Tag Archives: summer

Getting Into Hot Water

22 Jul

Just over two weeks ago, our water heater broke.

For reasons that I will not bore you with because it’s a long story, we are still living without hot water. A family of four plus a mother-in-law. The family of four includes two children who have a close one-on-one relationship with mud.

Bath time takes twice as long as it used to. Instead of simply running the bath for the kids, we have to dump buckets of cold water into the tub, and boil huge pots of water on the stovetop that then get added to the cold water so that the kids won’t go into shock when they get in.

What’s that you’re asking? Oh, why don’t we just run cold water from the tap? Because for whatever reason, the lack of water in the hot water tank has completely messed up the water pressure on the tap in the bathroom.

On the one hand, I am glad this did not happen in the middle of winter. Because then, heating the bath water to a bearable level would take three times as long. On the other hand, though, in winter you can get away with taking fewer baths. During the dog days of summer, however, when the temperatures are well over a hundred degrees, regular baths are kind of important.

The baths just take care of the kids. Gerard has a shower in his shop, and I have to traipse off the gym in order to avoid being one of The Unwashed. My mother-in-law goes to her sister’s house.

Once everyone is clean, we then have to deal with the dishes. Running the dishwasher is out of the question because it wouldn’t do the job very well, and because it’s not even connected to the cold water anyway. So dishes have to be washed by hand, and kettles full of boiling water keep having to be added to the water in the kitchen sink. Instead of taking ten minutes to clear the dishwasher and reload it, I am now having to spend up to an hour on this nonsense.

How on earth did people five hundred years ago get anything done?

Well. While the men were out conquering whatever they were conquering, the women were staying home and taking care of it all. It’s not like they had to spend two hours a day on the subway getting to and from a full-time job at the office. And besides, avoiding body odour wasn’t such an issue with them. They had annual baths every July, and the entire village shared a single tub of water for the occasion.

Apparently – apparently – our hot water will be reinstated within two or three days. I’ll believe it when I see it.

In the meantime, I just have to make the most of what I have. And drink wine to stop myself from going completely round the bend.

(Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dustpuppy/5371295/)

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Running Through The Fields On A Summers Day

20 Jun

My next half-marathon, which takes place a month from now, will involve a variety of running surfaces. The route will take runners along trails, on the streets, through a tunnel going under the highway, and through a number of fields in the farming community hosting the run.

Training for this event is proving to be interesting. For one thing, I have to do my training runs on a mix of terrains – easier said than done, for someone who lives in a definitively urban area. But still, there are ways and means, and I’ve been trying to incorporate the trails in our local parks into my routes.

The bigger challenge for me is the fact that this race is happening on July 17th, in other words, slap-bang in the middle of summer. Although I hail from sunny climes, and probably have more endurance for hot-weather running than most North American runners, I’m not a complete masochist, and still opt to run in cooler conditions where possible.

But this race, taking place at a time of year when the mercury is already hitting 30° Celsius by eight in the morning, is forcing me to change my usual training strategy. Because where I would usually go running at 5:00 a.m., I am now looking for opportunities to run later in the day, when it’s warmer. It’s all about acclimatization. When race day rolls around, I don’t want to be the weasel who cannot handle running in the heat. I want to be the one who runs strongly throughout.

And that is why I voluntarily headed out for a 16km  run shortly after lunchtime on Saturday. It was hot. Blisteringly. Although the actual temperature was only 19° Celsius, the humidity reading was pushing it up to the mid-thirties. Although this would never have potential to be a run I would describe as “pleasant”, the heat in itself was not the whole problem. I had not fueled myself properly for the run. More importantly, I had not hydrated myself. So not only was I hot, I was intensely thirsty as well, and I just didn’t have the energy stores I needed.

After 6km I gave up, and decided to do the long run the following morning when it was cooler. Usually I would hate the idea of cutting a run short, but since I had initially intended to run on Sunday anyway, I felt OK about it. I just chalked this up as a bonus 6km run.

When I got home I looked at my training schedule and saw that I wasn’t even supposed to do 16km this weekend. I was only supposed to do 10km. If I’d realized that I would have stuck out my Saturday run for the full 10km.

Maybe next time I will consult my training schedule before I hit the road.

(Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stamargo/4894061863/)

My Next Race

15 May

In yesterday’s post, I whined about how I would not be able to run the Toronto Women’s Half-Marathon at the end of the month. I’m still not happy about it, and I know that on race day I will be sitting at home resenting the crap out of the cold I caught and the damaged nerve that sometimes just has to get its way or else. I will be consoled, though, by the fact that at least I am not doing something stupid that could result in debilitating injury.

The good news in all of this is that as of this morning, I am registered for a half-marathon in mid-July. The race looks like a good one. It is in the Niagara region so the scenery will be nice. The elevation chart is mostly a flat line, so the race will probably not be on a physically demanding course. And it is a full two months from now, which means that I will have the time to train, and train properly. I have a half-decent chance to put in a half-decent time.

The only drawback to this race is that it is in mid-July. Meaning mid-summer. Meaning scorching hot temperatures and lots of humidity. It will not be easy to run in those conditions, although it will beat the winter runs where you have to wear all of the clothes you own and try to avoid falling on your ass on solid sheets of ice.

Just registering for this run has energized me. It gives me a goal, something to work towards, something to train for.

Niagara, here we come!

The Moment My Future Arrived

11 Mar

21 August, 2001

It is a beautiful summer’s evening, but my heart is feeling heavy. I am lonely. I have been in Canada for just over a year, and it seems to be taking an inordinately long time for me to build up any kind of social support network. Barry and I split up just a week ago after dating for five months. It wasn’t the best of relationships – we didn’t really have any kind of chemistry, me and Barry – but he had represented some kind of social normality at a time when I really needed it. The breakup was awful – the kind that involves lots of arguing, accusations flung back and forth, and absolutely no chance of friendship afterwards.

What stings the most is that Barry is not divorced at all, like he’s been telling me. He’s still married. It doesn’t matter to me that he and his wife don’t get along. It doesn’t matter that they no longer live together. The fact is that for five months, I’ve been sleeping with someone else’s husband. Even though I didn’t know, had no way of knowing, I feel tarnished. Like I’ve done something wrong.

I’m feeling sad, angry, lonely. I feel trapped in all of these negative emotions, and I have to get out. I cannot go for a run: I already ran this morning, and with my first half-marathon just a month away, I cannot afford to mess with my training.

Instead, I take a walk to High Park. As I wander into the park, I instantly start to feel calmer. High Park is the kind of place that does that. All of that luscious green, the wide open spaces, the breathtaking beauty of the flowers and the river, serves to slow my heartbeat and appreciate the world around me.

I walk for a while, and then sit on a rock close to the park entrance. I close my eyes and bask in the warmth of the sun. Gradually, I feel myself coming to life, like a flower receiving water after a drought. I open my eyes and see a man walking towards me.

I wonder if I know him, and squint to get a better look in the sunlight. No, I’ve never seen him before, and yet he is walking in my direction with definite purpose, smiling broadly as he makes eye contact with me. He is holding a bunch of flowers.

Odd. I wonder if he has mistaken me for somebody else.

He reaches me and sits down on the rock beside me. He looks into my eyes, pauses, and then says, “You have beautiful eyes.” He hands me the flowers and tells me his name. I hear the sound of my own name coming from my lips, but I am not aware of having spoken.

In an instant, Barry and everything to do with him has faded into complete insignificance. None of that matters anymore.

I am staring at this man in wonderment, this man who is a stranger and yet somehow, not a stranger at all.

We stand up, and arm in arm, we start walking.

Both of us somehow know that we are walking, together, to our future.

(Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/eleasa/2734011065)

From Lab Rat To Sunrises

11 Jan

I went for a run on the treadmill this morning.  This meant getting up at five when I hadn’t had enough sleep, and schlepping off to the gym down the road.  Yes, I do have my own treadmill at home, but I never use it.  Not since the day my son James, then three years old, put his hand on the belt while it was moving and chalked up a very painful visit to the ER.  The thing is pretty much used as a coat hanger these days.

Anyway, when I got to the gym, I was momentarily stymied by the sight of someone using the treadmill I always like to use, the one right by the window.  What was this?  Twenty treadmills free, just begging to be used, and he has to pick my one?  The fact that I don’t actually own the treadmill and that he has just as much right to use it as I do did not matter to me in the least.

I couldn’t exactly push him off, though, so I reluctantly chose another treadmill, entered the settings for a hill workout, and started running.  In the beginning, I thought I was in trouble.  My muscles felt way too tight to be running hills, and I tired quickly.  It only took a couple of minutes for me to find my groove, though, and I completed the workout (4.7km in about 26 minutes).

I enjoyed the run as much as I could under the circumstances.  I am not fond of treadmill running.  It always makes me feel a bit like a hamster, or a lab rat. But sometimes, especially in the dead of winter, I don’t have a choice.  I don’t mind running in the cold or the snow, and I have the attire for it.  But when there is actual ice on the sidewalks, that is another matter entirely.  I will run in icy conditions during the day, when I can scope out every step before I take it.  Not at five in the morning, when it is far too dark for me to see the sidewalk ahead of me.

I am really looking forward to the Spring.  I look forward to the weather getting warmer, and I look forward to the sun rising a little earlier each day.  I don’t look forward to the downpours of rain that are always a part of Spring, but they too are there to usher in the warmer, lighter days.

I love the middle of summer.  When everyone else is swooning and whining about the heat, I am thriving.  Of course, everyone else can get back at me in the winter, when I turn into a pathetic crybaby about the cold.  What can I say?  Even though I am now a Canadian and proud of it, I am from Africa.  I am a child of the sun.

In the summer, it is too hot to run during the middle of the day, but the beauty is that it gets light shortly after five in the morning.  If I can get out at just the right time, I can go out in perfect weather, and run while I watch the sunrise.  Most of the world is asleep at that time; I feel as if Mother Nature is putting on a show just for me.

The treadmill is OK.  I can live with it – in fact, I may even benefit from it – once a week.  But there is no feeling in the world like running on the open road.

Be sure to check out my post today on World Mom’s Blog, where I talk about how I coped with George’s autism diagnosis.