Saturday, June 30, 2007

Svetlana 1988-2007

Our dear sweet Svetlana had left us. At 18 years of age and having known her for half of those years I can honestly say she had a good life. It was sudden and I'm glad she wasn't in pain for long. We took her to the vet yesterday and we knew it was her time. She was ready to let go and went very quickly. db and I were both with her until the end. We miss her and will celebrate her life.
When I first started the blog I wrote a little profile of our cats here's the link for Svetlana's profile

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Tarantella Calabrese - D' Aspromonte (Reggio Calabria)

a brief one, but it's from the region that db's mom is from so I thought I should add this.

tarantelle calabresi-galatro in villa

After viewing mister anchovy's blog I was inspired by the accordion player in front of the pizzeria on St. Clair St. I started searching tarantellas on you-know-who tube and thought I'd share what I found. I may have to take up the accordion just to learn how to play a tarantella.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Fill the glass and just relax.

I rarely drink Merlot. Of course we're trying everything now that our wine from 2005 is gone and we didn't make any for 2006. We moved right around the time we usually crush and press so maybe next year. It's been a long day. Hopefully there's a good bottle of wine to go with my pizza.

You Are Merlot

Smooth, confident, and popular - you're the type most likely to order wine for the whole group.
You seem to breeze through life on your intuition and wit. And no one seems to mind!
You're comfortable in any social situation you find yourself in, and you never feel outclassed.
And while you live a charmed life, you never let it go to your head. You are truly down to earth and a great friend.

Deep down you are: Balanced and mature

Your partying style: Surprisingly wild... when you let loose, you really let loose

Your company is enjoyed best with: Some greasy pizza

Friday, June 22, 2007

Today the garden drew me in. With the retaining wall finished and all those plants sitting in their pots atop the soil, I couldn't delay any longer.

I should update you with the hard would db and I put in (especially db) as we spent a good two hours two nights ago carting soil from the driveway up into the back yard. Sounds easy enough right? Wrong. In order to do this we had to load buckets from the driveway, take them up the stairs to the first landing where the wheelbarrow was parked, load the wheelbarrow and then push it up an incline that leads into the back yard. Then we had to shovel the dirt uphill since we're dealing with what I would now call a raised bed that rises just above my waist. I leveled the ground just behind the wall and then the yard slopes up and away from there. It was tough work. We had already laid out the newspaper on top of the old soil, and wet it to keep it in place. Then we lay the new soil on top.

Today I got the reward of all the hard work, the planting. I must have put in about 20 plants in total. I mixed perennials and herbs and I even put in a few annuals too boost the colour. Then I mulched. Yup, me and the mulch have accepted one another. I know it must be put in now to maintain the look of the yard and I also knew that the mulch would be handy in holding some of that soil in place on the slope until the perennials fill in. Guess what? The mulch was piled in the driveway. I by-passed the wheelbarrow and just filled buckets and carried them to the backyard two by two by two etc etc. I have no idea how many trips I made, but I used all of the mulch and there's still an area in the back that needs to be mulched as well. Overall the view from the deck will be much improved now that the garden is planted. I can't believe it's almost completed. Now I can just enjoy it. I may get one or two more plants (i'm obsessed) since the sales are underway now.

I'm spent now. I was going to go to van city to see a friend, but I'll have to call her and postpone until next week. I think I'll just head out for a walk and enjoy what I can of the day before it's gone.

Make Trade Fair

and now a little clip that makes the point of why fairly traded coffee is so important.

Thank you from Oxfam and Ethiopian coffee farmers

A deal between Starbucks and Ethiopian coffee growers has been reached. This is a positive move forward for fairly traded coffees in the world.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Meshes of the afternoon - Parte 02

here is part 2. Sorry to have left Maya tumbling and spinning in part one. Enjoy.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Notes on running for the Chimps

I sent these notes to Fauna for their newsletter and I thought I'd post it on the blog since I did say I would wrap up on the fund raising side of the race. By the way, sis and I raised over $800 for Fauna!

Training for a marathon (42 km) was a new experience for me. I have completed several half marathons (21.1 km), but pushing it that much further seemed like a long journey and big commitment and it was.

Early on I decided that running my first marathon was a good opportunity to raise money for the Fauna Foundation again. Now I had two goals motivating me: a 42 km race day on June 10th and fund raising for the Fauna Foundation. I had chosen the Edge to Edge Marathon in Tofino, B.C. It’s always been a dream of mine to run that race since I started running in 2004.

I was three months into my five-month training schedule when an Achilles injury sidelined me. At this point I already knew that my mom, brother and his girlfriend, my step-dad and my sister were all coming to B.C. from all parts of Canada. My sister decided to run the half marathon, (her first ever) and would raise funds as well. I had set up a donation page on Canada I was fully committed to run the distance and raise money for Fauna.

When I went back out after my break I could barely run 1 km without pain so I needed more rest and some cross training to keep me fit. Gradually I started running again, but I couldn’t do my hill or speed training for risk of worsening my Achilles. I did get the long distance runs in with my partner, db, alongside me on his bike for those long Sunday morning runs. It sounds melodramatic, but I did encounter every possible scenario on those runs. Wind, rain, heat, pain and those dreaded walls you hit when running long distances all surfaced, but the desire to meet my goals kept me going even if it meant I had to walk the rest of the way. On one occasion I used the same tactic I used in my tough Mississauga half marathon run last year and I thought of the Chimps, naming them to motivate myself to push further.

A week before the race Chimpanzees: An Unnatural History screened in Vancouver. I was fortunate to not be working. db and I went to the film and I cried through the whole thing for all of those Chimps that we (humanity) have treated so poorly. I cried with joy as well seeing the Fauna sanctuary and Gloria interacting with the Chimps with such love and compassion. It was so lovely to watch Billy Jo and see him outside on the island. What perfect timing to see this film. I knew that day that I would finish the race and I was so proud of my sister and I for our efforts.

Race day I was nervous. My mom said to think of the Chimps, but I already felt I had drawn on that in those training runs, those early Sunday mornings rain or shine getting out there to run, with fatigue and doubt setting in. Now I just had to stay focused on finishing to complete my goals.

At the start line in Tofino I will selfishly admit I was running for me first. I had to remind myself of this when I felt like stopping along that stretch of road in the Pacific Rim National park. What a beautiful landscape. I did think of this lush environment sharing some similarity to where the few Chimpanzees still live in their natural world in Africa. Running in Tofino was a dream come true for me. At the finish line I collapsed in one big emotional release because I had done it and no matter how much you believe in yourself you never know until you cross that finish line.

Incidentally, I finished the marathon in fours hours and thirty minutes, placing in the middle of the pack. It’s a new victory for me. I’ve already thanked my family (at the finish line) and friends, but I need to thank Fauna and the Chimps as well. Without them I may have given up and slept in a few Sundays instead of getting out there and facing those tough runs.

I hope to visit someday. Maybe I’ll have to run in Quebec so I can make the trip. Thanks family, friends and everyone at Fauna.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Meshes of the afternoon - Parte 01

Revisiting Maya Deren.

Having seen some popular film as of late, I started to long for the films that challenge me. Where did it begin? It began with Maya Deren and my introduction to experimental filmmaking while doing undergraduate work. When thinking about films that inspired me, I immediately thought of Deren's work. I sought out her films beyond the classroom and was not disappointed.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

A new view

A new look to the page just to keep things moving. Nothing else is changing much. Okay not entirely true. I've made some recent decisions that could change my life in the short term anyway.

I've applied for an office job at LV which means I'd be full time 9-5 girl. It's more money, medical coverage and after moving west and still living with my university debt, I figured it was time to do something to pay that off faster. I've got three cats to care for and I don't want to live from paycheck to paycheck anymore. I've got to put a little more stability in my life.

The story is...I saw the posting go up for the job, but I wasn't going to apply until the woman who now holds the post approached me and told me I should apply for the job. I was completely shocked. She's a nice woman, but we haven't really talked much at work so this was a surprise. That evening I was working the night shift (Ugh! If I get the job no more nights!) and two other people suggested I should apply for the job. I knew I needed to talk to db about it before making any decisions.

While the prospect of working in the concrete block is not my ideal career choice, the chance to do something new and learn a whole new area of the company does appeal to me. It could sustain me for a while until...I decide what else I can do. I'd have my weekends off always which means db and I could get in a few camping trips and more hikes. It's quality of life right? This chance could give me a better quality of life. More time with db and enjoying the great BC outdoors is what I love to do.

So last Friday (pre family arrival and pre-marathon) I spent much of my day composing the letter that I later dropped off while on the way to the airport to pick up mum, bro, lucy-cindy and sis. I didn't get much done to prep the house for everyone, nor was a I really organized to get up at 5 am Saturday and head to the Island, but I got the letter in and when I handed it to the woman who holds the job now, she clapped her hands and said "Yay!"

Now I wait.

As for the trip. It was awesome, awesome, awesome. We had so much fun together. We stayed at the Cobble Wood Guest house . It was a good deal and a quiet location. We arrived at P's around 9 am after taking the 7:00 am ferry to Nanaimo. P's got a great location high up on a hill on a no exit street so there's little traffic and on a clear day you can see the coast mountains from his front yard. He's got all his veggies going in the backyard. db and I gave him our seed box in the spring and he's planted quite a bit from it. It was good to see that working out.

Mum wasn't feeling well so we hung out for a bit so she could nap and then we headed to Tofino/Ucluelet. We stopped in Coombs

to go to the market and see the goats on the roof. The goats were actually laying low since it was a bit rainy and cool. Also Saturday is way busy so I'd be laying low too if I lived on the roof with hundreds of people snapping my photo. I took this photo on the way back on Monday when it was much quieter and there were goats all over enjoying the grass.

The drive to Tofino was lovely. The mountains are all around. The road twists and turns, climbing and descending frequently. When we got to Tofino, we settled mum in right away since she wasn't feeling well and sis and I went to get our race packages at the Ucluelet recreation centre where the carb loading pasta dinner was underway. It looked like a lot of fun and kind of reminded me of camping. Most of the runners seemed to be there. There were only 133 marathon and 222 half marathon runners in total, plus those that were part of the 58 relay teams. It was such a nice size for a race.

When we got back P, db, bro and lucy-cindy had returned from a small beach that P knew about. Sis was pretty nervous about the race the next day and had lots of questions. Her nervousness kind of calmed me. I thought less about my own run and could think more about hers which was cool.

db made his classic bolognese and we had a big salad to go with. It was perfect. We were all really bagged though and I think I was asleep before I hit the pillow. In a way it worked well that we had travelled that day because I slept so well, the best I've ever slept before a race.

The air was cool and misting when I got up. Then the rain pelted while I had my oatmeal breakfast and coffee. Sis continued with questions, but I don't remember much of that morning now. I remember the view from our guest house window, looking out at the gray sky, the tree tops and the gravel drive below, thinking about the rain and how I would cope with that for 4 hours plus.

We split into two groups and well you know how the run went because I already wrote about it.

After the run I felt great! Mum, sis and I recouped at the guest house and grabbed a quick snack from a deli in Tofino. It is no problem being vegan in Tofino. Menus are very accommodating for the most part and if there are no vegan dishes every kitchen seems at ease and prepped to make something for you. Heaven.
Later we walked the rain forest trail in the Pacific Rim National park.
I'd never been to this park and it was beautiful. It felt appropriate that it should be cool and wet that day. The sun had been out and it was very hot, but then the clouds rolled in again. (btw...that's lucy-cindy and bro in the tree).

Mum only did the first trail. She still wasn't feeling 100% and sis was starting to hurt from the run so they waited while the rest of us walked the other trail. I was sore, but didn't want to stop. Bro loved the old growth woods and the big trees.

We were all pretty exhausted again. P had to head back to Nanaimo to care for his elderly kitty (chat-chat). Sis, bro, lucy-cindy, db and I went to the Botanical gardens restaurant. We ate on the patio despite the chill in the air and the occasional rain falling. On the way home bro found the 3 k marker and grabbed it for us as a souvenir.

Day three in Tofino, we wandered around the little town looking out at the bay and doing a little shopping for lucy-cindy's family and friends. We went to Long Beach and walked and walked. We left Tofino sad to go, but excited about the rest of our week in Van city and at home.

I'll just post pictures of the rest of the trip and just say that having the family here was fun and did give me a new outlook. What I really enjoy is being with these people and having fun together (even with bro whupping us at poker the other night). We've decided that we'll alternate years of visits so next year will be camping at my brother's and the following year he'll come out to BC. It's worth it for the fun we have together.

Long beach, Tofino.
Shannon Falls, Squamish

Crossing the Capilano suspension bridge. I couldn't look over the edge, but db took photos.
View from the suspension bridge.

Another view from the bridge.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Edge to Edge results are in


I placed 82nd out of 133 marathon runners. I was 21st out of 32 in my age
(Female 0-39).

My time was: 4:30:24. My goal was to finish is 4:30. I went out strong at
beginning because the Tofino stretch is pretty flat. Ucluelet is another
It undulates and rolls and curves all over. After running 33k, facing
big rolling
hills is not an easy task.Even though I wasn't focused on my
time too much, I
would notice that I was hitting my times at the right
marks just by running
my own race.

At 8 k my right calf cramped up and I pretty much ran in pain for the rest
of the way, but the desire to finish, to run to raise money for Fauna and
to run this particular race for a full marathon distance was keeping my
mind off the pain kept me focused on the goal. db and P. tracked me
5 k for the whole thing. The rest of my family caught up at about
26 or 27k mark (after my sis finished her half marathon
in Ucluelet! She did a whopping 1:59:40 for her first half marathon ever!
It was a proud weekend).

I'm thrilled. I finished. All the hard work, injuries, being unable to
properly hill train or do speed work and yet I still managed to finish
one of the toughest courses in Canada.

I'll write more later about the fund raising side of it, but for now here
are some pics.

A nice and small start line with everyone milling about.

At 4 k we ran on the beach for a short stretch. The sand is very packed and
it's quite nice to run on really. db and I were married here 8 years ago so
this was quite emotional for me to return to this special place.
The bulk of the race was along the road that runs between the two towns and through
the Pacific Rim National Park. It was gorgeous there. Despite the wet pavement, it
didn't rain. The rain held off and by the end the sun was out.

db did a little beach tour while sis and I recouped back in our rooms. Sis actually
ran the trail along this beach. I hope to get back one day and walk it.

My favorite place.

starfish. I missed that! D'oh!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Somewhere in between...

I'm feeling both confident and fearful. I know I can go the distance and yet I still question my ability. I know what half way is like but what will 30 k be like? Will it be like the training runs?

Time for carbs. db just called me to dinner.


I've printed out a race day checklist and away I go. I think I'll start packing now. I know we don't leave for two days, but I also know the next two days are going to fly.

The unofficial Matryoshka collection

An LV co-worker brought me the black matryoshka. I worked a shift for him once way back when and he not only remembered but he gave me the matryoshka. I was completely surprised by this gesture. At this point I had to say that db and I seem to have a collection going.

I bought the blue one because it was the last one on the shelf at work and we're going to stop carrying them all together.

The largest one was a gift from sis. It has chimes inside so that when it rocks it makes a wonderful sound. It actually doesn't open like the others. She brought it back from the Ukraine.

The other two db had when I met him and I don't know their history except to say that the smallest one seems to be missing a couple of dolls.

weather watching

I'm watching the Tofino weather forecast. Two days ago cloudy skies and cool was forecasted. Yesterday rain and cool was forecasted. Today...sunny and still cool is forecasted. At least it will be cool (below 17 degrees).

Well, I've run in it all so I'll deal with it when I get there. I bought my clear rain poncho and picked one up for sis. I know runners often use garbage bags, poking their arms through the sides, their heads through the top and discarding the bag along the route, but I thought I'd spend the two bucks and get the more "shapely" rain poncho. It's got a hood! If I don't use it well I'll save it for the next run.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

meditation on my running

Feeling a bit uninspired. I don't know if it's nerves over the run this Sunday or the long and tense week at work (inventory, working an extra long day and on a Sunday).

Maybe it's the mulch. I know, I know, I'm obsessed with the stupid mulch, but I can't help it. When I'm out there digging and trying to plant or transplant and create something wonderful and all I see is the natural beauty of a unique garden space ruined. It's as bad as laying down concrete. Just let me get this off my chest okay? I put some lilies in the garden, feeding them into the ground so they would be amongst ferns and rock, tree roots and moss, but when we went out to garden Sunday night it had all been mulched with small holes left around my lilies. The shape of the garden has changed. I'm kind of giving up. Must be time for a holiday.

In a few days my family will be here in whoville and we'll be off to Tofino together. Sunday is the big day of the run. Sis and I are both nervous. It's her first half marathon and my first full marathon. Yikes! The taper week always unsettles me because I feel like I'm running so little that I'll never be able to go the full distance. Also my Achilles is acting up again. I felt it after my run tonight. I did have a good run though, I felt strong. My ankle is not swelling so I turned on the heating pad and kept the heat on it tonight. That helped a lot.

I've been reading a lot about the power of the mind in sport. There are many similarities between practicing yoga and running that I knew intuitively, but hadn't really thought about it. The book "In the Zone" does discuss the similarities between yogic practice and sports training and competing in so far as there is an experience beyond the physical that suggests the power of the mind enables one to continue their physical effort...well seemingly effortlessly.

It's exciting right now because I feel like I've just tapped into something unique about running and it seems all new to me again. I've spent so much time on the physical training and sticking to my schedule, nursing injuries, doing strength work, biking etc etc etc with very little time spent on training my mind to focus on the task ahead of me. That has come with practice and pushing myself to new limits in distance running. During the Van city half I remember having to shut out everything around me in order to focus on what I needed to do. I needed to finish the race. I needed to catch sight of that pace bunny. Not only did I do that, but I passed the pace bunny too! The long runs since then have taken all of my strength. Recently db observed, "you always give up at the end, just before we get home." I hadn't noticed, or I hadn't really thought about it. He was right. Since then, all of my runs have been about finishing and not giving up in that last km or two. Yes I'm tired and maybe I'm having a tough run, but sometimes it's great and I feel strong to the end. I think I need that to get me through this Sunday's marathon.

They're anticipating cool and wet weather. As long as the rain isn't pelting, I don't mind. I prefer it cool and overcast anyway. So...fingers crossed.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Animal Voices Film Festival

Chimpanzees: An Unnatural History
screened at the Animal Voices Film Festival. How timely that this film should be screening just a week before the marathon. I cried through the whole sixty minutes of the film. I recognized the chimps from the Fauna sanctuary, having gotten to know them through reading and hearing about them through Fauna. Most moving was to see Billy Jo so prominent in the film and so in need of constant reassurance. He died not long after the film was made so it was quite wonderful to be able to see Billy Jo with his companion caretaker, Gloria Grow (the founder of Fauna), and to see him finally outside on the chimp island, out in the open air with no cage overhead.

Each of the stories in this film, both chimp and human, are remarkable. There's something about the ability of a companion relationship between the two that gives me hope.

I am more inspired than ever to raise money for this sanctuary and for all those who work to release chimpanzees from labs, roadside zoos, and from being sold as "pets." I encourage you all to learn more about the lives of these beautiful animals that have 96% identical DNA with humans.

So if any of you want to donate, click on the right to help me raise money for Fauna. If you're looking for a gift, the Adopt a Chimp program is a wonderful gift that provides a personalized certificate and info about a specific Chimp. As I've probably mentioned before, my sister adopted a chimp (Jean) for db and I on our 5th anniversary. Learning about Jean's life moved me to learn more about the rest of the chimpanzees. And I am running to do what I can to help these creatures live out their lives in dignity and to have some peace in their final years.

I highly recommend this film and a visit to any of the chimp sanctuary sites. I hope PBS screens the film again.

Friday, June 01, 2007

doe a deer a female deer...

Actually it was a buck. If my father or brother were here (both former hunters) they could tell me the weight and points of the buck.

I ran a bit later last night, putting it off, putting it off and putting it off until I finally went out and ran. I was walking the last bit of hill at the end of my run and heard the SUV that had just passed me screech to a halt. When I looked back I saw a buck trot across the road and head toward the path that runs along the power lines (it's called the power crunch here because of the pebbled path that climbs up the mountain). I walked back down the hill a little to see if I could catch sight of it walking up the path, but lo and behold it was standing in the yard next to the path, munching on the new young foliage in someone's garden. It didn't seem to care about me or the traffic going past.

I sprinted up the hill (proof that I did have a little left in the tank after all -- I had no idea I could run up that hill so fast) to fetch db. He had to see this. db said, "the camera, where's the camera." I said, "I don't know, it doesn't matter anyway. Let's go."
I was just hoping the deer would still be there by the time we got back. Just five or six houses down and there it was. It stopped munching to look at us. We crossed the street so we could be directly across from it and watch. It was very aware of us watching though. A man and his son crossed the street, following the crunch path up and walked right past the deer without even noticing it. db and I finally left the deer to continue it's dinner.