Friday, 26 February 2010

TW minus 7 weeks

All is status quo for the moment. The team walked together along the Yarra River trail near Ivanhoe last Sunday morning, but it was a shorter walk (~18km) owing to time pressures and heat. I think we're all holding our breath for tomorrow's big walk, which will see us tackle the last two stages of the trail in our longest walk yet: 28km from CP6 to the end. It's mostly flat, except for the last 7km, which is supposed to be the hardest section of the entire trail. Should be fun!

Personally, I've once again managed two gym sessions and two mid-week walking days -- one expedition to and from work, and one evening stroll with a friend around the local neighbourhood. Just enough to keep the blood pumping! Must go now and ensure I'm ready for the early start tomorrow (blah!).

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Vindaloo against Violence

Today was the day everyone was encouraged to eat Indian food as a show of support for our local Indian community -- Vindaloo against Violence. A great idea, I reckon. Thankfully Allyson got me organised and we went to a local Indian restaurant for a truly memorable dining experience . . .

The place was packed. We got there at 7:30 and it was already the second sitting. Clearly, despite the fact they must have known what day it was, they were waaay under prepared for the overwhelming show of support. Tables were uncleared, hungry patrons loitered in the doorway, and on the pavement outside.

Eventually we got a table (and we had booked).

It took about 10 minutes for the table to be cleared, and another 10 minutes for us to receive wine glasses. OK, so with wine in hand we were happy for the moment. Nibbling on poppadoms, we perused the menu. Somewhat amazingly, we ordered soon after.

A bottle of water came, but I reckon it was over half an hour and about four trips to the counter until we got water glasses. We never did get cutlery for the main course.

Our food came in two parts. After the entree the table was cleared. When the main course came, we had to ask for a second round of cutlery. The staff, clearly in a frenzy, had developed the habit of nodding dazedly to every request, which they clearly either didn't hear, couldn't understand, or promptly forgot.

We cut our losses and used the spoons that came with the curries. This proved a good move, as the cutlery never came . . .

Despite the chaos and absolutely dreadful service, I had a fabulous evening. It was just too ridiculously funny to get upset. All the patrons were having a good time, and the staff so clearly NOT having a good time, that I felt sorry for them. What a night.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Pen to paper

I've put pen to paper (literally) for the first time in ages this evening, thrashing out some ideas for . . . a short story of all things! This is most unlike me, for whom just about every idea has to be woven back into the novel somehow. This is usually possible, because the ideas I have are usually character-oriented and can be applied to pretty much any setting.

Today, however, I found myself ruminating on one of the few short story ideas I've had rattling about in my head for several years now. The problem has been that the 'idea', while interesting (I think), didn't have a story attached to it. Over the past few days a couple of other thoughts collided with it and I think I almost actually have a story.

This will please my writing group, the members of which have been at me to sub stuff for workshopping. I will face a dilemma, though, if I do write this and sub it: all my workshopping brownie points are with Snovarians who don't show up much any more, and those that are the present mainstays will probably accuse me of freeloading . . .

But I am getting ahead of myself, because I haven't actually written the story yet. Or even started it. I'm still trying to decide how to approach it: what characters, which points of view, how best to unfold events so that the end pays off. Knowing me, I may give it all up after a day or two, and go back to the novel. But that in itself would be a positive step after weeks of inactivity!

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Writers in Rathdowne Street

Yesterday I attended the launch of Solace & Grief, the debut novel of Foz Meadows, a member of my writing group. It was fabulous to see one of us finally achieve the dream, and of course it made me rue my lack of productivity in recent weeks. It's hard enough to get a novel published, but absolutely impossible if you don't actually write one.

A group of us met for our monthly brunch at a cafe in North Carlton beforehand. We liked The Rathdowne Street Foodstore so much that we might even go back. In fact I really liked Rathdowne Street village. It had loads of great cafes, plus it was lovely sitting outside at the Kent pub across the road, where we drifted for a drink following the launch (in the Carlton library).

And so I was reminded that no matter what else is going on in my life, I am a writer. Once again, I started making all sorts of promises to myself about 'getting back into it'. Because if I wait until trailwalker is over, that will be another whole 8 weeks of zero productivity. Far from ideal. So the plan is to somehow find a way of getting my brain back in gear. Somehow. Standby!

Thursday, 18 February 2010

TW minus 8 weeks

Another week in my Trailwalker journey, and eight weeks to go . . .

. . . it can't come soon enough, actually. This is a very time-consuming event (if you do it properly and train and fundraise) and doesn't leave much time for much else.

Anyhow, the main event for the past week was our first nightwalk last Saturday night. I blogged about it on Footsloggers Log here. It was nice not to have to get up early for once, but it still seemed to take up the whole weekend, as it took me most of Sunday to recover! Partly because it was a late night, and partly because I was dehydrated, having not quaffed enough water the previous evening, resulting in the symptoms of a mild hangover.

This week has been largely uneventful. I'm trying to keep up mid-week training with two gym sessions and two walks -- not that I'm getting anywhere near the 20-30km walking between long walks that I'm supposed to! But they say the long walk is most important, so that's what I'm focusing on.

Having said that, we're scaling down the long walk slightly this weekend -- down to a mere 20km! After a couple of weekends of 25km (or thereabouts) 20km along the Yarra River trail will give us a bit of a breather. Might even manage to squeeze it into half a day!

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Calgary Olympics memory

On my shelf stands a battered old video. On it are recorded several performances from the 1988 Winter Olympics. Ice skating performances that I have kept all these years -- 22 years -- because they are marvellous.

They are American Brian Boitano's figure skating performances from that epic 'battle of the Brians' last time the Winter Olympics were in Canada (Calgary, 1988). Back then he was my favourite of the two Brians, and his short program, performed to Les Patineurs, must surely be almost as epic and perfect as Torvill & Dean's Bolero from 1984. Well, almost. His free program, performed to Napoleon, was also great, although not as outstanding as Les Patineurs.

Anyway, all this Winter Olympics coverage on TV made me reminisce about Brian. Katerina Witt was being interviewed by Eddie, and I'm pretty sure she was skating the same year . . . so I felt inspired to revisit.

Anyway, it turns out that I can rid myself of the video afterall, because all his memorable skates are on You-Tube. This is a good thing, because I no longer have a video player. (OMG, watching this makes my throat thicken . . .)

Thursday, 11 February 2010

TW minus 9 weeks

The weeks are flying at the moment . . .

Saturday's training walk was great: Emma and I walked CP3 to 5 in a good time, or so we considered. Along the way we met loads of friendly teams, even one with a spare walker who was momentarily interested in joining our team . . . but that didn't work out. It was a great day for walking, low 20s, very pleasant.

The other main event for the week was last night's Enjo fundraiser. Although I didn't manage to attract the 20 people I was targeting, 10 people came along and we appear to have raised over $600. This has far surpassed expectations, and will put us in a fabulous position when the $$ come in. We've decided that is our final pre-walk fundraising event, and taking into consideration all the money that has been pledged, I think we're not too far shy of our targeted $5000.

Next training walk is our first night expedition this Saturday (CP2-4). We're having a team meeting in the afternoon to plan support crew activities, then we're going to do a trial run with them cooking us dinner in the middle! Should be a fun adventure.

Friday, 5 February 2010

more Trailwalker turmoil (TW minus 10 weeks)

As predicted, it's very difficult to think (or blog) about much other than Trailwalker. When I'm not training, or planning the next fundraising event (Enjo next Wednesday), I'm so damn tired I can't do much other than stare vacantly at the TV.

So no writing, unfortunately. I decided to give the February WriMoFoFo a miss -- hang 15,000 words in a month; I'd settle for actually writing something. Anything.

Anyway, it's been another very eventful and somewhat tragic week for the Footsloggers. Despite the temperature soaring to 37 degrees last Sunday, we decided to keep to our training schedule, which had us tackling our first double-stage: CP1 (Churchill NP, Endeavour Hills) to CP3 (Kallista), ~22km. This was probably not such a smart idea, since only two out of four of us actually made it to the end. See my detailed post here. But I am happy to have completed the distance, and am looking forward to tomorrow's training walk with Emma. We're tackling CP3-5 again; hopefully we'll have more luck this time.

But Sunday's disaster pales into comparison next to Lisa's bombshell from yesterday. She has been diagnosed with a stress fracture in her foot and has been forced to drop out from the walk.

I can imagine how gutted Lisa must be feeling, after over four months hype, excitement, planning, fundraising and training. She was the first person to get behind my quest to form a team, and I can't quite imagine doing this without her just yet. It'll take some more time to sink in.

And of course we now need to find yet another team member. It looks like we've found a replacement for Jenelle in Brendan. He survived Sunday's torture test, remarkably. Not too sure where we're going to find one more, though. With just 10 weeks to go, it's a very big ask.

Thus we enter the minus tenth week.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Cracked pots - a fable

An elderly woman had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole which she carried across her neck. One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water.

At the end of the long walks from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. For a full two years this went on daily, with the woman bringing home only one and a half pots of water. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it could only do half of what it had been made to do.

After two years of what it perceived to be bitter failure, it spoke to the woman one day by the stream. 'I am ashamed of myself, because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house.'

The old woman smiled, 'Did you notice that there are flowers on your side of the path, but not on the other pot's side? That's because I have always known about your flaw, so I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you water them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house.'

Each of us has our own unique flaw. But it's the cracks and flaws we each have that make our lives together so very interesting and rewarding. You've just got to take each person for what they are and look for the good in them.