Tuesday, April 1, 2014

There's some good in this world...

A young guy, Scott, around 22 hit my car yesterday. My car was just grazed but his had a big dent. He was so nice and was worried I'd freak out on him. But I didn't. And after exchanging info, promising not to call the insurance, I was still a bit agitated for most of the day. He worked at a coffee shop. He was driving his sisters car cause she was in Panama as he certainly couldn't afford his own insurance. He was out looking for an apartment and was looking for the street. Probably a student. But he was nice and so was his friend who was trying to calm him.

Here is where I will confess that I actually slept in. Rolled over when my alarm went off at 6 am and decided to go into work late. I left the house around 9 and the accident happened. What if...

I shouldn't have been on the road at that time. Wouldn't have been in his way as he changed lanes and didn't see me. But, I always look deeper. Perhaps if I had left earlier I would have been in a worse accident. So somehow karma caught up with me on Monday morning.

As we parted ways, I told him hubby would call him later once we figured out the damage. But it bugged me all day and into the evening. At 8 pm I made the decision to tell him we wouldn't ask for any money for repairs. I think we can buff out the spot and maybe touch up a few spots where the paint chipped around the wheel well.

As soon as I made that decision, I was 100% better. Hubby came home at 10 pm and we talked about it. He called the poor young fella and said we would fix it ourselves and to just remember to pass it on sometime in the future. I guess sometimes you just have to let it be. And seriously, if it had been thousands of dollars in damages, I would not have let it pass.

We lived through our kids and car accidents. Nothing serious. Bumps, scratches. And years ago, my kids met those bitches from hell who freaked out. We dealt with it and remembered. One tried to get more work done and blame it on my daughter. The other tried to say it was my son's fault. Lied to the police. Thank goodness my daughter was in the car and was a witness. So we thought, here's someone who in a moment of inattention changed both our days.

I'm not a hero. I'm just someone who feels good when I do a random act of kindness. I've done little things. Paid for the order behind me in the drive thru. Tossed a few coins into the hat of a homeless guy. And let a young guy, maybe realize that there is good in the world.

I love Lord of the Rings and J.R.R. Tolkien did say it best. Or at least Sam said it to Frodo:

THERE'S SOME GOOD LEFT IN THIS WORLD, MR. FRODO AND IT'S WORTH FIGHTING FOR.
There's some good in this world...
I hope this inspires you to do a little pay it forward yourself. It doesn't have to be monetary nor receive thanks. You will feel good.

Sandy


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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Birthday Fun and Am I Really That Old?

My birthday was March 15th, the Ides of March. I turned 60.

But I don’t feel 60. I remember when I was young(er) that someone who was 60 was OLD. I really don’t know how 60 is supposed to feel these days. Just as I didn't know how 30 or 40 or 50 was supposed to feel. Sure there are a few aches and pains but generally I’m in good health, eat well (most of the time), travel and keep active.

Having a birthday in March sucks. It's almost always cold, snowy and dreary. So I planned a birthday weekend. Had my hair cut and coloured. My youngest sister visited from Toronto and along with my older sister, niece and daughter here in Ottawa went for tea at the Chateau Laurier. Here are some pictures from the day.
Selecting our tea at the Chateau Laurier.
I skipped the sparkling wine.
Our steeped loose tea arrived and shortly afterwards three tiered plates of scones (with Devonshire Cream & Jam), finger sandwiches and sweets, one for each of us.
Posing with one of my sisters.
Finger sandwiches. Two biters.
Yummy sweets
The tea was fun. At another table was a group of women spanning the generations from 8 to 80 with their fancy hats and fascinators. It was decided then and there that when I turn 80, in twenty years, we would again get together for afternoon tea at the Chateau, this time with our granddaughters who would be in their twenties.

Hubby gave me a lovely Pandora charm for my bracelet—a gold bouquet of diamonds. 
And on March 16th, we girls had manicures and pedicures. Just a bit of pampering to celebrate a milestone. I also watched as my Retirement countdown calendar (to the right) switched to less than 4 years til retirement. Time is flying! 

I’m still working which kind of sucks. I was out of the full time workforce for most of the 90’s, while my kids grew, only working part time or no time. Which means I’m making up for lost time and padding my pension with each year of service. Two years ago when I started this blog I asked the question “Will I be Ready to Retire?” At the end of that post I wrote:
"I will explore what will make me happy. Now. And from there I won’t see retirement as something that has to have a final plan in place but an extension of my current life. I just won’t need the alarm clock to get me up each morning. Unless I want to get up early."
The same holds true two years later. Lately a few close to me have been dealing with illness or death. We can never predict how our life will unfold.

So, I’m doing what makes me happy now, because we don't know what tomorrow will bring.

Sandy




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Friday, February 28, 2014

Snowshoeing at Mont Tremblant

I spent the last 3 days at Mont Tremblant in Quebec. I'm not a skier so it might sound a bit ridiculous to go to a mountain in the winter where the temperatures were in the minus mid-teens. But I had a great time snowshoeing.

This was a short vacay with a friend of mine to pre-celebrate our 60th birthdays. My 60th arrives on March 15th. Keeping active is my motto. I don't feel my age and wonder where the time went. My parents were "old" when they were 60. 

I have two weeks left in my 50's and I plan to savour the next 2 weeks.

We arrived at Tremblant on Monday, February 24th around noon. Our room at the Hilton Homewood Suites wasn't ready until 4:00 pm but we wandered the village, had a nosh to eat and did a bit of skating on the outdoor rink.

I'm not a skater. Too afraid of falling on the hard ice but actually enjoyed the time on the rink. I borrowed my daughter's newer moulded skates without picks!
First time on skates in 20 years. Not bad.
Large skating rink near the Chapel at the base of the village square.
Our room at the Homewood Suites was quite nice. We were upgraded to a suite with loft, so I got the queen bed in the loft and my friend was comfy on the pull out couch. The room had a full kitchen and included a hot breakfast every morning. A good deal and easier on the pocketbook. The room overlooked Place Saint Bernard and the Tremblant ski hills.
Our room was the top two floors under the arrow. 
Views from our room:
Ski hills in the distance. Sun was just going down.
Place Saint Bernard with fire pit just outside our window.
Staying warm and toasty by the fire pit.
Linda by the fire.
On our first day, we took the Panoramic lift ($20) up to the top of the mountain with our snowshoes. We were surprised how many skiers were around during the week. On our snowshoes we had to first cross a couple of the ski hills which were quite icy til we hit the forested area. The snow was deep here and the trees were beautiful. A true winter wonderland. The wind died down as we got into the trees but the temp was about -15C with a windchill of -23C. Layers work the best and once moving the cold wasn't really noticeable.
Making our way across the ski hill to the forested area for snowshoeing.



Observation Tower overlooking the valley. Too ice covered to climb.
Winter wonderland of snow covered trees.
View from the top looking down towards the lake and village.
On our last two days we snowshoed at the base of the mountain around the golf course. The A-10 route was well marked through the forest. Again, once in the trees, the wind was bearable. And although we thought the terrain would be flatter, we did climb hills. I used my Nordic Walking poles and enjoyed some of the scenery along the way.
Frozen water run-off along the trail.
Such a good workout both days. 4.47 km, total climb 177 meters/580 feet.
The food. Well not so great. The first night we had Ham and Asparagus Crêpes at the Catherine Crêperie. They were a bit soggy and quite rich. Not really enjoyable although the place gets high raves from diners. I think the sweet crêpes might be better. 
Smiles before ordering.
On our last night we ate at Resto-Bar Le Shack where I had pretty good fish and chips. Most lunches we ate in the room or while snowshoeing-sandwiches or chili. Our hotel offered afternoon snacks daily from 4-6. Over the three days they had soup, salsa and chips and chili. We definitely didn't go hungry.

Of course a vacation in Tremblant means a trip to the Rocky Mountain store for fudge. I purchased a hunk of chocolate caramel fudge. Yummy in the tummy even at the outrageous prices.

All in all a great trip. Loved the snowshoeing in the forests and hills. And I was able to make my goal of 60 km walking/snowshoeing for the month of February. I actually exceeded the goal and logged in 68 km. I have a new goal to add another 70 for the month of March.

Hope everyone is able to get out and enjoy winter. Cause if we don't we will just sit inside and eat fudge. 

Sandy


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Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Thought That Counts

I have a secret friend. Well, I'm sure this friend is actually someone I know and speak with on a regular basis. But...

Every Valentine's Day for the last 20-25 years I have received a small card in the mail. No return address, no readable postmark, no name.

Handmade card with typewritten address.

Inside the card is written a lovely message:
Hoping I am a fabulous friend back at my "secret" friend.
When I received my first card sometime in the late 80's/early 90's I was perplexed. Who was it? I remember little confetti bits failing out of one of the cards onto my counter one year. I haven't kept the cards. I wish I had taken pictures of them though. They do sit on my window ledge for a few weeks and I think how cool it is that someone has been so thoughtful. 

As each year passed, I began to think how nice it is to remember others "anonymously". A few days before Valentine's Day I begin to wonder when the card will arrive. And true enough on either February 13th or 14th it appears.

At first it bothered me that I didn't know who was sending these. I can eliminate a few friends who I met after the first cards arrived, but I still have 5 or so longtime friends who would not only be capable of creating these, but who I consider true friends. Perhaps it is a family member. But whoever it is has not missed one year.

I don't dwell on the "who" anymore.

I dwell on the "thought".

Cause sometimes it is the thought that counts.

Sandy



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Sunday, February 9, 2014

Snowshoeing

We've had sun for 2 whole days. And the weather has warmed up. If -6C can be considered warm! After -25C (-13F), it does feel quite balmy around Ottawa.

People are leaving their houses and embracing the last few weeks of winter. For those who don't know, the Rideau Canal splits the city of Ottawa and in the winter it freezes over. They clean it off and skaters can skate for 7.8 km (4.8 mi). It is the "longest (widest) skating rink in the world".

We have a three week celebration, called Winterlude, but I'm not a skater so rarely go down now. I have walked while others skated and who would want to miss eating a Beavertail. It's a deep fried pastry sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. Yummy and full of calories.

I do snowshoe with a group every Saturday morning and yesterday was a tougher trail. We follow the cross-country ski trail but walk to the side in fresh snow so as not to disturb the ski tracks. I remember how hard it is to cross-country ski when someone has walked through the trails messing up the long striding skiing. The newer snowshoes are made from aluminum and aren't quite as wide or long as the old wood and gut snowshoes that the voyageurs used. I also use my Nordic walking poles for stability.
My aluminum snowshoes and Nordic walking poles.
The snow was about a foot deep in the forest and walking can be quite strenuous when breaking trail. Our leader usually tries to push through a trail and we follow along. Snow will pile up on the snowshoe so it feels like wearing weights around your ankles. The pictures below were at the end of our trek near the road where the snow wasn't very deep.
Kizell Pond Trail, Kanata
Near Beaver Pond
But what a workout. And what a joy being outside. A bit of Vitamin D from the sun doesn't hurt either, although we are bundled up so tight, very little skin shows. Within 10 minutes of trudging along the trail, I've usually unzipped my coat, unwrapped my scarf and removed my mitts. I dress in layers and really do work up a sweat. 

My Snowshoeing group
I discovered years ago that I need to embrace winter. To get out and enjoy the snow. But I am looking forward to seeing buds form on the trees in April, leaves burst out in May and the green return.

Then we will start the "it's so hot" mantra in the middle of summer. What I'd give to walk out in bare feet right now and forget about the boots.

Hoping you are enjoying the snow!

Sandy




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Sunday, February 2, 2014

January Exercise Goal Surpassed

It's been tough this cold and frosty January to keep up walking but I logged 50.9 kilometers this month. My goal was 40 km so I guess you could say I surpassed my goal.
January Walking/Snowshoeing 12 times
50.9 kilometers
32 miles
With all the snow and ice, I could have just given up. And I did take a short two week break over Christmas. Unmotivated but also down with a bad cold, I did very little walking, except from the parking lot at work to my desk. But I decided to "again" give that old treadmill sitting in the basement another try.

And it has stuck for these last 3 weeks. I found I could watch TV while I walked and the time flew by. In the past, I would put on my headphones and listen to music, only to be bored within 20 minutes. Now I record a bunch of movies and watch them while walking for 40-60 minutes 3 times a week. Including my snowshoeing every Saturday morning, I'm averaging about 14 km a week.

My goal for February with 4 weeks and 4 workouts each week will be 50 km again.

I'm so impressed with myself.

Sandy



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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Runkeeper App

Last summer I began using an app for my Samsung Galaxie phone, called Runkeeper. The app works with the GPS on the phone to log my walking and hiking. I turn it on when I begin my walk or hike and it plots a map of my route, distance and time. When finished, it uploads the information to my profile. If you stop for a rest it will pause and resume when you begin walking again.
Runkeeper screenshots.
Here are the links to see the Runkeeper app for Android (Google Play) or iPhone (iTunes Store).

My hubby uses the app for his bike rides. I use it only for walking and hiking to measure distance. One thing to remember when hiking is the GPS measures "as the crow flies" from point A to point B. If you are going up and down steep hills, it may not measure the actual distance as the GPS may think you have not moved much. Doesn't matter to me. I know I'm getting a workout by climbing hills.

In the fall I was Nordic walking with a friend (see my post about Walking with Nordic Poles). We were able to record a 10 min 12 second kilometer. Then it snowed and we had to give up our outside walks, although once a week we still snowshoe with a group. We can't reach anywhere near that speed but get an amazing workout. But once we can get back out on the trails again in the spring, we have a goal to break a 10 minute kilometer.
Our 10:12/km pace and mapped route in November 2013.
At the bottom it displays total climb.
Here is a hike I did with another friend walking down the Niagara Escarpment in Stoney Creek. The distance is probably not accurate as we had a big descent off the escarpment and climb back up of 344 meters/1128 feet. As you can see, hiking is a much slower activity than Nordic walking, although I still use my poles when hiking.
Hike to the Devil's Punchbowl and back up the escarpment. Hamilton, Ontario.
I've logged hikes on our trip to Ireland. 9 km on the Cliffs of Moher, 12 km through the Gap of Dunloe, Killarney and 9 km through the hills of Glendalough, just south of Dublin.
Hiking the Cliffs of Moher, Ireland.
The following chart shows my walks and hikes since last August (when I got my new phone and the app). The total distance for 2013 was 167.8 km. There are some walks missing but I'm learning to manually add walks or hikes when I don't turn on the phone app.
2013 Activities. Hikes in orange shading. Walks in green.
I've caught the hiking and walking bug. And when the snow hit, it was hard staying motivated. But I jumped on the treadmill and to paraphase Nike, I Just Did It.

Winter. Bring it on!

Sandy



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