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Can't believe Fall's around the corner. This morn, after last night's curve ball, did a combo yoga + random cardio workout to calm my nerves. Normally, cardio will have me all winded, sweaty and out of breath, but today was focused and productive.

Been spending my mask-norm time getting all my regular doctor appointments out of the way, trying out new recipes, yesterday was Melissa Clark's BLT Tart, making homemade fruit jerkies, Lacto-fermenting (carrots are my fave!), playing the ukulele and catching up on MASTERPIECE Mystery!, most of my Netflix series (Broadchurch, Killing Eve, Dark, Travelers, Dark Matter, Locke & Key) and mindlessly entertained by others (The Witcher, Warrior Nun, Cursed, The Witch, Letter for the King). Yes, love my mysteries, fantasy, and sci-fi.

I've been saving The Umbrella Academy season 2 for a good day -- think that's now!

Would love to see Tenet but will wait till it streams.

I haven't dined out yet, we mostly cook and do the occasional takeout from our fave places. I'll be dining out in October with my nieces. It'll be nice to see them in person and catching up with how they are dealing with things.

We will have new downstairs neighbors moving in soon. They have a cockapoo, think I'm more excited about the dog than the neighbors. ;)

ear worm: that 'snakecharmer' song

Ear worm. I have a tendency to absentmindely hum tunes when doing mindless tasks. Recently, the 'snakecharmer' song from cartoons made Grizzly Bear pop back into the room, to tell me he can't get the tune out of his head. He then chimed in with the lyrics:

There's a place in France
Where the ladies wear no pants ...

This was news to me as I've only hear the instrumental version, no idea there were lyrics! Grizzly Bear mentioned he thought the lyrics were from a children's song. How did I not know about this?!? Then again, I'm horrible with remembering lyrics; melody person here!

So that got me curious and down the rabbit hole I went.

Found the original song:

A good summary of the history Streets of Cairo: That 'Snake Charmer' Song.

Alternate lyrics to There is a place in France.

Kalani Pe'a (fun! but an odorous event)

Last week, D invited us to Lincoln Center's American Songbook event featuring Kalani Pe'A. Pe'A is a two-time Grammy-award winning artist. He's an entertaining, charismatic performer, and sings beautifully. He also has wonderful, story-telling ways. He gets the crowd going. We greatly enjoyed our evening.

Unfortunately, we sat in a really stinky (odor-wise) section. Somewhere to our left, there was a man who smelled like he had on clothes that did not dry properly. We're talking about stench of a dirty mop that has been sitting in a bucket and not rinsed out for days stinky. Every time he shook his long hair, a moldy smell would permeate the air.

I got a double dose, to my direct right, sat RJ, D's boyfriend, who always smells like body odor. RJ has a tendency to re-wear the same clothes for days when he stays over at D's place (pack light).

I'm also sensitive to smells, sometimes they trigger migraines. I had some mint humbugs in my pocket but didn't want to cause a disturbance because unwrapping the suckers would've been noisy. So we endured the stench.

Once the concert was over, we rushed out to breathe in the fresh, cold air. Such sweet relief!

it's been a minute ...

Last year, celebrated a milestone birthday. Well wishes came, along with some surprising texts from folks who I've no longer pursue friendships with. I was cordial with my replies, keeping it neutral, thanked them but didn't suggest getting together.

Of course, when you reply in kind, it's considered as an opening. Sure enough, one by one, like a tag team, G and Rose reached out to me, wanting to meet up; I wasn't surprised, it was to be expected.

Knew I would not engage with both at the same time. But would like to address why I was so angry with both -- never having the opportunity or the know-how to express my actual feelings. For both, back then, I ghosted them (around 2005).

So when Rose reached out a week ago, I agreed to a call. I gave myself an out, realizing I did not have to initiate the first call by unleashing all. Would take it one step at a time, seeing where the conversation would lead.

Rose was a mile-a-minute -- peppering me with questions, wanting to know every single detail about my life from 2005 on, especially details about my marriage. Every now and then, she would sprinkle in, "I don't why we lost touch, not sure what happened there." On my part, instantaenously, thought bubbles formulated, "I sure know why" bursted by another one of her questions, not allowing the opportunity for an answer (not that I would).

When the call ended, I was exhausted. My body felt like I was coming down with something. Grizzly Bear so appropriately dubbed it "conversation flu." I then fell asleep for a 2-hour nap (it's what my body does to recover from an illness, desire to sleep).

What I was not expecting was the amount of anger it would bring out in me since. In working with my therapist, I am realizing that as a survival instinct, in my childhood, I had dealt with a lot of things in an 'adult' mode -- setting aside the fear, pain, sadness and isolation of having to fend for myself and shielding my sister at a young age. Sis grew up not being exposed to a lot of what I experienced.

Rose and G bought out those same familar childhood feelings. Rose being a reminder of my sister -- who was well buffered and treated differently, like a family favorite/teacher's pet. Taking advantage of situations; having their own rose-colored realities.

I remember in 7th grade, walking home with Rose when a boy ran up and spat on me. He declared "My dad hates people like your kind." Her reaction, she laughed. Again, 'adult-mode' kicks in and I had to channel the embarrassment, hurt and anger aside to not have a reaction.

G, the accusatory side, never believing my words at face-value; taking the sides of her insecure friends.

Seriously, why would I want to be friends with people like that?

The problem with all that you've pushed aside is it eventually surfaces in unlikely ways. I am working with my therapist to find the tools to cope with this -- emotions are all too on the surface, as if I'm reliving my buried buchildhood feelings.

Internally, I've been a weepy mess confronting the amount of anger, pain, and grief.  I know eventually this will pass, but it sucks to feel this way right now.

Montreal 2019 {pix}

Grizzly Bear and I couldn't decide where to vacation this year, so we decided on short weekend getaways.

Recently we were in Montreal for a few days.  Grizzly Bear's mom and step-dad were on a cruise from Boston to Montreal and wanted to meet up there.  We arrived there two days before they did so we could wander around and eat as we'd please.  His step dad is the finickiest eater and man, so high maintenance.

We tried some fantastic new places, Bouillon Bilk and Le Petit Alep.

Bouillon Bilk was recommended by Grizzly Bear's friend who lived in Montreal.  I also had it on my list of places to go so it worked out well. ^_^ Wonderfully delicious modern eclectic food, they offer both tasting menu and a la carte, in a minimalist setting.  The food itself is so creatively displayed and damn good!  We savored every morsel.  I would hop on a plane in a heartbeat just for their Hiramasa.   Seriously, highly recommend this place, so good!

Le Petit Alep is located right near Jean-Talon Market. Perfect spot to grab a wonderfully delicious Middle Eastern (Syrian-Armenian) lunch. Service is very friendly and food is the perfect balance of savory and spicy. They offer succulent kebabs, fresh salads, garlicky dips and tasty smoothies.

Of course, we also stuffed ourselves with oysters from La Boite Aux Huîtres at Jean-Talon Market. A great way to sample the different oysters from around the world is to order from their tasting menus. We got the Explorateur. The oysters are shucked right in front of you. They also have several mignonette sauces you can select from. So tasty and fresh!

Besides eating, we also walked for miles -- one day, logging 11 miles (about 29,000 steps for me).  Sadly, I was wearing my Rothy's (The Flat) that I got last year.  They were so uncomfortable, the tips of my toes were rubbed raw.  My advice is instead of your usual size, go a half size larger.  At least the next day, the shoes felt a bit more stretched out, still hurt but more bearable.  Interestingly enough, it never rubbed against my ankles -- which is the first place I normally get blisters. They  were fine!

And then my in-laws arrived ...

It was like a cloud descended upon us. I love Grizzly Bear's mom, we get along. But the step-dad, very high maintenance.
For example: every meal had to be dissected -- all he wanted was spaghetti and meatballs! That's not even the worse thing but it's not worth writing about. It's forever seared in my memory. ^_~

On to photos!  Some of the highlights:

Look at the size of this omelette!!

Spotted this 1950s Rolls Royce.
Driver was parked at the top of the church stairs,
waiting on a couple getting married.

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watching habits

Sometimes we all need an escape, one of the ways I've been spending my time is watching some of my fave shows in real-time or a day or so later (instead of months later)

Shows that I've enjoyed/been enjoying lately:

The Umbrella Academy - loads of fun to watch. My absolute fave scene was the dance scene set to Tiffany's "I Think We're Alone Now." And the end of the scene, just perfect! Can't wait for season two!

The Magicians - hated the book but love the tv series -- fast, spunky, and exciting to watch. Love their musical episodes.

Killing Eve - delightfully delicious! I've even got Grizzly Bear hooked, he watched the first season earlier this month so we can watch season 2 together.

Unforgotten - very welldone British crime drama.

I'm a sucker for British and Australian mystery shows too:
- Agatha Raisin
- Father Brown
- Midsomer Murders
- Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries
- Vera


My friend Hanh passed away yesterday morning from a rare type of cancer, Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma.

We were all rooting for him, he fought it for the last few years.


I remember the first time we met, the summer of 1989. Hanh and his dad were staying at my parents' house. Back then, we had many friends and family staying, coming and going.

So I didn't think anything of it, just another one of dad's friends passing through.

A few hours after they left, doing the daily mailbox check, I found an envelope addressed to me! Hanh had written a note, saying he thought we'd be great friends and would hope to continue getting to know one another. That was the start of our great friendship.

Our friendship was easy, low maintenance. We would easily pick up our conversations from where we last left off.

Hanh was the type of person who had a generous spirit, such a great friend, always looking out for others and connecting one another.


Last week, Hanh celebrated his 50th birthday in Portland.

With his health declining, his family made a decision that to best assist him, they would take him home to Bakersfield, where his mom still lives.

Saturday, he had many visitors, was surrounded by friends and family. By Saturday evening, Hanh was wiped out and resting for the evening.

By Sunday, 10 am, he was not responsive. His organs were functioning, but he was "actively dying."

Monday, they had announced his passing.


I'm happy Hanh was surrounded by his friends, family and so much love but also very saddened by his loss. I will miss him very much. I've haven't ugly cried this much since my dog died.

Hanh was one of the good guys.

When you make a connection with someone, the sense of loss is so much worse. I'm grief-strickened with such profound sadness.

We've all been sharing our wonderful stories of Hanh, all makes me cry on a whim.

Hanh was most certainly loved.

Cancer sucks.

Europe: Amsterdam (pix)

Amsterdam is a cold-weather place meant more for embracing gezellig.

The last leg of our vacation, our days were spent exploring the canal streets, indulging on delicious foods, and wandering through markets and neighborhoods.

Unlike our honeymoon where we stayed in a houseboat, we opted for a spacious hotel room with canal views.

Every visit, we always make sure to at Hema -- a department store of sorts that sells its own brand of food, clothing, cosmetics. I love their PJs! They also have a great tasting sausage -- though we didn't get any this time.

Got in a little culture, dropped by the Rijksmuseum and went on a self-guided tour of the Amsterdam Light Festival by renting our own motorboat! Brr! A very cold and windy night, but it was so peaceful seeing the light installations from the water! Great photo op!

You don't need a license to rent a boat, just a sense adventure! Grizzly Bear did the steering, I helped navigate the canals. Mostly, we followed other boats, not a busy night, ample room to maneuver.

But there was one nerve-wracking moment where we were let out in a very large open area and no other boats were around. We were warned to not travel outside the canals as that would dump us in the commercial area where you need a walkie-talkie to communicate. That got too much in my head. Not being familiar with the area, limited light and freezing, I freaked out. Managed to calm myself to set aside the two paper maps, decided to use my phone and Google maps to pinpoint where we were on the water. Phhew!

Once we figured it out, we navigated to the next light installation. The lights were pretty amazing, only wished there were more to see.

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Europe: Paris (pix)

Paris. We traveled via Eurostar from London to Paris. Our coach smelled like a giant armpit. Armed custom agents were on our train (it was the morning after the shooting at a Christmas market in Strasbourg, Paris).

Not sure if it was a coincidence or standard practice. We saw them go through our train, looking at everyone and underneath seats. Later, we saw them arrest a few people and bring their luggage to the last car. Believe they got off at the first stop, Brussels.

We also happened to be here during the fourth act of gilet jaunes (yellow vests) protests happening on December 8th. Our hotel was near a few of the protests locations. We knew ahead of time that major stores, museums, and some metro stops would be skipped/closed. We purposely planned to avoid areas they would be gathering near and spent our day in the 13th arrondissement.

We had an awesome start to our day -- took advantage of the empty streets of Paris to explore the 13th arrondissement and its amazing foods.

Returning: experienced tear gas for the first time. Our train had pulled into the Saint-Lazare train station. Think there were scuffles happening while we were about to exit the station when we encountered the tear gas. We immediately turned back, as we did not know what was happening outside and one never knows how the crowd would pushback and react.

We hopped on the train back to Châtelet and walked back from there. The only time we felt boxed in was near the Place Vendome. We had yellow jackets coming down one block and police, out of view, lined up in riot gear guarding the Place Vendome. There were moments where we would turn a corner and see the fog of tear gas in the distance. We would immediately turn around and find a different way.

Otherwise, we made our way safely back to the hotel. The hotel was in lockdown -- the lobby and exterior lights were dark and they would let guests in by remote while they guarded the door. They told us to hang out in our rooms. We had a great view, as we're on the second floor with the balcony overlooking the street with all the action. We saw plenty of police, protestors, and arrests but the protestors would always go quietly.

Otherwise, we had a lot of fun, visited the Louvre and Musée d'Orsay without having to deal with the mass crowds, explored street art, and ate some of our best meals in Paris. Celebrated my birthday here too.

In Paris, I stocked up on some of my favorite fruity caramels from Henry Le Roux.

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Upcoming: Amsterdam

Europe: London (pix)

Happy Holidays! Recently got back from our European vacation. It was a much-needed break. First time where I never felt the dreaded, "Oh no, only X amount of days left until we have to return home."

Everything was at a leisurely pace. We spent at least 5 days in each city -- London, Paris, and Amsterdam.

London. We explored the markets, ate well, enjoyed the street art of Shoreditch, detoured through the Nomadic Garden where we discovered an enchanting park filled with murals, seesaws that you can stand, sit or hang onto, and even a zip line! We took turns running up and down the hill to ride the zip line rope. It was like being a kid again!

Like my April visit to London, while Grizzly Bear chose to work for one day, I wandered around on my own and stumbled upon another film set. They were filming a movie, "Last Christmas" at the Covent Garden Market. Spoke briefly to the crew -- why not, as we had to wait for them to finish filming before they let us into that area of the market.

We visited Greenwich, its Maritime Museum and location of the prime meridian. The Prime Meridian, as it passes through Greenwich, is considered 0° longitude. It was fun to take out our phones and map our longitudes.

We even had Sunday roast and I indulged in my love of Sainsbury's Cheddar, Red Leicester cheese with red onions. Also revisited a fave, Dishoom (twice) for breakfast!

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Up next: Paris