Thursday, July 28, 2016

It's easier to edit than create

I've recently been doing some copy editing for a friend - and I love it! There are so many things in writing that I innately know, but I don't know why it is as it is. I'm enjoying the challenge of editing copy together with researching appropriate explanations of why I've made a certain change to the text.

I've also been writing website content for a client. Although I know what his business is about, I don't know all the technical details. I was also given free reign to create the content for all of the pages. We'd brainstormed a bit so I knew what we needed. Then, I wrote content that I would find interesting to read if I landed on his page. Once the copy was written, I handed it over to him to alter.

It is definitely far easier to get cracking and to make additions and alterations when you have something - anything - to start with. For him, altering my copy triggered ideas and it was far easier for him to have something to get him started than to face a blank page.

This applies to so many things - not just writing.

It is easier to take over something and improve on what exists than to create something new from scratch.

And it is also easier to critique what someone else had created, rather than to create it yourself.

For the person that has created something from scratch, there is always room for improvement over time and with experience.

It really is just to make that first step - to create something and get it off the ground. That is the hard part.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

A very happy re-birthday, to me. To me.

My Saturday morning unfolded like this.

I got up really early on Saturday morning to take my turn as Run Director at our Parys parkrun. Poor Celliers gets roped into helping so he was up early too. We opened a gate, put out the turn-around signs and headed for the start. Celliers left me here to set up the start/finish while he went to open another gate.

Two smiling, familiar faces rock up. Iselle and Peter (aka 'The Red Fairy'). Yay! Jo'burg Forest Run friends to enjoy our local parkrun. We get many visitors to Parys parkrun. Some weekenders and others drop in just to run - parkrun tourists. It is always nice to have friends visiting.

The runners set off and the next hour is busy with runners returning and the usual finishline stuff.

Celliers stands chatting to Iselle and Peter. And then Fred rocks up. Yay! Another friend visiting. Fred meant to arrive in time for parkrun, but he took a scenic route.

Celliers tells me that we're all meeting for breakfast.

"Cool," I reply. "I'm just going to quickly process the results and then I'll find you about 20 mins later."

"No," he says. "Results can wait. You're coming to breakfast."

I'm hopping between legs.


After packing up, Celliers and I go off to lock a gate and I ask him something about whether he knew they were coming through. He said he knew. I thought he was pulling my leg so I didn't really believe him.

With everything parkrun wrapped, me, Celliers and Fred head up the road to find Peter and Iselle at a table. 

My eyes settle on this awesome table decoration. It looks like a tall, round cake with a sparkly purple-green-blue icing and with lavendar stalks and flowery-looking puffs.

"Ooooohhh, This is neat!" I exclaim as I'm about to poke a finger into it to see what it is made of.

"It's REAL," says Iselle.

My finger halts millimetres from the 'table decoration'.

"It's your cake," she adds.

"Your birthday cake!"

And so the penny dropped.

This was a surprise for my 40th re-birthday (I was away in Chile on my birthday day this year - 18 June).

What an absolute surprise!

And even more of a surprise was that Celliers had been in cahoots with Iselle and he knew all about this surprise. My mom knew too, but with friends and relations visiting for her birthday (this past Sunday), she didn't join us for breakfast. Other Jo'burg friends were also part of the scheme but were unable to make it. Fred and Iselle did pass on their warm wishes.

We started breakfast with cake and tea. An absolutely delicious and colourful four-layer cake! Amazing texture and taste and icing. 

Eggies followed, accompanied by fabulous company.

Even more wonderful was their kind donation of five massive bags of maizemeal and an envelope of money for the little school in my Forest Run area, Mponeng Primary Farm School. I dropped these off at the school this morning together with the crocheted creatures (a dragon and a cow) that I made. They'll find a good home in the little children's class.

As we hardly made a dent in this impressive cake, I had loads to share with my neighbours.

Iselle, Peter, Fred and Celliers - thank you for my very surprise re-birthday. This was a very special surprise that I'll treasure for a very, very long time. xxx

Friday, July 22, 2016

Foot care happiness

Argyrios 'Argy' Papathanasopoulos is a superb ultra-distance runner. We met in March 2013 when I ran the wonderful five-day Namib Desert Challenge for the second time.

 Argy is helluva accomplished and he runs a lot. From Spartathalon to multi-day staged races, Argy gobbles up distance with ease.

Argy and his wife Hannisze before the race.
With the notorius Badwater Ultra (135-miles / 217-kilometres through Death Valley) coming up, Argy dropped me a note asking for foot care advice. This is what he wrote:

In one week's time, I will be running the Badwater race of 217 km in very hot conditions. Last time when I did Spartathlon 250 km, I suffered from many blisters. Do you suggest taping before race to prevent it...or changing socks - shoes on regular period and check for blisters and treating them during the race? 
I'm no foot guru like 'Fixing Your Feet's John Vonhof, but I have had a keen interest in blisters and foot care since I got into adventure racing and ultras some 17 years ago. I've been very fortunate not to suffer terribly from blistering, but I've had the odd heel blister, maceration, triangular little toes, random toe blisters and under-toenail blisters. My aim has always been to learn how to deal with the problem so that I never get them again.

On receiving Argy's note, I got all excited and fired off something about John Vonhof's excellent new article on foot maceration and skin toughening options.

I also agreed with Argy's his suggestions of changing socks and also checking on blisters and treating them during the race. Yes, yes, yes! I'm not big on taping, but that depends where the blisters arise and what is the cause and whether experience has proven that the taping will prevent blisters in the problem area.

And then I added, "So where do you get your blisters?" (this should have been my first response but I was just so delighted to receive Argy's note).

I get blisters only around toenails!
Ahhh... I love toenail issues.

Primary toenail issues are: shoes too narrow, shoes too small, seam line on socks, toenails too long and also thickened toenails. In the process of firing off my theories Argy replied,

I don't think it's too narrow. I think it's due to my thick nails coming upwards and increasing friction.
 Boom! Did you hear it? The sound of a nail being hit on the head.

In addition to suggesting that he uses a nail file to file his thickened nails down and to use a scraping tool to dig out any thickenings under the nail, I sent him this link to an excellent piece that John Vonhof wrote on his 'Fixing Your Feet' blog a few years ago on Toes and Toenails.

He took a quick look at the article and replied:

This last article is talking about my problem. First photo shows exactly my problem. I think I have to emphasise on filing the nail.
Argy completed Badwater about two days ago in an incredible 7th place. He ran the 217-kilometre distance in only 27 hours 39 minutes 32 seconds.

Emerging from the internet-free desert he just sent a quick note saying:

Everything went perfectly. Only two small blisters, sorted out straight before creating problems!
A successful race in more ways than just an excellent result and time. Very, very well done Argy.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Taking my car for a drive

There is one thing that I do very little of in Parys: drive. I usually ride my bike around town - or walk, or run - and so I only use my car if I'm heading out of town or if I'm transporting people or kayaks. I even go grocery shopping with my Qhubeka bicycle, using tie-downs to strap my shopping bags on the rear carrier.

Yesterday, I needed to move my very dusty car from the driveway and realised that it had been over a week since I drove it. It was sluggish to start and so I took it for an out-and-back drive on the R59.

I love not having to drive my car - another selling point of living in a small town.