a peek inside the fishbowl

30 Apr, 2017

Finding lost things

By andrea tomkins in Misc. life

My goodness, was I ever glad to see the end of this past week. Come Friday, I felt like I could lie down and sleep and sleep and sleep.

The eldest and I watched a fantastic film on Friday night called Starbuck. (You can watch the trailer here.) It’s a Canadian film, and it was a total delight. Essentially, it’s about a man who is a bit of a screw-up. Something befalls him – something really weird – and he decides to take the opportunity to take charge of his life in a really amazing kind of way.

I’ve really been enjoying the little bits of good weather we;ve been having (today’s misery notwithstanding). I’ve been puttering around the garden a bit and doing my best to encourage growth here and there. Want to know something funny? I’ve been finding my lost marbles and pretty stones, one at a time, every time I’m out in the garden. They’re almost always half-buried in the lawn or on the edge of a flowerbed. Damn squirrels! At least I am benefitting from their haphazard job. The weird thing is, I recognize my lost rocks when I see them.

I think part of the reason for my fatigue is that I’ve been training extra hard for my upcoming 5K. In fact, when I started training awhile back I didn’t realize there was to be a second 5K (!) in my near future and that it would be coming up much sooner than I had planned. Shopper’s Drug Mart invited me to participate in the Run for Women in support of the Women’s Mental Health Program at The Royal, and so I decided to take the plunge. I will write more about this event later (there is much more to it!), but for now I will say that I am being diligent about sticking to my training plan and faithfully doing my intervals.

Progress is slow, as you can imagine, but there is progress, which is satisfying. I just finished my week two intervals, which consists of a five-minute warm up and cool down, with 10 intervals of two-minute runs punctuated with one-minute walks in between. To my surprise, I did this three times this week and haven’t keeled over yet. It gives me hope. Next week I’m up to three-minute runs with one-minute walks.

Last week at the YMCA I decided to suck it up and try some of the weight stations. And you know, it’s not as bad as I thought.

A side benefit of all of this activity is that I am feeling stronger and somehow, a bit taller. I hope I can hold on to this momentum because I feel like it’s going somewhere really good.

Yesterday I decided to hop on my bike and go to Britannia Beach. It was a pretty nice ride, although the wind was howling around my ears and I found myself wishing for ear muffs.

This was the scene at the beach. The water levels are still quite high:

Flooding at Britannia Beach, Ottawa

Flooding at Britannia Beach, Ottawa

Flooding at Britannia Beach, Ottawa

As I biked home again I spent a bit of time thinking about running v. cycling. I have come to the conclusion that I find cycling more enjoyable than running. Perhaps it is because it satisfies my attention span a little better. I do like that I can see more and get further in a much shorter time when I bike, whereas when I run, I suffer in slow-motion. I’m still waiting to get better at this running thing!

29 Apr, 2017

Weekend reading: April 29 edition

By andrea tomkins in Weekend reading

26 Apr, 2017

Andrea’s Tuesdays: a bike ride and a half

By andrea tomkins in Ottawa

To review: every other Tuesday is my day off and I’m trying to use this time to recharge my batteries. No work, no meetings, minimal errands. Last time I went to the gym, then Ikea, and later celebrated someone’s milestone birthday.

I wrote most of this post at my local branch of the Ottawa Public Library. I rarely write outside of the house. Lucky me: I snagged a cozy chair by a window and was able to put my feet up and stare off into space intermittently. It was blissful.

My view at the library

It would have been perfect if I wasn’t feeling like I was going to nod off.

I haven’t been sleeping well. It’s not because I’ve been busy, only that Miss Piper has been waking up with the birds. The little stinker decides that it’s time for breakfast and comes upstairs to complain about the lack of service.

Our furry alarm clock

After work on Monday, Mark and I went to the launch of the Brewery Market at the GCTC. The Brewery Market is essentially an opportunity for people to sample some local brews in an open setting. It’s kind of based on a farmer’s market model: lots of vendors, local producers, and lots of buyers. The evening was a casual affair that included as much beer as you can drink and snacks from Thyme & Again, punctuated with a lot of hobnobbing. It was a very fun evening out and I’m glad we went.

After we’d had our fill of beer and people, I had a sudden craving for pizza so we motored over to the Westboro Farm Boy, where I ordered one of their BBQ chicken pizzas (WITH the chipotle sauce and topped with fresh arugula thankyouverymuch). I was so famished I could have eaten it in the car, but I persevered and waited until we got home before snarfing down half of it.

Farm Boy pizza, made in-store

I went to bed early, woke up, er, with a mild headache, read a bit, and eventually fell back asleep again. All this to say, I was not pleased to see Piper at 6:18 on Tuesday morning.

Oh well.

Since it was my day off, I took my time getting started. I did a brisk, 40-minute walk on the treadmill (essentially, an entire episode of Scandal) and then had breakfast.

I wasn’t planning on doing any household chores but then a goldfinch made me go outside and scrub out the bird bath. I noticed him in the backyard, chirping his little heart out. He started out in the uppermost branches of our lilac tree, slowly hopping down the branches toward the bird bath. I watched to see what he would do. (In fact, he was quite hard to miss in his bright yellow outfit.) He trilled, and hopped, trilled some more, and hopped again, eyeballing the bird bath the whole time. When’s the last time I poured some fresh water in that thing, I wondered. And that is when he made his final descent onto the rim of the bird bath, turned up his beak, and flew away.

This is when I marched outside, brought the bowl of the bird bath inside, gave it a good scrub down, and refilled it with fresh water.

I checked the weather. Rain was coming. I didn’t have any earth-shattering ideas about what to do on my day off, so I decided to hop on my bike and ride to Mud Lake and maybe grab some groceries on the way home. (I think I predicted, in an earlier Andrea’s Tuesday’s post, that I’m doomed to do groceries on my day off.)

The ride to Mud Lake was fantastic. I practically flew there. I figured it was because of a few well-placed hills, but at that moment, I didn’t care. (Spoiler alert: I was cursing those hills on the way home.) I tried to remember that I wasn’t in a hurry, that I had time to breathe and enjoy the scenery.

The water levels are still pretty high and the paths were washed out in some places. As you can imagine, the local gangs of roving waterfowl are all quite pleased.

Washed out path along the Ottawa River

I could hear Mud Lake before I could see it. It was a cacophony of bird song; the CHEESE-bur-ger of the Black-capped Chickadees and the COKE-ah-REE of the Red-Winged Blackbirds, interspersed with the odd growking sound of ravens and honking of Canada Geese. Sidebar: Every single time I hear springtime birdsong I mentally refer to the birds as being “twitterpated,” which is a term first used by the Wise Old Owl in Bambi. (Here is a YouTube clip if you’re not sure what I’m talking about.)

I pulled over, locked my bike, and followed the path into the forest.

Mud Lake is a really cool place. I’ve written about it before. It is a little gem and we are so lucky to have it so close to where we live.

Within a minute or two, a chipmunk ran across the path and stopped to sniff my shoes. A White-Breasted Nuthatch descended its tree and gave me a long, inquisitive look (“Got any seed, bub?”). I was not alone for long: there was one woman my age with a camera, an older gentleman with binoculars, a school group carrying clipboards, and this guy:

Birding win.

My goodness, I had a good chuckle.

There is some work happening at Mud Lake; trees being removed along the path. There was obvious flood damage as well:

Flooding at Mud Lake

It was still a very pretty and peaceful walk, and mostly dry, as you can see by this little video I shot:

The path at Mud Lake was washed out so I took a short cut. :)

A post shared by Andrea Tomkins (@quietfish) on

I walked a bit, ate my lunch, then set off for the grocery store. Unfortunately, my eyes were bigger than my stomach (and my backpack). I bought too much and then had to cram it into my backpack and BIKE HOME WITH AN EXTRA 20lbs ON MY BACK:

Crushing all the groceries into my small backback

Ohhhh, why did I buy a litre of yogurt? And three large mangoes? Two cucumbers? A family pack of pork tenderloin? (And that’s not even half of it.)

Did I mention the ride home was a real struggle? I was pretty sure my heart was going to explode, or that I would throw up, likely, the latter. The only thing that kept me going was (1) the ability to change gears so that all I had to do was push down a tiny bit on my pedals and (2) the fact that I wasn’t in a hurry (3) thinking about how many calories I was burning. I was burning off all of that cheese and dip I ate yesterday, not to mention all the beer. (Yay!)

I also had a bit of an epiphany. You will think this is crazy but guess what? If I SLOW DOWN A BIT IT DOESN’T HAVE TO HURT SO MUCH. Sigh.

Anyway, yes, the ride home hurt, but I did it. I celebrated with a salad of multi-coloured grape tomatoes, honeyed goat cheese, and a drizzle of the fancypants balsamic vinegar Mark gave me for Christmas. It was a flavour sensation, to be sure.

After that, I went to the library to get some writing done, which is where I wrote this post and perused lots of magazines at leisure. All in all, it was a very good day.


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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our two daughters Emma (17) and Sarah (15). I am the managing editor of our community newspaper, the Kitchissippi Times. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger, and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999... which makes me either a total dinosaur or a veteran, I'm not sure which! The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

If you'd like to contact me, please use this form. If you're so inclined, you can read more about me here. Thank you for visiting!


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