Mind, Motion & Matter

Running, Essentially . . .

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Happy in Haines

Future site of cubic cabin

The weather in Haines, back in early June was superb and we were told, unusually summery.  First order of the day was a run, and a destination run at that.  I’m not the only one in my family to fall in love with Haines as my Whitehorse brother, an architect, recently bought a property in Haines.  Thus  sight number one, was his lot.

Final leg up the hill, breakfast just around the corner

His lot is on the edge of this town, in the uppermost reaches so it was quite a climb to get there and a bit too steep on the downhill to really enjoy an easy stride. But, man oh man, what a view!   Then, down to the water and a run over to the Mountain Cafe, THE place for coffee in Haines. This combo healthy food store and cafe sits at the conjunction of the major roads into the town. Having verified the location of where we would breakfast, I was eager to get on with the eating and shortened my run a bit.

I do cut myself a bit of slack while on vacation particularly since my husband has had to cut back his running as my primary goal is to spend time with HIM.  I’ve also cut back on travel shopping as well, for the very same reason.

Mountain Cafe, Breakfast Burritos

The Mountain Cafe met expectations with very good breakfast burritos and local hustle and bustle.  Then we walked to Fort Seward, so named for William H. Seward who negotiated the purchase of Alaska from the Russians.  The fort was decommissioned in 1947 and is now privately owned.  The original buildings now a combination of private residences, B&B’s, eateries galleries and studios.

Carrying on the Tinglit cultural traditions

Tinglit artist's supply room

Notable was the Alaskan Indian Arts centre with a gallery and studio  where we were able to informally tour the studio where totem poles are made.  To order a totem pole CLICK HERE  It was hard not to compare the quality and pricing of the work found here to the offerings of the ultra-commercialized Juneau.  Any cruise ship passenger happening upon this place would feel that they had connected to the “real” Alaska.

In the afternoon we went on a three-hour guided hike.  This was quite expensive but hikers are cautioned to travel in groups to minimize the risk of a bear attack.  I’ve heard various numbers cited for safety from parties of three to ten.  With eight in our group, including two guides, one armed with bear spray in a holster I felt safe.  Being of small stature, I’ve often thought it would be useful to have a very tall, hiking hat in the shape of some sort of menacing creature.

One of our guides, Lindy was a musician and naturalist.  She and her husband lived for years in a Yurt,  the portable, wood-framed and felt-covered dwelling of nomadic Mongolians.  Funnily enough her band played in Ottawa last year, for the Canada Day celebrations.  Lindy was able to tell when a bear had scratched its back on a tree, or whether a moose had gone by, by virtue of a few hairs left on bark or a bush.  Thankfully, she was also able to tell us that the very loud and scary sound we heard was not a mountain lion or a bear but the sound of humpbacks in the water nearby.

If it had been the two of us, in fear (or at least my fear) we could have set personal best times running back to the trail head.  Thanks to our guides we now cherish the memory of those otherworldly, sonorous and eerily musical sounds.  Sadly, we were not able to see the humpbacks through the thick forest cover but we came upon another group who were starry-eyed having seen the humpbacks play in a cove further on.  Excitedly we trekked on, hoping the whales would linger so we could enjoy the same.

Humpback whales hang out here

The word pristine was invented to describe places such as the destination cove and all those beautiful, mostly unnamed places in the north.  Wow!  The humpbacks were gone however and that was a bit disappointing.   Somewhere along the trail the topic of beer came up and this thread was eagerly pursued by our other guide.  He promised to take us to the Haines Brewing Company located in the state fairground, formerly the set of the movie White Fang.  Happily, time allowed and sampled some Spruce Tip Ale while I enjoyed a freshly brewed and delicious root beer.

Happiness is a bottle of spruce tip beer

From there we returned to the Fireweed Restaurant for dinner where we were greeted like regulars.  I wondered if this was because our two night in a row appearance set us apart from the majority of middle-aged folk who travel Alaska via cruise ship.  One of the couples on our hike were from California and they were amazed to discover that it was possible to travel down the Lynn Canal by state ferry.

The next day was our travel day to Whitehorse.  Sure wish we had more time on our hands but I know we will be back.

Haines, good for the soul

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Run, Jump, Eat Cake & Other Adventures

I managed to get in 40 miles for the week ending Sunday, June 12th, although on Monday I was pretty dead legged after a successful 13+ miler on Saturday.  I had to abandon my husband on his five-miler, as my legs just didn’t have any juice. Later in the day, I was invited to take part in more vigourous activity at a birthday party for a three year old niece.  As I wandered into the backyard of my sister’s home, I was invited by my brother-in-law to join in on the fun in the bounce tent as I was under the maximum weight allowed.

I couldn’t resist the challenge as a former lover of trampolining.  Although, my very worst sports injury took place on a trampoline at age 13, a severely sprained ankle that to this day, remains my Achilles heel.

So in I went, through an opening designed to fit your average eight year old to bounce the night away.

Awkward entry

Getting the hang of it

Look at meeeeee . . . .

Ungainly exit

I was concerned that I would set back my training a few days with this unplanned for training session but I didn’t notice ill effects on my five miler this morning.  Phew!

As for the bunny cake, however cute and delicious, it was not the best start to my week of cutting back on refined sugar.  So, so hard to resist a birthday cake.

Hop, Eat, Jump

The bicycle story started the day before we left for our vacation.  On leaving work, I could not find the key to my bike lock and had to leave my bike parked on Dundas Street. I worried and wondered how much of my bike would be left when I returned.  On my first day back to work, I could hardly stand to look at the spot where my bike was parked thinking I might see a bike frame, with no wheels, fenders and seat.  But hallelujah . . . there it was neatly placed on a the lawn of the home in front of which it had been parked.  That morning, the section of sidewalk where my bike was parked was being worked on by road crews and THEY HAD REMOVED THE POLE FROM THE SIDEWALK, thus liberating my bike.  WooHoo!  I walked over, claimed my bike and carried it to work.  The guardian angel of bikes must have been watching out for mine.

Close to home, I arranged to have my lock removed by Cam at My Little Bike Shop on College street.  Cam also has the best prices on Kryptonite locks. Good price but still not cheap at $80, making the bill for the lost key $110 with the $30 for lock removal.

Cam at work with an angle grinder. Watch out for sparks!


Cam doesn’t do tune-ups but spruces up old or vintage bikes.  This led to a discussion of my old Bianchi road bike bought in 1985.  He decided to make a house call to check it out and followed me home as I led the way on my newly liberated bike.  He paid me $50 for my cobweb covered vintage wheels.  He also asked that I mention to my friends that he is in the market for old bikes.  That took the bite out of my $110 misadventure. Bianchi it turns out is the oldest bike manufacturer in the world.  He asked me to let my friends know he is looking to buy bikes.

So now, it is Saturday, five days after I began this post and having now completed another Saturday run, 14 miles today, finally feel I can spare the time to finish the post. Although, I’m at a loss to connect the dots, if there were any.  All I can say is THE END and I hope to have a smaller gap between this post and my next post. I think I set a personal record for post-less days.


I Think My Bathroom Scale is Broken

Over the course of our our eleven day holiday I missed three days of running. The most common reason for a missed run over the past few years is early morning travel. I am a morning runner and find it very difficult to do a run once the days activities are set in motion.

We traveled to Portland, Oregon, Juneau, Haines and Skagway in Alaska, then Whitehorse, followed by a half day visit to Vancouver.

Missed Day #1 – We had to leave our home at 6 a.m. to catch our flight to Portland. Missed Day #2 In Haines, Alaska, we left our motel at 5:30 a.m. to catch a fast-ferry to Skagway.  Missed Day #3 A 6:00 a.m. departure from our lodgings in Whitehorse to catch our Vancouver flight.

Blue Heron, Juneau

I’ve described our run in Portland and here are photos from the run that followed in Juneau.  Spotted on the run were these four blue heron, the only heron seen on this trip.  On my last trip to Juneau, I was staying at a lodge quite a way out of the city and I saw a bald eagle and twice, a pod of orcas.  No such luck this time.

Those sightings took place in early spring, when bears were not as active and probably hibernating, or so I told myself. I would not have ventured out on the roads in that quieter area of Juneau otherwise.

This  Juneau run was 2.5 miles through the main street of town, through a souvenir store and along the waterfront. I ran through a gauntlet of large ravens which would definitely scare off anyone with ornithophobia.

Ravens to the right, ravens to the left.

A Waterfront Stretch in Juneau

This first morning in Juneau was much enjoyed as our late evening arrival in Juneau introduced us to the rough edges of the city that appear once the cruise ships depart. There is urban sprawl in Juneau and the downtown has suffered in that it caters almost exclusively to tourists in the day and seems a bit like a deserted and rundown, Disneyland set in the later evening. In the early morning, locals heading off to work abound and chit chat in the local coffee shop was congenial and lively.

I was motivated to do a short run in anticipation of brunch at my brother’s favourite Juneau breakfast place, The Sandpiper.

My breakfast of corn beef hash and poached eggs was tasty although was quite far off the scrumptious version dished out by Kenny and Zuke’s in Portland which at $11.45 was $2.50 cheaper than the Sandpiper’s version. Alaska can be fairly pricey.  Portland’s version of corn beef hash is to Alaska’s, as king crab is to non-king-crab. Read the review, “Can the Jewish Deli be Reformed?” from the NY Times.

Portlandia Corned Beef Hash $11.45

Alaskan Corned Beef & Hash $13.95

Corn beef hash, Alaskan style $13.95

Scrumptious and leisurely breakfasts are one of the best parts of vacationing. On our last day in Portland I ordered corn beef hash and cheese blintzes.  Yes, I confess that with minimal worries about weight gain, I am a bit of a piglet.  Although, I’m still tending towards the broken-scale theory as I can’t figure out how I gained five pounds on our fairly active vacation.

Cheese Blintzes a breakfast dessert


Ready, Set . . . BAKE

Alarm went off at 6 a.m. and I dozed back to sleep, waking after 7 a.m. and having to be out of the house for 7:30 a.m.  I considered deferring this longer run to Sunday but roused myself and plodded up the hill to St. Clair.  I was late but had sent an alert by email and BlackBerry Messenger to my companions.  It was only around mile 12 that I began to feel perky.  Miles run for the day, fifteen.

The cause of early morning sluggishness was a later than usual night due to my first ever bake-a-thon.  Leading up to our May 3rd, Gala my calendar of activities will be severely constrained to Easter dinner or event planning task sessions or meetings or runs.

Get set . . . bake!

My dear friend Dolores and I over the course of nearly 6 hours baked about 28 dozen cookies!  We discovered this to be a relaxing and rewarding way to spend time together.  Although early on as I exercised some quality control advice from my 30 years or more of making this particular cookie type, Dolores may have wondered what she had got herself into.  But she patiently heeded my instructions with appreciation for the fact that magnification of a slight over-size cookie could result in a  shortfall at the end of the evening.  Our minimum target was 300.

Batch #2 with 2 1/2 pounds of butter.

It didn’t take long for us to get into a groove and the afternoon and evening flew by, punctuated by a vegetarian dinner of Spanish Bulgur, a classic recipe from Diet for a Small Planet. Together we were able to nearly finish the whole mega-batch of 11 times the usual recipe for Mexican Tea Cakes from a Betty Crocker Cookie Book that was given to me by an aunt around 1967.

The Finished Product

We lamented the fact that our friend Robyn who is suffering from the severe sleep deprivation of mom-hood was unable to join us but felt good that the two of us had pulled it off.  And where will these cookies go you may ask?  Each gala guest will receive in their goodie bag two cookies, lovingly prepared by Dolores and Lynn.

Tulips for the Assistant Baker


Baking not Blogging

Sunnyside Beach not so sunny.

Yesterday, making all the pieces of my day fit together meant arriving at work super-early, running from work, along the lake, through High Park and a brief interlude at home followed by dashing off to a meeting at C-5  with the bandleader of Ethio Fidel Jazz band who will perform at our gala People4Kids.

The day got off to a sweet start as we got an early morning delivery of chocolate from CAMINO fair trade, organic chocolate destined for Gala goodie bags.  We received this note from CAMINO.  WooHoo!

Thank you for considering us as sponsors for your event. We are truly impressed with all your hard work and dedication towards orphaned children affected by AIDS in Ethiopia. We are happy to be able to contribute a small gift for your gala. We are able to offer you 300 chocolate minis (55% dark).

I just popped a chocolate into my mouth and yes, yum, it is superfine stuff.  Thanks Camino chocolate, you are the best!  I’ll also be seeking out their chocolate coconut bar.

Western Horizon seen from Sunnyside Beach

The foggy dew of the morning evolved into an atmospheric mistiness over the lake in the afternoon.  I took the beach shots just before starting the 12 x 200 meter pick-ups with 75 second recovery.  When I remarked to my coach that it was a fun workout, he confided that it is one of his favourites.  My coach, a former Olympian also holds some world records for his age group in the 800 meters.  I gather that one of his training secrets is circuit training which includes hopping up stairs on one foot.

On the heels of my workout I bounded breathlessly into our local Starbuck’s at College and Dovercourt to be greeted by the manager who told me that yes, Starbuck’s will donate a $75 gift basket to the Gala.  This manager is very excited about the opportunity she will have next week to meet Howard Schultz of Starbuck’s.

C5 Charcuterie Plate

As for food I added shredded apple and orange juice to my carrot oatmeal to improve on the “fruitlessness” of Wednesday. Also consumed through the day was; 1 bottle YOP, Activa yogurt (2.9% MF), peanut butter and banana sandwich, portion of a large charcuterie platter and that is it.  Not much really as my appetite is still a little curtailed and I’m feeling about 90%.  A nurse who is part of the team looking into the illness incurred by me and many last Friday was quite interested to hear that I had previously been struck down by the Norwalk virus.

Apple, Carrot, Orange Juice Oatmeal

After returning from C5, I was inspired by the sight of 4 very ripe bananas to bake banana bread for a friend’s visit.  Well, actually she will put to work, helping me to bake 30 dozen cookies.  After baking I was completely out of gas.  Time for bed – blog or no blog.

To Blog or To Bake Banana Bread

p.s.  I just got off the phone with Dufflet pastry and they are donating a cake certificate to the silent auction.  Life is sweet! But — will my friend feel the same way after helping me bake 30 dozen cookies?

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A Carrot a Day

In my effort to be more focused on healthy eating, I’ll be blogging a bit about what I’m eating.  Actually, I’ve probably exaggerated the state of affairs as 1) Both my husband and I have given alcohol up for Lent (with a couple of exceptions) over the last four weeks and 2) My breakfasts have been consistently healthy.

Ever since I discovered the recipe for Carrot Cake Oatmeal on my friend’s blog in December, I’ve been having this for breakfast six out of seven mornings a week.  For the 4th or 5th time I encourage you to try give this a try!  CLICK HERE for the original recipe and more photos of this breakfast superfood.

Ingredients for a Healthy Breakfast

It has now become a morning ritual to grate carrots to add to my oatmeal.  Quickie recipe for 1 person: 1/2 cup oats, 1/2 cups grated carrot, 1 cup milk or almond milk or soy milk, a dash of cinnamon and a bit of vanilla.  Then cook at high in the microwave for 6 minutes in a very large bowl.  Add an extra minute for every every portion cooked.  Check out my previous blogs on Carrot Cake Oatmeal to see all the fancy stuff you can do with the recipe.

My lunch was a wrap with chicken, cheese, cucumber, lettuce and tomato and a glass of diet ginger ale.  The ubiquitous staff birthday cake appeared and I had a piece of somewhat synthetic chocolate cake.  I confess, that I had a piece larger than the one initially offered since I was asked if I wanted a larger one and I said yes.  I had a latte from The Communal Mule and then picked up a Tim Horton’s carrot muffin (free due to husband’s roll-up-the-rim prize earnings) on the way home. For dinner I had a bowl of instant miso soup and three slices of cold pizza (artisanal style, cheese & tomato sauce)  left over from Monday’s lunch at Pizzeria Libretto on Ossington.  As I review my day I see that I’m a little short on fruit but all in all, it could be worse but still lots of room for improvement.

I ran 5 miles this morning and felt quite comfortable.  I’m on the mend.  And, breaking news . . . apparently, many people got sick at the event I attended on Friday and there has been talk that it might be the Norwalk Virus.  Something airborne is suspected and authorities are investigating.  I’ve already had the Norwalk Virus and I’m told you can only have it once so perhaps I should be letting someone know this?  My husband, my son and I all caught it one year when we visited my mother-in-law in her nursing home.  My father-in-law got it as well and our holiday visit to Edmonton was rather a dismal one.   The Norwalk Virus was 20 times as bad as what I had over the weekend.

I’m so happy to be healthy again.  A toast to health, yours and mine.

“The first wealth is health.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

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The Day in Miles

Ran 5 easy miles before work.  Walked a mile to work.  Walked from work, just over  a mile to Village by the Grange to meet a friend for dinner.  My husband met me at Village by the Grange and we walked just over a mile to the Air Canada Centre to see the Raptors play the Milwaukee Bucks.

Benefits of walking, priceless.  For any other method of  transport there are tokens or a $19 taxi ride home.

I resisted the Japanese version of Twinkies but ate nearly a whole box of Crunch & Munch at the game.

This Japanese restaurant gets the thumbs up!

Raptor head steals the show (Raptors lost 104-98)