Hello, Do You Remember Me?

Dear Readers,

Thank you for participating in my experiment of Pushing Boundaries. Thus far, it’s been a wild ride of me drinking MANY types of beverages that are coffee-like, eating weird food (that’s you, seaweed salad! Bleah!), wearing leather pants, going blonde for a month, applying makeup diligently every morning for 30 days, doing the Polar Plunge, and climbing the steps of the CN Tower. (That’s all 1,776 of them. YES. I really did feel like I needed to mention it again).

Yes, we’ve done a lot together.

But now, I think it’s time to say ADIEU.

Adieu to the mania of trying to cover 4 changes in 1 week! That’s just madness!

It’s an obscene number of changes to complete, and then spend 2+ hours drafting it and posting it for this blog. There is the mind boggling shimmying with trying to ACTUALLY load the  photos, and then trying to decide, hmm…photos organized in circles? slide show? square boxes? Oh, decisions, decisions!

From there, I will TRY to write some funny caption underneath the photo. (Ok, it doesn’t always happen.) After that, I need to edit my posts and ensure that I correctly spelled  th the right. (You laugh. You have no idea what words I’ve incorrectly almost posted that were misspelled. I know, I’m sure there’s still a few errors. But hey, you should see the early drafts.)

While trying different foods and restaurants has been fun, and my very round tummy has thoroughly enjoyed it (and let’s be honest, me too!) there are other things I want to do for this blog. Some of those things, MAY NOT require eating.

For example, here are some of my other ideas:

  1. Learn to Tap (That’s the dance that a 5 year old kid knows how to do, but I don’t.) Or Waltz. Or learn how to do Swing Dance. Seriously, I would like to find my groove. 
  2.  And on that note…Blow the dust off my guitar and learn how to play the darn thing. I’ve had it for 10 years, it seems like it’s time.
  3. Kayak (Hubby says I may need lessons so I don’t drown. We shall see.)
  4. Fly a kite (Ok. That is only a one day commitment.)
  5. Go for a 50 KM Bike Ride (Or maybe 30. Or maybe just get my bike serviced this year so I can bike at least once on a beautiful summer’s day.)
  6. Ack! PAINTBALL! 
  7. Laser Tag!!!
  8. Extreme Trampoline! (It’s so close, yet so far!)
  9. Go Streaking
  10. Indoor Skydiving

That’s just a few of my ideas. I’m not saying they will all happen, but I want some of them to happen. Life’s short. I want to make the most of it. 

The problem that I  found with this blog, is that I misjudged how long it takes to complete a change. Sure, eating something new is only a five minute endeavour (or 2 seconds, depending on how yummy it is! Or terrible for that matter.) but the Polar Plunge was a two day commitment. Same with the CN Tower Stair Climb. And don’t get me wrong, I loved every minute of those. I simply want to do more of those types of changes.

Now to be honest with you readers, I’ve noticed for some time the number of changes I put in at the beginning of this blog was too many. But I refused to change it.

Isn’t that ironic? 

My blog, called Pushing Boundaries, that is meant to fire up my life, and get me living every day, actually worked in opposition to the purpose of the blog. It forced me into patterns and routines. 

At various points, I dug my heels into the ground and said, “No! I will not remove the number! IT IS ACHIEVABLE!”

Sure it is. I can try ever doughnut there is on the planet: but I will never take a hot yoga class,  or spin class. (I’ve never done either in my life.)

Why you ask? 

Because it would mean I would have to go to a workout class a couple of times a week. And I simply CAN’T make the time. I don’t have anymore minutes left. If I’m spending 8 hours writing blog posts/week, I work full time, I commute to work, I have household chores to do, Hershey needs to walk, I REALLY need to get back to running, oh! And somewhere in there, I still need to do 4 changes in one week on top of the spin class! (Because Spin Class counts as one, I post it, and then I never do it again? Maybe. If I hate it. But if I love it, I can’t do it because I won’t have the time. That’s just silly.)

I’m not making excuses. But it’s a reality check. And at the end of this blog, I want to complete some of those bigger objectives.

So, let’s scratch 186 changes. 

I’ll happily say I failed the challenge of meeting 186 changes. Instead, I’m pushing a new boundary by revising my number to: WHATEVER. The end date will remain as October 20th, 2017.

Let’s see what we can get done with the time left, shall we?

And let’s have a blast! 

Quality over quantity. It’s the best way to go.

A new post will be published somewhere around teh   (Do you see what almost happened?) the week of April 17th.  I have an idea! 

On that note, all the best for a wonderful long weekend!  (If you have it off. If you don’t, sorry to rub salt in the wound. On the upside, there’s lots of chocolate to be had, on top of all the other regular chocolate that you can have every other day of the year. Maybe, that’s not really an upside. Just forgot that whole chocolate fiasco.)

On that awkward note…

Goodbye for now!

Gravity Sucks

As you may have determined, I successfully climbed the stairs of the CN Tower. The part you will not know – I fell flat on my face in the streets of Toronto.

First, let’s start from the beginning.

I wanted to do the CN Tower Stair Climb as one of my challenges for this blog. When I first told my husband about it, he mentioned he wanted to do it too. I was thrilled not to have to go it alone for this event.

In the last week before this event, we reviewed details and somewhere read that water would be provided, and that there would be rest stops every 10 floors.  We planned to pull over on the rest stops when needed, in order to conserve energy, and so that we did not hamper the efforts of other climbers. We also planned to go fairly early in the morning as we read that we should start early: “in order to avoid long lineups.”  We both thought it was a good plan.

I also planned to bring a knapsack that would hold wallets, medication, cameras (so I could get pictures of the climb) water, and a cell phone or two. However, a couple of days before this event we were told everything would need to be checked when we arrived. We were not permitted to bring cell phones, cameras, or water. Knapsacks were not permitted. (We were told that water would be provided. It was, but not until the very end. As well, there were no designated rest stops every 10 floors. You just pulled over whenever you needed it.)

Initially I was annoyed. How dare they forbid me from bringing a cell phone, water and a camera? But, I was only annoyed for a few seconds. It dawned on me fairly quickly, that the last thing the organizers needed were a bunch of climbers that were taking pictures, spilling water on the stairs in the stairwell, while other climbers were trying to squeeze by the photographers. It would be a recipe for disaster. 

On Sunday morning we woke early (me at 5:30 AM) so that I could take a shower and forge a little caffeine-kick and food before the event. My hubby had cleverly stole two Kashi trail-mix bars from home before we left and he planned to have one that morning. I realized I may require more food than that, and showered early so that I could set off on a hunt for Starbucks.

Alas, I was unable to locate an open store. Instead, I sauntered over to Tim Hortons that I had seen on my quest to find Starbucks. It was literally around the corner from our hotel and time was running out. We want to go early. I purchased a coffee, tea, and a raisin bran muffin.

When I was back in the hotel room my hubby drank his coffee, while I drank a little bit of my tea, and eat 1/2 my muffin.  (From my experience training for marathons and half-marathons, I know you don’t want to be full for a physical event, but it’s bad to run out of fuel half way through an event as well. It’s a very fine line.)

As we left our hotel room it was sunny, but cold. The winds from the previous day had subsided but it still made for a chilly, let’s walk briskly to the Metro Toronto Convention Center to register before we freeze out here kind of start to the day.

We felt the excitement as soon as we arrived, with people pointing in the direction of where to go and what needed to be done. They thanked us for coming out to the event, and cheered us on as we went this way, went that way, and checked our items. I stripped down to a tank top and sweat pants and checked my sweater and coat. The organizers led a long line of climbers as we went up some stairs, and headed out in the cold.

As you all may have guessed, I was fearful about this climb. I have not been in a particular optimistic, I CAN CONQUER THE WORLD! mentality. It’s been more along the lines of: Oh god. It’s raining again. Please, don’t make me go outside. There’s really no point. Nothing good ever happens out there. 

That being said, my husband in the last few weeks has tried to reassure me and rally my spirits. He said, You’ll be fine. You got great cardio. You run. 

I refused to believe a word he said, as I increasingly saw myself as a sloth.  (Don’t get me wrong, I love sloths. They’re so cool. But if I moved that slowly, my dog, and my husband would never want to walk with me. EVER.) In truth, the day before the event as we walked around the streets of Toronto, I felt sluggish and tired. I quietly questioned my sanity of willingly signing up and paying to climb up 1,776 steps in the CN Tower.

After all, they have elevators. 

When we finally entered the CN Tower and began our ascent I was huffing like a mad woman. They labelled each flight and as I past 5, I thought, oh no.

Then, the same thing happened to me as it did when I trained in the stairwell at work a couple of times for this event.  Once I got past the 5th flight, it was almost as if something turned and my body said, oh right! Stairs! Here we go! 

Now, hubby and I were still sweating and panting, as we climbed up past the section that said, 35. As well, somewhere around 40, I really needed to know how many flights were involved in this quest. I cautiously and quietly asked the next paramedic I saw that was stationed in case a climber needed help, “How many flights are there?”

To which he replied, “I don’t know. But 76 is the half way mark.”

Slightly crushed, I continued to climb, and hoped that hubby had not heard.

But we made it to the top in a fairly good time. Hubby had said that the average time was around 45 minutes. In the days leading up to the event, I warned him that it might take me a little longer than 45 minutes. He is a little more competitive than me, and I don’t like seeing him disappointed, so I informed him that he could go ahead without me if I was slowing him down.

We made it together – in 32 minutes and change. I was elated! There is something to be said for getting up early in the morning, completing an event that you thought was impossible, and doing it better than expected.  It gave me such a sense of accomplishment. I felt so great that after we had come back down in the elevator, and were crossing a bridge outside to make our way back to the Convention Center to retrieve our items, I looked up at the sun shining down on us and when I heard a band playing in the background I couldn’t contain myself – I danced in my tank top, and sweatpants in the cold on that bridge.

I raised my eyebrows and said to hubby, “Maybe we can go dancing tonight?”

He smiled and said, “Maybe.”

After we went for breakfast, I continued to glow from my accomplishment. We talked about how I felt in the weeks and days leading up to the event and I said, “I feel the best I’ve felt in weeks.”

As we finished our breakfast and packed up our stuff we decided to check out the St. Lawrence Market as it was only a few blocks away.

And that’s when it happened….

My husband was a little bit ahead of me, and I have really no idea what happened. I tripped on a curb, or tripped on a crack, and went flat-faced down in the middle of the sidewalk. The scariest part of this was the sheer terror when I realized I was not going to recover from my fall. As well, as I hit the pavement, I felt something crack on the right side of my face.

I was terrified. My biggest fear is falling. I know how random life can be. How people can survive plane crashes, and others will trip on a curb and suffer a concussion. 

My husband said that when he turned around all he saw was my plaid jacket, and my brown hair spread out across the concrete. He came over in a panic. I got to my knees and continued to worry about the cracking sound I heard. My neck was stiff, but I could move.  The right side of my face hurt and I looked at my hand as I stared down at the peeling, bloody, scrape that sat above my palm.

I realized a small group had gathered. I remember a blonde woman who had a couple of kids came over, and asked if I was alright. I was still freaking out a bit and I felt like I had to explain. So, I mentioned my brother and his accident. A few moments later, another man came over and asked me again if I was alright. A crowd of concerned pedestrians had gathered.

The second man that had approached said he was a physician and asked repeatedly if I was alright. And then, with a wonderful bedside manner said, “I know it’s embarrassing. Maybe you want to go over there and get cleaned up.” He pointed to a store nearby, that I think may have been Tim Hortons. (I really can’t remember.)

I reiterated several times that it was not because I was embarrassed. I finally calmed down enough to convince everyone I was alright. Just before we left, I broke into laughter as I realized how ridiculous I must have looked.

Me and hubby both laughed because I fall down all the time. I’m a clumsy little person. I joked, “Sure, don’t worry about me climbing the CN Tower stairs. The thing you should really worry about – is me walking down the street.”

The order was:

1) CN Tower Stair Climb

2) Fall

3) Wine (Yeah, I definitely earned it that day.)

 

Update on Change #77: My Week Of Self-Reflection

Over the last 13 days I have gone alcohol-free, and before this challenge started, I had already established alcohol as a depressant as one of the nasty side effects for me. The morning after a single drink, I would notice a pattern where I would be sent into a tail-spin of self-loathing and self-doubt. I would question who I am, and what I can seriously achieve in my life.

What I found out over the last two weeks is that I am still suffering from self-loathing and self-doubt. Except now, I know some of the reasons. While alcohol works as a depressant making it difficult to function the next day, and I could excuse myself from the gym; it also numbs me while having a drink. Therefore, I never had to consider what things are making me unhappy. And because alcohol mildly impairs my ability to think clearly while drinking, I never began the process of figuring out how to fix my life.

There is something that I should share with you. I thought about entering it in my blog when I failed the, Thou Shall Not Eat Past 7 PM post, because I didn’t want to share something personal or make excuses when I failed to meet an objective. (Although, I know I sometimes do make up reasons why I fail.) Quietly, and to myself, I have a rough understanding about why something failed. But publicly – I don’t always want to put it out to the world.

This blog is in itself a challenge for me. 

I offer forgiveness to myself privately when something doesn’t go according to plan, because I find that if I don’t, the battle within me turns into a series of name-calling catastrophes. The name calling includes: You’re such a loser. Other people do it, why can’t you get your act together? God, I’ve never seen someone as unsuccessful as you are. Why do you even try? (I have more, but I’ll stop there.)

If you’ve read along with some of the posts, you may know a friend of mine died last year. I am approaching the one year anniversary of her passing. I try to minimize the effect this loss has had on me because I lost my father and brother over the course of 8 years as well. I argue with myself and say: she was just a friend, not a family member, so it shouldn’t bother me that much. (Several people have already told me how ridiculous it sounds, but it doesn’t stop me from still thinking it.)

She wasn’t a family member. But what she was – was a wonderfully, spectacular, supportive friend that I miss dearly. A couple of years ago I was published in a literary journal for the first time in Potluck Magazine with a short story titled, Do You See Me?  I was thrilled and emailed everyone I knew. It was the first time I thought, maybe I’m ok at this?

That friend – the wonderfully, spectacular, supportive friend that I miss dearly, emailed me and wrote that it was a great story adding: I can picture everything that is going on in my mind. To me, that was the biggest compliment someone could give me with my writing.  That they are there, standing with one of my characters, and that you have come along for the ride, and feel what they feel.

With the post titled, Thou Shall Not Eat Past 7 PM, that was a terrible timing mistake on my part. I tend to eat more when faced with an anniversary of losing someone I loved.  Yes, my weight is up overall. But, it’s not worse than last year when I added the additional 6 pounds. If  can get over the next couple of weeks, I can stabilize, and then tackle the bigger problem of taking it weight off so that I feel comfortable with myself again.

And this is the point where not drinking made me realize a few other things. I’m a little uncomfortable with my body right now. It doesn’t mean I hate myself (Quiet, you evil devil in the background of my mind that’s constantly trying to take me down!) just that I don’t feel as good as I have in the past. I need to do something for me. Not for the world, not for my husband, not because strangers are giving me the side-ways look of: she can really stand to lose a few pounds. 

So, I bought a bigger swimsuit. And – I realized I hate the two-piece I purchased a few years ago. I never felt comfortable in that thing. NEVER.  And I plan to start swimming regularly because it helps me relax, and I think if my headaches come back, it will aid in preventing them or minimizing how miserable they make me feel.

Also, I’m planning on buckling down one weekend and booking a hotel room for the sole purpose of working on the second installment of, Dragon in the Mirror. I need a longer time frame to concentrate, and while I love my hubby and LBM, I need a longer time frame time to write – uninterrupted. It’s killing me just a little that I can’t complete my longer writing projects.

Tomorrow is the CN Tower Stair Climb for the World Wildlife Fund. My husband and I (in a coincidence, a friend is also doing it as well!) are registered and have made the donation required. Tomorrow morning, we will lace up our running shoes to ascend 1,776 steps.  I have already told hubby that if I am slowing him down he can go ahead. Sometimes it may seem like we’re all starting from the same spot; but secretly, I am starting further down.

On those days, in order to be successful at a challenge – I will require a little more time to go up.  

***

To All My Family & Friends,

Let me just say, thank you for being you, coming along with me in these blog posts, or with other events that are not mentioned here. Without your love, support and friendship through the difficult times – I would not make it through the most punishing days.

Change #82: He Said, “You Should Try An Espresso.”

And so I did.

But first, let’s recap shall we?

I have tried regular coffee, café au lait, (I now know, this is just coffee with warm milk), a Chili Mocha…

Now that I think about it, let’s not recap. I’ve had many coffee drinks for this blog. I would need to go through each post, write them down, and then type them up. I’m not doing it tonight. Maybe, I’ll make it one of my closing posts when Pushing Boundaries is near its end.

We will see. 

Suffice it to say, I’ve tried lots of variations of coffee drinks in almost 6 months, and the only one I really loved, was the Chili Mocha.  That being said, this next part may seem odd because while I don’t like the taste of coffee: I LOVE THE SMELL OF IT!

This was played out subtly for me today. I had one of those challenging-for-no-good-reason days and found myself in a grumpy, tired state before making my espresso purchase. As soon as I found a table and placed my beverage down on it, I felt the warmth of my beverage in combination with the spicy smell of coffee beans caused my lips to automatically curl up to form a smile.

I just love that smell. It reminds me of the warmth of my parents home when my father, mother, brother and me would spend hours sitting around the dining room table chatting and joking. In the background, I could hear a coffee pot sputtering and the wafting smell of coffee beans hung in the air.  Life was grand back then. I just didn’t know it at the time. 

But, my happiness for coffee stops – at the olfactory senses.

Today, as I grabbed my wee little cup that was only half full of espresso, and pushed it back into my tummy, it was no different.  The barista told me that I could have turned it into, a long. (Apparently, this means that they just add water to an espresso.) I somehow felt like I would be wimping out, so I staunchly refused.

I said, “No! I drink my vodka without any water! I certainly can do the same for coffee!”

Ok, I didn’t really say that.

But my point is that I wasn’t about to water down coffee when I don’t do it for vodka. (I’m not kidding, I really don’t.)

The espresso was bitter, and slightly tar-tasting. As well, it seemed to get cold in less than 1 minute. After my beverage was cool, I heaved the rest of the brown sludge back and I was instantly taken back to when I was 13 years old; that night when I drank the bottom of the pot in an effort to stay awake to complete an assignment. The coffee had sat out all day, and had enough time to glue itself to the bottom of the pot. Not to be deterred, I still drank it.

And after that night – NEVER AGAIN. (Well, except for this blog.)

The cold tasting espresso caused the flashback. In response to this memory, the hair on the ends of my arms stood up and I got shivers down my back as I heaved the last bit down, cursed, scowled at the bottom of the cup and declared: I DO NOT LIKE ESPRESSO.

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This is not my cup of tea. 

Change #82: In Less Than One Day, Failing The Thou Shall Not Eat Past 7 PM Rule

It was less than 24 hours. I had a difficult day. What can I say? When it comes to food, I am weak.  

I planned to meet this challenge. I thought it would be easiest of all the challenges. And yet, I failed it when faced with a difficult day. It was Monday, garbage day, it was scheduled to rain today, and I have the CN Tower Stair Climb that I have not prepared adequately for (again).

(Thank you Shania Twain. She clearly agrees with me about Mondays when she sings in the song, C’est La Vie: “It must be Monday! What a dumb day! Can’t drag my butt outta bed..)

There you have it. When faced with tough times, what do I do? I eat an oat fudge bar, cheese and pie.

Ok, I’m apparently a stress-eater.  

On the upside, I did not have a glass of wine. Oh, and I sort of ran 3 KM along the canal. (It started off as a run, and turned into more of a walk.)

My next entry, whenever that may be, will be another post titled, Change #82.

 

Change #81: The Insurmountable Apple Pie Quest

As a child I remember my mother on almost every special occasion, would whip up butter tarts, cherry tarts, or lemon meringue tarts and much to her annoyance, thanks to my father, brother and me, she would barely get one batch of tarts out of the oven, before the first batch had disappeared.

My mother is by all measures one of the best bakers I have ever known and always strives for perfection. There are few times that her baking adventures are not successful. While my father was a good cook in terms of making spanakopita, roast beef, baked summer vegetables, or anything on a barbecue; I never saw him raise a wooden spoon to help with baking.

All of it, was my mother. She also made perfect apple pie from scratch.

I love apple pie. I will buy apple pie, eat apple pie, but I have never in my 42 years attempted to bake an apple pie.

That is until tonight. 

This was one of those challenges that I pondered, thought about, considered, reconsidered, checked recipes, double checked recipes, settled on a recipe and then put it off for another night.  That’s just who I am. 

But I did it. When I began perusing recipes to make the crust of the pie (yeah, I was going to make my own crust this time, unlike the lemon meringue pie challenge) I was surprised at what was required. As well, the ingredients and instructions were foreign to me. It was not what I recalled my mother had done all those times she baked pies and tarts.

Then I remembered something: my Momma always used Tenderflake. I scurried off to the store to purchase my Tenderflake and hoped the back of the package contained a recipe. And as predicted, there it was – THE PIE CRUST RECIPE!

Full disclosure here: I confess this was the 2nd purchase of Tenderflake.  The first one sat in my cupboard for the last 6 months (that would be when I first started this blog) and grease leaked through the box. I was horrified and threw out the first box. But I never checked the back to see if there was a recipe on how to make the crust.

I worked with two recipes today. One was for the pie crust, the second was for the apples and sauce.  The trickiest one for me was the pie crust recipe.

I am always confused whenever something says “fold in”, “blend” or “knead”. The only real instruction I understand is stir. I can stir. I stir well. Imagine my surprise, when on the recipe for the pie crust it said, use two knives and cut in the lard (Tenderflake) into the flour. I inexpertly muddled my way through this step, until I had something that resembled oatmeal as per the instructions. (I am VERY familiar with oatmeal. I have it every morning).

After that I peeled and chopped my apples, and began to make some sauce my mother never made. I then rolled out the bottom portion of the dough and was surprised that it looked and felt the way dough should look. Once I plopped it into the pie plate, it was VERY clear again that a beginner was at work in building this pie.

The culmination of this experience was when my hubby arrived in perfect time as I was just boiling my sauce. The water/flour/sugar mixture within a second, became a thick grunge of a mess. My hubby, running with a measuring cup that carried more water, saved the sauce mixture.

Then there was a second moment when he rescued my pie. As I read the instructions to him I said, “I need to pour it over the pie crust so that it doesn’t run off.” His head bounced up as he questioned me and said, “how’s the sauce going to get to the apples if we put a lid on it.”

I scrunched my face up and said, “my mother just punched holes in it. If we do that it should work.” (It never occurred to me that there are different pie recipes.)

Although I was still confused because Momma also always put an egg mixture on top of it and the recipe that I read and re-read never mentioned this. My hubby, not trusting my ability to follow instructions, ran over after I had already rolled out the dough and said, “You have to do it as a lattice.”

I threw my hands up and said, “I don’t know how to do that!”

His answer was, “It’s easy. You just cut strips and put it on top.”

I assigned him the task and said, “Fine, you do it!”

And, he did a beautiful job.

I began my pie odyssey at 4 PM today. At 7 PM I got to enjoy a slice. Was it worth it? As the smell of cinnamon and apples hangs  in the air of my house, and the warmth of the oven is still felt, I dove my fork in and declared – it was delicious. I can honestly say it was worth every step.

Although, I would not do it every weekend.

***

Other Challenges: 

Alcohol-Free Challenge:

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Last night we had friends over, and this was my drink. I am on track to complete this challenge. (I can drink on April 8th!) 

***

The Blonde Hair Challenge is Complete:

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As of April 1st, I have gone back to my roots. It was fun for a short time, but I will always be a brunette. 

 

31 Days Of The Makeup Challenge

This challenge is complete.

Thank goodness, after today, it’s all over. I know some women that don’t mind it, and others love the process of applying cosmetics daily. Women that love makeup, will never be seen without it, and are overwhelming beautiful all the time; they will even make the extra effort to apply the stuff several times a day.

To them I raise my hand in a cyber-high-five and scream, GO GIRL! We are all different, come in many shapes and forms, have things that we love in terms of clothing or colours, and have different passions that some people just don’t understand. There is room for all of us in this world – and that’s what makes each person special.  

Yet for me, I have determined after more than 31 days of this challenge, I just can’t do it. Blonde hair or not, I am just too lazy.

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So long, farewell, daily makeup application! You – I will not miss!

 

Change #80: The Road That Follows The River, Or The Highway: If You Had to Choose, What Would it Be?

It seems like an easy decision, but brace yourself, you might be surprised.

First off, another tangent. Why? Because, that’s what I do.

In general with this blog, I find my most difficult challenges are the ones that I need to complete on a weekday morning. If I planned to swap my earl grey tea for coffee, I would prefer to do it mid-morning, than at the beginning of the day. The same thing is true with almost anything that requires me to alter my routine and think outside the box; or for that matter, in another box. It’s hard for me to concentrate in the morning when I follow the exact script in the AM; but switch even the smallest detail, and I am fumbling every item for the rest of the day from adding sweetner to my tea, to trying to remember how to operate my vehicle. D is for drive, right? Ok, let me put it in R.

But that’s what this blog is about. It forces me to break my routine, my habits (some good, some bad, although as of late, mostly bad habits) and most things that are familiar.

My normal drive to work requires me to take Carling Aveneu, then the Parkway, as I follow the other worker bees as we head towards the downtown core. Today, I altered that route.

Let me just also mention that I didn’t just jump in my car and go. No way. I would get lost. I’ve lived in this city for over 20 years, and I still get turned around in my neighbourhood. So, yes, I did review a map or two to ensure a street or two lined up.

My new route today consisted of taking the Queensway (aka 417), getting off at Parkdale, then making a right on Scott St. that connected to Booth St. (that was the part I needed to check) as I headed in the direction of downtown Ottawa.

Now for some people that might not sound like a big deal. The 417, you say? I take that everyday.

It’s funny what you grow to miss. When I had another job in the east end of Ottawa, the most convenient, fastest route, was the 417.  And I hated it. I hated taking the Queensway and if something catastrophic happened, (one morning it was a diesel spill) it meant the Queensway would be backed up to the front door of my house. (I’m not kidding. Well, maybe a little. But not by much.)

Also, when I took the Queensway a couple of years ago, I always got caught at one set of traffic lights that would only allow 3 cars to make it across the intersection, before we were faced with another red light. In contrast, the other drivers waiting on the other side, would get a green light that would allow 400 cars to make it across the intersection. I don’t mean to whine, but it’s a little unfair. 

Last year when I started a different job, I was thrilled to escape the Queensway gridlock and sail along the wonderfully quiet Carling Avenue, and turn onto the Parkway where sunrises were reflected on the water of the Ottawa River. It was a FANTASTIC way to  way start the workday!

Fanstastic, with a  few exceptions. For example, when I get all the red lights on Carling and it turns my “sailing commute” into what it must be like when the waves on the North Atlantic throw a ship back and forth, and the Captain is just trying his/her best not to let the ship sink. Then there are days when everyone in my area decides to leave AT EXACTLY THE SAME TIME and traffic is BUSY!!! Finally, there are times when traffic is busy because there has been a major accident on the Queensway and everyone is looking for an alternate route and takes Carling Avenue. (Ok, in this situation, no one in traffic should be angry. Someone else just had a worse day than the rest of us. The worst case for those crawling along in our cars: we’ll be late for work. No big deal.)

The Parkway is also particularly treacherous in the winter. The real fun begins when there is snow that is perpetually gathered along the edges of the two lanes; this  means both lanes have lost about 1/4 of their lane. Cars in both lanes, negotiate at various times who gets to “hog” two lanes. The roads are also typically ice-covered. If that’s not enough to make you want to chain-smoke on the way to work, there will be drifting snow when a car travelling beside you decides it is a good time to pass. This will create whiteout conditions.

The Parkway is the forgotten road as Ottawa snowplows are busy taking care of the major arteries in Ottawa. (aka the Queensway).  This leaves the Parkway drivers to fend for themselves. Proceed with caution at your own risk – should be the sign that you see when you take the Parkway in the winter There were many mornings this winter when I was white-knuckled, and grinding my teeth on the way to work as I attempted to make it on time and alive.

If weather conditions are perfect you may still have the following situations that could happen along Carling Avenue: Stop. Go. Stop. Go. Watch out for the bus!

Then, once I made it on the Parkway: Why is that guy doing 90 on the Parkway? (Speed limit is 60 km/hr)  Oh god, I hate these lights! IRRRCCKKK!! Freaking lights! Why, oh why do they  change from yellow to red in a millisecond! If you blink, you’ll miss the light. And if you do miss the light, there is an OC Transpo bus waiting to pulverize you and push you into the Ottawa River.

Good times.

I’m exaggerating.

No, I’m not.

Ok, maybe a little.

But this morning it was sunny and perfectly clear driving conditions. And I took the Queensway. There were STILL those first set of lights that appear to have been adjusted slightly – it now allows 15 cars to go before it returns to a red signal.

Then, of course, I got stopped outside of Bayshore which means I only had 5 minutes of ripping along at over 100 KM/HR. After that, I got to the exhilarating speed of 20 KM for roughly 20 minutes.  The really wonderful thing about Queensway driving though is this: if it’s a nice day, and with no STOP lights, you don’t have to concentrate on driving as much. That meant my mind got a brief hiatus to work on other puzzles as my physical self was stuck crawling along the highway.

I have to say my morning commute was a little bumpy at times. I am quite rusty with highway driving in the early AM, but I managed to get to work without missing a connecting road. To be honest though, the drive time may have been a little longer – 40 or 45 minutes versus 35 minutes.

Would I do it again?

Of course. Even though my mind had to work a little harder this morning trying to remember when to turn and not to, it was nice to take a different road. While doing a different route may take you to the same ultimate destination – the scenes along the way offer new experiences.

***

No photos. I was driving.

🙂