Sunday, October 20, 2013

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The road goes on. Upwards, apparently.  In April, I walked almost 400k around the coast of Devon and Cornwall, and I only got soaking wet two days.  Miles and miles of cliffside walking, punctuated by bed and breakfasts and a satisfying amount of fish and chips.  But it was good to get home.

In September we are going (Miguel and I) to Peru, to visit Machu Picchu.  We were told to be careful of altitude sickness, but when I looked it up, the top of the Lake Louise ski hill is higher than Machu Picchu so I'm hoping we will be ok...

Miguel is going to cook for a hunting camp next week.  Originally the plan was that I would go too, but in the way of things here, plans changed and there isn't room on the plane for me.  So I guess it's more working for me.  I'm sad, because I was really looking forward to it, but there will be other opportunities to get out on the land, I'm sure, and we're fixing up our new cabin...

Sunday, March 24, 2013

ok, so it's that time in the essay-writing process when I've got a week before two papers are due and they are written but I've decided I hate them both and I'm going to just fail...  I feel like messing with them is just making them worse.  total drivel.  argh. blurgle. meh.

Miguel has gone off to Edmonton today, I won't see him again for 37 days...  but we've both got adventures to go on, he's going to Europe with the high school kids (shudder) and I'm going to England.

It's getting warmer, here, finally.  I'm looking forward to getting back and doing some more kite-skiing when my feet don't freeze off.  I managed this week to fall while kiting and get back up again without downing the kite, taking off my skis, and clambering to my feet - I just used the pull of the kite to right myself, which is what you're supposed to do.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

20-some-odd kilometre an hour winds.  But, I got the kite up in the air and kept it there for a while and skied across the bay.  In the other direction from last time, so a different view on the walk home.  When I am able to go upwind, the fun will last longer and there won't be as much walking.  But the flying bit is very fun.  Now someone has removed my legs and replaced them with gummy bears.  Using muscles I didn't know I had.  At one point I crashed and was lying on the ice totally out of breath, but perfectly happy.

Making banana bread this afternoon.  Someone (maybe me?) froze some brown bananas and they are happily cooking into a loaf.  House smells good.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Indian food tonight.  Butter chicken and curried carrots and peas, and I made naan.  Haven't done that in a while.

Justin Timberlake is on SNL tonight, but I had actually forgotten that fact, because I was looking forward to Miguel coming home from Igloolik.

Court week is over.  That's the thing about court week.  Although so much of my workload is geared towards having things done for court, when it comes it just goes the way it goes and a bunch of stuff gets either withdrawn or adjourned and suddenly there is no point in some of the work I've done - transcripts for a matter that goes nowhere because witnesses don't show, and then it's over.

Rachel and I were talking about parenting, today.  She told me that we never grounded her.  Which is funny, I guess, it never occurred to me.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Went to Rachel's grade twelve class yesterday and facilitated a consensus exercise.  Pulled Korinne's class apart and put it back together as a circle of chairs, just like AVP.  Told them they all had to participate all the way through or it wouldn't work - and they did.  I had forgotten how much I enjoy facilitating.  I really love consensus, I love how it looks at the end, when everyone is leaning into the circle in their chairs and they're in agreement.  Asking them how they felt afterwards they had some insightful things to say.

Guarded last night.  Nobody wants to do it right now.  But it means I can't get on the internet and I get more schoolwork done that way.  I'm just editing, both papers due at the end of March are written, and I'm editing them and adding bits.  Slow going.  My supervisor for my dissertation had an aneurysm, poor thing.  The lady they gave me in her place in the interim is very sweet but doesn't know anything about my topic.  (Interviewer skill and training in victim and witness statements....)

But I'm tired today.  Thinking about cigarettes.  Not having any.


Monday, March 04, 2013

The dogs are making dog noises at me.  Since they have both recently been outside I am ignoring them.  They persist.  Neither one is bright enough to be trying to warn me of some unspecified danger, so I am assuming sheer boredom motivates them.  Perhaps I should teach them to knit...

Watched the movie "We Bought A Zoo" last night, as I think I drank a cup of caffeinated coffee at 7pm.  Dumb, really.  Well, the movie was fun but the caffeine not so much.  Miguel didn't like my idea the other day that I was going to quit my job and start a hamster farm.  He says no rodents.  So tigers and such would be better, I'm guessing.  But the movie has an interesting piece of advice.

The father in the movie tells his children that in order to go and say something potentially embarrassing to a girl, all you need is 20 seconds of courage.  Which will launch you, apparently, into the middle of the situation, which will then play itself out.

I've always found, however, that this strategy works better in person, where the embarassee can see me grinning maniacally while I tell him or her the potentially embarrassing whatever.  Looking for jobs has a similar 20 second thing.  Or showing up for a dreaded appointment.  Generally, when all is said and done, it turns out the doctor/teacher/future employer already has an agenda and all I need to do is sit there and nod.

Someone called me at work on Friday, and when I answered, the caller gave an address and asked to be picked up.  I said, "Excuse me?"  Caller replied, a little annoyed, "I want a taxi at XX Arctic-Animal Street."  I said, "You've called the police."  "Oh, sorry, don't come pick me up..." 

Sunday, March 03, 2013

So I am procrastinating.  Lying on the bed with the dogs (black and blonde) and Rachel and my cell phone in case Miguel texts me and video-on-trial on tv.  I should be working on the literature review and the formal proposal for my course - dissertation is on track but it's an incredible amount of work.

Went to San Francisco, last month, which was totally amazing.  I seemed to have suddenly discovered how to re-engage with my own life.  No explanations have presented themselves and been convincing, but, suddenly after a couple of years of miserableness I'm happy and involved and reading books again and watching whole movies and being my SELF.  I want to draw pictures and hang out with Miguel and I'm learning to kite-ski which is tremendous fun.  Like flying.  Except for the crashing part.  Oh, and the bit where I can only manage one direction and have to walk back across the bay after the triumphant sail towards the Loran tower.

Anyway.  San Francisco.  Crazy place full of crazy people.  All the street people have a gimmick, they want to tell you jokes or startle you or play an instrument for you and you're meant to give them money.  What mostly happened though is that we gave them cigarettes.  We were smoking in the street outside the hotel and the coffee shop down the way and Miguel made some 'friends' who would come by and ask for smokes.  We shared with them.

Alcatraz also was cool - high windows and tiny cells and a panoramic view of the mainland like they're tormenting the inhabitants.  Look at all this wonderful city.  You can't have it.
hey they let me back in!!!!!!

Friday, October 28, 2011

friday

So I decided. Or did I? I can't actually remember. But somehow along the way I enrolled in a Master's of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice. I do remember the period of time when I was hoping they'd accept me but terrified that they would at the same time, because it would mean that I would have to do the work. And so once again I'm chasing articles on sentencing policy, cognitive behavioural rehabilitation programs, lalala. I woke up in the middle of the night last night thinking about how I forgot to include a report on sentencing reform in the paper I'm currently writing. Strangely, also, the program is at the University of Portsmouth, in England. I've seen Portsmouth on a map, haven't been there that I ever remember, but I have a library card, in case I ever wanted to go. Although my body is here, my brain is spending an awful lot of time studying contemporary criminal justice policy in England and Wales. Like a vacation without leaving home.

I was looking online the other day, to answer a question of Ian's. Someone told him that he could claim British citizenship based on my birthplace, and that turned out to be true. He would love to go and live in England. I think he'd enjoy it. The interesting thing that I didn't know, though, is that his children will also be able to claim a 5 year residency in England if they choose, because I'll be their grandmother and you can claim that if one of your grandparents was born in England...

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

life goes on




I had fully intended to post a complete account of my wanderings in Spain. It was a wonderful experience and although I didn't finish (I knew I didn't have enough time when I started, but decided to start in Pamplona cos I've always been a Hemingway fan, and in the end I got almost to Ponferrada) I did walk 500k and pushed long past the limits of what I thought I was capable of, both mentally and physically. But on getting back I plunged back into life (including beginning a Masters in criminology) and lost track of the posting here. So instead, here's a belated update.


I'm going back to finish next year. Gonna start again at Burgos and go all the way to the end.


In the meantime, I got a tattoo.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Castrojeriz













Every day when you get to the albergue, the ritual is the same. Pay your money, hand over your pilgrim passport (mine is lime green) for a stamp, pick your bed. Then you spread your sleeping bag out on the bed so that no-one takes it. I like top bunks, I find the bottom bunks claustrophobic. Then find toiletries, take a shower, put on semi-clean clothes, wash your socks and t-shirt for the day and maybe your underwear, hang them out to dry. Then, the rest of the day is just hanging out.

Castrojeriz has a castle. It doesn't however have a bus until Monday. So Tina took a taxi back to Burgos, after we negotiated that with the elderly driver, and now I'm sitting alone on the sundeck of the albergue, wondering what to do for dinner. Although it took us two days to walk here, I'm sure Tina got back to Burgos in about half an hour in the cab...

Friday, April 15, 2011

Hornillos del camino







My feet have almost stopped hurting. They are still tired at the end of the day, but not swollen and immovable in my boots anymore. At one point today, walking by myself, my spirits lifted and I'm walking with the unalloyed joy I remember from Nepal.

Hornillos del camino is tiny, one main street, and most of the houses are unoccupied. The population seems to consist of three elderly ladies who are roaming the streets in their bathrobes.

Tina and I sat most of the afternoon outside on the steps of the church. We talked to Ursula from Ireland, whom Tina met this afternoon on the trail.

I'm in a one-horse town in the middle of nowhere with a bunch of strangers (I should explain that really Tina is Jessica's friend and I had only met her once briefly before this trip. Jessica is in Burgos, we think, waiting for Tina to come back, but there is no bus from Hornillos and no taxi... so it will have to be tomorrow.) and I'm perfectly happy.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Burgos



I'm sitting in the square outside the cathedral, with the backpacks. The bus to Burgos was too fast, but the alternative was nerves frayed past the breaking point and feet that shouldn't be in boots. For the grace of their company, it was necessary. God will understand.



In the last couple of days I've been feeling closer to Him, stranded as I have been in a strange land. I want Him to come and have coffee with me, so we can talk about what I should do next. I'm thinking he'd probably tell me to brush my hair.

A little while ago, we had lunch in a sidewalk cafe where the pretty waitress served us happily. A real contrast to the service we have had to wring out of other establishments... It was a shock at first, when she came to give us menus and started explaining things to us, we waved her away. Jessica said, "How do we explain that we're not used to this any more?" And lunch was filling, I had salad and calamari. They had garlic soup. But, we're staying in pretty close quarters.

St. Augustine says, "My life is full of such faults, and my only hope is in your boundless mercy."

Jessica doesn't want to walk any more. Tina's knee still hurts from her injury in Nahera. Tina has decided she will walk with me tomorrow, to make sure I'm ok, and then take the bus back to Burgos and they will go to Portugal on the train. I told them, gently, "I came here to walk. I don't want to stop yet." And so I will be alone.

I got a ribbon bracelet with the Lord's Prayer on it in Spanish - cute pictures, too. The first thing I've bought other than food. And Tina and Jessica bought me a bracelet with an arrow on it, like the ones that mark the Camino, friendly yellow arrows on the road and on buildings.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

carrying things




Every morning I get up and pack everything I'm not currently wearing, put it on my back, and set off... it's a wonderful feeling. I have an orange and grey backpack that I bought to take to Nepal, it's 35 litres, and in it I have:




sleeping bag

inflatable mat

three tank tops, three t-shirts, a pair of capris, a pair of leggings, a pair of shorts

three pairs of socks, four pairs of underwear, two bras, one bathing suit

backpacking towel, headlight, solar panel- which charges - my ipod, guidebook, journal, very small book to read (The Confessions of St. Augustine).

the white ugly sandals talked about earlier and a green cotton sundress, both for evenings

raincoat, rain pants, hat, backpack rain cover

two sweaters, one is neon green and has a hood and cool thumbholes in the sleeves, and the other is fuzzy

water bottle, pocket knife

two little pouches that contain: a small bottle of shampoo, bar of soap, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, tiny hairbrush, and the tape and gauze for my feet, sunscreen, Fisherman's Friends, Tylenol, bandaids

a jar of apricot jam...

The last item is because sometimes breakfast is provided in the albergues, but it doesn't always feature jam. So I'm carrying my own. I'm a little tired of the clothes I brought and they don't get terribly clean with the hand washing. I'm worried that I smell.





We are in Belorado tonight. Jessica and Tina want to take the bus to Burgos tomorrow, because they've been told it's a steep hill out of Belorado. I've said I'll come with them.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Santo Domingo Part 2

Went to see the cathedral, after the laundromat. And so I sat in the cathedral, with my sore feet on the prayer bench and looked at the stark black cross suspended from the ceiling in the intensely ornate nave and somehow we both seemed out of place. And I thought, "What am I doing HERE?"

Tina and Martha made a very tasty supper, pasta with what they thought was ground beef but turned out to be ground turkey. We gave the leftovers to various folk. Which was kind of satisfying in itself. The visiting foot guy has bound my big gross blister that developed on the pad of my left foot - after popping it and filling the holes with iodine. Yick. But it feels much better tonight (I stopped and took my boots off after lunch today because I was convinced that one of the bones in my foot was poking through my sole) and I think I'll be able to walk on it tomorrow. I know, eh? Again with the feet.

But really. Does God want all of this? The pilgrimages, the cathedrals, the gold and jewels? How does he let us know what he wants? Telegrams?

I feel as if I have been walking my whole life. As if someone said, "Walk!" and I set off, but not knowing why. The days, although I feel them so strongly as they happen, are beginning to run into each other, bleed into one big puddle of Camino-ish-ness. Walk, rest, walk, rest, walk, eat, walk, walk, shower, eat, look around, eat, sleep, get up, walk again. What day did the apple come through town? What day did I buy the ugliest plastic shoes in the world? What day did I eat the immense croissant?

I forgot to tell the apple story. We were in Cirauqui, which is a town on the side of a very steep hill. We stopped at a little grocery store because Tina wanted fruit. I had a sore tummy and didn't want food, so I was sitting on the wall outside the shop. Tina and Jessica went in and looked around, and came out with something, I forget what, but Tina was saying, "I can't believe they didn't have any apples." Just after she said it, and I'm not even kidding, something came bouncing towards us, it had come down the steep street behind us and was going quite fast and bouncing pretty high, it went past us and I said to Tina, "There's your apple" and we all started to laugh.

Santo Domingo de Calzada













Last night we decided that Leon is our destination, another week or so, and that after that we will go sit on a beach somewhere. Jessica is happier, now that we have a plan that involves ending the Camino. Getting to Santo Domingo was a shorter day, we were here by 12:30, not the 4PM of yesterday, and that makes a difference. In my mind's eye I can see vineyards stretching endlessly out of sight. I'm tired but not exhausted, tonight.


It rained on us a little today, just a light mist, like from a plant sprayer. But it's still not cold... just pleasant for walking. A little chilly for protracted sitting without a sweater.


I'm sitting in the laundromat, which we were happy to find after days of washing our sweaty socks and t-shirts by hand in stone basins with cold water. Our clothes are going round, we also have Martha from Ireland's clothes. Clare from England, who Tina has been walking with, went on further today. But we decided that 30k is too long for us, and we're sticking to 20s at the moment. Also, it takes us into the afternoon when it gets very hot, and Spanish people who are sitting in the shade drinking beer give us trouble for walking in the heat.


Dinner last night was in a lovely cafe, run by friendly Carlos, his brother found Tina in pain from her hamstring in the street in Najera in the afternoon, and gave her ice, then saw us hobbling around in our sandals later in the evening and took us to Carlos' cafe, where we had a carb feast, pizza and spaghetti. As we were leaving, Carlos said, "Estoy abierto a las seis, manana," so we went back this morning for bread and jam and excellent coffee, and Carlos gave me his card so I can send him a postcard.


Children keep coming past the door of the laundromat and yelling in - not sure what that's about. I found yesterday that a lot of people spoke to me, when I was alone, in Logrono. Telling me my pack was too heavy, my shoelace was untied, wishing me buen camino.


Clothes are in the dryer now, the girls have reappeared with food to be eaten soon. Earlier on in the trip I suggested that we buy food and have a picnic, given that we always seem to eat lumps of baguette with ham and/or cheese anyway, but the idea was dismissed. Now, it is good. Some measure of how far they have come, in their European experience.


I need to keep reminding myself that everyone is on his or her own camino. That although sometimes it seems like a giant walking slumber party, the way that they are experiencing it is different. Some are more inward, some more outward. And I am not in their bodies. I don't feel what hurts them, just as they don't feel what is excruciating for me. In the evenings we all limp around in our sandals, even those who have been striding much more quickly than me through the countryside. I'm sure that in the future I will drink a glass of wine made from grapes from a field I have walked through in the last week. I just won't know it.


I'm already talking about when I'm going to come back and finish...

Monday, April 11, 2011

Najera































Jessica and I were joking around about being penguins, rather than pilgrims, given that our feet are no longer under our conscious control, but rather very flipper-like. Jessica said, "Yeah, I used to be able to move my feet inside my shoes, but not any more." Today she took the bus.. We set out this morning from Logrono but her heel is very painful, and she turned back after fifteen minutes or so. I took her back through the streets of Logrono to the hostel again. One of the Korean girls was coming out, she has blisters too and took the bus from Los Arcos to Logrono, and she had a map to the bus station. And so I left Jessica there and walked off alone. Tina had gone on ahead to catch some other people, Clare from England and Martha from Ireland, when it was apparent that Jess and I were turning back.


I walked 30k by myself. Every now and then someone would catch me up, and we would exchange pleasantries and discuss our feet - I've met a lot of the people who are doing this stretch - I think there's about thirty-five of us or so. The discussion would pull me along, like a small car in a large truck's slipstream, for a while, and then I fall back to my own rhythm. I really hope for my feet to quit hurting so much. Poor old feet. They really do become the focal point of everything. How much do they hurt? What's that stupid blister doing? Do I have any hotspots? So much for spiritual enlightenment, I am firmly enmeshed in the state of my feet.


Chocolate helps. I've taken to carrying a large bar in my shoulder bag with the map, and when I start to falter I chomp down big hunks of it. So far I've had Fruit and Nut, white chocolate, and a lovely bar with bits of toffee in it. That one went fast. This morning, when I was walking out of Logrono, I stopped at a bar for breakfast and had the largest croissant I've ever seen in my life. Accompanied by cafe con leche (like a non-foamy latte) it cost me 2 euros.

At lunch time I followed two German guys into a food store, along the road, and purchased a large orange, a loaf of bread, a jar of jam, a bag of chips and a bottle of Fanta limon. (My favourite from when I used to come to Spain as a kid). In the semi-drizzle of noon-time, I sat by the side of the road by a vineyard and ate it. About half an hour later, I came down into a valley and found a little rest stop, with a picnic shelter with benches on it. One of the Dutch guys I've talked to before was sitting out by the road, so I felt safe, and I went into the picnic shelter, took my boots off, settled down with my head on my backpack, and went fast asleep. I don't know how long I slept, but I do know I wouldn't have been able to do the last ten kilometers without a nap...

Friday, April 08, 2011

Puente La Reina - don't follow people
















Can we be other than what we are? Can we three assorted pilgrims come to terms with our different desires?



Maybe this is part of what I need to be learning. That I can continue to grow. We are in Puente La Reina. I have showered and washed my socks. My body is clean and my mind floating. This afternoon after we arrived at the albergue I went back to the town (we walked up a hill on the far side of town to get here, which was a bit of a fractious walk) to fetch blister cream for Jessica. One of the other walkers recommended something, and I went to find a pharmacy to purchase some for her. She has blisters. And they're hurting her.



I also went up to see the ruined castle, up top of the town. When I climbed all the way up there, it was kinda just a pile of rocks. NOT the noble edifice I had in mind... So much of life is like that, it seems.



When we were in the Toronto airport, we were traversing the international terminal to approach our gate for Munich. A little Asian lady was the gatekeeper of the far recesses of the wing we needed. As we walked up, she was scolding some passengers who were late for their flight to Lima. She bundled them into one of those beeping golf cart vehicles and they were whisked away. We were wondering if we were going to get yelled at. I'd already had a full body scan in the nice new machine and an intimate cuddle with a lady wearing blue latex gloves. We got to the gatekeeper, and she looked at our boarding passes. She said, "Go that way. Don't follow people." We were giggling, and commented that it might be good advice in general, for life, and there have been a few times since, when we've been trying to find something, and been tempted to just go along with the herd of other back-pack toting pilgrims, and one or other of us has said, "Don't follow people."



I have the guidebook. I keep it in my little bag, so it's always at hand. Tina says the guidebook lies. It tells us kilometres, and we don't believe it. We walk and walk, and then we come to a landmark, I look in the book, and the map says we've walked half a kilometre. Today there was a long stretch without shade, through farmland and vineyards, and I have a couple of little blisters. My feet are swollen.

Thursday, April 07, 2011













I am a pelegrino - a pilgrim. We are walking. For the last year or so, people have been asking me what I was going to do this spring, since I went to Everest last spring. And I've been saying, "I'm going to walk across Spain." And now I'm doing it. We are obviously pilgrims. We've got the backpacks, and I've got a crest that says "Canadian Company of Pilgrims". As people pass us, locals and non-Camino tourists, they say, "Buen Camino."


My head is pretty quiet, today. It sang me some songs, but other than that no worries. We walked 30k today, starting out of Pamplona, which is a pretty university city, and up the Alto de Perdon, a big hill with wind turbines up top. Stopped at a little village for lunch. My feet are tired, tonight, and we're staying in an albergue (a hostel) in the basement of quite a nice hotel. Apparently they serve breakfast. Everyone in the albergues gets up pretty early, and they have a time you have to be gone by, which so far has been 8am. A little early for us jet-lagged folk, but it's nice to get going before it gets hot.