Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Perfect Pick Me Up

It has been what I would call "A Week." over here.  Starting on a high note and ending with some challenging news.
A week ago today though, we were preparing the first Rail Garden Community Dinner of the year.  These community dinners started as a way for four neighbours to generate a little bit of start up income and a whole lot of community interest, for a community garden.  

We were four people who had different experiences galvanizing groups of people in different ways but very little experience feeding lots of people or actually building community space.  It has been a wild ride.

Since that first dinner we have gained new committee members (three!) and lost one of our original founders. We've learned how to beg, borrow and steal the equipment that we need from Churches, Neighbours, Donors and Businesses.

We have learned how to ask for volunteer help and how to use the volunteers effectively on the day of the event.  What once took 4 of us 6 hours, 3 wagons and 1 bike chariot now takes us 3 hours with double our numbers in volunteers.

Our neighbourhood not only has told us they love these family dinners but they really made it so easy this time around.  We asked for pot luck desserts and they delivered not just some desserts but beautiful home made show pieces.

Thank heavens the desserts were so epic, otherwise the adorable among us might have been at risk.

It is a beautiful thing, in the heart of an urban landscape, to have a place that whole families can congregate and eat together.  Where our smalls can run amok and do what they do best without risk of offending other diners.

This particular dinner was different from all the rest for a number of reasons.  The work preparing for it was spread among so many hands that it has never been so seamless to feed 130 of our friends.  We invited everyone to bring their own wine or beer so we could all enjoy a drink together.
It was just a perfect night. The food delicious, the company divine and the atmosphere fun and casual. Everything that we want when we host dinner parties. 

The satisfaction of hosting successful dinner parties is not something I ever really understood. Working with this group of people over the past year has changed the way I eat with the people in my life - my immediate family, my urban family, my neighbours, the people who cross my path, colleagues and friends.

It's becoming my favourite way of making time to see old friends.  Let's eat!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

One down, two more to go.

Part of getting ready for the Bike Rally has included practicing using clipless pedals. This preparation has included coming to terms with the expectation that I will eventually tip over like a cow surrounded by College kids in middle America. The few local rides I've been on had given me the impression that I might skip the cow tipping experience.  More experienced riders have told me to expect to fall three times - once by myself, once with some people and once in a super embarrassing context (really?! aren't they all?)

But alas, it would seem I needed to be riding WITH people to enjoy the wipe out. Today, I went for my first official Bike Rally bike event today.  It involved a short 'Biking 101' session that covered; riding habits, what to expect on the road, and some pace recommendations.  Most importantly for me - proper etiquette for riding with large numbers of cyclists. 
 It was pretty helpful and I thought my bike and I were getting on famously.

After the workshop we went for a short training ride along the Waterfront - the City of Toronto did some high quality flirting with us. 

On the way back I relaxed a little too much and lost my head at an intersection - stopped my bike (obeying traffic signals) and promptly tipped over. Victor, my coach was pretty happy I remembered not to break my fall with my hands (high risk of breakage) but slammed my head against a rock on the ground. 

Thanks to my helmet, it was my dignity spilling all over the sidewalk instead of my brains.

No matter how undignified the fall was, this adventure is my choice. The PWA Foundation of Toronto advocates on behalf of people living with HIV/AIDS so that they can choose their own adventure in spite of the marginalization that comes with this disease.

Supporting rallies like this help PWA continue to run programming that supports and advocates for folks from all walks of life living with HIV/AIDS.
 If you haven't already, please consider a small donation to help them continue their important work.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Working in a Virtual World

You might know that I'm a list junkie. It is the way I keep myself anchored to the day. I would go permanently feral in hours without some sort of goal oriented structure. 

My new job is a work from home, you're the boss, kind of job.  The kind that has great flexibility to make tea and do some knitting as needed.
Writers, stay at home Moms and other remote workers will know this, but working from home can be a short cut to becoming a morbidly obese  and depressed shut in. I've been down this road so my first few items on my to do list involve self care.

I am a terrible employee and Mother if I don't take care of my basic needs first. I am not always able to nail all the items but as long as I'm aiming for it I might stay sane.

1. Eight Servings of raw fruit and veg per day
2. Two litres of water per day
3. Two Sun Salutations every hour, quick walk every hour or a bigger ride in the midday.
4. Regular social engagements in the week.
5. Exercise my passions when possible. Community work, reading, knitting, parenting, cooking.

6. Be outside when possible.
7. Be in the moment working, playing or chilling. If I'm in the moment then I am using my time effectively, getting my paid work done and getting my personal work done. Social networking is pretty much the enemy of this.

If I can follow these rules I can manage to keep my work day from leaking into my home life. Once they're established then the real fun of working in a virtual office comes into play.  A ride to the Riverdale Farmer's Market on Tuesday afternoons becomes a great way to step away from the work at hand.

This summer is going to be especially exciting as I can take my breaks at our awesome neighbourhood garden. To see how our young garlic shoots are doing. Or even better.

Work from my cottage.
It's the first time I've said it and given that my team spans the country with all different hours of operation. There is no real reason my physical location should impact my professional life.
Unless I don't follow my rules...right?  Do you think it could ruin the cottage that I get up early and put in most of a full work day by noon take a break on the dock or going for a ride through the Georgian Bay Roads...and finish the day off in time for a swim to Echo Rock.
Not to shabby I don't think.

Friday, April 05, 2013

Unexpected Spring Vacation

Recently I decided to take a new job with a young consulting firm - it meant that my time at my previous job ended early and I found myself with an unexpected 2 week vacation.

Those who know me, know that the idea of lots of time with no structure or scheduled activities gives me total vertigo.  Jason said it best the evening I found out (Wednesday) when he said, "You either need to make some plans immediately or plan a trip - I don't think you can be in this house as amped up as you are right now."

Luckily for him, I am a chronic planner and so by Sunday I had started making plans. I couldn't give up the mornings with my girls and our good friend Grace who spends her days with us. I just love them all.  But in the afternoon when Jason and Marlowe need recovery time - I made sure I was out of the way.

I knit on the TTC on my way to girlie weekday brunches and lunches.

I talked on the phone for hours to my good friends who work from home but with whom I hadn't had a proper long chat since I'd gone back to work. It is a favourite activity to yak on the phone for hours while I cook the surplus from our Good Food Boxes.

Jason and I went out to a local restaurant for a romantic dinner.


Attended an awesome lecture and workshop on the impact of HIV/AIDS on pregnant women at Ryerson University. Jay McGuillvray, an experienced midwife and HIV/AIDS advocate, runs a Positive Pregnancy program out of St. Mike's Hospital. You may know that I am participating in the 2013 Friends for Life Bike Rally.

If you were wondering why, this is it - the four big reasons that women are the demographic that is contracting HIV faster than any other group in Canada. I want my daughters to have information and resources available to them.

I got to do Easter Geode science experiments with my Ladies! Without having to rush out!! Can you say "Potassium Aluminum Sulfate"?

Watching the snow fall from the inside, while nesting with my baby, no rush to go anywhere, drinking tea and chilling out.

We wrote letters to our friends in far off places.

and got to participate in a Maple Syrup Festival. ON A WEEKDAY. Which meant we missed the masses of people who try and cram it in on the weekend.  How can we not have fun together with space, time and the ability to participate with the process of making syrup?!

Walking to the Riverdale Farm as though being outside might keep it from snowing some didn't work but the fresh air felt great.

I'm just so lucky and thankful that I got to spend these days with my girls getting ready for major life change.  Also, so lucky that I love hanging with them as much as I do. 

I got to eat with my friends, sleep in when needed, let Jason have naps and drink delicious glasses of wine in the sun on the porch with my neighbours (before it snowed).  It was a perfect local vacation.


Monday, April 01, 2013

Caught in the act.

I'm trying hard not to take it personally that it snowed today while we were at Riverdale Farm. As this year's voice of meteorological doom in my circle of friends I thought I had prepared myself for a long and Hitchcockian Spring but today did a number on me.
After a spectacular weekend where we actually found some sunscreen to prepare ourselves today's snow was a bit of a downer. Luckily, I've been gaslighted by March before so on the hot sunny days this weekend I went poking through my garden for signs of life.


Delicious creepers old,

and new.
The crocuses were out at the Farm

The colour gave me hope. Misguided though it may be.

I am lucky that our house is filled with colour and Squidlet at this time of the year. It can be salve to the burn of the seemingly never ending grey of March.

I'm starting a new job tomorrow. I love new beginnings.  I have a list of all the habits and expereiences that I hope to gain from this particular new beginning. I hope to post that this week as well as some of the highlights from the last 2 weeks I've had being with my family.

It's been mostly a lot of fun, but I can tell it's time for me to get out as Jason and I are starting to grate a little bit...