Aunt Alice

July 5th, 2006, 6:50 am PST by Greg

My Great Aunt Alice died a year or so ago. She had been in a nursing home for a while, and had lost the stubbornness, and irascible charm that characterizes my father’s side of the family. It wasn’t a sad before-her-time passing.

She left me some money that just hit my bank account. Not an insignificant amount of money: let’s just say it’s somewhere between “I think I’ll go out for dinner tonight,” and “I think I’ll quit my job.” More like “I won’t worry so much about the number of Vancouver-Chapel Hill trips we take.”

Now, “great aunt” isn’t exactly a close relation (by my standards anyway—Kat’s family would have them over for dinner every week). Why did Alice leave me money? The answer gives great insight into the woman, and helps explain the “irascible charm” I mentioned earlier.

You see, Alice was a bit of a bitch. She was quick to anger and blunt. These are considered positive traits in the Baker side of my family—phrases like “you can’t [complete that recent construction project] that way, you idiot” are considered acceptable Christmas-dinner conversation. Unlike the rest of the family, Alice held a grudge.

An old woman doesn’t have many ways to express her grudge. She didn’t have any direct control over anybody, and my family doesn’t respond well to guilt. But, she had a will and knew how to change it. My parents knew this and didn’t care—they were nice to her because she was a kindly old woman and my father’s aunt. They knew that her will was an unpredictable roulette wheel.

By virtue of being in Vancouver, I was apparently in favour: I visited when I was home, but wasn’t ever around enough to piss her off. I think she liked Kat too. I also “fixed” her TV one time (by centring the tint and contrast controls that she had changed accidentally).

Apparently there were around a half-dozen versions of her will in her papers when she died. Wisely, nobody is offering to detail the history of their changes. My parents and an uncle received the majority of her estate—they held her power-of-attorney at the end, and weren’t above telling her when she was being a bitch. I suspect she liked that.

Found a teapot!

July 1st, 2006, 5:44 am PST by Kat

Since we got here in early May I have been looking for a nice large teapot. Nothing fancy. I think the one I have in Vancouver is from the Bay. I just wanted it to be big (like 6 cups) and functional. I drink a lot of tea. We looked everywhere here – Target, Walmart, Pottery Barn, Pier 1, etc. Everywhere! Nothing! It’s as if people don’t drink tea here. That can’t be though – they drink sweet tea! And there’s tea in the supermarkets. So I had all but given up, and figured I’d order a teapot online.

Then the other day we went to a store called “A Southern Season.” It’s similar to Gourmet Warehouse, but a lot bigger and not as expensive. They had a huge loose tea section, so I set off on a search for a teapot. I rounded a corner, and there it was. A whole wall of teapots! Apparently they all live together in one store! So, I am now a proud owner of a large, 6-cup green teapot. I almost bought the orange one, but since my new place is all orange-brown woods, I though it would be too orangy.

Now, I know, buying a teapot generally would not be blog worthy, but think of it as a happy ending to a long and kind of confusing quest. I wonder if everyone here knows to buy their teapot at this store?

A Souther Season also had a HUGE chocolate section. Almost half of the store! They had large cooled cabinets with Godiva, Moonstruck, Neuhaus (yes Suyoko, you don’t have to go all the way to Belgium, you can just come and visit me!), and a few other companies. Then they had countless shelves of different types of chocolates. As we always do when the opportunity presents itself, Greg and I conducted a little industrial espionage. Our friend Kelly is a chocolatier (www.badgirlchocolates.com), and sells yummy truffles, jellies and covered almonds. So whenever we can, we try other companies’ chocolates and scope out their chocolate molds to get new ideas that we then pass on to Kelly. This time we tried Moonstruck chocolate “cones”. These were ice cream cone shaped chocolate shells filled with thick flavored cremes. Greg had a peanut butter cone and I had a razzleberry cone. The tops were dipped in chocolate and then decorated (pics up in the gallery in the NC Food album). So, A Southern Season is my new favorite store!

Pics of the new log cabin apartment are up too!

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