Mind, Motion & Matter

Running, Essentially . . .


Where a Peony Was – Return to City Life

The peony down the street

While away, the thing I missed most was our garden.  The peony buds were coming along nicely and I hoped not to miss any of their divine showiness. One peony bud in particular was on my mind.  Nearly three years ago, I was sitting in a favourite spot in Mt. Pleasant cemetery close to the double bed of commemorative peonies that supposedly have one of every type of peony grown in Canada.  The gardener was pruning the post-bloom garden and we struck up a conversation.  He then gave me 14-15 peony roots and told me to plant them.

I rushed back to work and put them in water and a few days later planted all fourteen in my garden.  Nothing green poked through the earth that year.  But the following spring, leaves showed up on three cuttings.  Last year, a bit more foliage grew on two of them and this year many more leaves grew on a single stem.  The only survivor.  To my amazement a bud started to form and I was certain that it would blossom.  My curiousity about what type of peony would emerge was blooming,  and then we left town.

Many mornings in spring and summer I begin my day by checking out our front and back garden with coffee in hand.  My first morning back, I did this and was shocked to discover the mystery peony bud was gone.  I can only guess that it had blossomed and someone stole it as there was a definite jagged, ripped look to the top of the main stem.  Sad to say flowers from our garden are often picked but never did I feel so sad as this time.  Could the thief ever have any idea of how long I had been waiting to see this particular flower. What a sad comment on life in the city coinciding with my return to Toronto.

I console myself by saying that the loss of the flower will create a stronger plant for next year, with more flowers because of the energy saved by this years flowerlessness. Sniff . . .

Above is a photo of a peony on our block that made my heart melt with its beauty.  This photo is my current BlackBerry screensaver.

As for the return to running, I had a better-than-expected outing.  My goal was to run for two hours and I was expecting it to be a bit of a slog as I have gone under my forty-mile-week minimum goal several times in the last six weeks.  The cooler temperature, overcast sky and slightly slower pace to accommodate an injured run mate’s injury made for a very comfortable 13+ mile run with energy to spare.

Men planking at St. Clair & Avenue Road

As we waited at Avenue Road and St. Clair for J, R decided to plank.  Later on at a water fountain stop, R & J decided to plank.  I limited myself to assessing the planking form of my running mates as I find planks difficult and did not want to run with sore abdominals.  I recently learned that planking has branched out into plankstering in unusual places.  Apparently a plankster died while planking on a moving car.  My husband’s intention was not to plankster when he did his on a ferry in Alaska.

Man planking in his boots on Alaskan ferry

A plank a day keeps a backache away. It is a very effective abdominal exercise. Gotta get back to it!  Reverting to the topic of peonies, while my all-male running mates enjoy gardening (we toured each others gardens last year) they tell me that real men don’t like peonies. Hmm . . .

1 Comment

Sleepy in Seattle

Rhododendren House in Portland, Oregon

Yes, we have a stopover at the Seattle airport, enroute to Juneau and are a little weary although the day got off to an energetic start. Shortly after rising I left for the the first leg of my run. The flat river route seems to be the preferred route for the Portlanese. One side is eclipsed by the closeness of the highway to the river but a path has been created a little offshore to offset this abomination of urban planning.

Off shore running path

I ran 4Km solo, returning to the hotel to pick up my husband for the second leg, a much hillier route up by Washington park. Talking about “real estate”, the view and vegetation was magnifico, well worth the huffing and puffing to climb the steep hillside terrain.  The photo below may bear some resemblance to the Glen Road bridge in Rosedale, Toronto however that is due to the shortcomings of my camera.  By comparison, the depth of colour and density of the foliage in Portland makes even the most treed areas of Toronto look wanting

Running up that hill!

The greens surpassed those of Ireland in the fall although I’ve yet to experience an Irish spring.  Where there is greeness, there is rain and lots of moss. Check out the concrete benches lining the sidewalks of this older section of town.

Moss park bench

The properties are so gorgeous that it seems owners feel compelled to name them. Thus, you have The Rhododendron House, which incidentally was for sale.

A bit of rest after a hard climb

Gamely, my husband agreed to run with me for this third day straight. With his knee trouble it has been avoiding running consecutive days but he says his knee is “okay”.

House on the hill

The most risky aspect of this run, knee-wise was the steep return downhill. I advised him to walk down the steepest sections. Hopefully, this tourist-trotting won’t aggravate his tender meniscus as we are heading up to “rave run” territory and our shared runs are always a highlight of any vacation.

Run for the view

Leave a comment

Pitching Portland

Japanese garden, Washington park

Until recently, I had a vague notion that I might like to visit Eugene, Oregon one day being a famous runner’s city but Portland was just a name.  I asked my brother who lives in the Yukon whether he thought we would enjoy visiting Anchorage, Alaska and I received a flurry of emails detailing the wonders of Portland.  We spoke on the phone and he assured me that I would love it and if I didn’t love it, he would give me my money back.

Early morning hang-out, THE NINES lobby

And that is how we ended up sipping coffee in the lobby of the ultra-hip THE NINES hotel.  My brother sent me a Hotwire alert that was offering rooms at THE NINES for nearly half price.  The same price as what we will pay for a very modest rooms in Juneau and Haines in Alaska and where the internet will probably not be free.  So we arrived mid-afternoon on Thursday and fly to Juneau, late Sunday afternoon through Seattle, touching down in Juneau around the time the sun will set.

In pitching Portland to me, Jack described the city as being very Lynn-esque.  Hmm, my husband and I have been mulling this one over, and he says, “Well, not my Lynn particularly.”  The key elements, I think are a bike, runner friendly place with great coffee and bookstores, extensive public transit and casual outdoorsy feel.  But, the birthplace of grunge and a skateboarders haven, not really.  I’m definitely into low-risk sports and if pressed, would have to name jazz as my favourite music.  On the other hand I was a huge fan of Patti Smith when in art school and her bio was the top seller at Powell Books, which is a far better showing than on the NYT best seller list.

So, so good . . . going back for more.

Highlights so far have been; Powell Books, which far outstrips the Strand in New York City, the Japanese gardens in Washington Park, the amazing light rail transit, Stumptown coffee at the ACE Hotel and the best cheese blintzes ever at Kenny and Zuke’s deli just a door away from the ACE Hotel.

A time to blog and a time to RUN!

So much to do, and so much to report but I have a run to get in so gotta go . . . adios!

Leave a comment

What’s up with Lynn?

Forget-me-nots & anemones

Forget-me-nots & anemones

While on the way out the door for my run, my husband told me he had checked my blog three times yesterday.  “What’s up with Lynn?”  he asked, in reference to the absence of new posts.  I found this funny and flattering, in that being a think-out-loud kind of person he definitely knows what is on my mind.  But, the written word does offer another perspective  and as we continue our journey of couplehood we’ve  discovered that writing is a preferred communication medium for my husband.

We are part of a unique sharing group.  It is a couples/marriage sharing group and it has a distinct format.  One couple does a presentation on whatever relationship topic they they like and then they pose a question related to that topic.   The couples disperse to separate rooms or areas and then each person writes a letter to their spouse for 10 minutes.   Then spouses read each others letter twice and then discuss the letters, starting with the letter which contains the strongest emotions.  The discussion is 10 minutes long.

Each letter has to begin with telling your spouse what their most endearing quality was for the day, week, month and so on.  There are also guidelines as to how to express your feelings, as just that, rather than as blame.

Then everyone regroups and we “share” our thoughts and if desired, the contents of our letter.  It is a totally enriching experience to learn from each other and to spend time this way with couples who are highly motivated to “dwell deep”.  The ranges of ages for the nine couples in our group is mid-thirties to early-seventies.

Plant from neighbour

Transplanted from the abundance of a neighbour's garden

To partially answer the question of what’s up, I ran about 14 miles on this absolutely gorgeous day but is was a struggle.  I’ve never felt quite so dead legged as I did today, parting company with my friends to walk and run the final four miles home.  About 400 meters from home I realized why the fatigue.  Blame it on the garden.  Thursday was a GARDEN-RUN-GARDEN duathlon and I am feeling the after-effects now.  The garden is also the reason why I am getting so irregular with the blog.  Although, our gardens, front and back are very modest in size.  A number of our neighbours have incredible gardens they have been tending for decades which overflow with plant material, from which I have inherited a few specimens.

Better go plant those dahlia bulbs . . . ciao!

These dahlias may grow as big as a saucer, I'm told.

Leave a comment

WooHoo . . . we did it!

I had today off and made good use of it.  I spent quite a bit of time in the garden and then ran, destination St. Lawrence market.  The market was alive with lunch hour in full swing but alas the store that I used to buy Ismay morning glory seeds was no longer.  Then I ran to Staples to pick up printer ink for my workplace and dropped it off during lunch.  There were extra burgers on hand, so I packed one up and ran home, consuming it shortly after arriving.

Then back to the garden.  I love weeding!

With an evening gala meeting by late afternoon, I had to get serious about organizing financial information which kept me quite busy until shortly before meeting time.  Our meeting place was the Emmett Ray bar just around the corner.  The gala photos made their debut and we set a date for next year of Wednesday, May 2nd.  The meeting was about the financial stuff but other committee members decided to join us just because . . . we really like each other!

The music was very loud at the Emmett Ray but in spite of this impediment we had a very gay time enjoying the success of our event and looking ahead to 2012.

WooHoo . . . we did it!!!!!!!

Celebrating our success!

Leave a comment

Don’t stop moving!

In actuality the idea that the pace of my life has slowed is an illusion.   I am now facing an extremely long list of things to do which I call the post-gala list and that does not include all the post-event follow-up, financials and on and on.

Mixed in with high season for gardening, I’m feeling swamped again.  One item that needs to get moved to top three status for the spring and summer is house repair and painting.  At the moment the top three for the month are training for the NYC marathon, garden work and home maintenance including cleaning.

Bleeding Hearts . . . exquisite!

I’m planning to run 3-5 miles but number one task is to plant the Mountain Bluets that were given to me by a neighbour.  They are not that readily available in Toronto garden stores but are long-blooming and tolerate shade nicely.  Our neighbour has the most lovely garden and I learned a lot about gardening from seeing it.  He offered to pick up some dahlia bulbs for us at St. Lawrence Market.

A beautiful gift from a neighbour.

Better get planting . . . have a wonderful day.

Forget-me-not running rampant, but still loved.

Leave a comment

The Glory of Mornings

It has been a real treat to be able to focus on my runs first, rather than preparations for the gala.  Although, I am giving myself a mental break from pushing hard in any area by skipping speedwork at the track.  Of course, all things taste sweet with the satisfaction of having reached my personal goal of organizing a fundraising gala.

Yesterday we got stuck in a traffic jam in High Park.  The park was packed with a predominantly Asian crowd out to see and photograph cherry blossoms.   We let my son out and then skedaddled out of there as nary a parking spot was to be found.  My son had tales to tell of uncivil interactions earlier in the weekend between frustrated motorists seeking parking spots.

The glory of morning

How civilized to view the blooms at 7:30 a.m. with a sprinkling of people about.  And, what a way to start the day.  I was one of four people photographing the stars of the park, at 7:30 a.m.  My run for the morning was about 5 miles.

Later in the morning I cycled to the CIBC building on King street for a work-related meeting and was witness to another Toronto wonder.  Though this sight was of the gilded variety.  I had no idea that the old Bank of Commerce Building at 25 King Street West had an ornate, solid gold ceiling.  It was once the tallest building in Toronto.

Man-made Toronto wonder

I had another errand in the neighbourhood and had planned to stop at St. Lawrence Market to pick up some morning glory seeds.  I have a favourite colour for morning glories, a pale blue variety called Ismay which I have only been able to find at St. Lawrence Market.  Sadly, I discovered that I had left all my money and credit card in my running jacket pocket and was wandering around the downtown core, without a cent.  Very disappointing.

The majority of my time over the weekend was spent on tending our garden.  If gardening had the same health benefits as running, it would be the clear winner on my list of favourite activities.  Glory, glory alleluia!

Not just me taking photos at 7:30 a.m.