I've been down to the harbour several times over the past six weeks, and learned exactly which roads I like to drive down and what to watch out for on those roads. I start by going down the Collingwood Street hill, and usually turn at the bottom of the hill onto Thompson Street, which is nice and smooth.
Tuesday, August 31, 2021
Friday, August 27, 2021
Things are going on as they normally do here at home. The garden continues to grow, Mrs. F.G. has done a lot of canning and seed collecting, and now has taken up dehydrating various fruits and veggies. I sit in the garden almost every morning, and go for a ride later on. My coffee group has morphed into a lunch group once a week, which I'm really enjoying.
Wednesday, August 25, 2021
The Paralympics have started and Canada has already won two medals. Aurelie Rivard, one of the most decorated Canadian para athletes, picked up bronze in the S10 50 metre freestyle swimming and Keely Shaw in her first Paralympics won bronze in the C4 3000 metre individual pursuit in cycling.
Stefan Daniel is a para triathlete, and was the recent world champion in 2019. It requires running, swimming and cycling, so he's pretty much an all-round athlete. He is also a leader for the U of Calgary's Dinos cross-country team, which is not a 'para' team.
Kate O'Brien is a cyclist, only competing since an accident left her with a serious brain injury in 2017. Before that she was a bobsledder. In her debut year, she won gold at the 2020 world championships.
I have to say how much I admire the para athletes. Para athletes have such challenges to conquer just to get there. Olympic athletes just have to be the best in their event; para athletes have to be the best AND overcome big personal challenges just to get there.
I don't want to belittle the effort it takes to get to the Olympics, let alone win a medal. We're all proud of all the athletes who represent our country. But as a disabled person myself I know that para athletes will have two big sources of satisfaction, the personal disability challenges they have overcome, and the victory of making it to the Paralympics. For all of these athletes, life consists of overcoming your disability. It's a constant battle every day.
As Bruce Crave, a Paralympic and Olympic trainer since 1988 has said: 'They are where they are because they're fighters and they are usually a bit stubborn and they're not going to take no for an answer." Pretty good attitudes to become a para athlete!
I hope you get some time to pay attention to your country's para athletes over the next two weeks. Just remember the challenges they've faced to get there.
** Credit to CBC for all pictures.
Monday, August 23, 2021
I'm sure you realize that I'm getting out for a ride every chance I get these days. Far too soon cooler fall weather will curtail my exploring, but I'll get out as much as I can in this warm weather! I expect you feel a bit pleased for me that I can get out and about, but also think that a ride isn't as good as an actual walk.
I'm here to get you thinking differently.
I've been brought to the realization that a ride is almost as good as a walk simply because I feel so good when I return home. I feel refreshed and pleased with myself. I've successfully got myself out and about and enjoyed it. So what parts of a ride are the same as a walk?
Obviously I can't use the big muscles in my legs as you all do going for a walk. But I certainly use all my other senses, including some you probably don't think of.
Using my vision is probably the same as you going for a walk. Except that I have to look all around me, especially for traffic (and pedestrians on the downtown sidewalks) while you're just looking at your feet too much. My mind seems to absorb what I'm seeing too, even when I'm not consciously thinking about it. So I can later run down those streets remembering every corner and every building.
At the same time I'm really enjoying my surroundings while meeting people and getting to know them. I ask the women who serve me coffee for their names and memorize them, then I can be a little more friendly than average. I notice trees, houses, the water, and activities that are always a little different. I'm unconsciously memorizing the best paths on some roads to avoid the patches of crackly pavement (an engineer told me yesterday that those are called 'alligator cracks').
Vision is also the foundation of my sense of balance, of my spatial orientation to the world around me, and of safety. Some cracks on downtown sidewalks are big enough that I have to slow down to go over them. Downtown traffic light intersections demand special attention, both for my angle going down onto the road or back up onto the sidewalk, and for stupid drivers!
Hearing has also become much more important. I find I can hear cars coming behind me even at quite a long distance. Hearing prompts me to look to see the source of noises, and I guess I'm unconsciously assessing the safety risk every time.
I'm always alert to the sound of birds calling. Downtown they're dominated by the raucous calls of gulls at the harbour, but I even notice the twittering sparrows. And the other day I watched the shadows of a flock of pigeons fly back and forth across the main intersection. I doubt that most people even noticed.
The sense of spatial orientation is also always important. I always know where I am, both in relation to the longer route downtown and home again and to my immediate surroundings. You seem to develop a 'sixth sense' that helps you be aware of and assess everything around you.
I seem to retain my sense of balance pretty easily, but when going up and down hills (as I have to going downtown or coming home) I do adjust the tilt of my chair.
I get lots of fresh air when I'm moving. You be surprised at the breeze I generate moving along in the chair, faster than most people can walk. It's like going for an endless slow jog, but with no physical effort. Even on the hottest days I'm comfortable as long as I'm moving, or stop in the shade. And I should note that the shade of a tree is far cooler than the shade of a building.
Going for a ride is not merely a physical experience, but a sensory experience, just as going for a walk should be much more than just exercise. I interact with my environment, both maintaining my safety and accomplishing something. So to me going for a ride is much closer to going for a walk than I every initially thought possible.
Because I notice the small things, and have no-one I'm trying to keep up with, I might even argue that going for ride is better than going for a walk!
Friday, August 20, 2021
Mrs. F.G. has always chosen plants to favour pollinators, from butterflies down to tiny bees. We feel she's been quite successful as there are always bugs of various sorts buzzing around the garden. That gave her the idea that I should do a post on stamens and pistils, which are of course critical to the flowers reproduction and entirely dependent on pollinators.
Tuesday, August 17, 2021
The drive down to Conn is one we enjoy because it's all on back roads, and we even take some 'backer' roads than most. And we worked in a short visit with bloggers Bill and Patsy Richards on the way which was memorable.
On our way down, just south of our previous home, we stopped for a moment beside a beautiful field of sunflowers, all turning toward the road for their picture1