Friday, November 29, 2013
Wednesday was a snow day. We were pummelled all day. By the evening, the skies had cleared. The temperature was most agreeable and I decided that a run on the path was just what I needed.
A real run outside! With wind in the face and all the exhilaration of being outside near dark. I followed the mini-snowplow that lumbered like a beneficient bear along the path, clearing a wide berth for me and the...cyclists? I saw a couple of dog walkers, two cyclists and no runners at all.
Sunday, October 20, 2013
- 3 carrots, chopped
- 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- smashed ginger and garlic to taste (I added a heaping teaspoon of each)
- 2 tbsp Thai red curry paste
- 1-2 tsp honey
Sunday, October 13, 2013
A perfect aspect of this place is the affordability of quiet. You can leave the city behind. You can rip your ear buds out and jack in to peacefulness: gentle waves; the scuff of your shoes against gravel; the absence of traffic noise. Even the blue sky emits a serene vibe.
My head was probably swimming in my own Universe of Nat at the very moment when the man on the bike rode by. His horn startled me, It was a clown's horn - honka!-honka!-honka! - and I glanced up to see a man with white hair and mirrored glasses. On the back of bike two large flags were somehow secured and they bobbed with his pedal strokes. Not a smile escaped his lips.
I think that he honked that hilarious horn to make me laugh. And he succeeded!
Also: I tested a weird gel. It was oddly delicious.
Sunday, September 29, 2013
The bus pulled into the station at 6:00, and my flight leaves at 16:00, so I'm dawdling in the most pleasurable way under these circumstances by drinking coffee and writing. Yesterday I stored my luggage at the hotel (which was much classier than my hotel in Ed last week) for the day and set off for the hills to do some hiking. Yeah, "hills."
But first, Banff. A resort town nestled between looming, snow-capped mountains, where streets are named after wild animals (Buffalo, Elk, Wolf) and lined with boutiques, cafes and chain stores. On the sidewalks groups of people walk about looking happy. Without glancing at the grey skies and snowy mountains behind them, you might guess from the contented faces that these people were vacationing at a beach in 35 degree weather. Or maybe you wouldn't, because these people, dressed in fashionable fall jackets and gloves, appear happier than those at beach resorts. There is no rush for buffet food or drinks in this place. Here, few people compete for many resources (for sale), which is to say there seems to be a lot to go around (like hotels and restaurants). The air smells fresh and pure. Judging from their accents, most service staff are far from home: I heard Japanese, Aussie, Kiwi, British accents, and many other languages spoken. Mornings start out cold and warm up around noon, then the chill deepens in the afternoon and in the cozy caffeine shops Lululemon- and Sorel-wearing families decompress over chai lattes after shopping for skis for the kids and before dinner at The Keg.
HA! But that's just the external expression of spending habits, and who gives a North Face about that, really. I encountered lots of friendly folks while hiking in the woods. And I was in them thar hills (wearing all of my sweaters like Heidi in all her dresses) for hours. I climbed upwards, past crystal clear turquoise streams and towering pines, not knowing my direction or what to expect but admiring everything around me, and after a few hours I turned on my heel and started the tramp downhill, giving my calves a break. I followed up with a huge dinner with wine in anticipation of a long bus journey. Which started with a half-hour wait in the cold wind, put out like a dog for the night because the bus station manager was closing up. The small inconveniences of a small town.
My affair with Banff was over in a lover's heart beat. I'll be back.
Saturday, September 28, 2013
The summit was windy and cold and crawling with shivering tourists (like me). The treetops were at nose level and the snow that hung to the top branches and way down on the rocks below smelled fresh when the wind picked up. I have been trying all day to dissect the scent of snow but all I understand is that it has a single note. Pure. Clean. Fresh. (Sounds like a laundry detergent commercial.)
I languished in the outdoor turquoise spa pool with the other tourists until the heat and lack of space got the best of me. The air was about 8 degrees but the water was a lovely 35 or so. I received a free towel because I asked for one just as the girl's manager was leaving the room.
Relaxed and warm, I trudged down the hill towards the centre and reflected on the day. The only disappointment was that the wildest animal in my environment was a bold chipmunk eating peanuts on a wooden fence. I heard that the bears moved on when the berry supply dried up, and I was probably too close to traffic for anything else to show.
Dinner was a bowl of udon with tempura shrimp and veggies and a seaweed salad in a tiny hole in the wall resto on Banff Ave. I think I've had some form of east asian food every day since leaving Ottawa and I'm contemplating more for tomorrow.
Monday, September 23, 2013
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
When I got home, I wanted to do some shoulders but my left one is sore, so instead I did legs with two 5-lb weights:
- forward lunges x 20, 2 sets
- leg lifts x 10, 3 sets each leg
|Where are my shoes?|
We haven't even talked about last Sunday yet. 19k. I had planned on hitting only 15k but everything was going so well. I took to the other side of the river to see the trees and again, got swept away.
Michael C. Hall was a guest on Q today. I need to go now and listen to the interview and that deep voice again. :-)
Friday, September 6, 2013
Tuesday, September 3, 2013
It was Back to Work after a long weekend. It's not uncommon for a steep plunge in motivation on the first workday morning following a long weekend - and I know I'm not alone here. But today was an exception and I think I know why. See, I've been plunking my butt into my desk chair 30 minutes earlier for a week now, and I think those extra minutes have isolated the crest of my energy wave! Wow that sounds like I've ingested some funky mushrooms; however, it's pretty accurate. I get to work, and then I get to work. Less dawdling, more focus. It's pretty cool that a change this small can have such a significant effect. My crappy job hasn't even changed! I'm just more alert and conscious.
||| Cutting naan dough into triangles |||
And I won a tee shirt on my way to the office! I gave a group of Shinerama kids a bill, and in response they pulled a white T-shirt down from the concrete building it'd been duct-taped to and handed it to me, screaming wildly. I got a high five from a tall guy in an alligator onesie. I barely got away with my life, haha. An awesome start to my morning.
||| Fryin' up the naan |||
I didn't run tonite but I did some yoga when I got home and it was amazing! Those 75 minutes pass pretty quickly during this amazing video.
Wednesday, August 7, 2013
So here goes. Since January 1st I have been trying to live more frugally. (I had to, just now, edit the previous sentence because I had added, “…and consume less,” and really, that is just not the case. I am probably consuming less – I'll explain in a future post – but reduced consumption was never a goal of this adventure.) My true goal was to save half of my income this year. Looking back, I didn’t think too hard or too long about doing it, or how I would do it. It was late December, maybe a week before the January 1st deadline, and I just jumped in. I created a simple Excel spreadsheet and threw in some income and expenditure data, and pretty much left it at that.
Around that time, I heard of a 100-day challenge where particpants were encouraged to exercise every day for 100 days, and to keep records. I think a minimal amount of exercise minutes was expected every day. Wow, I thought, that sounds great! So I started a second spreadsheet and filled in my exercise particulars for that day. But that’s as far as I could take it, because by the end of the third day I had fallen off the exercise wagon. To think that all this time, I thought I preferred exercising over saving money.
So I deleted the 100-day challenge spreadsheet, and spent a surprising amount of time hunched over my laptop, poring over the financial one. This was my experiment, and I the eccentric Dr. Financestein, compelled by my competitive nature to excel at this new science of money. I wanted life! Life instead of working and wasting, and wondering how I’m going to leave my yucky job and move on to something else.
At first, my record keeping was sparse. When I look back in a few months, January will not be a month from which I will learn how I managed my cashflow because that page is just a list of expenditures and income all mashed together, probably with missing data. Around mid-February, I started to play with my spreadsheet design, adding a separate page for each month, and notes that detailed where I had spent and what I had bought. And where had I spent my money? Well, I can tell you where it didn’t go: toward weekday lunches or clothes. Let’s meditate on the fact that I can save money by not indulging in two wildly unnecessary areas. Now I bring my lunch to work and I don’t go shopping for clothes for myself unless I need them. Pretty simple.
Last week I took a brief look at how much I've saved. I was relieved to see that I'm on track, and not bringing my lunch everyday for nothing (my brother was right, this saves a bundle!). If I continue on this path, by December 31 I will have more than 50% of my income stashed.
Monday, August 5, 2013
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
The temperatures have dipped down just a shade, and the morning running is much easier. I guess it's a trend. Again today the air felt cooler than it did last week. As I slowly jogged away from the apartment building and toward the running path, I tried to conjure the faint chill of fall on my bare arms but couldn’t – it’s not THAT cool.
Instead, there is less icky sticky sweat rolling down puffy skin; less thirst during a 5k in the freakin' morning; less plodding through a dense wall of humidity…and more runners.
I totally get it. Everyone and their grandma wants to be outside to wring the most sunshine and vitamin D from July now that the discomfort has subsided. And it’s not so bad having runners floating just ahead, inspiring me to work my edge, push harder – and try to pass them! I get passed often enough that I feel no shame in passing the odd runner myself. It just shows that I'm no slower and no faster than most runners out there.
But now that it’s gone, I realize I was getting used to running in the humid heat. I hope a bit of that sauna effect returns before summer runs out – maybe this sounds crazy, but I miss it.
Frannie's Incredible Watermelon Smoothie
- Protein powder (this one is greenish, maybe cuz it's vegan)
- Watermelon chunks
- Banana (for thickness and overall smoothie support)
|Step 1: Assemble ingredients and then whirl.|
|Step 2: Drink with much panache|
while admiring the torso of the Greek god Achilles.
Sunday, July 21, 2013
|:: I was excited to see this bike and then I spied the questionable Native American design :: Lisbon ::|
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
|// A flexible tree in Sintra, Portugal //|
|// Road to the palace: Sintra //|
Sunday, July 7, 2013
|Freaky birds at sunset in Seville, Spain.|
Friday, July 5, 2013
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Someone had the audacity to bring a set of digial scales into my home last night, and I couldn't resist stepping on. Oy! Ironically, this person also cooks up an array of delicious Indian curries that would put the entire city of Mumbai to shame, and we have been feasting on curries every night for a few weeks now.
Biking and running were not options for the evening, but I wanted to find an activity.
The humid heat in our apartment feels a lot like the atmosphere of a hot yoga class. The warmth is comforting, surrounding our bodies like blankets.
I tried a few sequences of sun salutations and noticed that I didn't overheat after even a half dozen go-arounds. (These were performed entirely from memory, and although I'm rusty I wasn't too far from the video I watched on yogajournal.com.) It was pretty fun. My stuff back needs some serious stretching after sitting all day, so I think a few rounds of sun salutations after work would be a nice fix.
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
I especially like to observe from my table at a cafe, and through my "morning eyes," when, still hazy with sleep, my sight is filtered and the imperfections of my environment are airbrushed away. So, "suits" striding down the sidewalk to office jobs appear as characters in an 80s movie, and my chocolate-covered pastries are not an unhealthy breakfast but an example of my efforts to try local cuisine!
|Along the aquaduct // Evora, Portugal|
When you travel on your own schedule you can take time to stroll (or bike, or run) and watch a day in another country slowly unfold. You can linger and gush over whatever you want: colourful flowers, burmese cats, a game show host - whatever.
Exploring natural areas is even more special because few people are around to tell you that you can't be there.
A 16th century aquaduct runs from the town of Evora into somewhere in the woods. We read in the guidebook that it could be possible to follow the aquaduct to its source, so we packed food and water and headed toward the town centre. We found the massive arches of the stone structure - hard to miss - and followed it through narrow streets, petting cats and smiling at shy kids, until we were deep in grassy fields and on foot paths through farmland. We passed horses and houses, and a nunnery still in operation. Water is a wiley element, however, and we lost our hold on the aquaduct somewhere in the brambles under the hot sun.
|Lunch at the top of the hill|
Thursday, June 6, 2013
|Spanish snails are friendly and edible!|
There were wines, smiles and unfamiliar languages so musical you could hear the upside-down exclamation marks.
There were pots of seafood, baskets of bread, soft creamy cheeses, perfect olives and er, curries and naan.
A bowl of snails one time (which ended up being a super gross experience but it had to be tried), coffees and pastries and lots of other goodies. Let's see how well I can describe these and other Spanish and Portuguese treats in future posts....
Thursday, May 16, 2013
I had a friend who studied nutrition, and she told me about the "tea and toast" phenomenon, which is basically a sad summary of the eating habits of older people living alone without much money. They don't want to shop for themselves (or haven't the full wallets to do so) so they subsist on tea and toast. A sugary cuppa and slices of hot, buttery toast can feel like a hearty snack, particularly on a cold or rainy day, and it can certainly bolster the spirits, so I can see how that combo could become habitual. Not for a few decades yet, though. (Mental note: a jar of peanut butter would be a nice addition although I would have to find a secret storage place to hide it from D!)
I've run twice this week and plan to run again tomorrow. I felt the presence of my calves this morning as I tramped down a flight of stairs. Nice to know the're there.
I'm still adding 20 squats and 10 burpees on the end of shorter runs (the 5 - 10k distances, nothing over 20k), and I'm up to 4 full pushups with the burpees. Did you get that? Four! I hope to continue this routine while away - bodyweight exercises are freakishly portable. I can't WAIT to get to 10. Patience, young grasshopper!
Sunday, May 12, 2013
|Curious kitty with basil and morning burrito|
|Cake and bouquets|
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Unfortunately it didn't help me sleep any better, and I tossed and turned all night, waking hours before my alarm. At the moment I'm feeling kind of exhausted, but the minute I lie down and close my eyes the mood is gone, like a phantom scared away. I started to drift off while reading on the sofa, and hurriedly moved on to a bed to capture the spirit of sleep but nothing happened and after a few minutes I got up (with a loud sigh).
In this state, I might not get around to doing much today. That kind of sucks because I have the momentum of yesterday behind me, and I'm generally on a roll (to trim down my stomach roll!) so perhaps I'll try a routine of weights or body weight exercises later, although experience has taught me that exercise tends to shake me out of a state of sleepiness rather than lure me down into it. I suppose I could drink the lone bottle of beer in the fridge left over from our soiree of two months past, but I prefer to save it. (I don't really know why.) Maybe I'll take on the 6 rounds from last week and see what effect that has. Don't you just love experiments?
Friday, May 3, 2013
After polishing off another crunchy bag of salty snacks from D's care package (gracias!) I did this simple workout last night:
6 rounds of:
- 10 squats with 5 lb weights
- 10 sit ups with 5 lb weights
- 10 push ups (modified)
Followed by 20 squats with 8 lb weights, and then 10 burpees. All to the soundtrack of the Ottwa-Montreal hockey game as I tried to coax some testosterone from the players into defecting and joining my bloodstream team. As far as I can tell, it was no go.
This morning I headed outside for a 40-minute run in the beautiful sunshine, then another set of 20 squats and 10 burpees in the living room, the cat acting as my spotter. The back of my shoulders have been stunned into a light soreness which will heat up into paralyzing grassfire before long. Burn on.
I sorely (haha) need to get my push up game on. I have always wanted to be able to do 10 full push ups in a row but never could get past 3 or 4, and currently that number is probably more like 1.
Hmmm, this is sounding disturbingly like a plan being broadcast and I'm not really comfortable with that. But there it is. I said it. 10 full push ups by the end of August! That gives me lots of time to meet this goal.
Thursday, May 2, 2013
The "compressed air machine" is much more effective than any of the tire pumps we own. I pumped up the first tire until it was fat and beautiful, and then as I started in on the second tire some young bozo appeared, hands in pockets, and looked at me anxiously: "Uh, do you know what you're doing?"
I had a moment in my mind right then, cracked into two distinct sections. First: WTF? get the hell out of here, of course I know what I'm doing, and by the way, did I ask you for help, no I didn't, so go. now.
Second: What do you mean? Is something broken? Amiss? What am I doing wrong?
My facial reaction probably exposed the latter partion of my thought process (goddamit) and encouraged, Bozo launches into an explaination of how to use the adapter I was currently using.
Even as I write the words, I feel the rage. Let's look at what's happening here.
I was putting air in my tire. I was in the middle of performing an action I have done many times before - a simple action. I didn't need help. I didn't even look like I needed help. I was confident. I was not floundering. In the least. I was not hurt. In fact, I was pretty much in my element.
But of course he knows more about this simple task than me - he's a man! And men know. And they always have to help the silly ladies with their stuff. Because. They're men. They know!
I got back to work filling my tire - rather expertly I must say - and when the tire felt right to me, I asked the driver of the truck parked beside me if he needed air, since the machine was already going. Driver said, no thanks.
Turning my attention back to the bike, I twisted the caps on to the valves and informed Bozo, who was still loitering about like a testy raccoon, that I know what I'm doing - look, my tires are full of air! - and I don't need him. Bozo walked away but threw me some parting words: I'm not an asshole, y'know. I used to be a bike courier.
My hero, the bike courier. Because of him, I will certainly unleash a fury of irritation on the next unenlightened bozo who tries to teach me about my bike. God help you, Unknown Bozo. You have no idea you're stumbling into the path of a hurricane. Wish I could help you!
Betsy and I rode off, and spent the next 90 minutes rediscovering spring, the path and each other. No raccoons required.
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Even after that mental weight was lifted and I was giddy with irresponsibility once again I didn't sleep well. I fell into more than a few reality-based dreams, the kind where I find myself involved in banal activities the same as in my waking life: waiting for an elevator, or completing a crossword puzzle. I feel cheated, slighted even, when Morpheus, playing the punishing parent, prevents me from trekking across a Fellini dreamscape at night. As though I am a toddler attempting to stray across a highway. All I want to do is to explore the absurd side of the moon, man.
When my alarm freaked I pushed myself out of superboring dreams and right into my running kicks and tackled the 5k loop. It was warm. I wore my skirt. Last week, I wore substantially more, including a hat and gloves. Spring is like that. Yesterday I did some shoulder work and I still feel a little tender. Love that.
Monday, April 15, 2013
Actually I shelved running for the past two weeks, even going so far as to miss two long runs in a row. Sometimes I can't go running when I think that I should be doing something else. Usually that's school work. It's a type of misplaced guilt mixed with procrastination and a dash of fatigue. Anyway, a couple of long runs should be easy to bounce back from, and anyway I still have time to prep for a marathon this year if I find one. Without considering any constraints, my preference is the east coast race my good friend is training for. Unfortunately the mid-summer trek to smalltown NS might prove too difficult to integrate into my as yet undetermined plans. I'd rather wait for a race that's closer to home.
For the week ahead, I'd like to run on the odd mornings, and tackle two Z-wows on the mornings in between. I have no social commitments or school deadlines this week - what a gift! - so I should be able to go to bed early every night, plus a yoga class! Now that is something to be excited about.
Thursday, April 4, 2013
Tuesday, April 2, 2013
I started my morning with the latest Z-wow, a decent 12-minute workout that targets legs and butt. I don't have them, but I could have used heavier weights for the kettle bell squats -- Z rocked a 20+ pound kettle bell while I dawdled along with an 8-pound handweight -- but even with the lighter weight I felt resistance from my muscles, and plus my burpees are much slower than hers (I can do 5 in the time it takes her to complete 10!). I will probably feel those one-leg squats tomorrow. I hope I do.
Like any machine, my body maintains a collection of strengths and weaknesses that it seems loathe to adjust. Long distances can be pulled off without a lot of prep but my muscles are in need of conditioning. You can't grow when you don't experience stress. One day I'd like to go on a severe camping expedition that tests my muscles with Tarzan-like vine swings over raging rivers, rock climbing and hauling my body up cliff ledges. Sounds great, doesn't it? But for now I will try to commit to completing a Z-wow workout each morning of this four-day work week, plus running and cycling after work. It's a jungle out there and I want to get in shape for whatever lies ahead!
Sunday, March 31, 2013
Friday, March 29, 2013
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Monday, March 25, 2013
Speaking of. I tried a recommended recipe from the Gaz. I think I got the ingredients right because the muffin-y things tasted delicious and I felt happy n' satisfied afterwards. But let's talk presentation. I over-filled the muffin tins with batter, and after rising in the oven they looked like baby aliens erupting from their metal incubation units, shrieking with rage.
|Raaaaa!! A face only Sigourney Weaver could love.|
Like an alien predator myself, I ripped them apart while still warm and stuffed them into my mouth. Yum yum.
|You look tasty and weak. Are you our mom?|
Sunday, March 24, 2013
Tuesday, March 5, 2013
The next season feels close by yet hidden, gathering strength in the shadows, gearing up to chase my cherished winter solace away. I don't feel hibernated enough; I don't want winter to leave just yet. Just a few more weeks in the belly of the igloo. Please?
Sunday, February 24, 2013
Saturday, February 23, 2013
Sunday, February 10, 2013
Monday, January 21, 2013
...will do the running for you while you hibernate in stasis to preserve precious heartbeats.
Just when I was starting to dig winter running again, the temperature maple-dipped into my orange pekoe discomfort zone, and visions of treadmills began steeping in my dreams (I often dream of mechanical things, like mandroids, doesn't everyone?). I don't need warm weather for running, but I have my limits and those limits are shaking their old man fists in the air and barking orders at me right now. You'll keep us inside until the mercury rises like zombies at a brain party, a warm brain party, and not a minute before! Okay okay, take your hands off me and grab a kabob instead:
|// Delicious array of Turkish delights (but not the actual Turkish Delight) //|
Yesterday I ran on a treadmill for 18k, and although I was really motivated when I started, I felt increasingly alienated from my goal and my entire body because machines are weird, and why can't they be more like robots of the future that will understand exactly what you want and then give it to you immediately. The machines at my gym are programmed to stop after 35 minutes, and OBVIOUSLY I've only been running for 20 years and haven't quite mastered the 18k in 35 minutes miracle yet OBVIOUSLY. After slipping into a nice groove and maintaining coordinates, the speed would suddenly slow to a crawl and after the shock of re-entering society after being inside my head for a half-hour, I would be faced with punching in my specs yet again, of course while keeping my head down to avoid eye contact with any treadmill-desiring gym person looking to perform a hostile but ultimately fair & legal takeover of my machine, and going through the warm up phase for the umpteenth time. And I had to go through this insane process four times because my hand accidentally made contact with the emergency bar at one point, and the treadmill froze up, thinking I was suffering a stroke and needed immediate assistance. Sigh. Back to the beginning. "What kind of run do you want? How much to do you weigh? Would you like me to run for you while you shave your legs in the steam room?" That's the question I never get asked.
This treadmill experience even affected my appetite. Usually by 18k I would have consumed at least one gel but I didn't feel hungry until I headed home, and by then I could have dismantled and devoured a treadmill by myself, bolt by bolt. I don't think I'm as aware of myself on the treadmill, but on a positive note I definitely have an increased awareness of the awesomeness of avoiding hypothermia! See you soon, TM!
Thursday, January 17, 2013
People and trucks littered the canal. There were so many red and yellow flashing lights I thought something was genuinely happening there, but sadly, no. Just the signs of canal workers getting on with their daily decision of whether to let thousands of skaters slice up the ice.
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Running in January darkness on the bike path puts a different spin on the icy run adventure. The milder temperature loosened up the snow that wasn't scooped into trucks and carted off to Navan or wherever, and eventually the snow relaxed so much it regressed into puddles. Then it changed its collective state of mind and froze solid just to "feel different," I think. I don't mind running on ice when my shoe treads can find a bit of traction, but when I step onto a surface for the first time I can never be sure how it will greet me. Today the ice was frozen solid and not slippery, mostly. It had frozen and thawed a few times, a cycle which usually doesn't create silky-smooth canal-grade ice, but it wasn't slippery or slushy, and it was smooth enough to reflect the lamp light well so I could see where to place my foot for the next step. I had to shift my weight as I ran from ice to asphalt and back to ice, over and over, but this exercise made me anticipate, which is a great frame of mind for doing anything. It means you're in a groove. So I was grooving with my running partner, who just happened to be a mutable surface beneath me, and it was cool.
Only one section of the icy path had to be avoided, a long stretch of perhaps 20 metres. I approached from one end and started to run, but I heard warning creaks that seemed to come from the very core of the puddle and reminded me of the bruised hull of the Titanic about to give way. Beside the puddle I saw a raised shoulder of snow that had been padded down by previous feet, so I hopped up and ran there. Plenty of runners out this morning. My legs felt strong and my stride full. I had no troubles at all.