Thursday, December 6, 2012

F O A D

"80 percent of success is showing up."

Eff you, Woody Allen. Some people show up every goddam day and nothing happens.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Just do it

Night was falling. The only way back to the hostel was front crawl through the Red Sea, watching for sharks.


On a long bike ride west of Peterborough, I run out of water. The sun is hot. I have no map, and the cottages tucked into the woods are empty. I have no idea where a corner store might be. My mouth is dry.

My plane touches down in Bangkok at midnight. A friend is waiting for me in a backpacker's pub about 20k away but the taxi drivers refuse to take me there.

I’m at a conference at MIT. It’s an hour before I am to present a paper and I’m gripped with irrational terror.

Alone in a shabby room in the only hotel in an Indian town. I hear a sharp knock at the door.

I’m struggling in a marathon but it’s 18 km to the finish.


Hiking through fields in Turkey, I hear angry shouts and turn to see guards waving in my direction, long rifles gripped to their chests.

I take a deep breath and sit up to see 22 faces staring at me. This is a spinning class and I’m teaching for the first time.

“He likes females,” says the tamer, as I let the tarantula crawl onto my palm.

I am the only foreigner on a Tonle Sap river boat in Cambodia. We're been on the river all day. Now it's pitch dark, and the boat is making an emergency stop for the night. There are no hotels.






Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sunny run

The curtains were drawn and the sky was big and bright. I awoke with a gleam in my eye. Ran outside with sunscreen slapped on exposed skin and a need to escape and contemplate. The music stayed low in the background so as not to interfere with pensive thoughts.

Watched geese; saw fishermen in cold rivers. Avoided trams the size of semis. Waited impatiently at fussy traffic lights. Smiled at a dog.

18km.

:: Let sleeping cats lie ::


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Sweet potato pie

The collection

The form: cinnamon roll crust

The function: puffy marshmallow topping

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Cake walk

A two hour run this morning after a long sleep. I followed a trail I used to take often before I moved, but this time I ran in the opposite direction. The wind was strong and forceful, and although it had its way with many tree leaves it was kind enough to let me keep my cap. Piles of crunchy red and gold leaves dotted the path while the rebel leaves swirled in a frenzy against the dark sky.



This cake was ordered and enjoyed after ample breakfasts in a crowded diner in Moncton, NB, this summer. The monsieur was intrigued by the description in the menu so we ordered it to the amusement of the waitress, who admitted to eating the icing alone; that is, sans cake. 

Boiled icing has the texture of marshmallow fluff, and this one was light and very sweet with lots of vanilla. It also had an agreeable icing:cake ratio of at least 2:1. It was gone in mere minutes.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Cohabitation pizza

Green apple and blue cheese // Mushroom, cheddar and basil



Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Hello October

I didn't mention it, but I ran yesterday before work. I thought I heard rain after my alarm rang, but the cloudburst was apparently over and the road bloomed with puddles. I crept out from my quiet apartment to where the people were running with dogs and riding bikes. 

My right hamstring clenched and cringed, but it let me run about 5k anyway. It was warmer than expected, and my long sleeves felt too long and heavy. The air was as flat as the water in the canal, and the sun rose in an arc of pale blue sky as I jogged along.

My plan is to keep the runs short & simple but consistent this month (3-4 per week). I'm considering meeting with the ol' run club for some speed training and nerdy running conversation. Dreaming of a spring race. Halifax?

Friday, September 28, 2012

A mistake

Five days of no running, or workouts of any sort! It feels like a long stretch, but it also feels luxuriously wonderful (and necessary - both quads are still tender). I think about lacing up the shoes, or selecting my long run clothes every day.

I've learned something that I used to know, and forgot (so is it really learning? Gah). I was wondering what the reason was behind my early wane in energy during the marathon, so I did a litle reading.

Perhaps I ran out too fast. The time posted for my first 10k was good and fast, and I read on several sites that if you feel like you're going fast in the first 10 miles, it's a sign that you need to slow down. I recall keeping my speed down at the beginning of previous runs, and just waiting for time to pass so I could pick it up. I wish I had remembered that on Sunday because my initial speed might have triggered the burnout. I know I have another sub-4 race in me. There are always spring marathons to look forward to.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Overhaul

No running today! I am still waiting to get my land legs back. Monday and Tuesday were rough on my quads, but when I rose this morning they felt stronger. Lowering to a seated position or descending flights of stairs are still painful activities though, and I look funny doing them. A few more days of this prirate-leg nonsense and then I will be ready for a non-running activity like yoga or a bike ride. I might delay a return to running for another week, and skip the long run altogether this Sunday.

I might even designate October as a month of light running, with no distance over 10k, and some cross training. I can't wait to attempt a Zuze Lite workout. Maybe on the weekend.

I've been thinking about my diet lately. I've been gorging on snack food and takeout meals every day, sometimes for every meal of a day - yuck! My clothes aren't fitting properly and I feel unhealthy. I think that a lot of this is happening because I've been suspending my personal time in order to be with others or to complete projects. I can't wait to get the upcoming social events and deadlines over with, and relax.

Exercise gives me space to be alone and focus on myself. So necessary.

Many factors need to align in order for me to be cooking my own healthy, fresh meals. I need to be at home fairly regularly (haven't been). I need to dream about a delicious dish (nope) and find the time to cook it (ditto). And exercising helps to set me on the path to wanting to cook because my body craves nutrition and downtime, so cooking and exercise really do go together.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Au revoir, Montréal

Alright, marathon #3 is a done deal!

We had a cold start to what evolved into a beautiful race. Huddled in my bright green throw-away hoodie and practically defenceless against the sharp wind, surrounded by my buddies in Corral 9 on the Jacques-Cartier Bridge, I turned my face upwards toward the sun to let the rays lay some solar energy on me. I chatted with some Montrealers who were doing the race for the first time. One young woman was getting ready to run her first marathon. She said, I think a marathon is really hard. She had run a half marathon before. An older guy had run one marathon before and said he would be happy with a time of 4:15. We were excited and raring to go. And we were cold. Loud music pumped through large speakers set up on posts. I danced to some Daft Punk and waited for the signal. Finally the first corral was let loose. After the second corral took off, we moved up. And after a few more, we were gone, like wolves on the hunt.

The first kilometre of the marathon is always an enjoyable place to be, but this start was sublime. No other word to describe the sharp right turn off the bridge and then a long, narrow run downhill through a park. I shifted into Go and let er rip, passing people and watching for puddles and broken asphalt, of which there was a considerable amount. (I saw someone slip into a side plant, probably skinning a palm or two and the side of his leg). I made good time in this portion - something like 51 minutes for the first 10k. We ran on a narrow path that snaked along La Ronde, and I imagined I was a brutal bloodsucker flying madly through the amusement park at night, a la The Lost Boys.

After a strong first 10k, I started to feel a lag. Which was kind of nuts, because I still had a long way to go. I spotted the 4:10 pace bunny just ahead of me and every twitch fibre of my being decided that there was NO WAY I wanted to follow this rabbit. I sped up and tried to make good time while I could, because some part of my lizard brain recalled how the final 8k or so can feel like they take five hours because your quads, shins, calves - the whole enchilada - become encased in invisible cement, mentally speaking. It's called maing hay while the sun shines. Besides, speeding up and passing people gave me something to concentrate on besides my anxiety about time.

After a while, I saw that I had mixed with some half-marathoners crowded around their 2:00 pace bunny. I ran away from them and met up with the 4:00 bunny. Perfect! I ran along with that group for a while. It was relaxing; I just went with the flow until I realized I could go a touch faster. I quickened the pace and maintained a good, quick speed, secure with the dreamy image of being just ahead of 4:00.

But all dreams eventually come to an end. My right quad developed a twinge that was not severe enough to qualify as a cramp, yet was a little annoying. I stopped for cups of water/orange electrolyte juice, and the 4:00 bunny team passed me, and although I tried with all my might, my heart and soul, I could not catch up to their speed. Several agonizing minutes of deprecating self-talk later, I made the decision to abandon the 4:00 end and just enjoy the rest of the course. Between a finish time that appealed, and one that repelled, there was an overlap of acceptability; a result I could live with.

It was a lot easier to let that go than I thought it would be.

I have had experiences in previous races where I thought, if I don't get the final time I want, I won't accept any other. That's pretty defeating, though.

My self talk was mostly positive this time. If I had a common phrase that popped up, it was along the lines of, The first half is training, the rest is will power, and if there's anything you have, it's that.

The third 10k is mostly zapped from my memory, if it was ever there to begin with. I sort of remember running through urban neighborhoods with large trees, sometimes with only a spectator or two. In some areas there were large waving crowds, and people with funny signs that read, "Pain now, beer later." My kind of message: funny and practical, and then there's the beer. A kid handed me a whip of red licorice which seemed like a good idea but wasn't. I threw it away after one cold bite.

The last few clicks were pretty awful, but that's standard. It takes everything to keep going, and if you stop, it is much harder to restart, so you keep rolling. And people start using your name more often in their motivational phrases, which is endearing. I kept smiling to those peeps and mumbling, Merci. I also talk to myself. Just three more kays. What's that. Absolutely nothing. You've done this a million times. FFS.

I tried to imagine that I had just biked a century ride, and then was now going for a light 5k jog to loosen up the legs. I thought the new perspective might give me a boost. It worked for a while.

And finally I rounded a corner and there was a finish line, so I crossed it. And there was D, waiting with his camera to take my photo, and take me to breakfast.

Speaking of breakfast, I met another runner in the washroom of the resto. She ran the half-marathon in exactly half my time, and was black. We had the same name, but other than that we were opposites!

4:04

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Almost to Pink Lake; introducing a new blister to the family


I toured the Gats during my training today, and would now like to suggest a message for a future neon sign to be posted at its entrance: "Gatineau Park, where the hills have hills!"

Roughly a third of today's 35km adventure happened within the Park, and among the multitude of cyclists buzzing around the water fountain I spied only one other person foolhardy enough to tackle the hills on foot. I'd like to point out that while cycling is hard work, a pedal rotation on a bike usually goes farther than a running stride, and so a ride is usually easy and comfortable at distances difficult and uncomfortable for a run. An experienced cyclist planning a long ride would choose a longer route than a runner, even at the height of marathon training.

The path to the Gats was a decision lightly made. I was looking for some shady path to follow, and at the last second I veered left at a fork because I knew it led to the park and offered some shady sections. I have biked here many times for fun and as a means to get to work (my *old* job) and knew there would be long sections of shade but I hadn't counted on the intensity of the morning heat. I ran as far as Gamelin and refilled my bottle at the fountain with water so deliciously cool I would have been pleased to bathe and cavort in it faerie-style. Instead I decided to run as far as Asticou; from there, I began the 5k route I used to do occasionally on my lunch break -- until I saw a posted sign for Pink Lake only 7k from there. Yippee! It would give the perfect distance.

Soon after deciding to go to Pink Lake and exceed the distance at which I suspect my water bottle could support me (14k on one bottle of water was asking way too much in this heat) I forgot all about water and instead thought about passing the runner just ahead. I guessed we were going at about the same speed so I concluded I really couldn't pass her. Decision made, I happily trailed behind, content to have her ahead as a running gauge (and bear attack support). But soon enough she veered off and I continued for a few more kms until the path climbed steeply with large rocks alongside -- ah, I had hit trail running territory. I turned around before twisting an ankle (would I be pissed!) and headed back the same way with water sploshing loudly within the rapidly emptying bottle. I was 3k off, but it was fine.

It took a crazy amount of willpower to keep on trucking even though I knew a cold water fountain was waiting for me. It was just so hot and hilly. To gauge my progress I mentally performed a body scan -- how do the quads feel? am I tired yet? too hot and burning up? -- and discovered that while my quads and calves were sore, my energy was still high. And this combo of feeling sore yet energetic and positive continued until I finally reached home after running back the same way and adding on a bit at the end.

And that stop at the fountain when I finally reached it? Heavenly.

Just one more long run until my taper begins, and while I`m currently lying on the couch with straight legs and barking dogs (haha, that`s sore feet to some of you), I believe I`m ready for this marathon. It`s too bad that speed work was pushed to the backseat so that I could concentrate on achieving my weekly distance goals, but when I look at what I`ve accomplished, I feel confident that I`ve prepared enough to cross the finish line without walking too much or giving up entirely. Of course, one never knows what will happen over the next few weeks, but the outlook from the current perspective looks sunny and clear.

Now I have a heel blister from my new running shoes, which I bought to relieve my toes of their toe tip and sub-nail blistering tendencies! Go figure. At least heel blisters are less unsightly than blackened nails. Bandaids are the best invention (well, second after ibuprofen).

After a breakfast of eggs and toast, I baked a pan of crumble that had been waiting in the fridge since yesterday. So sweet and juicy!

:: Nectarine and raspberry goodnesses ::



Friday, August 24, 2012

Indian buffet for lunch...

...means an uncomfortable run six hours later!

I stopped by a popular Indian restaurant with a colleague who also adores tandoori and parathas. We were pretty stoked. Overall the food was delicious, and the eggplant curry and mini samosas in particular were packed with flavor. But hours later when I took my first steps of the night's 10k my stomach boiled up with indigestion and I fought a strong desire to pull off the path and let it all out.

It was a good test though, and now I know to stick to plain, some might say dull, carbs before the September race. Foods with pasta, rice and bread and few/no chilis are probably best suited for my endurance needs -- and what a crying shame! I'd prefer go out for a fulfilling Indian feed the night before than a grilled cheese sandwich and a bowl of tomato soup.

The experience also got me wondering what it is about this cuisine that argues so disagreeably when I exercise. The spices? The oil? Perhaps the overall amount? Admittedly, I sampled a hella good amount of delicacies.

I would not have experienced such depths of gut suffering had I indulged in D's sensible kale & avocado and mixed grain salads.

Ruffage, anyone?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Rainy run

I had a galloping run last night! I covered about 9km with a steady speed...in the steady downpour. Running in warm summer rain is refreshing. Feels like getting a bath as a baby. I even like the shivery feeling of water gently seeping through my running shoes into my socks and masaaging my toes.

The only mandatory item I need for these rainy runs is a cap with a strong brim to keep rain from hitting my eyes.

Dinner!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Lot of Tacos

Another successful trip to Taco Lot! D was curious to see what was listed on the chalk board menu. Turned out they were out of beef, fish and their regular veggie filling. My plate was loaded with two veggie tacos (with sauteed veggies inside), rice and black beans, green salad, watermelon slices and a big squirt of the salsa verde sauce:


Healthy and light, the whole shebang was pretty phenomenal. Even the wasps who regularly stopped by for a buzz seemed to think so.

I closed another chapter in my professional life on Friday after finishing work in Gatineau. It was a long year, but I got through it with new friends and contacts, and some shiny new skills. I'm glad I made the move back to this side of the river. If I ever again entertain the thought that I could be doing better, I'll know what I need to do -- find something else to engage my neural synapses.


Monday, August 6, 2012

Candles

I ran after work. A long one. About 25k. The air was cool. Just one gel and one water bottle top up from the park fountain. The sky was getting dark by the time I got home. I'm a little sore.

But I don't feel tired, or even a bit sleepy. My ragged legs have no interest in sleep. Running is their vodka-redbull. They want to dance a twitchy dance and force my feet to submit to a pedicure. Scrub away those blisters and callouses. No.

If I can't sleep, I could be content to lie here, digesting my dinner and organizing my life for the next 20 years. Or 20 days.

I have no idea what my life will look like in the future. I picture the future as a crumbly stone well & bats hiding deep in the shadows. Are they good bats or evil ones? Hard to tell from up here. I can't picture my life half as clearly as I can those bats, sleeping upside down, wrapped in darkness. I wish I could sleep.

Damn you, bat well future. You can't talk but I need your deep advice. Should I do anything differently than I am now? But that's not it. The real question is, why stay the same at all?

Our lives flicker like tea lights.


Monday, July 30, 2012

Gettin fresh

It's fresh roll season! I rolled up cilantro, slices of red and yellow peppers, peaches and cold, baked tofu in rice paper. Then I dipped the whole shebang into a homemade peanut-garlic sauce. A delicious meal to assemble when the weather is too hot for real cooking.

I overheard someone say today that "every good Canadian should be watching the Olympics," and wondered why only Canadians get saddled with this responsibility. Every Canadian, good or not, should be working less and basking in the summer heat! Harumph.

This evening seemed like a good time to rediscover Zwow #8 and the legendary dragon lunges!





Saturday, July 28, 2012

Fiery peach salsa


I bought an attractive basket of peaches this morning. 

Tender, juicy, fuzzy, peachy orbs.
Little goody-goodies.

A little spice helps them achieve a less wholesome reputation!

8 ripe peaches, peeled and diced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1 small garlic clove, mined
juice of 2 limes
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp cilantro, minced
1 green onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup red pepper, diced

Mix and store in the fridge until ready to serve.



Thursday, July 26, 2012

Lazy run

An easy run this morning because the outsides of my knees felt slightly tender. I guess they didn't have enough R&R time between yesterday's noon run, which was hilly and extremely hot, and this morning's light run 18 hours later. My knees are as fussy as the Queen when her salad tomatoes are not sliced properly. They require just the right conditions for baseline functioning!



But at least I was able to run today. Yesterday morning I felt too tired from the day before, when I biked to and from work and then completed ZWOW #7, thereby completely wearing myself out and putting me to bed early. I slept well that night, but could not cajole my legs into considering a run in the morning. I remember why I love that workout so much: the side bends with weights are great for the obliques.



Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Bodyguard

Have you ever lost a nail? It's probably one of the only parts of the body that we noticeably, sometimes painfully, shed and replace. Hair doesn't count because it usually leaves us without saying goodbye. It just drifts away and turns up later in a glaringly obvious location, like plastered along the side of the bath tub or bobbing in the soup. Skin also leaves us but the specks are too small for me to care about. I won't notice it in the soup. (Ew.)

Nails do not go quietly into the night. They leave only when forced by a slammed door or inaccurate hammer, or old running shoes, which is what scares my nails away all the time. They have attachment issues, and will hang on, sometimes by a thread, to protect the tender digit beneath like a bodyguard lying over their person to protect them from bullets streaming above. 

I have a nail that is coming undone. It wishes to leave its post. I hope it has the wherewithal to hang on for a few more months. I need its protection.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Bear!

...but I wasn't lucky enough to see it! Beautiful Gatineau, you screwed me again!

I was blissfully biking downhill when a man walking toward me said something in French. Screeeeech! Wheels stopped - pardon moi?

He said it again, and then to make sure I understood, he repeated in English: "I just saw a bear." Peering through some leafy brush along the path and above a highway, he added that a black bear had crossed the highway and meandered on to the bike path where he had been. Whoa! Sounded like a juicy story but no more details were released before he started walking quickly again, advising me to be careful, up the hill from where I'd come. I started biking again, scanning the brush at first, until trepidation moved me off the path and on to the street. It was busy enough. I figured there were way too many cars and cyclists in motion to encourage a bear.

I have only seen the ass end of a bear as it ran from me in the Gats. I'm probably due to see one face to face but I would want assurances that scratching, mauling or anything in the eating/affection range would not take place. I guess that means at a zoo.

Maybe I'll take the bus tomorrow.


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Fountain rant

Sunday morning

I had trouble leaving my comfy bed this morning, and I was still inhabiting a dreamy head space when I landed outside and started to run. I had eaten breakfast and hydrated before I left, and packed a load of new gels (peanut butter flavour!), but the monsters continued to chase me; I felt mentally and emotionally worn out after the first 10 minutes! Pretty weird. Especially when you know you have many, many minutes ahead. Gah.

I crossed the bridge and chose a nice shady route to protect me from the sun. It is a lot harder than normal to run in direct sunlight in the midst of a summer heat wave, even when you're hydrating like mad. Imagine the sun is a giant magnet that uses strong rays to suck the liquids and energy out of you, right through your skin, and deposits them into the atmosphere, leaving you a hollow, sticky mess, like a chocolate Easter bunny left in a microwave oven. 

Melted milk chocolate (but not a bunny)


I ran in that shady area for quite a while, enjoying the skin-saving reprieve granted by our tall friends, the trees. But something was missing: water fountains! A full bottle lasts me about 45 minutes in the heat, and I was nearing the bottom of mine when I spotted the silver shininess of what had to be a fountain. I felt a flutter of excitement which quickly extinguished itself when I tried the rusty handle and nothing happened. Gatineau, you have failed me again! I had to give up my dream of continuing on to the Marina. Boo. I had no recourse but to turn around and head in the direction of a fountain I knew (if one can ever truly know a fountain). I arrived at the working fountain about 45 minutes later and drank a hella lot.

Although I felt physically strong and capable during the 30k run, my emotions ran high and low, and of course this roller coaster intensified during the final hour when I was running in hot sunlight and felt incredibly warm and sticky, and just a tad uncomfortable. I felt like crying several times during this run, which is not usual. Even the peanut butter gel did not raise my spirits although it was damn good. A glass of milk and a dab of my mom's jam would have made me feel better!


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Fast cars, slow birds

On summer mornings, the traffic of the city unsnarls its tangles, and vehicles are permitted to move a little faster. Like arteries newly cleaned and free of their cholesterol linings, the asphalt streets seem to extend their borders outward and loosen their hold on cars and busses.

I'm sure that's how I came to be deposited at work so early today. Open road, no cars. It was fine, though. Lots to plow through today.

Good run this morning. There was strength in my legs left over from yesterday's morning run and the metres flew by. I spotted a gaggle of geese (seriously!) sleeping on a pebbly strip of beach, their beaks tucked gracefully into wings and resembling in color and stillness the rocky inukshuks close by.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Unknowing

There are so many things I don't know it makes my head spin, but most of the time not knowing doesn't bother me. I can be comfortable with my head in the clouds, bopping along rapturously to the rhythm of my own baseline. It's knowing that I will never know that does me in. It's so final.

When I ran this morning, I noticed that all systems felt harmonious. Muscles, energy, speed - all the important players were heeding the maestro and making nice for the first time this summer. I felt fast and light. Maybe the long weekend runs have been paying off, or the Zuzana workouts. Or the cinnamon gelatto from last night.

Who knows.

Certainly wasn't because of all the sleep. Just 6 hours last night.

Later...

I've been thinking that a vacation would feel really lovely. And it just came to me now that I could use some time in the company of the really freaky (but harmless). I would like to hang out in the hot stillness of the desert and eat dragon fruit and candy canes, and trace poems in guacamole on people's legs, and fall asleep in a tent full of long-haired purring housecats. I am desperate to escape the stupidly ordinary! I require a mask and costume! I feel a tattoo urge coming on! That is all.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Melted popcicles

It's hot. The dogs I pass on the bike path loll their tongues and pant audibly. When I run in the morning before work, a short jog of 30 minutes or less, I re-enter the cave sticky wth sweat. And that's before 7:00.

The cat, normally affectionate, doesn't care to be held until I've showered, and will leap from my arms if I try to pick him up after running.



Breakfast jiggles

I've been trying to run more often - 3 times a week at minimum (but more is better). Morning runs are definitely the way to go: less hot, over with before I'm even awake, and quiet. Plus, there is a greater chance of hitting the pavement because I almost never have alternate plans at 6:00, except for more dreaming. I just have to do something about sleeping more the night before.


Dreamy: A Montreal lunch


Saturday, July 7, 2012

Grapes of Wrath

Tomorrow, everything will be better. Tomorrow, the clouds will part, the sun will shine and I'll win the lottery. Tomorrow is my real birthday. Tomorrow is the conclusion of my worst nightmare. Tomorrow will be everything today was not and will never be. Tomorrow I will run and reach my goal. Tomorrow will be the beginning of something beautiful. Bet your bottom dollar on tomorrow.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Recoveries

Today was a holiday for QC and QC-lovers, so I took a holiday from running, too. The experience of a long run in yesterday's heat extracted two days's worth of energy from me. Also to blame: Zuzana for sucking the strength from my arms and shoulders with her Z-wow 21 workout. That workout, with 200 squats and burpees, is the equivalent of public speaking for 48 straight hours in front of the Commonwealth. A normal person just can't do it. I managed about 50 burpees (with rests in between, mind you) and  I can barely lift my arms. It's a good thing my bullies are office workers who smoke heavily.

Gonna run tomorrow morning. Gotta start taking this marathon deadline more seriously. 8 more long runs! That's it!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Eight amazing facts about cupcakes


8. An under cooked cupcake in a flavour you don't enjoy is better than a good day at work.

7. The word cupcake comes from the Greek word, "cup," which means to lick, and "cake," which means me.

6. "Cupcake" should be your final word, uttered breathlessly and into the eyes of an attractive medical doctor as you lay dying.

5. It is far better to savour a cupcake crumb off a floor than to win an entire box of muffins.

4. Cupcakes are adorable iced in yellow and pink like the eye of a drugstore milk chocolate Easter bunny in side view.

3. Cupcakes are the confectionery equivalent of apples from the Tree of Knowledge.

2. Cupcakes pair well with apricot brandy, vodka, ice wine, scotch, gin, swamp water, chardonnay, coconut rum, tequila and raspberry stout. Also, in a pinch, milk.

1. Good girls go to heaven but bad girls go everywhere, and they bring a box of cupcakes with them.



Sunday, June 17, 2012

Hot Sunday


I got out the door at a decent hour this morning and managed close to 25k.

The first 20 were beautiful. I jogged along the shady gravel path that hugs the river and smelled all the new green plants and watched people rowing in needle-thin boats. That path and all the bike paths I saw were quite clear; maybe citizens are already away on vacation. Or else the zombies got em.

The last 5k were less than spectacular. The heat was patiently burrowing under my sunscreened skin like a tropical worm and I just wanted to go home. Tired, sweaty and probably dehydrated, with a face like a bing cherry, I took a short cut and clung for dear life to the shady side of the street (apologies to Armstrong). Once enveloped by the civilized temps of my basement, I realized that since my haircut I have been running hat-free, a routine I should reconsider for the next few months. There was also the case of the absent second gel; usually I force myself to swallow a second one somewhere around 17k, but I forgot to do that today. So if I had an underwhelming final 5, these mishaps might have contributed to the results. My knees were ok, though! No knees were harmed during the making of this run.

Even though my adventure was over before noon and I had a to-do list as long as my arm, I changed my mind and spent the day on my couch, immersed in cold drinks & words. All day long! The list, I decided, could wait.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Transitions


I left with the clothes on my back. I left the kids in the house and took the money. I left the keys in the ignition and caught a ride. I left her crying at the airport. I left but I figured I'd return. I left the bags under the back steps. I left rotten milk in the fridge. I left when the going got tough. I left as the sun sank beneath the waves. I left for promises I knew he couldn't keep. I left and never looked back.




He got up when he heard the screams. He got up for a drink in the middle of the night. He got up to no good after his wife left him. He got up to take the bus to the airport. He got up for bacon but not for eggs. He got up and paced in the moonlight. He got up early but she was gone.




We stayed for the whole show. We stayed until it got weird. We stayed to clean up. We stayed on the phone and listened. We stayed even though we knew. We stayed because life is beautiful. We stayed for the beer and the coke, and because Mel told us to. We stayed close by just in case. We stayed when no one else would.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

To Eno's Music for Airports & Thursday Afternoon


The clear scent of strawberries. A spider on the floor. Shoes squeak on a staircase. Traffic lights against the sky. Staples on a telephone pole. Walking in the mist before rain. A breeze transitions into wind. Leaves like butterflies on a limb. Sitting alone at a large table. Beads of juice on a cut lime.












Reflections in a screen. Surprise at an empty seat. Remembering a title. Picking up garbage from a backseat. Latte foam in the shape of hearts. Empty basket on an old bicycle. Cracking an egg. Doorbell like a grandfather clock. Passport photo in a library book. Sand castles at high tide. Baby please don't go.







Monday, June 11, 2012

Animal crackers


Yoga is there when times are a-changing or too static, or whenever I need some comfort. Some runner friends turned me on to yin, a style that wrenches opens the body with poses held for a long time - maybe 2-3 minutes. The emphasis is on stretching, not so much muscle building, and to stretch for a long duration one is encouraged to find a comfortable way to hold a pose. Otherwise, as the milliseconds tick by, the sensations will become too intense. I had to resort to bolsters and blankets today because my body felt so constricted, especially on my right side. My hips feel more open now because they've been roughened up by the brutal Lotus pose. The name sounds delicate, the pose is not.

I tried a new class tonight. The teacher was helpful and didn't talk a lot, allowing silence to give birth to introspection and introversion. Class concluded with a long relaxing corpse pose that did not end until at least one person woke up in the middle of a snore! My word, it was the perfect yoga class.

I love the poses named after animals. Sometimes I try to find the animal in myself and the people around me. Do we look like a murder of crows ominously at rest in a tall tree, our limbs crossed at crooked angles? Could I pass for a pigeon at a Halloween party if I splay my legs on a mat like this?

Slurpy soup pose: ramen, broc, carrot, shroom, egg.



Sunday, June 10, 2012

Dinner at the Taco Lot

While T and I were out strolling this afternoon - baby in stroller - she asked me if I'd been to the Taco Lot yet. It's a small building (a shack, actually) in a parking lot a few blocks from my place. It's along the same lines as other quick eateries like snack trucks that serve just a few items. It's great to see that the city that fun forgot is finally giving the green light to small business owners who want to serve interesting fare. I hear there is a Thai truck somewhere in the city. I will sniff it down. 

So I ambled over for a taco dinner feeling very bohemian: Pynchon's characters go out for fish tacos in Cali in Inherent Vice. While placing my order at the window and staring at some mini desserts just within reach, I almost tipped over a small sculpture of a rooster sitting in the gravel. The chalk board listed 4 savoury offerings plus a few flavours of cheesecake and gluten-free shortbread. Something for everyone! 

I had 2 tacos, one fish and one vegetarian, which were accompanied by a scoop of Mexican rice, some cooked red cabbage and lettuce on the side, and tender slices of pineapple and watermelon. A lovely snack! 


Kind of like this.

Then I rounded it off with a chocolate ice cream. I forgot to look for the donut shop by the taco shack. I heard the donuts are good. Next time.

Oh yeah, ran about 14K this morning after some ART yesterday. The sun was hot but I ran slowly, and stretched and iced afterwards. Regardless, the unforgiving IT bands on the outer edge of both legs were irritated and remain so, but I'll appease them with yet more ice treatments before bed, and relax them with some yoga tomorrow. 

 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The window



I took the bus once from Ottawa to Boston. I don’t know if I was eager or just on top of things, but that day I arrived at the Greyhound station early enough to steal a window seat near the back of the bus that wasn't  too close to the washroom. It was early June, and I guess I figured there would be a lot to see out of that window as we headed east. I didn’t get to see much because a young man sat beside me as the bus and we talked most of the way to Montreal. He was full of excitement and moved around in his seat a lot. Montreal for dancing and trouble, he hooted. Ottawa's no place for any of that, I joked. He was a student at University of Ottawa, taking undergrad classes in poli sci, which would give him a BA in the end. Maybe it's an important subject but it's not one I know anything about.

He had no accent in English but he spoke other languages. Farsi at home, and his French wasn't bad. Then he said he'd be learning Dutch soon and hoped it was similar to German. He didn't add any reason for the Dutch, not right away, but the topic came up again later when we talked about biking in the Gats, and how you could sometimes see deer and fauns sipping dew from the asphalt if you hit the roads early in the morning. That was when he said he was going to the Netherlands in July for a bike trip with a cousin from France. The cousin, who he'd met only once during a family reunion, had called him out of the blue when he heard his mother had passed away. The cousin was going to arrange for a guide and bicycles, plan the route, set it all up. The young man sounded excited about the trip but also sad about the reason for it. I asked if his mother died recently. In March, he replied, looking away from me. I was saddened to hear that, and I said so. He thanked me and said he was doing better now but the final papers for his classes had been hard to finish.

A thick silence sprouted then, and I stared out the window without really seeing anything. Then he turned to me and asked if I'd done any travelling in Europe. I said, I've been to the Netherlands twice, and we both snorted with laughter. I told him how I'd found a roll of euros on the sidewalk after stumbling out of a café and took my friends out for dinner with the money. Remembering the Farsi, I told him about the Persian restaurant and his brown eyes lit up. I described the lamb with pomegranate seeds and saffron, and lentils and whole walnuts, and he smiled. In a flash I saw his mother in a colorful dress stirring a pot on the stove, lifting a stoneware dish from the hot oven to baste what was inside. I imagined the spicy vapours from a glass of hot chai and the fragrant scent of rice. He asked me if I'd tried Persian kabobs. When I shook my head, he said, you must try them the next time you're in the Netherlands. We laughed again.

When the bus pulled in to Maisonneuve we said our goodbyes. I watched from the window as he vanished into the big city dusk. Back on the highway, I found my novel but couldn't concentrate on the typed words so small and far away. Outside the daylight was softening as the darkness crept up from the horizon like lids closing around an eye. I watched the tips of the fir trees along the forest edge deepen from green to black, fading into night, every one of us waiting for stars.



Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Control

We ran at lunch today, and I ran faster than the guys. The air was heavy and humid, the air in the woods a degree or two cooler. My skin plumped up with moisture and my hair frizzed like wire. As I pounded uphill I felt my muscles respond with more strength than before. Downhill on a flurry of loose gravel, I released my mental brake and let 'er rip, sliding with small steps and high knees but in control. It never got away from me. 

29:30

Monday, May 14, 2012

Leaves, arrives


I arrived at my office building early this morning, because I was late.

I was trying to get myself fed, dressed and ready to catch an earlier bus, and it all looked possible, but my eyes were whining for purple eye liner, so I decided to catch the next bus 15 minutes later. Eyeliner doesn’t require substantial application time, just a quick line and I’m done. With time still on my side, I hopped over the café to pick up a coffee and bumped into a colleague who, it turns out, always grabs a coffee at just that time, and owns a car.

She has a sunny disposition and we chatted for the ride, so it was much more pleasant than the usual routine, plus I arrived 45 minutes early with good coffee and a bemused smile. Hot damn.

Ran the shorter route through the woods alone at lunch. The high noon heat poked at my thirst. As I rounded a corner I was surprised to see shadows where before there had been direct sunlight. The leaves on the little copse of trees had grown large enough to shield that area of the path from the sun.

36:42

Monday, May 7, 2012

Saved by a fountain

Feeling under the weather right now but I had an amazing run yesterday. Me and the lugubrious sunshine finally enjoyed some tête-à-tête (we drifted a bit after our time together in the southern hemisphere). The sun was out in full force and I imagined my vitamin D health meter rising, its neon yellow liquid gurgling in the heat like Mr Clean in a solar panel.

I ran for a long time on a dirt road by the boat club. Along the narrow, crumbly road that descends from the paved bike path to the dirt road hugging the river, I saw clumps of ferns at least a foot high.  

On the dirt road were just a few people - some runners, a few folks with fishing rods - and I soaked up solitude like a big happy sponge. The silver rowing boats stacked on a portable shelving unit by the main building were long and thin as needles ready to slice through waves in the next morning practice.     

Turned around and headed back, and after a short while I felt the thirst creeping up. I slurped the last bead of water from my bottle and thought of options. I don't know of any fountains near that area. I considered the ol' suck it up approach but my energy was waning, so I detoured from the home stretch and headed to the market. Slipped inside the main building and filled up the water bottle. Gulped it down and went for a refill! After capping the bottle and wading through the madding crowds to the canal, I felt my life force return. 22k.



~ In memory of Margot ~ 


Thursday, May 3, 2012

8K with the boss

No, I don't mean with D! Or Pinotte, for that matter. I mean with my director at the office. We two Employees and the boss have been settling into a weekly running routine of Tuesdays and Thursdays. I like the camaraderie and I'm comfortable being in the middle in terms of speed. Today, Employee was tired and opted to continue working at his desk, so it was just me and Boss. A little intimidating, but not really. We start off talking about work but I could tell he wanted to end that quickly, so we flipped to the trusty subject of running. While running. A giant cycle of obsession, is that.

Since we run during lunch we don't go out for all that long. The longest route is about 8K and leads first along the bike path for a series of killer hills, first a lot of up, then steeply down, then unites with the paved road for the last few kilometres. All spring we've been spoiled with a car-free road and only a few cyclists who seem to head straight for us, but I hear the roads re-open this weekend so we'll have to be more careful. No more running in the middle of the road until next winter. On the upside, guaranteed fewer bear sightings with the sound and smells of autos in the air. It's not that I like cars, but that I worry about critters with teeth and claws and big empty stomachs.

Sometimes we grab a shorter route that starts primly on the path, descends into gravel through the woods - we run along a marsh for part of it - and finishes up on the road. I don't know the distance, only that it takes about 32 minutes to complete.

Then there is the "lazy" run: three laps on the road around the building. That will bring us to roughly 6K and pancake flat but with lots of vehicles and sometimes walkers. Employee and I take this route occasionally, but never with Boss. With Boss it's all or nothing, even if he has to take a walk break in the middle. Which we did today.

It was misty and a perfect temperature. A few times I smelled vanilla but it lasted a second or two each time.


Monday, April 30, 2012

Yoga hive eye

I took a yoga class this evening. It was hatha or some kind of flow-y style of class. Before it began, the instructor walked around the room and set electric candles on the floor. Each candle had a switch on the bottom that when sparked would turn on the flicker. They looked like wax candles that had melted down in the centre. 

At some point during the first few minutes of the class a hive grew on my right eyeball. This has happened before (thank goodness there are no bees!). The hive messed up my contact lens and turned my eye into cranberry jelly - a squashed squint of allergy that was under constant rain pour, what with the buckets of sweat. Maybe the hive is a sign of an allergy, but to what. Sun salutations? I have no idea why it turned up, or who sent it, but although unpleasant it didn't detract a fig from the relaxation I was feeling. My girdles have been loosened! Shoulder and hip, that is.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sunday run

I didn't sleep well last night but I stuck to my original plan and ran this morning. I took the path along the water by the university and smelled the choppy waves of water on the wind in the bright sunlight and the combo of wind, water and sun made me smile like an empty moron. It was a warm feeling of spring freedom - is this spring fever?

Lately I haven't been feeling motivated to run the longer distances, and I felt some of that irritation this morning. It wasn't just tiredness. I hope I can get excited about it again soon, but if it doesn't come back I guess I will have to address it. Find something to take its place.

20k.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Volcanic embers


Saturday mornings are becoming the exquisite gems of my week. I'm keen on a long snooze after a week of sleep deprivation and work, but I'm unable to sleep in much on Saturday and Sunday mornings and it has nothing to do with the hour of my bedtime. I chalk it up to re-aligned circadian rhythms and the cat, who is definitely a morning person....er, kitty. I used to be such a night owl but that seems long ago now.

The joy of my Saturday morning is in the solitude. One of my favorite things to do on a weekend morning is watch movies; a night of shadowy dreams sets me in a suitable frame of mind for watching something deep and complex. The other thing I like to do on weekend mornings is run.

I haven't been discussing my running lately, but there has been some activity. I ran on Thursday at work, and then last night when I got home - the cool wind felt refreshing. Yesterday morning I also did a Bodyrock session (actually it was an intensive Zuzana Light session with a murder of burpees) which armed me for a long and challenging day in battle. Some morning start better with sparks; others with embers.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

CBC

Retired people who are still bitter about their jobs are sad but also really funny. I wonder how they can still carry the passion to hate an organization they are no longer a part of. One from which they have been liberated.

If your job was to torture people, or if you were bullied for years and just retired five minutes ago, your residual anger at your former employer could be understandable.

But if you just got up in the mornings and went off to your kinda crappy but tolerable office for your entire career and now you don`t have to because you are retired, the rest of the working world finds you very, very lucky, and would you please now just move ahead with your life.

Yesterday two women on a busy street commented on my purse, a CBC satchel. One of them asked me where I got it. After I told her where I bought it, she sputtered, I worked for the CBC for 35 years and I never got one of those.

Gee, that`s too bad, you didn`t get a purse. What a horrible oversight! I bet you totally deserved a canvas satchel! And I bet your managers are kicking themselves to this day for letting you go.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Teak and steak

The southern trip is over and we've been back to city pace for a few days now. After two days of office work, I can feel the familiar stresses sinking in, the roots searching blindly for places on which to take hold, though I can still feel the influence of sunlight and rest on my psyche.

I may be home among the pine trees but my core remains a trunk of Costa Rican teak wood. I hope it can stay that way until at least the next excursion.

:: Daydreaming under the heart leaf tree ::

I'm going to try to focus on small things for the next few weeks. I need to remember that my job is just a day job. Put in the time, then put yourself on the bus back home. D and I are planning regular mud facials to keep the relaxation boat afloat. Then there's running. Cake and bubble tea. 

I attended a spin class tonight, a friend's final class of the season. I chose the bike nearest the back door, swung wide open to catch spring breezes and air out the sweaty studio. Now and then I caught a whiff of the outdoors, the earthy scent of steak grilling on a barbeque, and my stomach gurgled like a delighted baby.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Pineapple slices and chocolates


Fruit from Costa Rica for the proper frame of mind

Yesterday the three usual suspects went for a run on our lunch break. We choose a 30-min loop where the land received lots of sunshine. We saw a woodpecker and also a young guy surfing the monstrous hills on his skateboard. One of us did sprints up the hills. Another ran slowly. The third took it really slowly. This was our second run in four days. We are forming quite the committed team.


Sunday, April 1, 2012

Snowy morning

This morning's run was planned, executed and thoroughly enjoyed, even in wet falling snow. I can get nostalgic about everything, and so after a winter of few long jaunts I was hankering for a path run regardless of the weather (hat and sunglasses are reliable cures for almost every season). 

On the path I giggled at some geese hissing in my direction. Rude, I know. They have't seen a lot of humans yet, especially humans charging toward them and their mates on high speed cycles, so I guess they're not used to the idea of sharing the path (but they will learn). There weren't many people out this morning but I passed some walkers and was passed in karmic return by cyclists. 

I also:

Considered how poached eggs (and other Big Breakfast fixins) can serve as catalysts. 
Appreciated my new running gloves.
Cursed my undercharged music player.

Hoping for Montreal. Anticipating Deventer. Aching for Tamarindo.  
Recalling how my toes feel after running 17k.



Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Last. Class. Yay!

It felt, for many reasons, like a final spin class and it was oh so many shades of dammit mixed with awesome. You know how turquoise is a blend of blue and green? It was just like that.

To get the night off to a great start, I arrived at the studio late. Huh? I'm never late for this class, but I was nervous for this one. Not sure how it took me 20 minutes to put on eyeliner, but yeah, it did.

There were tons of people attending. I chalk it up to cooler weather plus the desperate need of participants to finish off their 8-class card by the end of the season. Among the gang there were lots of regulars and at least four new people I had never seen in my class before. Which meant that I would have to evaluate where they were on the experience threshold, if there was time. There wasn't. I was sorting out pedals like a madwoman and then I remembered that my boss was in the shop so I wrestled him in to the studio and put him to work changing pedals. Even with his assistance there was  much set up work to do, and I had to start the class a bit late (but assured everyone that it was just a longer warm up).

It can be intoxicating to look out to a roomful of people waiting to do your bidding, the nastier the better. When the room is full, I transform, like a werewolf, into a monstrous version of myself, acting and demanding and generally throwing instructions around like the Queen of Hearts.

Tonight I rocked a new type of class, one that mirrored an actual bike ride up many, many hills. It was tough one, and probably more challenging than my previous classes because we were never allowed to get comfortable in one position. We were up and down like seesaws.

A nice couple brought me a CD of punk music for future classes! And I consequently gave the woman, Cathy, the most intensively painful charley horse of her life from lots of sprints! Argh. But a cramp is a million times easier to live with than a heart attack, so I am grateful that Cathy is still with us (albeit limping). It was a buzz kill, though. I could feel the concern in the room and some people slowed down. Good thing only 10 minutes remained for the class.

After locking up the store, I ran to the veggie resto for take out and while on the sidewalk my nose caught the aroma of grilled steak and dwelled upon it for at least three blocks.

A few people said goodbye after the class. I will particularly miss the mother and daughter dynamic duo that have attended faithfully for the past 2 seasons. They rock!

So, it's been a few hours since the end of the class, and I am starting to come down from the high now. I will miss the workouts and the participants, the thrill of teaching, and the never ending task of trying to motivate people work hard and give their all while sitting on the wobbly, uncomfortable seat of a bike that doesn't move. I will actually miss seeing these people every week which is weird. I can't believe how attached I can get - I'm like a housecat, but for people.

What will I do on Wednesday nights from now until the end of summer?  Write your ideas in the comments section.



Wednesday, March 21, 2012

On the edge of transition

We had ourselves an enjoyable class. Wild tunes blasting through the studio, and waves of air streaming through the open door. A pleasant number of participants - loads more than I bargained for on this warm evening balancing on the ledge of the window of spring.

Many a red face to be witnessed after just a few minutes of spin, too: it was hot in there. I took longer than usual to catch my breath after the sprints. It takes the return of warm weather to remind me every year that winter workouts are just not as tough (unless you are running in arctic temperatures and risking frostbite). 

Is this because winter lasts longer here, and we are used to preparing for cooler temps while hot weather whips us good; we have fewer resources and anecdotal tales and mottoes to live by, and become trapped by our preconceived notions of heat and what we can do to live with it? 

I welcome the arrival of spring yet there are winter things to miss. I will miss following a snowy path after spin class, giddy with warrior adrenaline, the mirage of post-workout shower and beer luring me back to camp.




Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Snow drifts and sunny glints

The first Gatineau lunch run with the amigos took a good 5 minutes longer than last summer's average. So many reasons for this! 

It was hot hot hot yet there were heaps of snow clinging fiercely to the paths. There we were in shorts and tees and up to ankles in snow, like snowbunnies who forgot their skis but showed up to the hills anyway out of habit and for the pure joy of t-bar runs. We were sweating in snow.

We made a game out of running through it, icy and slushy and clearly on its way to a permanent meltdown. It looked and felt like sand, so yeah, we were running on a beach. A waterless one. At times, the snow complained loudly with a combo of crunch-slosh-crack noises but we laughed loudly in response, and also because my colleagues are pretty funny guys. 

And we weren't the only ones taking advantage of the beautiful weather. We saw walkers, runners, skiers and cyclists, and an impromptu daycare of little kiddies sitting on a quilt on the road (still closed for the season). 


Monday, March 12, 2012

Miracle Monday

Today was the first work day that involved the DST change but I didn't have a tough go of it at all. And I'm pretty sure D is the person to thank here.

Since his body clock was a bit off from his work schedule and he was fighting the heavy eyelids, he went to bed super early for a Saturday night - 10:30! Suffering succotash! - and I went along for company, I guess. Miraculously, I slept until morning with only a teensy break (woke up, tossed and turned for a while) so I'd say I was tired, too. When I finally got out of bed at 9:30, I felt weirdly peaceful and energized. As if my Dead Space space suit health meter had completely refilled with neon green goo. I was ready for the mutant zombies. Here, kitty kitty.

Just 5 more minutes
Sometimes I forget how progressively sleep deprived I become by getting an average of 6.5 hours of shuteye a night for a week. That amount is usually self-imposed: I like to stay up late and do. I do not like to rise at 6:30 for most reasons but especially for bussing to the wilds of Gatineau for a job.

Weekends are the best time (I can hear my mother's voice here) to pay down the ol' sleep debt so as to avoid sub-prime depression and stay on the good side of health banks, but they are also the best time to see friends, watch films and have fun...by staying up late, of course!

So following a late Saturday night, I doze until 1:30 on Sunday, then can't sleep Sunday night...it's an entropic snowball that can leave me staring up at the start of a demanding work week feeling weaker than I had when I polished off the last week.

Not so today. I went to bed shockingly early last night. Still not pleased by the screeching chimes of clocks in the morning, but I can suffer my way out of bed much easier after a decent rest, and on to busses without an undignified amount of swearing.

Merely a dignified amount.



Sunday, March 11, 2012

Trick rabbit


Can you find the hidden sentence?

Gold you are like gold to me I
said before you compared me to a timid rabbit and now you bury
your face in your midnight pillow as though you
just blew a house down. All I want is for
you to say something nice I said, one goddam nice thing the
anger rising like steam and I could see your thrill
at my hurt and then you said, okay you remind me of
a ruby-throated hummingbird digging
nectar from lilacs. I smiled, me the sword and you
a magician dreaming the most delightful way to swallow me up



Thursday, March 8, 2012

Subliminal Control


Plastic playstation prawns provide pensive potions 
    
Loose with lethargic lullabies and last light languages

Anesthetized astrologies of authentic aspartame

Yearn for yesterday’s yellow yolks and yerba

Multiplying moths in motionless mustang marrow   

Edged evenly with electrifying eggshell echoes    


Saturday, March 3, 2012

Coconut Lagoon

I had dinner this evening at Coconut Lagoon, which serves South Indian cuisine. As we were deciding where to eat, I told my friend, I like the word coconut and I like the word lagoon, and she said, I heard it's a good resto, so we hunted down the address in the middle of a blizzard and tried it out.

We ordered a peas and cheese dish and a veggie korma, along with steamed rice and a basket of paratha, which I guess I would describe as South Indian version of naan bread. It's made of coiled dough, and is easy to pull/rip apart.

The dishes were well seasoned and creamy, and the paratha were steaming hot. The vada were also really good, perfectly bland vehicles for transmitting the tasty coconut and sambal sauces to the mouth. Sadly, no pictures were snapped of our dining event, so you will have to take my word that it was a damn good tasty meal.

Next time, though, I'm getting the thali. I spied the round trays of stainless steel on other tables and the variety of dishes beckoned to me. 

And I went running last night for an hour! I woke up (after 10 marvelous hours of sleep!) to the familiar calf tingle - not pain, just a feeling that the calves had been used. Hopefully I can get that going again tomorrow. 

Meet me here for a pina colada around 2pm?



Wednesday, February 29, 2012

I says...

...it's nice to be done teaching for the week!

We had a fun spin class tonight (with perhaps a few too many sprints thrown in to the mix because I love them and they certainly help to pass the time!), and afterwards I relaxed with a cold beer and some hummus with steamed broccoli and rice crackers.

The broc probably sounds like it has no business hanging around there, but really, a head of broc belongs just about everywhere. (Except in or around angel food cake. -Ed.)

I steamed it and then mixed it in with the creamy hummus and ate the results with crackers. I am working towards a goal of eating more vegetables. Veggie shmeggie, it's ridiculously easy to quell hunger pangs with bread or crackers and hummus when you've minused yourself from the meat equation and you live in Winterville and you don't have ample time to cook.

But protein is also fine. Quite fine.

Toronto sushi is easy on the wallet and the eyes.


I'd also like to run some time, Universe, if you're listening. I seem to be too busy/sleep deprived/sick for running, even short jogs, but I am planning a Sunday morning adventure that will be dreamy. I just know.

Today's effort to add some non-spinning exercise backfired, in a way. I walked to the bus stop to catch my second bus. A good 45 minute hike across the bridge. Just in time to wave bye-bye to the bus as it drove away, leaving me to wait in the cold for 30 minutes. You bet a warm cup of cocoa I wanted to cry.

My journey to work took 1.5 hours, and I had no one to blame but myself. Wah!



Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Kensington Kaffe


This raspberry chocolate cake was sculpted in a cute cafe in Kensington Market, Toronto.

For all my friends out there who are fasting, detoxing or dieting.

I'm with ya!


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Mean salad

It was a frighteningly long day. I didn't have time to go home for dinner between work and French class, and barely had time to complete the homework assigned last week.

I trudged up the sidewalk and mentally considered the mountain of laundry in my room and the dining room table which needs a solid cleaning, and so it was in this frame of mind that I pushed open the front door and smelled dinner. Someone else's, of course. Tomato-based, I'd guess. Pasta, likely. And I thought, I need a wife.

You know what I mean! 

Someone to mind the laundry and bake lasagna - let's start with the spinach variety and a bubbly bechemel sauce - and change the kitty litter and take out the recycling. 

And pet the cat. He needs more company than any one able-bodied person could give him.

Then I realized - I have a weekend wife who pours me a glass of wine and composes a mean salad! 

A weekend without D's pasta is like a day without sunshine.
He does such a fabulous job I'm going to give him the weekend off. 


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Was it the shot of espresso?


Or the apple I devoured in the 30 minute space between spin classes? Whatever the reason, I had a great night leading a total of 32 people through two wikkid strength classes!

We climbed 5 long and steep hills, threw that dial to 9+ and sprinted in the middle of the hills, at the top and also during the chorus of songs. It was wild. People were yelling I had a repeat customer, a guy who signed up for both classes, just like last week. And I was thrilled to polish off a big yummy meal afterwards. It was packed with veggies but was, unfortu, a beer-less meal: fridge was all outa hops. :-(

Yet I gotta admit I'm relieved to be done with the extra class and content to float back to my usual Wednesday routine when my spin buddy returns to pick up his regular class next week. When Work gets demanding, everything else kinda slides, so I was lucky that She peered at me through horn rimmed bifocals today and took pity on me. Last Wednesday - here comes the whine! - I got up at 6am for a stressful morning at the job, then came home and crashed for a bit before teaching, but the tiredness slipped out of my cells and in to the second class. Tonight those cells did a 180, which is to say I am WiReD! Zing! And the last class ended ages ago.

So, to be in decent form to teach two classes, the optimal for me is a shot of espresso, an apple and a gel in between, and a good sleep the night before.

Now I can concentrate on dreaming up hilarious submissions for CBC Radio's 6-word love story contest. And oh yeah, sleeping.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Palm trees on the Canal

It's Sunday. We snoozed and Dexter'd, drank coffee and ate Netherlandish goodies left over from the holidays (long story!). A fine way to waste a day if you ask me, but then I got the urge to run so I did, into the dark. I had a route in mind so I set off with a water bottle and some thoughts to carry me through. And also "She's So Cold," which I'd heard just before the run and which buzzed endlessly through my brain like a fly caught in an empty glass.

Running outside at night gave me a different perspective of parts of the city that I usually only see during daylight hours. In one well-off neighborhood many large fir trees on lawns were adorned with soft white christmas lights which created a rich glow on the brick houses behind them. I also noticed fewer people about  - almost no one. During the day, the place seems rather geriatric and slow; at night, a grand neighborhood.

I thought a lot on this run about trust, at least from a writerly pov. Writers trust that readers will understand their images and phrases, and readers trust that authors will take them somewhere worthwhile. Not that every place is worthwhile, but some places are very good and worth more than others. 

For the first time this season I ran on the Canal with about a thousand skaters and considered how we trust that the ice will hold firm even as we make sharp cuts on its surface and jump on it, too. The ice won't crack and plunge us hypothermically into the water, and we won't stretch shaking hands the color of fish underbellies toward the large fake palm trees for leverage. Trust keeps us donning snow pants and tightening laces with gloved fingers and licking drips of nutella from steaming beaver tails. Trust keeps us coming back.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Cookies!



May I introduce my little nuggets of sweet protein. You can see the carroty bits more than you can taste them.

I'm going to pack a few for the spin class today. It's a class set up to raise money for the city's Rape Crisis Centre. I am impressed on a regular basis by this little studio run by bike mechanics and competitive athletes. These guys demonstrate that they care about health and social issues - and womens' social issues - and art and good coffee. I have loads of crap to do but this is a vital cause that needs our support, and I'm sure it will draw a studio full of excited athletes this afternoon, yay!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Half homemade

I got big plans for transforming these product divas. Anyone guess what that might be?


Yep - you in the back, you were right! Tomorrow I am going to makeover this ragbag collection of ingredients into a reasonable facsimile of protein cookies! Using the dry Betty Crocker cookie mix as a base, I'll add cooked mashed carrots, pb, protein powder and ground flax seeds. Last time I baked these cookies I used an organic oatmeal mix and the results were delicious heaps of hunger-staving beacons. Stay tuned.

Ran at the gym on a treadmill after work. Not because I really really wanted to but because I bought a 3 month membership and feel like I need to get some use out of it. All the worker bees land at the gym for a TM run around 5pm so the quiet gym becomes loud and packed with runners waiting for machines. Quelle drag. I had a solid 50 minute run with some intervals, then came home and finished some writing homework.


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Double spin

I taught back-to-back spin classes tonight and lost my appetite. But it clawed its way back.

Class 1 was fun. It was a chance to lead a group of people I never get to see since they usually spin in the time slot I never teach in. I was revved from a catnap after work (I left early!). A last-minute pedal change kept me alert, too (thank you, green-socked woman). I was excited to see how this double shift experiment would turn out. Would I die from exhaustion or suffer a burst bloodclot in my brain? Naaaa, I didn't really think that. I was more concerned with hydration and eating enough/the right foods in the 30 minute rest in between. 

Then Class 2 got under way and I felt fine, if a bit tired. I still tried to be cheery and bossy, haha. By the end of the class I grappling and had to fight the urge to stare off into space. At about the 30min mark, I almost lost my place in the choreography but found it and scolded myself sufficiently to not lose it again! I thought of people working long shifts of physical labour under emotional and mental duress and then in comparison keeping track of how many sprints we did seemed easy as pie. I didn't get lost again. 

Now, laying down, my shins and calves feel achy and warm to the touch. Must be some geared up healing going on there. Go go gadget cell reconstruction. 

As I was locking up the studio I had an uncanny feeling that someone was still there. I searched the spinning room and the bathrooms but saw or heard nothing. It's not a large space. Everyone was gone. I think my tiredness was setting me on the edge between rationality and hallucination.  

On my way home I realized that a) my lack of appetite was a trick - how could I not feel hungry about 2 hours of spinning?! - and b) I was too tired to walk very far. I picked up a small contained of dinner at the veg place and ravaged every succulent morsel back at my place.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Rice pudding


Last night, frustrated with my limited kitchen space and the many containers of rice hanging out with nothing to do, I cooked a batch of rice pudding. I found it so appealing to make something delicious, portable (take it to work! eat it warm or cold!), high in protein and fibre AND cupboard-space-freeing that I have resolved to cook more batches in the weeks ahead.

I found a recipe on the Canadian Living web site and used the modification that replaces milk with a combination of coconut milk and cow’s milk. It didn’t require much sugar at all – just a scant 2 tbsp – but there is sweetness galore, probably from the golden raisins which swelled into fat golden grublets, haha.

My sole deviation from CL’s tried and true path (those cooks perform a massive amount of testing in their kitchen labs) was to replace white rice with a rice mix I bought at TNT – a risky move, given that it’s a diverse combo of grains, including short and long lengths and lentils and oats, all needing their own cooking times and liquid ratios. But hey, I’m comfortable with risk when cooking only for myself.

It worked out pretty well, all things considered. Most of the grains are well cooked while a few retain a bit of resistance to the teeth. Yes, it’s al dente rice pudding!

For variety I think I’ll use just one type of rice next time, probably brown, and regular milk. I found a recipe for a rice pudding that is baked in the oven instead of cooked on the stovetop, and another that calls for dried apricot pieces. I will probably make a vanilla short-grain-white-rice-with-cow’s-milk just to see what all the fuss is about (jasmine would probably work well). I have a lot of rice; I should have enough time and rice resources to perfect a tasty and healthy recipe by the time spring rolls around and I can leave my cramped kitchen for the wilderness outdoors.