Saturday, December 29, 2007

Do It Anyway

I haven't totally lost it. After a few months of not running a step, I had to burn off some energy tonight. I geared up and opened the door to the brisk night air. Aaahh....refreshing. Until my legs got numb. I credit the lack of feeling in my lower extremities with being able to run 3k without stopping. Despite being improperly dressed on the bottom half, I quite enjoyed my run tonight and promptly entered the Saskatchewan Marathon (to run the half) when I got home. (Which I'm going to do with my running partner and sister, right Sher?)
I've had a number of excuses for not running during the past couple of months, most of which had to do with it being too cold and me not having the right winter wear. I finally decided to just go with what I have. This resulted in me wearing my half marathon t-shirt from the past summer, a sweatshirt, a windbreaker-type jacket from the second-hand store, and jeans that are artificially paint-splattered. That's right, I ran in jeans. Loose-fitting, mind you, but jeans nonetheless. If you crack open a running magazine, you will never hear them advocate running in jeans. But it works, if necessary.
With that in mind, I decided that drive and desire will beat fancy gear every time. If you really want to do something, find a way and make it happen. There will always be things that don't fall into place, but the effort is worth it.

"I think once again how much I like this life. It feels purloined in a way, or like a prize. First prize for not waiting. For not waiting to splash in a river, for not promising myself that I would someday splash in a river, but for doing it now, right now, before destiny or some other interloper stops by to tell me there's been a change of plans."
~ from A Thousand Days in Tuscany, by Marlena de Blasi

Out Of Tune

It seems that tuning a guitar is not quite like riding a bike. Nicole's family is having Christmas at our house today, and her niece and nephew received guitars from their grandma. As they were quite obviously out of tune, I volunteered to tune them. Although I don't have a natural ear for music, back in the day I did learn how to turn my guitar by ear and thought I could surely still do it. Not so much, as it turns out. They are better now, if only not quite so out of tune.
I took numerous videos of them rocking out for us, because what's better than seeing yourself pretending to be a rockstar on TV? (Isn't that what Guitar Hero is all about?)

All this has stirred some nostalgia in me, and I miss my old cream-colored guitar. Perhaps this will be the year I buy myself a new one. Or a drum kit. Or maybe I should stick with my trusty old air guitar.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Keep On Rockin in the Free World

Power ballads delivered soulfully. Number one rock hits pumped out with gusto. The crowd cheering, clapping, shouting, and dancing. Every fan satisfied.

The Bon Jovi concert last night was everything I hoped it would be. They rocked and they rolled for 2 solid hours, and had I lost my voice it would not have been a surprise. I sang my heart out along with Jon and Ritchie, and had such a good time watching these rock veterans do their thing. That they still love playing together was evident from the word go. They mesh as only a band that's been together for 25 years can.

Before I'd even left the arena I was hoping they would come back so I could see them again.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Afternoons With Emily

A perfect piece of prose, published posthumously.

From the pen of Rose MacMurray flows the flawless fiction of Miranda Chase and her friendship with one Miss Emily Dickinson. There is not a word out of place in this engaging story. The pace is steady, and the journey is one of the heart. We join Miranda when she is still called Ara, and just a wee child with the threat of consumption hanging over her. Her odyssey takes us to Barbados and Amherst and all over again. Growing and learning through love, war, and loss Miranda develops a friendship of sorts with renowned poet Emily Dickinson. Though hard-pressed to call it a frienship of equals, Miranda was nevertheless one of the few souls Emily would let into her private world.
Above all, Afternoons With Emily is the story of a woman who overcame the adversities of life with grace and dignity, while exhibiting a humanity that puts the finishing touches of realism on our fictional heroine.

The fact that this book was published nine years after the author's death by her children and husband makes it all the more enchanting. It was the only novel ever written by Rose MacMurray, an accomplished poet herself.

If you can spare the time, this journey is worth your while.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

You Had Me At Hello

I tend to be a quick judge when it comes to picking out books. I'll scan the shelves, looking for something that catches my eye, with either an interesting cover or title. Then I'll pick it up and see how it feels. I know. That's not really important, right? How a book feels in your hands? But it kind of is. Some older books have a typeface that's hard to read, or the book is too narrow and has those not-quite-paperback-weird-cardboardy kind of covers. Finally, I'll read the first page. If nothing grabs me and makes me want to turn the page, then back on the shelf it goes. I know a book's going to be good when I can read the first 5 or 6 pages in one breath.

So today I was pleased to find 5 books at the library that piqued my interest. Each had something on the first page that drew me in.

~ "I'm thinking about starting an all-girl band," Meg says to me as she flips through an old People magazine, stopping at a large photo spread of a popular boy band. "'N Secure. What do you think?" from Still Life With Husband

~ "When the Hiroshima Project was long over and all the dust had settled, Daisy discovered that she could close her eyes anywhere, in a crowded room or doing the dishes, and see the girl getting off the plane...The press seized upon the name Hiroshima Maiden - such an odd way to describe an A-bomb survivor: as though Keiko might have stepped out of an Arthurian legend, wearing a cone-shaped princess hat; as though being ravaged by the bomb might have transformed the girl, giving her, along with a history of suffering, some fairy-tale virtues." from Radiance.

~ "He was known primarily for his marrows. This made him a figure of considerable suspicion to the ladies of the Horticultural Society, who, until his arrival on the scene, had vied quite happily amongst themselves for the most coveted award in the vegetable class at their annual show." from The Savage Garden

~ "Long before his chance encounter with its owner in the 600 section of the university library, Gray knew the Queen Anne at 25 University Avenue as the house that changes colors. The siding is a peculiar shade of yellow that turns a dusty sap-green under the light of the streetlamp. The house is yellow in the morning on his way to campus and green on his walk home." from Mary Modern

~ "Who shall I be today? Guy smiled at the landlady as she proffered a ballpoint pen with a bitten top. Her hands were chapped, her pink nail varnish flaking. He reached inside his suede jacket. 'Thanks, but I always write with my own fountain pen." from The Arsenic Labyrinth

Of course, there's no way I'll finish all these books in 3 weeks, so the secondary sort will come when I have to decide which ones to return. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Cherry on Top

Today was a pretty good day. Work was busy but not crazy. I learned a few new things, which is always nice. I got some more Christmas shopping done, and enjoyed a vigorous if slightly chilly walk at noon.
However, the icing on the cake was checking the mail. Those of you who know me well know that I love to get things in the mail. I've been a part of many book clubs, because how fun is it to get books (especially) in the mail!
Today I was expecting an order from amazon, but as a bonus I also got my book from ABE Books! It turned out to be the wrong book, but my excitement was hardly diminished. Off and on I've looked for a textbook that we used in high school entitled "A Book of Good Poems." Because it seems to have only been used as a textbook, it is hard to find. Then I discovered ABE Books (online used bookseller for rare and hard-to-find books) and ordered what I hoped was the right book. I still feel that it might be the right book but with a different name, as I got a copy from the original printing in 1957. It is called Magic Casements: A Book of Good Poems. I believe there may be a copy of the right book here in the city, but until I find it, I think I shall just enjoy the magic of the poems I already possess.

Superiority Complex

My many feelings about Winter do not tip the scales in favor of the positive. I am quick to feel frustration when my car doors freeze shut. (I am oh so thankful that this has yet to happen this year.) I don't enjoy driving on roads slick with ice. The bundling and sweeping and scraping try my patience. I pray daily for the safety of my family and friends as we navigate these sometimes treacherous roadways.

However, in the midst of the swirling snow and unsure footing, one rather positive emotion rises to the surface. When I've just come back from a walk in -35 degree weather, I must admit to feeling a sense of superiority. It's easy to live in Saskatchewan the other 3 months of the year, but I feel that it takes a special person to tough out the bitter cold and come out smiling on the other side. As I peel off layer after layer...after layer...after layer, cheeks rosy, glasses fogged and nose runny, a great sense of accomplishment descends on me.

That being said, most of my Winter issues are with driving. If I could commute everywhere by snowmobile, I think that would solve most of my problems. In lieu of that, I have purchased some bus tickets and will soon join the masses riding in warmth, if not luxury, and letting someone else worry about the icy roads.

[As an aside, I have yet to try out our public transportation system due to a case of nerves. Trying to figure out the bus schedule was enough to make me cross-eyed, and I think my first ride will literally be on the edge of my seat as I try not to miss my stop.]

Monday, November 12, 2007

What Good Novels Are Made Of

A dose of good story-telling
A heaping spoonful of interesting characters: Anouk, Zozie, Vianne, Pantoufle, Roux, and more
A pinch of fairytale magic
A generous helping of happily-ever-after
Enough grey sky to make you appreciate the sun
Chocolate, to taste

I recently finished reading The Lollipop Shoes, by Joanne Harris. It was fantastic. No commentary on current events or the social issues of today. It wasn't about families falling apart, nor was it a "coming-of-age" story (because there are way too many of these already). It is a fairytale. There is magic and fancy shoes; imaginary friends and hidden pasts; a knight in not-so-shining armour and a girl who needs rescuing. Most of all, there is chocolate. And Paris. And well-crafted sentences that delight the intellectual palate. was good.

Friday, November 09, 2007


Tomorrow it begins. The chocolate-making. The disaster in the kitchen that will last until December. Goodbye counter and tabletop; I'll see you in a few weeks.

Every year for the past, oh, 4 or 5 years, I've made chocolates for family, friends and co-workers. It will take up the next several weekends, and by the end I will be pulling my hair out. I will be randomly mixing up bowls of chocolate and crunchy things (rice crispies, nuts, or candy canes) and dumping them into molds just to get rid of my remaining chocolate. Still, I love it. I love the care that goes into crafting each bite. Painting chocolate up the sides of the molds with a paintbrush. The smooth taste of ganache when you get the consistency just right. Trying a new flavor combination and having it work out better than you thought. Best of all, though, is giving them away. I don't actually eat very many of my own chocolates. The joy is in the making and the packaging and the giving.

This year I've decided to make my own caramel filling (instead of using the Bernard Callebaut jar of "karamel" that I've used in the past). After visiting 5 different stores tonight I've discovered the only place that carries the toffee bars needed to make the caramel filling is London Drugs, and they are sold out right now. Sigh...I guess I'll go back tomorrow and see if they've got anymore in. If not, I'll start with what I've got. After all, it's only the beginning.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

The Heart of the Matter

As I was outside washing my windows today, Sunday, I got to thinking about the Sabbath, and God's command to keep it holy. I wondered about the people driving through the parking lot, if they were religious and what they thought about me "working" on a Sunday. As I sprayed and wiped and thanked God for such a wonderful sunny day, I imagine that He was probably more concerned about the state of my heart than whether or not I cleaned my windows today or tomorrow.

Giving Thanks

Today I am most thankful for my family. Specifically, I'm thankful that we all live close by and can celebrate this holiday together.
(With lots of turkey and gravy and stuffing....mmmmm....stuffing.)

Monday, September 10, 2007


Sigh....only 47 more pages to go. The book is very good, but very long, and also overdue. Unfortunately somebody has requested it, which means I can't renew it. So back to the novel I shall go, in hopes of keeping the fines to a respectable minimum.

Do a Little Dance

The other night I was in the kitchen doing dishes wearing my bright orange and red chili pepper apron while plugged into my iPod. It doesn't take much to make me move, and soon I was dancing up a storm while drying off my Ziploc and putting away the cutlery.
It occured to me that, while I dance pretty well in my own mind, I probably look a little something like Elaine, from Seinfeld.
If you don't know what I mean, have a look at her little dance here.
Some people can dance, while other just move awkwardly and inefficiently. I'd like to think I fall somewhere in between.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

It's Good to Be Back... my own body. A few days ago I went for a run in what felt like someone else's body. It wasn't a particularly tough run, just strange. I was plugged into my iPod, which may have been the problem. I'm used to running sans music, and the tunes were throwing me off my rhythm. Although I appreciate, almost need, my music when I'm walking, it seems to be more of a distraction when I'm running.
So tonight I went out for a quick 20 minutes. It was very refreshing and just what I needed to wipe away the last traces of a headache. I played around with my speed, and have to say my favorite half-a-block was when I ran full out, feet barely touching the sidewalk (or so it seemed to me!), arms and legs pumping, heart and lungs working overtime.
Satisfaction. It comes in the simplest of forms.

Monday, August 27, 2007

This I Know

Some observations from tonight...

~ I don't like it when appliances go on the fritz, because I know nothing about what might be wrong with them. My first resource is to pray that God will make the problem go away, and I have to say that many things have been fixed this way. I'm afraid that my washing machine will need an actual repairman, however.

~ You shouldn't eat 2 burritos and then run 5 km.

~ I like to run in the rain.

~ I can run 5 km in 30 min (new record for myself).

~ Some people are good at writing books, and some people aren't. Just having a story to tell doesn't make you a writer. If you're bound and determined to get your story on paper, perhaps you should have someone else write it for you. (I'm thinking specifically about 2 books - one that I just finished that was absolutely inspiring, and one that reads like a high school essay and has quite a negative feel. Both books are on the same subject, making it easier to compare them.)

~ I'm very glad there's a long weekend coming up.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

No Spring Chicken

I climbed, tumbled, and slid. I rolled, jumped, and crawled. Most of all, I realized that I am no longer a kid. My twitching forearms reminded me that I sit at a desk all day, and am not used to hauling myself up and through plastic tunnels.
I accompanied my 5-year-old niece through the tunnels and slides of the Fun Factory play structure today. Technically it can fit and support an adult, but I sure had to bend my body in ways it is not used to, to make it fit!
Having said that, though, I have to admit it was also fun. There's something special about just playing; climbing, sliding, crawling and laughing. Forgetting for a few moments about the housework, laundry, and bills.
Pretending that you're five again.
Thanks, Tori, for inviting me to play with you.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


...still studying Excel, and smiling at the phrase "exploding pie piece." Who knew that could refer to data charts? (Probably a lot of people, but that's beside the point.)


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

One Day at a Time

I'm taking a class on Excel and am in the midst of learning about functions. Putting my newfound knowledge to good use, I calculated that I am 10,745 days old.
Somehow that actually seems a lot less than 29 years.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

King of All Farmer's Markets

I spent a few days in Calgary this past week, and discovered a new favorite store - The Calgary Farmer's Market. Ikea has nothing on this paradise of fresh produce, homemade goods, imported treasures, and the best gelato in the country. Mmmmm...if you ever go, you must try the mango gelato from the gelato place (I don't remember the name of the booth). It is the creamiest concoction, and I'm sure it must be 98% mangoes, it's that flavorful.
I also happened upon a Christmas present for my sister. It's something I've been looking for for awhile, and wouldn't you know, it was at the farmer's market. (I think this was the moment the CFM moved into the #1 spot in my mind.) Also on the menu that day was a fabulous Ukrainian lunch of perogies and sour cream, schnitzel and sauerkraut, cabbage rolls and fresh squeezed lemonade.
Those of you who know me well, know that I also tend to be a bit of a collector, and at the moment my fetish is trying different kinds of root beer and ginger ale, (adding the bottle to my collection once said drink has been consumed.) I was pleased to find a root beer from Quebec with the label on upside down. Excellent.
Finally, being a bit of a honey buff as well, I spent several minutes at the Golden Lane Honey booth. I sampled various flavours of honey before settling on the orange blossom unpasteurized honey bear. I haven't cracked it open yet, as I still have a bottle and a half of the stuff I imported from Florida last year.

The rest of my trip was filled with some time at Ikea (where I managed to spend all of $7), a morning run along the Bow river, a drive out to Canmore for the day, a delightful movie experience (went to see Hairspray), and a lot of relaxing.
A good time was had by all.

Saturday, August 11, 2007



Once upon a time, in a far away land


From the car window, en route to Canmore

Friday, August 03, 2007

Shout Out

A big thank you to my friend Sherri, who at the last minute said she would come over and feed my cat while I'm away in Calgary.
I'm sure Isabelle will be pleased, as I think Sherri is her favorite person in the whole world!


I found my camera. After spending all of my bike money on a new one.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Stick a Fork in Me, I'm Done

After a slightly disappointing couple of days at Waskesiu last weekend, Nicole and I had the perfect day at the lake today. We drove to Martin's Lake this morning, a pleasant hour and a bit drive. We spent the better part of the day in the water on our floaties, sunning ourselves and talking. The little concession on the beach provided our lunch, and the other people provided our entertainment.
Martin's Lake is very much a family place, and there were lots of kids having a ball. The beach was not too crowded, and the lake had a nice sandy bottom. In the swimming area, that is. We tethered ourselves to a buoy that was unfortunately surrounded by seaweed and a very mucky, sinky bottom. I'm sure it was quite comical to watch us float ourselves over to the buoy and tie our rope around it, all the while trying not to touch the lake floor.
The only downside of today is the lobster look I'm now sporting, thanks to too much sun and not quite enough sunscreen.
Oh well, break out the aloe vera I say.

Monday, July 16, 2007


I am on week 5 of my learn-to-run schedule, (4 sets of run 4/walk 1 = 20min) and I reached a milestone tonight. I have been running the same course for the last month, but tonight it was not long enough. There were 2 minutes left in my last set when I got to the end of my route! I felt totally in the zone and had a strong, fast run.
I feel...satisfied, in the richest sense of the word.

Friday, July 13, 2007


I am so excited to be going to Waskesiu this weekend! The idea occurred just this afternoon around 3:00 and plans were made quickly thereafter.
Nicole and I were thinking about going to a lake for the day to enjoy the warm weather that is expected. On a whim she phoned one of the hotels at Waskesiu. Turns out they had one room left and it was reasonably priced. So now we'll be able to enjoy the entire day and the next in beautiful surroundings. Yay!

Monday, July 02, 2007

From The Bookshelf Of...

I usually have about a dozen library books piled on my dresser, most of which never get read because I just don't have that much time. This last week, however, I was on holidays and you'd think that would be the perfect time to lose myself in a few books. But no. I had one library book out. One. And I just couldn't get into it.
Now this doesn't necessarily mean I didn't have anything to read. I have many books on my shelves at home that are unread. The problem being, I thought, that they are by and large non-fiction, which just doesn't captivate (usually) as well as fiction.
The first book I picked up was one I had started awhile back and had only read a couple pages.
It was fantastic.
It was sweet and delicious and real, with an unexpected heartbreak at the end that squeezes you just so until you can't breathe and have to put it down before finishing.
The book was "A Thousand Days in Tuscany" by Marlena De Blasi. A book about the life and people of rural Tuscany and the food that brings them together. At the end of each chapter was a recipe from within the stories Marlena had just told. It is about love and simplicity; about a way of life that seems foreign and exotic and rich all at once.
It is a book I would recommend to anyone, but particularly those that like to live their books - to smell and feel and care about what's going on.

My second pick was from the rathy skimpy fiction shelf. A long time ago I'd bought and started to read "Velocity" by Dean Koontz. I'm not a Koontz fan, but the premise of this book intrigued me. A man gets a note under the windshield of his car one night...
"If you don't take this note to the police...I will kill a lovely blond schoolteacher...If you do...I will instead kill an elderly woman active in charity work. You have six hours to decide. The choice is yours."
I thought it would be an interesting book about moral choices, but instead it was filled with macabre deaths and no sunlight. It was one of my least favorite books in a long time.

Today I picked out another non-fiction work which is turning out to be a real gem. It is "Banvard's Folly" by Paul Collins. It is about thirteen people who didn't change the world. Famous and some infamous in their time, they are nevertheless people that you've probably never heard about before. John Banvard leads off the selection as the richest artist in the world in his time. He spent 2 years in the mid 1800's sailing down the Mississippi River, sketching it as he went. Upon his return home he painted a fantastic 3 mile long panorama of it, which he then presented at shows (the first style of "moving picture") in the United States and Europe. He eventually lost his great fortune when he attempted to compete with P.T. Barnum in the museum business.
I am on the fourth story in the book and am greatly entertained and enthralled by these fantastic stories that I've never heard before.
It's one thing to read a biography about someone you're somewhat familiar with, and quite another to read about the amazing things done by someone completely unknown to you.
I would recommend this book to anyone with a curious mind.

Friday, June 29, 2007


The Quote's For You

"Whatever it was, I knew it would be all right, or it wouldn't be all right, but it would be part of the same unbroken line we were all walking in, which is, of course, the real lesson...And we danced too wild, and we sang too long, and we hugged too hard, and kissed too sweet...because by now we were all old enough to know that what looks like crazy on an ordinary day looks a lot like love if you catch it in the moonlight."

-What Looks Like Crazy On An Ordinary Day by Pearl Cleage

"I believe God is a librarian. I believe that literature is is that best part of our souls that we break off and give each other, and God has a special dispensation for it, angels to guard its making and its preservation."

- Chasing Shakespeares by Sarah Smith (pg 136)

Thursday, June 28, 2007


I am so excited about my new camera! I lost my digital camera about 2 1/2 months ago (I think), and have been looking forward to getting a new one. It was either that or a new bike, and since I do have a bike that works, I thought I'd spurge on a new camera. (And in the tradition of some friends who name their bikes, I now christen mine "Old Faithful." I think she's earned it!)
The camera is a Panasonic LZ7, and I love it! It's black and small, but not so small that I'll lose it (!) and has 6x optical zoom, which was the major selling feature for me. Now I'll have to sit down one night and work my way through the instruction manual and see what this baby can do!

On a different note, I was sad to read today that Jason Lawlor passed away. I went to school with him for a few years, around grades 5-8 or so. I remember him as a happy, athletic, cocky kid, and was sad to hear a little while ago that he had cancer. His friends set up a Facebook group for him and provided updates about how he was doing. Today they sent out a notice to everyone letting them know of Jason's passing. He will be greatly missed.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Observations on a Wednesday Evening

If I was a cashier at a grocery store, I would always wonder about the things people buy. Especially close to closing time. And especially when they only buy one item. They came all the way to the store, for one thing. So you gotta think that it's pretty important. The guy in front of me tonight had only dishwasher detergent. Not all that interesting, but still, you know he's going home to run the dishwasher. Tonight. Maybe he has important company coming over tomorrow morning and the dishes have to be done tonight.
And then there's me with my honeydew melon, all natural yogurt, and apples.
Oh yeah, and a huge bag of ripple chips and dip! Because you can't be healthy all the time.

I helped to weed at the church tonight for 2 1/2 hours.
I feel strangely ambivalent about it. I didn't hate it. Didn't love it.
It's strange to feel completely neutral about something.
Hmmm...not much to talk about there.

Well I had a bunch of thoughts in my head before I sat down, but they seem to have disappeared on me. Oh well. Better get back to my chips and dip.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

A New Favorite

I just finished watching "The Holiday."
I think it is my new favorite. Charming, funny, moving, happy, it was perfect. It's one of those movies that leaves you feeling good about life. And perhaps wanting to go on a holiday and fall in love with a handsome stranger!

It was the perfect end to a great day. I biked and walked for about 2 1/2 hours this afternoon,and then came home and had a nap. I love afternoon naps.

Now I should go and apply some more aloe vera to my lobster-like shoulders, and hope that this burn doesn't blister.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Summer Musings

I was reminded by a friend the other day that it's been awhile since I've written anything, so here goes.

Today, I am happy.

I am so looking forward to this summer. I have a few plans that I am excited about, but mostly I'm looking forward to lots of walking, running, riding my bike, and hanging out with friends. I am on holidays soon and have been looking for the perfect book to read during my week off. I think I found it today. It is The Sword of Shannara Trilogy, 25th Anniversary Edition, hardcover. I think this book is hefty enough to be called a tome. It is actually 3 books bound in one (hence "trilogy"), and I would have preferred to read the paperback versions but, alas, they were out. It weighs in at 1191 pages and approximately 5 pounds. It feels like the kind of book a person could easily lose themselves in for a week, which is what I plan to do. Although I'm certain I will not finish it in one week!

I'm not usually a huge fan of country music, but when summertime rolls around it seems like my genre of choice. When the temperature hits double digits and the sun is hot in the sky, I love to listen to either Keith Urban or Brad Paisley in the car. I think my song of the day today would be "I Could Fly" by Keith Urban.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

I Can Walk a Kilometre

Tomorrow I will be walking my first-ever half marathon. That's 21.1 km. Nicole and I drove the route tonight to get a feel for it.
It's far.
Really far.
I'm excited for the race, but I also can't wait until it's over.
Now I must get to bed.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Another Place to Visit

The month of April was a good reading month for me. It was an all non-fiction month, and all four books would make my top 10 for this year.
I read:
Revenge of the Paste Eaters by Cheryl Peck
Back From the Dead by Joan M. Cheever
What Remains by Carole Radziwill
On a Street Called Easy, In a Cottage Called Joy by Gregory White Smith and Steven Naifeh.

A memoir, stories of men freed from their death sentences, another (very moving and at times incredibly emotional) memoir, and a comedy about renovating a house (if you can call 20,000 square feet simply a house).

And now I find myself in the midst of another book that I don't want to end. It's called Inside the Postal Bus: My Ride with Lance Armstrong and the U.S. Postal Cycling Team by Michael Barry. I didn't know much at all about cycling before picking up this book, but would now consider myself a fan of the sport. I love learning about new things, and can now add another place to my list of "places I want to see because I've read about them" - I would love to go to France to see the Tour de France. (Perhaps I can work this in when I go to Venice, Italy.)

One of the things that amazes me about cycling is the degree of selflessness it takes. Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France 6 times, but only because he had such an amazing team around him. There are 9 riders on a tour team, and each is selected for the strengths he possesses.

"The team that was formed around Lance was the strongest unit in the race. There were riders within the team with the ability to race for stage victories or a top place in the final overall classification, but they dedicated all of their energy to helping Lance get to Paris in the yellow jersey at the end of July. The most important factor in selecting the Tour team is that each member has a sole objective: help Lance win the Tour. Nobody has personal ambitions, and the mentality is all for one." [Italics mine]

That blows me away. It's pretty rare in professional sports to see top notch athletes willing to give it all they've got so that someone else can get all the glory. I think that's what has given me such a new found respect for the sport.

Sunday, May 06, 2007


I went to see the new Spiderman movie last night. Unfortunately.
Total cheeseball. I believe the word I am looking for is "fromage."
The acting was almost painful to watch at some points, it was so second-rate. Even the special effects could not save it, as the action sequences were often blurry and the camera jumped around enough to make you dizzy.
If I had to recommend it, I would say it's definitely a renter and not a $10-a-ticket theatre quality movie.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Day the Universe Changed

I listened to my first book-on-tape today during my 18km walk. I knew I was going to need something to take my mind off of the pain that was sure to set in somewhere around the halfway point of my walk, and thought a history book-on-tape would do the trick.
Sure enough, it worked like a charm.
I listened to The Day the Universe Changed, by James Burke. It's amazing how much you can learn in a little over 2 hours. (I didn't listen to the whole 3 hours.) The subtitle to the book is "Pivotal Moments in Time That Radically Altered the Course of Human History" which I think sums up quite handily the gist of the book. Burke moves flawlessly through time, weaving a narrative that ties everything together, from science, religion, and politics to art, architecture and music. I never realized how cohesive history is. I tend to think in terms of individual, defining moments, but have never quite seen the big picture - how we got to where we are.
I would definitely recommend this book-on-tape to anyone with even a bit of interest in history.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Spring Has Sprung

It's official. Two sunburns, my first barbecued smokie-on-a-bun, and a lunch hour spent reading in the park confirms it. Spring is here, and it almost feels like Summer.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Aahhh...home sweet home

The wind is fierce, the air is damp. The city lays under thick cloudcover.

I love coming home on days like today. Walking into my warm home, greeted at the door by my cat. Knowing that I don't have to leave again until tomorrow. Changing into comfy clothes and deciding to make something simple for supper. Thinking that maybe I'll eat my chocolate cake and ice cream first, and start that new book that's been sitting by my bed.
I couldn't be happier.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Little Hands

We talk lately about how big they're getting, how old they seem. My nephew can read so well and my niece is an amazing little artist.
But when I grasped their hands to say say grace at supper the other night, I was struck by how small they were. These little hands, so soft and full of the essence of childhood.
Little hands clenching a pencil to draw a picture - a picture that can be anything you want it to be, because when you're 5 there are no rules yet. You are only limited by your imagination, and if you want to sign your name backwards, now is the time.
Little hands that follow along the page as you learn to read and your vocabulary grows by leaps and bounds.
Little hands that fidget when you're nervous and gesture animatedly when you tell stories.

When it seems like they're growing so fast and getting bigger every time I see them, I have only to take their little hands in mine to put things back into perspective.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Getting Old

There's a scene in the movie The Guardian (that I recently watched) that I just love, that speaks about getting older. The (older female) bartender is talking to the (older male) coastguard instructor and has this to say:

"Hell, I've always been old, Ben. You know what though? I don't mind.
I mean, if my muscles ache it's cause I've used 'em. It's hard for me to walk up them steps now cause I walked up 'em every night to lay next to a man who loved me.
I got a few wrinkles here and there, but I've laid under a thousand skies
on sunny days.
I look and feel this way, well, cause I drank and I smoked, I lived and I loved, danced, sang, sweat and screwed my way through a pretty damn good life.
Gettin old ain't bad man; getting old - that's earned."

I love the sentiment behind those words. These days nobody wants to get old, or to look like they're getting older. They want to be young eternally, instead of celebrating a life well lived. Maybe I think this way because I'm still (relatively) young, but I hope I can always embrace whatever season of life I'm in, and be proud of what's come before and hopeful for what lays ahead.

Thursday, March 01, 2007


I had a "refocusing" moment the other day when I was walking. It was a 4 km day, (in my half marathon training) and I was kind of dragging my butt. I really didn't feel like walking; my hip was very sore, my hands were freezing, and my glasses kept fogging up. I was looking forward to being done this stupid half marathon and not having to walk on assigned days anymore. I was over halfway done when I turned the corner to head west.
And came face to face with a beautiful pink sunset. It was quite cloudy, which served to give texture and weight to the light. It was so wonderful I had to stop and watch for awhile.
I absolutely love the sky, and upon seeing this brushstroke of beauty at the end of the day, I realized how long it's been since I've sat and gazed at the sky.
All of a sudden I remembered why I like walking - because it's a different way of seeing the world. Walking is about exploration and taking your time.

It's about strolling, meandering, wandering, rambling, and in general not being in a rush.
It's about having time to think, or as is more common with myself, having not to think. [Aside: I found myself many times this winter listening to the sounds of my boots crunching on snow, and my darth vader-like breathing (trying to suck air through both my buff and balaclava). Try as I might to make "good use" of this time, I nearly always ended up with a mind clear of everything. Which, now that I'm thinking about it, was maybe the best use of that time. Every other minute of my day seems crammed with so many sporadic, disjointed thoughts, perhaps a calm, focused mind is what I need the most.]

With the sunset came the renewal of my desire to walk; a renewal of my desire to wander, and to see things I might otherwise miss.

Thank you, God, for that ethereal art in the sky.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Me, Myself, and I


Thinking about my "inner" person. Not my inner child or my spiritual self, but just how I see myself but don't necessarily express myself. I've realized that my inner sense of fashion and being is somewhat bohemian hippie. I don't dress to that effect, nor do I act in that manner, but I suppose if I had to pick a visualization for what I want to embody, that is it. I'm not the fashion conscious girl to whom the words stylish, sophisticated or glamorous apply. I'm cute, funny, and a little bit quirky, and should I ever get married, it will be to someone who recognizes those qualities in me. I would rather be the recycling, earth conscious, natural fiber, "granola" type than the resident fashionista. I'm the girl who goes to the library every day on my lunch break because I love to read that much. And because the people there don't care much that I come in wearing my old style, slightly dorky-looking earmuffs.

The definition I like best for bohemian is "a nonconformist writer or artist who lives an unconventional life."

And this is the hippie I imagine: "someone who rejects the established culture."

There are other definitions for these words but I found they did not apply to what I see as myself. Not that these definitions particular define who I am at the moment, but perhaps who I want to be.
The definition of hippie reminds me of passage from "Tuesdays with Morrie."

"You have to be strong enough to say if the culture doesn't work, don't buy it. Create your own." I like that, and I think I've probably quoted it before.

My second musing is actually just a quote I like from a book I just finished reading. The book is "Rebuilt: How Becoming Part Computer Made Me More Human" by Michael Chorost, and I like what it says about life:

"Depending on your interests, you can go this way or that way, and if you choose to go that way, you will never find out what you might have discovered had you gone this way. Whichever way you choose, you will leave huge areas of the cave forever unexplored and unlit."

Saturday, February 10, 2007


In summer, walking is exercise. In winter, walking is an experience.
In summer, you throw on some shorts, socks and a t-shirt, a pair of runners and you're ready to go.
In winter, it goes like this...
leggings, tucked into socks
fleece pants over leggings
long sleeve t-shirt
short sleeve t-shirt
tech pants (sort of like ski pants)
t-shirt tucked into tech pants
jacket with hood
And then you're ready to go.

Am I looking forward to Spring, warm weather, and clear sidewalks?
You betcha.
I figure if I can walk 7 kms in -30 degrees, bundled up like I'm walking to the North Pole, trying not to slip on the ice or be hit by a car, vainly trying to see through the one spot on my glasses that hasn't frozen over, walking 21 kms in May should not pose a problem.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The Three R's

I read an article in the paper this last week about resolutions and the 3 Rs - reduce, reuse, and recycle. Most people I know do pretty well with the recycle part, but the article encouraged increased participation in the other 2 as well. It was an affirmation of one of my resolutions for this new year - to be less of a consumer, and to reuse as much as I can.
As far as consumerism goes, I want to try to buy only those things that I need and specifically set out to buy - and not all the other junk I sometimes come home with; to spend less money on impulse purchases. This is for two reasons. One, I want to try and get back on a budget, which automatically means spending less, and two, I've just grown tired of having so much "stuff" in my house. I'm somewhat disorganized and am frequently frustrated at not being able to find things because they are buried somewhere under all that "stuff." I know if I just put things away I would be able to find them easier next time, but also I get tired of all the piles of stuff there is to put away.
As for reusing things, I'm trying to do this in small ways, like washing the disposable cutlery I use at work instead of throwing it out after one use. The article also suggested giving old magazines to places that could use them in their waiting rooms, instead of recycling them as soon as we're done with them. Also, it's time to go through my clothes and bring a bag to the Salvation Army. I also want to try shopping there more this year, in part to reuse clothing, and also to save some money. (And because my mom and sister always seem to find awesome stuff there for a fraction of the retail cost!)

So, having been challenged myself, I'll pass it along to you - reduce, reuse, and recycle in 2007!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Snow Day

What a blizzard. Icy roads blanketed in thick snow, white-out conditions, frozen up windshield. The drive home from work today was the most stressful driving experience of my life. Perhaps even one of the most stressful experiences I've had, period. I almost cried when I finally pulled into my parking spot, an hour and a half after leaving work (normally a 15-20 min drive). I was quite shaky and just had to sit there for a minute before getting out. I helped push someone into the parking lot shortly after I got home, and witnessed several other people helping to free stuck vehicles as well. It's nice to see people come together and help others when the going gets tough (or in this case, when the going gets cold and slippery).
I was also able to locate my shovel, which was buried deep in the snow in the backyard. I have a feeling I may need it tomorrow.
I'm feeling very thankful for a safe drive home and that I have a home to come to.