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The Friday Five

1. How do you like your coffee? Sweet and milky. Hot is a bonus, but it's not essential.

2. How do you like your tea? Depends on the tea. Mostly just plain as my preferred teas are green or herbal, but I have recently developed a fondness for incredibly strong black tea (think Yorkshire Gold) with a bit of milk and sugar.

3. What's your favorite late night beverage? Usually something like Sleepytime tea, but sometimes there is nothing better than a Viking Thaw (hot chocolate, dark rum - preferably Screech - and whipped cream).

4. If you could only drink one thing for the next week, what would it be? Water. Not that I like it better than anything else, but I like not being dehydrated.

5. If you were on vacation, what would be the first thing you'd drink to celebrate? It's context-specific but since most of my holidays are in the summer and in the Americas, I'm going to go with a rum drink. It could be rum punch, a mojito, or rum and orange juice. If I were in Guyana again, it would be 15 year-old Demerara sipping rum. Or, if I'm back in Newfoundland next summer as planned, a Viking Thaw.
You know you're in Ottawa when the weather report starts with a sigh and "oh, I hope the weather doesn't go about 0C". The Rideau Canal opens today but the weather is due to warm up by Wednesday.

Last night was the burlesque show. It was so much fun! There were about eight acts - a tap dancer, hoola hoop dancer, comedian/juggler, hoop show (I can't find the words to describe her performance which involved artistic gymnastics on a big hoop suspended from the ceiling), amazing contortionist, a juggler/acrobat, and a couple of dancers. Oh, and MC was great - he was as much a part of the show as any of the performers. There was a bar and snacks before the show and at intermission (I now love caesar salad on a stick - slice of cucumber, an olive, cherry tomato and chunk of feta on a toothpick). There were fourteen of us in our group. The house was completely sold out so we ended up sitting in small groups. There was a hoola hoop contest, with contestants selected by who had a card taped to the bottom of their chair. Two of the three contestants were from our group, and each won consolation prizes of big floral hair clips. Einar immediately clipped his to his moustache, since he doesn't have much hair on his head.

Today is the first day back to swim club - yay! Then I'll be going to paint with friends. I haven't done any painting in well over a decade, so this will be interesting.

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Today the air doesn't hurt my face

It should. It was -24 this morning (-28 with wind chill), and I understand that translates to -11F. That's the coldest it has been all winter. I bundled up in a warmer coat for my walk to work and got a bit overheated. Walking between buildings for meetings, I didn't even bother zipping up my coat or using boots, hat and mitts. Yesterday I was wandering around without any coat at all. Could this possibly mean that my metabolism is speeding up? Or is it merely that the climate conditions are just right? Cue the Canadian jokes about it being a "dry cold".


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Skating Adventures

I went out withurban_squrrl, Aelfwyn, and Daffyd to a new skating place just north of Gatineau Park today. It was amazing! There was a nice big cabin for changing into skates, and 3 km of trails through the woods, in one big loop or three smaller loops. I ended up skating about 10 km. The weather was absolutely perfect and the trees were gorgeous. There were benches in the snow so you could stop for a rest or to admire the birds (there were bird feeders at several spots; though we saw many blue jays, I was only able to catch a picture of one of the chickadees).






Afterwards, we went for lunch - I had a turkey, arugula, caramelized onion and Dijon panini. It was divine.

Doing less

I love resolutions, as you know. I loved this resolution: https://fitisafeministissue.com/2017/01/07/my-2017-stop-doing-list/

It has three parts:
1) stop glorifying being busy
2) stop beating yourself up over missed workouts
3) stop apologizing for being a hot mess.

Number one is something I'm working on both at work and in my personal life. For starters, I am writing this as I sit in bed, doing nothing productive beyond catching up with friends via social media. The work I "should" be doing is downstairs. The crafts I had planned to work on are sitting beside me. I'm not even bothering to grab food because I have a cat curled up with me.

So many interesting posts today

Everyone seems to be suffering with winter weather. Apparently it's a problem here, too. I got up from my desk at one point and there was no snow, but by the time I got part-way across the building, everything outside was hidden in blowing snow squalls. Less than an hour later, it was done. We had freezing rain yesterday, so a lot of people are without electricity (4,000 homes, I think) because trees and branches came down under the weight. I had good bus connections to work and a ride home, so I barely noticed the weather, except to admire it this morning:



Another shot from my front porch, looking up the street.

I'm feeling very tired tonight and can't decide on the cause. Is it because I took a sleeping pill last night and it is finally kicking in? Is it because I forgot my tea this morning? Or because I never got around to making a coffee at work? I suspect it's mostly because I had my coaching circle today and I got put on the spot for an air time and probing questions about my personal growth objectives at work for the next year. There are some painful truths I need to confront and I have work to do to build my skill set to make me a better leader. It was exciting at the time, but also draining. I need to set up a debriefing session with our leadership coach to drill down on skill gaps and how to address them. I'll do that tomorrow. For now - bed!

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asher63 wrote a few months ago about visiting the Jewish community in Uganda. I was fascinated by the story then, so was really interested when this showed up in my news feed at work:

http://www.metronews.ca/news/world/2016/12/21/once-outlawed-uganda-s-tiny-jewish-group-opens-synagogue.html

The snow isn't all bad

This just went by my house. I think the gourmet shop at the end of the street has arranged it for the day.

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The snow hit today

The local bus to my office, which is whimsical at the best of times, was missing in action today. I waited for my first bus for a bit, then decided it would be faster to walk the eight blocks or so to my next bus. When I got there, a large crowd had already been waiting for about a half an hour. I waited for fifteen minutes or so (watching no less than seven buses that should have passed me while I was walking) and then spotted a friend walking to work so I joined him. I beat the bus.

At least I wasn't in Montreal. This is just wacky! http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/montreal-beaver-hall-snow-slippery-1.3881744
Hopefully this link will do the trick: https://youtu.be/ZughLxTC3t0

I have been trying to stick with the contemplation and not complaining objectives, but I find myself wondering about what counts as a complaint. Is acknowledging a fact a complaint? For example, if I notice that it is cold, and think "wow, it's cold", is it complaining if I'm not horribly unhappy (though maybe a little suprised)? Is it complaining to run through scenarios in my head (those "I wish I had said" or "maybe I should say..." conversations)? How about the ones where I repeat in my head those conversations that actually happened (the ones where someone states a hard truth that I happen to agree with)?

At heart, I'm an analyst and analysts are regularly accused of being pessimistic when really we are just trying to see all the angles (and that can be bad). The whole exercise of questioning myself is interesting, though. As I notice things, I am trying really hard not to let it be anything more than just "noticing". When those endless loops of conversation start up in my head, I work really hard to make them stop. In some ways, this may be helping me to achieve the mindfulness that my leadership coach keeps trying to convince me is a good thing; usually, it just strikes me as flaky, which is why this article made me smile: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/26/opinion/sunday/actually-lets-not-be-in-the-moment.html?smid=fb-share&_r=0. After re-reading it several times, I'm starting to think that maybe being mindful is a good thing. It doesn't mean I have to like washing dishes, or even dealing with Scary Mary from work. But maybe I can get better at acknowledging my feelings and move on to something more productive.

Enough deep thoughts for tonight. It's time for rum, hot chocolate and some quality time with my pillow (and hopefully a cat).