Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

Husband and I are in the country tonight. Snuggled in by a roaring fire, we've just enjoyed a delicious supper of Atlantic scallops and Annapolis Valley wine, listened to Randy Bachman's "Vinyl Tap" on CBC, and chatted with two dear friends from our CUSO days!

Now, as we await the fireworks, we're wishing our friends and family around the world the happiest of New Years. May 2012 be a year of love, light and peace for all.


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A sense of place

I wonder sometimes what it would be like to go through life without feeling so connected to my "place". I can't really imagine it.

Today, as penance for all the food I've consumed over the past week, I drove to Risser's Beach and ran 16k from there through Petite Riviere to the far end of Green Bay and back - with a brief side trip to the top of Drew's Hill to take in the view.

It's an area I know well since I've spent time there regularly for more than 30 years. There's no other place on earth where I feel so peaceful or so entirely myself.

Today was stunningly beautiful. Sunny, still and mild, it didn't feel at all like late December. There were quite a few others walking Risser's Beach but I had Green Bay (pictured above) almost entirely to myself.

When I reached my turnaround point at the far end of the bay, I wanted nothing more than to stop and stretch out on sun-warmed sand, listen to the waves crashing against the shoreline and let my mind drift awhile. Only the knowledge Husband would worry if I didn't arrive home on schedule kept me from giving into temptation.

Do you have a place that you feel connected to in the same way? If so, what makes it special to you?

(Below, a few more pics from my run.)

From the top of Drew's Hill
Risser's Beach from the Green Bay Road

The house I want to live in one day. :-)

Far end of Green Bay
Little Risser's Beach

Monday, December 26, 2011

A picture perfect Christmas

Late last week, it looked as if we might have a green Christmas but, fortunately, five or six inches of wet snow fell on Friday (the 23rd) clinging to tree branches and power lines to create a wintry wonderland. The next day, temperatures fell sharply and stayed low preserving the picture perfect landscape for Christmas day.

Her Majesty the Cat, Husband and I arrived at our country place just as the storm abated and in time to share a meal of fresh lobster with my parents. Lobster is a favourite treat this time of year. Over the years, Husband and Dad have mastered the art of cooking it so that the soft, sweet meat literally falls from its shell. Dipped in hot butter with fresh bread and salads, and followed by Mum's homemade lemon meringue pie, nothing makes a finer meal.

Of course, that meal was merely the opening act for the feasting that's gone on in the two days since. We spent Christmas Eve afternoon with my folks, my sister and her family devouring smoked salmon, hot stuffed mushroom caps and baked brie with crisp green apples. After church, it was back to my parents' home for Mum's homemade pork and chicken pies accompanied by fresh cranberry sauce.

Is it any wonder I was in need of a run before Christmas dinner yesterday? Though the wind was bitterly cold, I reveled in running for an hour along the river - breathing in the beauty and stillness of the day, and catching glimpses of bald eagles soaring overhead in the late afternoon sunshine.

Naturally, like any conscientious runner, I fueled my body before heading out - with caffe latte, delicate melt-in-your-mouth raisin tarts made by Husband, and Mum's short bread cookies and fudge.

Christmas dinner last night was the traditional roast turkey with all the fixings - including Mum's fabulous sweet potato and pecan casserole. Husband and I were so stuffed by the end of the meal that we postponed dessert for a few hours - finally scarfing down slices of buttery Christmas cake, raisin tarts, and fudge as a bedtime snack before toddling off to sleep.

I awoke this morning to a milder, drizzly day and have been lolling by the fireplace reading a novel ever since - pausing only long enough to consume thick turkey sandwiches, another plate of sweets and a large mug of caffe latte flavoured with eggnog. I thought I might go for a long run this afternoon (goodness knows I could use it before we tackle pasta with sherry lobster sauce tonight) but, with all the relaxation, rich food and rain, postponing to tomorrow seems a better idea. Forecasters are calling for a sunny, warm day so perhaps I'll treat myself to a run along a couple of my favourite beaches if Husband doesn't object to being abandoned for a few hours.

I hope you're enjoying your holidays as much as we are! I'd love to hear what makes Christmas (or whatever you're celebrating) picture perfect for you. Is it the food? The music? Special activities? Leave a comment below and tell me all about it!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I ran and - guess what - it didn't suck!

Christmas lights on Sullivan's Pond   

A quick post before I sleep so I don't keep my faithful readers in suspense. :-)

Yes, I ran - tonight after work.  Because I'm still recovering, I promised myself I'd only run 4k but it was such a beautiful evening, and it felt so good, and the Christmas lights were so magical that I ran a little over 7k and, even then, didn't feel like stopping. What a gift!

Now, I must sleep - but not before I mention one last thing. The lake. It was perfect - utterly still, its surface reflecting lit windows, streetlights, clouds in the sky above - even the red blinking lights of a small plane flying low on approach to Shearwater Airport.

My favourite view was of two condominium towers located at the far end of the lake. Their reflections on the surface of the water, aglow with Christmas lights, resembled intricate stained glass windows. A perfect image for the season.  I paused for several minutes under star-lit skies to drink them in before turning to retrace my steps towards home.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Running sucks...

...when you can't run. Which I haven't been able to for a week because of a nasty chest cold.  I don't remember the last time I went seven days without running but it's a been awhile.  Hopefully, this particular non-running streak will end tomorrow after work.

On the upside (because I always try to find one when I'm blogging), at least the week's been an opportunity to put on some weight.

Back in March, I wrote about being too skinny and I haven't really managed to put on any weight since then - though I hasten to add that I'm definitely not just "skin and bones".  In fact, my body has become pretty darn  muscular after a year of hard training - my legs in particular. This picture, taken as I lined up to run the San Francisco Nike Women's Marathon in October, shows that I think. There may not be much to me but what there is is tough as all get out. Which is why it's killing me to be laid up like this. I'm simply not used to so little activity.

So tomorrow, I run.  Whatever the weather.  However I feel.  I run.

Isak Dinesen said, "The cure for anything is salt water – sweat, tears, or the sea."  And I know from personal experience the three together can work wonders!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

May we never forget

There were 14 women murdered in the Montreal Massacre on December 6th, 1989, simply because they aspired to work in a male-dominated profession:
Genevieve Bergeron, 21, was a second year scholarship student in mechanical engineering.
Nathalie Croteau, 23, was in her final year of mechanical engineering.
Helene Colgan, 23, was in her final year of mechanical engineering and planned to take her master's degree.
Barbara Daigneault, 22, was in her final year of mechanical engineering and held a teaching assistantship.
Anne-Marie Edward, 21, was a first year student in chemical engineering.
Maud Haviernick, 29, was a 2nd year student in engineering materials, and a graduate in environmental design.
Barbara Maria Klucznik, 31, was a 2nd year engineering student specializing in engineering materials.
Maryse Laganiere, 25, worked in the budget department of the Polytechnique.
Maryse Leclair, 23, was a 4th year student in engineering materials.
Anne-Marie Lemay, 27, was a 4th year student in mechanical engineering.
Sonia Pelletier, 28, was to graduate the next day in mechanical engineering. She was awarded a degree posthumously.
Michele Richard, 21, was a 2nd year student in engineering materials.
Annie St-Arneault, 23, was a mechanical engineering student.
Annie Turcotte, 21, was a first year student in engineering materials
I'm grateful for their legacy - a new determination to end all forms of violence against women - but I'm also sad that so little has changed in the 22 years since.

According to Statistics Canada, in 2009 women made up only 22.3% of those working in the natural sciences, mathematics and engineering and 6.4% of those working in trades in Canada. And, of course, violence against women remains a huge problem here as it does elsewhere. At special risk are aboriginal women.

There is some good news. Today, more men and boys are prepared to speak out on issues of violence against women, initiatives like the White Ribbon Campaign raise awareness of the issues and encourage men to get involved and we now have a National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women.

Still, we must never forget those 14 young women, and what their deaths taught us about the work that remained and still remains to be done.