Monday, September 29, 2008

my books

As so many of my friends and readers here know, I've been struggling to get my books unpacked. Finally, with lots and lots of help from my friend, Lalith, I bought some bookcases at IKEA, we put them together, and here we are: I'm unpacking my books!

Nearly done. I believe the remaining boxes contain books that I plan to keep in my work-room.

At last, I can see an end to the unpacking. I think I'll put on a pot of tea, put my feet up and re-read one of my favorite books.

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race day

My friend Jim and I, at the pasta supper on the eve of our first 1/2 marathon race.

All packed and ready to go, I tried to get to sleep early, finally falling into bed at around 10 pm. Could I sleep? Oh no.
I had had a very exciting lesson with my Amharic tutor in Toronto, Saturday morning. He asked me if it would be okay with me if he gave me the names of some people I could visit and stay with in Addis, and if I'd have room in my luggage for a few items he and his wife would like to send to their family in Addis.
It would make my dreams come true! Imagine, not having to stay in some impersonal hotel room, but to be invited into somebody's home! Why would I say no to that??
And, I had already planned on taking two suitcases: a larger suitcase filled with clothing, etc., that would hopefully benefit somebody, and just stuffing my smaller suitcase into the larger, for my return trip.
Then, I barely had time to do some laundry, so that my running gear would be clean and dry for the morning, before dashing out again to a pasta supper with the gang on the eve of our big race.
It seemed so difficult to turn my mind off, to get to sleep, because I just wanted to think about all the exciting possibilities before me. Back and forth, my thoughts flicked from wondering how the race would go to imagining what my upcoming trip to Ethiopia will be like.
I did finally sleep, but I woke up at midnight, at 3 am, & at 3:20 am. Finally giving up at 3:40 am, I got out of bed to eat a runner's breakfast of rolled oats (raw), organic meusli, slivered almonds, plain yogurt and pineapple. Shower, dress, another paranoid check of my check-list.
  • eload capsules (my stomach goes into knots with Gatorade as an electrolyte supplement during races) -- check
  • GU (one of my favorite energy gels to restore energy consumed during a race, plus it's tolerated by my stomach and tastebuds) -- check
  • change of clothes and warmup jacket for after the race -- check
  • cellphone in case I lose my running buddies after the race -- check
  • receipt to present (if needed, as I prepaid for this) for my 15 minute massage post race -- check
  • camera -- check
  • $20 in a pocket of my belt in case I need it after the race -- check
Okay: I'm dressed. Race bib is not upside down (how embarrassing!).Timing chip is secured to my shoe. I have my hair-elastics and running cap to keep my hair & the sun/rain out of my eyes.

Last minute thoughts: throw in plastic containers of fruit, of cereal, left-over rice & curry (not eaten.) Add a pullover to my bag in case it's cold by the lake ( I used the pullover because I got rid of the mylar blanket provided after the race too soon and had to retrieve the pullover from the car when I started to chill.)
The race itself was an incredible experience. And many, many thanks go to Mary and Kieran, our 1/2 marathon clinic leaders, for their time, dedication and insights. Andrew (our 2:15 pacer)ran with me for over 1/2 of the race, bathroom break and all, encouraging me to keep going. Davey G. (the 1:50 pacer) popped up near the 19 km mark to cheer me on (it's wonderful when somebody pronounces my name right from the sidelines!). As I approached the last uphill and the last 800 m, I thought of my mom and my kids, particularly my son, and I ran for them. Some fool at the 700m mark thought it would be encouraging to yell "only 700 m to go..." It might have as well have been 700 km. Not helpful. At 300 m I was determined not to walk. I was determined I'd run in, one step at a time, and finish standing up and smiling. At 100 m, I heard my name again, but couldn't look to see who it was. I realized later that it must have been Chris and Wade. Thanks, guys!!
An amazing feeling. Sweaty, congratulatory hugs all around. Then my wonderful massage...
Of course we had to stay to watch the full-marathon runners come in. Mary & Kieran were special to us, having been our clinic leaders for the 10 km, and then the 1/2!

No pics allowed of the party after the race. I certainly wasn't up to operating a camera any more. I had already taken about 2 min worth of video featuring my left shoe at one point...

A beer on arrival back in Whitby, another at Melanie Pringle's, a marguerita & mexican fare at the Mexican restaurant at Taunton and Gerrard...I felt so tired and fuzzy when I got home, I could barely find the cold water tap for a therapeutic bath for my tired legs (brrrr! still an insane things to do -- sorry, Davey G.! -- but I've gotta believe it helped).

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Thursday, September 25, 2008


Some days are just weird, aren't they? The alarm goes, or was it some noise outside? Somebody across the park, or is it farther -- how sound carries at night! -- is screaming, angry. You're disorientated. What day is it? Or is it night? It's dark.

Aaah, you think. You remember now, it's the weekend, and you have the day off. You remember thinking about it when you went to sleep, how nice it is to have a long weekend off. It's the big weekend, too, of the race. No, no. What day is it??

Now, you are finally really awake. That's actually the d*** alarm going off. Why would you set the alarm if you had planned to sleep in on your day off? What day is it??

Oh, yeah. It's...let's's Thursday. You still have this one day of work to put in before your long weekend starts...aaaargh! You have to get out of bed. It's still so dark when you have to get up in the morning these days! You have to get ready for work while it's still dark.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

a rainy evening & partying

Recently, I was accused of partying all the time, and if you were to judge by my last weekend, that might be true!

Friday night, due to our forgetting that the Reference Library closes early on Fridays, my Amharic tutor and I moved our location to a nearby pub...and after a bite to eat and a couple of beers -- and a tiny table that couldn't be expected to accommodate our books -- we gave up on the lesson and had a wonderful conversation about politics, alternative remedies and books instead!

Then on Saturday, my daughter and granddaughter joined me to go to Toronto for the celebration of the Ethiopian New Year at Christie Pits Park. My Amharic teacher and his wife invited us to enjoy some Ethiopian coffee.

My daughter and granddaughter had to leave early to go on to a friend's birthday party. I stayed on and as the afternoon brought rain, it also brought music and dancers at the band stand!

I think daughter and granddaughter missed the best part...

By the time I got back home, it was after 1 am, I was soaking wet and tired, but still too happy to go to sleep immediately, dancing around to the Aster Aweke cd I bought called Kabu (sacred rock). I am also determined that I will take advantage of the offer from my Amharic tutor's wife to teach me to dance the iskita.

Hmmmnn...add that to wanting to join a group locally that my best friend's daughter is trying to organize to do belly dancing...I have no idea how I'll fit it all in!...I used to say 350 years, now I need to live 400 years. But I am reminded of a line from the movie Shirley Valentine in which Shirley says

"I have led such a little life, I have allowed myself to lead this little
life when inside there is so much more. And it has all gone unused, and now it
never will be. Why do we get all these feelings and dreams and hopes if we don't
ever use them? That is how Shirley Valentine disappeared, she got lost in all
this unused life."

So, in that spirit, I plunge in, embracing whatever opportunities come my way, planning to arrive at the end, all used up, even if a little frazzled!

Sunday, I ran 20 km, from the Whitby Running Room location to Brooklin and back -- for those who will be impressed by the local references. I just laugh at myself, recalling how, back when I was running only 5 or 10 km, I marvelled at the 1/2 marathon and marathon clinic groups talking about running as far as Brooklin. It just goes to show, you never really know what you can or cannot do, until you make a dedicated effort towards reaching your goals!

In the afternoon, after a short nap (required because I was a little sleep deprived due to my late Saturday night!), I went shopping for groceries. That's not the party part, because I hate that chore; the party part is that I love having yummy and healthy food choices in the fridge for the following week!

Oh, and another bit of good news: I got those bookcases up with lot of help from my friend, Lalith. I can finally, FINALLY, unpack my beloved books! And I'm having just as much fun unpacking them, playing with the memories that handling each book brings back, as I did when I packed them months ago!


real food

How to teach kids about healthy eating? There's lots of information out there, but it's all of no use if you can't find a way to get the kids interested and invested in eating for health as well as enjoyment.

Manufacturers and the fast-food/restaurant industry certainly are not going to do much to help parents find healthy alternatives for their kids. According to a recent story on cbc, nearly every combination of kids' menus out there is too high in calories and low on nutritional value. And we already know that the more food is processed and packaged, the more fat and sugar tend to be added and nutritional value removed.

A treat, in a kids mind, tends to be a sweet or fatty snack like a cookie or potato chips. And this gramma has already admitted here to being a failure as a snack-providing gramma to adored Granddaughter, who severely chastised this undersigned gramma for not obligingly providing the things Granddaughter likes to eat! Granddaughter's opinion was that grammas are supposed to do things grandchildren like. This gramma informed Granddaughter that there are all kinds of grammas in the world, and this gramma doesn't often have treats around that are sugary or fatty simply because this gramma doesn't have the willpower to avoid eating them all -- at one sitting! -- if they are around.

A recent teary confrontation between my daughter and Granddaughter around the healthy eating issue, had me wondering what is out there to help kids unlearn bad habits, and learn healthy new ones.

Here are some of the interesting links I found.

First, some parenting skills are in order. Here, some clear ideas as to when parents must take charge, and when kids can appropriately make independent choices, from Fit and Healthy Kids.

Some general guidelines as parents send kids back to school from EatRightOntario. And for some practical information about some of the nutrition issues that children face and how to correct or address these problems, check out Child/Toddler Nutrition.

PBS, always a reliable resource, has this for parents, as well as It's My Life: Body, which includes food smarts for kids .

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Friday, September 05, 2008

festive plans

"Ethiopian-Canadian Day Celebration, established in 1999, is an annual event held every September to celebrate Ethiopian New Year and the multicultural diversity of Toronto.

The Ethiopian calendar consists of 13 months: 12 months with 30 days and 1 month (Pagume) with of 5 or 6 days in leap years. Ethiopian calendar is seven years and eight months behind the Gregorian calendar. Enkutatash - the Ethiopian New Year is celebrated on September 11 or 12th according to the Western or Gregorian calendar or September 1st according to the Ethiopian calendar. Enkutatash is an important festival in lives of Ethiopians.

This year the Ethiopian Association in the GTA and Surrounding Regions cordially invites you to celebrate Ethiopian New Year on:

Saturday, September 13, 2008
@ Christie Pits Park
10:00AM to 11:00 PM"