Friday, November 23, 2007

Giving Thanks

Hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving! First and foremost, I am thankful for all the turkeys that were not slaughtered for our collective veg/vegan meals.

It's been a crazy couple of days. Fcat has been out in Los Angeles for the last couple of weeks working on some projects and at the very last minute, I decided to fly out to spend Thanksgiving with him (which meant I purchased my ticket on Sunday evening to leave Wednesday afternoon for a surprisingly decent price!) and to take a little break.

I love L.A.
Sunshine and light and tons of vegan friendly places, how could one not love it here?

My flight was fairly hassle-free for flying on one of the busiest travel days of the year. I prepared myself for a ton of waiting and long lines and perhaps because I was thus prepared, it wasn't bad even with the one hr delay sitting on the runway for takeoff...yes, I know I am a tease but I am saving all the fun and joy that comes with being in vegan paradise that is L.A. and the surrounding area for my next post...

This post, I wanted to share two movie screenings that I had been to recently which acutely reminds me that we should be extremely thankful for all that we have. Bryan Bantry is an agency that represents hair/makeup artists and some models. They also host movie screenings and I happen to have gotten on the screenings list- so I get to see a whole ton of movies in advance. Perhaps they host these screenings to people in the fashion/beauty industry to get a buzz going on? I have no idea, but I truly enjoy it. One year, we happened to see most of the movies that ended up getting Oscar nominations. Though honestly, sometimes I don't make it to a screening when the movie summary does not have actors or a work that I recognize, but oftentimes I do go to these lesser known movies and am pleasantly surprised.

Several weeks ago, I went to the screening of Persepolis. Based on the graphic novel of the same name by Marjane Satrapi, it is an animated movie in black and white in the same quirky style of the book. It tells the atuhor's story of being a young girl growing up in Iran as the Islamic Revolution swept in. Funny and frightening at the same time, it truly gave a sense of what it felt like to lose all the freedom that we so easily take for granted. The movie is in French and won the Jury Prize at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival. It opens in the US on December 25, 2007.

Last week was the screening of The Diving Bell And The Butterfly, Julian Schnabel's movie version of Jean-Dominique Bauby's book. Bauby was the editor of French Elle and living the high life when he suffered a massive stroke at the age of 43. The stroke left him with a rare condition called locked-in-syndrome where he was completely mute & paralyzed with the exception of his left eyelid. This movie is incredibly sad, yet inspirational and amazing. Bauby ended up writing his book through learning to communicate with blinking through the alphabet with his left eyelid. The movie is in French and opens in NY & LA on November 30, 2007. I urge all to see it if you get a chance and be inspired by the power of the human spirit.
An absolutely intense movie, I have had days where all I want to do is boohoo into a pillow- this movie will completely banish those days when you want to throw yourself a pity-party. It is an uplifting story shot brilliantly. Go see it.

These two movies were so strong that I have not stopped thinking about them since.
So during this holiday of thanks, I give thanks for the freedom that we take for granted in this country and also for the freedom of physical movement- that the sheer beauty of walking and talking is to be appreciated. Of course, I am always thankful for the love & support of my family and friends, but also for the wonderful world of vegan bloggers!

Lastly, another update on Jack, the little orange stray:
I never heard back from the dilapidated home owners about building a shelter for Jack on their property. However,I finally spotted him last Sunday evening, the temperature had dropped and he was huddled against the threshold of the run-down house that he hangs out in front of- it was so sad. I wanted to just snatch him up & run him home. I approached him with food and he dove into the bushes. I left the food for him in front of the bushes and proceeded down the next block to grandma's.

When I left grandma's, I walked by to check on Jack and saw the woman from house next door to dilapidated house. She was feeding Jack who was patiently waiting off to the side. She had named him, Scruff. I spoke to her about building Jack/Scruff a shelter and she agreed to let me keep it on her porch. Hurray! I was elated, but I had to figure out how to build the shelter and set it up in two days before leaving for Los Angeles. Research on Monday morning led me to someone from Urban Cat League, a rescue group in Forest Hills, Queens. This person builds stray/feral cat shelters for sale and I was praying that he would have one available and he did!

I was able to coordinate the pickup and setup of the shelter with much needed help from a friend. I am grateful for the help- this shelter is a 54 gallon container and bulky, I would have never been able to cart it on the subway alone. We drove out & setup the shelter on Tuesday afternoon. I was so excited that it all worked out that I forgot to take a picture of it. Hopefully, no one steals it and I can get a picture of it when I get back. I wonder if Jack has used it yet, apparently according to the cat rescue group guy- when it's cold, the cats find it and use it. I am thankful that Jack Scruff (his new name) has a warm place to sleep when it is freezing outside.

With much gratitude for all that I have, my next post will be chock full of thanksgiving holiday pics.

Have a great weekend!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Cyclical Down Time

I have been in a little bit of a funk. It's a cyclical thing. I call it "down time". So in this time, I have fallen behind on my posts and blog reading, but I do try to get myself out of the funk by getting out and about (albeit with much effort & reluctance, however, once I do get out, I do reap the benefits).

Music is good for the soul. Wouldn't consider myself a big jazz fan, but that's probably because I don't know that much about it, so when Fcat told me that his friend, who happens to be Wynton Marsalis' girlfriend had invited us to see Wynton & his band at Jazz at Lincoln Center, I half-heartedly agreed to go. It was a really good thing that I did because the performance was amazing & inspirational and Wynton is such a natural storyteller- he gave us a little intro or backdrop for each piece they performed. It was really great to know what to listen for and helped to understand the music much more, not that the pure beauty of the harmony wasn't enough though...was just nice to appreciate it fully. We also got to meet Wynton & his band afterwards which was fun. After all that, a late dinner at our favorite Ethiopian restaurant which I forgot to take pictures of, but I'm sure I have posted those dishes more than once...
Being musically inspired, I actually woke the next morning and played my piano (the expensive digital piano that I bought a few years ago which I hardly ever play).

Fcat and I also check out another vegetarian dim sum place, Buddha Bodai which was decent, but not as good as our favorite, Vegetarian Dim Sum House. I am willing to give it another try because I always give a place another shot in case they had an "off" day, though I was less inspired to take pictures of the food...The vegetable dumplings were good though, less so the turnip cake pictured below, nor the rice flour rolls...

This was taken right after the marathon- along 1st Avenue, littered with paper cups...
That morning, I made berry pancakes with chocolate chips & agave instead of sugar, along with a side of apples cooked in earth balance & cinnamon- a bit eclectic, but it all happened to work out fine.
Last week, I missed the PPK dinner but I did get to meet up with fellow vegan blogger Melisser, The Urban Housewife at Franchia a vegan teahouse with tasty Korean eats. The space is very zen & dark wood but the pretty floral ceiling contrasted the space quite nicely.

There is an array of teas, it is first & foremost a teahouse! - I had a jasmine tea served in a delightful cup & strainer.

Melisser & I had a hard time ordering because everything sounded so good. We started with a pancake assortment- kimchee, scallion and corn & cilantro (my fave- I love anything corn and anything cilantro!). They were delicious, light and tasty.

We also ordered the kimchee fried rice, which was nice and light also.

There was also tofu with kabocha squash which turned out to be more tofu than squash. The tofu also turned out to be fried, lightly fried but fried nonetheless. It was an okay dish, my least favorite. And see that big bowl of brown rice that came with the meal, we never got to it and I ended up taking it home because the waiter basically let us know that it would be thrown out...

Here we are- me & Melisser in front of the pretty teacups. Cute vegans abound!

I made fried rice from that leftover bowl of rice from Franchia. Waste not!

There was another day that I spent at Whole Foods where I discovered yummy things like Field Roast Grain Meat which is a company that makes artisan grain meat. I got yukon gold/apple/sage sausages & mexican/chipotle sausages. They are really delicious- similar to Tofurkey sausages, but a bit more delicate & complex, also a bit more expensive. I also discovered vegan rugelach (Jewish pastry cookie with fruits & nuts) from Lilly's Bakeshop and vegan apple spiced donut from Nutrilicious. I have not had rugelach since going vegan and boy, did I miss it!
Here's a dinner I made with the smoked apple sage sausages which I sauteed with apples, carrots & onions, a side of steamed broccoli, quinoa and cilantro mashed bliss potatoes.

I met up with Melisser another day for vegan dosas from the vegan dosa cart on West 4th & Sullivan. See how the side of the dosa man's cart proudly proclaims that it is "Purely Vegetarian" read vegan. Go vegan street food cart!
Look how they all line up- vegan & omnis alike...

And here's my special pondicherry dosa- crepe made from lentils & rice, stuffed with potatoes & veggies. It was fresh and light. It didn't blow me away, but it was filling & clean and a great deal for six dollars.

We then headed over to Atlas in the East Village, for vegan dessert & vegan softserve where we met up with a few of Melisser's friends. I was blown away by the dessert counter- look at all those desserts and they are all vegan. Jackpot!

Melisser ordered a sampling of goodies: death by chocolate, peanut butter bomb, brownie cheesecake, pumpkin cake & a cupcake. It was all tasty to me. Atlas is a tiny omni cafe with vegan sandwiches, entrees & desserts. I will be back for a meal for sure.

Meeting blog friends and having yummy desserts definitely helped my mood. By this weekend, I was ready for my friend, EH's annual pre-holiday party at his beautiful apt on the Upper Westside. It's always a fun party. There's the champagne server making faces...

EH also has a screen which has a slideshow of past pre-holiday party pics- always fun and sometimes embarrassing since EH does not edit...

Here I am partying with the cutest girl ever, Tasha- that pink bow really made her outfit.

Lastly, an update on Jack the orange stray kitty:
A couple of weeks ago, Fcat & I planned Operation Trap Jack with steel trap cage et al. The kitty rescue group woman who was going to help us trap Jack called me to tell me that it would be impossible to trap a cat that was not hungry, especially since many people were feeding him. It was quite upsetting to hear and also because not only did I not see Jack but there was two bowls of wet food uneaten. I was convinced that something happened to Jack because there was no way that little stray would leave wet food uneaten. A few days later, I took the subway out to see if he was around- I didn't see him but I did run into the homeowner whose house Jack is always in front of. I asked about Jack and he told me that Jack is still around and has been eating. Relief rushed through me and the homeowner told me that Jack has been around for a few years, but then he added that he didn't think that Jack would make it through this winter. My heart sank. I spoke to him of trying to trap Jack and he said that he would help when he returned from his trip in three weeks.

I realize now that the best I can do for Jack is to build him a shelter like these, basically taking a plastic storage container- cutting a hole several inches up (to prevent water from getting in), lining it in styrofoam and mylar (mylar is best because it reflects the kitty's body heat versus blankets which absorb & disperse bodyheat). They also recommend straw, but that's only if you have access to changing out the straw & making sure it stays dry, if not, then mylar is best. It's been quite cold in the evenings so I've been extremely anxious to make this shelter for Jack, but the homeowner went away without getting back to me so I need to wait til he returns before I can get permission to put the shelter on his porch. If you have the time or the inclination, consider making one or two for the strays & ferals in your neighborhood. It will help them get through the frigid winters and could save a few lives. I am also still brainstorming my fundraising event for strays for The McKee Project. Stay tuned!
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