Friday, July 27, 2007

I missed my whoville bus to the skytrain on my way into Van city and was forced to take the bus that runs along the Barnet highway. I was reading (Harry Potter -- not the new one, I'm only on the fifth book) until the bus slowed and I knew we were at the place, the site where the oil gush occurred. While the roadway was cleared and looking almost normal, the trees closest to the site were entirely black and glistening in the sun. Right behind them were houses that look like they've been cleaned up.

This morning I heard about oil showing up on a beach further along the inlet. It is hard to tell the ultimate effect of this disaster on the area.


This puzzles me as it stands outside a furniture store. I suppose it does catch my attention.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Cycling woes

The cycling world takes another blow. The credibility of riders in the tour de france comes into question again! When will this end?

Yesterday I watched an incredible race of a ten mile climb up the (Aubisque) mountain pass in the Pyrenees. It was between four riders, three of them challenging the yellow jersey leader Rasmussen. It was very dramatic as each rider challenged Rasmussen, kicking in bursts of speed on inclines I can't even imagine, trying to push Rasmussen to a point that would challenge his lead. At the very end, Rasmussen broke away from the riders and crossed the summit maintaining his lead and his yellow jersey with intention on winning the 2007 Tour de France.

Last night as I'm watching the replay of the days events for moments I'd missed earlier, I see the news scroll by on the ticker revealing that Rasmussen has left the tour and has been pulled by his team. What? Of course I thought at first he was caught doping, but then all I can figure out is that he's been pulled because he lied to the team as to where he was training in June. Oops. Why did he lie? There's the question I'd like answered.

So this is on top of further scandal in the tour as Vinokourov tested positive for doping causing the whole Astana team to be sent home from the tour. I had been wondering about "Vino's" ability to recover so well from a terrible crash early in the tour that led to both of his knees being stitched closed and yet he somehow carried on and even went on to win a stage. The next day he was confirmed as testing positive for blood doping. Now he is on a list along with Moreni and I wonder who's next?

Contador is the leader now after Rasmussen has been pulled, but I wonder how "clean" he is or any of them.

The tour is a mess because of all of this. It really is a beautiful race and incredible to watch, but it's so dirty and tainted now with questions of doping can it ever become a clean race? After Floyd Landis? Is there really anyone who doesn't question Lance Armstrong (except maybe himself)?

I still enjoy watching the tour de france, but I watch it with the knowledge that there's a good chance those on the course are cheaters and it's a race between who can outsmart the anti-doping force.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Vegan loves the hills

Oddly enough on Tuesday I wanted to run hills. Go figure? I find it tough enough to run after a day at work, but I know that the reward is great because if there's one thing that rejuvenates me after a day at work it is running.

I've been having a few aches and pains, nothing that indicates injury but rather the after effects of training in the weight room. I already felt that running downhill would be a no-no. Three mornings in a row I had to run downhill just to catch my bus to work and I don't think this was helping with the pain I was feeling after doing many lunges and step-ups in the gym. I haven't been cycling to work simply because I don't want to risk overdoing it and chance injury. You could say I've been taking it easy, but I'm pretty active overall and my job does involve walking most of the day.

So I wanted to run hills. I also wanted a new running route. So I headed up the hill and it felt great. I relished every step. Endurance is not an issue for the short 8 k distance and I realized that the muscles required to push me up the hills are well rested so I went for it.

I felt great. It was the best time I've had in the last couple of weeks where I've felt sluggish and started to wonder if I was just burning out. The clear blue sky certainly helped that positive vibe carry me over the hills. Now that was a running high.

* * *

Perhaps it is madness and now people will actually say "there's that fitness nut." I know at work everyone thinks I'm crazy riding my bike to and from work. Going along the highway on two wheels with pedal power somehow makes me crazy. I don't think they ever think "oh wait, there's no exhaust spewing from the bike and she's doing it because she cares about the environment." When I ran home from work one day there was much laughter. Don't get me wrong, people are supportive and they think it's great that I run in races, but there is a bit of question in their eyes that suggests it's beyond comprehension. I once suggested to a couple of women coworkers that we start a walk/run group but there were too many reasons why it wouldn't work. The women at work always comment on how "thin" I am (this is something that has always bothered me and besides I'm not thin, I'm average sized and just in shape) as if it's some mystery. I said once "I run, I bike, I walk everywhere and I'm vegan" which stunned one coworker silent for a moment and then she said "I'm too old for that now."

I'll never be too old for that. I want to be one of those old ladies out on her morning brisk walk who takes public transit to get to where she needs to go. I want to see db and I still biking and hiking into our old age because for me that's quality of life. Seems like a reasonable goal doesn't it?

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Lesson learned

Don't wait for the rain to stop just get out there and run anyway. I waited and waited and waited and finally I ran in the rain. It wasn't so bad. At least it was warm.

Rainy day

I have 16 k waiting to be completed today. The rain had already started by the time I'd gotten up so I decided to have breakfast and go later in the day, setting the tone for the coming week since I'll have to do most of my runs after work this week. Then, db and I went out to pick up some plants to attract more bees to the garden and there was no rain. We came home, I changed for my run, sat down to map out my route and the clouds released the next rain session. I'd prefer a run with no rain or even a light rain would be fine, but I don't really want to subject myself to a downpour. I'm hoping it won't last too long.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Tour de Gastown

The Tour de Gastown was pretty exciting. With the rain and cobblestone you have to wonder if the cyclists are playing it safe and to be sure they are on those corners, but whew the intense speed on the straight stretches is pretty amazing.

Unfortunately, I arrived after work and the time it took for me to get from Whoville to Gastown made me miss the women's race. I only saw the last few laps and the medal presentation for the women.

I wandered a bit and visited the Saeco booth (of course). db had a coffee ready to go, I got my Saeco hat, cow bell, v.i.p. pass and away we went. We checked out the v.i.p. tent that was a bit dull with its catered food that made me shudder because it reminded me of such catered events that I use to work many of around this time last year. db enjoyed it, but I couldn't even consider it, not only because it's not vegan but just the thought of hanging out in the staging area while everyone filled up on food while waiting to serve just reminded me of how long that food sits and looks sad and gets reshuffled onto a new plate to try and make it look new and ugh, need I say more? I did have some white wine (they were out of beer and red wine? Huh?) It was nice to have little break before the men's race started so I could hang out with db a bit.

I filled up on clif bars that were being handed out, picked up some Arthur's, clearly Canadian and some Elete. Then I wandered the route a bit and parked myself on the south side of the route where there was less of a crowd and got a good view of the men's race that had just started.

I found it inspiring. I can only imagine the amount of training that goes into an event like this. The bikes are beautiful and look effortless when you see someone so skilled working them. The man who placed third actually wiped out and somehow made up the time and came in third.

Much of the race I walked the loop and checked back in at the Saeco booth now and then. Despite the rain, the atmosphere was amazing. It didn't really seem to stop people from coming to the event and with all the bars and restaurants surrounding the course you could potentially eat and watch the race go by. After my long, boring day at work and the extra long commute (I could have biked to the event faster than transit got me there), I'm so glad I went because it rejuvenated me.

Sunday, July 15, 2007


Tough run today. My anticipated 15 k run turned into a 7 k run, walk, run, walk, walk some more, walk home loop. My legs just couldn't do it today. The last thing coach (db) said to me before I left was "don't push it", referring to my injured knee. I put a tensor on and the knee felt okay. I ran along Hoy who-creek trail to run on a softer surface, but my legs were just too tired to get into a rhythm or push me further. After two days of biking to and from work plus all the walking I did at work just added up to my body wanted to rest. No matter how hard I tried to cope mentally, I couldn't force my body to do what it didn't want to do. Then I remember what db said and I walked the last little bit home. I'm glad I planned a loop route so I was headed home when I called it quits.

Now that I've refuelled (fresh bread from the oven) and stretched, I'm going to go out in the garden and tend to the thirsty plants. Whoville was promised rain today, but it doesn't look like that's going to happen. The sun is out and it's a bit humid so I'd better water the poor little guys outside.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

injured vegan?

While db is in the kitchen making the traditional weekly vegan pizza (I chose mushrooms, mushrooms, eggplant and fresh swiss chard for my toppings. Yum, yum double yum), I'm icing my knee. Ouch! Is it a work related injury? Did a take a corner too quickly? Is it due to the amount of cycling I've been doing this week with all of those hills? I'm not sure what happened, but I realized part way through work today that my knee was sore and starting to swell. Hmm. Not good.

I went for a massage a couple of weeks ago and my calves and hips were clearly in bad shape. At one point the massage therapist said "muscle shouldn't clunk". Good point. I'll be going back for some more help with that.

I haven't mentioned that I'm hoping to run the Okanagan marathon in October. It's fairly close to Whoville and I think it would be a lovely way to complete the 2007 running season with a run and a little time away with db in wine country. So I've been training again. I've been "listening to my body" as always and feeling good with the usual up and down days, but now I'm worrying again because I was planning on running 15 k tomorrow and knee. I should mention that I have a big fear that I will get some sort of knee problem. I've had it before from playing tennis and since I've stopped I've been fine so I've been running with a silent wish that my knees won't ache. Achilles? Okay I've dealt with that. Bad back? Feels better when i run. Morton's Neuroma? Just a little tingly feeling, but it went away over the winter. I've dealt with a few minor aches and pains, but the knee scares me. I guess I'll just have to wait and see how it feels. A domani!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Science of Sleep

I don't often write about films which might be odd since I spent many years doing just that. I guess I should say that I don't often review films. I'm not a great reviewer but I'll give you my take on this film and the fact that I'm putting it up on the blog means that I highly recommend it.

The Science of Sleep (la science des reves) is a magical film. It's creative and beautiful and moving and visually rich. It's a boy meets girl story told in an unexpected way. In this case the boy's (Stephane's) reality is a mixture of his dreams and the everyday. The two are always mixing together so that we are invited into how Stephane views the world. He's an artist so his visual style comes through in his dreams. While this is his gift it is also his downfall because it is the times that he cannot differentiate between his dreams and the everyday that gets him into trouble.

When he meets the girl (Stephanie) it is not love at first sight, but rather a gradual recognition of their destiny to be together. However, while they view the world in a similar creative way, they do not view reality in the same way. Stephanie seems to be able to put her dreamworld aside while Stephane cannot. It is that gap between them that causes the tension.

Stephane cannot be anything else so perhaps he will always live his life beautifully but necessarily tragic.
I won't give away the ending and even if I did it wouldn't really matter because the film has so much more going on.

Part of my immediate reaction to watching the film was a bit like being stunned just because so much information is being given to me visually and within this animated playground is a love story that is unfolding in several ways (dream and reality). Like Stephane I'm trying to figure out which one is the dream and which is the reality, but enjoying both and how they overlap.

The film is so textured and layered in its animation and it is all done in a classical animated style so nothing is computer generated. Even the "blue screen" background was actually done as rear projection so that too is classic in its style. The animated events or mixture of actors with animation has a childlike quality that mimics Stephane's and Stephanie's creativity and artwork. The result is a very handmade feel to the film and it reminded me of Melies A Trip to the Moon (Le Voyage dans la Lune)
I can see a connection since Melies was an inventor (like Stephane) and did make his own camera. There is also playfulness in Melies film(s) and the Science of Sleep.

If you click on the film title links above it will give you a sense of how the film looks and feels. The websites (both English and French) are quite fun. It's worth looking at and I'm sure will invite you to rent the film.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

vegan melt

Nope it's not a fake grilled cheese of some kind. Today I melted. My bus ride home was slow, packed full of people, and we were stuck in traffic with a bus driver who kept calling out , "it's a hundred and two inside the bus, people." I'm not sure what effect she was after, and I'm a Celsius language person, but without her weather report I knew how hot it was on the bus. I was stuck. There's no air conditioning on the buses here which is fine for me 98% of the time, but today I think it might have been nice to have a small dose of cool air.

Outside of the bus it wasn't so bad and I was really quite comfortable. Yes, it was hot, but I've lived through a'many Toronto summers and today was just heat.

I did get my run in this morning. It was nice and cool at 7 am. I guess I'll be doing a lot more early runs until it cools down a little.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Gigi reads the blog

job update

So anywho...
did I mention that I didn't get the LV office person job? I didn't get it. Oh well. It wasn't meant to be, right? The woman who did get the job has already been filling in for the last couple of weeks anyway so it would seem cruel to take it away from her wouldn't it?

It does feel like the application process was somehow going through the motions of company policy with the intentions of giving her the job anyway. Even though this woman did seem uneasy when she found out I had applied, by the end she was pretty confident in her chances and why shouldn't she be?

I thought it wouldn't bother me when they told me I wasn't the person for the job, but it did. I know I would have been great in the job and gone beyond just doing the work expected. Most people at work didn't even know that I had applied and one person came up to me and handed me the notice to be posted that b.c. had gotten the job and asked me to proofread it. That felt a little insulting, but they had no idea I had applied. The post notice was grammatically incorrect, but I didn't say anything and most of the time my writing is anyway. Afterall, it doesn't matter. As long as the information is conveyed and I got the message, thanks.

So I'm doing the same old, dealing with a line up of old geezers with their sandpaper and drill bit orders with their stupid cracks about their wives and how they all spend too much time and money in LV. Stop going then. I'll face the surgically altered women with their demanding lists of hardware knobs and handles that they think is unique yet I've sold those same stupid handles to everyone else in the lower mainland because everyone wants that same look in their kitchen that is cold and clinical. I can't wait for that style to pass. I'll help the elderly women while trying to hold my breath because of their baby powder perfume that they've become immune to. It sounds like I don't like my job doesn't it? It's true I'm not crazy about some of it, but I do like the people I work with and that makes it worth going in for. There are the occasional interesting gardeners I learn from.

They've tried to give me more hours, but I'm balking at that because I don't want more hours of something I'm iffy about doing anyway. It did occur to me that they wouldn't want to lose me from the work I'm doing now because I'm awesome at it. Maybe I can't always advise someone on which router bit to use, but the rest of it i excel at. It's raise time in August so I'll see what they offer me in August and then go from there.

the Vegan's menu

Food is to be celebrated. Not only do I enjoy db's cooking and my small contributions, but I enjoy the efforts we put into making our food organic, tasty and visually pleasing. It's very rewarding when we sit down to enjoy our meals and for us it's a mini event. Even when we have very little energy at the end of the day we can always throw a big salad together with "lots of stuff in it" or a quick pasta with a simple tomato sauce cooked up. Furthermore, knowing that our meals are vegan makes it all the more rewarding for me because I know how well we are eating without the "staples" of the North American diet (meat, dairy and eggs). As a runner it's also my fuel so I am aware of what I'm consuming and how that affects the next days run.

Sunday's menu:

Pasta: mushroom tomato sauce on spaghetti
(topped with hemp seeds for me and reggiano for db)

Salad: bird food, lettuce leaf salad (I'm calling it this because db referred to the sunflower seeds as bird food, which is true I suppose)

Red wine: bracciarolo

Chocolate: Denman Island chocolate mint.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Vegan Interlude

Tonight's menu:

An organic Chianti Cecchi

db's Red Fife Calzone
stuffed with crimini mushroom, red pepper, sunchoke and kale
and db's tomato sauce

Lettuce leaf salad with sun dried tomato vinaigrette

Pomegranate Sorbet

It's a late dinner, but that's the way we like it.

Friday, July 06, 2007

"Who needs the Kwik-E-Mart?"

That's right our own little corner of Whoville has its own Kwik-E-Mart. There were several opened in the states, a facade placed over existing 7-elevens, and our little Canadian town was chosen for the movie promotion cash in. I haven't been in yet to see the clerks dressed like Apu or the "Squishees" and "Buzz Cola" being sold. There was a line up to get in on day one and kids were all over the place with Squishees in their hands.

The photo taken here was an early morning on my way to work so it was calm. While the pool across the street was open and full of kids, they were all engaged in swimming lessons.

I know this is a money grabbing promotion for the Simpsons movie. I know the 7-Eleven is cashing in. Even though I know this, I also know that I am a Simpsons fan since they first aired and I know I have to go inside to see the Squishee machine and how many details they really have included that stay true to the animated Kwik-e-mart. Okay, I'm a Simpsons nerd. I admit it.

Moving on...
As a side-bar I want to draw your attention to the rhododendrons in the foreground that were still in bloom when the "landscaping" team showed up one morning to top-chop them with buzzing saws. If you don't know, you're not supposed to prune rhodos until after they bloom and you're supposed to prune them now buzz saw them. So that was about a month ago when I saw the massacre and now these poor things look so sad and areas have large brown patches. They've added the hyper-mulch look below them (kind of like the backyard here) and planted small marigolds about a foot apart from each other. It looks truly bizarre. I'll have to remember to photodoc that.

No work and it's beautiful out.

The vegan runs? I may. I'm thinking about the Okanagan marathon in October.

A writing opportunity? Perhaps. I've got to meet with a friend for further discussions.

A massage. I've decided I need to get those knots worked out in my calves. I went for a run on Monday and ouch that right calf tightened up again just like when I ran the E2E marathon.

The garden? I will definitely be out in the garden and checking on those little plants to make sure they've got all they need.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

The garden: phase two

This is the entrance to the garden from our gate. You can see the retaining wall is in place. Our whovillian homeowners plan to put a rock face on it to hide the concrete and it will be not unlike the wall that lines the back of the yard.

You can see how the mulch dominates, but I'm positive about it because everything I've planted here will fill in nicely as time goes on. This second picture shows that the Astilbe has already bloomed. I've planted into the slope to help retain the soil (and the mulch will help with this too actually). I put in some St. John's Wort which grows a bit weedy out here it seems so I'll have to keep an eye on that next year.
This next picture looks up the walkway towards the grass. I added more rocks to help break up the mulchiness. Within the rocks (although you can't really see it here) I added some alpine plants to fill in around. Again the aim is to eventually diminish the mulch.
Finally, I took this picture that looks up towards the compost bin and does show a bit of the sun that we get in the afternoon. The hydrangea in the foreground shows no signs of blooms yet, but I'm hopeful. That could really add some nice colour to the backyard.

I'll try and take some more photos as the garden develops. A friend at work has brought me some of her perennials that she divided so I'll see what might be a good home for them.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Summer reading

I had to stop reading the Janet Frame book, Yellow Flowers in the Antipodean Room. It's far too dark right now and I need something... a little more uplifting. After perusing the bookshelves here at home I think I need to head to the library and pick up something a little lighter. My goodness our book selection is heavy.

The move last October led us to get rid of most of our books, selling them and giving them away. Now when I read something I tend to get rid of the book after I read it. So all I am left with is mostly non-fiction reference books that are mostly my film studies books and those weigh heavily in the horror department. Why couldn't I have studied the musical or comedies? I know some of the horror films cover those genres as well, but I went for the gore and splatter of the slasher film. Okay Scream is quite funny, but still very gorey.

db's book selection isn't much better when searching for some light summer reading. He's been reading religious history books. Interesting stuff, but not very light. I suppose it's how you define "light" as well. Let me try...

Most of my book reading is done on transit and during my work breaks. This is part of the reason I like public transit. Without a t.v. or a computer on hand and I don't have a blackberry or cell phone of any kind so when I'm on public transit I tend to write or read. I am biking more these days so if I get into a book and can't find time to read it, I'll leave the bike at home so I can finish the book on the bus. If I'm really hooked I will read at bedtime, but mostly I prefer a garden reference book on the bedside table.

Now I'm not looking for junk, but if anyone can recommend something humourous that is a good read I'd appreciate it. My sister did give me a Lynda Barry "Activity Book" that has all my favorite characters in it and is creatively inspiring. I'll start there.
I love her drawings and how she fills every bit of space in her comics so that the borders become doodles or side-notes or even have little narratives of their own. Each page is like a collage and every layer adds something else to the whole picture. I think she's brilliant. My sister and I use to read and share her comics, laughing ourselves silly over the humour and tragedies of Marlys and Maybonne. Her comics hit just the right note for us.

The days that followed...

Well, db and I are coping.
We're grieving. The day after we took Svetlana to the vet was my birthday. I know, I know it's a lousy birthday gift, but actually we had made plans to go to the UBC botanical gardens a couple of weeks ago and I still wanted to go.

It felt good to be out and it was a beautiful day.

The gardens are so peaceful and lovely. They are very well tended to as research and display gardens, but the south gardens are very wild looking and the areas flow from one to the other in a woodland setting that feels as one.

The north gardens (this above photo is the entrance way that trails under the roadway to the north garden) is a little more delineated which makes sense since parts of it are vegetable garden. The food from the veg gardens are donated to local charities which is fantastic. The alpine gardens are also a little more marked off, divided into the different continents and their natural plants.

There is also a Physic garden that is "enclosed by a traditional yew hedge (...) to showcase traditional medicinal plants."

The photos posted are mostly from the south gardens since by the time we reached the north side it was just about closing time.

We have to go back and in a couple of weeks the rest of the lilies should be all in bloom.

The giant lilies happened to be in bloom.
At first I read the note that spoke of the variety (Cardiocrinum giganteum) and described them as potentially taking seven years to bloom. The blooms themselves can be 35 cm long! I think these ones were. They can also grow up to 4 m in height. I would love to have such a creature in my garden. One day.

As you may know I love lilies.

They are perhaps my favorite flower. Some of the lilies in the back have bloomed and there are more on the way.

After the botanical gardens we went to another part of town and wandered a little before happening on an Ethiopian restaurant that was just what I had hoped for. The menu outside highlighted the fact that all of their vegetarian dishes are vegan. It was a delicious meal. db was a little disappointed to learn that there was no liquor license, but it really didn't matter in the end. We loved the food.

At home db iced the cake and we had a little Italian bubbly and some cake to celebrate my birthday and toast Svetlana's life.


Canada day we spent the day on Granwhoville island. It was packed of course, but just to wander around and spend some time looking at the local artists works was a nice change. I have to say that I didn't feel celebratory or part of the festive group, but I was with db and we were just taking it easy, wandering around with no plan, just enjoying the weather. We did end our visit with a walk through a park/garden that was quite lovely. There really is such pleasure in a garden.