a turn in each role. The pictures of our family band are great. I love that even as "adults" we can have fun together.

I rode with him in the car to the restaurant. He talked about how he's really started thinking about more serious issues the past year. He's realized that he needs to start thinking about saving money, taking care of his parents, and determining what he wants in a future wife. It's taken him a long time to come around compared to the rest of us, but I'd like to believe that he's finally coming around. It's good to know that his relationships are improving.

Much of the dinner turned into a therapy session for a couple cousins who ranted story after story about the psychological pressures put upon us by our parents. Our eldest cousin is probably the least adjusted and will probably never escape his own insecurities. It is great to have such family bonds and be able to talk to each other.

If there was one reason I wish my life could have been different, it would be so that I could have the time and resources to have more children. I love that I have so much extended family and wish that my future kids could have that same, rich experience. Alas, they will only have a couple real cousins. Realistically, I know we cousins will drift to some extent as we marry and move to different places. I hope that somehow I can maintain the energy to keep everyone connected.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

When is a date a date?

Lately, Tim and I have been talking about a lot of things including someday buying a house, engagement rings, and how cute the kids will look if they take after me (all his commentary). All in all, we're having a great time together and thinking about the future.

The other night, I was watching the episode of Gilmore Girls where Dean surprises Rory with a three-month anniversary celebration. Tim had just come over, so I couldn't help half joke, "how come we never celebrate anniversaries like that? When is our anniversary?"

He could only shrug his shoulders. It's a topic we've discussed once or twice. The fact of the matter is, neither of us could tell you a date that we'd consider to be our anniversary. For one thing, since we've dated twice, do you count the first time around or do you start anew with the second time?

Fortunately, both dating sequences begin in June so we can at least agree on that. Tim, being the romantic and sweet guy he is, thinks back to our first date. Sadly, his computer crashed last year, so he lost all of our e-mail exchanges that he'd saved over the years.

So this morning I dug up what I could find in my e-mail account. I sent him what appears to be the e-mail from the day after the date. But when I asked Tim if this helped, he told me he was expecting an e-mail mentioning the time we met up for coffee after the group cruise (where he formed the interest to ask me out).

He says he considers this to be our first date? We agreed to meet, by e-mail, to settle accounts from the trip. How in the world would he count this as a date? He didn't even pay for my coffee. I know he had intended to, but I ordered first and he didn't stop me from paying. Shouldn't both people *know* it's a date to be considered a date?

It was during this coffee meeting that he asked if I would go to a movie with him. That's what I consider to be our first date.

We're only a few days off from each other so I suppose it doesn't matter a whole lot. Plus, Tim says it won't matter because the only thing he plans to pay attention to is the wedding anniversary. I kind of wish for now we could at least celebrate something... . Other than that, we're doing well.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Heaven on PBS

I noticed this a couple weeks ago but didn't realize until now that Masterpiece Theatre seems to be celebrating Jane Austen. It also appears there'll be a fictionalization of Ms. Austen's life which intrigues me.

One story that I have yet to see any version of is Northanger Abbey. Unfortunately, I was only able to see half of it. I look forward to a repeat at some point (fingers crossed). I was surprised to see the there is a version of "Emma" starring Kate Beckinsdale. For fans of Colin Firth, they will be showcasing the 1995 BBC version of "Pride and Prejudice." I already own the two disc set, but there's always time to watch a little Jane Austen on PBS! Ah, indulgence... .

Maybe I should dust off the old paperbacks for my upcoming trip.