Monday, July 25, 2011

I Forgot to Mention the Beach Crabs

My husband, the alien, and I arrived at a tide pool on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica during low tide. We’d come to body surf and did not bring our camera.  We do not need to record our body surfing tumbles for posterity. 


I’d seen beach crabs before – little hermit crabs that scuttle into tiny holes in the sand or hide in empty shells.  The crabs here were big, like the ones at the fish market, or restaurants. Their shells were red and blue and green in abstract patterns. They like to show off. No hiding when I approached. No scuttling away from moving tide waters.


Little crabs scurry along on 8 bent legs.  These big crabs stand up on 6 legs – with the other two in the air, as if they’ve been told stick-em-up.  Just when I thought I understood what they were doing, they entered the tide pool, lowered all 8 of their legs and scuttled sideways.


Later I told our guide what I’d seen.  He was not impressed.  “There are always crabs on the beach.”  We went back with our camera.  The tide was higher. The tide pools were covered. The crabs were gone. 

Saturday, July 23, 2011

When I Didn't Have my Camera

On my trip to Costa Rica, some of the most photo-worthy events happen when I didn't have my camera.  


1) An adorable tree frog hugged the handle on Jean’s suitcase when she left it out for the baggage handlers at our hotel where each unit had a door to the outside world.


2) A cowboy herded his cows while riding a bicycle.


3) A big fat hop-toad hopped across the sidewalk right in front of me and kept hopping right up to the side of the nearest building.


Maybe this was why the written word was invented. To record wonderful sights. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Two Endorsements

I don’t usually use my blog space to endorse products.  However, two products I’ve enjoyed lately are worth mentioning.  I have not consulted either company. I have not received any payment to make these endorsements. I paid full retail price for the products I used.

1) Coolmax fabric
I travel with a school book bag.  No checked luggage. This book bag must hold 4 changes of clothes, my cleaning supplies, and my exercise equipment.  Clothes that squish up small, don’t wrinkle, and dry quickly are important.  Clothes that meet those three criteria and feel good when I’m sweating are rare and wonderful.  Coolmax fabric meets all of these criteria.  The weather in Costa Rica was hot, rainy and muggy. I still had dry clothes to wear every day. Nothing took over 2 days to dry.  You can get coolmax t-shirts, underpants, socks, shorts and bras from many companies, in many styles and colors.

2) The Costa Rica trip from Caravan
http://www.caravan.com/tour/costa-rica

This is billed as a 10 day tour.  It’s really 8 days of travel and sightseeing.  The 1st night, you get dinner and a swim in the hotel pool.  The last morning, you get breakfast and a swim in the hotel pool, or a walk around town.  The 8 travel days are amazing.  Travel down jungle streams while a naturalist points out camouflaged wildlife. Tour a pineapple plantation and learn how they are grown and harvested and taste fresh picked pineapple. (Yum!)  Walk on suspended bridges through rain forests while a naturalist points out both brightly colored and camouflaged wildlife. Tour a coffee plantation and learn how coffee and cocoa are grown. Look into the crater of a volcano. Take a boat ride down a crocodile populated river and watch them as they slither and sunbathe. Visit hot springs with bubblers and artificial waterfalls that give great shoulder massages. Go body surfing in the Pacific Ocean.  And in between, listen to stories about the amazing history of Costa Rica as you ride in an air conditioned bus and refill your water bottle from the ecological 5 gallon jug.

This trip does not inclued airfare to get there. For that I recommend PriceLine (also an unpaid endorsement.)

Costa Rica had a civil war in 1948.  They got a new constitution in 1949 in which they abolished the army and decided to spend the money on education.  Everybody gets health care.  There’s a compulsory savings plan deducted from paychecks, which people can cash in every 5 years.  The country is ecological and peaceful. .  I came home wishing we could subcontract our government to Costa Rica. I’ll be posting more about this adventure in future blogs, after I sort through the photos and catch up on the details that built up while I was away

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

PT is Over. Long Live PT

At my 2nd to last PT appointment, I told Young PT that I want to bake something for him and his family.  He said it would have to be for the entire department.  Okay.  How many is that?  He asked around and came back to me.  Two dozen.  I can do that.  What do you want? Cookies, bread, rolls, muffins, cupcakes?  Cupcakes.  Chocolate cupcakes.  Without gluten. Because his daughter is allergic to gluten and so is one of the PTs.

One of the assistants overheard all this and insisted that he personally would eat 20 of the 24.

At the end of our session, when Young PT usually names the exercises he wants me to do for the following week, he added Baking to the end of the list.

My husband, the wonderful alien, was disappointed that the PT gang wanted a full two dozen.  The recipe makes one dozen.  That meant I’d make it twice and he wouldn’t get any.  But there are leftovers from the last time I made chocolate cupcakes in our freezer.  No way would he miss out!
The day of my final appt arrived.  It was also the day I was to deliver the wine glass and spoon and back issues of Toastmasters magazine to our club’s Sergeant at Arms.  And, I’d found a spare double boiler in the basement to give Young PT.  He likes to cook, and most people don’t have double boilers, but this recipe is easiest if you have one.  I also decided to bring plastic eating utensils for the PT staff to eat their cupcakes.  This meant I needed both saddlebags and a box for the cupcakes all strapped onto the back of my bike.

Most people aren’t used to seeing me in my full biking regalia.  My helmet looks like a motorbike helmet complete with face guard.  I got my nose broken and my jaw cracked when I got hit by the car two years ago, and I want protection.  I also wear wraparound sunglasses to keep pebbles out of my eyes with rear-view mirrors attached the eyeglass ear-struts.  My Sergeant At Arms did a double-take and then a nice recovery. “You look cool.”  He even commented on my shoes, which are heavy duty protection, as well.

Finally I got to PT.  Young PT wasn’t there.  I gave the cupcakes to the assistant who had promised to eat 20 of them.  I told him he only gets 4.  He claimed not to remember that I was bringing cupcakes at all.

I was starting to feel like I was in one of those Twilight Zone episodes where the protagonist has been transported to an alternate universe that looks the same, but everybody behaves differently, and eats dinosaurs for dinner.

Then Young PT showed up, and said he’d be with me in a few minutes.  He came back. He didn’t have a lesson planned for me.  Instead he asked what I wanted help with.  That’s what I truly value about him – he can help modify yoga poses or Pilates exercises or tasks around the house.  He bummed me out by refusing to help with backbends. He thinks people over 60 should only do backbends over a ball.  But – this is end game. I need to keep my body going in maximum comfort for the rest of my life. If that means backbends must be done over balance balls, so be it.  He was happy to have the double boiler.   Then, he thanked me for doing the assigned exercises.  Definitely alternate universe stuff.  “I didn’t do them for you.”

He looked relieved.  I’d have adopted him in an instant, if he’d been available.  Instead, I said, “This is probably the last time I’ll see you in this lifetime.  Thanks for doing a great job.”

He said, “Maybe we’ll see each other on the sidewalk some time.” 

He asked me to fill out an evaluation form.  I’m one of the success stories, so I was glad to do it.  I walked in there weak and in pain 2 months ago.  Now I can ride my bike everywhere, swim half a mile, and walk two miles without problems. I do my strengthening and stretching exercises every day because they work.

A few days later, Young PT emailed me “Staff, Wife and Daughter loved the cupcakes.”
I noticed the absence of the personal pronoun, so I emailed back, “You’re welcome.”  I may not have adopted him, but I can show him manners. 
Chocolate Mousse CupCakes

This recipe makes 10 to 12 cupcakes. Be sure to use the paper liners.

Ingredients: 

1 lb of dark chocolate, finely chopped (or semi-sweet chocolate bits)

1/4 lb (1 stick) of butter

4 eggs

1 tablespoon of almond flour or almond meal

Preheat the oven to 425 F.

Put paper liners into 12 cupcake molds.

Melt the chocolate and butter together in the top part of a double boiler, (or you can melt them in an ovenproof bowl in an oven or microwave.)  Stir the melted ingredients until smooth. Allow to cool slightly while frothing the eggs.

Whisk the eggs until the mixture is thick and pale yellow (Can be done with a mixer or a blender).  Shake in the almond flour or meal and continue whisking until the mixture looks even.  Stir in the cooled chocolate, a little at a time.

Pour the mixture into the cupcake molds and cook it for 6-8 minutes (note: this time varies with the oven – it can be up to 15 minutes – you want the cupcakes to have a shiny center about 1" in diameter.) The edges should look like they have a cooked skin.  The center will be wobbly.  Cool, then cover it and leave it in a cool place.  Store in the freezer.  They will warm up with a liquid center in about 30 seconds in a microwave.