Monday, February 25, 2008

More Packing

We're setting off today again for our journey down to the extravaganza of the Leap Year - V Day.

It's not really at all like D Day, 1) because it's not the end of a war, more like the beginning and 2) there are not nearly as many Europeans involved, although I suppose D and I count with our dual citizenship.

It's a day that my parents invented, to make sure that at least once every four years, all of their children would actually come home. There's no guilt for Christmases missed or birthdays, even Mother's Day and Father's Day aren't pushed heavily.

But on V Day, February 29th, if you're not with my parents, well, you might as well fly yourself to the moon.

My mother, however, is not great at giving guilt, which I great for me although sometimes I feel bad for her. Isn't it her right of passage to GET to make me feel guilty? Isn't THAT what all those hours of labour was for?

And since me and my siblings actually LIKE my parents, we end up getting together much more frequently as an entire family than maybe my parents ever anticipated.

Over the years, boys have trickled into the mix and appeared in the portraits (a staple of V Day, so we can all see just how much weight we've gained since the last one).

But this year, we have 4 additions. 3 boys and a girl. Okay, well more like 2 squirming machines, a man and a dog, but you get the picture.

I think my parents might just have to buy a bigger house to take the picture in next V Day if we get any bigger.

So I'm off today, heading towards C Town, fingers crossed for minimal snow and giddy as a kid on Christmas morning to have us all together again.

Just hope the Windy City is ready for us. Oh dear.

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Universe at Work

When we lived in Toronto, we rarely went further past Spadina on Queen Street.

Not that I had anything against the street, it's just that I spent more time up Church Street or down to Jarvis and Front or up to Bloor and Yonge than I did in that direction. Ryerson's near the Eaton's Centre. I was a lazy student. I just stayed closer to home.

This weekend my lovely friends from Korea K and W met D and I downtown for some visiting and potential sightseeing.

As the weather was garbage - not unusual for February - we ended up walking underground for awhile.

After a quick lunch near the Eatons Centre we ventured outside towards City Hall and onto Queen Street.

I knew it would be a street that K would like I also knew that W has lived here before and probably frequented this street as well.

So we walked, in the slush and the snow and the rain (yes, it was raining. IN FEBRUARY. And making this mucky and wet and melted and brown).

W said he knew of a place where we could sit, have a coffee, tea, glass of wine and relax.

None of this was at all out the ordinary. And when we managed to walk too far, he simply wanted to pop into a place to ask about where it was.

So, the 3 of us waited outside and I took this picture:

And K took this picture:

I've only just looked at it today and I had an extreme moment of the shivers.

This week there was a terrible fire in Toronto. It burnt down an entire block of historic buildings and also destroyed a 9 decade old bicycle business.

After spending 6 years living in the city and 5 years living away from it, I had never heard of this shop nor had I eve walked past it.

But on Sunday, I got one of the last shots of it standing before it was destroyed.

I'm not one to mourn over buildings, and if you are, you can find lots of coverage about it here, here and here.

I feel bad for the businesses that have lost their livelihood, especially the ones that have been there so long.

But what I mostly am feeling is spooky. What are the odds of that? That we would choose to go down Queen Street. That we would choose to stop in that place. That we would choose to take pictures in that EXACT SPOT.

The universe does work in mysterious ways.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Back to the Beach - Post #756

It's very cold here in Canada. Us Canadians love to discuss the weather and I had forgotten why. Because in winter, IT GETS REALLY REALLY FREAKIN COLD!!!!

Over the past couple of days, I've become slightly pathetic and started looking at all my Facebook pictures from the beaches. I'm not sure if I'm nostalgic for the trip or if it's just for the beach.

So, since that's they way my mind seems to be going right now, I just thought I'd share a random sampling of the beaches we lounged on this fall.

Can I tell you, as I look outside to the 5 feet of snow and the thick sheets of ice that it's hard for me to believe there was ever a time that I could leave the house without 5 layers on.


Monday, February 18, 2008

Remembering Sunscreen on the Road

When we were driving in Western Australia from Perth to wine country Margaret River, an old song came on an immediately punched me back to high school.

Many of your will remember Sunscreen, the speech given by Mary Schimch to a group of graduates.

I began reciting the words, surprising myself how I knew them off by heart and also amazed at the difference at what the words now meant to me, 15 years on.

We were driving through a beautiful part of the country, just about 6 weeks into our glorious journey, and this song was now becoming part of much more than my old school memories.

And I also felt happy. Because I had had so many dreams and plans when I used to listen to that song. And here I was, living them out more wildly that my dreams could ever have imagined.

I happen to be cat sitting today and was reminded of the song - it was posted up in a room in the house.

Although the entire song makes me feel reflective, I really like this one part:

"Be careful whose advice you buy, buy be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth."

It's the patient bit that I look at a bit more differently now that I'm older.

Because it's true. I listen a lot more than I used to because I know, that even if people's advice will not help me, it's theraputic for the person dispensing it.

Over the past 5 years, there have been so many things I've experienced and learned. Sometimes people ask for my advice. Most of the time I give it. And I know, that it's actually about me being able to reminice about the subject, not so much about the person actually needing to hear it.

And of course, we always remember things with rose coloured glasses, only the goodness of experiences from the past seem to shine through to the present.

Our capacity to keep the negative is not as great as the ability to recreate an experience filled with all the positive.

Not such I bad thing, I think.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Welcome to the 21st Century

I do realise that when we first left Canada, it was the 21st century. It was actually a couple of years into the 21st century.

But it is only NOW that I'm learning of all these new fandangle things that use technology to make life easier.

Over the past 5 years, we have not really been 'consumers' in the true sense. We became sticklers for NOT buying stuff because any money we made was meant to go into savings.

You can be an adventurous travelling nomad but ONLY if you don't spend all your money on the latest Blackberry or that designer bag that would look with those new shoes.

Plus, there's the not having-the-internet-at-home thing, which changes your world in ways well, that all of you can imagine.

So, since we've been home, it's taking a little getting use to all this consumer luxury, and the advances that they bring.

I feel a bit like an alien from outer space sometimes when I'm being shown how to use technology by people 20 YEARS OLDER than me.

Take for example, Tivo. Or the Rogers equivalent. I'm only discovering the joy of TAPING tv.

When I was 14, I worked at a little small town grease joint to save money for a VCR. After the summer was over, I used to tape Days of Our Lives (okay all your JUDGERS if you've picked up a People, US or Star magazine in the last year, then YOU'RE reading trash as well - I just happen to be watching FAKE PEOPLE locking themselves in rooms with their toddlers).

It was a bit of a luxury, especially for a teenager, but I always had to be sure to get the VCR 'ready' each morning. And there was always something more pressing. Like how many curls I needed in my bangs to create the perfect claw. Or which Vuarnet shirt would look best with my jeans.

The modern Jetson's set up was so much easier. I clicked 3 buttons and it was set to tape EVERY DAY. My first thought was, 'I wonder what it will tape on Saturdays and Sundays?'. Yes, that was it.

Until someone explained that it just KNOWS when the program is on and only tapes THE PROGRAM. Like some sort of tracking device. It can just sense it.

GENIUS!! I can happily say that I'm fully addicted to the trash that is DOOL.

And that's not all. Even food ordering is different.

Last week, D and I scoured the house for a chinese food menu to try and order. We hummed and haa-ed about what would be the best course of action. Should we just make up some dishes we remembered, call and ask if they had them?

Let's try the yellow pages. Do you know what we found? An ENTIRE SECTION dedicated to take out menus for local restaurants! GENIUS STROKE #2. I mean, you don't really even need technology for this one - just a bit of common sense...and probably a lot of money.

Which, sadly, our chinese food place did NOT have and so, as there was no menu for them, we were stuck again. What could we do?

Ah, gee, I dunno how about GO TO THEIR WEBSITE!!!

That's right. And we found it. And we ordered. And we ate. And all was right with the world. TRIPLE GENIUS!!

But that's not all.

No, people, because last night, we attempted something even MORE outstanding. We ordered our pizza ONLINE. We didn't have to speak to ANYONE. We added our modifications - extra cheese, small amount of sauce - and we didn't have to speak to ANYONE. 4 times GENIUS!!

I suppose these are not the things I was expecting to be surprised at when I got home. I never anticipated what it would feel like to be launched into ConsumerWorld....and, sadly, just how happy it could make you feel.

I just hope we're using this technology for more important things as well like, oh, curing cancer and helping the homeless.

Friday, February 08, 2008


I'm finding it hard to concentrate on just one item these days.

We've not yet been home a month (I KNOW SERIOUSLY! It totally feels so much longer than that) and there still seems to be so many questions floating in the air.

And so, I find myself, busily trying to find one solution (somewhere to work) when suddenly, my brain jumps to another problem it wants to fix (pants too tight. must exercise).

I distinctly remember the guilty feeling when umemployed, that I'm-a-total-slacker feeling that needles away at you, make you feel like you're not being productive if you're not doing something to get yourself employed.

I suppose it similar to the guilt creative people feel when they have to leave the office to be, well, CREATIVE.

Like their playing hooky. Or doing something they shouldn't because it actually makes them feel good.

But I ignored all those thoughts today and decided that since I am in the middle of a forest, I should take advantage of that and go...are you ready...OUTSIDE.

Yesterday, I didn't get dressed. I sat in front of the computer, creating cover letters, updating resumes, finding endless job search websites to upload information to. And then suddenly, it was 5pm.

So today, I ventured. D drove to the end of the long road at the cottage and walked back.

And it's true what they say. Step away from things and you'll find yourself more productive when you come back to it.

It was beautiful outside, quiet and peaceful. And with everything covered in lovely white snow, (not the dirty brown Toronto kind) it made for a magical walk.

I looked into the trees and thought about all the little animals that must come out at night, a whole community interacting with each other, while I'm tucked up into my bed.

And although it was a solitary feeling, I knew that I wasn't alone on that walk.

Definitely a good distraction.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Jesus and the Poopie

Okay, I'm totally going to hell for splitting my gut laughing at this. But you know? It's soooo worth it.

(thanks Dooce)

Wednesday, February 06, 2008


I think I'm finally crawling out of this cave I feel like I've been in for the last little while.

It's not that I've been a hermit, although a few blog posts ago you can read all about that, it's just simply more that I'm starting to figure out the 'yeses' and 'nos' of this new world called home.

I've interacted with people - but only those who know me better than myself and actually have known exactly what I needed during this period of transition without ME even knowing it. Now those people deserve MEDALS.

There is so much information to share and I've always been better at sharing it on paper or at least, on the internet.

I suppose that sounds weird.

But the thing is, I only have to write something once. Then everyone knows it. And we can move on to more important conversations like how long have you had your hair cut like that and did you really just find the guy that painted your kitchen in the yellow pages?

It's so easy how that becomes part of conversation, even more interesting than anything I think I might have to say about travelling.

I suppose it's about deflection, moving the attention onto someone else, as I have an extremely bizarre complex where I'm afraid to talk about myself because I think everyone will go away and talk to EACH OTHER about how much I talked about myself BUT ALSO I can't help but talk about myself so I consciously change the subject because I know, by everyone else's standards, I have probably rambled on FAR TOO LONG.

The beauty of a blog is that you can CHOOSE to read or not. I will have no idea if you finished it. You could say you did. I wouldn't have a clue.

And although I can also picture your faces rolling your eyes at certain points, I don't HAVE TO SEE YOU when you do it.

So really, we all win don't we?

Fundamentally, I think, I have always been someone who wants to CONNECT. This, above all, is more important than my exciting story about the Great Wall or the crazy bus driver in Vietnam or even the fun wine tour I did in Margaret River in Western Australia.

So sometimes, talking about your child's current diahorrea or how your dog will actually much more in my comfort zone than all of the amazing things I've done over the past...well...technically 5 years.

Am I running away from it? I don't think so. I don't mean to be.

I suppose I'm just enjoying EXISTING. Just being, like NORMAL people BE.

And as hard as you try, you won't be able to understand my 36 hour train journey from Irkutsk to Omsk. But does it matter? And, if it makes me feel better to not tell the story to watch you eyes glaze over and wonder when I'm going to be done so we can go back to discussing the American election, isn't that okay?

So, in the eternal words of boys breaking up with girls everywhere, it's not you, it's me.

I've had my day. I've done my thing. I DON'T WANT to ramble on any more. (well, at least not in person - what? you thought I was gonna stop blogging this crap? ya good luck)

I just want to hear how your two-year-old is sleeping at night and is finally getting up the courage to jump into the deep end with her swimming teacher.

Because THAT'S something I can relate to. I mean, even I was a two-year-old once.

And I really do mean that. Seriously.

No jokes. No tongue in cheek. Just full on stream of consciousness as I sit typing.

Amazing what a couple of days tucked away in a cottage can do.