Back In Business–A Playlist To Beat Laziness

I almost gave in to laziness and fear and sleepiness and ridiculousness this morning–but I didn’t.  Ladies and gentleman, I went for my first post-Buffalo Trinidad run!  And to celebrate the occasion, there’s a new playlist involved…

When the alarm went off at 5:45, I was all “Hells no.”  I hit snooze.  When it went off again, I hit snooze, wanted to cry at the prospect of leaving my cozy bed, and negotiated with my half-asleep self that I’d run in the afternoon instead.  When it went off the third time, I decided I was not going to feel any better about this first run back in Heat Central, shook off my ridiculousness, and went out for the damn three-mile run.

One word for it:  amazing.

I thought the heat would be unbearable, as it was when I left in May, and I was concerned that the sun would be a bit much for my late-ish start.  No such thing.  It was sunny but not frying weather, there was a breeze (which was actually cool!), and the mosquitoes weren’t nearly as nippy as I expected them to be.  I broke a sweat before I was even breathing heavily and was practically exuding a river as I ran, but it actually felt great to sweat so quickly; it was like running in my own personal shower bubble.

So yes, I had to sacrifice about twenty seconds per mile of speed compared to my Buffalo times, but it didn’t matter in the least.  It was too awesome of a run for me to care.

And did I mention the scenery?  It was breathtaking on my route, now that the rain has pounded the island and greened up the mountains and trees and bushes, and I could smell all kinds of seasonal flowers all along the way.  It was as idyllic as running in Trinidad gets.  This picture is not of the route, but you get the idea:

Those are the mountains I see on my morning run

Misty gingers of the kind I see on my morning runs

So, in honor of today’s awesome run, I’ll give you my Guaranteed Laziness-Busting Playlist, which is sure to generate big-time badassery at even the ungodliest hour of the morning:

  • Rihanna–Hard
  • Bajah and the Dry-Eye Crew–Laba Laba
  • MIA–Stepping Up (*her entire new album kicks and thumps, I can’t recommend it enough)
  • Mapei–Public Enemy
  • Anjalie–Boom
  • DJ Waxfiend/Busy Signal–Sound of Sirens
  • Lazerproof–Tigerlily
  • Lady Gaga–Dance In The Dark
  • MIA–Born Free
  • Bajah and the Dry-Eye Crew–Bondo Kallay
  • Thunderheist–Jerk It

There’s no way you’ll be able to sit still through this mix, I promise.  Just don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Trini Tales Thursday: Slang… And Sushi, Too

When I first moved to Trinidad, I was a bit worried about understanding the accent here.  I had listened to some Trini radio online before and, well, sat there dumbfounded while trying to figure out what was said three sentences ago.

It took a bit of time (and quite a few embarrassing repeated “What?/Say that again?/Sorry?”) to get it down, but I can understand most people now.  However, what I’m still amazed at is the extent to which Trini slang differs from anything I’ve ever seen before–and how easy it was to fall right into using it.

So, in honor of me steupsing in traffic, giving cut-eye to bad parking jobs, and going bazodee at sushi today, I thought it might be time for a Trini slang lesson.  Get your notebooks out or I’ll ketch your tail….

  • cuteye/stinkeye–fairly self-explanatory; to give a mean look.  Example:  “I gave cuteye to the pervy man on the bicycle who was staring at me during my morning run,” or “the cashier gave me stinkeye when I asked her to pack my groceries into reusable bags.”
  • steupse (pronounced “stoops”):  a sound made by sucking your teeth in disapproval or dismay.  Example:  “Every time I see the price of strawberries, I steupse.  I’m not paying US $6 for a pint of berries.  Steupse.  Steupse. Steupse.”
  • ketch your tail: to get someone in trouble or give them a good telling-off/hiding.  Example:  “Next time I see the water pump repairman thiefing my mangoes, I’m gonna ketch his tail REAL good.”
  • hear dis nah: a way of prefacing a story, preferably a salacious or gossipy one; like using “so….” or “you won’t believe this.”  Example:  “Hear dis nah:  I saw the neighbor kissing her gardener, and her husband was in the house!  Yes, girl…”
  • bazodee (pronounced “BAZ-uh-dee): going really, really, maniacally crazy for something or someone. Example:  “I go bazodee for nacho-flavored Doritos.”
  • bacchanal: any general or specific craziness.  Example:  “The start of the Clico 5K race was total bacchanal, people  lining up anyhow and taking off before the whistle.”
  • macco: to gossip about others.  Example:  “I have no patience for people who go to the pool to macco and not to swim; they take up my lane and I want to bop them over their gossipy heads with my swimming board.”
  • bamsie/bumper: the booty.  Example:  “If I do my Core Fusion for a month, I’ll have a REAL nice bamsie for so…”

So go forth and spread the good Trini word…  and, if you don’t, at least do a little steupse at anything that bothered  you today.  I guarantee it’ll make you feel much, much better.

Missed previous Trini Tales Thursdays?  Check out Office Life–insights on air conditioning, tea, and the correct way to open a door with a buzzer…

________

Foodery today included an out-of-body experience with the new oatmeal (steel-cut oats after weeks of quick Quaker crap?  Be still my heart!):

Plus grapefruit, coffee, and email catch-up

And a green monster with about 1/3 cup of coffee added in (which, oddly enough, blended with the banana, soymilk, and spinach to  turn my smoothie into a refreshing mix  of chocolaty green goodness):

Green monster and water--all beverages enjoyed from bottles due to my bad tendency to spill EVERYTHING around my electronics

However, the key foodery event du jour was the sushi at More Sushi on Ariapita Ave. in Port of Spain, for which I dressed thusly:

Dress by me, finished five minutes before heading out the door; shoes Target; earrings were a sister gift; necklace is granny bling

And, speaking of that meal, Lord have mercy! I wish I could go around flaying fish for every meal, but until then, More Sushi will have to do–it was a pile of crazy, but a supremely inspired pile of crazy with chunky tuna, jalapeno, cucumber, some kind of roe, and a spicy chili sauce on top:

Trinis are great cooks, no matter the cuisine they make.  How they manage to improve on regular ol’ sushi is beyond me, but boy oh boy… Trini cooks have a sweet han’ fuh so (great touch in the kitchen).  May I live and learn…

Food Pilgrimages: The Bulk Shopping Excursion

Remember when I went on a wild goose chase for real oatmeal last month?  Today, I went on another pilgrimage, braving traffic and rastas selling all manner of cheap goods on the highway, straight across the island and out west…

This time, to Pricesmart.  Because today was ALL about the canned tomatoes.

Let’s back it up for some context, shall we?

Though my student days are over, my cheap budget days never will be.  I used to be motivated to penny-pinch by shoe lust; now, it’s fabric-mania and Target trip lust that keeps me and my wallet on our toes.  So, when I moved to Trindiad, I was more than ready to do as I had done everywhere else, and shop in a few different places to make sure I got all my deals.

In Trinidad, that means:

  • Sunday farmer’s market (at least twice a month):  for 90% of my veggies, plus fruit
  • Dodgy roadside veggie man:  for mid-week vegetable top-ups or for full veggie shopping on weeks when I’m too tired/lazy/hungover to get up early on a Sunday
  • Supermarket: for basic dry goods, eggs, etcetera once a week (if I’m organized).  I vary between two:  one has lower prices and frozen spinach/berries and HUGE lines to park the car, get through the damn store, and pay, plus I always seem to catch them on Very Surly Cashier Day.  The other one is closer to home and I don’t usually have to wait for a parking spot, but it has terrible selection and lots of freezer-burned items; also, they really hate packing my stuff into reusable bags (but get most surly if I try to pack them into the damn bags myself.

And then…. There’s Pricesmart.

The first time I went with The Most Fabulous S, it was love at first sight.  How could I have lived without a 10-lb. can of corn before?  And how did no one tell me that the way to buy beer, toilet paper, and deodorant was by the dozen? Oh, be still my heart.  We walked out of there like we’d just seen the Virgin Mary and the baby Jesus all rolled into one and they’d commanded us to shop till the back of the car dropped.

However, after subsequent visits, I realized that buying my vanilla creamer in liters was not exactly cost-conscious, unless I planned on drinking it straight up with every meal before it went off (or didn’t mind using three-month-old creamer, beating the lumps out, and risking food poisoning in the process).  Nor was buying 25 apples that went mushy AFTER I ate them raw/in oatmeal/in cobblers/in muffins/in my sleep.  And the corn?  Let’s just say that a ten-pound can (or ten one-pound cans) were actually the same price as buying (cue gasp) ten one-pound cans at Freezerburnmarket.

WHAT?

Yes, my friends, I was a victim of the Blind Bulk Buy Syndrome.  EVERYTHING seems like a deal when it’s in army-feeding size—but it not always is.

Since then, I taken a very good look at what I buy in bulk by weighing the cost difference between the bulk and smaller packages and by asking myself if, really and truly, it’s worth plunking a big amount of money down for a product I may not use all that much or really even need.  I’ve finessed my cheap-girl, bulk-buying habits to a beautiful, artful science and I even did enough math to make my head spin and reach for a whiskey to show you!  I’ve listed TT amounts; if you’re curious about how much that is in USD,  just divide the TT amount by six.

  • Canned tomatoes (10 14-oz cans for 56 TT=7 TT a can, as opposed to 11 TT a can at the supermarket.  That’s a whole 54 TT less at Pricesmart.  54 TT gets me enough fabric for a skirt—a very nice one.
  • Pasta:  32 TT for four boxes of any pasta, or 8 TT per box.  Much better than 13 TT per box at the supermarket.  Twenty TT gets me enough phone credit for a month (I don’t talk much, granted) or two lovely, bright n’ garish nail polish bottles.
  • Olive oil:  A gallon goes for about 120 TT.  A half gallon goes for that much at the supermarket.  120 TT gets me enough fabric for a shirtdress with a flouncy skirt, or a manicure (should I ever go back to the mean yet competent manicurist).
  • Shampoo:  same case as the olive oil.  I get twice as much of a good brand as I get of the paint-stripping cheap kind I (admittedly) buy otherwise. I told you, I’m CHEAP.
  • Cranberries:  Same as olive oil and shampoo.
  • Oatmeal:  OMG, I hit the holy grail today!  Steelcut oats, in flood-protecting-sandbag size, was finally found.  The price doesn’t even matter.  I’d give away my future firstborn (and my favorite red wooden platform sandals, the ones I can barely walk in but still kiss each day) to have non-mush oatmeal again.

All in all, I went in with the definitive list and came out with a few extra great deals (did I mention wine?  Decent wine for the price of the grape juice fermented in a microwave that passes for wine at the supermarket?  Yeah, I got wine!).   Best of all—I didn’t make the back of the car drag down low:

The Most Fabulous S would be proud indeed.

_____________

In other happenings around here:

I had a pretty good 4-mile run!  I didn’t die, didn’t swallow any mosquitoes, and even ran into a few friends on the way.  Might this be a signal that 5 miles are coming soon?  And should I just keep that to myself so I don’t set myself up for embarrassment when I make it into the local papers for fainting/biting a dog/drinking out of the rain gutters from run-induced desperation and mania?  Oops.  Y’all know how I can’t keep these things to myself… So yes, expect me to log five miles soon.  (Just don’t expect me to live and tell the tale).

I tried my hardest not to look like a West Moorings housewife (read: expat white, filthy rich, deathly bored) by going channeling Puerto Rican charm (I hope) in a ruffly and booty-hugging getup today:

Blouse Kohl's, jeans Old Navy, shoes Target, earrings from street vendor in Salamanca, Spain

And I reveled in the freedom of working from home by making muffins this morning—apple and dried cranberry, full of (quick) oaty goodness:

Muffins plus mango. Plus dog--Umbi ALWAYS has eyes for breakfast.

So what if I forgot the sugar?  I gave them the slightest swipe of maple butter and that was more than enough.  It goes to show that most recipes call for WAY too much sugar (for my taste, anyway).

And, for the grand Cinco de Mayo dinner, an old favorite came out:  Drunken Bean Tamale Pie!

Carib beer isn't Corona, but it'll more than do...

So tasty.  It’s been too long, my old friend.

How do you food shop?  How do you determine what’s worth getting in bulk/paying more for/traipsing halfway across the city/state/island to get?

Trini Tales Thursday: Office Life

As I sat at my desk this morning, trying to keep still from the excitement of knowing that tomorrow is my last day at the office job, a strange realization hit me:  I am a lucky girl to have lived the endless source of hilarity, frustration, and reward that is the Trini office life.

Don’t get me wrong.  Office life is office life and certain things always stay the same, whether it’s in an office here, there, or on Mars.  But the Trini office is rife with particularities, and I’m sure that my year and a half of office tenure has enabled me to barely scratch the surface of this bizarre anthropological phenomenon.

Scientific much?  Oh, indeed.

So, for your edification, I present you with some key findings, thoroughly researched and vetted (ok, observed through my own very particular perspective).

Entering the office.  All offices are locked.  Get ready to knock and be buzzed in.  And get ready for every single door to have its own particular way of opening, such as the oh-so-common “push the handle then lift then shift to the left then pull.”  No wonder the usual reaction when a person needs to be let in is a look of bemusement at the workings of the door–take it from me, I was a key office buzzer-presser.

After entering the office, should you be let in, you’ll immediately think you stepped into a chilly London fall day, as if by magic.  You didn’t.  The AC is set to 16-17 C (or 60-65 F).  You best walk with a sweater, a pashmina, a set of gloves, and your coat or be ready to freeze.

If you are an important enough person to have been let in, you may even be important enough to be asked if you want tea. If so, said cup of tea will be made by an office attendant whose sole job is to clean the office and make tea.  As in, that is their full-time job and there’s one per office.  It boggles the mind, but try doing a dish in the office kitchen and you’ll see.

The next thing you’ll see is that most of the ladies will be wearing suits.  The vast majority will be made of polyester, unlined, high-necked, and worn without a blouse underneath.  They’ll also be every color of the rainbow, plus half of the colors in the 96-crayon-plus-16-bonus crayola box.  I’ve said everything that bears saying on the suits before. It’s a local thing.

As for being one of the people working in said office?  You will not wash your plate, lest you are the cleaner/office attendant.  You will not make a photocopy unless you are the clerical office attendant.  Should you need to do either, you may request the secretary to tell either what you need.  Unless there’s an administrative assistant in between your role and the secretary, in which case you may need to ask the administrative assistant to delegate to the secretary the task of asking the office attendant to make your cup of tea.  And if there are clerical assistants, or research assistants?  You may need to pull out the office flowchart to to see who you ask for anything.

And, like everywhere else, there will be meetings, and gossip, and plenty of ceremony, except you’ll also have cultural differences to suss out.  Things like language, and reacting to people’s requests, and telephone etiquette, and every other single thing that you take for granted.  You’ll also hear the news dissected in detail, political issues discussed with great personal investment, and gossip beyond what you thought was discoverable about anyone worth gossiping about–all told in the most expressive, hilarious, and memorable way.

And office food?  Don’t get me started.  Work in an office for a week and see the results on your hips for a month.  Never have office eats tasted so good.

In all seriousness,  I’m very glad to have worked in an office here in Trinidad. There’s no better cultural immersion than landing in an office environment with people of all responsibility levels and from all walks of life.  I might have a couple of battle scars from these experiences, but I also have stories–and good memories–for the ages.

I hope the Husband and dog prove themselves good officemates.  They have a LOT to live up to.

______________

In my second-t0-last day of office life (a day of full rest from exercise, an office lunch, and some tasty but ugly-looking leftovers for dinner) I brought out what may be my favorite office dress ever:

I love this dress beyond all reason.  It’s the best-sewn and finished dress I’ve ever made.  My mom wants to steal it.  I might have to let her borrow it or she’s liable to book a flight to Trinidad, get a cab from the airport, steal it in the middle of the night, and hightail it back to stateside, where she’ll wear it with greater aplomb than me, as always–the woman is a glamazon.  I can but aspire…

How To Be a Mean, Green, Earth-Loving Machine

Happy Earth Day y’all!

I celebrated Earth Day by starting my day with a nice hot (read: sweltering) run, taking in the flower-fragrant morning air and feeling gratitude for the fact that the rainy season will be starting soon.  We LEGIT need some rain down here–my grass is like little sharp shards of straw.  Besides, no way am I graduating to five miles until at least half my run can happen in under-90F.

I also got to thinking about what I do, and what we all can do, to live a bit greener.  Some nights, I wake up in a cold sweat of anxiety sometimes about not being to recycle anything here in Trinidad, as I used to be a champion recycler and I cringe every time I toss a can into the garbage.  However, bar a miracle of epic proportions, recycling is just not going to be on the national agenda for a bit (we need water and non-corrupt bureaucracy more urgently at the moment).  It just means I need to be more creative about doing what I CAN still do

Ways I contribute:

  1. I use organic fertilizer on my grass (i.e. a pooping dog) and feed the dog well so that the organic fertilizer he produces will be extra-nutritious to my sweet lawn, and instead of using fancy gadgets to aereate the compost and fertilizer pile, I just get the Mr. to do it.
  2. I only wash clothes when A) they stand up by themselves or B) make those around me clear a ten-foot radius when they smell me coming their way.
  3. I only wash my hands when they are visibly dirty (water wastage, tsk tsk)
  4. I get the dog to lick my plates so I don’t have to wash them so often
  5. I use as few toxic cleaning products as possible (so what if that means the house isn’t squeaky clean, or clean at all?)
  6. I routinely stay home from work to avoid driving and creating greenhouse gases, etc.

OK, now for the real stuff:

  1. I toss all veggie scraps in a compost pile in the back.
  2. I only wash full loads of laundry.
  3. I use reusable bags wherever I go (despite getting odd looks from baggers–the whole reusable bag thing isn’t that common here yet)
  4. I buy local fruits and vegetables and try to buy organic whenever I can.
  5. I buy products with as little packaging as possible (especially because I can’t recycle).
  6. The plants get watered with a can, and will continue to be so even when the hose ban is over.

And evidence of my greendoings:

Compost pile galore

Doing the bag lady thing

Eating local--very local, backyard local--fruit

Watering can meets greenery

I even worked the Earth Day angle with natural motifs on my skirt and jewelry:

T-shirt Charlotte Russe, skirt my hands and sewing machine, shoes Target

Green leafy earring for a green leafy Earth

How do you do your Mean Green Earth-Lovin’ Machine thing?

Gadgetry Discoveries: In Which I Slap My Forehead and Go “Duh”

I tentatively planned a run for today in hopes that my bruised and scraped toe would be kosher for it after a day off yesterday.  I plastered it with Band-Aids, gingerly put my socks on, and crossed my fingers before taking a step.  All signs were go!  So go I did.

Now, I realized after the last few runs that I could get more accurate mile splits with my heart rate monitor watch’s chronometer function than I could with Nike+, which gives me a good average pace whenever I press the info button but not a mile-by-mile breakdown.  I don’t know why I think it’s more important to know this now that the usual run is four miles as opposed to before, when it was three miles.  I suppose it’s mainly because I want even more numeric proof of my mile-four suffering  (which I suspect is all in my head and not in my mile splits–but that’s another story).

So off I went.  I tapped the chrono function button at the beginning of each mile–so glad I remembered!–and proceeded to sweat it out in the most uncomfortably hot, glaringly sunny run I’ve had since my arch-nemesis Newsday 5K race back in September.  Holy hell.  I was sweating before I had even closed my gate and stuffed the extra water bottle in my mailbox, and no wonder–instead of the usual balmy 80F,  it was already close to 90F at 6:30.  Yikes.

I sped up in the first half of the run because I was desperate to get out of the sun and then worried that this would make me run out of steam by mile 3, but I took my chances and took a few extra walk breaks, trudging on.  As I was nearing the end of mile three, I realized that I was near the house and my fresh bottle of water, and decided that, if I picked it up, I’d make myself do the last mile.  Maybe it was masochist–ok, it definitely was–but it kept me going, and despite a few short walk breaks, I finished the four miles in 40 minutes.

I was a bit stumped when I saw my time.  I mean, 40:49?  That’s my usual time with minimal walk breaks, and I’d taken quite a few more than I usually did, especially at the last mile.  Um, what was this about?

Thankfully, my heart rate monitor came to the rescue!  I checked my mile splits and saw this:

Mile 1:  9:35

Mile 2:  10:08

Mile 3: 9:59

Mile 4: 11:59 (pleeeenty walk breaks, due to heat and to mean evil dogs spotted)

Which makes perfect sense!  Not only that, but there was a  tiny little number hovering above the mile split number, and guess what it was?  My average heart rate for that split!  And for the entire run!  And the heart rate high!  And the heart rate low!

Yes.  This is why normal people get heart rate monitors.  This is how normal people use their heart rate monitors after reading the manual.  This is clearly something I just haven’t gotten down with–particularly shocking given my exercise-stat obsession interest.

Oh, Heart Rate Monitor Watch, you are once again so fresh with possibilities!  Whatever else might you wondrously do for me?  I’ll be making your instructions my bedtime reading, just to find out.

____________

On this roastingest of roasty days, I boiled in my own skin wearing this at work:

Top from Kohl's, cardigan New Look, skirt H and M, shoes Target

Neckline detail--stripes AND polka dots!

And then boiled in my own skin in this when I got home:

Old Navy shorts and flip-flops, T-shirt from Amy's place, an old Buffalo restaurant fave

Please eat at Amy's Place (see address)! And suppor them by buying their shirts! (T-shirt neckline cutting optional)

Since I was already a sweaty hot mess, I figured I might as well keep being one and made a wok-firing dinner tonight:  Korean bibimbap (rice with tons of veggie fixings and a zesty sauce).  I put the rice on and it happily cooked while I got my ingredients out and my chop on:

3/4 contents of my fridge, at the ready...

Bodhi, or long green beans...

Then I got my fire on (literally and figuratively):

Then I got my hungry sweaty eat on:

Bowlful of happiness, Korean-style

The whole concoction had, in the end, green beans, carrots, bok choi, mushrooms, a fried egg, and Korean marinated beef, plus kimchi and a spicy sauce with gochujang paste substitute and sesame oil.  I made this once before and it took forever, but this time it was a snap.  Maybe it was because I was happy that I wasn’t the only one charring around the edges?

As for other food goodness had today, I had a veggielicious lunch of homemade broccoli soup, whole wheat roll, and carrot and cucumber batons:

Plus a marshmallow Peep–me eating that bunny would make my dad super proud:

The lunch scored 90/100–had I remembered to pack a little pat of butter for the roll, it would have gotten a 100.  Oh well–that just means I have to have it again soon, doesn’t it?  Indeed.

Swim + run + life = exhaustion.  I’m going to catch up with my sheep now.

Trini Driving and the Pursuit of Old-Fashioned Oats

A confluence of unforeseen events conspired to bring me a day off from work today and, instead of being a lazy layabout like I thought I would be, I woke up full of energy and with a clear mission:  I was going to find some old-fashioned oats.

Now, let me just give a bit of context.  Like so many others out there, I’d prefer my oats not to have the texture of rubber cement, so I’m not a fan of quick oats.  You can pretty much turn a rock over and find quick or instant oats here in Trinidad.  Conversely, you can pretty much search every supermarket on the island in two months (like I have) and not find any old-fashioned oats.  I had to give up my hope of being rained on by plentiful thick oats.  I had to suck it up and take the drive through Port of Spain to West Moorings and, at the risk of doing like the typical rich expat housewives, go to West Mall’s gourmet shop Peppercorns for supplies.  Otherwise I’d be eating soft cement for the next couple of weeks.

So I fortified myself with cornmeal pancakes–with coconut, which I couldn’t taste, boo–topped with bananas (potassium is for patience):

Gulped down my coffee and some orange juice, and headed west, just me and my ride.

Now, driving in Trinidad is a bit like an old-school Nintendo race game.  You have only a certain amount of buttons to press and the button combinations don’t cover all the movies you need to keep yourself from crashing.  I actually kinda like the whole chaos and lawlessness of it, and take a certain pride in knowing that I can get behind the wheel and get from point A to B without landing in a rain gutter or in a tearful panic attack on the side of the road.  I’ve been told that driving in Africa is worse, and that driving in the Indian subcontinent is worse, but that otherwise this might be where bad drivers come to be reincarnated and unleashed on the roads.

There’s a whole set of driving practices that you need to accept if you’re going to drive here–practices that will get you pulled over and ticketed in many places of the world, mind you.  Today I encountered and did most of them, including:

  • Hand signals:  not the standard North American or European variety.  Oh no.  You make circles from your elbow and pat the air up and down and it’s all supposed to mean something. My default one is sticking my arm straight out of the car–it means stop/don’t pass me/I’m about to cut you off, so it covers all the bases I need.
  • Cutting drivers off: it’s cut off or be cut off.  No one honks their horn because really, if there’s ten feet between you and the car in front of you, you’re just asking to be cut off.
  • Speeding around trucks with badly-secured items:  I would rather risk an itty-bitty car scrape than have 500 unsecured metal party chairs flatten me and my Smurf mobile.  You bet I’ll go 80 mph on a 45 mph road to avoid that.
  • The aforementioned driving at 80 mph:  unless you want the car behind you to simulate some dirty Carnival wining upon your car’s bumper, you best get moving.  Once you realize that you have exactly half a foot between your car and the car in the next lane, zipping along at that speed isn’t so bad, is it?
  • Playing chicken with H-cars and maxi taxis:  H-cars have H in the license plate and act like taxis.  Maxi taxis are route taxis, big and white with colored stripes according to their route.  Both types of cars are driven by lunatics who would think nothing of driving against traffic on the highway or riding over your car to pick up or drop off a fare.  You must have balls with them and show them no fear–that’s the only way to put it and the only way to get anywhere around here.
  • Traffic grinding to a full stop because some idiot couldn’t pay the intersection-entrepreneur rastas fast enough for their peanuts:  happens all the time.  I pity the poor rastas who risk life and limb by selling at the highway stop signs–and love their dress sense of shirts with ties and wing-tip shoes.

So I did my Trini driving thing, that very special thing that makes my mother balk at handing over the car keys when I ask for them, and made good time to West Mall, which can be 20 minutes away on a good day or an hour and a half away on a usual day.  I clocked forty five minutes, which wasn’t bad for getting caught in a stanky truck party on Wrightson Road (trucks load, unload, dump junk, and generally make traffic impossible on that road during the day).

What I won’t do for my oatmeal…

After a speed visit to the supermarket (why hello, West Hi-Lo, so nice to meet you and your reasonably-priced local mushrooms!), the wine shop, two sport shops, a homegoods store, and the aforementioned gourmet food shop, I came home with goodies such as:

This brash girl loves herself some tempranillo, even if it's oddly-named for its origin country

Yellow curry makes me think of Montreal days, sigh--Thai three times a week

Mozzarella pearls for the Husband

The coffee of my people--so what if it's distributed out of NYC?

See? It's made to the Latin taste, not that I fall for demographics marketing or anything

As long as there are tortilla chips in the house, food journaling needs to happen

Please complete: "I know I'm a swimmer because....": I wore out my last swim cap! It's purple, like my hair when I was fifteen

Wait a second.  Where is the oatmeal, the old-fashioned oatmeal that Peppercorns has always had, every single time I’ve been in the overpriced shop?  Nowhere to be found, my peeps.  I asked.  I was told  “It doh have, just de quick tings”  (cashier points to mocking tower of quick oats).  I sighed.  I was surprised at not being too surprised.

Oh well.  I can see turtles any old day I want and I eat mangoes from my tree half the year round.  What’s a bit of oatmeal deprivation, anyway? Guess who will be eating more oat pancakes and omelettes in the coming weeks…  unless some poor kind soul decides to send me a Quaker care package.

So, rather than pull my hair out in despair, I’ll tell you about other goings-on of the day.

I wore clothes despite the boiling heat:

Same outfit as from this pic from one month ago--jeans Old Navy, shoes Target, shirt a hand-me-up from Little A

I attempted to put running shoes on over my badly-scraped toe (turtle-watching collateral damage) and it was a no-go.  Bleeding toe trumps a run every time.  Here’s to hoping the toe is healed tomorrow.

Oh, and I had a killer ham omelette with salad for lunch:

And I finally got around to making Moosewood New Classics’ Dixie Burgers for dinner:

A small army of burgers

A small bundle of goodness--burger, barbecue sauce, lettuce, tomato, onion, whole wheat roll

These babies were nutritional superstars with their black-eyed peas, sweet potato, onion, pepper, garlic, spinach, and bevvy of spices (including allspice and thyme).  They will most definitely be making regular appearances on the blog (and my dinners).

I am also proud to announce that I worked the afternoon away with a sinkful of dirty dishes in plain view.  I did not wash them the second I saw them.  I wasn’t even tempted to do so until I was making dinner.  I think I’m going to be REALLY good at this work-from-home biznitch…