Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Eating out

One of the best things about not owning a car is forced exercise.

This morning, my son and I went out for breakfast. We had to walk to the restaurant and back home afterward -- about 30 minutes round trip. As long as I'm not overindulging, this activity allows for some guilt-free eating. Even if the walk isn't a long one, it's more than I would have had if I owned a vehicle.

Feeling oh so self-righteous! :-)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Writing group

Today I bused to Clayton Park for my writing group. Takes about the same time to bus as to drive so that's really not so bad. A friend insisted on driving me home. As we sat stopped at a light, we were rear-ended. This makes the third time since moving to this province that I have been hit by another car while parked or otherwise stopped in traffic. C'mon people, get a clue.

And, since I'm in the mood to complain, I was watching the Jay Leno show a couple of minutes ago and saw a commercial for a mortgage company. The young woman acting as the mortgage specialist was showing quite a bit of cleavage. Appropriate for a bar certainly, for a place of business, no. I don't know such imagery contributes to the incidents of young girls wearing inappropriate clothing at work, but do know that the display of too much leg, breasts and belly buttons is becoming a problem at work.

It appears to be the case that when young girls "dress up" for work they believe it to be the same thing as "dressing up" for play, creating situations where managers have to speak with them about their attire. I've been at meetings where someone will bring to a manager's attention the provocative clothing of a new hire and the manager has the unenviable and much-loathed task of having to speak to the young woman about how she dresses. It's really embarrassing.

I wish women at work were portrayed in a more business-like way on television. If your skirt is too short to cover a pair of Daisy Dukes or your colleagues break a sweat trying to ignore your breasts, ya gotta change your wardrobe.

Signed, the old fart.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Word on the Street

Took in the book festival today. I had planned on staying for an hour or two, ended up there for five. Caught Lorne Elliot reading from his novella, took in much of the Pitch the Publisher, and bought a few books. Margaret Atwood was the last author to read, albeit from another location. I listened to some of this, but decided the kids had been waiting long enough so walked home -- a very pleasant 10-minute stroll.

A cruise ship -- the Norwegian Jewel -- was docked at Pier 21 readying to leave as I passed. Crew were walking back from the SuperStore with bags of supplies in hand.

Arrived home to supper! My daughter made a baked pasta casserole. How terrific is that? I love not having to cook.


Saturday, September 26, 2009

Oh, my aching back

So the one thing I neglected to mention about last week's retreat was the fact that my back went out on night one. It happened due to 1) existing strain from the move at the beginning of September and 2) a really crappy bed.

I spent today resting my aching vertebrae in hopes that I'll be strong enough to take in a few hours of Word on the Street tomorrow.

Walking everywhere does require planning. Planning, good shoes and a healthy back! As soon as I am limber enough it will be back to daily sun salutations -- a great yoga warm up.


Friday, September 25, 2009

Writing retreat

I spent the past five days at a cottage on the Northumberland Strait writing, participating in readings and beach walking. It's been great.

The cottage is about 1.5 hrs outside of the city so arranging transportation was necessary. First, I begged a ride from my ex to get me to my daughter's where I was to be picked up on Monday morning. Three of us were car pooling.

(My daughter was being dropped off in Truro for two upgrading workshops so she can get her general licence for hair styling. Truro is on the way to the cottage so that worked out perfectly. She was able to take a bus home.)

With the exception of two quick trips to the grocery store, my friends and I stayed put at Melmerby Beach. We got some exercise walking the length of the shoreline and even braved the cold waters for a swim.

It was one of the best experiences I've ever had though I have little to share from a transportation perspective.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

It's a small, small world

Turns out I did nothing outside yesterday despite what I though were my well-laid plans. I stayed inside and tackled two surveys I volunteered to do for a small local business. That leaves me to run Friday's errands as well as today's.

Here's the route. Down Barrington for groceries, drop them off at home, up Spring Garden to order eyeglasses, buy a book, do my banking, then down to Lower Water St. to buy some Chinese food at the Brewery Market that closes at 1 p.m.

Crazy to keep such a popular place open for only one half day a week, but there you have it. A piece of Nova Scotia. Apparently, we like our crowds.

What I am most excited about is next week's writing retreat to the Northumberland shore with two girlfriends from my writers' group. Five days and four nights in a three-bedroom cottage on the ocean. It'll be grand.

It does come with transportation challenges.

1) My daughter has two workshops in Truro on Monday that I was to borrow a car to get her to and from the event. A bus will not get her there early enough.

Solution: My dear friends have agreed to head out at the crack of dawn (Note to self: purchase large quantities of coffee and tea.) so we can drop my daughter off along our route. She will take a bus home.

2) I now have to get to Clayton Park West for 7 a.m. Easy, I think: I'll take the bus. Hold on there girl. No busses run that early. Of course they don't. So, I called the ex thinking he might offer to pick me up. (It was his car I was going to borrow initially so he would have had to come and get me for 7 a.m. anyway. What's an extra 30 minutes?) He did not make that offer but did invite me to sleep over as his place is around the corner from my rendezvous spot. It would be quite proper -- me in the bed, him on the couch. Does that seem awkward to anyone but me? I declined.

Solution: This is was cabs are for, right? Right.

My scenario does raise a point of difficulty for those of us who make our way by foot and public transportation. Getting somewhere outside of one's immediate range is either difficult or downright impossible.

One's world becomes geographically petite.


Friday, September 18, 2009

Running errands

Time for my morning sun salutations then I'm off to Spring Garden Rd. to order new eyeglasses, take care of some banking and to find a fax machine.

Still hoofing it.

Down another pound.


Thursday, September 17, 2009

My first trip to the grocery store

I hate grocery shopping. Always have.

I hate being the one to make the decisions about what the family is going to eat for the week and, by extension, what I am going to have to cook.

The result is too many processed foods, a fridge that's splitting at the seams and gargantuan bills.

But now we have no car with which to transport this freight home.

I have to cart the stuff by myself. With my own little hands. And a shopping cart. The kind made with heavy gauge chicken wire and two large plastic wheels. It looks none too sturdy and I wonder how long it will last.

So, now I plan.

I have to figure out exactly what we're going to eat for the week because I can't carry fifteen bags of crap.

I've also discovered that if I use one of the small double-decker carts -- you know the ones with two levels of baskets that are half the length of a normal cart -- the food will fit almost exactly into above-noted cart.

Pretty cool, eh?

The fridge has never looked emptier -- or tidier! We can actually see everything that's in there. No more green or blue fuzz growing in the back.

We've decided to stop eating processed foods and don't bring junk food into the house. That's not to say we can't have chips or pop on occasion. We just have to make a separate trip to the store which means we have to walk there to get it. This certainly discourages poor eating habits.

Two weeks without a car and counting.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The not-so lucky pot luck

On Sunday evening, my son and I were invited to a vegetarian potluck dinner at a friend's place. Initially, I couldn't go but as my existing plans fell through at the last minute, I was able to attend.

I had just finished cooking up a pot of meatless spaghetti sauce and was feeling pretty pleased with myself for being able to make such a spontaneous decision to attend.

My son was baking a coffee-cake and told me he intended to walk to the dinner. I smiled, said I'd walk with him and waited for his cake to be finished.

When it was, and having no idea of the time, I followed him out the door.

Within minutes, I was panting from trying to keep up. My son doesn't walk; he sprints. Everywhere. All the time.

"You're walking too fast," I managed to get out in puffs of air that hung in white clouds before me in the humid air.

He looked annoyed, but slowed his pace.

I attempted light conversation.

"We're late," he responded.

He may have left himself ample time to race across town and still arrive at a reasonable hour, but he hadn't counted on his mother trundling alongside him.

We were an hour late. Dinner had already been eaten.

As we sat with our hosts and their other guests, my son served his coffee cake. A treat I had to forgo as I've vowed to eschew dessert in solidarity with my daughter who is giving up cigarettes.

Within minutes, I could see exhaustion hit my son. His shoulders drooped and he remained silent amid the banter of his friends. I had known he was too tired to attend this event, but he insisted he was fine and at the age of eighteen, I figure he's old enough to make these sorts of decisions on his own.

We stayed about twenty minutes then began our journey back home.

Junior had the look of desperation about him. "I've got to get home. I can't walk with you."

"Go," I barked, feeling thoroughly miffed as he raced on ahead.

He kept in my sights until a red light held me up and he vanished into the dark.

I arrived home a mere thirteen minutes behind him. Not so bad for an over-weight fifty-year-old, I thought though I was still pissed off from being made to feel like a dead weight.

Result: Five kilometres walked. Apology given and accepted.

I never would have walked that if I still owned a car.

I'm feeling kind of proud of myself.


Monday, September 14, 2009

The first step

I started driving when I was 14. Yes, I know it wasn't legal. But we had just moved onto a farm we named, not so affectionately, Green Acres, and since my kid sister was being taught how to drive the tractor (so I could do the heavy lifting) I got to learn how to drive the car.

Since that time, I have owned or had access to a car with the exception of a one-year period when my daughter was an infant and don't get me started on that -- it was a brutal year.

The alarm would go off and I'd hold my eyes closed, miserable that another dismal day of transportation logistics had begun. No bus ran between our apartment and her daycare and we were without stroller so I carried her, her diaper bag and my over-loaded purse every day (yes, it was even uphill). Then I'd try to extricate myself from her chatty babysitter in time to either catch a co-worker before she left for work or the bus. I was late nearly every morning. Late, oddly enough, was frowned upon.

Pediatrician appointments, grocery shopping, every single excursion was a nightmare.

It was a year that scars me still.

I have owned a car through poverty, post-secondary education, two divorces, and numerous lifetimes.

Until last month.

On August 8, 2009, I became car-less.

Though a long and convoluted break-up of my most current relationship, I ended up without the family vehicle.

I'm trying not to be bitter.

Instead, I am going to learn how to live without said mode of conveyance. I am downtown after all. How hard can it be? I can walk almost everywhere. And there is a bus system.

And so I walk. My calves are already starting to tighten and I've dropped 10 pounds. If only I didn't have another 100 to lose that 10 would be pretty impressive, wouldn't it?

So, we begin my story of my life on two legs.

Let's see how far we go.