Thursday, August 17, 2017

Shallow grief

Have you ever gotten bad news?  Or unsettling news that makes your heart stop for a couple of beats and when it restarts, there's a slight pain and nausea there.  You try to grapple with your new reality.  Your new loss.  Your life as you know it will never be the same.  Yes, the title of this is "shallow" grief because when I opened my browser to and searched for my favorite flavor of apple lemon pomegranate, the search pulled empty.  I didn't stock up on this flavor.  I have a few more brews of it and then it's permanently deleted from my tea stock.  Permanently.
I found out that Starbucks was going to close down the Teavana stores by next April.  I figured I had time to purchase and stock.  My husband and I bought a pound of our favorite flavor - Earl Grey Creme.  That was top of our list of teas.  We haven't been able to find that flavor or even close, anywhere.  A year ago, a patient's mom introduced me to Capital Teas.  I was super excited.  Furthermore, Capital Teas had a whole host of Earl Grey variations, including Creme Earl Grey.  No comparison.  We just figured we would use up the teas we got from Capital teas and then move on back to Teavana.  After the heart breaking news of the Teavana stores shutting down, my husband and I had a plan - every month or a couple of times a month, we would go and buy a pound of a particular flavor.
We already got our Earl Grey Creme.  I have a list.  Apple Lemon Pomegranate was on the list.  It hasn't been available at the stores for a few years now.  When I found out last night that they may be shutting down the online store, I decided to make my second 1lb purchase the Apple Lemon Pomegranate and I did a search and it pulled blank.  I tried to look for all teas with apple in them.  Not even close.  Nothing with apple and lemon.  Forget the pomegranate!  A search under the term "pomegranate" pulls up a blank search area.  It doesn't even tell you that they couldn't find the product and would you like to search again.  It's blank.
So, I have to come to grips with not being able to purchase more of one of my favorite flavors.  It's done!  I know I'll always remember the taste, but I also know that I have a 2-3 more brews left.  With every brew and every sip, I will savor it for I know it'll be gone.  In some strange way, it feels like life.  We take our lives, friends, and family for granted, instead of cherishing every moment with them and creating the warmest memories.  One day, they will not be anymore, just like my favorite fruity Teavana flavor.  I know, this is just tea and I may sound shallow, but for all of you who have come home and played games with me and enjoyed the tea, you will understand.  It's all part of a memory that will slowly fade.

Best to you all,

Monday, August 14, 2017

My first cooking video - making biryani.

For anyone who's made biryani, you'll know that it takes a while.  My video only takes 2:30 approximately.  Well, I was inspired by those Tasty videos that I keep watching on Facebook.  They make everything look so easy.  I take that back.  The inspiration came from my nephew.  Something about a food video contest in India?  He was getting a lot of people asking him to submit the biryani video and he thought 90 secs to make biryani was impossible.  My video is longer than 90 seconds, but I'm sure, he can trim it down to the magic number.
As I talked to him, I got excited for the challenge.  I told him that I would make a video and send it to him and he could get some ideas from it.  I was supposed to have it done by yesterday, so being a day late, I didn't want to look for the right music in the background and so I hit the mute and posted.  Don't worry, it's sorta subtitled.  Sorta because there's some instruction here and there.
The question is:  do you like the video?  And do you want to see more?  It does take work.  A lot of work to shoot and edit, but the finished product, feels good.  Not perfect but it's a start.  Here's the video.

Hope you enjoy it.  Let me know if the link works or not.  Thanks and best to you all.


Saturday, August 12, 2017

Machu Picchu, day 5. Leaving.

So basically breakfast and then we went on a hike by some train tracks. Scenery was gorgeous and stunning as usual.  Blue ink represents today (2017).  As I'm going through these pictures, I realize how much narration I have missed on during my journaling then.  Also, this was a few years ago and it's a great way to jog my memory.

These first set of pictures are the hike up to the garden that I talk about here.  As I look at these pictures, I'm wowed by it all.

We had quite a hike through the streets and then walking by these buildings that line the street only to be sandwiched on the other side by a beautiful stream.  Ya.  It's neat.
Somehow, you know that you're traveling and experiencing something new.  This is definitely not the USA.  And that's not a bad thing!

Back to the pictures.  It's not just the railway tracks.  It's the pretty bridge also.

As I'm looking at these pictures, I remember the train going by and I remember trying to capture that picture.

Why I didn't write about it earlier, I don't know.  Off topic, I just want to state that it's hard to share pictures on blogger.  I'm doing my best.  I'm working with size and formats.  Please be patient with me.
I guess white space is OK because I have more pictures and a picture speaks a thousand words, so there goes my thousand words!

I had to share some pictures with myself in them or you might claim that I wasn't really there and that I stole these pictures for a blog.  Why would I do that?  I guess some strange people do, so I had to put myself in some of these.
Although, now that I think about it, I fear that a lot of the pictures I have taken recently on my recent trips, have been without me.  Well, you just have to trust me that these are my pictures and my trip, whether I'm in them or not.

I don't know why but I like to take pictures of signs either with directions or just a memory of where we were.  So I guess we were following directions to The Gardens of Mandor Waterfall!

Walked through a garden with a lot of neat orchids etc. and got to see this waterfall. Was a small one but looked nice nevertheless.

Yes.  That note in black prink was the original post.
As you can see, these are picture of the hike in the gardens with the exotic flowers.  I'm not a botanist to tell you what flowers we saw and didn't, but I'm hoping these pictures will help.  Of course, you can see the hiking path in some of these.

Is it a pineapple?  I have to say yes.  I'm trying to think if I would get pictures of pineapples if I were to travel now.  I don't know.  But it's nice to know that pineapples grow down there.

This wasn't the waterfall.  It was on the way to the waterfall.  As I had mentioned before.  It wasn't a big waterfall, but it was a peaceful hike in the woods, or gardens.  It was something to do on the morning after having seen Machu Picchu.

The hike continued.
My hair is super red on this picture on the right.  Well, I shrunk it for good reason.
OH.  I have to mention about the picture on the left.  I remember bending down and drinking that water.  I don't think our tour guide was too thrilled with that.  He said that birds and animals poop in it.  Sure!  But I was told that the waters in the streams are naturally filtered through the process of water flow and the algae.  The water was tasty!  Random memory...
As I was going through these pictures, I realize that I wore my hat on almost all of them, so I thought I would share one without my hat or sunglasses.  Of the topic, but I lost the sunglasses I wore on a completely different hike near my home.  Every time I see a picture with my sunglasses in them, I am reminded of that.

There it is.  The water fall we hiked to.  It was still worth it to me.  There's just something
peaceful about a waterfall, no matter how small.  I didn't get in the water.  I don't think we carried our towels and stuff.  Just went for a stroll to discover this.

I must say that the walk back was interesting.
As I look at the pictures and this post, I cannot believe the beetle didn't make it on the post about the walk back.  Well, I have the picture, so I must share it.  I just think that beetle was so cool.  No.  I did not eat it.  On a dare, I might have!

I know I haven't mentioned dogs yet, but I'd be amiss if I didn't as there were dogs everywhere. With my intense phobia, I've still managed to walk and ignore the dogs but today before the waterfall hike as were were going to pay for our tickets, the woman's (owner) dog kept coming towards me. I came so close that I did jump and get out of the way. Boris got mad. He said, *Never do that!* I tried to plead with him that the dog was to close, but Boris said doing that will make a dog attack me. And Boris assured me that he was right there with me. OK. So that happened. On our way back as we walked by the railway, I noticed these 2 women tourists and a dog was walking by them. Since we were walking faster, we almost caught up to them and the dog.

 They stopped at the local fruit vendor and that's where we stopped too. I got my first taste of Passion Fruit. LOVED it. Little slimy but sweet with consistency. Couldn't eat the seeds so we swallowed it, of course. I being a fruit junkie bought 2 more passion fruits and carried them in my hand. As we walked away, the dog decided to walk near us and of course, decided to walk more near me. And of course, I was freaking out and finally Boris said, *Put those fruits in your pockets. He thinks you are going to feed him.*

I did as I was told, but dog continued to walk by us. Salman and Boris decided to walk between me and the dog and tried to keep the dog away from me. I continued to walk faster. I wasn't walking with Boris or Salman, but I figured they'd meet up with me eventually and they did. When they did catch up with me, there was no dog. I think I asked Boris what happened to the dog and he came up with the preposterous story that he and Salman threw the dog into the nearby river or something like that. I think other than the dog part of the day, everything else was great.

Then back to the hotel, back on train.
As I was going through my pictures, I found this video from the return journey on the train.

 On the train was interesting. They had this man wear a tiger mask and dance with a stick and they had a fashion show where the steward/ess changed and walked down the train aisle to display clothing that can be purchased. Then back to Ollantaytambo to pick up luggage, in car to Cusco.

I do remember stopping at the pottery factory but I don't remember taking these videos.  I think they are neat.  For those of you who have done pottery, you may appreciate it more.  It didn't work out completely when she showed us, but hey, you learn that even someone with a lot of experience has trouble at times.
Here are the videos and pictures from the pottery factory. The rest of this blog post is as is.  I don't even know why I'm making commentary but I think it's better than just throwing a whole bunch of pictures at you.

Stopped at pottery factory and saw how they make those neat pots, cups, etc.

 And then back to Cusco. Boris took us for some roast chicken. It's Peruvian as it's roasted in a wooden oven. Something about the flavor. I loved it anyways and Boris and Salman commented *What does she not like?*

Back to hotel. We met Luke sitting at the reception that evening and he was in Peru for 2 months. He'd already been there for a month. He showed us pictures of where he went. He showed us the caterpillar/butterfly rock. And then the entrance to a temple I cannot remember the name. He said he slept outside the gate and those nights his dreams were very strange. I asked him why strange. He said one night he dreamed he sued Yahoo! And other dreams, he had conversations with his dead friends/relatives. We went up to our room shortly after but Salman went out again to exchange money. Apparently Luke joined him. Salman said his 1 minute analysis of Luke was that Luke was getting over a long term relationship and this was his way of getting away. Well, I thought it was strange someone had the time/finances to be able to take 2 months off just to travel irrespective of one's personal situation.

I started packing, rearranging to see what else to buy if I could buy anything. I've spent $200 already!

Thank you for reading.  I know I haven't posted about Machu Picchu for a while.  It's on my draft.  I basically have finished Day 5 now.  I think I have 3 more days of my Machu Picchu trip. Will try to get it all done.  I am trying to be more regular with this blog.  Also, I want to do vlogs as I've mentioned before.  So, we'll see how all this goes.

I know this one is long because of all the pictures and the videos, but do you like it?

Take care,

Friday, August 11, 2017

Statistical outlier

As you'll notice, I have been posting a bit more these days.  I'm trying to be consistent.  Despite it all, I get a few reads.  If I hit 20 reads, I get excited.  I know, it's not much, but for me, it's a lot.  I'm not famous and to expect readership in the 1000s is a dream.  And then last night happened.

I got on blogger to check my usual readership to see if I have 1 or 2 people reading my posts and the graph that shows me that, looked all wonky.  It was very different from a few hours past.  The normal ebbs and flows of 2 views, 1 view, 0 view, 3 views, 10 views etc. were gone.  There was one spike and one alone.  I wondered why the graph had changed.  It took me a bit to realize that my views for the day was over 1.6K.  The scale on the graph had changed from the 10s to the 1000s.  It all spiked at 8pm yesterday and that was it.  So, I did a bit of digging around.  1.6K views from Israel at 8pm last night.  Doesn't show on my posts.  None of my posts have a higher number of readers.  It's still the 10s to 20s.  I still don't know what happened.

Am I freaked out?  You better believe it.  For now, I'm letting it go.  I have no idea what bot crawler from Israel happened on my page and why, but what am I supposed to do?  I'm just going to sit back and wait for my readership to get back to its normal 10s to 20s and hope for a realistic growth to the 50s and 60s at some point.  Hey, a girl can hope!

Best to you all,

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Flying in the past

Mom is leaving to India and her handbaggage weight restriction is 15 pounds.  Her empty hand baggage weighs 5 pounds.  So, technically, a person is only allowed 10 pounds of carry-on.  As my mom goes through all the options of carry ons, she was going with one that is 2 pounds without wheels.  I told her that was insane for an international flight as she'll have to lug her baggage around and it would be an inconvenience.  She needs wheels.  Part of me is angry with the airline restrictions.  I get it.  We don't want a 50lb carry on.  But with the 50 lb restriction in checked in luggage - moved down from 70 lbs of the past allowance, why are they restricting the carry on also.  Airplanes are technologically advanced to handle more weight and it begs the question of business over customer comfort and convenience.
I don't recall weighing the checked baggage.  There was one time in London when we were going to Umra and an obnoxious woman was giving us a hard time.  She swore they would weight our carry-ons once we were inside and then it would be trouble there.  She lied.  We knew they wouldn't and they didn't.  All because we left the area of transit and went out to look for my brother who had either missed his plane or worse yet, was still stuck in the US.  I guess technology today is good with wifi and text messaging, but those days we had to retrace steps to find someone.  The point is that we felt very inconvenienced by the airlines.  While they should have tried to help us, they were just giving us a hard time.  Also, they were exercising a power, just because they had it.  It's like spiderman, spinning webs and hurting people, because he could.  With great power comes great responsibility.  Maybe she hadn't heard of that.
I still remember that woman who wouldn't let us get back in until our weight restrictions were taken care of.  I don't remember what we did.  I think I had to take my winter coat out of my hand baggage and wear it.  And I stuffed the pockets with as much as possible.  When the weight was sufficient for her, she let us through only for me to put my coat and everything back in my carry-on when we were out of her sight.  Funny thing how the really mean people in your life are burned in your brain.  I know it's not a good thing but I can still feel the hate I felt for her.  I figure it was a control thing.  She had the control and she could use it any way she could and she chose to be inconsiderate.  The good thing is I learned.  You cannot use your power to be rude to people just because you can.  But some people, I feel in the airline industry, behave like the prison guards of Zimbardo's prison experiment.  I'm getting off track here, but other than that random bad experience, flying in the past was pretty much enjoyable.
911 put the kibosh on all of that.  Weight allowances decreased over time.  Checked baggages started getting charged while carryons were restricted.  Feels like an intentional squeeze by the airline industry.  They did say gas prices were going up?  Sure.  That was a few years back.  Gas prices have long since come down and airline prices haven't done so correspondingly.  If gas didn't spike the prices, what did?  Greed?
Watching my mom be super careful about her packing weight makes me upset.  It's not like she had a super large carry-on but it really doesn't take much to make a carry on out of airline range.  I have seen campers bring on these huge back-packs on flights.  Nothing said about that.  Today, I wonder if they can do that.  Mom was told that they do weight the carry-ons.  Everything is strict.  I wonder if she should just get weight credit for being under 200lbs.  Whatever.
Air travel has changed.  I keep thinking that it may one day get better, but I doubt it.  I still long for the times pre-911 when families could wait at the gate until one boarded the plane.  And liquid restriction?  What's that?  Here's to warm memories as we step into our uncertain world.  If something as simple as flying can be so complicated, what about things that are truly complex?
Best to you all,

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The Car Color Statement

I've wanted to write about this for a while now.  I don't know when I first started noticing car colors, but when the bright blue one hit the markets about 10 years ago, it was noticeable.  For starters, it was very different from the usual colors available and it was bright.  In a sense, it maybe brought out a personality.  Recently, I considered purchasing a new car.  I've long since changed my mind, but when I think of a car purchase, color is very important to me.  I know you are thinking that the make and performance of a car is far more important.  Sure it is.  So is color.  To me at least.  As much as I view a car as a vehicle to get from point A to point B, there are times I view it as an extension of myself.  A car should somehow feel like home.  A point of comfort.  I don't know why, but that's how I feel about it.  As you all know, I have Buddy.  He's more than a car to me.  He's a friend with a personality.  He's someone I talk to and laugh with and share my stories.  He doesn't mock me and he's a great listener.  Yes, a car can be like a relationship.  Or maybe if you are not as crazy as me, it's "just" a car.
Hey, since this is my blog post, these are my musings.  If I tell you color is important, it is!  Anyway, when I was considering the purchase of a new car, I had pretty much decided that I wanted bright blue.  Buddy was supposed to be that color, but when I walked through the lot, several years ago, a car of Buddy's color was sparkling in the sun.  It looked bright copper.  I had never seen that color before and I immediately changed my mind from the bright blue to the copper.  Now, there were only 2 interior choices for a car of my exterior:  black and umber (the orangish).  I picked umber and long story to finding Buddy and bringing him to St. Louis all the way from Minneapolis, but he's the only one in the Midwest with that color combination.  I will say one more thing about Buddy before I talk about car colors again.  This weekend I was in Chicago and at a light.  A couple was crossing the street in front of Buddy.  The woman pointed at him.  The man looked at Buddy too.  I could tell they were looking at his color.  I thought to myself.  Yep.  Buddy is unique indeed.
Back to a few months ago when I was looking at different makes and models.  I remember the Audi.  It turns out that the bright blue will have to be a special order.  Maybe I'm not being totally accurate.  To get bright blue with a particular interior would be a special order.  But in general, there was one or two bright blues for sale.  Those had a common black interior.  Going back to exteriors, with the common colors, there were several to pick from with different interiors.  Apparently, bright blue is not such a common color so manufacturers don't make a lot of those colors and they charge more for it.  My question is, why?  Is it really so out there or so off the wall?  I personally would also love a bright orange or a bright green.  I think it has to do with what colors sell the most.  I say, why not offer it all?  After all, I sought after a unique car.  Wouldn't others?
The other day, I was looking at the colors of all the cars passing by.  There were no greens.  None.  All I saw was white, various shades of metallic grey (Silver), named differently.  There's gold.  Maybe a light blue, although manufacturers seem to be going away from it.  Of course, black and red.  But really, that's it.  Red is interesting because I consider it a color, not one of the neutrals.  It stands out to be taken notice.  Red is dashing.  If red works, why can't the other colors do the same?
I remember a long time ago when I was in Dubai.  I saw a flashy metallic Barbie pink Mercedes.  The Arab boys I guess used it to pick up girls.  Being flashy.  I guess, men don't have peacock feathers to attract the female sex, so they use their cars?  I did not find that color appealing in the least bit but I'm not asking for something so wild either.  I believe the manufacturers should get out of their commercial mass production mentality and take a risk with new colors though.  Maybe they'll be known for their colors, like the bug.  These days it's all about what sells fast and that is good marketing, but how do you know the other colors won't, if you don't give it a chance.
The mercedes doesn't offer any fun colors.  It only offers neutrals from white to black with the silvers mixed in.  I don't even think there was a red in the E class.  Really?  You are a mercedes and you can't offer great colors?  What kind of statement is it making?  Having bright colors means it's not "mercedes" quality?  Maybe some sporty Mercs offer red, but majority of them do not.  Some of you are going to bring up the Porsche and I don't have anything to say about it, other than having unique color combinations, are not usual showroom cars.  They are special orders and one has to pay and arm and a leg to get that look.
My car Buddy is unique.  I told you that he's the only one in the midwest with the exterior of dark copper and Umber leather (looks orangish) interior.  I know when I purchased him, I left out of town the next day while my dealership was acquiring him.  Apparently, he was sitting outside and the dealer had to fend off interest in him because he was already sold to me.  If there was interest in Buddy, then why not manufacture more of him?  I'm not totally complaining.  I have a unique car, but are my color choices truly that different?  I would like to think so and boost up my ego, but it's not true.  I think the average person would like more color choices.  They are just not given that option.
Since starting this post (more than a week ago) I have seen 2 bright lemon green cars.  Small ones.  I can't remember the make, but I remember the color.  It took me by surprise.  Was someone actually reading my mind?  Maybe there is hope.  Maybe in the future, we'll see more of the fancy colors without having to tag on a fancy price.  One can hope.
I was talking about my blog to someone and they told me that I should add pictures of the colors of the cars I'm mentioning.  I should, but then it'll take me a while to find all the colors and besides, how am I going to be fortunate enough to run into the lemon green car again?  So, please use your imaginations.
Talk to you all later,