Friday, September 28, 2007

Why Tri? Why Not!

I am training for the 2008 Geneva Triathlon.

No, really.

And why, you ask, am I adding yet another act of self-flagellation to my already full schedule? Isn't novel writing torture enough?

Well, it's not for the experience. I've actually already done one. Olympic distance, no less. Of course, that was 15 years and two kids ago. Did I mention that I nearly drowned? Let's just say I finished but it wasn't pretty.

It's not for the glory. I have no aspirations of winning, not even in my age group. If I work on my gray between now and then, I may lead the pack in the 'over 70's.' But then again, maybe I won't. There are some pretty scary seniors around these days.

And it's not even as simple as wanting to get into shape. In fact, I don't think all the training is going to be all that 'shape'-inducing. On the contrary, I fear 'the girls' may well disappear entirely.

But dangle a carrot before a donkey and it will bite. My good friend, Christine, dangled. I bit.

What intrigued me was the physical goal. I can't say I've had one since wanting to stop wearing maternity pants after Mighty Mouse was born. Given that she's four and a half, I think I'm due for a new one. But even more persuasive is my location. Never have I lived anywhere with such easy access to training space. As you can see by the photos I've posted, it's not too hard on the eyes either.

So now I've done it: an electronic line in the sand. Save injury, I'll be splashing like an injured seal in Lake Geneva next August. Sit near the emergency response vehicles and you'll be sure to see me.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Honey the Flying Dog: Grounded Once More

It’s official: my dog won’t be running away again--at least not from home.

At 8½ years old, Honey is as excitable today as she was the day we got her. At the time, of course, she weighed slightly more than the Vancouver phone book and waddled with baby fat. Now, at just over 30 kilos, she is lean and can run like the wind. Add to that her intense sociability, her insatiable appetite, and an unfenced yard and you can appreciate our dilemma.

When we moved here three years ago, our good Swiss landlord frowned at the suggestion that the garden be fenced. We appreciated his reluctance. The property borders a farmer’s field that is alternately planted with wheat and canola; beyond, the Salève rises in the distance. But for the safety of our precious pooch, something had to be done. Unwilling to keep her tethered to the cherry tree for all eternity, we went the direction of the ‘fence-less’ yard.

The system was no small task to install. It took at least five hours for me, my husband, and my father-in-law to bury 50+meters of wire before connecting it to the control panel. The easiest part was to hook up the dog—in theory. Despite knowing full well that it was the only real alternative, I was reluctant. I didn’t want to hurt her. The only way to allay my fears was to try it myself.

I placed the two-pronged receiver collar in the center of my palm and, with baby steps, approached the embedded wire. The collar beeped. I stopped.

“Go on!” my husband prodded, grinning.

Three baby steps later, ZAP! Not pain, but certainly nothing I wished to repeat, a sentiment I hoped Honey would soon share.

It took two full weeks, but Honey finally got the hang of it. We pulled out the white training flags and, aside from the odd battery failure, the system was a success. Then the wire got cut.

We don’t know how. We don’t know where. Until Honey appeared in the farmer’s field chasing rabbits, we didn't know it had happened. But two years had improved little upon the memory of burying the wire the first time. We examined our options and came to a decision: Honey would go wireless.

The transmitter is the size of a small toaster. We plugged it in behind a chair in the living room, setting the range to include the garden and the front door, her prefered escape routes. We set the collar intensity to that recommended for high energy dogs. (Sorry, Honey!) I didn’t test it this time. Within an hour of going ‘live’ Honey had mastered her terrain, or rather, her terrain had mastered her. The beauty of the new system is that it’s portable. Now, if only she was…but that’s another story.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Growing Pains

I would surmise that the theme of the week has been jet lag. One cannot travel 8000 miles in the space of 3 days without expecting to pay the toll. Self-inflicted, I know. No pity required.

The primary sub-plot has been Mighty Mouse withdrawal. My 4-year-old has started the Swiss equivalent of junior kindergarten and loves it. Given that she has an older sister who attends grade 1 all day, when presented with the option of attending full or half days herself, guess what she chose... Well, it wasn't me.

What did I expect--that the same 4-year-old who gave a sex education class to the tail end of a Boeing 767 would want to hang out with her mum every afternoon and do groceries? Not likely. But, still, it has been a change. And me, I am left with the sinking weight of the question, 'What now?' I suppose I am due an adjustment period. I only thought it would feel better than this.

So, with no further ado, I shall write and mourn and write some more.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Oh, Canada

It's hard to beat trans-Atlantic air travel for its ability to keep one seated before a blank page. Perhaps that is what my office at home is missing: a seatbelt and altitude.

Nestled in the heartland of economy class, I am highly aware that I share precious armrest space with Goliath, my row mate. At least I'm on the aisle, I think, until I discover that Goliath has a bladder more befitting of David. To be truthful, I can't complain. No one who's ever done this daytime flight with two preschoolers can really object to having to void one's seat periodically for the retention challenged. With no bottoms to wipe or meat to cut, I am plagued by the decisions of the independent traveler: comedy or thriller? Chicken or beef? Red or white? I'm relaxing already.

In six hours I will be landing in Canada, the country that still means home to me. My cousin is getting married, hence my foray into international travel. When we moved to Switzerland three years ago, my husband and I promised that we'd go back whenever we felt we should. Well, I've been 'feeling' a lot this year, as our credit card statements can attest. But family is family and some things cannot be missed. On my return I expect to be grounded for the balance of the year. Maybe... The chicken curry was delicious.

So, with that I bid you farewell. My in-flight entertainment awaits.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Here we go...

In a few short minutes I will click on Publish Post and officially enter the realm of blogger. I guess that is one way to get published.

Yes, I am a writer. I've even been published on paper, a feat I consider remarkable seeing as I've been at this part-time for just over three years. Where, you ask? Appleseeds and Offshoots 9. My qualifications? I'm literate. So is my 6-year-old.

So why blog? To get my sorry butt back in the chair. After a summer of virtually no writing, I am having one devil of a time getting back in the groove. I suppose part of the problem is that I'd like to revise my sorry excuse for a novel. It is a disaster. Really. And the little finger of my right hand has an annoying habit of deleting everything I write every 30 seconds or so. See, there it goes again!

So I suppose I am seeking some recognition, a gesture that certainly doesn't get sent my way too often as a writer and mother of two. Considering most blogs never get read, I assume this may be synonymous with patting my own back. That will have to do for now. Ahh! Feels good.