Saturday, January 23, 2016


One of the few blogs I follow religiously is Shut Up and Run. It's funny, irreverent and - most importantly - wonderfully inspiring. However discouraged I feel about running, Beth makes me want to lace up my shoes and get out the door.

This morning, I finally got round to reading her most recent post, which is based on a blog prompt entitled "Currently". I just googled "blog prompts" and found heaps of links. How did I not know blog prompts existed? Fantastic. I'll definitely be checking some out the next time I've got writer's block.

That's not my trouble today actually. Today, I have at least three posts waiting to be splatted out of my head into the blogophere - but Beth's invitation to write a response to her prompt has proven irresistible so here goes...

Time and place
Saturday, 10:19 am, sitting in bed at the country house. I haven't made it up yet because Husband keeps bringing me cups of coffee. And, anyway, I've got a nasty cold so it makes sense to lay low until I shake it.

Not cooking at the moment, but hoping to be well enough to make a couple of pots of chili tomorrow. The plan is to freeze them for a neighbourhood supper we're hosting Friday evening. We're expecting 20+ people so we've put together a casual menu with plenty of variety so that everyone will be able to find something to eat.  At this point, it includes two kinds of chili (veggie and chicken), meatballs, veggies and dips, cheese, bread, brownies, and cream puffs.

The monster storm that may or may not hit tonight and tomorrow. As of yesterday, we thought it would miss NS altogether but it now seems we'll get winged at least.  Fingers crossed that's the worst of it.

A nasty chest cold - complete with snotty nose, chest congestion, plugged ears, and achy muscles. Not nice at all but, given that I feel better than I did yesterday, I suppose I'll survive.

Working on
Various job-related challenges. When I woke up for my middle-of-the-night pee, I was surprised to discover my subconscious was still working on them. Generally I leave my job at the office but that's been harder to do lately. It's not the actual tasks that are difficult. It's managing all the relationship stuff that goes along with them.

Besides my favourite blogs, I've got four books in progress. I'm still rereading Older, Faster, Stronger and making my way through Misbehaving in fits and starts. I started Lawrence Hill's latest, The Illegal, last weekend (great so far!) but took a short break to read Hemingway's A Moveable Feast because Husband borrowed it from the library and it needs to be returned soon. I've never read much Hemingway but I must say I'm enjoying it - mostly because it's about his life in Paris with his first wife Hadley. I read a fictionalized account of their marriage a few years back (The Paris Wife) and the contrast between the two is fascinating.

Listening to
Husband taking a shower. I've gotten out of the habit of listening to music all the time. My inner introvert prefers to minimize sensory inputs so I can focus on what I'm doing. If I were listening to music right now, it would likely be a folksy Canadian singer/songwriter.

The bread I can smell baking downstairs. Husband makes no-knead artisan bread most weekends which tastes unbelievably good warm out of the oven.

Donald Trump. Seriously? The guy's a dangerous, bullying idiot. What are people thinking? I saw a link to a film about his activities in Scotland called "You've been Trumped" that I'll definitely be watching later this weekend.

An excuse to lollygag in bed this morning. Most Saturday mornings I'm up and out the door for a run as soon as I can manage it. Being too sick to run but not sick enough to keep me from reading and writing is perfect. Also loving this video of a 500+ voice choir in Toronto singing a stunning version of "Space Oddity" as a tribute to David Bowie, my daily commute on the ferry (see photo at the top of this post) and this lamp, which I bought on impulse last weekend because it made me think of Paris and smile.

A visit with my baby sister's daughters. They were supposed to spend last Saturday with us but the older one came down with stomach flu so we rescheduled for this weekend and had to postpone again because of my cold. Hopefully, everyone will be well enough to get together one weekend soon. We've got a bunch of fun stuff planned and I'm determined to spend as much time as I can with them while they still think it's fun to come to our place. It won't be long before they're teenagers with no interest in hanging out with us oldsters. Here's a favourite pic from a couple of years back. Who wouldn't want to spend time with these two?

Aside from videos on Facebook, not much. We haven't had cable TV for years and don't miss it enough to sign up for Netflix. Occasionally - maybe once or twice a year - we download a movie via iTunes or pick something up at the library but mostly we prefer to read and/or surf the net.

Normally, I'd say I don't use my blog to promote anything - in the commercial sense anyway. However, recently a friend asked me if I'd write a community theatre review, which I was happy to do. You can read it by clicking on "Theatre Reviews" tab at the top of the page. Interestingly, I was contacted by a rival community theatre a few days after I posted it and asked to write a review of their next show. Who knows? Maybe I'll become an accidental theatre critic.

Mirrors. It finally hit me a few weeks ago that I'm actually getting old. Not older. Old. And I've been avoiding mirrors ever since. I complained for ages about the fact I was still having periods every month (I know, I know, TMI), insisting that I just wanted them over with once and for all. But now that they're finally coming more erratically and it's clear menopause is just around the corner, I find myself surprisingly sad and a little panicked. More on all that in some future "painfully personal post".

What about you, dear reader? What are you up to currently?  I'd love to read about it if you feel like sharing a link in the comments below.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Running lessons: Contemplating my intentions for 2016

My running year got off to a rocky start last weekend.

On Saturday, I headed out for what I intended to be an 18k run but ran out of steam after 10k and called Husband to come pick me up.  It wasn't that it was especially cold or slippery. In fact conditions on the roads and sidewalks were quite good as I headed upriver to Cookville Bridge. The scenery was nice too, with plenty of fresh snow under bright blue skies.

The trouble started when I reached the bridge and began my journey back along the Centennial Trail. I discovered ATVs had been there before me, creating deep tracks through the heavy snow that had fallen the week before. The tracks were too narrow to run in comfortably, and the frozen treadmarks at the bottom of them made running treacherous. After just a couple of kilometres, my energy and enthusiasm for completing the run evaporated.

Happily, the 8k Husband and I tackled together on Sunday was much better. Temperatures were comfortable and we were able to avoid the trail for the most part. I pushed the pace a little in the first 5k so the last 3k felt harder than they needed to - the downside of running "naked" (i.e. without a device to measure our speed) - but it was a good workout all the same.

We spent most of the rest of the weekend hanging out by the fire, reading and discussing our intentions for the coming year. Inspired by a friend, and recognizing that real life tends to interfere with the best laid plans, I've decided to formulate "intentions" rather than "resolutions" this year. The idea is to focus on the things that matter most to me, while avoiding the negative self-talk that often accompanies failed resolutions.

For inspiration, I reread the last two chapters of "Older, Faster, Stronger" by Margaret Webb. The book provides plenty of evidence that "masters" athletes with good training and nutrition can be faster and stronger, and continue training longer than most people think - even into their 70s, 80s and 90s. Scientists, who have only recently begun studying older runners, have discovered our bodies have much more capacity to heal and regenerate than previously thought. Given how discouraged I've felt about my running lately, it was exactly what I needed to read.  I haven't yet settled on running goals for 2016, but I'm determined not to capitulate to "common sense" notions that I ought to run less now that I'm in my mid-50s. It ain't necessarily so.

I spent another good chunk of the weekend hanging out with Nemmie, who's become a total glutton for belly rubs lately, which is odd given how independent she is. Even now, she's quick to make it clear that she doesn't want to be picked up or confined in any way. On the other hand, she happily spends hours sprawled on her back on the floor, the bed, or "her" chair sleeping and being petted. What a goof!

We planned to take our Christmas tree down before heading back to the city Monday morning but couldn't quite bring ourselves to do it. We especially enjoyed the tree this year because it was decorated with tin ornaments given to us by Husband's sister, Maryanne, who passed away last winter. She and Husband's parents (who died a few months before and after Maryanne) all loved birds so we placed a few silver bird ornaments amongst the branches, and adorned the top with St. Nicholas carrying a bird house. The ornaments were a lovely way to keep Ma, Pa and Maryanne front and centre throughout the season, which was sad but oddly comforting as well.

I'm having another busy week at work so haven't yet had a chance to finalize my New Year's intentions, but I think my word for the year may be "goodbye". More on that in my next post.

Until then, happy running and writing, friends!