Thursday, July 17, 2014

My summer off the saddle

It has been a stretch of time during which much has happened. My focus is my life on the saddle and fundraising for an amazing local organization and in spite of that there has been an exceptional amount of life occurring when I was not on my bike or thinking of my bike.

We had dear friends come and visit us for a day. There was play, a picnic and some neighbourhood wandering, and mostly, it was as though we still live up the street from each other.

After six years of applying and being mostly waitlisted, I got accepted to the Ryerson Midwifery Education Program. I didn't think I was that stubborn until I got accepted. I was so thrilled that I screamed out loud in a coffee shop and after calling Jason and my Mom. I called my normally non-reactive friend Steph and made her scream like a little school girl on a roller coaster which was almost worth the wait.

Now my fear of being a bad midwife can keep me up at night. #impostersyndrome

My amazing, brilliant, charming and witty cousin Emma got married and gave us an excuse to clean up and get together.

It took some doing but we managed to herd ourselves like cats into a picture, now that I'm looking at this I notice that my Dad is missing....

Between work and my training, there hasn't been much cottage time.  Enough that I could celebrate turning magical 40 with my urban family and for Fenner to collect all the new dragonflies on the property to let them dry their wings on her finger.

I can take that kind of magic.

It has been an intense and amazing summer and the next 3 months have some amazing adventures in store so I look forward to cooling it off in August to prepare. Get some time with my family both urban and biological.

I'm stoked. Life is unbelievable.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Summary of a few pre-day rides

It was one of those crazy busy days last Friday. The kind of day that I try and avoid with all the might of a 5' tall woman with a crippling Napoleonic complex.  The day when I had client meetings in the late afternoon, Bike Rally errands to run in the pre-afternoon, work meetings in the late morning and a garden obligation first thing in the morning.

It was also the last day I was going to do a morning ride in more than 10, I wrote my plan for the day down and Steph kindly offered to have our morning date 30 min earlier - at 6:00 am, that 30 minutes at that point in the day is a true friendship gift.

This is what that ride looked like using pictures from the last 2 rides.

4:50 am: Wake up. Curse life choices but enjoy current alarm ring tone choice.

5:35 am: Drink half a pot of coffee and contemplate eating...reject the idea, even the sun is to tired to feel hungry that early in the morning.

6:00 am: Ride through The Meatgrinder and enjoy view of the waterfront. Maybe life is rich...

6:15 am: Connect with Steph at bottom of High Park.

6:30 am: Get lapped by cycling club on Ellis. Contemplate competing with them...realize that it was the hanger talking

6:45 am: Gget lapped again. Curse them.

7:00 am: Start back to the deep east. Take selfie next to giant Inukshuk.

7:15 am: Go through a significantly changed Meatgrinder.  Contemplate the impact of this construction on my netherregions. Make a mental note to never think of this again...also to eat before doing this again.

7:45 am: Arrive at my house say hello to my family gettng ready for their days. Drink ALL the coffee.

I think the real victims of our choices might be Jason and Joe here.

If you feel the urge PWA Toronto is a great organization to sponsor and we have a whole team of hard working cyclists on our team looking for support on this crazy ride. Check it out - we ride and post terrible pictures for coffee money.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Seven Day Whiplash

I have been traveling pretty extensively for my work and I have to confess. I love it, all of it.  I love that I can work without feeling like I'm compromising the immediate needs of my family and my relationship. I can put in a 14 hour day without even looking up and no one will feel rejected, hungry or lonely (that I can see.)

I love that I can drink a cup of coffee in complete silence in the morning, that I don't have to have any fruit, granola or whole foods as an example of healthy living. I can just sit there, drinking my coffee in silence. I love sleeping alone, surrounded by pillows as though to fool myself that there are three people in the bed with me but still alone.

All of this fills me with deep unrelenting guilt, don't get me wrong, but there it is. I love it.

Of course, the only reason I love any of this is because it is only for five days before I come home and get engulfed by my people. Anchored again. Since I don't believe in the myth of work/life balance, I work really hard at being in the moment no matter where I am.

The part I hate is the whiplash. Nothing demonstrates the extreme difference between my work and my local life like work travel.

Here is a 7 day photo journal that will accurately portray this difference:

Day 1: Arrive in Fort Lauderdale, go kayaking with a friend in the Everglades directly from the airport. It's so easy to get into a car with just another adult and drive off to adventure. We ate shitty road food. Stopped when we wanted to. Didn't have to amuse small terrorists in the back seat. Guys, I didn't even have diapers, water or snacks when we started this trip. Nothing but my own small carry on, bug dope, sports sandals and a camera.

It felt....light and almost obscene in it's easiness.

We went through Mangrove Tunnels and saw alligators, hatching storks/snowy egrets/white ibis/tri-coloured herons. After a four hour paddle we went to a little restaurant called the Camellia Street Grill in Everglade City. Sat on the deck next to the East River, ate fresh clams, crab and fish paired with the best Corona I've ever had.

It was perfection.

 Day 2-4: Partner Conference at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood. This location was exactly why I spent the previous day engaged. It was fun, social work but it is a Casino and that shit ain't real.

In my line of  work it is so nice to get solid face time with colleagues and partners, we work geographically apart and I miss the face time. This will be a surprise to no one but I love social work time with coworkers. It was so much fun to go feral in a place designed for just that and by the end of it all I wanted was a raw vegetarian menu, 17 litres of water and a nap.

This casino is just about as far away from my community activist, gardening, Mothering world as you can get. Like candy, so much fun but too much of it can make you really ill.

Photo of me showing the guys how to light sambuca.Photo credit: Tim V

Days 5-7: Come back to my people and go North to open my cottage.  Freezing cold evenings. Mothers Day, an 80 km training ride (9 more weeks!) and some physical labour.  Here is where I am Mother, Sister, Daughter, Wife, Friend and ass kicking fire starter. Turned off laptop, muted the phone and lit the fire helped settle the sense of self.

The whiplash hits when I realized that I'd forgotten how much fun it is to take care of people and be taken care of them in the same breath.

How goddamned lucky am I?

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Mother West Wind can Suck my D*ck

Today was the first of what will add up to close to 3000 km of summer cycling. Most of the cycling will be done specifically to train for the 16th Annual Friends For Life Bike Rally.  My non-sexual Partner In Crime and I are so smitten with the epic nature of this event that we committed to co-leading a merry team of Psyclopaths.

It is a satisfaction that stands out from the other adventures we go on in our respective lives. It is hard. Hard to find the time, hard to broker the compromise with our friends, families and jobs. Hard to fundraise the minimum amount. Hard on our bottoms.

But oh, so Epic in nature that we just can't quit it.

Today was our first official training ride, Kipling - Meadowvale. In terms of Southern Ontario geography, a small trip through Meadowvale township is the highlight - a respite from the industrial parks (oxymoron alert!) of Mississauga.  A civil 46 km until...THE WIND CHOSE TO BLOW DIRECTLY AT US IN EVERY DIRECTION.

and then...the subway stopped 5 minutes from Steph's home station...still across the city from where I live, in the deep East.

 this is when the TTC operator started to prepare us for the reality that the subway was not going to be our way home...(armwarmers made by me for rides like this one - WIND!) This is me, 5 seconds before losing my mind Elaine Benes style.
We had to get off in the deep West end. Steph had to march her chivalrous self up a steep hill with the wind in her face, while I got to head South to the Waterfront Trail.

The wind made it's appearance...on my face the second I turned East. At least the Waterfront Trail was as pretty as always. It always makes me feel like I could be on Bowen Island or Halifax...minus the mountains and rain...and salty smell...

Maybe I just miss the ocean.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Let's call this Parliament to session

In this case a Parliament of Owls or a Wisdom of Owls.

As part of New Years resolution list I committed that I would knit more this year than I had in the last few. Not because I felt that my lack of knitting reflected poorly on my character, drive or general level of functionality, but because it is one of my only meditative hobbies. Believe it or not, it slows me down and helps me react more thoughtfully. Two actions that could use all they help they can get in my world.

They also brought my total sweater tally to three by the beginning of Q2 (if you happen to think in fiscal quarters.)

Each 'Parliament' consists of 14 owlets which meant I had a run on buttons for eyes - 56 in total. For the blue sweater I pulled from my very precious supply of buttons I inherited from my Mimi, the recipient's Great-Grandmother, avid knitter, seamstress, and Captain of my Family's League of Difficult Women.  Seems appropriate.
But for the cream Parliament I was in trouble. We are still on our Q2 - Post Christmas Fiscal Diet so I was disappointed thrilled for the excuse to go Button Diving at Mac Fab.  When I posted about the oncoming need for some blue button eyes our good friend Ms. Debra came to the rescue. She makes luxury out of clay...her website will be up soon!

28 handmade, glazed and baked clay buttons. Cobalt. How luxurious is THAT?!

and so it came to pass that I finished a birthday sweater and matching Marlowe sweater 2 days before the birthday party...sobre and not stressed.

This Bitch is evolving...finally.

Pattern: Owlet by Kate Davies
Difficulty: ADORABLE

To be clear, I have been traveling a lot more than expected in Q1 so while I have been a "woman getting shit done", in fact I've been spending close to 16 hours a month by myself on a plane. For all the parents out there, yes, it was borderline pornographic in its luxury.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The New Jumper

Here's the thing, I am mostly a Jill of all trades as opposed to a Mistress of one. I do a lot of different seemingly opposing work, extra-curriculars and arts. Most of them slowly. One of the many reasons I love knitting is that it is paced labour. There is a natural cadence to it - it's uncomfortable for a knitter to change their cadence on purpose - speed, at least in my case, is gained through knitting a lot.

Over the past 10 years I've come to terms with the fact that I am not one of those quick thinkers - comebacks always come to me 4 days after stewing and brooding, my snap decisions are super flawed and my first impressions of people are more often than not way off base.

That doesn't mean I'm not reactionary -  I flare up with the best of them. I've toned down the instinct I have to speak without breathing but it is an ongoing practise and even when I take pause I am such a committed extravert that you will feel the heat of my restraint.

Knitting has been a great way to make me concentrate on slowing my shit down, commit to a long haul and let myself settle in without being still if that makes any sense.  Once in awhile it even ends up in a useable garment.

Mostly, I'm in it for the process. This last time it worked out well. Fenner asked for a sweater just like the one from a sweet book we like by Oliver Jeffers called The New Jumper. It took almost 18 months but I did it. Literary knits yo. Of my own basic design.

I'm proud and Fenner loves it. For the win.

Fenner doing her best Huey impression with attitude. Looking a little bit older than I remember when taking this picture.