Monday, November 11, 2019

Competition vs Compassion

I had a super fun race last week. It was a 21 k and leading up to it was tough. I ran a half marathon a month ago (Rock'n'Roll Montreal). I didn't have fun, the race organizers were cheap, the route was boring, I was grumpy. No one came down to meet me, greet me, or brunch me. So I decided to get faster for my next one, but I just didn't have time, I had a weight on my shoulders of heavy cares and worries... anyway, I decided to suck it up and last Sunday morning I got up early and headed out to a beautiful spot: Oka National Park.

I got to the race and realized I'd forgotten my earphones! I use music for pleasure, for inspiration, for pace when I'm running. I decided I would take the opportunity to think about things during my race. I divided the 21 k up into 5 k sections and assigned tasks to each section.

First five k: The first five kilometers are tough. I forced myself to be in my body, completely, and to not think; just to feel my body, be conscious of form and breath.

Five to Ten: I allowed myself to think about my writing projects, and to organize things in my head a little. I revisited some thoughts I'd been having about compassion: compassion towards others, and compassion towards oneself. Life has been teaching me that it's important to be grateful for whatever people are capable of doing. Be compassionate, try to see things from their point of view. But recently I've been thinking about applying that to myself: be compassionate towards myself, remember that I am capable of doing what I'm doing. Don't push it. But, if I don't push it, who will? Isn't my goal to be a better person?

Ten to Fifteen: I imagined angels with each step. Angels were flying over to my friend Kimberley's place. She's been my running buddy for a few years, and recently she's been having a struggle with cancer. We're not running together for now, although just a few days before her surgery we went on a lovely 7 k up on the mountain. I digress. Every step produced little angels that I imagined were floating off to Kimberley to do good. I hope they do.

Fifteen to Twenty: was supposed to be Happy Thoughts. I focused on emptying my mind of worries and thinking about fun things. But then, at around kilometer 16, we had a loop back and I passed facing the runners that had been behind me. The 2:30 bunnies were there, good. Also a guy who looked to be about my age. We gave each other a thumbs up. I continued with Happy Thoughts until I realized that Older Dude was gaining on me. By k 18 he was running about three meters behind me. Then two kilometers before the finish line he gained on me and was just about a meter in front of me. I thought to myself, for a microsecond, "Poor old dude, he deserves to get in ahead of me. After all, its not a race..." What??? Yes it is!

At 19 k I started running faster, and faster, until by about 50 meters from the finish line I was well ahead of Older Dude. I crossed the line well ahead of him, happy that I beat him, happy that I sprinted the end of my race.

So, Twenty to Finish Line? Pure, unadulterated competition. It felt good! And, of course, after we picked up our medals, me and Older Dude and his wife shared a high five and a chuckle about how it all went down.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Do It Yourself - Raising One Hell of a Roof

We've always been a do-it-yourself kind of family. No, I didn't homeschool my kids. I was happy for them to get out of the house and learn Italian and .... I didn't want replicas of me. God knows I'm not perfect. We were so isolated on the farm it would've been just me and them, nope not for us.

But everything else, yip we did it ourselves... growing food, killing chickens, making wine ... building a house, building another house, you get the picture.

So, last summer we needed to fix up the roof on the barn. Here it is in pictures. Cautionary note: do not try this at home. Put this playlist on loud so you can get in the groove of what it was like. Every day, we woke up, had some breakfast, and got out into the boiling sun to wrestle with beams. Enjoy!

A day in the life... mama is cooking lunch and the guys are grooving to Led Zeppelin and moving homemade scaffolding around. Yeh! We took down the old roof, created steel-reinforced concrete supports, put up support beams, structural beams, panels, ceiling ... all on a stone structure from a couple of hundred years ago, that was CROOKED!

The Roof:

The Materials:

and a lot of sand, cement, bricks, and pasta!

The Players: 

Two lanky but energetic teenagers, a power-lifter Classics student, the Boss, and me, yours truly, 62 years old former midwife, cafe owner, and long distance runner.

Blues Guitarist and Chef-to-be

The Boss and Right Hand Man

Coolest Dude on the Mountain

a moment to relax

Taking down the old roof

Only the beams are left, the corrugated metal and the insulating straw are gone

Scaffolding and support for the end wall

That was before he fell

But he's fine!

We call it the wonk

One beam down!

Taking down the rafters

Hmmm half a beam left. 

One beam to go!

Deconstructing the roof


Building up the stone wall to create cements rests for the new beams

Painting the metal supports 

bolts ready for metal supports

Metal supports in place

The first support beams! A whole day of figuring it out... we did it!

It's actually happening!

Ok, the main supports are done... time for a beer.

The monolith

Rafters in place

Planks. Home-made ladder.

That night they worked late!

Planks Done!!!

We still have to put the metal panels on top of the time left in 2019! Back in 2020 to finish the job!