Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Lizards Have Come to Call

We live on a tropical island, so we are pretty intimate with the bug life here. As in, they sometimes invade our home. Like this morning when I was making bread. I ran my fingers down the cabinet door as I pulled out the honey and felt something weird. When I rolled what I thought was a piece of food or something similar off the edge of the door, I jumped when I realized it was actually this nasty gray cockroach-looking bug the size of my thumbnail. That sucker didn't have long to live as I pounded the daylights out of it. It took me awhile to get the feel of it off my fingers...

Because of all the bugs around, it's nice to see so many little lizards everywhere. (I'm guessing they are geckos or something similar, but I'm really not sure.) Sometimes, they even visit the house to hunt our buggy guests. Granted, I'd prefer they not end up dying inside somewhere, but I don't mind these guys too much. Here's one we found in the living room crawling through the magazine rack a few weeks ago:


I'd like to say something like, "I swear we keep the house cleaner than this dusty, hair strewn magazine rack", but I'd be lying.

Anyway, I did manage to chase this one back outside. There has been one or two we couldn't snag before they vanished, but since I have yet to find them again, I'm just going to assume they managed to crawl back outside.

The only time these guys made me jump was when we still lived in our first trailer. I had chased one up the wall, where it sat on the edge of our wedding picture are dared me to do something about it. I grabbed something to catch him in, then tapped the picture frame ever so slightly. Instead of running again, it leapt from the frame right onto the bridge of my nose. I yelped in surprise, but before I had a chance to do anything about it, it jumped back to the floor and against the wall. I then managed to herd it back outside.

Finally, there was this guy, who remained safely outside, yet thought our house might make a great jungle gym:


This is our kitchen window. I tried to get a picture that would show off his bright green color, one of the brightest lizards I've seen here yet, but I definitely don't have the camera for that. Also, the window is intensely dirty (unfortunately, it's the outside of the glass that is so foggy; it's too high for us to clean ourselves), so that made it even more impossible.

On an unrelated note, notice the fabulous caulking job on that window?  That sums up rather nicely the workmanship of most of the trailer repairs we've come across. Like the hole in the bathtub repaired with duct tape...

Monday, September 27, 2010

Water Outage (or not)

So, about that water outage...it didn't happen all weekend. I was a little aggravated, thinking they were just going to turn it off without warning. On the plus side, the dishes were actually kept up the last couple of days, but ever shower felt like the last one for awhile.

When Oliver went back to work today, there was no email about it in his inbox. We thought it was odd, but brushed it aside and went on our merry way. I went for a run as usual during lunch, wondering once again whether or not I'd be able to shower when I returned. The water was still on when he and Wyatt went back to school and work.

When he came home late this afternoon, he told me he'd finally received another email about it. This one stated that the water was now safe to drink, so we no longer had to boil it. I looked at him for a minute, and then at the glass of water I had in front of me. For a moment, I thought we'd been drinking dirty water all weekend, but then I realized we most likely are not actually part of the water line they were fixing. We live in the oldest section of trailers, and while our street was supposedly affected, it's possible it was only the other side of the street.

Either that, or the outage was no longer than a half hour, and we're all going to be ill soon...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Making Ice Cream

We have no water right now. There is a major repair needed, so they had told us the water would be shut off on Saturday. I guess a lot of people complained about it happening on the weekend, so they sent out word this morning that it would happen today, instead. Oliver called me at about 10:30 to tell me it was going off at noon, so I had to madly rush around doing dishes, laundry, and anything else water-related I could think about (including taking a shower).

I'm kind of bummed because I was supposed to run today. Yesterday was weight training, so this means two days without a run. Well, I guess I could still go, but that means an evening with my sweaty, stinky self. Nope, I'm not that dedicated to running!

Anyway, while in the midst of all this water frenzy, I filled a basin of wash water so we could wash off the ice cream maker when we were done. I bought one (with a little shipping assistance from my brother) with a credit I won from a store that won't ship here, and it arrived a couple days ago. I'd promised Wyatt we'd make our first batch today, and I didn't want to reneg on that. I had mixed up the chocolate base the night before, and when he came home for lunch we dumped it into the maker and turned it on.

The boys were very intrigued about this process. They sat there watching it the whole time.

The maker worked faster than I was expecting, and we had soft serve ice cream in about ten minutes. The boys helped me throw in some walnuts at the last minute, and then we dished it out:


Voila! Chocolate ice cream, flavored with a little mint and vanilla extract, with walnuts thrown in for good measure! We put the extras in the freezer for later. When mango season happens, I intend to buy some fresh ones and make mango ice cream.

I'm pretty excited about the ability to make ice cream. I've wanted a maker for years, but it has never been particularly high on our priority list. Here, though, it makes a lot of sense to finally buy one. There are no ice cream shops for us to frequent, and the store carries only a few brands. Ben & Jerry's is really the only brand I like (and I'm picky there, too) that they carry. Most of the rest have a lot of junk in it (like the ever-present, ever-yucky, high fructose corn syrup).

The other two problems are cost and the condition of it. It's expensive, like five bucks for a half gallon - or whatever size they come in now. And it often gets soft during transit. I have learned to avoid the misshapen boxes, but we still sometimes end up with ice crystals in our ice cream. Yuck.

Now we can make our own with honey or raw sugar instead of nasty stuff, and it will be frozen properly. I'm doing a happy dance inside right now, lack of water and all.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Oliver came home with an avocado yesterday. Someone brought some into his office for one of the guys that he works with. The guy was in the States, so the rest of them ended up splitting the bag. They'd been grown here on the island and were fresh-picked. I was so excited when I saw him walk in the door with it. (Tip: when the seed is bouncing around inside, the avocado is ripe - I never knew that before.)

I've never seen such a nice looking avocado before. The ones you find in the States are kind of small and don't have the best color. This one was bright green and about as large as Oliver's hand. I tried to get a decent shot of it:


For dinner tonight, I made guacamole for the first time ever. I am so grateful there was fresh garlic in the store this week! They haven't had any in awhile and it wouldn't have been the same without it. We also had homemade refried black beans and homemade tortillas made with half white, half Spelt flour. Sadly, my swiss chard has been attacked by a caterpillar, and I nearly finished the plant off trying to treat it, so there were no greens to be had. We had some tomatoes, though, so that was okay.

guacamole meal

Spelt is, incidentally, my new favorite grain. I brought some back from the States the last time we were there and am wishing  I could replace all my wheat flour with it. It has a much nicer taste, and results in a softer bread than the white wheat I typically use. I think I'm going to have order a few buckets of it and have them ship it in on the barge.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Coming Home to Internet, and Foody Stuff

We did make it home after all. The flight manifest was mercifully empty the morning after my last post. I would not have minded having to stay in our hotel just a tiny bit longer, though...

The best thing about coming home, though, was the discovery that we have internet in the house again. It's not amazing, but at this point, I will take any speed. I expect us to continue to have problems, but hopefully never as bad as it was right before we took our trip. I did learn a lot about my own internet habits, and have adjusted my behavior. Hopefully, I won't waste so much time doing nothing anymore.

As for our trip, I just had a couple things to say. Well, maybe more than a couple, but we'll see how far I get before I am bored.

We did head to the States with business in mind. The most important thing was to go food shopping. I can make do without a lot of things, and there is nothing I can do about the produce situation as no fresh food can come back with us, but there are still things that I refuse to live without. Like raw brown sugar, which is so much better than the processed stuff I don't know why people still buy it. Or certain spices.

Basically, I go to Whole Foods and go crazy. This time around, I was on a bit of a mission because I'm getting a lot more serious about running. As in, I'm learning what intervals are, how to speed train, and the fact that I'm most likely using the wrong shoes at the moment. I wasn't interested in adjusting our diet because I feel we eat pretty healthy as is, but have realized I need to pay a little more attention to it in order to get myself where I want to be. So, I bought beans. Lots of different kinds. We don't eat a lot of meat now due to price, but now we're going to eat even less. Which is so okay with me, as I was a mostly-vegetarian when I met Oliver and have slowly changed my eating habits over the years. I'm glad I have a reason he can't ignore as to why we need to eat less meat!

Here's my first new dish, a mix of Flageolet beans, onions, and fresh mushrooms, sauteed in butter with cumin and coriander (hello, where has coriander been hiding my whole life? awesome stuff!!):


I know, I know, it looks like garbage. Oliver took one look at it and told me he hoped I'd used a recipe to make it. He always says this when I make something he doesn't like the look of. I'm a bit of a free-spirit in the kitchen, so it's not completely without merit...

Anyway, it turns out, everyone liked it. Including both boys, which was a bit of a shocker. I have a tough crowd to please. They are all over the map with food, and rarely agree. Between Wyatt's love of Brussels sprouts, Oscar's willingness to eat fish, and Oliver's dislike of beans, they are a tough crowd to feed. This dish is going to be returning. That is, if I can get fresh mushrooms and onions at the same time again.

Not pictured is our adventure with quinoa, which I cooked up and served with a stir fry the next day. It has a very distracting crunch to it, but it's pretty mild in flavor. Oliver was okay with it, which made me glad because he hates, hates brown rice. Quinoa is a good substitute.

And here's the part where I get bored and sign out. Maybe I'll finish tomorrow, maybe not. I'm not so good at keeping blog promises...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

P.S. Nope, I'm not home yet. Both flights were packed today. Oliver might have barely squeaked onto the afternoon flight, but when he called his Lt., he nicely allowed him to stay here with the boys and I instead of going back. He wouldn't have been there in time for working hours, anyway. I so appreciate that because we are all tired and ready for home. Taking care of the boys, juggling rental cars and last minute hotel nights, plus all the luggage, on my own was not making me happy.

On the plus side, we managed to get a fabulous hotel room tonight. Oliver used Priceline and we snagged a downtown hotel with an actual sitting room and HDTV. All for the same price as the much older hotel near the airport with the very musty room we stayed in last night. We're totally going to be trying that again next time we come here.

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

My grandmother died of breast cancer a few years ago. Every time I see a pink ribbon, I am cheered because I know someone, somewhere cares about what happened to her. I think, though, that other cancers deserve to be remembered as clearly. Especially the cancers that strike our most vulnerable: our children.

Mrs. Staff Sergeant has a son who recently attained a remission status, yet is going to face increased health risks the rest of his life due to the cancer treatments he had when he was about Oscar's age. I really did not know until reading her blog that this was a reality for kids who went through cancer at such a young age. Survival for them sometimes means more problems later.

Obviously, there is always the question of what to do now that you know. I am not entirely sure I have the answers myself, but I wanted to link Keri's blog so you can go back and read it this month. She is going to post stories from families who have faced this demon. I think at the very least, we all need to understand more about what has befallen so many others around us.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Enforced Vacation

So, we left for the States on Sunday to do some shopping and remember what life in civilization is like. We were supposed to fly back today. The fact that I'm posting right now should give you a clue that we're still here. And I have no idea when the flights will get slow enough to get us on.

To give you an idea: today, Oliver was number 19 on the list. There are 19 seats on the plane. The rest of us were somewhere around 22-24. I was resigned to being left behind with the kids, but hoping he'd be bumped, too. He's flying on a special liberty pass, not leave, so he kind of has to go back as soon as possible. It's not a big deal if he gets bumped or anything, but he can't ask to be bumped to wait to go with us.

Well, as it turned out, I got my wish. They told him he could get on if he was willing to go without luggage. Um, not happening. Leaving me with two kids plus all the luggage would have been a nightmare. So, they took someone further down who weighed a lot less. She was able to take her suitcase because combined they were under the weight limit. (In case you are confused, basically they weigh both passengers and luggage as they check in. If you fly frequently, like us, they have our weights in the system and reweigh every so often. There is a limit to the weight the plane can carry. It's small, so it's pretty important.)

Tomorrow morning, Oliver is going to go in again because he has to, but he's number 22. It looks somewhat more promising for the afternoon flight, so we are crossing our fingers for that one. At the very least, hopefully Oliver and Wyatt can fly. Then Oscar and I will hang out here another night and try again the next day.

We have made the most of our time, though, eating out at fancy places, going to an awesome splashpark, bowling, and spending way too much money on stuff. I was going to upload a pic or two, but now I need to go buy cough syrup. Oliver has got a very nasty cough, and I think it's going to require intervention. He doesn't like to take meds, so clearly it is not good if he's okay with me getting something.

Laters, people. Enjoy your beds tonight, haha!

Monday, September 6, 2010

MMB Post

I haven't been keeping track of the schedule, so I was surprised when I clicked on the site today and found my post up.

Our ability to use the internet at home right now is pretty much nil. Every week, we have less time. We've been going back and forth with the wifi guy, but it seems as if it isn't going to get better. So, we're frustrated and trying to decide what to spend money on this time around. I think an outside antenna is going to be next, but I can't decide which one to buy.

We've even considered getting satellite internet, but apparently there isn't anyone here that can install it, and it's pretty expensive, anyway. I feel very cut off from the world, though, and that is frustrating.

We are actually in the States right now on a shopping trip, which is why I can post. We picked up this very cute netbook that fits into my shoulder bag. It's kind of weird, and the screen is puny, but with an 8hr battery life and the portability of it, I can at least carry it wherever when I leave the house. I consider it a stop-gap measure, but am aware it could be our new normal for the next two years. I'm glad we moved because the house is so much better, but losing internet was not a small tragedy.  

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Good-Bye Earl

I realize Hurricane Earl is headed to the East Coast, so I hope it doesn't wreak too much havoc (some of my own relatives are in its path), but we escaped unscathed. Actually, despite moving to a Condition 3, which I have since learned has something to do with the speed of the winds and time frame they are expected to arrive, we saw nothing but blue skies. At least our backyard got cleaned up.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Conch Salad and Other Yummy Stuff

A few weeks back, the base hosted a fish fry at the Beach House. They had people from the local community come in and set up booths to sell authentic Bahamian fare. It was the same night as the school's open house, so we went a little late. Oliver is not a seafood eater, so he wasn't too excited about it, but he is a good sport and knew I wanted me some conch salad.

Unfortunately, all the lobster was gone when we got there, but the conch salad booth was happening. There was another one selling fried fish, conch fritters, and some side dishes. I stood in the conch salad line, which wasn't moving too fast. Oliver noticed that and offered to stand in the fish fry one.

 conch salad booth

They make the salad fresh, including shelling the conch and chopping all the veggies, so it takes a bit of time. There were only two people making it, and I had moved just a step or two ahead by the time Oliver had waited in his line (which was about the same length when we both got in them) and bought a fish dinner.


The fish dinner included a couple standard sides. Under the fish is rice and peas, which can be pretty good depending on how it is made. This particular one was a little on the bland side, but it was all right.

The stuff in the top right is actually macaroni and cheese. I'm not particularly fond of the Bahamian version. It's basically layered pasta (something like ziti) and cheese, baked into a lasagna-like form. The boys will eat it, but Oliver and I typically skip it.

Not seen here since I took this picture at home (after half the fish was gone, too) is the potato salad. We finished that off while waiting for the conch salad to be done. I'm not usually a fan of potato salad outside of my own, so I was pleasantly surprised to find this one to be really good. As was the fish, although I am really not sure what kind it was.

Finally, take a look at this crazy kid:

I am thrilled to announce I finally have a family member who likes seafood. Oscar shared the fish with me, and also dove into the conch salad. You can get it with hot pepper or without, and I like it with, so I got it hot. The pepper ends up mostly in the lime and orange juices that sit in the bowl, so I was giving him the top part of the salad which wasn't hot at all.

After we got home, though, I put it down on the table and left it for a minute to take care of something. What does he do? Sit right down and start scooping it up. And not from the top, but right into the juice. I could tell he wasn't too thrilled with the heat of it, but he kept eating it for awhile. I am very excited to finally have a child who will eat this kind of stuff with me.