October 30, 2010

Defeated by Mini-Vampires

Vampires are in, right? Featured in best-sellers and blockbusters.
But what I consider vampires real-time cousins are also rising to fame.
Initially I thought they were just making the rounds of NYC hotels but I’ve learned that there have been celebrity sightings in a United Nations conference room, Lincoln Center, Chicago schools, a 30 Rock TV show episode, Abercrombie and Fitch,
Bloomingdale's, Bill Clinton’s office, and at least one Victoria’s Secret store. Of course, what I am referring to is...BEDBUGS.

From a recent news report:
New York City's bedbugs have climbed out of bed and marched into landmarks causing fresh anxiety among tourists who are canceling vacations planned for the height of the holiday season.
I am embarrassed to say that I am one of the defeated crowd. Following discussions and ruminations, I just canceled my upcoming trip to NYC. Although I really wanted to meet my brother and sister-in-law (who live in FL) in the city and also because I don't like my anxiety to lead my decisions, I just can’t do it.

After all I have first-hand experience. During the summer when I was 9 years old, I started getting welts all over my body. It took awhile for a correct diagnosis to be made – first the doctors thought I was allergic to sand fleas. They told my mom that I was probably getting bitten at day camp. There was no discussion about my not going to day camp until the bites subsided. I was packed off on the bus daily...and told to spray myself all over with bug repellant – It was me who got repelled. To this day I can’t stand the odor of that spray.

And I didn’t realize that I still hold on to the childhood trauma until a few weeks ago when a close friend casually mentioned the NYC bedbug infestation. When I told her that I had scheduled a trip there she mentioned the online “bedbug registry.” People are reporting hotels where bedbugs have been sighted.

So, when I was a kid, after months of itchy welts, the doctor finally figured out that those were bedbug bites. The stuff of nightmares – those nocturnal parasites, small insects that feed on human blood (yes, vampirish!). Hard to detect, they lurk and linger (they can live for several weeks or months without food or water) and are hard to get rid of....and once you have them you will need an exterminator to get rid of them.

The hotel I was going to stay at was not (yet?) on the bedbug list....but after googling the subject and reading the reports...that these crafty stalking insects are everywhere.
Please don’t come to my door tomorrow night dressed as a BedBug. No telling what treatment you might get.

Would you stay in a NYC hotel – or not? What infestations or epidemics would curb your travel plans?

October 28, 2010

Presto Change-o, Abracadabra

Q: What happens when you swap four roosters (purported to be hens)...

...for four actual hens?

A: A lot less crowing and little bit of tasty magic:

October 18, 2010

What Mothers and Daughters Do

My mom asked me to write a mother-daughter post about something we do together, so I was thinking about what mothers and daughters do together and in particular what this mother and daughter do together.

Here's a partial list:

we support each other

we press each other's buttons and get on each other's nerves

we teach each other things

we disagree about some things and agree about others

we have tea together

we recommend books to each other

we give each other attitude

we laugh together (now a lot more than we used to)

we give sometimes harsh but usually constructive feedback on each other's writing

we shoot guns together!

we argue with each other

we both use pretty vintage hankies and show them off to each other

we love each other

October 13, 2010

Restaurant Review - China Lake

Last Saturday, Dan and I ate at China Lake, our new favorite restaurant in the Binghamton area. China Lake is located at 3215 E. Main St in Endicott. The atmosphere is nothing special and the service can be spotty (best not to wait for menus if it's busy, just grab 'em yourself from next to the register), but the food is definitely worth it! I also like that the food is so good it seems to break down certain normal social barriers... every time we go it seems people are talking to people at the next table - about how good the food is, about their favorite dishes, or the best ordering strategy.
China Lake has two menus -  a longer one with the usual American Chinese classics, and a shorter one-page menu with more traditional Chinese options. We have enjoyed dishes from both menus, but I am partial to the traditional menu and recommend trying dishes you are not familiar with. I also recommend going with a group of people so you can taste several dishes.
Failing that, plan to order more dishes than your party needs and take home the leftovers. This visit, we followed that strategy and ordered four dishes plus an appetizer for the two of us - steamed dumplings, home-style bean curd, three flavored chicken, pork lo mein, and pea shoots (listed on the menu as sweet pea leaf, I believe).
The dumplings were decent but nothing exciting, for an appetizer I recommend the beef scallion pancake. The bean curd was delicious, and just the right texture too, with a good assortment of veggies. Next time I'd skip the lo mein and order something else from the traditional menu. Dan's favorite was the three flavored chicken, which is cooked in small chunks on the bone with a sesame-based sauce flavored with garlic, ginger, basil, and some secret tasty ingredients (the proprietress would not divulge). The pea shoots were my favorite dish - cooked just the right amount and not too strongly flavored so the natural taste of the greens came through. I would be inclined to order these next time if I hadn't committed myself to ordering my way through their entire list of veggie options.
Although if I get enough people to accompany me next time, I can have my pea shoots and eat some other traditional Chinese veggies too. Who'd like to join me?

October 6, 2010

Fall Travels

The first longer-than-a-weekend trip in the Roadtrek since our return from the Dream Year  in June 2009. How I missed it, how much I enjoy it. Drove south via Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway. Camping and hiking in Shenandoah National Park and the Great Smokies National Park. No schedules. Being outdoors but sleeping comfortably indoors. A nice mix, an easy pace.
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October 4, 2010

A new addition to the family...

... chickens!

First we had to build the coop...

and the run...
and then the chickens arrived! 

We have 4 Barred Plymouth Rock hens, though one of them has been crowing like a rooster some mornings. They are about 5 months old and have not started laying eggs yet, but hopefully they will soon. We wanted them for the eggs, but they are also quite entertaining. Dan spends hours out there just watching them scratch and peck and then chase each other around over scraps of food. Definitely better than TV.