Knee-hab

Ten days ago I was climbing up a mountain trail near the Crowsnest Pass, a low peak along the continental divide on a sunny Sunday afternoon, looking at views like this:

I could feel the start of some bit of twinging in my right knee, but like anything else for a guy in his mid-40s, aches and pains are sometimes something to worry about … but usually just the biological squeaks of rusty joints and complaints of underused muscles.

That logical gamble didn’t pay off for me this time, and after a week of continued mumbling and grumbling noise from my knee joint, it finally stopped pulling punches and objected outright and fully to my continued lack of care to it’s needs.

I’d say it walked out on me, but walking is something that we do together and not as much for the last few days.

I seem to have developed a bit of a strain or a tear in my MCL, or medial collateral ligament, an important tendon on the inner side of the knee joint that is pretty important (I’ve found lately) for doing things like standing, walking up stairs, and (of course) running.

I’m on a break from running for at least a week or two.

Instead, I’ve grudgingly renewed my municipal fitness centre pass and paid up for a whole year of access to the weights, machines, and lap pool. I’ve been reintroducing myself over the last week to the joys of lane repeats. It’s a kind of cross-training, rehab, knee therapy that I hope will reduce my down time.

But in the heart of summer, despite the heat and humidity, I’m more than a little sad to be missing the sunny trails and green-lined river valley paths because of an injury I don’t even really know the origins of: suddenly it just started aching, and progressively got worse.

In the meantime, I may be able to use some of that down time to write a few more posts about hikes, runs, and my recent adventures in the mountains.

After the Storm

Exactly one week ago, almost to the hour of me writing these words, I finally tested positive for COVID-19. By all accounts and on a severity scale of one to ten (one being no symptoms and ten being the most severe fatal variety) I would rank my infection experience at a 4 or maybe at most a 5.

There were a few hours in the middle where I considered asking my wife to take me into the hospital, but that feeling was short-lived and a good-night-sleep later I was back to slouching it off on the couch and sick-napping through a Netflix marathon.

This morning I feel almost normal.

I mention here for two reasons.

First, I feel like I need to explain why I haven’t posted in over a week. (Answer: I was sick.)

But second, this was a blog (and now blossoming project) that was conceived out of the rippled effects of this global pandemic. I can’t say for certain, but I doubt you’d be reading any of these past three-hundred and twenty-five posts if it were not for COVID-19. That pandemic provided both the space and motivation for me to start a little more self-evaluation and personal reflection and refocusing of priorities… and all those fancy things that make one take stock and dive into a new hobby, or reinvigorate an old one… even if it was just me stanning on cast iron cooking and raving about trail running adventure.

Living through the pandemic, which we’ve all done in some shape or another, has likely left an indelible mark on each of us, the scale and scope of which will only be understood in time.

For me, living through the pandemic in the first year of that event was marked not actually by a personal infection but rather by being on the front lines of my job, putting in erratic twelve hour days, burning out, being crushed emotionally and physically by the effort and the decisions and the reactions and the uncertainty of it all. I pounded a stake into the metaphorical sand and anchored myself to words and ideas and a reinvented self that I projected outwards through this space. It may have seemed trivial to those who were reading, but this was me tethering myself back into reality and hand-over-hand pulling myself back towards normal.

None of it is over. Many others have their own COVID stories to conclude, but I realize that by living through the actual infection, even a mild version I’ve kind of put a pin in my pandemic adventure, at least the first volume of it:

Learning about the pandemic, going through lockdowns and panic and societal shift. Working from home to avoid catching the damn virus. Mountains of PPE, masks of every shape and colour. Three vaccinations. Symptoms and tests and dozens of negatives, false alarms. The slow toe back into the new reality of post-COVID life, work and play. Demasking and lowering defences and then finally getting the damn virus and taking it on the chin for seven full days of fever and cough and headaches and utter fatigue, until…

Reaching healthy?

And in the blur of that two-and-half-years-long story, learning a lot about my own self, what I believe in, cherish, value… and how I want to write the sequel to it all.

The storm has passed. At least, my storm has, and I’m just pausing here for a deep breath — literal and metaphorically — as I look around and ponder where next.

Meta Monday & Spring Galleries

I spent nearly twenty hours just lingering in the gorgeous outdoors of my own backyard this past weekend doing all manner of activity, from doing serious chores like tending to the garden, patching my lawn, completing the installation of my irrigation system, to partaking in more leisurely activity like cooking barbecue, playing with the dog and sketching spring foliage.

Sometimes when you manage a small personal website like this it’s important to stop after a weekend like that and remind visitors that the whole point of an internet blog is to highlight those things in words and pictures.

To that end, I’ve been updating my galleries as well as my posts.

Enjoy!

Some photos from Spring 2022

A Neglected Blog Update

I really hate writing those posts that wax apologetic for not writing for some span of time, promising to do better, and lamenting that life is just so busy that — gosh! — if only there were an extra hour each day…

I’ve been refocused other places, and in the blur of spring snow storms and back to work and another mess of COVID infections in every other person I know, I’ve not had too much interesting to write about.

Not too much…

A little bit.

I’ve been running a lot. I ran a ten miler (sixteen klick) race on the weekend, a race for which I aggressively overdressed as a result of waking up at 6am while it was still frosty outside for a 9am start when the sun had turned it into a nice day. I’d been training really well, too, completing a two week streak at the start of April as I ran every day to get into the spring fitness mode, and started the annual hill training regimen. The icy sidewalks cleared just as March ended and despite a few mornings with fresh spring snow the trails have been ideal for plodding along and burning in some mileage. All that said, and as April nears an end, I’m solidly bagged and could use a breather for a day or two.

I’ve been drawing a lot. It seems odd that an old obsession has resurfaced so acutely in my life. My back-to-work bag is half-stuffed with sketchbooks and pens alongside my laptop and folios. I spend lunch breaks finding quiet places to sit and draw little mini artworks downtown. And back at home, I’ve been taking courses in watercolour, mostly online but in a couple weeks an in-person flower-painting session in the local conservatory, as I hone my painting skills and start to generate images that are more than just muddy smudges on expensive paper.

I’ve been getting ready for adventure. Last summer we had bought ourselves two inflatable kayaks. The first was a cheaper model that was more of a toy, but it was in stock. The second was backordered, significantly higher end (as far as inflatable recreational sports equipment goes anyhow) and didn’t arrive on our doorstep until the fall as the waterways were starting to ice over. I’ve unpacked all that equipment and I’ve started making some plans for some down-river excursions as the days get a little warmer (it’s snowing again this morning as I write this!) A day-long traversal of the city by kayak in June seems like a great idea.

And I’ve been cooking. Re-adjusting my bread-baking schedule around back-to-the-office has been a small challenge and reminded me why I didn’t do it so much back prior to pandemic times. And having cleaned up both the barbecue and the outdoor firepit, this upcoming weekend is looking hopeful as the seasonal inaugural outdoor cookoff, with some grilled meats and veggies atop an open backyard fire, complete with whatever I can think to cook in those cast iron pans that have been wasting their adventure potential indoors on a gas stove rather than over open flame.

I’ll write more soon. I promise.

If only there were another hour in the day.