Thursday, July 31, 2008

postcard from whoville

view from the beach at Queen's Lake, N.B.

I think I've got everything. My pack is stuffed and overstuffed. It's not too heavy though so I think I'll manage the commute to the airport okay.

I'll be eating well in Montreal visiting family for a couple of day. Then I'll be in N.B. lying on the beach of Queen's lake, taking a dip, running the logging roads, marveling at the joys of the new tent, and hanging out by the campfire.

See you in a week.

p.s. I think the cats are on to me.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Nope no bear news today.

I did get my run in and did most of it at the track about 2 k from here. The track is so soft compared to pavement and even worse concrete. My left calf cramped up with quite a bit of pain so I had to slow it down and jog nice and easy on my way home. Today it's still sore, but I expect tomorrow will be better. However, I think I'll have to get some massage work done when I get back from my holiday.

I leave Thursday for my vacation. I'll be flying to Montreal to meet up with db who is there now and then we'll be driving to NB with my mom where we'll head out to my favorite place, Queen's Lake. db and I will pitch our new tent and then I think I'll head right to the lake.

Before I leave i hope to get two book reviews done for the Book Collective. I'd also like to get my blog rounds done. I'm a little swamped right now with getting ready to travel and work and training and cats etc etc etc I don't know if I'll get everything done. Fortunately rain is in the forecast so I won't have to water the garden. That will save some time.

I'd better go get my rest, I've got an early start for work since I'm training in a new area so I can cover that person's vacation when she goes away.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

bear obsessed

It's true I am bear obsessed. I really want to run my long distance route that takes me through one of the parks, but with all of the bear sightings lately I'm a little hesitant. I've never heard so much bear talk as I've heard this year.

A woman who I sometimes see at the bustop lives just around the corner from me. Earlier this week she told me about her neighbour having to fix his fence for the third time this month because a bear keeps destroying it, making a path through the backyards. I had no idea bears were frequenting this area on a regular basis.

This morning on my bus route to work (I'm taking a rest break from biking so I can put in a long run tomorrow) the bus driver stopped in one area and I thought there was something wrong with the bus. Then I heard him on his phone calling in to report a bear sighting. He had just seen one. I missed it! Again! I'd been engrossed in my running magazine (one track mind right now).

Now I'm thinking about tomorrow's a.m. run and am thinking it's best to stick to the main roads. Of course we live on a main road but our place boarders a green belt so we get some wildlife traffic. I guess I'll just do like the bears and go about my own business. Maybe it's time to really get involved with one of those group runs organized by one of the running stores.

Friday, July 18, 2008

some garden pictures

This aquilegia surprised me. I didn't know it was there. This is one of the plants I was given from a friend's garden so it's an even nicer surprise.

This is another area that's filling in quite nicely. The bleeding heart has finished blooming long ago.
Here's what this area looked like last year.
It's a slightly different angle but you get the idea.
My animal rights news comes via peta and Farm Sanctuary for the most part. I also get updates from Project R & R that is focused on ending the use of chimpanzees for medical research. This week Wandering Coyote has brought my attention to the cruel act to a pitbull in Trail. You can follow the link here and read the story and WC's comments on it.

All I have to say (and as I've said in the comments on WC's blog) is that I am sickened by this and am appalled knowing that so far someone has gotten away with this crime.

What can we do to teach others to be compassionate to all living creatures? How can kids learn to treat animals with respect? Everywhere in our culture animals are portrayed as being there to serve us (as food) and entertain us. This is where I see problems:

  • Puppies and kittens as gifts for kids like any other gift under the tree, presented with a bow. You should not be able to "buy" animals from pet stores. This suggests that animals are merely another product consumed.
  • The high price of a pure-bred animal. What chance does an animal in a shelter have if people are encouraged to buy designer animals? Breeding also suggests that there are some animals that are better than others. This just isn't so.
  • Petting zoos. I've heard too many horror stories about the actual living conditions of these animals that are expected to be there for our entertainment. Do kids learn anything here? No. It's merely entertainment.
  • The circus. Do I even need to say what's wrong with animals being trained for the circus ring? How do the animals learn such tricks? Well, the preferred method of training is using whips and electric prods to force the animals to perform.
  • Chimps in film and t.v. It's not funny. It's not even close to funny when you think of the abuse a chimp goes through to be trained to do such tricks. Then once they get too old and are no longer "cute" they can end up living the rest of their lives in a cage (that can be another 40 years or so), in a roadside zoos or in a lab.
  • And yes I do have a problem with the blind acceptance that we are to grow up eating meat as if this is normal.
I was a teenager before I learned about battery cages that hens are kept in and I haven't eaten chicken since. I remember feeling naive and I was also angry that such things were going on and no one had told me (no parent, no teacher, no t.v. show). It was extremely difficult for me to find any information on how animals were being raised for our consumption (this was very pre-internet and I lived in rural New Brunswick).

I know I've digressed a little, but I guess where I'm going with this is me trying to figure out what i can do. When I discovered about the lives of animals in the meat industry becoming veg was a form of activism for me. What can I do when I hear a story like the one about the pitbull? I can be angry and upset, but what bothers me the most is that I feel helpless in preventing such acts.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

ricco tests positive

How do they do it? How does a cyclist go day in and day out cycling difficult terrain in France? Riccardo Ricco (in the photo above) was wearing the polkadot jersey being the "King of the Mountains", but now he's King of the Fools after testing positive for erythropoeitin (EPO). His whole team (Saunier-Duval) has left the tour. I'm not sure why the whole team left since there's a new rule this year that permits a team to stay on even if one of their members tests positive. Nonetheless the whole team is gone which makes me suspicious of the entire team.

There are two teams in the tour this year whose mission is to be at the top of the sport and ride "clean." Garmin-Chipotle is one of these teams (with a Canadian rider on the team which is very cool) and Team Columbia. These two teams suggest a shift in the sport that aims for not only victory, but to resurrect the sport as a legitimate one. However, the sport is so tainted now that even these teams that claim their mission is to race clean makes me suspicious. That's pretty sad. This points to how tainted the sport is itself if I can't even believe in clean teams. I'd like to believe they're clean. I'm trying to believe they're clean. Time will tell I suppose.

Monday, July 14, 2008

more bear news

You can read the story here.

Two grizzlies were released back into the wild today.

bike and run vegan run

I think I've just about reached the end of my energy level. I've been biking and running everyday since...well...since the nice weather started sometime near the end of June.
Being on my bike feels wonderful and I finally put a mirror on it so I can actually see what's behind me. Hmm what a concept. I never thought it would make a difference, but it does make a huge difference. Now I know when the road is clear behind me and I can take up a little more room. I can tell when a car is giving me clearance as it approaches as well and that's nice to know.

I've been biking to and from work for a total of 23 k a day and it's through a relatively hilly route. I've been treating these days as cross training days so I don't mosey and try to pick up the pace when I can. Now I feel the need to have a days rest where I don't bike at all. This will be tough since the weather continues to be glorious.

On my running days I've also been biking just because that's how I get around. The end of my journey always ends with a massive hill to climb that I use to never bike all the way to the top, but now I'm doing it more often than not so I've crowned myself "queen of the mountains" (this is influenced by my daily viewing of the tour de France and the polkadot jersey going to the king of the mountains).
I need something to think about while I'm climbing the hill don't I? I try not to think about the hill at all, but rather think about how do they climb those mountains in the pyrenees?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

bears and tents

We just missed the bear. db and I ran this morning along the port who-dy inlet because I wanted to be in a shady area since it was already very hot by 10 am. There were lots of people out running, walking and biking. Of course I was chatting about bears because I am obsessed with them and the park is full of "be bear aware" signs and notices of the last bear sighting (yeah, it was 11 am July 13th!) in the park that they had posted as July 9th. However, I knew they couldn't be updating those signs often enough when I spotted a rather large bear deposit along the side of the trail (bear scat like I've never seen before). db missed it, but I pointed it out on the way back after we turned around. He awarded me an extra 300 meters of running for spotting the bear poo.

Anywho...we head out of the trail over the tracks towards the rec centre and there's a few people looking towards the woods. They inform us that they just saw a bear go into the bushes. We look over and sure enough the bushes a rustling away. We just missed the tail end of that bear disappearing into the bush. Dang!

db and I opted for another route to run out of the park that took us away from the rustling bushes. I sort of wanted to hang around longer to see if we could actually see the bear, but part of me also doesn't really want to stick around, the part of me that wants to avoid danger.

We are the proud owners of a MEC (Mountain Equipment Co-op) Wanderer 2 tent (colour: dijon - as seen in the photo).

Last night we did a trial set up in the back yard and are very pleased with our purchase.

Our old tent (nicknamed the Hilton because of it's rather roomy size) was having too many issues after many years of use. The zippers of the fly was starting to gap in several places and the window leaked. It had a good run. We left the Hilton at my brother's place for anyone who wants to use it in fair weather.

This year our camping trip will be all the more fun as we get to know our new tent. We each can have our own door if we like and each side has it's own ventilation and window. We also bought 2 footprints that go under the tent and cover the vestibule area so we can park our packs there and leave our shoes at the door on their own mat. So far I'm liking it.

Monday, July 07, 2008

running, vegan shoes, gardens...well, another day in whoville

The goal yesterday was to run for an hour and a half. Now that I'm mostly training by time and not distance there is a certain amount of freedom by just going out and running, knowing I'll turn back at my halfway mark. Also, I've run just about every street in whoville and surrounding areas that I pretty much know how long it's going to take me to run a certain route.

After taking a few days off after the epic biking day to Golden Ears, I felt a little out of running-shape and a short run late on Friday indicated that I still have a long way to go before I'll be marathon fit (or even half-marathon fit). db was up for a longer run on Sunday as well and we planned to meet at the 45 minute mark so we could do the next 45 together. It was a sluggish beginning, middle and end for me, but I ran the full time and as it turned out did my required distance for the day (15 k). This was a slow pace for me though and only in the last km did I feel the strength to put it into another gear, probably because I was looking forward to going home and eating (db made this beautiful gluten free vegan banana bread that is fluffy and moist and oh so good with chocolate chips in it. Yum! He's an amazing cook. He really is. )

Anywho...I got the run done and that's the main thing. I've got the RVM on my mind and that's a good place to be right now.

We will have to save a small fortune just to pay for the ferry crossing. I'm wondering if it would not be better to fly there at this point! Just kidding.

We did get a little biking in yesterday as well just while we were running our errands. I came across these shoes from Simple that are vegan (of course) made of "O
rganic cotton uppers - Coconut buttons - Lined in bamboo - Natural latex pedbed with an organic cotton canvas cover - Natural crepe rubber midsole - Recycled car tire outsole - Uses water-based cements - 100% post consumer paper pulp foot forms." (from the mooshoes site)
I think they are just about edible. And they're so cute. Very comfy for biking and pretty much anything else.


My daily garden tour (of our garden) takes extra time to check out the newly blooming pamjat serdsta clematis that was given to me by my friend tp.

Here it is with its first bloom. Initially it just had two buds showing, but now there are four and I'm hoping for more. It's not a vining clematis so I have it on this rather rickety bamboo tripod I've held together with some velcro plant ties. My hope is that it will get large enough to fill in the tripod and curve down around itself.

Four of my other clematis have no blooms (it's their first year here) but are doing well and two of them are mystery plants since they were also given to me from tp and she had at least 60 in her garden at one time so I can forgive her if she can't remember what's what.

Our raised beds are doing great!
Okay this isn't really the raised beds. They are actually behind these two planters (with tomatoes in them of course) that are here temporarily while our homeowners redo the front stairs. The planters usually go along the front walk of the house, but we had to move them when they wanted to tear out the crumbling concrete stairs.
This is the latter stage of the progress. It was all chunks of concrete all the way up the slope and they suggested that we now had our own Grouse Grind. Just in case you forgot, this is how our front steps use to look.True you can't see the crumbling concrete from this angle, but it was and the wood was falling away from the concrete face. This picture also is outdated since I've pulled back some of the mulch and revealed more of the rock that was underneath.

The top of the stairs is where our planters usually sit. In the end I think the result will be nice since they're going to put cedar steps in with a border and at the top there will be stone leading to our door on the left side of the house.

They've asked me to do some more planting in the back yard. There's a huge patch that they've covered with mulch and fabric that looks hideous and frankly I just wanted to focus on other areas of the yard so I've ignored it and left it as they set it up. Now they've asked me to get some greenery in there. I can choose the plants and they'll reimburse me. Off to the nursery I go! I can't wait to pull back the mulch and rip up that landscape fabric.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

red Fred we'll miss you.

red Fred was a lovely cat that red jane rescued from the street while living in Toronto. Until recently Fred had been very shy with people and it would take a bit of time for him to warm up to you, but once he did he was very affectionate and loving.

I got to cat sit him a few times and he was always a pleasure to look after. I'm glad I got a chance to spend time with him and mostly I'm happy that red jane gave him a loving home.

red jane sent me some recent photos of him and I thought I'd share a picture of him.

He was a lovely cat and will be missed by all of us here in whoville.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Canada Day

Ah photos again. First stop on our bike ride this morning was to pick up a new card for our camera. I've given away our destination with this photo above.

We wanted to do some biking and there's a fabulous trail that runs along the Alouette river. It's part of the trans-Canada trail and I've only just realized now that what better way could we have spent our Canada day than biking part of this famous trail that touches many communities across the country?

We kept biking and decided to go for the Golden Ears Park goal. (In the photo above, the peaks in the distance are situated in the park). db was running out of energy before we reached the park and once we got to the entrance, he wanted to stop and picnic right there by the sign. I thought maybe we could wave to those entering the park while we ate as well. We carried on even though we were saddle-sore and very hungry. We'd gone this far so why stop at the entrance?

Instead of going to the large (and most likely densely populated) lake, we opted for a dirt road off the main route and headed towards Mike Lake. This turned out to be mostly just a boat launch with a few trailhead entrances for some of the longer hiking routes, but we found a place to have our lunch and ate every bit of food we brought.

The bike ride home was much faster since we were going mostly downhill and we took a more paved direct route home as opposed to the winding unpaved trail (which I normally prefer, but after hours of biking the saddle really is too sore for more bumps).

About 8 k from home I finally felt my energy level crash. I was done. Once at home I checked our total distance of biking today and it turned out to be 69 km! Holy Canada Day! That's a lot of biking for two casual cyclists. db said it was a good way to spend the first day of the introduction of the Carbon Tax here in B.C. We spent the whole day on our bikes. Not a bad idea after all. Next time I think I'd like to take a tent and stay a night or two before biking back.