Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Running on Empty?

Aaack, a quick glance at the Geneva Marathon countdown in my sidebar reveals that there are only 11 days left. For the record, I plan on running the half-marathon part of the event (21K) not the full (42K).

A few weeks ago, I was fully on schedule following a training plan intended to build my endurance, lactic-acid threshold, and speed, peaking just in time for the event. I even e-mailed a friend that all I had to do was stay healthy and injury-free and the run would be a breeze.

Ah such hubris... That was before a blessedly short-lived but still brutal repeat episode of Labyrinthitis hit three weeks ago leaving me with some residual depth-perception problems. In addition, I have nagging hamstring and achilles strains that no amount of ice, heat or ibuprofen seem to be able to fully resolve. Grrrr, when I signed on, my goal was to run the half in 2 hours, that may be a tad ambitious now. Well, stay tuned, the race is on Mother's Day, May 10.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Heaven is Spring Time in Paris

A kiss in front of Rodin's 'The Kiss' in les jardins Tuileries

Can there be any more magical city in the world than Paris? If there is I haven't seen it yet! C2, J, my mum, my Auntie Harriet and I traveled north to the city of lights to rendez-vous with friends from Montreal for the Easter week school break. We had rented an apartment in the 1er arrondissement of Paris, near the Louvre, in order to be near our friends who had rented a flat within the glorious Palais Royale.

Under the Pyramid in the Louvre

I had at one point questioned whether a week would be too long in Paris with a 5-year old but honestly it was barely long enough and I still didn't do all I would have liked. We walked, without exaggeration about 7 hours a day including one full day at Parc Asterix, an amusing theme park based on the French comic strip Astérix le Gaulois, about 30km outside of Paris, as well as one exhausting day at Disney Paris.

Strolling the David gallery in the Louvre

But Paris is not about theme parks, they were a simple diversion for the younger set. I'm not even sure at this point that they were necessary as my favorite memory is J's utter fascination with the gallery of neo-classical historical paintings by David in the Louvre. We must have spent an hour looking at them closely. It was the first time I introduced him to a museum offering more mature subjects than natural history and he rose to the occasion. His tastes, however, did not extend to Monet's Waterlillies which are beautifully displayed in the Orangerie gallery in les jardins Tuileries. Impressionist art didn't make much of an impression on him.

J's other favorite Paris landmark was the ubiquitous Eiffel Tower. He spent hours searching out just the right souvenir models and begging every adult in our group to part with a few coins in support of his purchase of another and another. Final tally of miniature Eiffel Towers was around 10. They are now carefully on display in his bedroom in Geneva.

A couple of the odder things that we fit in were visits to the sewers of Paris, a somewhat funky-smelling but still interesting wade (pardon the pun) under the Quai d'Orsay on the Left Bank. The other was a visit to the Catacombs of Paris, a vast underground ossuary where the bones of overwhelmed city and church cemetaries were moved and stacked into eery piles of femurs, tibias and skulls.

While both were mildly interesting (wildly for the boys), my personal Paris remains solidly above ground in the gardens of the Tuileries, in the architecture of 17th century apartment blocks and palaces converted into museums or other public spaces, in the bridges spanning the Seine - each with it's own history and charm, and in the winding streets of Saint-Germain-des-Prés in the 6th arrondissement.

Thursday, 2 April 2009


Have you even wandered down memory lane back to when you were a teenager with all of the time in the world in front of you? I have never indulged much in the picking over of early memories or the questioning of roads taken or not, but I must admit in the last couple of weeks I have revisited those memories just a little bit.

It started a couple of weekends ago, when C2 and I went out to a funky left-bank restaurant in Geneva called L'Envers du Décor with Marc and Nat. In addition to a fantastic filet de Daurade, the restaurant had a live guitar band that kept devolving into 70's classics, replete with Swiss accent.

After the 4 of us sang an embarrassingly loud accompaniment to 'Hotel California', we started reminiscing over the songs that as teenagers made us ache for high school crushes to take notice and to request one of those tight clutch dances that left little to the imagination. The songs we shortlisted were Styx' "Suite Madame Blue", Chris de Burgh's "A Spaceman came Travelling", The Moody Blues' "Nights in White Satin" and of course Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven".

Facebook has also caused me to wander back down over the years, as it has been so easy to reconnect with old friends from whom I have long long lost touch but who played such critical roles during such formative times in my life.

Then of course, there is my lovely girl, Sheila. My oldest friend. My rock. We met at 14, when we had side-by-side lockers in Grade 9 at Riverdale High School in Pierrefond, Quebec. As I have blogged on several previous occasions, our friendship has weathered time and distance beautifully. She and her 2 kids just spent 5 days with us in Geneva, returning to London this morning. They were 5 loud, raucous, loud, argumentative, loud, laughter-filled days that in spite of my upside-down house and exhausted kid, I wouldn't have traded for anything. Santé, my dear pal, here is to 30 more!

me and Sheila wine-tasting at the Château du Crest