Friday, August 31, 2007

5 AM!

Did you know it's dark at 5 am these days? Did you know there is an astounding amount of people (including runners) up in the dark hours of the morning?

The only reason I got up at 5 am was because I knew I wouldn't be able to find time in the day to get out and run. Getting up at 5 am to be out the door by 5:30 am is old hat now for db, but it is still startling to me. Last time we did this together it was light out, now it is not. Honestly, I have to say that I thought once the mornings get dark db will be sleeping in and making time somewhere else in his day to run. I was wrong. db is an unbelievable runner. He's a natural and seems to run with such ease and focus. I have a lot to learn from him.

I got up and I followed his pace. This was a good plan since I was intending to do pace work today. I couldn't keep up with him. Once I stopped to re-tie my shoe it was too much time to catch him again. I tried, but I couldn't. It was the fastest 4 k I've ever run.


Now the window installers are finally here. They seem to be very efficient. I'm tucked away in the bedroom with the cats who have finally calmed down and settled into their naps. Gigi was quite worked up this morning and seemed very confused about being locked in the bedroom. She's finally settled in her basket and only wakes now and then to see what I'm up to.

I am a bit afraid of going into the living room and seeing a big hole in our wall where they are cutting to extend our living room windows so we have more light and windows that open in that room. How civilized it will be.

The end result will mean more painting. So I'm thinking about fixing up my office space to be a little more like an office and a little less like a cat flop lounge. At least we can divide the space up into the two. I know, I know the cat flop lounge will win in the end. C'est la vie.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Kelowna here we come

I just registered for my second full marathon in the Okanagan in October. This is very exciting. There seems to be less doubt this time around.

What's also exciting is the news that db has registered for the half marathon. I'm still astounded that he's running, but have no question whatsoever that he can go the distance.

We have the same start times so after he finishes his race he can catch up with me somewhere along the route or maybe at the finish for those photos. Unfortunately, I won't be able to watch him run his first race. It's a bit like not being able to see my sis's first race. I won't be there to cheer him on or take the sideline photos, but he'll know I'll be thinking about him. Of course the thought of running the half distance together did occur to us, but we have such different paces and I'm pacing myself a little differently for a longer distance and I know he's going for something a little faster.

There is chance that my stepdad, P, will be joining us, but he's got a lot going on and might be too busy to get away so we'll have to wait and see.

I'm so excited.


I had the weekend off. db was off too . We've been talking about the blackberries everywhere and wanting to get out there and pick some (or at least I've been talking about it. Here's the result of all that talk.
Sunday turned into a beautiful day by the time I finished my run. We headed down to the power crunch (that's the pathway that runs up the side of the ridge that is park and owned by BC hydro so there are power lines all along as well -- it's not as bad as it sounds though, really) and spent about an hour to collect these. My fingers were purple. db wisely wore his garden gloves, but I prefer the hands on touch. Ouch! You've got to watch those thorns they are fierce.

Now what do I do with them? I made a cobbler last week with a smaller batch we picked at a friends house, but we are definitely into jam territory now. I'm not really in the mood for a pie and I've got another cobbler on the go made with Okanagan organic peaches so I think we need to make jam. I've frozen some for the winter to throw into whatever when I need them so I think we're good.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Hurry up and wait

Our homeowners planned to get new windows installed for their home. The plan is to put new windows in our spare room (the office/cat lounge) and they are going to cut new windows into the wall for our living room. The house is built on a slope so the office/cat lounge is above ground while the living room is below ground. Therefore, the extra windows in the living room would really brighten up the space and for the first time we'll have living room windows that open. Hurrah.

Okay not so fast. Time passes. Someone comes in and assesses the job. We plan and it's early June. More time passes. Actually a month passes. We're down to any day now. So a couple of weeks pass and finally we get word that yes the installers will be arriving tomorrow (which is today) and will start early at 7ish. Great.

Last night M & Deb. came down to install a plastic zip wall that will cover the area where the installers will be cutting out the new window. Our living room is cut in half, but it's a big room so I don't mind. We move the furniture, cover it in plastic as well. I plan to put the cats in the bedroom for the day and as luck would have it I happen to be off so great I can hang out with the cats in the bedroom, keep them calm and feeling loved, while the windows go in.

Up at 6:15 this morning (same time db returns from his run?! Still hard to believe for me. He's doing great) and I go about setting up the cat camp out room. It looks pretty cozy and fun for them. 7 am passes. 8 am rolls around. I'm not surprised. I watched sis deal with contractors back on Margueretta so all of this seems very likely.

8:30 Deb calls. The installers are running late and will arrive around 9.

Gigi is settling into her usual morning nap location in the cat lounge so I decide to set up the kitties in the bedroom. So they're set up before 9.

Then, 9:30 rolls around. I know the installers have arrived, but why haven't they come down to start yet? Deb calls. These are new installers and not the original guy who came to see the house and mapped out a plan for the work. These new installers apparently had no idea the house was built on a slope and they aren't prepared properly for the cut out, nor do they have the right scaffolding for the job (whatever that means). Furthermore, contractor informs M & Deb that the original guy no longer works for him. So there will be no work today.

I let the cats out of the bedroom.

10:30 M calls and offers to take down the zip wall. He says he'll know more tomorrow once the contractor has fixed the problem (yeah, we'll see). He's very apologetic, but really it's not his fault and I tell him not to worry about the wall it's not a big inconvenience for us so we'll leave it up until we know what's going on for sure.

It was too good to be true. So now we wait and wait. This seems all too common in the contractor business. What the hell is going on?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Bad Cop Good Cop

The cover story of the "westcoast" section of today's Sun reported on a family of 6 in North Van who had been victims of a robbery. The same front page included an update story on the man gunned down by police this past week, who as it turns out was bipolar and "going through a manic episode" when police shot him.

I continue reading a few pages in. Each story is continued on a separate page. On the right side is Story 1 ("Mother had a feeling 'something unsettled') which turns out to be a detailed account of the events on the night the family was robbed and once they realized that someone was in the house they called police just as the robber was driving away in their vehicle. The story then details the movements of the RCMP, municpal police and the coastguard all working together to comfort the family, catch the thief, thus displaying their ability to communicate efficiently and effectively to react to a situation promptly and professionally.

The left page has the rest of Story 2 ("Animator shot dead by police suffered bipolar disorder") which says that the man may have viewed the police as "part of the conspiracy" and also quotes someone who says that the police are trained to deal with "people with mental illness because they deal with them all the time." I understand this to mean that I'm being set up to be later told that this was purely an accident because after all the police deal with this type of thing "all the time" and therefore it could only be a grave misunderstanding that would cause the police to shoot. The rest of the story is really about the man killed and that he was no threat to anyone but himself.

While I'm completely saddened by the story of this man and the loss for the family, I can't help but wonder about these two stories coupled together. My inclination was to read the headlining story, but I wanted an update of the police shooting and read the left hand story when I opened the paper. By the time I get to the end of the "Mother had a feeling" report I am reassured that the police are an efficient force that deals with problems quickly and professionally. I can't help but think that there is no coincidence in the pairing of these two stories.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

10 things

Karen tagged me to write 10 things about myself to share in blogland. Part of tag is tagging someone else, but I suspect I would tag some of those that Karen has tagged as well. So to my core whoville visitors out there and I know there are at least ten of you I tag you all. To write 10 things about yourself to share on my blog.

So here goes 10 things to share with the blog world that I suppose.

1. I eat the same thing for breakfast every day: toast with almond butter and a coffee. Occasionally I have something different on the weekend or am forced to when I travel, but it's always the same. I often think about making something different in the morning, but I enjoy toast and almond butter so much I can't change now.

2. (this one is for db): I say that I don't like rice or soy ice cream, but I have been known to eat it.

3. Vegan guilt. I have a lot of guilt for the dairy I've eaten in the past and also for the fish I ate when I called myself vegetarian. However, I don't have any guilt for the meat I ate as a kid. I suppose it's because it was before I knew there was a choice. I thought a lot of meat was gross especially liver, but then what kid didn't think liver was gross. My grandmother use to make roast beef every Sunday we visited and it was really weird looking to me and I would smother it in gravy so I didn't have to look at it. A born veg? Maybe or maybe I was just a picky kid.

4. Whenever I'm at work (no matter what kind of work I'm in) I feel like it's a performance and I find this exhausting. A co-worker (who is an actor) once told me I should be an actor. That will never happen since we already have an actor in the family and nothing would terrify me more than to be the center of attention or have people gawk at me while I'm performing. I guess at work it's more of a mask.

5. Being the center of attention is one of the reasons db and I eloped when we got married. We told our families about a week after the fact.

6. I have a bumper sticker that reads: "The more people I meet the more I like my cat" (I don't own a car). There is some truth to this for me.

7. Some kids play "house" when they're little, I played "librarian." I was born a nerd. I would check books out to my stuffed animals (Agatha and Bunny).

8. I still have Agatha (my stuffed blue bear) that I named after Agatha Christie because those were the books my mom was reading at the time and I liked the name.

9. I have no tattoos or piercings other than my ears. I once pierced my nose myself way way back in high school, but I let it heal over after a year. No, it didn't hurt when I did it because I froze my nostril with an ice-cube. It did take a long time to do though because I was nervous and realized it was harder to get that needle through than I though. I was staying at my aunt and uncle's house when I did it. They were out for the day with their kids. My aunt still talks about it today and it's more than 20 years ago now!

10. I like most plants and flowers, but I really dislike begonias, petunias, impatients, daisies and marigolds. I use to like juniper until I moved to the land of juniper. Now I think it's a weed. this is not earth-shattering info about me, but it feels liberating to say it. I've been plant shopping with people and they'v ooohed and aaahed over these stupid plants and I've said some nice things about the plants and have even tried to find their potential, but I have to say they muck up the garden. I've seen too many poorly planned gardens with the border of begonias and petunias along a grass edging. Yuck.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

after I came down the mountain...

I got it. Tough runs help build my mental toughness.

I had a great run, mixing hills with pace. It turned out to be hotter than I expected, but it wasn't unbearable. I can't believe I ran up the mountain. It's so worth it because there is less traffic so I can run on the pavement more (pavement is preferable over concrete always), I could just listen to the sound of my feet striding along and look at the incredible view from Panorama Drive.

Also, I'm trying out a new sports drink because I can't seem to drink most, they upset my stomach. I've also become intolerant to the gels so I'm in trouble and need to come up with a new plan for eating on the run (so to speak). Now that db is running I don't have him cycling alongside for those long runs with stores of food on hand in case I need to eat. I'll have to come up with some creative solution.

"the hills are alive..."

...with the sound of running.
The hills are calling me again. I'm about to head out for a run and I want nothing more than to run up the hill to start my run and keep going up. There must be something wrong with me. I've never wanted to run hills in my life.
I was planning on a trip to the gym, but the t.v. treadmill scenario gets a little boring, plus I find they've put the t.v. screen too high on the treadmills which means you need to be 5'9" or taller to be able to watch anything. I would say that most women at my gym are at least 5'5" on average. I've mentioned the t.v. screen heights as a problem, but they just nod and say "oh yeah I guess they are" but nothing has changed. Is it just me or are all gyms the same. I feel like I could be at the Duff mall in the ol' Fitness One bargain basement gym. I kind of miss it actually. At least it made fitness affordable for women. It was a better deal than the YMCA's low income membership that you had to apply for and jump through all sorts of hoops just to be approved to join the "stinky Y" as we called it. That Y was too small for the size of its membership.

My hand is still aching from the sprain so strength training is out. So what's the point of going to the gym? Yoga isn't an option either. Oh well, onward and upward.

It's cooled off today and there are a few clouds so I think hills will be just fine. I can do some strength work without putting weight on my hand using my exercise ball and band. Exciting life isn't it?


The Okanagan marathon seems just around the corner now. I haven't registered yet, but I know I will because I just put in my request for the time off from work for that weekend in October.

db and I thought (and perhaps my step-dad, P. will be coming. I'm not sure yet) we might check out some of the wine country while we are there. Since I'm running the marathon I guess I'll do the driving so db can do the sampling.

One of the best times db and I had in Italy was when we rented a car and drove through wine country in Italy's Piemonte region. We collected a few bottles on the way and met some nice people. We picked up some fresh food on the way and had a picnic on the roadside overlooking the rows and rows of vines. We were "off season" for travelling to wine country so it seemed like we were the only people around. It was incredible.

Anywho...I digress. I do feel a little undertrained, but then I felt that way before right? All the physical training is good and I can always look for new ways to mix up the training schedule and add new methods to keep it interesting, but mentally I feel like I need an edge. I seem to keep coming up against the same mental blocks that slow me down. I need to figure out a way to train the thoughts as well. Time to research. I'll just make sure I research after I've done the more important tasks of the day.

Did I mention that i'm searching for new work? I am. Since the office job didn't pan out at LV, I think I need to find some new challenge so I've been just starting to push myself to come up with something else that will pay the bills. I'll find something soon I hope.

Sierra Leone bans Chimpanzee Trade

With the decline of the Chimpanzee population in the wild, this is very positive news.
Read the story here.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Rise and Shine Vegan

It's dark out when I wake up. Gigi wakes me up purring and walking on my pillow. Sometimes she's very aloof and then she has moments like these when she feels a little friendly and needs some petting. Then, the alarm went off and db got up. I stayed in bed. Gigi was alert, but also stayed in bed.

It's still dark out when db returns to the bedroom to get dressed and I realize I have to get up too. It's not easy fumbling with contacts when your eyes can barely open, but I manage. db is already dressed and ready to go by the time I'm just blinking my contacts into place. He's got his running gear on. That's right you heard me, db has running clothes on. The man who hates running has convinced me that a run in the morning is better than in the evening.

We head out the door with just enough light in the sky to call it morning. Despite my grumblings and calling db crazy, I do love the view of the mountains in the distance with the sun coming up behind them. The sky is pink and mountains purple. It's cool but I can tell already that the day is going to be very warm.

I follow db on his 5k route through the neighbourhood. By the time we reach the bottom of the hill again it's much brighter now and there is considerably more traffic. Amazing what a half hour difference makes in the morning.

db has been testing out running to see if he likes it and wants to continue. He's doing amazingly well. His form looks like a pro and he took off this morning at a blazing pace that got my ol' heart rate up in no time. It's definitely motivation for me and it sure is nice to run with someone in the morning.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

No Limits

If you want to read about an incredible ultrarunner you should read No Limits about ultrarunner Barbara Friedman. She's my mum's friend who I always looked up to (along with my sis) when I started running. She too came to running later in her life and I always thought it is never to late to start something new in your life.
I just finished reading about her 100 miler north of San Francisco in the Marin Headlands. It is truly inspiring.

"nothing up my sleeve..."

You can shuffle the cabinet all you like in an effort to sway public support, but it's still the same government isn't it? Harper's cabinet shuffle might try to breathe some new life into his minority government, but it's the same old policies.

Remember the enthusiasm when Rona Ambrose was replaced by Baird as Minister of the Environment? There was some initial excitement that something might actually get done and information would be conveyed clearly etc etc et-rhetoric, et-rhetoric and then...disappointment.

And why do I always get the feeling that his government is hiding something from the rest of us. He's a magician who is trying to keep his secrets, but he's not a very good magician and I suspect that once we see what's up his sleeve I think we'll all move on.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

trip to the island

On Friday, db and I went to Vancouver Island to see my dear friend, her husband and their little boy who are visiting from Turkey. They're spending the summer in Toronto and since moving out here I thought I wouldn't get to see them. However, she has family on Pender island and a friend in Victoria that she was staying with so off we went to see them.
Being back in Victoria after 8 years was a little odd. I expected to see a lot of changes, but it was exactly the same. There is definitely a lot more traffic and there seems to be the usual condo building going on in the downtown area (like most cities), but we went to the Parsonage cafe where I use to be a regular and it hadn't changed one bit. Even the menu was eerily quite similar right down to the blueberry crumble and the granola and fruit with yogurt. I felt like I could pick right up where I left off 8 years ago as if nothing had changed.

We were delayed going to lunch and I didn't really want to leave G & O. and their little boy, but we had to drive up island. So we said our farewells and then db and I took a quick drive around the city just to see my old haunts and again all the places I remembered were still there. Small businesses survive in Victoria. It was quite nice to see.

The above picture is the scenic viewpoint on the Malahat where I always stop when driving up island. It was such a beautiful day and well worth the stop.

Of course P. is in Nanaimo so we thought we'd get a visit in with him as well. He had a very sick little kitty (Chat-Chat) Wednesday night and wasn't sure she'd make it through the night. After seeing the vet next day, she was sent home with some antibiotics and no one is really sure what exactly was wrong with her. She's probably 19. She's a street cat so her age is uncertain, but I'm guessing she's around 19. P. was a bit of a wreck after all that so it was a good thing we were going on Friday to see him.

The images of the garden are from P's place. He has an amazing garden and we picked beans, basil, tarragon, a few tomatoes and he had some massive zucchini for us to bring home. We've got veggies everywhere now.

This is Chat-Chat in her yard and a little perturbed that we brought her outside from her bed.

This is Velcro (or Cro for short) lying in his yard with his favorite blanket. He was quite social with us while we were there. He can often be shy so this was a nice surprise.

P. took us to the waterfront to walk along the Nanaimo seawall which was really lovely. It meanders along the water and through the marina. there are several little restaurants that look very inviting and of course buskers along the way. We had to stop for the accordion players and I had to take this photo of what seemed to be a father and son duo. I knew mister anchovy would appreciate the photo .
We listened for a little bit and then continued along the seawall. The evening was really lovely.

As we drove back to P's place he toured us around through other Nanaimo neighbourhoods. We saw a deer and two fawns and then another deer just standing in someone's front yard while these two guys stood talking like this was no big deal and the deer was part of the conversation. P. told us that deer really are very common in that area.

We were both so exhausted by the time we got on the last ferry that we both fell asleep on board. I rarely fall asleep traveling anywhere so I was astounded when I awoke to the announcement that we were approaching Horseshoe Bay. I love when you travel and can fall asleep so that it seems like you've spent no time traveling at all. You wake up and you're there.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Grinches of whoville strike.

A whole beautiful section of trees that was about a third of a block long and a quarter of a block wide is gone. These large (probably second generation) old growth trees are simply cut and left to be cleared. It looks like Stanley Park after the storm. Some Grinch run construction company has made a stupid decision. It's a mess and I can't believe that someone in whoville thought this was a good choice. Apparently everyone is thinking "green" and going "green" and yet...

So now condos will go up next to the big stinkin' mall and I know they will landscape the front of this towering monstrosity with spindly trees surrounded by mulch. Everything will look the same and one of the natural wonders (big trees) that makes BC special is gone.

Friday, August 10, 2007

A work moment

On the wall behind the LV counter is an oversized world map that is a colourful puzzle made out of a dense foam for children to piece together. The idea is they can put it on the floor and lie on it while putting the pieces of the world together. People always comment on the map and what fun it looks to be. It's got flags from all the countries and animals on the map etc etc.

My encounter with one woman after she's been looking at it for a bit.

woman: What a great map!

Me: Isn't it? Everyone seems to like it.

woman: Canada looks biggest.

Me: I'm not sure it is geographically.

woman: Oh, it is.

Me: Well, it's a flat map so it's not exactly correct since a globe shape is more accurate.

She looks at me like I'm nuts.

woman (more to her friend): It's a nice map, but it's too bad they didn't put the Canadian provinces in or American states.

Me: Well then they'd have to put all the provinces and states in all the other countries. I think it might get very busy. It's much simpler like this.

woman: They did it for Africa.

Me (after a bit of a pause): those are countries.

woman (not really comprehending) : well...still...the provinces....

She walked away with her friend.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

What? Another injury?

I have no idea how I sprained my hand. It's a minor sprain, but it is still damn inconvenient to do any little task. My middle finger started to ache around the knuckle yesterday while I was at work. I thought it was odd, but it didn't seem to be serious. By the time I left for the day I couldn't use my hand much at all. There didn't seem to be any swelling, but I could no longer close my hand nor open it completely flat (so much for yoga this week).

Now it's swollen around the knuckle and I have limited movement. For example, typing is a little challenging as I can only use my index finger and thumb on my right hand.

The good news is I don't see this keeping me from running so I'll be heading out for a run today after work.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Buntzen Lake

Buntzen lake is only a 15-20 minute bus ride away in Port Who-dy. There are several trails to hike for every type of hiker no matter how much or little you are experienced. db wanted to do one of the more challenging hikes up to another section of smaller lakes, but I cautioned him that yes we are fit for running or cycling, but we're not hiking fit. The day before I had run 19 k so I was feeling like straight up a mountain wasn't a great option and I would probably not get very far.
So we opted for the trail that goes around the lake and it was just right for us.

The trail was quite busy on the east side of the lake as people walked to and from the south and north beaches. The south beach was full of holiday picnickers and as we walked along the lake toward the trail, I feared that we wouldn't get any peace or solitude. Once on the trail we did find a little more quiet. We hiked to the north beach, stopping along the way to check out trees and some of the views of the lake. The north beach was much quieter. It seemed like most people had paddled across the lake to the smaller, quieter beach. We rested a bit, had a sandwich (db's sandwiches are the best!) and headed out.

There's a little suspension bridge to cross the narrowest part of the lake and that's where I took the photo of the lake. The weather was perfect .

The west side of the trail was a little more challenging as it twisted more and rolled up and down carving along the rock and up into the woods. It was lovely in the woods and as we moved further from the lake and it was fairly peaceful. Even though the creeks were stone dry, the rocks marking the creekbeds were a nice pastel contrast compared to the dark earthy browns and deep greens of the forest.

We finally came full circle, crossed another small floating bridge through shallow swampy waters and then went back to busy beach for a break before heading home. It had quieted down a bit, but there seemed to be a shift change as the daytripper families were leaving and the smaller evening crowd were arriving. db napped on the beach in a shady spot while I took in a little sun before finally deciding to dive into the lake. I had spent the day viewing it and now I really wanted to be in it. It was cold and dropped off quickly, but it felt fabulous. Floating on my back looking up at the blue sky and the mountains surrounding the lake, I knew I was exactly where I wanted to be.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

A shared garden

I work with this amazing gardener (TP). I've yet to see her garden, but the variety of plants that she has in her garden suggests to me that it is something to behold.

This lily (Tom Pouce) was given to me from her. She is planning to sell her house in the near future and since making that decision has been dividing her garden, bringing me much of her favorite plants that she wants to share with others.
The Tom Pouce Oriental lily was a complete surprise for me when it opened up into these luscious blooms. Many flowers have attempted to rival my passion for lilies but then I discover another wondrous lily and nothing can come close for me.

One of the perennials that TP has been bringing in for me to transplant are pelargoniums. I've always loved the delicate look of these plants since discovering them as a new gardener and have always tried to include them when I can. They seem to be used quite a bit in gardens here, but one variety has dominated the market (Johnson's blue). Thanks to TP I've now started a collection of pelargoniums (in pink, white, violet and blue) that will fill in to line the steps up to the upper level of the yard. Only one or two have really bloomed since some of the divisions she's given me are quite small, but I expect next spring and summer will bring endless blooms to that will brighten that side of the garden. I can't wait.

fade in

Have you ever dreamt an idea and thought I'd better write that down or sketch it out? Two nights ago I dreamt a story, whole and complete, and sort of became conscious of it and sort of woke up and thought "wow there are four stories there that relate and that would make a good screenplay. I better write this down."


Then the other thoughts started. These are the sleepy, don't want to get out of bed thoughts.
"Will I forget it if I don't write it down?"
"I'd better just make a few notes."
"It's so vivid though. I know these characters."
"I don't have to write out the whole storylines, just a few images will help me recall in the morning and then I'll write more detailed notes."
"If I turn on the light I might not get back to sleep."
"I'll just run the stories over in my head and then I'll remember."
"If I..."

Fade to black

The next morning...

"Oh I just remembered I dreamt a whole story idea and I think it was good. What was it?"

I couldn't remember a thing. I thought about that Seinfeld episode where Jerry wakes up laughing and jots the joke down on a piece of paper and then falls back asleep still laughing to himself. Of course the next day he can't make out the joke and can't remember it either.

I suspect that like Jerry I would not be able to make heads-nor-tails of it either. Lesson learned? I need to wake up and write it down? Maybe, but maybe the stories rise to the surface anyway and I suppose I believe that if I keep tapping into that unconscious side of myself the story (whether it is the one I dreamt or not) will start to emerge.