Weekend Wanderings

If you follow my Instagram, you may have noticed that this weekend was my birthday. It was a lovely weekend, full of celebrating with family and friends. My mother took me out to afternoon tea at our favorite tiny tea shop on Friday afternoon and Fiancé took me out for soup dumplings and noodles Saturday night. I even had a little celebration during my Saturday morning rehearsal with the cast of the show I’m currently in. And the director gave me a lovely little potted plant a card because she’s a dear friend of mine as well.

But by Sunday, most of the festivities were over and things were quiet. It was a lovely day and I had nothing planned after getting coffee with Fiancé at our favorite little shop. So I decided to go to a barre class downtown.

Now, the last couple of weeks have been an upheaval in my barre schedule because my regular instructor is out of town and the gym seemed to have trouble getting a substitute for my normal early-morning Tuesday time slot. So I had actually gone more two weeks without a barre class. Needless to say, I was missing it, so it didn’t seem a hardship to take some time out of a Sunday and squeeze a class in.

I discovered that the second location of my gym happens to be only a short walk from a train station that is closer to my home than the one I usually go to. So I took the opportunity to get in a little walk in the sunshine while I went to my class. I walked through a neighborhood I don’t usually see. After a few blocks of small restaurants and nail salons, I found myself on a block of row houses that was quiet. But nestled in with the homes, on the corner of one block, I found the most adorable little Japanese market.

It’s called “Hana” Japanese Market, which means flower, so I took that as a sign that it was meant for me to stop in on my walk. I was still a bit early for class and only had another five minutes on my walk, so I had the time to dawdle a bit and explore. Inside, it was cramped and amazing. Tall wire shelves held treasures of prepared foods, candies, and even a tiny section of beauty products. I explored some lotions and creams from a brand that uses fermented soy as a star ingredient, as well as some multi-packs of daily face masks. But it was at the back of the store that I found my true quarry: Green Tea KitKat.

Now green tea KitKat was something I resisted for a long time. Of course, I’ve never been to Japan, so it wasn’t readily available anyway, but apart from that, I had conflicted feelings about it. You see, as much as I love all things tea, I am a staunch believer in chocolate. Real chocolate. Proper chocolate. With actual cocoa in it. And white chocolate, to my mind, is not chocolate. So green tea KitKat combined one thing I love (green tea) and one thing I do not (white “chocolate”). And that left me very confused. I was perfectly happy not to seek them out and address that confusion.

Then, my future sister-in-law and her boyfriend went to Japan to visit his family and came back with treats for Christmas. And everyone got a green tea KitKat in their stockings. Of course, Fiancé immediately turned his nose up at it, so I had two green tea KitKats! And they were glorious. Creamy and sweet, but with a pronounced green tea bitterness. Yum. Of course, they’re not easy to get if you don’t live near a Japanese market. I idly considered ordering some off Amazon, but I have a strange mental block about ordering food from Amazon (and the god-awful crumpets my mother ordered did nothing to dispel this).

So we return to the present scene: Lady Elizabeth on her quest, having found the display of green tea KitKat. Cue the triumphant music. I snagged two bags of the little green gems and paid, conversing lightly with the thoroughly pleasant woman running the cash register. Now that I know this market is here and so adorable, and now that I know the walk to this gym location is not only short, but enjoyable, I’m sure I shall return.

I hope everyone had happy weekends!

How Playing Pokemon Go Led Me To Mordor

Hi! I’m Elizabeth, and I’m an adult woman that plays Pokemon. Or rather, I did play Pokemon, for a couple months at least. You see, when I returned from a business trip, I found that Boyfriend (oops, Fiancé) had discovered this new game that he thought we should try playing together. He plays a lot of computer and video games and has tried to get me interested in the past, but this one was different: this one makes you go outside. And I love going outside. I found it actually strengthened our relationship because we went on long walks together and then some of the time we spent lounging on the couch on our smartphones we were actually interacting and discussing the game.

Plus, I found a wild Pikachu on my walk to work and they’re adorable.

Now, I walk 3 miles to and from work every day and try to get in a little more besides that. But on days I work from home, or on weekends, I find it hard to get off the couch. Pokemon became a great motivator to walk on normally-sedentary days. I liked the fact that I was walking for a purpose, rather than just for the sake of walking. Walking with a goal in mind. It made me feel rather like an adventurer from one of the fantasy books I read. I couldn’t get where I needed to go other than by walking, so I walked all over the place.

And then Fiancé and I went to Montreal and we REALLY walked. Like, 10 miles a day. We fell out of the habit of playing Pokemon because we didn’t want to be distracted by our phones in an unfamiliar area, but we walked a lot. And it got me thinking about what I really liked about Pokemon Go: the idea of walking for a purpose.

That brought up a memory of a walking challenge I’d heard of a while ago called the Eowyn Challenge, where you log your daily walking and as it adds up, you set goals in terms of the landmarks in the journeys of the characters in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. So you can virtually follow Sam and Frodo’s journey to Mordor by showing how your daily mileage adds up. So rather than going back to trying to catch seven gajillion Magikarp near the lake near my house, I decided to log my daily miles in terms of a walk to Rivendell. And then Lothlorien. And onwards. I know that if I walk an average of 5 miles a day, it’ll get me to Rivendell in about three months, so that’s a good start, and it inspires me to add walks in, and plan longer walks to bump up my average mileage.

It also helps reinforce walking as a mode of transportation for me. When I’m in an unfamiliar city, I walk a lot more, simply because I don’t have a car, and I’m not familiar with the public transit. I’d rather walk a few miles than try to figure out the bus system sometimes. Especially when doing so involves testing my confidence in my French language skills. But in my own town, I default to driving or taking the train a little longer to walk a little less. Why do that? Why not try walking a couple miles to that lunch place I like on my work-from-home day? Why not walk to my favorite coffee shop when I have the time on the weekend? And along the way, I get to pretend I’m a Tolkeinian adventurer, albeit with less hirsute feet.