Thursday, January 01, 2015

Happy New Year!

I haven't done New Years Resolutions for years which is weird because I understand the importance of goal-setting. When I was a teenager, my friends and I would start talking about our resolutions days before NYE. We'd make lists, discuss and edit them. I don't know how we were so inspired to do that but somehow we were so much smarter then.

So, if I was having a coffee with friends right now, we'd probably be talking about the nice or douchey guys we met at the party/bar last night and thinking up our new year's resolutions. Sorry if some of these are long and rambling.

1. Get back into shape - genetic high blood pressure & foot issues (bunions and damaged nerves) cause me grief and pain when I do any activity, the blood pressure meds aren't perfect and one of the side effects is fatigue. I feel fatigue and, instead of going to the gym like I would've in the past, I use that, and my sore feet, as an excuse to lie on the couch and watch 3 hours of TV - with a glass of wine and a bag of Miss Vickie's salt & vinegar chips! I don't even LIKE potato chips but the blood pressure meds take the salt out of my system so now I crave salt. NOT FAIR.

2. No more saying NOT FAIR! My number 2 resolution is to "suck it up princess" (bad traffic, job I hate, winter weather, etc....) and get on with living. My life is actually pretty great but the past few years, I've forgotten that and become a miserable middle-aged woman. Not how I pictured myself growing old at any point in my life. The b.s. stops here before I'm out on the street, yelling at kids to "get off my lawn!"

3. Sketch and paint and "create" more. I created art all of my life but didn't realize how much of an emotional regulator it was until I stopped for a decade. It wasn't intentional but I let other things fill my time - they were valuable and important things but I should have also set aside time every day to do a quick sketch, write a blog post, paint a birthday card, etc. Sitting and looking at something, then breaking it down into it's basic components, lines and shading, is the best kind of meditation: it slows the outside world, mutes the static of your day to day and gives you perspective on what's important. I've already made a start on this one and signed up for an online drawing course at Sketchbook Skool, I'm sketching every couple of days but still not at the point where I'm doing it every day.

4. Play my guitar and sing every day. Like painting, I used to play my guitar every day, learning new songs, working out the tabs and chords. It was very satisfying. That also changed in the last decade, for the same reasons as above. However, I have a friend who has pulled me into his music circle, coincidentally whenever I needed it most. He started a band in the early 2000s and we played together every Sunday night. He and the other guys were all in their early twenties (he's just a year older than my son) so they eventually got married, had kids and moved away, no more band. Without that motivation, I stopped playing regularly.
About 10 years ago, shortly after the band broke up, my friend had a couple of seizures and was diagnosed with a brain tumour. It was inoperable so they just filled him with chemo for several years, trying to keep it from getting bigger. In spite of poisoning him with chemicals, a week before Christmas last year, the doctors told him the tumour was getting bigger - they had to do emergency surgery on this "inoperable" tumor. They opened up his brainbox and cut out a chunk of the tumour. After more unsuccessful rounds of chemo, they've told my friend that the tumour continues to grow and he has run out of options. No more chemo, he's on an experimental drug with little hope of it doing anything more than (possibly) managing the size and growth rate of the tumour. My friend and his wife have gotten their affairs in order, wills and stuff. They have two boys under the age of seven. His wife has taken an indefinite leave from her job. When I asked her if there was any way I could help out she said, please just come over and jam with him. He loves playing the guitar and is amazing at it, genuinely talented. Right now no one else is available (kids and wives and mortgages). So once again, my friend has pulled me back into music just when I need it. We rent a rehearsal studio in Toronto and get together to play - occasionally joined by another guy, Neal Young (no kidding, that's his name). I never miss a Tuesday. Even if I'm tired or the traffic to his house and the studio is terrible (it's always terrible), I enjoy it so much. Right now I commit my time to music for my friend but I'd also like to commit for myself so that I'm playing every day, not just Tuesdays.

5. Dance at least once a week. One thing I miss a lot is just dancing; mindless, sweaty, dance til you can't dance any more, dancing. It used to be that a big group of us would go to the club and dance for hours. Toronto was great in the eighties and nineties, clubs were just big halls with a coat check, a bar and a bathroom. Dancing is the best work out ever! I'm too old to go to a club now - this isn't a confidence thing, clubs are for the young and there's nothing wrong with that. I can dance in my house, at weddings with other old wrinklies or even at the gym in pseudo-aerobic classes. Mostly in my house though. I'm going to dedicate an hour to just putting on old cds or a good ipod mix and dancing!

6. Pay closer attention to relationships. I'm not sure that I value the people I encounter the way I should. (I'm searching for a less awkward way to say what I mean here).

7. Stop talking so much and get on with things. Okay, enough talking. I'm going to go do a sketch, go for a walk and then play some guitar!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Boy, it really appears that I lost interest for awhile. Or maybe I was just too busy having fun. Reality is, I ditched my home internet so I could eradicate Bell from my life. So now I only access the interweb through my iPhone. Simplifies my life but since I can't be bothered blogging while at work and not inclined to type blog entries on my phone during my off hours, nothing is being recorded. 
A lot of great things have happened since my last post. I went to the Cook Islands and Tahita in November-December 2012. The Cooks were for a couple of OC-6 events: the Vaka Eiva on Rarotonga and the Motu 2 Motu on Aitutaki. The former is competitive, we came first in masters women, and the latter is for fun, we came third in a throw-together crew. Both islands were completely unique and amazingly beautiful. 
2 days before I left, I had gone to the doctor for follow-up on chest congestion and a cough I'd had for the past year. She had been tracking my blood pressure which was extremely high for at least the few months we'd been paying attention and stated that she couldn't condone my trip to race because all indications were that I'd stroke out in the middle of the ocean. Obviously she couldn't actually stop me from going but her insistence alarmed me enough that I agreed to do any tests she suggested to prove my fitness. I spent the next day and a half at Trillium Health Centre performing stress tests, blood tests, respiratory tests, chest x-rays, ECGs, ultrasounds, etc. Everything came back okay but my blood pressure did not go down to an acceptable level. At her insistence, I filled a few prescriptions before I left and asked one of my teammates, a paramedic, if they could bring a blood pressure cuff to monitor my bp. All very frustrasting and, at the time, things I considered pointless. At the end of it all, I'm really glad she was paying attention.

So Cooks and Tahiti were obviously amazing and a great time. I kept hand-written logs while I was there and have them somewhere at home for entry at some point. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

I had an invitation to go to Tobermory last weekend but am glad I decided to wait until the next trip because the Southside Shuffle was on in PC.

In past years, paddlers never got to enjoy the shuffle completely because it always fell on a race weekend. (actually, every festival and fun thing in Port Credit falls on a race weekend). This year I took full advantage by buying a weekend pass for $10.

I met up with Jess and Chanda on the patio at Raw Aura for dinner & drinks. Chrissy and Jeff arrived a little later and we headed west to see what was up at the shuffle. Eve texted that she and Katy were walking towards us and we met up at a patio in the parking lot behind Spice. Great band, $5 cover charge, eserved seating and a special price on a bucket o' Canadian Club & mix or beer.

We partied there for awhile - great band playing - before crossing the street and entering the festival park. We were in time to catch the last couple of acts. They invited everyone to a jam at the legion but, as much fun as that would be, it had the potential of a really messy night so I headed home.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Doug and Boog, along with Surf Ontario and Danny Ching, put on a really fun stand up event this past weekend.
On Friday, Surf Ontario ran a clinic hosted by Danny who came up from Redondo Beach for the event. Chanda, Eve and I loaded our boards on the Pathfinder (I insured it for 3 days) and hiked it out to Kew Beach for the late afternoon session. None of us had ever met the owner of Surf Ontario, Mike, and we were completely charmed by him. He is the consummate surfer boy; gorgeous, blond, fit, tanned and really, really nice. Danny, a former sprint kayaker, is the flipside - a dark-haired, Hawaiian-California boy who is also super-fit and charming.
As it turns out, it was a very basic beginner clinic but still fun to be on different water with a new group of people. Afterwards we headed home, had dinner at Fionn's in Clarkson and discussed our plan for the morning.

We left the boards loaded on my truck overnight. Early on Saturday, I picked Eve up (Chanda was heading to the cottage after the race so she drove herself) and headed to Frenchman's Bay. It was a fantastic day -  sunny, clear and warm. The wind was non-existent which was too bad for us since it completely levelled the playing field but overall best for every level of paddler attending.
It was like a sprint paddler reunion out there. Besides Doug and Boog, Chanda, Eve, Jess and I, there was Attila, Stringer, Rich Phelan, JR, Mike Scarola, Richard Dalton (sans KC, sadly), Diggs and Bill Trayling. So awesome to see them all and catch up in real life. Chrissy and Jeff were away on a weeklong camping trip, otherwise they would have been there too.
The course was an  "M" shape. Set up as a 6km course,  I would guess it was about 5km by the time we raced.  Really a lot of fun. I lost a lot of time on the turns (and wasn't as aggressive as I would be, now that I know what to expect) but I did pretty much as I thought  - respectable with room for improvement. Jess 1st, Chanda 2nd, Eve 3rd and me 4th.
After that, bib numbers were drawn to create relay teams. I was on a team with Eve, Rich and an old guy we didn't know. It was mayhem and as far as I could tell, no one knew, or cared, how they finished.
I thought that after this race I might be fired up to do more races on our great lakes, but no. I still feel the same about racing stand up boards on flat water - it's like racing bikes with square wheels. The overriding question has to be "why would you?"  At least a B.O.P. style course makes it an interesting, technical paddle. It was all laughs out there. The standard, point A to point B race makes absolutely no sense to me as anything but a downwind run you plan with friends on a windy day.

After the event, Eve and I booted back to PC and did a quick freshen before jumping on the GO train and heading to BMO. The TFC were playing Kansas City. During the team intro, before they played the national anthems, they announced they had some special guests to introduce and out walk Mark Oldershaw, VanK, Brady Reardon, Morty, Diana Matheson and Karina LeBlanc. It was awesome! Everyone was cheering and chanting "Canada, Canada" and Morty was grinning like a fool and waving. Not sure how he ended up out there with the Olympians but good for him. Brady was there because he was Adam's training partner in France where they had a final training camp on their way to London. Mehak was also there but did not go out on the field. He posted this pic on Twit though - they all received personalized TFC jerseys. Not a big deal but it made the match a little more interesting.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Thursday morning and the lake was up, perfect for a 6AM paddle/surf. Okay, I slept in so perfect for a 6:10 paddle. As I approached JD park I could see the gate was still locked and was heading east to Richards Memo when I saw the security car pass in the opposite direction. I turned around and followed him back.
I didn't recognize the security guy - the one I usually see looks a little like Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson and opens the gate promptly at 5:45 so this new guy must have stopped at Starbucks. I'm not being cranky,  it's just that my window for paddling is tight and I was already too late to go anywhere further from home. I have to be off the water by 6:50 to get to work.
The waves looked good from the beach - steady sets from the east - but the lake waves are weak and, at this beach, break too close together. If the wind kept up all day, they might build enough to be decent by 1-3pm. It would have been better to drop my board in at the harbour where the rollers have lots of room to get stretched out but... no time!
In fact, the original plan was for me to paddle over and meet up with Chrissy and Eve, who were dropping their boards in at the Port Credit boat ramp. Under the circumstances, I figured they'd elect to stay and play in the harbour. As it turns out, they elected to stay in their beds so just as well I didn't make the effort.
I was having some fun - the water's warm and the air fresh - and had just finished a decent little ride. As I approached the beach, I was on the wrong side of the break and dropped into the water, intending to turn my board quickly into the next wave and paddle back out. I didn't realize how shallow it was - the waves were really sucking up the water. I dropped with both knees straight onto rocks - basically the only rocks along that stretch of beach. The next wave scraped me back and forth across them until I pushed myself clear. I paddled  back out but damn! my knees were sore and stinging.
After one last half-hearted run it was time to pack it in. Fine with me. Bashing my knees really took the fun out of things.
The fronts of my legs were already turning yellow and purplish under the scrapes. Perfect. My legs are uncovered from April to November (and beyond if I can help it) and now they're a mess. Add that to the bruises on my arms and it look like I've been acting out chapters from "shades of grey".  
I know I'm making a big thing out of bruised knees but when I left the house this morning, I didn't expect an injury. This is JD beach on Lake Ontario, not Mavericks. I've sustained MUCH worse injuries surfing on the ocean, usually Marisha and I are thinking its time for a girls get-together and that Saturday September 14 is a good night for it. She is going to bring over 'cards against humanity' which everyone tells me is a GREAT game plus we gave been trying to watch my box set of the Mary Tyler Moore show for about 5 years now (or I have on demand movies. ) Really, let's just get out of the house, drink wine, catch up! Lynnefrom contact with fins, board and ocassionaly the ocean floor. (One time I thought for sure I'd ruptured my kidneys when I went over the nose of the board and it bayoneted me with the full force of the wave.) And every time, I carried on happily surfing, ignoring the pain or the blood. But you go out on the ocean anticipating a tangle of some kind. You're engaging the farking ocean for crying out loud!
Anyway, I'll give the lake due respect from now on. I still don't expect the wipeouts you'd get on the ocean but it's still a big body of water. With that in mind, I'm actually more excited for the next wavy day on Lake O! 

Monday, July 09, 2012

Life is especially great in the summer!  The weather has been amazing so I'm up before sunrise to paddle, then jump on my bike or into the convertible to go to work.  Also, there's lots to do in the evenings and on weekends.   I'm only working a 4-day week for the summer so if it's my day off, I enjoy a post-workout Starbuck's and then do what stay-at-home moms and retired people do; meet friends for lunch, take naps, read books, dig in the yard.
Louise is in the country for a few weeks. Rather than sit in a bar or backyard, we decided to meet up for a paddle one night. I'm so glad I bought that extra board and paddle for exactly this reason - although there's no shortage of people offering loaners. She's never tried stand up but of course she was naturally good at it. It was a choppy night too. We had a great time catching up. She's off to the cottage for a week or two but everyone's hoping we can organize a dinner or something with her before she heads back to Singapore. 

Meanwhile, The No Book Book Club has developed a collective crush on Channing Tatum so we went to see Magic Mike on Friday. Overall a fun night out, starting with sangria at Philthy's, while we waited for Jackie. The theatre was PACKED with women in the 36-60 range (plus 3 adolescent boys, one with a date, who sat in the back row and giggled). The movie was pretty awful but I don't think any of us were expecting something Oscar-worthy. I mean seriously, Olivia Munn is in it.

I was glad I'd put in so many kilometres on the lake on Friday because Saturday morning was miserable. Thunderstorms, excessively hot and humid, zero wind. I rolled over and went back to sleep.
It's too bad about the conditions because it was Derek's 'downwinder' race that day. This is the second year for his event. I haven't done this race, mainly because he doesn't allow race-day registration. I understand his perspective - if he didn't get the money up front, a year like this would put him in debt - but with our less-than-ideal stand up conditions on Lake Ontario, it's a deal breaker for a lot of people. That stretch is an agonizing 15km slog on a flat day. The only thing that could make it worse would be knowing you actually paid Schrotter money to DO it.
As far as connecting with the sup community? Well, the people I paddle with are great and we get together regularly. Unfortunately, the southern Ontario sup scene is dominated by middle-aged suburbanites who run around squealing "Sweet!!", "Brah", "Stoked!!" and throwing up shakas every couple of minutes. They're all really nice people, just a little ... uh, you know...over the top.
I met up with friends who did the race at a party later in the evening and it sounds like everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. The race start was delayed for a number of reasons; unexpected road closures due to the Indy and a broken water main on the Gardner, thunderstorms with pelting rain rolled through right around the planned start time, there was no organizer at the rec race starting point and participants were left to wander aimlessly, the wind direction shifted to easterly after he declared a westerly race direction. Racers had to paddle into a stiff headwind and a west-running current. The after-party dragged on so long, lots of people had to leave before the awards even started.
Quite a few "names" from the U.S. stand up community had made the trip to Canada to support this event so it's too bad the conditions didn't cooperate. (although I'm sure Derek made sure they enjoyed themselves). I would like to have met that group - I own their boards, use their paddles, follow their blogs and facebook groups - but I'm sure the chance will come up at other, legit races. 

Thursday, June 07, 2012

I moved to my neighbourhood because of it's proximity to the water and for the recreation trail that runs by my house. They've been improving and expanding the trail this summer. The crooked sidewalk along Lakeshore, from Clarkson to Lorne Park, has been ripped up, flattened, widened and is just awaiting paving. Cyclists will be able to completely bypass Rattray Marsh and Jack Darling now - great news because pedestrian congestion makes it treacherous to navigate.

Looking east along Lakeshore from Meadow Wood

The trail is even more important to me since I've been riding my bike to work for the past couple of months. It's not a bad ride. 20 km each way, more than half of which is along the waterfront trail. Once I exit onto Dixie though, things deteriorate quickly. 
Dixie is one of those roads that hasn't been upgraded in decades. Extremely narrow lanes, killer sewer grates, the pavement is buckled, heaved and crumbling all the way up to the QEW. Even the downhills feel like uphills on Dixie. Once you climb up and over the highway, things improve. I'm still on roads but they're either quiet residential streets or the West Mall where they've recently added a beauty bike lane. Still, I'm always checking around for car-free routes that will bypass the Dixie quagmire.
I've always suspected that I could duck under the QEW at the bottom of the West Mall to connect with the Etobicoke Creek Trail to Marie Curtis. Super-appealing since it would mean I'd only have to deal with 1km of traffic and then pure trail, all the way home.
Google Earth shows a substantial dirt trail so last night I gave it a try. The trail picks up just off the Trillium parking lot. It's a dead end road that goes past the Tim Hortons and winds around the back where cops hide in their cruisers and pedestrians hop the gate to take a shortcut across the creek. 

It doesn't look like this route will be a viable alternative. It's hardcore dirt bike territory with lots of switchbacks, rocks, roots and sewer-creeks to cross. Going under the QEW is dark, creepy and messy, which would be fine if you could just breeze through there but it has a gridiron of man-made stalagmites covering the path - possibly the original footings for the hwy.

You have to get off and walk a lot and since I ride a hybrid, the potential for damage is huge. Once through though, you're on a beautiful trail that winds along Etobicoke Creek, under the Lakeshore and straight onto the waterfront trail at Marie Curtis.
Anyway, in the course of researching bike routes and trails in Mississauga and Etobicoke, I found all kinds of info about current and future projects. One of which explains the activity going on under the QEW where it crosses the Credit River. I may even be able to forgive them for ruining the symmetry of that beautiful viaduct. 

Check back in a day or two and I'll have some links and photos for you.