Tuesday, November 24, 2009

My nasal passages have been assaulted by two very distinct smells recently. The first is cheese - not a bad smell, in my book. Matt bought a load of cheese to take to our friends in Istanbul as gifts from afar. While Turks do salty, soft, white cheese really really well, the cheddar...not so much. Pork products and cheese are the currency of expats in Istanbul and while living there, I would have much rather received either than flowers at any dinner party I hosted.

But I digress. So he bought all this cheese, and then he forgot it. Oof. He also forgot the salami and parma ham. Those are stored safely in the freezer. But cheese doesn't freeze so well, so I'm left with a mini-fridge full of cheese. And now I'm looking for recipes to use up the cheese, preferably things I can freeze for later. Jalepeno cheddar scones caught my eye, and of course there's macaroni and cheese, but I'm not sure how well that would freeze. And while I will certainly eat some of it before he comes home, even I, cheese-lover that I am, can't eat that much.

So if you are in the Hong Kong area and are thinking, Hmmm, you know what would taste good right now? Some CHEESE. Just come on over. Apples and crackers will also be provided.

The other scent is the pungent odor of mothballs. I took the subway recently and the smell just about knocked me over. Strong and unrelenting, combined with a packed rush-hour train. Looooovely. Since the temperature dropped, everyone has raided their closets and dug out the winter wear. It's gone up above 70F/20C again, so maybe I will be spared for the next week.

Thanksgiving is just a few days away and I have to admit, after 6 years overseas, it's the one holiday that can make me a touch homesick. Why? I think it's the fact that Thanksgiving is a simple, uncomplicated holiday. You eat turkey, maybe play some football (or at least watch it on TV), enjoy crunchy fall weather (at least on the East Coast where we lived), and then eat leftovers. There's not much else involved. And it's a national holiday, with no attachment to religious affiliation. So just about everyone is doing the same thing. And if we were in the US, we would be too.

It's just the kids and I this year, so I think we'll have a turkey breast and the basic trimmings. With some cheese thrown in for good measure. And, if we get all the homework done, we can even watch the beginning of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade before bedtime.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Several Random and Completely Unrelated Recent Observations

1. I was at the grocery store the other day, laden with several unwieldy bags. Definitely time for a taxi. I approached the store staff member stationed by the exit door "Excuse me, can you please tell me where the nearest taxi stand is?" She looked at me, smiled, and said, "You want a taxi?" And in that moment, I understood. She did what I so often did in Istanbul. Someone would speak a relatively uncomplicated sentence in Turkish and I would respond with my understanding of what they were asking, in the most basic of terms. Hoping that I got what they were asking.

"Yes, I want a taxi." And thank you. I get it.

2. People here are spoiled. Absolutely no doubt about it. Anyone can find inexpensive domestic help. But... I was walking our dog Teddy the other day when I came upon two domestic helpers walking one small dog. 2 people, 1 dog. They paused by a garbage can, one of them pulled a roll of toilet paper out of her bag, and wiped the dog's butt. I. am. not. joking. Then, she pulled more toilet paper off the roll and wiped each of his feet. In my ever optimistic frame of mind, I hope that was voluntary and not required.

3. The weather dropped below 70F/20C for the first time since we've been here. Bundle up Hong Kong.

4. Halloween was 4 days ago, and the day after, apartment workers were busy unwrapping and preparing Christmas decorations. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.