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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

PROGRESS REPORT #7: A LITTLE EXERCISE FOR MIND AND BODY

"O Oysters, come and walk with us!"
The Walrus did beseech.
"A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk,
Along the briny beach."

"But wait a bit," the Oysters cried
"Before we have our chat;
Fro some of us are out of breath,
And all of us are fat!"

Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwedge Dodgson) 1832-1898
"The Walrus and the Carpenter" sts 6 and 12

One of the best ways I know for myself to work through a difficult passage of writing (and this is usually a transition part) is to take a brisk walk somewhere pleasant. These days, in addition to my writing schedule I'm trying to keep on a more discipline program of exercise. I find that by sitting long hours at the computer I'm getting stiffer and less flexible and for the last few weeks my lower back has been very painful.


For starters, I dug out my old yoga book and read through the lists of postures that are useful to regain flexibility in my hamstrings, and other exercises for the lower back. So last week I started doing yoga most every day as well as floor exercises (sit-ups etc). I used to be so regular at doing exercises on a daily basis but once I get off the routines it seems difficult to resume. And lately the rec centres and park swimming pools are closed so I'm not getting in my usual swims, water-fit or days at the gym doing weights etc. I still haven't managed to get my bike out as often as I should, but will try to do that in soon. Meanwhile, I also located some excellent fitness walking tapes I'd forgotten I had. They're Jenny Craig walking program tapes which I used to use regularly some years ago when I once belonged to JC. I've walked in many exotic places with those tapes, so every walk brings back memories of a roadside on Samothraki with butterflies flitting among the flowers; a dust trail in northern Greece with Mount Olympas ahead; the seaside on an island with the Aegean twinkling turquoise blue and along stretch of golden sand.

Now I'm using the tapes nearly every day, beginning with a level #1 and #2 walk around the neighborhood under the shade trees, discovering parks and lots of gorgeous old houses, some of the marked with heritage plaques.


I've been writing every day too, and coming very close to the end of Part V. One more chapter (partly written) and the Interlude (also partly written) that I have at the end of each chapter, which takes the reader to some action in a different part of the world which connects to the plot. (This time it's Ptolemy in Egypt). I'm coming to the end of the light-hearted writing in which I've developed the character of the child, Iskander, more and soon we'll plunge back into the fray with the Successors and their wars. I wasn't sure how to convey some of the back-story info, what's going on outside of Epiros where my characters have been in the last chapter. So Sunday I set off for the Park despite the clouds and threat of rain in search of exercise and inspiration.


First I browsed around the flower beds at the Park. It's good it has rained lately, because the park workers are on strike and wouldn't have watered the gardens. Because of the recent rainfall the flowers were gorgeous and I took lots of photos. Then I walked along the lagoon looking for wildlife. I saw two turtles basking on the rocks, the usual ducks, geese and goslings and swans. And sure enough, there were three raccoons enjoying a feast of treats from a park visitor. Then, past the lagoon to the beach where the Hari Krishna had tents set up and were doling out free food. I didn't stop there. It was time for my fitness walk, so I put on my headset and walked briskly along the sea-wall to Third Beach. The sun came out and it was warm and pleasant. There were even people swimming and I wished I'd brought my bathing suit. I stopped for a little picnic on the beach, then walked all the way back, keeping up the pace with big strides, swinging my arms, enjoying deep breaths of the salt air, until I got to the end where I catch my bus home. Altogether 60 mins of fitness walking (4 miles) plus the hour I did the more leisurely walk around the garden and lagoons. The good thing was, while I walked the sea-wall I got the inspiration I needed to figure out the next part of my novel, the transitional piece that had been troubling me. So I took a few minutes out of the walk to sit and jot down the ideas.


I'm starting to feel better for my more discipline regime of daily exercise. And I am making good progress because I'm keeping disciplined with my writing too. I need to make a bit more time for reading, riding my bike and hopefully if the sun stays out this week again I will be able to take a little swim in the ocean (cold though it is, it's better than no swim!)


The civic strike continues. Garbage is piling up all over the city. All the park pools, rec centres and other facilities are closed (fortunately they have kept life guards posted at the beaches and have left the washroom facilities open). I am looking forward to some more picnics. But the summer is fairly ruined as far as the swims at my favorite pools are concerned. Four weeks, and the strike continues with no end in site. They're not even negotiating as our mayor claims it's 'not his priority' (What is? Collecting traffic fines and pushing ahead all the plans for the 2010 Olympics.) Thanks for ruining our summer fun, you weasel!

Well, it's time for a bit of yoga, then a walk up to the Drive for a much needed massage.
I worked all morning on the novel, getting ready to write a rather interesting part where Olympias shows off her witchy side (she's already showed off her bitchy one!)

More soon on the progress of Shadow of the Lion and my new sleeker, more flexible bod!

"Bodily exercise, when compulsory, does no harm to the body; but knowledge which is acquired under compulsion obtains no hold in the mind."
Plato 428- 348 BC The Republic, 536 E.

"Let every man exercise the art he knows."
Aristophanes 450- 385 BC Knights (424 BC)

"Will you walk a little faster?" said the whiting to a snail,
"There's a porpoise close behind us, and he's treading on my tail."
Lewis Carroll "The Lobster Quadrille" st 1









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