Friday, April 30, 2010

Fever Blister

ARG!!!

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Monday, April 26, 2010

MORE Photoaging...

Suffice it to say that the woman next to meet scratched herself the entire way from Atlanta to Boston.
It was mostly with her left arm, bent over her head and behind her neck, and onto the opposite shoulder.
Which was unfortunate because I was sitting to her left.
Which meant that her armpit was right next to my right ear, for the entire flight.

When the lights came on, the little girl in front of me saw her and took a double take. So of course, I looked.

Good Grief!!
She was covered in white ashy bubbles and flaking skin.
She is obviously Italian descent.
And she had gotten so much sub exposure that she was literally the color of dark walnut.
Except for the areas that had peeled or flaked off which was the color of mahogany and maple.
And of course, those white bubbles and flakes.

Why in the world would ANYONE ...

Never mind.
I don't want to know...

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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Photoaging!

Is a rather largish woman with a tan so dark and skin so dry that she has white dry flakes on her arms.

Which she is liberally scratching.

Yah.
Very attractive.

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US Customs: "Got Someone on the Loose"

Nothing like going through the last US Customs checkpoint, handing in your customs form that was already reviewed by about 10 other people, and at the last minute being handed a plastic folder with your customs declaration form and being told to go into a different line.

Uh oh.

This is right as you're exiting to go to connecting flights. For which I am going to be late. GAH!

And then you wait in an isolated area with poor Joseph waiting for me.
And the confused customs agent asked if we have different names even though we are m married.
Yes.
And she says something about someone named Todd.
And I think it's a joke.
And then she asks Joseph what he is carrying.
And she says is he Todd.
Uh... Todd? No...

And then finding out you got pulled for a customs form for someone named Todd.

The customs person was pissed. She muttered, "now I got someone on the loose..."

Well. Someone isn't gonna be happy.
And it's not gonna be Todd.

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Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Single Defining Moment

Was when my Hunny Bunny sang to me.
Out of tune.
Tone deaf.
Off key.
Off pitch.
But he sang with his heart
And transformed me to a place of passion and love, only inhabited by the two of us.

That's when I knew.
He's the one.
And when it happens today.
I know.
He's still the right one.
My love.
My Hunny Bunny.
My Soul Mate.
He gives me the gift of his song, and the magic he feels, when he sings.

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People of the Island

This is the last night and I worry about the island.
The people here have 3-5 children and I am wondering how that can be sustained?
It's not a big island.
There is not a lot of industry other than tourism and the things that feed it.
Other than that, it's just the people living life, day to day, doing their thing.
The land is mountainous and it's difficult to build - but the houses are TINY so at least they are conserving space somewhat. But at some point...

The island is the people.
And the people are the island.
I have never experienced that sensation before.
The people are beautiful.
Men and women alike.
No matter the size or shape or age or...

This is a special place.
A land that is carved off and apart from time.
You don't merely enter it.
It totally envelopes and consumes you.
It is truly indescribable.

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Cooking Class, Carribean Style

This morning, Joseph had a special treat for me - market shopping trip in downtown Soufriere and a cooking class with the Executive Chef Orlando Satchell at the Dasheen Restaurant at the Ladera Resort.

There were 12 of us and I really didn't know what to expect. We took a short mini-bus ride out, with the Chef nattily dressed in madras shorts, and a Ralph Lauren polo, and dark sunglasses to complete the ensemble.

the market was not as crowded to dirty as I had imagined. It's by the water on a concrete slab. Various people had stands and they were not crowded or that many things. Most of the tables had similar items: mangos, dasheen (which is the root bulb at the end of the Callaloo which is a chicory and which I regulary saute like mustard greens), the christophene (also known as the Chayote, that you cook up like a squash), pumpkin (not the halloween pumpkin we all think about), sugar cane, tamarind (which was delicious right out of the pods), ginger root, cilantro with giant leaves, tumeric roots (which looked liked little ginger - no surprise since it is a part of the ginger family), cabbage (small and perfect), chinese cabbage (aka bok choy but it was long and thin and leafy), vanilla pods (I thought about trying to sneak some into the US but changed by mind), fresh nutmeg - the outside spicy, peppery mace, and the inside nutmeg, cocoa bars, and lots of spices (we got every one). There was also a fish station and a butcher station for beef only. That was more interesting than I care to say... We ended the market tour by drinking fresh green coconut water and scraping the soft coconut jelly from the inside of the young coconut - just like I love to do when I travel to India.

We also went to a small bakery to see how the traditional creole bread was made. There was little sign with "BAKERY OPEN" in red. You turned into a house and walked a long, thin, whitewashed corridor that opened up into a space the size of a small closet, that oepned up to a left to yet another small closet and inside was a man with Popeye arms, kneading and rolling dough, with rising dough all around him, a hot clay over going strong. It was amazing. We ended up purchasing a loaf and it was fabulous! So simple. I have to figure out how to make simple breads.

Oh, I should also mention the peanut butter ice that Chef Orlando bought for us. Peanut butter and evaporated milk, frozen into little baggies with ties. You bite off a corner of the plastic bottle and out comes the most delicious peanut buttery milky sweetness. I didn't have a lot. Do you know how caloric sweetened condensed evaporated milk is??? Yah. But I did plot and plan on how I could replicate it when I got home... only serve it in bowls for dessert as opposed to plastic baggies with ties.

After the market, we arrived back at the hotel and had about 30 minutes to relax before the cooking class.

The cooking class was more of a selective demo than a class. There wasn't room for much more. Chef Orlando talk a lot about the island's fruit and vegetables, and how organic is best, how to eat locally, using spices in abundance and not being afraid to use spices other than salt and pepper ("salt and pepper are not spices"). Using Lamb and fresh mahi mahi, Chef Orlando selected people from the group to cook. I didn't care that I didn't get to cook, I was more interested in learning about spices, shedding old notions about how things should be combined, being adventurous with herbs, etc. The end products were absolutely delicious.

There was also a rum guy from the island's only rum factory (distillery??), where they make 12 different types of rum. He made us four drinks which we all shared. And one was a simple banana liquer over ice, like a Baileys over ice, only with banana which was absolutely heaven. We already bought one bottle but if we go to the airport and have a chance to buy another two or four, I will do so!

It was good to see the rum and how they are made. Chef Orlando also used the various rums in some of the cooking - the alcohol burns off but imparts the final delicate flavor which added a definite island character to the food.

He ended by giving us some recipe handouts, and said that he would have a book coming out soon. We will definitely get that book. He mentioned at the beginning that recipes are merely "guidelines." You read it, and then you use it as a guide, but you should always change it about with what is local, what is fresh, what you have on hand, and add your own personality to the dish. I smiled. That is how I cook. I don't think I've ever followed a recipe since the first dinner I made in 7th grade. It's good to know that I am on the right track.

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Fresh Spices

I cannot believe that we can't bring fresh spices into the US. ARG!!!

Maybe I'll stick it in my pocket and see what happens.

But we did buy some ground spices. About 10 of them in little baggies. I have to say that the spices we get in the US that we have to pay major $$ for is NOTHING compared to the aromatics and oils available here in the Carribean for a quarter to half the price.

I have to figure out how to store spices for longevity.

We ended up with 3 bars of cocoa - pure coco, not the 85% chocolate bars. Although, Chef Orlando says that is about as close as you will get to pure cocoa. They take the cocoa beans, dry them grind them and make little hard sticks out of them. Then you grate what you want to make cocoa tea, and cocoa sauces. This is a spice, not the sweet chocolate candy you eat at home. I can't wait to give it a try when we get back home.

It's also burning hot in the market.
Thank goodness I brought sunscreen.

Last Day in Paradise

And so many questions.

Do I go to the beach or do I get a massage?
Hmmm.
We leave tomorrow.
Maybe I can squeeze in a massage in the morning.
It's a dilemma.

This morning we're going to the market and having a cooking class with the chef.
Happy happy.
The question is... Do I wear sandals or sneakers to the market?

So many questions.

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Friday, April 23, 2010

Sleep

If sleep is a sign of the body relaxing, or rather, coming down off the intensity and stress of life... well, then... I must be really stressed out.

I have been sleeping a lot.
Taking naps - which I never do.
Feeling sleeping mid-morning - and mid-afternoon.
And then sleeping a full night.

I must be onbe big stress bomb.
And to think, I am going back to that in 2 days.

Sigh...

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I Love My Sound Deadening Headphones

I remember buying my Bose Acoustic II Sound Deadening Headphones. It was in 2003 and I was heading to India for the first time. I had seen them on display at South Station. I was a skeptic. I am always a skeptic.

I spent several days walking by them, stopping to ask questions, looking at the specifications. They were $300! I didn't believe that they would work. After worrying about it for days on end I finally extracted a promise of a full money-back no-questions-asked guarantee if I didn't like them.

I have never regretted buying them.
And I take them everywhere I travel.
And this vacation is no exception.

So last night, I decided to give them a try.
I mean, I sleep with them on the plane, right?

And among the tree frogs that come out at night, the birds that sing their loudest, all manner of nocturnal creatures that squeak and squaw and chirrup and chirp - including one that sounds like someone is taking a ball peen hammer to a kettle drum... I slept like a baby.

One of the best purchases that I have ever made.
Ever.

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Paradise is an Island

We have been in what is about as close to Paradise as I think I'll ever get.
Except, of course, the heat.

But Joseph may surprise me yet again.
He out did his own first surprise of Iceland 6 years ago for our anniversary.
Now, 6 years later, we are in St. Lucia.

6 years ago, I told him "I don't want to go anywhere cold."
And we went to Iceland, volanic paradise.
This year, I said, "I don't want to go to an Island."
And we are in St. Lucia.
But it's not really an island because we are at Ladera Resort, half way up, 1000 ft up, on one of their two mountains, the Pitons.
Fabulous.

It's open air.
Like a tree house.
We are in a 3 bedroom villa overlooking the Caribbean Sea off in the distance.
Two floors, no outside wall, open to the elements.
And the birds, and the ants, and the geckos, and the GIANT MOTHS, and well.. the soft tropical rain which visited us for the day yesterday.

We are halfway through our vacation and I can definitely wait a long time to go back to civilization.

We arrived on Tuesday to a blasting heat from a furnace.
We sat around and got lazy.
Yesterday was a manicure, body scrub and a mud wrap. Amazing.
Today we hired a driver named Nigel who took us through the local Sourfriere attractions - what would have taken 4 hours took only 2.
Then off to Castries with stops along the way for photo opportunities and for Cassava cake.
OMG. Who knew that a root could be so delicious??
They grate the cassava, then they dry it in a dry pan using dry heat, then they add back moisture and ingredients to make these large english muffin shaped cakes which they then bake over a slow open fire.
OMG!
YUMMY!
I might have to try to make it at home.
I wonder where I can buy Cassava root.
I wonder if I can just by the Cassava flour.
Now THAT would be much easier.
Hmmmm....

We have been eating at the hotel, breakfast lunch and dinner.
It's supposedly a destination restaurant.
Joseph chose well.

But today we ate lunch in Castries at the Coal Pot Restaurant.
Who knew how to find it?
We drove into Castries, went right, then left and then some sort of other road and next to a small airplane airport, and take a left (no sign) and then take another left into a dirt lot (no sign) and there you are. The Coal Pot.

We sat right at the water's edge.
I had the Stuff Crab appetizer, and Joseph had the Baked Onion Soup. Both were quiet delicious. Then I had the Calamari Creole and Joseph had the Large Shrimp with the coconut curry sauce. They both were served with rice pilao, lentils over banana (they do amazing things with bananas here), a small salad, and fresh steamed vegetables. Amazing.

Ok. That's all for now.
Catching up is hard.
Will try to be better.


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Friday, April 09, 2010

4 flights, Same Baggage Claim.

Freekin' debacle.

Logan Airport sucks.

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Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Traveling Again - California

I should make a note that this week, I am traveling again to the San Francisco Bay Area - Redwood City to be exact - for our annual trek to Oracle.

What a debacle getting here. So many politics, people getting in the way at work, people who think they know better but they have no clue, people not knowing when to keep their mouth shut until they get their story straight... and in the end, we came anyway. Except there are missing people - key people - because someone said we couldn't go, and then realized that we should, and then couldn't back down so they didn't let any of their own people go - the very same key people who aren't here with us now. PFFFFT!

What is that all about???
People need to suffer so you can keep face?

There is a lot to be said for humility and admitting fault.
You can lead with an iron fist or you can lead through servant leadership.
I think the latter is more.


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Random Thought: Movies

Hmmmm... Since I am traveling I am thinking of watching a movie.

I wonder if Joseph would be upset if I watched "Avatar" by myself.
Or "The Blind Side."

I wonder if I should think twice before I hit the "Purchase Movie" button on the TV...


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Sunday, April 04, 2010

Some Catching Up to Do

I gotta catch up JJ's blog.

I am a bit flummoxed at what I should say.
Been thinking about it for a while.
Need to think about it a little more.

It would be easier if I was the lovey dovey swooning type.
But I. Am. Not.
And that should be warning enough.


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Sun Spots

Another Crewed Run for the local Dead Runners and BAA.

There were four cars and aboout 17 runners. It was one of our smaller years but it worked out pretty well. This year, the drivers stuck together until the runners started spreading out according to speed.

The only hitch was that when I said, "go to mile 9" Rich made it to Mile 9 exactly while the rest of us went to Mile 9.3 because it was easier to find parking. Figures. What do you expect from an actuarial?

Anyway, it all worked out in the end. I ended up sticking with Joseph most of the way. At Mile 16, he told me to meet him at Mile 19 and that he would run with JJ. Of course that is the beginning of a GIANT HILL. And when I met them at Mile 19.5, here comes Joseph and JJ, all smiles.

I said to Joseph, "Don't tell me that he ran all the way up that hill without stopping."
And Joseph responded, "yup, smiling the whole way."
Great. Figures. I can barely walk up the hill much less skip up at 7:30 mile pace, smiling and singing. I don't know about the singing but I am sure he was talking because JJ doesn't stop talking. He eats my brain.

Afterwards we all met up at the Newton Town Hall again. Joseph seemed to have a really good run. The last one before Boston.

We went to The Union at Newton Center afterwards. We sat outside. And wouldn't you know, the sun was out in full force, and we didn't have an umbrella, much less a place to put it even if we could get one. I tried to sit with my back to the sun. But I could just feel those sun spots and my skin photoaging!! After spending all mnorning in the rising sun! Just my luck. Even JJ bitched and moaned. Ugh. I was so irritated. So I told him to be quiet because it wasn't making anything better. Nice, huh? But it did the trick!

It was a good lunch. I had a Cape Codder, which is a fried fish sandwich, with slaw and onion rings, and a couple of Mayflower Porter.

Now I just finished packing.
I have a bright and early flight tomorrow to San Francisco for a vendor visit.
5 AYYY EMMM Wake Up Call.
PFFFT.

At least it is dank and went and overcast in the Bay Area.
No sun spots.


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Friday, April 02, 2010

Anime

I had to go to Copley to get my laptop looked at. And decided to have lunch at the Pru food court.

There is an nime convention in town. Again.
I don't get it.
It's like a buncha unattractive people trying to look worse.

The kids are one thing.
But the 40+ year olds?
I don't get it.
I mean, don't these people have better things to do?

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It feels like 80!

And it's only 63 degrees!

I have a bad feeling about this coming summer.
I have a feeling it's going to be an insufferably hot summer.

I can't wait.
NOT.

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Thursday, April 01, 2010

Note to Self: Thirst

Always have a bottle of water in the car.

Especially when you have massive allergies (overnight, suddenly, and unexpectedly) and your mouth and throat get really dry really fast.


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