Take my hand. Let’s walk together.

Tonight Marc and I watched two episodes of the British television series Happy Valley.

Let me tell you, that is one grossly misleading title.

The show is excellent, but grim as shite (in the parlance of all the characters.)

I wanted to watch a third episode, but Marc told me he couldn’t handle any more for the night, and opted instead to play some Dark Souls.

(This should deftly illustrate just how brutal and bleak the series can be, in so far as he would nominate this maddeningly difficult video game to be an appropriate palette cleanser. Good grief.)

Meanwhile, I am laughing because he keeps inadvertently poisoning his allies with a pair of enchanted, and very deadly pantaloons.

I feel like we’re all bonkers around these here parts.

The weather here in Vancouver has been so starkly beautiful of late.

My favourites are the afternoons when everything seems to be aglow in a soft, rose gold. As the sun hangs heavy in the blush toned sky, you could swear that you can feel your blood run a little warmer, even as your shadow grows a little longer.

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I could easily hack a winter made purely of this magic.

Five years ago we were living in Birmingham England.

Our days were a brilliant pick-and-mix of graduate courses, teaching at a community school, running around the Edgbaston Reservoir, exploring the city, and heading out on cross-country adventures.

One of my most vivid memories of this time, is the amount of time we spent walking in the cold autumn air – both together and apart.

We didn’t have a car while we were there, for many reasons of course, but funds and fear of driving on the opposite side of the road were the two that topped the list.

(I cannot tell you the number of times I was almost smoked by a vehicle because I looked the wrong way before stepping into the street, nor the number of times I could have been destroyed in a round-a-bout whilst riding my bicycle. A quick study on the English rules of the road, I was not.)

However, being without a ride (my garbage ten pound bike notwithstanding) was never an issue.

We loved careening about the city – both on foot and riding public transit.

The first time we were waiting at the bus stop, we didn’t know that you needed to actually flag down the bus (you stick your arm out as it approaches to indicate that you want it to pull over), so each one just kept driving on by.

“Why won’t they pull over!?” I exclaimed as I watched the fifth red double decker zoom on past.

“You don’t have your hand out,” remarked a kindly older woman who happened to be walking by. “You have to put your hand out, love. Or else they won’t know that you want to board.”

I thanked her (and felt my heart grow three sizes – an event that I would come to expect every time someone addressed me as “love” during my time in Brum.)

Strangely, I think some of my most cherished memories of our time spent in the city, are the mornings in which Marc and I would commute together to our teaching jobs.

Classes began at eight thirty in the morning and it was about a forty-five minute commute from our flat in Edgbaston to the school in Alum Rock.

We would wake up around seven, and together we would greet the day.

Never saying much whilst we got ready, we were like two silent dancers, each lost in our own little routine, before locking up and walking to the bus stop.

The mornings were always so cold, and I relished the chance to walk arm in arm together, as well as bundle myself up in Marc’s embrace as we waited at the stop.

Sometimes we would read the free magazines that were handed out at the Broad Street interchange, but mostly we would talk quietly about our lesson plans or make each other laugh with stories from the previous day’s classes.

For breakfast I could buy a three pack of egg tarts from Greggs. For one pound you couldn’t get anything more delicious (and most likely, anything as remarkably unhealthy.)

From the stop in Alum Rock we would walk up to the road to the school, betting on which of our students would be waiting at the main entrance for us to arrive and unlock the doors.

Once inside, they would make tea and try convince us to let them play one game of billiards before settling down to their first lesson.

Our decision normally rested on how much sugar had been put in our tea.

In the afternoons, I would bus to the university for either my classes, or to do research for my thesis, while Marc worked on overhauling the school’s curriculum and marking systems.

In the evening, we would meet back at the flat and then go for a walk.

Marvelling at the multi-coloured trees rapidly losing their leaves, we’d spy each spindly bare branch waving self-consciously in the wind.

Whether to Bearwood, or to the city center, or to the Garden House (our neighbourhood pub) – we’d stride along together.

Our blood a little warmer.

Shadows a little longer.

A little ditty, sitting pretty

I am beginning to think that we will henceforth refer to time as “BTR” and “ATR” (Before the Rain/After the Rain), what with how hard it has been storming for the past few days.

There really is something to be said for a warm, dry autumn season.

I am looking at retiring to Portugal ASAP.

In the interim, here is a story:

There once was a girl who absolutely adored her to-do lists.

She made them each and every day.

At her job and at her home; for her work and for her play.

There wasn’t anything that she did – be it cleaning, writing, running, or shopping –  that she didn’t enjoy ten-times more when it was written down in pen, and then crossed out with that same pen after it was complete.

Sometimes on a Friday night, her and her Swiss-Indian life-mate would sit down and think of all the magical and mayhem-inspired things they wanted to achieve over the next few days.

Their excited and over-confident scribbling often took the shape of something like this:

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Nothing was ever left off of the list. Even if they thought the task too daunting – it was added along with the rest of the items, and treated with the same respect as any old regular, mundane activity.

One weekend, it just so happened to be that both the girl and her Swiss-Indian life-mate managed to accomplish the majority of things on their to-do list, despite the fact that it was very long, and very involved.

They did crazy things like jack up the floor joists under the extension of their one hundred and seven year old house, and bake two dozen pumpkin chocolate chip muffins and four dozen Halloween sugar cookies.

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(The girl did concede, however, that she desperately needed to purchase some new cookie cutters, as dogs and hands – HANDS! – don’t make for the best scary pastry cut-outs.)

She ran 14 kilometers on Saturday and 7.5 kilometers on Sunday, and he mowed the lawn (front and back!) and together they cleaned out their fridge and tidied the house (which included four loads of laundry, folded and put away.)

It was an incredibly productive time – and one that also included an inordinate amount of laughter and friendly ribbing.

Because according to both of these characters, there really is nothing like spending a couple of hours scuttling about the underside of a house to bring a couple together.

The girl felt so happy to have been able to spend this time with her Swiss-Indian life-mate.

Especially on a late-afternoon Sunday walk, in the beautiful soul-warming sun.

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(ATR, as it were.)

Standing in the shower thinking

Hey you beauty cats.

After a weekend of solid rain this is what we have been gifted on this otherwise ordinary Monday:

Everywhere the trees look like they are fire-kissed, fresh out of the autumn oven.

Leaves litter sidewalks and parking lots, an electric collage of reds, oranges, yellows, purples, and greens.

They are maple shaped, multi-coloured cobblestones that crunch (not clatter) underfoot.

For myself, after two days in a row of running in an absolute deluge I am fit to bursting with excitement to get outside and stretch my legs in the sunshine.

While there is always something to be said for running in the rain, I made the absolute worst mistake on Sunday afternoon.

I wore WAY too many pieces of clothing.

To make matters worse, I not only managed to cook myself alive, but did so despite running in what was, for all intents and purposes, a gigantic, omnipresent shower stall.

(With the water set to FULL BLAST.)

Not even an actual, real-live ice cold shower post-run could sufficiently bring down my core temperature, and for a good portion of the afternoon afterwards I was plagued by residual (and random) heat attacks.

Lest it need repeating – shedding clothing (at the drop of a hat) in public is not the defining character trait I aim to cultivate.

On the bright side, at least I will be a seasoned veteran of these things by the time menopause rolls around.

Little victories.

So how, exactly, did I end up dressed for Siberia (despite encountering Seattle), sweating my little face off?

I made the mistake of assuming that the massive fog bank that had rolled in that morning would be a pretty good indicator of what was happening outside temperature-wise, and as such, was duped into thinking that winter wear was a must.

What can I say? I see fog, I think freezing.

Boy was I wrong.

But as they say, live and learn!

Live and learn.

I’m actually glad I’m making these mistakes now, and not come the 18th – as a hardcore over-heat on race day is pretty much my worst nightmare ever (and definitely much worse than going into a run under-dressed, because when that happens at the very least you can just run faster to warm yourself up.)

Because –

Dudes, I am so excited to run in this race.

MEEP.

First, there is something so delicious knowing that it is only ten kilometers long.

The last three competitions I’ve entered have all been half-marathons (where ten km doesn’t even count for the half-way mark) so I am practically giddy knowing that once I reach the 7km sign I am pretty much at home plate.

And while I do, of course, hope that the rains stay away, I can’t help but wish that come race-day, when the gun goes off, the temperature is on the colder side.

Just enough so that I can wear my sweet, sweet running pants (the ones that keep my legs feeling limber and lithesome, and that trick my limbs into thinking I have swaddled them in feathers and fleece).

(Plus, being the good Canadian girl that I am, I never give up the chance to wear a sweet toque.)

Second, my amazing and hilarious friend Alannah is also racing and THIS WOMAN IS SO FUNNY I HAVE ABS BECAUSE OF HER.

I can only imagine the post-run hijinks that will ensue.

And finally, well, I seem to be on some kind of perpetual runner’s high (hot flashes be damned) and I’m just stoked about competing on a new course, with new people, in a new season.

Variety and spice, and all that, right?

What about you folks?

Do you prefer to run in the heat or cold? And what pieces of clothing make braving the elements just that little bit easier?

You can tell me all about it, once I get out of the shower.

Don’t wake me I plan on sleeping in

I’m feeling all over the place these days.

My body seems to be powered by an endless supply of frenetic energy and I’m having a hard time trying to keep still. Something inside of me keeps telling me to “GOGOGOGO”, and sometime over the last week my powers of concentration completely misfired, and during my (failed) attempt to give them a jump start, they escaped through the open window and are now MIA.

It could be the fact that I am not running this week, in preparation for the half-marathon this Sunday.

It could be the fact that it is early autumn, and oh-so beautiful outside, and all I want to do is dress like a cowgirl, go for long walks, and drink pumpkin spice lattes under the shade of a shedding maple, or perhaps elm.

It could be – wait a second…did I really just write that?

Good grief – it’s like I fantasize about living in a pinterest board.

(p.s. Do you guys pinterest? I don’t and am afraid to venture into this world for fear that I will drown in my self-pinned reflection of midi dresses, kittens, lemon tarts, and three piece suits.)

Not a bad way to go actually…

ACK.

See what I mean? I’m so easily distracted it is amazing that I manage to brush my teeth and tie my shoes.

I haven’t been sleeping all that well for the past few nights and as such I’ve had my fair share of individuals letting me know that I “look tired.”

Now, would I be speaking out of turn if I requested that we – the collective whole of humanity – stop doing this?

I’m thinking of writing to my member of parliament asking him to table a private member’s bill that would make it illegal for individuals to point out to others that it looks as though they didn’t get the recommended eight hours.

Because let’s be honest. When you tell someone that they “look tired” you’re not just telling them that they could stand to catch another forty winks (give or take, depending on how closely you adhere to ol’ Rip van Winkle’s sleeping philosophy.)

Oh no.

You are basically telling that person that they look like crap – even if you don’t mean to.

You tell someone that they look tired, and I can guarantee you (100% or money back) that they hear the following:

“Holy moley! You look like a ruddy disaster! What happened to you?”

(Give or take a few colloquialism, adjectives, adverbs, etc., etc.)

Seriously, there is nothing worse than the ZOMGYOULOOKTIRED. Just tell me I look like an arse, and move on.

Oh! And none of this feigned concern. Don’t pretend that you are telling me that I look completely bagged under the guise that you are worried about my well being. If you did think that something was wrong, I assume you would ask, “is everything okay?” and not open with an underhanded assessment of my overall haleness and heartiness.

(Man, who knew that those two words actually are words? I was full-on expecting the squiggly red lines upon typing them both.)

Dance break:

Oh, and this reminds me – one other thing:

What is UP with the re-compliment?

You know, when you see a co-worker, or a friend, and they are wearing a darling little ensemble, or a sweet pair of kicks, and you (being the cool, awesome person that you are) let them know how smashing they look in their terrific shirt/pants/shoes/what-have-you?

And then they – instead of thanking you, or responding that they too dig their outfit – become paralyzed by a need to compliment you back, and start stammering about how they too like your jeans, or fedora, or disposable hospital gown because they are a doctor and you weren’t wearing anything else when you told her that you liked her earrings?

(Yeah…so that definitely never happened.)

(Also – I would also never wear a fedora.)

But!

Can we just agree to put a stop to this weird social interaction?

Can we agree that if someone compliments you, to take the compliment and move on? You are not obliged to return the favour. In all likelihood there was zero ulterior motive in the original flattery – people normally don’t give out praise in the hope of getting it back (and if they are doing this, stop hanging out with these individuals at once.)

Because when you force out the return compliment (or re-compliment) it usually comes across as super awkward and disingenuous (whether or not you really actually mean it.)

This happened to me today and I really wanted to blurt out, “JUST STOP! You’re killing us both!”

And hey, if you actually do like your flatterer’s ensemble? Just give the original compliment a little breathing room, and then let the person know.

Be all, “I have been meaning to tell you that I really like your pink sunglasses!”

Just as long as you don’t follow it up with:

“Are you wearing them to cover those bags under your eyes? Because you look really, really tired today.”

Because that’s just all sorts of wrong.

Let’s give them something to talk about

It’s Friday friends! Put on your smoking jacket, pour yourself a snifter of brandy, and take a load off. Today’s fry-up will take care of the rest.

Dancing queen.

DUDES.

Do you have gangnam style?

I DO.

No joke, I love this song so much it is destroying my life. Because you see, while I cannot STOP listening to it, I also cannot JUST listen to it.

Oh no.

Whenever I hear the blasted tune I must, MUST boogie down for all of my life.

A couple of days ago I actually tried to make a video of just me dancing to the song, but then I scared the crap out of my cat during the first take and then on the second realized I looked CRAZY breaking it down.

So no video folks.

JUST KIDDING – I would never do that to you! Here it is:

So now you can take my word for it when I say that I am a dance maniac and no one can stop me.

NO ONE.

Further proof:  when I was in Russia partying my wretched vodka infused-butt off until 5 in the morning every night, I had a Russian chick come up to me and ask me: “Excuse me, but – where from?” “Ya Canadka,” I responded. “Potomu?” (Why?) “Ohhhhhh,” she replied back. [motions to my dancing] “VEEERRRY interesting!”

And I thought her country men and women were the craziest dancers I had ever seen!

So yeah. MANIAC.

Fall is here. Ring the bell.

Autumn is nipping at our heels here on the West coast of Canada. And it sure is lovely.

Last night the sun was a ball of flaming red fire, and the sky was a melting mixture of pinks, oranges, and yellows – like a solar Shirley Temple for the thirsty space traveller.

Because the weather in the morning has taken a turn for the cooler side of things, I was forced to call my bluff and finally go and buy some tights.

In the process, I picked up some other fall must-haves, including these sweet, sweet kicks:

Joe Fresh baby – it is a truly wacky (said in the voice of Michael Kors) store at its worst, but goodness knows if it doesn’t know how to score me a deal at the best of times.

I am also crunching fallen leaves like a loon – going out of my way to get every last one of them. A man walking to skytrain a few paces behind me this morning actually burst out laughing after watching my manic trajectory down the sidewalk.

But hey, JUDGE NOT RIGHT?

There are worse things I could be doing than stepping on crinkle-cut leaves.

Goodness knows.

Clean eating, clean living.

I have cut out all processed foods from my diet, and most grains and sugars.

Urg, I feel like such a broom admitting that for the next eight weeks I will be paleo-ing it (with the best of all the other paleo brooms) but alas, it is the case.

So remember – NO JUDGING.

Now, I must stress, this isn’t anything to do with losing weight.

This is an attempt to regulate my (pretty well documented) sugar addiction, and I figure it’s a pretty good way of making sure I cut out all junk food from my diet.

Now, the paleo diet traditionally means no grains; however, because I am running a half-marathon on the 30th of this month, there is no way I can do this, as that would be ridiculous and foolhardy. So instead, I am eating less than what I would regularly consume, and then will cut them out completely once I am finished the race.

So far I have completed four days and I am surprised at just how easily it has been. No chocolate. No candy. No chips. No brake-down.

What’s even better is I have been cooking up a storm, and I am so, SO excited about coming home and preparing amazing meals. This, along with curbing my sugar intake, is definitely the best result so far of the program.

So bring on the next fifty-six days – I WILL OWN YOU ALL.

What’s shaking in your neck of the woods lately? Let’s dance and you can tell me all about it.