I’ve given in to the general desire to do next to nothing. Everyone’s happy. Let boredom reign.
Last week, I enjoyed mornings on my own in a quiet house. It couldn’t last. The big kids were at overnight camp and the little kids were at a dance camp, and I knew it would be the only week in July that would provide me with that kind of alone time. I enjoyed having time to blog regularly and to think and plan out loud.
Alone time is a luxury to which I’ve grown accustomed, thanks to the coming-together of a variety of factors: kids in full-time school and part-time nursery school; babysitting; grant money.
Some of which evaporate during the summer months.
So, I could tear my hair out with frustration (and I may), or I could embrace the off-time as best as possible, and go with the flow. I’m trying to do the latter. It is Tuesday of the first week that I’m trying to do this. Let’s say it’s going well, but I haven’t really been tested.
Yesterday, with three out of four children around all day (AppleApple is going to a horse day-camp this week), we ran some fairly leisurely errands: library, grocery store, dr’s appointment. CJ rode his balance bike around town; Fooey begged to ride in the stroller (mostly, I made her walk); Albus was surprisingly compliant in our company. I didn’t have the energy to make supper before heading out for my swim lessons, so I whipped up a fresh tomato/zucchini/cilantro/onion/lemon salad, and left Kevin with instructions to top pitas with the salad and some cheese, grill them, and call it “pizza.” I think it worked. Hurray for fresh, simple summer suppers.
I’m tending to exercise more in the evening than the early morning. Early mornings work when there is time to nap, and there isn’t; I don’t want to be zombie-like with everyone around.
This morning, we are having difficulty reaching consensus. I would like to go swimming. Albus agrees. Fooey and CJ are resistant to the idea. CJ is developing a quick temper that he applies as leverage. Fooey has a lot of rules and regulations, of her own devising, to which she expects everyone to adhere. Albus tends toward severe boredom when left to his own devices. And I miss my alone time.
These activities have made the short-list for today: swimming; back yard splashing; gardening; walking uptown to buy seeds, sticker books, and to visit the pharmacy for advice on what appears to be seasonal allergies (Albus); having a friend over (Albus); clearing out the playroom/office to paint it (probably too massive a project to survive the fantasy stage); cutting CJ’s hair (couldn’t bring myself to do so yesterday); cleaning out drawers and cupboards and hidden areas of the house that get ignored all year long.
I also have as a goal to preserve a vegetable or fruit every week: we’ll call it Preservation By Theme. Last week the theme was strawberries. This week … well, what’s in season? Suggestions?
This is our favourite beach. It’s never too busy, but there are plenty of interesting people to watch. And lots of waves.
We settle in, spread out blankets and towels, and stay awhile. We take picnic food and eat in the sand. I read.
Some of us build.
Some of us cast ourselves upon the sand … face-first.
The water is really cold at this time of year. The sand is hot. Plus we were all up late last night burning things in the bonfire. So we’re tired. We can do whatever we want. We’re on holiday.
The crowd of competitors on the beach, just before the race starts. I’m at the back. With my jaw dropping. It was a beautiful sight. So overwhelming that I kind of got lost in it, and forgot to put on my goggles. Remembered after I’d swum about 100 metres. Gee, I can see really well, but I have to keep closing my eyes underwater.
Again, it was just awe-inspiring to see the churning arms and bobbing heads, and all the waves. Weirdly, I felt no hesitation or fear running after the pack into the water. I said to a woman nearby, “Isn’t this beautiful?”
Totally geeky photo, but I guess this is what I look like in goggles. Now you know. The pink cap indicates that I estimated my swim time to be between 33-35 minutes, which was the second slowest group. Should have taken that white cap, because what with the wind and the waves, I actually got lost at one point and swam for the wrong buoy. Lost a few minutes. The 1500m swim took me 38:41, but I think that includes the arduous run up the hill to the transition zone. Hardest run of the day. I felt absolutely exhausted and couldn’t catch my breath.
Until I hopped on the bike, that is! I love cycling! I was so emotional here, at the start of the bike race. I almost wept. I’d finished the swim!
Finished the bike race on a high. Forty km in 1:18. I felt so powerful. My knack for climbing hills came in handy, and the weird thing was that I got faster and faster as the race went on (or else the people in front of me were getting slower). If it hadn’t been for the strange ticking noise my bike started to make with about 15km left, the whole ride would have been pure pleasure. I was thankful to have no mechanical issues in the end. I really felt I like I could have kept going and going and going.
Which is a good thing, because I still had some race left to complete. I do run 10km regularly in training, but it must be said that it’s very different to run it post-bike-ride. But the “brick” runs came in handy (training runs immediately following bike rides), and my legs made the transition without much complaint. By two kilometres, they were ticking like normal, and I thought to myself, Hey, I know how to run! That’s when I picked up my pace. I pushed as hard as I could, though the last couple of kilometres were, well, gruelling. I used every mental trick available: feeling gratitude for the hours put in, picturing my children, and, finally, just running like I was doing a solo run–I always run hard on those.
The race organizers kindly arranged for the final couple hundred metres to be oriented downhill. I could hear my friend Tricia and her husband Jeff (who took some of these photos) and then my own family (including my mom!) calling out my name, and I just sprinted as hard as I could. The time on the clock was 2:53:17, under three hours, like I’d hoped. 10km run in 51:23 (not sure whether that includes transition time after hopping off bike, but if so, it’s close to my PB).
Packing up afterward in the transition zone. Note the bike gloves. I couldn’t rip them off fast enough after the cycling, and then I forgot they were there. Ah, the face of a happy woman. Holy bleep, people, I actually did it!
The child not pictured is inside, upstairs, huddled in his bed, too sick even to enjoy unlimited access to the computer. So we aren’t off to swim in a lake, as planned. If I don’t get another chance to use the wetsuit before the race on Sunday, well, so be it. I’ll swim on Sunday. The sun is shining, the sky is bright, the girls talked all the way home from school (and held hands), and the supper menu is enticing. It is based around the chicken stock I’ve been brewing all day: hot and sour soup for those of us so inclined, and miso for everyone else, with pasta salad on the side.
re writing: The last story didn’t get finished today, but it got continued, and that was all I could ask of my weary brain. I’ve noticed myself tending to muck around on these last few writing days and suddenly gain inspiration with seventeen minutes left on the clock (avoidance is not my usual style, but with this story I’ve begun to appreciate the kick-in-the-pants of working under pressure).
Borrowed wetsuit. Climbing in and zipping up. Even the ten-year-old is impressed with the super-hero get-up. 7:30pm, Monday.
In the lake. Taking the wetsuit for a spin. The water is mucky brown and thick with sediment. The sky and trees, perfect. 7:45, Monday.
At the park for soccer practice. Glad it’s within biking distance. A tree she can climb. Mother reading on picnic blanket only wishes the mosquitos hadn’t found her and told all their friends. 8:15pm, Tuesday.
Piano plus soccer uniform = unplanned post-game down-time. He’s not practicing (lessons are over for the summer); he’s making music. 9pm, Tuesday.
Long evenings are short-lived, in our portion of the hemisphere, and we are filling up the extra light with outdoor activities. Arriving home after 9pm with wide-awake children is taking a toll on my early morning training, and perhaps also on my midday thinking, but I’m going with the pull of the season. And the pull of older children with their own schedules and interests: soccer soccer and more soccer. We plan to head back to the lake this evening, this time with friends and a picnic. The kids can cool off in the water. And I hope to swim farther, this time, be braver, with an extra set of eyes on me. Race day is in less that two weeks: in the same lake pictured above.