Friday, November 24, 2006

everyone's little darling...

It's been a while since my last Templeton-themed post, so I thought it was about time that I devoted some space on my blog to him.

My parents love him. Even my dad feels the need to cuddle with him at least once a day, which is unusual for a man who is normally immune to feline charms.

And here he is posing with one of his biggest fans. Not surprisingly, my mother adores Templeton. We've even had some somewhat serious conversations about who would have custody of him if I was to move out. I love the expression on his face in this picture... or maybe it's his lack of expression.
He hasn't shown himself to be a very affectionate cat, but there's just something about him that fills all who see him with an overwhelming urge to pick him up. My parents and I are hoping that as the weather gets cooler, he might start sitting with us for warmth... but since he has such a thick coat, I'm not sure if that kind of mutualistic relationship would really be beneficial for him.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

"What's the American man's favorite dessert?"

Happy [American] Thanksgiving! I'll be eating Thanksgiving dinner with my parents and some of their colleagues later today. It's a little disappointing that I couldn't invite friends over like last year -- what fun we had spending most of the day in the kitchen, preparing the whole Thanksgiving spread! But I guess this year won't be quite as much work.

But I will get to contribute something to tonight's meal. My mom was given the responsibility of bringing pies, and I offered to help her with a regular pumpkin pie, and my favorite experiment from last year: a pumpkin cheesecake.

So I set to work this morning, soon after I got up. For the pumpkin pie, I used my mom's trusty circa 1969 Betty Crocker cookbook.

I decided to make the crust first, and soon found crust recipes at the beginning of the pie section, right underneath this very nice introductory paragraph. Definitely worth a read. I think my favorite part is: "If you care about pleasing a man -- bake a pie. But make sure it's a perfect pie. "

So as Betty suggested, I spent some time with the chapter, and tried one of her family-tested recipes. I've done my best to "make sure it's a perfect pie," and now it'll be up to those eating it.

Monday, November 20, 2006

goodbye star ferry pier

Today I took the Star Ferry from the new pier in Central, and felt compelled to document the experience. Thankfully I just happened to have my camera with me.

Before I go into detail about my feelings on the new pier, here's a picture of the old one. You can see from the picture that it's almost completely land-locked now, and soon the water in the foreground will be newly reclaimed land. I saw a CNN article recently that discussed the upcoming demolition of the old pier along with it's 50-something-year-old clocktower... except they included a photo of the wrong clocktower! If you click on the link, you'll notice that they have a picture of the old railway clocktower that's near the TST pier, and thankfully, this clocktower will not be demolished. I thought this was a pretty major mistake for CNN to make, and actually sent them a comment about it... but it looks like they have yet to correct the error.

The new Star Ferry pier. I think it's pretty garish.
It reminds me of a few buildings that I've seen in China... a brand-new "colonial style" building that just doesn't look quite right.

Another view of the new pier, taken as I was getting on the boat.

The Tsim Sha Tsui pier, with a view of the clocktower that, contrary to CNN, will not be torn down.
I'm getting tired of all the reclamation. I think it's about time I joined Friends of the Harbour.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

thought for the day...

I'm in a Pacific Coffee Company taking a minute for a latte before I go teach 14 four-year-olds about the life-cycle of a frog. That sounds really bizarre when written out... might need some explanation later. ANyway, PCC always has "thoughts for the day" up, and usually I think they're pretty cheesy. Maybe I'm just overly sentimental today, but this one struck a chord with me.

"The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart."
- Elizabeth Foley

Reminds me of many of you true friends out there who may or may not be reading this... :) Take care!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

something for your senses...

I noticed this huge sign outside of a mall in Kwai Fong the other day. You can have a sense of humor, a sense of style, and now a sense of... shopping. I guess it makes some sense (oops... hehe) in HK, which is probably the only city in the world with its very own shopping festival.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

mei foo memories

I did some substitute tutoring at a tutorial center the past two Saturdays. Besides providing me with some income, the tutoring also afforded me the opportunity to revisit the place where I spent most of my childhood -- Mei Foo Sun Chuen. My family lived in Mei Foo from 1984 to 1993, so it holds quite a lot of memories for me. And although much has changed in the 13 years since we moved, I was pleased to find that many things are just as I remember them...

One thing that struck me immediately is how small the buildings seem. In the 80s, when we moved there, Mei Foo's 20-story apartment buildings were considered quite tall for residential buildings. But now, as you can see from the picture below, they're completely dwarfed by most modern residential complexes.

And probably the biggest change can be seen in the picture below. The nice concrete wall you can see running through the middle of the picture used to separate Mei Foo from the sea! Now, thanks to the wonders of reclamation, the wall has openings that lead into a very large park. I remember coming to this area as a child. We used to watch the planes coming in and starting their descent (into Kai Tak -- also a distant memory now...), and we could look out across the water to Stone Cutter's island. Well, thanks to the reclamation, Stone Cutter's is no longer an island, it's probably just part of this park. Another random memory I have associated witht his wall is coming here for mid-autumn festival. I remember lighting candles and putting one in each cement circle in the wall. It was so pretty -- too bad it's not allowed anymore, because of the wax mess that the candles leave behind.

This next picture probably qualifies as one of the strangest I've ever posted. I was trying to capture the emptiness of this place more than any interesting features. Some of my happiest memories were spent here, because it used to be a playground! Yes, that's right -- a playground underneath a freeway, but a playground none the less! I'm sure that someone finally realized that it was a major health hazard to have young lungs breathing in a smorgasbord of carcinogens and other toxic fumes, so they got rid of the swings and sea-saws (aren't those illegal now anyway?) and fenced the whole area off. Never have I felt so compelled to burst into a Cat Stevens song. "Tell me, where do the children play?" At one of the many new playgrounds, I'm sure.
Here's is a sweet potato and roasted chestnuts vendor. The site of this little make-shift stall hit me with a wave of nostalgia. I remember when this area next to the Mei Foo bus terminus used to be full to maximum capacity with hawkers selling a variety of cooked food. This is where I developed a taste for fish balls and satay, and learned that tofu, when cooked in a certain way, smells terrible. The side walk, now clean because of the lack of vendors, used to be caked with grease and grime -- so much so that I'm sure quite a few people took a fall after underestimating the slickness of the blackened ground.

And finally, here are some stalls in the Mei Foo wet market. There 's quite a variety of stalls and small shops here now, but I remember when most if not all of these stalls sold meat. I'm sure avian flu didn't help these businesses at all, and I think a lot of people feel more comfortable buying meat from grocery stores now, even if they are theoretically sacrificing freshness.
And here are pictures of some places that I remember fondly. This will probably only be interesting to my sister, and maybe my brother (Steve, do you ever visit me here?), but that's reason enough to post them. :)

Here's the podium gate to our building. Other than the new shiny gate, it looks pretty much the same.
A podium landmark -- the "flying horse fountain." I used to go rollerskating around the podium with my sister and her friends (no, that "her" was not meant to be an "our" -- I was quite the tag-along).

Our building! I think our balcony is the fourth one up, but I'll have to check some old photos to be sure. :)

Here's a restaurant that we would get rice boxes at quite often. It's still there, and still successful. I find the name amusing. In Chinese the name means "many, many," but they translated it into English phonetically and called it Door Door.

And that brings my nostalgic ramblings to an end. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

"sayonara, sushi..."

I just read this article that predicts that world seafood stocks will collapse within the next 50 years... pretty sobering stuff.
I promise to have a happier post soon!