Saturday, March 27, 2010

Stretching is good

My sciatica was talkative this morning when I woke up, so I decided to stretch before my run.

I don’t stretch enough. How little I stretch was clear to me once I got down to the floor for some action with the foam roller and found this guy (see picture) hanging out under my couch.

He’s been since evicted, along with a few other relatives of his that took offense when I got out my broom.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


I'm not very much into cookies. As I've mentioned before, to me most cookies are too sweet, too dry and with very little in the way of texture. That doesn't mean I'm above enjoying a good cookie, particularly if it's freshly baked.

A couple of weeks ago I ended up with five boxes of sprinkles left over from work - an occupational hazard. I offered some to Reiko since her sons like to bake. In turn, she invited me over for cookies on Monday night after work.

With her son, we made chocolate chocolate chip cookies with sprinkles. They were warm and gooey when we ate them. The chocolate made them dark and rich, not too sweet, and the sprinkles added extra texture.

"Would you like to take some with you?" Reiko asked me as I was getting ready to leave.
"Um." I had already eaten a bunch, plus eaten plenty of raw dough. I wasn't sure I wanted any more.
"Take some. They won't be as good later but they'll still be good," she insisted.

I took them - half a dozen cookies in a small container.

They didn't last twenty-four hours.

And then there were Girl Scout cookies at work yesterday. Samosas and Thin Mints which kept making their way to my desk.

Help me! I'm turning into a cookie monster!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Last Friday I was on the train working on this puzzle. The New York Times crossword, edited by Will Shortz. I was filling in words left and right, up and down, feeling like a badass wordsmith while doing so.

I was having an internal giggle thinking how impressed anybody who might notice me would be (ha!), since they would assume I was working on that morning's puzzle - the Friday puzzle, second in difficulty only to the gigantor weekend ones.

I wasn't. This was the Monday puzzle, which I had grabbed on Tuesday at work. (I'd also grabbed the answers posted on Tuesday but I haven't looked, I swear!)

It's Tuesday again and I haven't finished it yet.

This is my life now. I feel like I'm having Monday's breakfast on Tuesday, re-heated on Friday, only to realize there's still crumbs left a week later, I skipped lunch, and there's dishes in the sink. But I'm getting better at it.

It took me a couple of weeks to get used to writing and editing while standing, but I didn't take anyone's eyes out while I was developing that skill. But I still sometimes step some toes: so sorry Mr. Hipster Dude with the dark green bag and the ironic 'stache. I'll be more careful next time.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Three runs and sunny

Three runs in 24hrs was challenging even without the help of a nor'easter. I ran 11M split into three runs, which was not much more than last weekend, but I thought I'd give myself a break.

Every woman is different, so I can't speak for all. But I can speak for myself and for friends who have shared their experiences. Strenuous physical activity during your period is wonderful. It makes everything harder and more painful (who doesn't love cramps!) and you get to feel more of a badass than you already are for managing to forge through.

"Survived rain, wind and hills and maybe a broken vagina, but it was a good 65 miles," was how a good friend of mine who bikes put it after a ride to Montauk.

Life would just be too easy otherwise. And since we can't organize our sporting events around it, then we might as well train anyway. So I only added about half a mile this week, but I'll start upping the mileage next week.

And now, a brief commercial interruption for an ad that made my day.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Three runs and a nor'easter

The hardest part about going for three runs within twenty-four hours was figuring out what to wear. I'm not above pulling out from the bin a dirty and slightly stinky running shirt when needed (not that I do this often, oh no), but I draw the line at wearing something that is still damp from the previous run.

Since this weekend's runs featured a nor'easter, I wasn't only dealing with my own sweat, but also the sky's sweat pouring on me. I was completely soaked after my first run. For the second run I was annoyed at not being able to wear my favorite gloves or my favorite tights, but I had something to wear. For the third run there was nothing to do. It was either admit defeat and not do my three runs in twenty-four hours, or put on still damp running gear.


Fortunately, once I started running and warmed up enough to sweat I couldn't tell old dampness apart from new dampness.

The runs themselves were fun. There was a new pond in Prospect Park at the bottom of the small hill across from the baseball diamond. The ducks had already found their way there and were doing upside down dances with their tails and feet flapping in the air. Some trees had decided it was time for spring cleaning and had dropped branches.

But best of all, I managed to do them and all body parts are still in fine working order. Next weekend, another three runs in twenty-four hours, adding mileage this time.

Why am I doing this? Because I'm Woodstalking your Girlfriend, my pretties!

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Dear Sun,

It was so nice getting to spend time with you lately. I know you must be tired after shining for days and days, but I wanted to let you know I miss you.

Things are better when you’re here. You give everything an extra spark and there are more smiles to go around.

I know there are some who don't like you, they might even block you and hide from you, but please don't take it personally. You are awesome and there are plenty of us who love spending time with you.

Hoping to run with you this weekend,


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Round 2

It’s a good thing I like grits and congee because that’s all I got to eat yesterday. For dessert: stained glass jell-o and homemade condensed milk ice cream.

Last week condensed milk made headlines in the New York Times. Glad to see it get the recognition it deserves, I decided to buy myself a few cans and have fun with them. First on the list was stained glass jell-o. Next was condensed milk ice cream. Could making ice cream be as easy as the New York Times claimed?

It was. But I found it too intense, so I added spices to cut the taste: cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. I brought both to a party on Saturday night where they were well received.

After Monday night’s close encounter of the dental kind, I was apprehensive when heading back for round 2. It was a different dentist this time. All she had to do was file one of the fillings to set my bite right again and she did that in less than a minute.

She did not react when I mentioned I was very upset about my appointment the previous day. She didn’t ask me why. Later when she asked me why my jaw hurt so much I told her about how I had received services on Monday night without the benefit of being under anesthesia. I told her the anesthesia was taking time to take effect and I hadn’t been allowed to wait for it to numb me.

“Sometimes that happens.”

Yeah. Not going there again.

My evening was saved by the last of the stained glass jell-o and ice cream. I can chew now, but my mouth is still sore I can’t open it wide enough for large bites – so I’m being all lady-like in my eating.

And using all this as an excuse for more ice cream.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Just breathe through it

Those are not words you want to hear your dentist say.

It's not that there was no troglodyte infested cave in my tooth, it's that he didn't see it until I pointed it out a third time. The minute he saw it, he admitted I was right and he proceeded to get the excavation tools.

We can do both today, he said. You're not going to need anesthesia for the little one, but you're going to need some for the other one.

He gave me a shot near the cave. While that took effect, he went to work on the other side of my mouth. When he came back to start working on it, he noticed it was still too sensitive so he gave me another shot and tried again.

A cold blast of scraping rotating pain went through my tooth and straight to my eyeballs leaving sparks ricocheting in my skull. My eyes flew open as my arms gripped the chair and I grunted so I wouldn't scream.

Sorry, he said. It'll just be minute. Keep your eyes closed.

I'd like to take a moment now to apologize to all those of you who are afraid of dentists. I now realize I'd never had a bad experience at the dentist and I had no concept of the pain you had gone through.

While growing up I always saw the family dentist - my mother's cousin. He pleasantly chatted away with my mom as he worked on my teeth. They caught up on the lives and minor scandals of distant relatives as their chatter lulled me into indifferent boredom. When we were done, we would go downstairs to the Heladeria Americana and have a frozomalt under the almendros.

When I moved to Bogotá, I never bothered to go to the dentist. I just waited until I visited my parents back in Barranquilla, and I had only had one other dentist in New York. I'm only now realizing how gentle she was.

So I shut my eyes and he went in again with renewed vigor. I held on to those armrests until I almost bruised them

You know that cottony feeling you get from dental anesthesia where your mouth and lips feel like they've grown three times their size and your skin is made of paper? I didn't feel that. I was not numb at all and I tried to tell him.

Don't try to to talk right now, he said. I know it hurts but I can't give you any more anesthesia.

After digging out a few more bucketfuls of debris, he decided he was done. He patched things up and sent me away, telling me not to eat anything that required chewing for the rest of the day.

I paid and headed out, glad to have been released alive. I was a few blocks away when my mouth started going numb. By the time I got home my lips felt they were the size of Texas and I didn't know where half my face had gone. Anesthesia, I could have used your help a little sooner. Why did you take your sweet time stopping by?

No food for me last night - just some broth. But no food for me today either. I can't chew, I can't open my mouth too wide and even yawning hurts.

Oh, and my bite is off. It looks like I might have to go back tonight for round 2.


You never know when you might need a parrot perched on your shoulder. Mine had been recently showing its age and it was time to do something about it. After retiring from his duties as mascot for The A.C. Pirates, Parrot had let himself go: he had lost some feathers and those that remained hung loosely.

With the help of shoo goo, last night I performed a laparrotoscopy on him. There's no cure for baldness, but I think the feather-over becomes him. I'm glad to report he's recovering well and will soon be back in shoulder perching shape.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Taste of Coogan's

For those of you who missed it, here's a slice of this morning's awesomeness. I made it to the video. I'm at 1:58 on the left in white and gray as I get ready to cross the Start line. And I'm even smiling and looking like I'm having fun!

Fried Chicken Running

The lingering creakiness from last weekend was gone by Tuesday. This morning I set out to Washington Heights to see if I could match last Sunday’s personal record setting pace. Today was the Third Annual Fried Chicken & Waffles Race, known to others as Coogan’s Salsa, Blues, and Shamrocks 5K and I was ready to try something new.

At most NYRR’s races there are photographers snapping away. A few days later you get an email offering prints and other products so you can forever preserve the image of your sweaty grimace. Makes a good gift, they say.

I disagree, but I still look at the pictures. The way you can’t avert your eyes from horrible images even as you try not to look, I am drawn to these pictures from races. They’re not flattering, but what bothers me the most is that in them I don’t look like I’m running: both of my feet are touching the ground.

You can't get anywhere if you keep both feet on the ground the whole time.

I’ve gotten good at doing the old lady shuffle – I’ve even gotten progressively faster – but I haven’t earned the right to it. When I’m sixty, I’ll be happy to start working on perfecting the little old lady shuffle.

Right now, I need to work on letting go of fear. I need to push off, one foot at a time, and not be afraid of where that might take me.

Today it took me to Fort Tryon Park, past marching bands, bag pipes, mariachis, and a view that spanned the Hudson and the George Washington Bridge, all the way to my prize: a new personal record followed by a green bagel courtesy of NYRR and fried chicken and waffles (plus a side of cheesy grits and a buttery biscuit) at Amy Ruth's in Harlem.

But it doesn’t stop there. I need to keep pushing off and letting myself lift off the ground so I can move forward.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


No. I did not bring you any. I already told you that even if I had managed to keep from eating it all, customs wouldn't have let me so stop pestering me. But I do have some answers for you. (The questions are here.)

Colombia has amazing flora and fauna diversity and will knock any country's socks off in terms of butterflies, flowers, fruit, and coffee - plus some other more famous exports that shall not be mentioned. This is just the tip of the fruit basket.


Anna's Guess: Rainbow Olives
Brian's Guess: Applegrape. Great for making wine!

They are ciruelas. Wiki thinks they are similar to jocote.

I've never heard of anyone using them to make wine, but it might not be a bad idea. I imagine it would taste like a light dry plum wine with a hint of citrus. They are vaguely similar to large green olives in terms of size and different textures, with they have a large hard pit. The red ones are ripe, juicy and sticky. The green ones are harder and best eaten with a dash of salt. Delicious in all stages of ripeness.


Brian: Nougatberry. It tastes like candy with nuts in it!
Anna: Eggplant Turnips

It's a Mangostín. It's definitely eggplant colored and it does taste like candy. Ever had Trader Joe's freeze dried mangosteen? Worth the check-out line but it is highly addictive so be careful


Anna:Poppy Thornberries
Brian: Colombian pricklypear. Like the one from the American southwest, but sweeter, with hints of vanilla.

It's a pitaya - a kind of yellow dragon fruit. I've seen red dragon fruit at the co-op but I've never tried it so I can't compare, but if you ever bump into a pitaya, just grab it, cut it open, scoop it out and eat it before anyone steals it from you.

The flesh is firm but soft like a medium ripe banana, but it is refreshing and the tiny seeds make it crunchy. Lightly sweet with a cherry lemonade aftertaste.


Anna: Slimy Sesame Oranges
Brian: Mandrita. A cross between a pomegranate and a durian. Only smells a little bit funky.

Think sweetly fragrant oysters with a light taste and you're on the right track.

I once met someone who worked as a private chef in Colombia. When he found out I was from there, he grabbed my arm and asked me if I had ever been able to find granadillas here. He'd been haunted by their taste and had been unable to find anyone who had even heard of one and was starting to think he had dreamed it.

Nope. It's real. And it's real good. I've never had it anywhere else, but Wiki doesn't seem to think it's that rare.


Brian: Revolution fig. Like a large mission fig, but more tangy.
Ann: Mini Melon Raisins

Níspero - I hear it is similar to sapodilla.

Though not quite as furry as a kiwi, the skin has a similar texture and you eat it in a similar way. The flesh is very soft and melts in your mouth. It tastes almost like caramel.

Off to have second breakfast - this post left me hungry.

I've seen mangosteen and red dragon fruit at the co-op and in Chinatown. Has anyone else had any of these, found them here, or have the scoop on other amazing fruit?

Prizes and Winners

There is a moment in a blogger's life when the compulsion to have a contest or a giveaway might strike. If the blogger is the kind to get carried away by ideas regardless of practicality or potential embarrassment like yours truly (see The Great Jell-o Wrestling Adventure), the post might go up before panic strikes: what if no one participates?

Thank you all contest participants for saving me from that fate: both of you! I am happy as an iguana on sun-warmed roof tiles (trust me on this one, they love it).

And now, the lucky winners.

Top Entry Winner: Brian
Random Grand Prize Winner: Anna

Congratulations and thank you for participating! I will contact both of you to arrange for prize delivery. You'll be receiving a handmade goodie bag filled with Colombian snacks including but not limited to:

1. Coffee Delight - exactly that
2. Tamarind balls - tangy concentrated sunshine
3. Frunas - sweet gummy chews
4. Bom Bom Bun - the best gum filled candy on a stick
5. Mani Moto - peanuts covered in a sweet and salty hard shell
6. Manjar Blanco - there are no words
7. Arequipe - Colombian version of dulce de leche

Thanks all for participating and stay tuned for when I reveal the real names of these fruits.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Stiff and Creaky

Like a rusty hinge that won't turn. Getting out of bed today and moving about, I'm feeling one hundred and three years old.

It could be that my body misses sleeping on a hammock.

Or it might be residual stiffness from Friday's cramped flight back from Colombia.

Though my having smacked into a tree on Saturday while sledding might have something to do with it.

Yesterday's race could also have contributed. I ran the Al Gordon in Prospect Park and beat my previous NYRR record. I'm still far behind my Turkey Trot pace, but since I went in wondering if I'd be able to survive it, I'm counting it.

And even thought I'm stiff, I wouldn't change a thing about last weekend.

It's all about the little victories.