Thursday, December 29, 2011

Paying debts

No story today. It's been a warm n' fuzzy but very busy week so I decided to drop out of whatever the universe had planned for me and cuddle up instead on the couch with my cat and watch a movie with him. OK, I'll be watching the flick and he'll be sleeping but the point is that I took tonight off and am making good use of my lounge time. I don't know what is in store for this blog in the coming months but it's back for now.

I harbor both fond and less than fond memories of running in frigid temperatures last winter, so I splurged on a 3-month membership at a local gym and kicked things off with a 45 minute run while watching Til Debt Do Us Part, which I realize is reality programming but comes off so authentic, with a happy ending (the family digs its way out of debt) and a moral message disguised as a financial one (spending money can make you a bad person and overspending will buy you a one way ticket to hell). From today's episode I learned that families can't afford stay-at-home moms in this economy, a father's blood pressure decreases as he spends time with his toddler, and even you can use your creative talents to earn dough. And the tough love over-all message stresses that one must save all pennies and not spend. Ever. It is a sobering program to view during the days following extravagant holiday present exchanges and tummy-stuffing meals in nice restaurants! But the run was fantastic, and I must say that the return to my former gym felt like a visit to an old friend's home.

I rounded out the run with some ab work from and completed a set of the uneven push ups I saw there. Bodyrock is like Sesame Street for exercise conscious adults.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


It was another Friday evening after work for Frank and Michel, but this time they were not drinking just because they were young, hot douche bags; Frank was about to start his dream job at RiM on Monday morning, and since it was only 4 PM, the entire weekend was theirs to piss away. The bar was hopping with execs, temps and admin staff who were relieved to put a long week of disorganized meetings and back-stabbing office politics behind them.

Frank and Michel started on pitchers of margheritas, first lime and then strawberry-mango, moved on to pitchers of beer, and after they got tired of beer, the bartender lined up 16 shot glasses of Goldschlager on the bar and Michel and Frank stood at each end and shot them back, silk ties flipped over their shoulder. Michel's support staff team looked on, sharing a pitcher of diet pepsi, their eyes wide with anxious amazement.

"Woooo!" yelled Frank.

"Cowabunga!" shouted Michel. "Hey Frank, what would be your one regret in life?"

Frank considered this. "You mean besides not being born stupid rich? Well, I have never tasted wild blueberry pie from Cape Breton Island."

"Road trip!" screamed Michel. So they jumped into Michel's BMW and drove 12 hours from Montreal to Auld's Cove where they pulled into a diner to ask for directions to the Cabot Trail but unfortunately fell asleep in a restaurant booth before they even had a chance to order the all-day breakfast they so sorely needed.

The waitress took one look at the shadowed faces of the rumpled and unwashed gentlemen before her and called the cops. The officer on duty was the boyfriend of the waitress and also the son of the dishwasher, and he hauled the Montrealers into the drunk tank and then drove back to the diner for an order of French toast on the house.

Frank and Michel high-fived and then curled up along the bench and fell back to sleep. The local bad asses in the drunk tank from the night before stopped their card game and stared with xenophobic suspicion at the two CFAs* in cuff links and real haircuts, and when Michel let out a mumbled "Mon Dieu" in his REM sleep they interpreted that as an invitation for a beating and kicked him in the teeth and Frank in the ribs

When he came to, Michel was tucked into a hospital bed and his face hurt like hell, especially his gums, which previously had held front teeth. With a scream of agony Frank rolled over on his broken ribs, then he asked Michel where they were. A pretty nurse entered the room holding an orange plastic tray and Michel squinted at her name tag and read it out loud: "'Kelly MacDonald, Cape Breton Hospital.' Hey, we did it! We made it to Cape Breton Island!"

"Woooo!" yelled Frank.

The nurse placed two cans of Boost and two bendy straws on the table between the guys. "Dinner time, boys," she sang. "Hope you like blueberry flavour!" She winked.

Michel and Frank gave each other virtual high fives. "Do we ever!"

* Come From Away. As in, "You're not from around here, are ya? Since you're alone and a long way from home, you'll need a witness, a doctor and a lawyer, quite possibly in that order."

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Fairy tale

Once upon a time there was a princess who liked to cook on Sunday afternoons, and after she stacked the pots and pans in the sink for the kitchen staff to wash, she would sit at her dining room table and enjoy the fruits of her labour with her adorable Prince Charming and her beloved cat, Manwell.

On this particular Sunday, the princess decided to tackle a Greek dish, moussaka, but a vegetarian version, because she cared about the well being of animals. She ran to the local market to buy all sorts of goodies for the meal: eggplant and portebello mushrooms for the bottom layer and milk and eggs for the top. As she was paying for her ingredients, the vendor said to her, From the looks of things, you're planning a Greek meal tonight. The princess smiled and said, You are correct, and then the vendor reached down from under the counter and brought out a small glass bottle without a label. He said, This is the finest and purest virgin olive oil from Greece, and you must use it in your recipe. I knew your dad a long time ago, and he was a good man, so please have this. The princess was a little surprised by the man's generosity, but her mama had raised her to react fluidly in awkward social situations, so she chucked the bottle into her purse with a bright thank you, and left for home with the bags of fresh food.

When she got home, she uncorked the bottle and a genie flew out. Olive oil my ass, thought the princess. The genie was tall and dressed in white with a crown, and as he floated down to the floor he grinned from ear to ear. I've been incarcerated in that dang bottle for 10 years! Just what I need, a criminal! thought the princess. But the genie was so overjoyed to be free that he promised to do all the cooking that night so that she, his benefactor, and her Prince Charming, whom he had not yet met but who sounded like an agreeable fellow, could spend some quality time together. Turning to the bags of food, he picked up a large knife and set to work slicing eggplant like a pro. That was when the princess noticed that his whites were, as luck would have it, cook's whites, and true to his word, he baked and sauteed all afternoon while she and Prince Charming played records and took goofy pictures of Manwell wrapped in blankets. The princess opened a bottle of white wine and wondered why she bothered to cook when she could eat someone else's cooking instead, and avoid all the hard work.

First, the genie served them a salad. Pretty standard, she thought, but hey, I didn't make it.

Salad with yellow tomatoes
The next course was moussaka served with couscous.

They feasted like royalty, and after the last bite of moussaka had been savoured and the last couscous grain washed down with the final drop of wine, the princess walked into the kitchen to thank the genie. But he wasn't there - the kitchen was empty. Now that's odd, he was here a minute ago, she said aloud. Just then, the royal cat, Manwell, strutted around the corner, then lay down on the hardwood floor and lazily licked a paw. Hanging from one whisker was a piece of white thread. Manwell! cried the princess. Did you eat the genie? 

Manwell smiled his cat smile and thought, you"ll never know for sure! Then he went back to his warm bed for a restorative catnap.

The end.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Death of a Garmin

My GPS watch died today, about 6km into a long run. I glanced down at the screen and instead of numbers there was only a neon green square. It was kind of exciting because my watch had never tried to communicate like that with me before, but sad because I knew it was in the middle of some heavy death throes. The end was at hand, and afterwards the watch would no longer be useful to me. I was selfish, I admit it.

Numbness and irritation soon gave way to a giant feeling of freedom. On this run I would be totally unencumbered by measured time or distance! I had no idea what time it was and I didn't care. I had a full water bottle, tons of gels in my pocket and sunglasses against the strong winds. I had everything I needed.

The sun appeared and I ran on the sunny side of the street. I ran past slow walkers and pushed up hills. I let it all go on the downhills. On and on I ran with only my music robot to inspire me. I thought about my life and those of everyone I know. A dull pain appeared on my left hip which I took to mean that I was at about the 20k mark. Still so far to go.

When I got home, I saw that I had run for about 3 hours and I felt great. I chalk that up to a low exercise effort last week: just 2 zumba classes at work and a spin class. I totally get why we taper for races.    

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Takeout salad

You know what I'm doing right now? Waiting to go to dinner with a friend while blogging about a recent meal. This is happiness for a food blogger. I will photograph our dinner and blog about it tomorrow if it's good.

Yesterday's lunch was a bowl of quinoa salad with roasted butternut squash and feta from Bridgehead. I carted it back to my office for lunch and found that it was as delicious as it looks. Although the salad did not contain as much feta as advertised on the label - just one large chunk that I fished out of the grains with my fork like digging up treasure buried in sand - someone thought to compensate for the lack of cheese by adding dried cranberries by the handfuls. There were so many cranberries! Oodles of them! But they were good because they made the salad sweeter and less salty. The squash was soft and heavenly. 

The last few posts have been set more often in the kitchen than on the road, and not exactly running through the kitchen but more like lingering in front of an open fridge. I didn't exercise again today. I feel slothy, having not run since last Sunday. Tomorrow I will aim to run 26k!


Friday, November 18, 2011

Feta and flakes

Someone was hard at work in his kitchen, and by the time I knocked hungrily on his door the aromas of wine and sauteed garlic were swirling madly about. He did something magical with cauliflower, tomatoes and garlic, and then served up a generous portion of sauce and whole wheat pasta on a grand plate painted in the Greek colours. A delicious sprinkling of feta landed on the top, and the cheese softened and blended into the bubbling sauce. There was even wine!

I saw my first snowflakes today. Winter approaches, tenderly at first....

 ~ This here ain't kraft dinner Thursday. ~

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Occupy Highway Movement

A Southwestern American meal: black bean chili, Pillsbury biscuit,
sweet potato fries & cherry tomatoes  
You dearly crave a trip, a journey, a getaway. So you hit the road. 

But you don't have a car, or free time, or money. Only an open mind.

So you cook up a massive meal with friends and exchange travel tales on a given theme. Most memorable country - for any reason. Most breathtaking sunset. Weirdest food ingested/witnessed. Cheapest fleabag motel. Happiest moment away from home. Craziest death-defying experience. Longest period of time alone.

Almost as cathartic as the real thing.

"Did I ever tell you about the time...."

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Still life with egg bowl

Creme brule and chocolate chip cookie, massacred

Still blessed with a childlike wonder at objects of unusual shape or size, I snapped this pic of a dessert I enjoyed last weekend. It's a dense and egg-y creme brule that I didn't order until the very last second when I heard my dining partners ordering dessert, and then I shouted out my order because I had to have one, too. I refuse to be left behind!

Anyway, this picture is posted here so that you may marvel not at the dessert but at the delightful serving platform in which it was served. Naturally the CB was served in a bowl - it's easier to blowtorch the sugar on top that way, or so I am told - but an unusual one, for it has a 10 cm wide edge and resembles a plate that was punched in the centre. But check it out - with the round yellow dessert and the white edge around it, the whole thing resembles an egg. An unorthodox egg with a hard sugar coating around the yolk and a soft-centred chocolate cookie posing unnaturally in halves beside it.

I haven't run since the Sunday long run but I have been eating like mad. Just now, before bed, I polished off 2 slices of toast crumbling beneath the weight of huge slabs of Monteray cheese and still my tummy expects another course.  Yeesh! Back to the kitchen....

Monday, November 14, 2011

Balance the good

This, my friends, is a dangerous time of year. Bags of leftover Halloween candy linger in the stores while sales staff rush to fill shelves with human-sized chocolate Santas and boxes of Toffifay. Yes, it's sugar, sugar everywhere, primed to win control of your tummies and will power. Plus, thanks to bygone Valentine's Days, it's now November and just about everyone's birthday, which can only mean chocolate cake and assorted confectioneries so beautiful it would be a crying shame to turn your nose up at them.

What's a girl to do.

 :: rices, dried tomato & dried mushroom ::

Well, she might cook up a batch of mixed rice - black, brown, japonica, whatever - to match those evil forces of glucose and balance out the good. (And her blood sugar.)

Monday, September 26, 2011

A stretch

I surprised myself this morning by feeling a touch ansy about my re-inaugral bike ride to work. It's true, I recently had an accident, and some body parts have not quite returned to normal function - still a shade of jaw tenderness and an uncooperative pinkie on the left hand - but last night as I listened to the optomistic weather report I was excited by the prospect of biking to work this morning. The new Bess was waiting for me near my door, as was my new obsidian black helmet. As I whipped up a breakfast protein shake and packed up, I knew I had to get back on the horse.

Yes, Bessie is back with me, now with a beautiful new back wheel and cables that function smoothly. Her time at the spa was transcendant, for sure. She feels like a brand new ride.

I eased out on to the street, testing out the brakes and noticing with wonder that they too were smooth and effective. Just a tap and they sprung into action. Forget the speed today, I was falling in love with my new brakes and I wanted to be with them at all times.

And you know, it's a good thing I was riding leasurely because a black squirrel dashed from a plastic garbage can on the edge of a lawn to beneath my wheels and out the other side in the blink of one of my saucer-sized eyes! Bessie didn't topple or swerve so I was fine, but what of the innocent rodent? I slowed to a stop, expecting gore, but insead saw the creature scampering along another lawn, no doubt waiting for another cyclist to startle. Maybe he was trying to impress a romantic partner, or feeling suicidal, but either way he was lucky. The rest of the trip was lusciously placid and plain.

The day ended with some heated room yoga. I stretched and sweat out some tension and insecurity, and walked home on a cloud of ease, taking measured steps and, without meaning to, paying attention to seemingly everything from beneath half-closed eyelids. The night was dark and beautiful.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

No play

Pizza? I'm sure I ordered the Meow Mix.
 It was a dog day in the rat race. BS office politics. Heavy workload and hectic pace. Two hours on the bus with no seats available... I think my shoulders are still hovering around my ears from the stress. Why am I doing this?

The winter is going to be very, very long and the isolation will be grim, given that my M-F life has only three spheres: work, commute and sleep. And from Oct-April, cold.

Speaking of which, cold pizza makes a fast and easy dinner when you've had it up to here with the capitalist world and its ridiculous insistence that we pay with our lives for the privilege of being alive. No slaving over a hot stove!


On a brighter side, the pizza was incredibly delicious.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Finch and a long run

I ran 15k this evening. It's been a long time since I hit that distance. I kept the pace steady and slow, and chose a loop to follow so that I would complete the distance even if it became difficult. I was determined.

It was much longer than I am used to but I feel great, even revived, and will attempt something longer next weekend.

I wonder if my running performance was obscured by my former 90min commute, and assisted by its discontinuation.

On a foody note, if you ever have a deep craving for good pizza and you happen to be near Finch, Ontario, you need to hit up Finch Pizzaria. OK so it's the town's sole restaurant but it is also the best eaterie in a radius of several towns around. We were gifted with a medium-size pizza that was like manna from heaven, but decorated with tomato, mushrooms, green olives and green pepper with a fantastic mozzarella top layer. I think the star of the pizza ensemble however was the tomato sauce which was clearly homemade and featuring just a hint of spice. Delicious and totally worth the gas money to drive to Finch.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Taking a spin

I gave up biking for the week after my teensy-weensy accident Tuesday morning. Bessie had to be institutionalized for a rear wheel replacement, so I took the bus to work for the first time and suffered through the stares. I was a little surprised by the number of old women who gaped at the bruise on my face. Did they raise their kids to stare wide-eyed at those who look differently, I wondered to myself. At the office, I noticed that no one wanted to look like they were checking out the bruise, which runs along the left side of my chin and jaw, and only one person who didn't know about my accident pointedly asked me what happened, which I appreciated. Otherwise, the blue bruise on the face becomes the elephant in the room, and then I secretly despise everyone for being chicken. Buck up and ask, people!

After work I signed up for a spinning class taught by sport guru Ian, which was immensely enjoyable. I wish I had his access to his playlist, too. Disco, AC/DC, funk and styles I couldn't even categorize...when you get away from pop music you can see there are universes of musical styles that appropriate for spinning.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Surf n' turf

Is any dish as culturally pliable as the humble fishcake? Plenty of sea-soaked countries have a fishcake recipe or two on their historical menu, perhaps as a nod to the economical side of things, or a responsible way to rid the fridge of leftovers. Or a prompt way to feed a hungry family of twelve.

Or a love of cod and spuds. I have to admit that my hands touched no animal, vegetable or mineral during the development of these cakes. They were a gift. I just heated the pan and warmed them up with a few slices of red cabbage for extra nightshade sparkle.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Concrete quads

I've been missing running.

When I was holidaying with no bike in sight and only a white Mustang convertible complete with a hot Greek chauffeur with which to whisk me away (hi Pan!), I ran on several occasions and in two provinces. A short jaunt to the red beach in Cavendish. A few beautiful morning runs in the countryside (NS). A foggy, salty-smelling run along a wooden boardwalk in Summerside. Now that I'm back to work, I'm off the running. I just can't seem to fit it in. I can't run after work because my quads are tired - pleasantly so, mind you, but tired enough to convince me to stay on the couch after locking the front door behind me. And when I bring running clothes to work, Murphy's Law dictates that work demands will rise just before lunch, and prevent me from leaving.

There have been a few times when I thought I might run after work, and in these cases the first half of the run is wobbly, and the second half tiring. During these runs, my quads feel like concrete, reminding me of my very brief tri career during which I discovered the conrete quad phenomenon, which pops up in the first few minutes of the run portion.

Sunday long runs and weight training will keep me sane until bike season is over.

How about some lobster poutine and sweet tea at the Englishtown Bus Cafe? We witnessed this doubledecker while waiting for the shortest ferry ever in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. I was jonesing for some brekkie but didn't get to the order window in time.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Back again! We have returned to the city after a lovely eastern holiday - and while that directional term is relative I playfully refuse to specify which eastern I mean - but I'm still not running a lot so do yourself a favour and don't get your hopes up for a running-centred post today.

Oh. I'm sorry.

I probably just snapped at you. How rude of me. Please allow me to explain. My kitchen is dreadfully scotfree of chocolate, and anything containing chocolate, and I'm nursing an unearthly craving for the stuff. And I have been carrying this cross for days. It's enough to drive a woman mad; mad I tell you!

Enter the miracle spread known as Speculoos.

-- Lotus is not just the brand name. It also signifies that lotus leaves were added to the product for extra addictive qualities and yogic enlightenment. -- 
Delicious heady stuff, Speculoos is simply a sweet blend of creamy caramel and ground-up biscuits, but you gotta realize that it is Dutch in origin and thus a perfect food. The Europeans know how to class up a dessert tray, and when it comes to smashing cookies and caramel, no one can touch the Dutch. It's a cultural gift.

And actually this very jar was indeed a gift, one that was appreciated and cherished, and honored with teaspoons at all hours of the day and closed eyes and immoderate serving sizes.

And now the vessel is empty.

Love you long time, Speculoos. May we meet again one day.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Weird fitness

She's baa-aack!

I haven't been away, but I also haven't been running or cooking up any unusual dishes. The beautiful, daily commute to my new job keeps me in the saddle for about 1.5 hours a day, and I'm not yet strong enough to tackle a post-work run on top of all that cycling. Protein suddenly calls to me, and my frying pan has seen nothing but vegetables and eggs for over a week now, with a dash of maple-flavoured tempeh garnish once or twice. But I'm seeing improvement. This morning I climbed some of the hills faster and with more ease (but not easy). My arrival time was the same even tho I'd left 10 minutes later. This is a good sign!

All the same, I miss the sweat and metabolism boost I get with running. After biking home in the rain tonight I had zero desire to visit the gym - or even leave the house - so I found some Bodyrock exercises and did 3 sets each of burpees (12 reps); deadlifts (15 reps each leg); a weird abdominal exercise called a crisscross hip thrust (30); and jump lunge & twist (20). I modifed every exercise since I a) can't do pushups worth squat, and b) the only equipment I own are an exercise ball, two 5lb weights and a yoga mat. I used the weights for the deadlifts and the lunge twists, and my exerise ball pressed against a sofa for the ab exercise. Even with the mods, the exercises were effective, by which I mean sweat-a-rific and metab-boost-y. I didn't time the workout - no timer, natch - but also I wanted to concentrate on form before adding a time component. I have to admit that these exercises were pretty fun and challenging, and I'd like to incorporate them more often. The deadlifts were new to me and I totally loved how they felt. I wasn't sure I was doing them right until the 2nd set. And then the effects were unmistakeable.

I think I'll look around for heavier weights and try this sequence again.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Biking makes me hungry enough to eat a horse, so after tonite's crazy-long, mixed-up ride I couldn't wait to scramble red pepper, cabbage, yellow zucchini, red onion, sesame seeds, eggs and feta in a wok. But my tummy continued to yearn even after such a filling meal so I followed up with yogurt and speculoos.

"What is that feeling when you're driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing?--it's the too-huge world vaulting us, and it's goodbye." -Kerouac

Monday, July 25, 2011

Writing running

If I could write running like Kerouac writes jazz or Iyer writes travel it'd be a glorious thing, but I'd be wasting the gift by describing the treadmill adventures I've been hooked on lately. The weather hasn't been tolerant so I've been running indoors. I wouldn't say I enjoy it, but I sweat less; sometimes my gait changes on the treadmill and one hip get bothered but I change it up and watch TV and laugh.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Breakfast on the road

I ran this morning for the first time in a while, and my body let me know that it wasn't thrilled with this decision. I got plenty of sleep last night, and the morning air was cooler than it has been, but still muggy enough to feel like I was running through water. The route was the usual short one but I felt some leg-related twinge that I could not pinpoint, so I ran on, slowly and a trifle awkwardly. I felt like it had been months since my last run instead of two paltry weeks. How easily the muscles forget.

I mixed together a scoop of protein powder, cold coffee and a banana for breakfast on the run. How I wish I could have settled down instead to the company of a certain sun-inclined gentleman and this:

:: Banana bread French toast ::

Monday, July 18, 2011

Vegetable meal

Vegetables are enticing when the humidity skyrockets and my appetite plummets. Ok, that could also be because I haven't run in a long time!

I made a Greek salad to get into the culinary swing of things. It's been a few weeks since I putted around the kitchen. So, two chopped tomatoes, half a cuke, and a bit of red pepper later, and I'm gettign out the old green bowl and adding feta, black olives, minced parsley and oregano. I probably havn't used that bowl since snow lay on my lawn. So I mixed it all up and added my special secret ingredient, and yeah, it's pretty tasty.

I stuffed some mushrooms with 3 minced garlic cloves and some Greek salad ingredients, and baked the caps for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

This was all very delicious. I was going to try to dry out after Bluesfest, camping expeditions and family visits, but a glass of white wine was wonderful with this earthy, evening-long meal.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Conniving kitty

"With a single stroke of my talon-like claws I could scratch this screen into a million pieces and make my grand escape, but you'd miss me too much. See how selfless I can be?"

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


I watched a Flaming Lips concert last night. The Lips affect me like yoga: when I listen to their music, I feel calm and assured that things are going to be okay, which is also how I feel after a yoga class (like yin). I can usually arrive at a positive conclusion on my own but oh can I flounder when the path ahead is foggy and the events of my life are changing but not; in flux yet stalled at the same time. I like how the Lips sing about the the obvious (everyone is going to die) and then comfort us by saying that life is a gift. I suppose it depends on your focus: the sun isn't setting, the darkness is an effect of the earth spinning around. And the act of dying is not an end to life but an opportunity to check out what the hype is all about. (Ever the fact finder.)

Sometimes I contemplate the choices I made in the past and I wonder how I have changed. If I'd known I'd still be ambling along this path, would I have treated people differently or taken different risks? Would I have committed myself to this path to begin with? And now, will I ever step off?

Monday, July 4, 2011

The show must go on

I missed my long run yesterday, so I went for a longer-than-usual weekday run this morning - about 40 minutes. It was a quiet adventure. The path was sparsely populated with cyclists and even the geese were barely representin'. I don't know how to explain the lack of fowl, but the low numbers of humans might be evidence that the government days of summer vacation are now upon us. Every June, the volume of cyclists on the paths in the morning hours jumps astronomically, and it becomes difficult to find a safe place downtown to lock up my bike for the day. Later, in July, government workers take holidays and the volume of cyclists decreases, which in turn increases my general happiness during my morning commute! I like a lot of room, what can I say.

The paths are not deserted, though. This morning I spied a woman on a bike dressed as a clown. No wig or theatrical makeup - not even a red honka-honka nose! - and I didn't notice any extra-long red shoes curled across the pedals, so I guess she was a clown from the neck down and the ankles up. A clown/human hybrid.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Summer day

It's a summer day in the city, so you grab your bike for a ride. The sun is bright in the sky but you can't feel the heat in the shade of the trees along the path. You head to the marina parking lot and choose a wooden bench by the water. When you step off the bike, the pavement burns your feet. You spend 5 minutes squishing your chocolate-mocha granola bars into bill-sized pieces for the ducks. A squirt of h2o and a stretch, and then you're back in the saddle, waving to the ducks. An old guy sitting in a parked truck waves back.

You carry on to downtown, toward the smells of steak and lilacs and exhaust, until you find a small garden packed with friends sitting under a trellis, smiling and eating chocolate chip cookies.

A glass of lemonade with clinking ice cubes and a lemon slice finds its way into your hand, and a bowl of cloud-like whipped cream and lipstick-red strawberries on biscuits appears before you. Like a desert tourist crazed with thirst, you feel compelled to reach for this mirage with both hands. Then it is in your hands. And then it is not a mirage but a miracle, a tasty miracle, and then all that is left is an empty plastic bowl and whipped cream on your fingers. You bike home through traffic with a delicious memory imprinted on your tastebuds. The straps of your backpack rest on the sunburnt areas of your shoulders. It's a summer day in the city.

"I guess you were destined to come to this party today."

Saturday, July 2, 2011


We tried an interesting-sounding recipe: pizza mushrooms. The pizza toppings are piled on portobello caps instead of dough crust and might appeal to those opting for gluten-free, veggie and vegan diets. You could also add pizza-appropriate meats or anchovies. I won't tell you what to add, but the recipe went a little something like this:

  • 6 mushrooms

  • minced red onion

  • lots of minced garlic

  • 1 tbsp of pesto

  • oregano

  • 2-3 tsp balsamic vinegar

  • salt and fresh pepper

  • 1 tomato, chopped

  • parmesan cheese

Clean the mushrooms and remove the stems. Place the caps upside down on a baking sheet. Fry up the remaining ingreds (except for the cheese) and pile into the caps, then sprinkle the cheese over the top. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. One mushroom is pretty filling!

What toppings would you use? Capers? Roasted red peppers and feta? Cucumbers and marshmellow fluff?

Thursday, June 30, 2011

More geese

I ran yesterday morning. After the storm the night before, the air was cooler and it was easier to pick up the pace. The last few morning runs were slow adventures; they felt like opportunities to test how much water your clothes could hold and still hang on you. But yesterday I felt lighter and of course drier. The geese are still around, wandering all over the paths, and I think some of the adults are raising their second batch of babies. I'm not sure why people find them exasperating. They're messy and they require path users to slow down and take care, especially the cyclists, but they seem to know that they have a right to be there, just like the rest of us. You gotta respect that. Yesterday I watched a cyclist almost mow down a goose that was trying to cross the path. It was a close call.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


I ran this morning and my clothes were drenched within minutes. I don't mind the humidity most of the time since I live underground, in a way. A friend gave me a fantastic bottle of wine that tastes very complex, and I drank a glass last night and another tonight. Drinking this wine is like hanging out with Jackson Pollack: you suspect that a lot lies below the surface but you're not sure you can appreciate the complexity. Anyway, the wine is delicious. It tastes very grown up to me. I have been following a grown-up tangent lately and it feels refreshing, like I'm ready for it. I still eat PB&B sandwiches though, and jujubes, and I still steal the blankets at night. I think being an adult means also being a child and a teenager, too.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Dig in

Now you see it...

It was one of those life-sustaining runs. I left Mr. P to his nap this morning and met up with the Gaz downtown for a nice long Saturday haul. Humid but not too hot, we fell into a good pace and let our noses find the paths. A short cut here, a walk up a steep climb there. Sometimes a run is good because of what you don't do. On the way home I stopped at a yard sale, and a woman gave me a book because she had loved it and wanted me to read it and love it, too. you don't!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Orange juice halo

I lived large today. A humid run this morning, then a bike ride to work where I sat for nine relentless hours. Bought a weird protein bar with peanuts, caramel and - get this - pretzels, and a massive apple that took about an hour to eat (crunching for an hour in my quiet cubicle farm is probably as passive-aggressive as it sounds, hehe). An hour at the gym. Packed my cloth bags at the grocery store and walked home, arms full of new food.

Then I poured me some sweet art in a martini glass. Whoever thinks this picture of the virgin sunrise (OJ and grenadine) has a religious tone, raise your wing.

Monday, May 16, 2011


Rainy day in Capital City.

Dark coloured coats and bent heads filled the bus seats this morning. I sat in my own seat and tried not to soak up the grim vibe (it wasn't hard). People in this city work to live, and on mornings like this I miss my bike and the traffic wrestling adventures even more than usual. Wah wah.

I ran last night without music and noticed the trees. The tips of the first courageous leaves are pushing through, and the air smelled of spring. The wind across the bridge felt strong but warm. A breeze of that intensity two months ago would have been bitter indeed. About 45 minutes before the end my trick knee started to feel tender, so I shortened my stride and it was alright after the run. During those two hours I met only a handful of runners and cyclists and one rollerblader, on a cell phone. Lonesome highway.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Sunday's run was fast and tiring. Today's run was all about sunshine and chillaxing, and finding my groove. I wanted to run along the path slowly but surely; get in some distance without freaking out my knee, which is still a little tender, plus my long sleeved top felt a tad warm. I ran about 40 minutes, an appetizer to tomorrow's meal.

Dinner was a hodge-podge tonight: felafel, stir fried veggies and mac & cheese, eaten in courses, in exactly that direction.

I can't believe I returned from Nashville a week ago. I have yet to sleep in. I am looking forward to enjoying some Saturday morning shut-eye.

~ I'm like an omnivore, but for booze ~

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The great balancing act

Been spending a lot of time in clubs lately, and I don't just mean the seedy karaoke bars like the one from last night where, after downing two minty polar shots that inspire feelings of headiness and dental hygiene, I belted out my very best Meatloaf to a rowdy crowd. No, by "clubs" I mean the those one joins to barricade one's nutty obsessions from the rest of the world, and last week I spent 6 days with a run club and about 75 minutes with a writing club; time being no measuring stick for dedication and love.

This morning, during our writing club meeting, I realized that technique is a hot topic, and it resurfaces almost every time we meet. It's such a grind: the words have to spring from somewhere and land on the page, so we often trade tips on how we get er done. There are lots of way to do it. Morning writing, and writing after work for an hour. There's writing while at work, on the sly, but it's unencouraged to the degree that we refrain from examinating that one. Sure, you want to write and the days are horribly short, but no one's saying you should go ahead and get yourself fired before you write the Great Canadian Novel.

This leads to the concept of write-life balance: exercise; coffee breaks and a good night's sleep to keep one's sanity while immersed in a project. One member is currently committed to a heavy writing project with a firm deadline, and she told us how she diligently maintains a schedule that supports the continuation of these valuable activities, the ones that are too often cancelled when we feel pinched for time. I admire her for this.

Also helpful for writers: lazy vacations down south. With cold cans of cerveza.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Miami diner

Last dinner in Miami: Polar beer, ceviche (pickled shrimp with onion, a disturbingly bright shade of pink), plantain chips, a platter of calamari with red dipping sauce, and a plate of lime wedges which compliment everything on this table!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Mystery mayo

We found this fascinating Cuban answer to mayonaise on a picnic table near a beach, under a roof and thus out of reach of the sun. Yet, it seemed like a fantastic time to reach for the ketchup.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Hemingway's Havana

"There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed."

Ernest Hemingway rented a room at the Hotel Ambos Mundos in Old Havana between 1932 and 1939. He stated that the room was "a good place to write." Quotes such as this keep writers' dreams alive, baby.

Next to the hotel, Papa Hemingway found this tiny bar a good place to drink. They say it's always as crowded as the day we stopped by.

Signatures from travellers are plastered on the smooth cement above and beside the bar. Writers who shared a bit of elbow room where the old writer used to hang his hat in the heat of the day.

He was a notorious drinker, but because of time constraints we didn't peer into any other bars he frequented, and anyway, this place emanated enough smoke rings of mythical aura for several cheap bars and tropicana clubs.

I picture him tripping over uneven cobblestones at night, lightbulbs hanging from naked wires on second floor verandas, swearing gruffly at thin dogs, chomping a cigar stump, tumbling into bed fully clothed, stinking of sailor's rum, characters yelling behind his door and inside his head.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Blue rainbow

This post is hardly concerned with either running or food, and should be read, for deepest understanding, whilst basking in the sunshine, sprawled along the length of a beach chaise as white as the sand beneath it, adjusted to the inclined position. Stir the ice cubes in your glass with your straw, tip the waiter a peso, and feel the rays on your vitamin D deficient skin.

~ Much too hot to twist by this pool ~

The problem that gripped us each and every day, one which we considered thoughtfully, stepping out into the warm sunlight for all-you-can-eat breakfast that at times consisted, depending on the day, of mushroom omelettes, french toast, paper-thin crepes with chocolate sauce, and always cappuccino and fresh chunks of pineapple and papaya, was whether we should begin the day's romance with the hot, Cuban sun at the beach, where our senses could feast on the rolling turquoise surf, or poolside, just paces from the 24-hour bar.

Sea & sky :: chairs & sand

Once the grounds were decided upon by the both of us, the day's schedule naturally fell into place, and our leisurely activities, which relied heavily on, and often comprised solely of, the consumption of that Cuban resort gift of the gods, alcohol, served either as a mild but delightfully refreshing draft beer similar in color to Keith's, or as that sugarcane firewater, rum, in its many varieties and strengths, and a key component to many a vividly-tinted and intoxicating cocktail.

~ It's a bird! It's a plane! It's blue rainbows! ~
Grenadine, OJ and blue curacao w/ rum.

More holiday posts to follow.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

No pie

The kids at the bus stop have a sense of humour.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Sweet potato...con leche

I skipped the run club sprints today. I love the Wednesday night workout but I still feel the pesky IT band knee pain, so I'm still not running. It's only been a week, and so far I have found tons of ways to spend this newly but regrettably acquired free time.

Take this evening for example. I made a pot of soup, washed dishes, baked cookies for friends, read parts of Rough Guide to Cuba (one never knows when the travel bug will maybe Sunday), played some Dead Space, played with the cat, iced my knee and texted the "student" (long story).

But I worry. Oh, I fret. About the race. Whether I should go. If I can't run. All summer. I will lose it. My mind. My happy place.

Well. No need to put the cart before the horse. (The horse is hungry and the cart is full of apples.) Tomorrow morning I'll see my wonderful massage therapist. She will give me her opinion, and hand me the kleenex box when she does. I am prepped to hear the worst.

Before I settle in for a lame summer - pun intended - I'm here to share a delicious recipe that rocked my soup bowl tonight.

Sweet potato soup

  • 3-4 tbsp fresh ginger root, minced

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 onion, chopped

  • 1 tbsp butter

  • 3-4 sweet potatoes, cubed (and peeled, if desired)

  • 1 tsp cumin

  • 2 tbsp Thai green curry mix

  • 1 large tomato, seeded and chopped

  • 4 cups veggie stock

  • 1 can reduced-fat coconut milk
Melt the butter in a large pot. Add the ginger, garlic and onion, sauteing for 2 minutes or until your mouth starts to water from the fragrance. Add the remaining ingredients except for the coconut milk. Cover the pot and bring the mixture to a boil, then simmer for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are very soft. Remove from heat. After the mixture has cooled, puree in a blender. Pour mixture back into pot, add the coconut milk, et voila! A fiesty, orange soup.

Could use a squeeze of lime juice at the finish.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Winter feathers

the sun exuberantly generous warms a city to the notion that winter fades new plants as green as martians appear morningside unearthed chairs clatter onto hollow patios fur hats boxed and banished in a week we'll wonder how we ever passed the winter our minds skipping over the body of a sparrow kept since december in the freezer spring is a season of forgetting

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Left behind

The coffee pot is gurgling on the stove, and the cat has intersected with a sun ray on the floor. Kitty is stretching and purring. I'm lounging on the couch in my pink tartan jam-jams even though it's a Sunday morning and normally I'd be found sucking on a gel somewhere along the canal by now. Actually it's not just any Sunday morning, but the morning of my was-to-be final long run before the marathon.

I'm sitting out this run. My knee gave me some attitude Thursday evening after several (I guess too many) workout days in a row, and I have been laying low since. It's ITB pain on the outside of one knee, and now I'm terrified that this new-old knee pain will haunt me during my race three short weeks from now. I reported the pain to my coach, and he told me to stay off the leg for a while and stretch, and maybe do the last long run next Sunday instead. We'll see. I'm going to monitor this pain closely. I don't want to have to take another year off to recover from knee pain.

So, I'm medicating with Ibuprofen, doing some stretching and not running. I'll probably take the week off. But it's ok. The weather is warming up, and I have a free Sunday that I can dedicate to other fun activities, like reading, gaming and cooking. Not so bad!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Drank the whole thing

A long run in the spring sunshine lures the thirst outa me, and a few hours later I walked to the neighborhood health store and bought this bottle of pineapple juice, popped the lip and drank the whole thing, juice glass-free like a crazed chimpanzee...glug glug glug.

3 seconds later the the nausea hit. Come on! That was a lot of pineapple juice at once.

Today's run: Plowed through 3 gels in 31k; lots of small dogs in pastel sweaters, their feet moving at the speed of light to keep up with their humans. Far too many baby strollers the size of 18-wheelers helmed by yuppie hetero couples carrying matching to-go coffee cups like bamboo torches. You guys give me the shivers and make me transfer to the road to run with the cars.

"With fire in my lungs tonight I travel at/
the speed of light"
- Buck 65

Monday, March 7, 2011

Get set...

That half banana on the middle shelf?
Means it's a party.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Work bites

When did you last eat in a group? Was it a happy time?

Below: a party in its final phase; you can tell from the empty bottles. (Empty plates don't tell the same story.)

:: Lamb's Navy Rum, a cheese plate and computers. I ask you, is there anything else? ::

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Hot Tang

Sometimes running feels like work.

Take Sunday. Alarm shrills you from a warm bed at an hour when some people are drifting to sleep after a fun night out. You throw on your work clothes, bulky and heavy in winter, and chomp a carb-y breakfast of oatmeal and sweet caffeine. You pack gels, GPS, music player, gather hat and mitts, wish the kitty a good day and head out to meet your "colleagues" for a long morning of solo running followed by a coffee break.

Today was the same in a different way. In the important ways it looked like the above, but the feeling that ran through us as we gathered for china mugs of coffee and bottles of apple juice was that the run had gone well; it hadn't been hard. We felt okay, as though we could have gone further; as though we had expected more ice and snow and cold winds but we hadn't needed to call on our reserves because the expected hadn't happened. There had been sunshine and a blue sky, and lots of friendly unknown runners.

Once, at a cycle cafe, a skier told me a story about a long and gruelling ski race he'd completed. On the morning of the second day of the 2-day race, he'd crawled out of his tent chilled to the bone and tired from a sleepless night, waiting for breakfast. When he described the hot Tang, his eyes twinkled as he recalled the sweet, saccharine taste of that steaming hot drink. It had kept him going, that unexpected gift. That was my today. 26k.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Red lights and blue rare

Winter evening runs along the canal can be lonesome adventures, but when the canal is open, the skaters make good company. I ran along the path in one direction, and then descended to the ice for the return journey as a reward. I love the feeling of ice beneath my feet, light and hard at the same time, and the snow-encrusted ice on the shoulder gives firm traction. Tonight I held a red light (from my bike) in one mittened hand. I kept it on a superfast flicker, and I think this made me more visible. 24k and no close calls! I think it was cold: I could hear ice rattling in my water bottle.

Afterwards I tore through some leftovers, but had there been a genie present, I would have made a wish to relive this Miami meal: wasabi-covered tuna. The server cautioned me that this fish dish is served blue-rare. I'm glad I went for it: the tuna was soft and forgiving, and melted in the mouth. I polished it off before I had a chance to ask for a side of extra wasabi.

The tuna rested on a bed of plain white rice, which in turn was supported by something unexpected: a puddle of butter! It was a moat of melted better with some swimming matchstick veggies. Maybe the fat was provided as a side dish, to balance the huge hunk of lean protein....? Who knows. Oh, and the beer was incredibly delicious. I think this was our Christmas eve feast!

// Cuz sometimes a girl needs a hearty dose of blue-rare. //