Saturday, December 29

We used to call that 'goth'

Tonight could be classified by feeling very 'dated'. We didn't even have emo when I was in school. And one would have a pretty hard time getting into a band without owning Converse sneakers. Alas, one more item to add to the list of why I will never be in a band. (1. no musical talent, 2. not cool enough, ....). We hung around for three bands tonight at a local all ages show. It had to be all ages so that the bands could get in apparently.

But the second band, only three dudes of just 15 (at least the lead singer) really rocked it. I really enjoyed their show and I'm not just referring to watching the drummer make hilarious faces while performing. The music was good. My favourite was easily their ode to Laser Cat followed closely by the Makeout, when No one is Watching (for the romantic types). They ended their set with a touching their bus driver. Takes away a bit of their street cred. Hey, at least they still have their Converse.

Thursday, December 27


These last few days I have been using my reading time to learn about a few select topics:

1. Physics and the universe. Thank you Stephen Hawkings for your "A Brief History of Time". Thank you for bringing insane concepts somewhere within my grasp. This book (so far) I would recommend, as long as you don't mind 'reflecting' (WHAT IS THIS? My brain hurts) and rereading paragraphs a few (5) times. The language is simple but right now most is based on the idea of space-time so picturing a 4D universe is a challenge (for me at least)

2. The life (haha) of cadavers in "Stiff" by Mary Roach. My brother bestowed this on me (although I may have asked for it) and I have soaked in the first third learning how cadavers are used in experiments to improve safety for us living.

3. Living a little more eco- and health-friendly from "Ecoholic", which is a how-to guide to buying the most earth-friendly products and cutting out some things all together. Simpler (although maybe not easier) ways of living and it is written FOR CANADIANS. No more suggestions that just aren't available here (no more excuses?)

In another book that fits more under the environment category is "The World Without Us". In this book I read one of the most beautiful ideas I have read in a long time. Lovely in a melancholy way because I can't fathom it happening and it saddens me to think about but I know it could be the best thing (in theory). Right, the theory. There is a group, the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement (VHEMT) that has suggested that the best world would be one where humans suddenly stop reproducing and slowly die out to leave the earth untaxed by our species to recover.

Here is the beautiful part. With no one new being born our responsibility falls to caring for only those who are already born, a finite number of individuals. In theory we would grow wiser upon reflecting on our demise and begin to care for those around us. Slowly there would be an end to homeless children, extreme poverty and war. I feel like I'm not doing justice to this concept. Of course in reality it would be sad. Maybe I would never have my own children. There would be no grandchildren either. In ten years there would be no small children which would be truly a loss. We all seem to want to leave a legacy as well. The idea of nothing replacing us, continuing what we have begun, remembering us, can be undesirable. But really, why? Once you leave the earth that's it, there is no going back (unless you think you can haunt). How about everyone just read the book or pages 241-244. Or check out the website.

Tuesday, December 25

Spoiled like my parents missed me while i was away

My inner child must still get giddy at the thought of Christmas surprises waiting in the morning (I was the only member of the family who didn't know exactly what they were getting since I insist on surprises) because it kept me up all night. The excited shaking doesn't happen any longer and I don't even consciously dwell on the next day but somehow I was still lying awake at almost 6am. Meaning my family has set a new personal record for present opening time: 9:52 am. start time.

The previous record being before 8am.

Waiting under the tree were a shiny new pair of snowshoes to continue my search for a winter passtime with exercise involved. Another sport that will soon bend to my will is skating. Three times so far since I have returned and I have steadily not sucked quite at much. I'm even warming to the girly skates, even if they may be put down by everyone else. The nice tails on the blades keep me from falling backwards, they are nice and tight (not too wide like boy skates) and even the pickies have their merits. Here's to me sticking with it.

The first thing we did this morning after opening and eating was watch HAIRSPRAY. As a celebration and a Merry Christmas I give you this link for your very own Christopher Walken treat.

Tuesday, December 18

My infectious namesake

My time back in Canada so far has been spent somewhat lazily. Seeing people as I feel like seeing people. Decorating. Trying a recipe or two. Sleeping until noon. It has given me the opportunity to start (and finish) A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. I believe that he has mastered the creation of heartbreaking tragedy, of capturing shame and disappointment, of knowing exactly what would have to happen to break the reader. He seems a bit of a tease or torturer, bringing each character to the absolute edge of destruction and then reviving them. It was beautifully written but completely unnecessary.

The next book propped beside me to be opened momentarily is quite fitting after having spent the evening watching I am Legend with Mark tonight (shout out!). The book is The World Without Us by Alan Weisman that explores how the earth would recover and repair itself if we were suddenly nonexistent and what we have managed to do that will be forever irreparable. Watch those plastic grocery bags.

Having just been in Peru and being thrown back directly into the oncoming path of the Santa Claus parade is a bit unsettling. My goal is to avoid the mall and Wal-mart until the New Year as much as possible. More than that I have been considering the idea of buying local, buying well-made and having less. I know, I go on about it quite a bit. But ask your parents: how many outfits did they have at one time growing up? Three? four? I don't know why I live such a disposable life. This Story of Stuff short film puts it very concisely and has a few noteworthy statistics.

Thursday, December 13

Toilet paper goes where again?

From Peru to Canadian soil in less than 36 hours. Only 4 flights. My longest wait, in Lima, actually allowed me to spend a few hours in the VIP lounge sipping on a free Kaluha y leche, sitting in leather chairs while surfing the internet for free on snazzy computers. Little to report for the rest of my trip. Mark picked my stinky self up from the airport and smoothly got me across the border without a search which saved my fake movies and coca products from being confiscated.

Now to set to work trying to answer the question that i do not feel like being asked: 'now what'? Nope. Don't ask it. I don't know. Except I'm going to the movies tomorrow.

Thursday, December 6

It´s beginning to look a lot like...June

The first signs of Christmas appeared in Arica, Chile seeming somewhat out of place amidst the palm trees and happy vultures. The plan was, when ariving in Arica, get hotel room, leave stuff there, have glorious glorious showers, bus to Nazca that night. That plan became: do all of the above except skip Nazca and spend two days in our seaside luxury overlooking THE PACIFIC OCEAN. That´s right folks, for $18 per night we lived it up with hot water, clean sheets and a patio view of the beach.

The town itself was reasonably hip as well. The biggest shocker had to be, after 3 months without the western capitalism snuggling up with me at night, the giant yellow arches in the shopping district. So like good westerners we know, just to test if it was the same. One, no it isn´t. It is really fancy with western music blaring outside, IKEA chairs and a Chef´s menu (please, next time you´re in McD´s ask to meet the 'chef' and the 16 year old with zits will be happy to spit in your burger). Being not all that hungry I just ate a few fries but Kate polished off some burger meal and we went off in search of a sea museum. I believe we have a new guinness record because in no more than 15 minutes Kate was huddled on the ground trying to contain her aforementioned lunch when we located the museum just in time and desperately begged for sanctuary in the washroom before touring. You don´t need the details but let´s just say she won´t be going to that fastfood chain again soon.

Back on the shore away from the unsettling elves in department stores and misplaced holiday tunes we disturbed hoards of sea life to satisfy our curiosity. Vultures watched us from the palm trees, pelicans fled as I sneakily tried to get a better look and crabs shuddered back into the sand. We turned over rocks for hours finding anenomes, sea urchins, snails and so many fun creatures. From the dock I could watch the red-topped jellyfish float to their doom on the shore. I fulfilled my dream of walking along the shore as tide was going out and finding 'treasures' left behind by the sea. A few little crabby friends included.

Sadly the adventure had to end and we parted ways in Arequipa where I met a few friends (one german girl and two dudes from the US), stayed in a hostal that was once an old colonial home. We went out for Alpaca steak (yes, even I had to try it just once). My thoughts: wow, this is really good. This tastes very similar to what I remember steak tasting like. Oh no, do I LIKE STEAK?

Monday, December 3

Don´t sniff the sulfur

Pit stop for eight hours in San Pedro while waiting for the bus to take me to Arica. Why Arica? If you glance at a map you will see that it is situated on the coast of the PACIFIC OCEAN! It might be true that I have never seen that one. It is so hot with little to do other than shop (I only need so many tacky sweaters and tribal pipes) so we are taking refuge in an internet cafe. Three days ago I had not yet seen these things:

1. The honest-to-goodness-desert
2. A geyser
3. Chile
4. Flamingoes in their natural habitat (which happens to be much better on the eyes than nose) 5. Llamas, vicuñas, an andean fox, a long-tailed rabbit thing, a suri (kinda like an ostrich)
6. A volcano
7. Vast plains of salt
8. Desert stars

The trip was three days in a jeep with a brazilian woman, two dudes from Ireland and a French guy who only strengthened any French stereotype I have ever heard. Oh, and our Bolivian driver. It worked out that our plans changed to avoid Sucre because it is closed due to rioting. The accomodations each night were basic but warm however lacked washing stations. By last night we washed out hair in the miniature bathroom sinks with ice water allowing the little girls who lived there to dump nalgenes full of it all over our heads. It was worth it since we were later informed that we were 'amigas' and handed slightly wet handfuls of popcorn.

While drinking my jugo of pure kiwi in the town today I picked up a pamphlet about some geysers in the area similar to the ones we had visited this morning. It provided some 'necessary cautions for your visit' - All visitors must be something far from the geysers when coming nearer to them -In winter the low temperature freeze the water that fluid from the geysers, becoming slippery the ground, BE CAREFUL TO WALK - It is not recommended NOT TO INHALE nor to smell the emanations produced by the geysers, because they can be very dangerous And if incase, after all these warnings, you manage to fall into a geyser there are burn tips provided. Most important of all 'not to take away the rest of the clothes attached to the skin'. Boy, that makes me want to visit.

Tuesday, November 27

How many hours before blood clots set in?

Friday night my travel buddy and I left for Lake Titicaca with high hopes and few ideas of what to expect. Writing from the middle-of-nowhere-Bolivia I cannot give pictures of my journeys yet but take my word that it is another world entirely. The first stop on Lake T.caca were the floating Islands made entirely out of reeds which they also made their homes and sweet boats out of and ate for an afternoon snack. The taste of the reeds is like wet cardboard (but I light cardboard) but could be eaten in desperation.

On the bus I have been slowly reading the Bamba (read: illegal copy) of El Fin de la Pobreza (The end of Poverty) which has brought up many questions. Over 2000 people live 10 to 30 per island in the lake and subsist on fish, reeds (in abundance) and tourism. The reed huts now have their own solar panels to help them do many things, including watching TV. There are schools, a post office, fisheries and community events. No one appears to be malnurished. Would we call them poor? Likely they would counted into the category of Moderate Poverty by world standards but who are we to judge? If a group is happy in their lifestyle and can support themselves why do we have the right to call them ignorant and lacking.

The woman of the families on the Isle of Amantaní welcomed our boat at the shore to take us to our homestay. The new rise in altitude kicked butt again and the climb up the side of the mountain was somewhat painful. But we arrived to a very comfortable room overlooking their small garden plot and THE Lake. We found out later that we were not alone in our experience but in showing us their culture they demonstrated that they in no way wanted to talk to us. I should correct myself because the husband asked what country we were from. The wife brought us our delicious, delicious local food in our room where we ate alone by candle light. That night we were treated to the most intense lightning storm ever. What do you do when given fried dough for breakfast? Dip it in your tea, smother in sugar and pretend you are eating a Beaver Tail.
We entered into Bolivia yesterday in the afternoon where I had to pay a fine because I was given only 60 days in Peru according to their system even though it was corrected in my passport. Lesson: pay very close attention to how many days they have given you in a country. Luckily Peru is pretty forgiving so we promptly set off to walk into Bolivia.

It has now been almost 24 hours on a bus with a short stop in La Paz long enough to order coffee, leave before it was served and book a night long bus ride to Uyuni where we wait for our trip to the largest salt flats in the world (not to mention volcanoes, geysers and coloured lagoons) to be left at the Chilean border.

One more thing: Peru is a bubble bath compared to the cold shower of Bolivia. It just feels different. Maybe it the armed guards at all of the gas stations. Maybe it is the ghost-town like stops every hour or two on the bus and the nauseous making dirt roads throught the desert. At 2am we stopped for food for the first time since we got on the bus at 7pm to be treated to a choice of massive hunks of cheese, hard bread and bland coffee. We could have gone across the street for the same thing but we decided to wander around the bus in the eerie and deserted town. Goodbye catering to my every tourist wish, hello communism.

Friday, November 23

Estoy hasta las narices

We had our tickets and were ready to spontaneously take off a day early for Puno. The time was tight and packing even tighter but it was an entirely reachable goal. The only thing is I had to throw my leaving party at the orphanage a bit early and be home by 6 (I mean, 6:30, how about 7?). It was hard to leave especially since I thought I would have two more weeks before I decided to end my school and explore the country. They sang me a song (heaven help them all, I sang them a song) we ate cake, a few ones I spent more time with sang a horrible translation I did of the Hakuna Matata song. We took pictures. Luckily I will visit a few more times and bring photos whenever I am in the city and not travelling.

Wait, why didn´t we go? Kate´s phone didn´t work. But to understand this we will step back in time. I´m not sure what it is about her but she has been robbed or almost robbed three or four times. I must admit that she has taken it well every time. But this was the last straw. Wednesday she placed her phone in the front pocket of her sweater and secured it while downtown. Some bold person reached in and grabbed it. Took her phone! From her front pocket! The worst part is she grabbed him, he denied the accusation and promptly took off (like any innocent person would do). He was chased by a few men on the street but to no use. How did losing a phone delay our trip?

Something you need to know about Kate is that she is a great mom to her 10 year old son back home in Wisconsin. They had never been separated before and this phone was their lifeline through text messages, she could be reached anywhere. Even that didn´t stop her: she bought a new phone assured that it would send messages to the US and receive them so off I go to my party and her to get some last minute essentials. But I come home to find out it doesn´t work. We frantically tried to fix it but the store was closed. So we bought a popscicle and a beer (I really hate beer) and home we went to chill. Tonight should be different. What frustrates me is that the phone meant so much more to Kate than to that guy. He probably couldn´t even sell it because it doesn´t function other than for text in Peru. Right now it is surely in the bottom of a sewer drain somewhere in the city. Some people.

Sunday, November 18

Just make a disgusted face

Here I am with just over three more weeks to go. My next big adventure will finally be a real trip within South America which means I will be going to the clinic tomorrow for my Yellow Fever vaccine. The Bolivian government prefers only vaccinated people and hey, it's good for 10 years so from having studied business I think it is a good investment.

The plan: myself and Kate (cool chick from Wisconsin who lives down the hall/balcony from me) will be leaving on next Friday evening to reach the famous Lake Titicaca (reknowned for being the highest freshwater lake and having some sweet sweet floating islands made of reeds). Once there we will spend a few days exploring and hopefully stay on an island with a local family. From there we will trek to Copacabana as our first stop on the Bolivian side of the border. One great thing about Bolivia: we get to divide all prices by 5! HEre in Peru it is by 3, but by 5!? I'm not sure what we will find in Copacabana but if nothing else we will get to sing that song while in the place. After we will just see how far we can get south east before we have to return for classes the Monday one week later. La Paz, Sucre, Potosi and (I hope!) Uyuni to see one of the worlds largest salt flats which becomes home to thousands of Flamingos in November.

To have a little fun we went out on Friday night to hear some live music and stumbled upon Nancy Flores at the local bar Ukuku's. THe goal of the night: listen to some good Peruvian music and maybe dance a little. Totally chill.

We had no idea we would come across the Peruvian version of 'Night at the Roxbury'. I can't even explain how perfectly these two men fit the profile but you'll have to trust me. Even though being well into their 30s they were obviously on the prowl. They consistently asked us to dance throughout the night which went something like this:

"Would you like to dance with us"
"No thank you" "C'mon. Why not?"
"Because we don't want to"
"Would you like to dance? No? That's cool, that's cool"
*stands awkwardly with friend bobbing (yes, I have to use the word bobbing) and hip thrusting to the music while scoping out the next prey

When they finally did find some women who accepted their less than charming ways they took up practically then entire dance floor. Not to mention the black lights highlighting a servere dandruff problem. At least if they had been good dancers. They were just the worst of the many who would use the trick of gradually dancing closer to us until we were technically dancing with them at which time we would promptly move away. That's the best that they have? The worst part is that we had left some coats on the couch we were sitting on to go dance but would return often to get something or sit down. The coats were there until close to leaving time but when we finally headed out they were no where to be seen. My rain coat (luckily with nothing important), Kate's raincoat (which she had bought about 3 minutes before entering the bar) and hoodie and scarf along with some money and ID. Our best guess: Chris Katan and Will Ferrell made off with them to "show us". They disappeared around the same time as the coats and would easily have known they were ours and when we were and were not paying attention. If I could go back in time I would still not dance with them to save my coat. You can come to Peru for a great adventure, beautiful scenery or even some Spanish but if it is a husband you're after I'd go somewhere else.

Tip: Kate has informed me that the most effective means of repelling unwanted and persistent suitors is to make an obvious face of horrible disgust and add an "ew" for good measure. They usually are unable to defend themselves against this

Sunday, November 11

Now I have to see the rest of the Wonders

The city of Cusco offers one of the best places for a game of 'ultimate punch buggy'. What is that? Well it hinges on the ability to locate Volkswagen Beetles and then having at least one other person nearby that is sufficiently punchable. The extreme version requires many more Beetles, a keen eye for kitsch and fast fists. My neighbourhood here is perfect as the house to beetle ratio is about 4 to 1.

This week has been a bust for blogging but with good reason: Mark came to visit so I took some time off pretty much everything. No school, I was allowed to speak english and for sures, no blogging. The week went by so quickly although for him there is still another 24.5 hours of travel before he can call the vacation quits.

Lacking time to see everything the way I have been doing it (one place at a time by sketchy bus into the valley) we did the tourist thing for a few days. The Sacred Valley (pisac, ollantaytambo and chinchero) one day, city tour (sacsayhuaman and some other ruins) another day. I must admit that while riding a bus filled with only tourists does not exactly appeal the having of a guide made the ruins much more fascinating.

One of the highlights had to be the rice pudding. Oh, and Machu Picchu. Booked in advance for peace of mind all was set for wednesday morning to leave on the train at 7am. The only hitch: our 6:20am pick-up finally showed at 7:15. Train leaves at 7, we are picked up at 7:15 to catch train...problem anyone? After my host family kindly explained to the man the error of his ways and outed his various lies about us not being there waiting, etc. etc. he drove us to the next town to meet the train and we were off! Not without me inputting my two cents about my lack of confidence in the agency after I was denied a phone number to contact our guide for the next day even though I was told earlier I could have it (this coming after the late pick-up and both tickets having the incorrect names and passport numbers). For three days according to PeruRail we were Katie Vikking and Martha Jones. I

f you are ever to do Machu Picchu by train I am going to tell you how to do it. Take the train but stay overnight to visit the ruins the next day. Wake up before 5am to catch the 530 am bus in order to enter the ruins at the 6am opening. (We happened to be on the first bus to ascend the Cloud forest mountains of emerald green). Go into the ruins and stare incredulously because not only are they fantastic but you have beat the crowds and can see it without people milling around ruining your photos. Have a look around but be at the gate for Winay Picchu by 7am. Winay Picchu is a mountain right behind M.P. with a few ruins topping it and offering a view of the entire site from above. Our motivation for climbing so early was to hit the steep steps straight up when we still had breakfast in our tummies and it ended up being the most rewarding experience of the day. Only 400 people are allowed to climb Winay Picchu daily (all before 1pm) and we entered as #23 and #24 for November 8th 2007. 45 minutes of straight-up brutalness being unable to see anything off the side of the cliffs due to the dense fog covering everything. At the top we waited over an hour to finally see the fog shift and reveal part by part the ancient Inca city far below. Later take a tour with a guide. Pet the Llamas. Take train back that evening or early the next morning. It may be cliché, maybe we held tickets for this year numbering over 766,000 but there is a reason that this place attracts so many people. Even with the guide we were lucky and were led around the ruins by a man who wrote a widely published book about M.P. Another tip: everyone has to stay in Aguas Calientes beforehand. Bring playing cards and music. There is nothing there but expensive restaurants and expensive souvenirs. Although you could pass some time in the middle of the Urubamba River on giant granite stones. You could. If you wanted to.

Monday, October 22

Thank you Health Insurance

Having completed five weeks in this developing country without being sick it was time that my pride was kept in check. It came on after lunch yesterday and by the evening I was burning with fever and muscle aches. The doctor did a house call today since I stayed home from school and had nothing better to do; the verdict is that I have the flu. The actual flu, upper respiratory infection, muscle aches and fever, the one only old people get in the winter. For some reason lying down has to be one of the most uncomfortable things I could do right now so the chances of catching up on all the sleep I missed last night is small.

The funny thing is, other than this small set back, everything else seems to be rapidly getting even more fun. After a lull in enrollment of people under the age of 65 this week brought 5 others in their early 20s from Toronto, Texas, Wisconsin and Norway. Together we cabbed it outside the city to Las Salinas (spectacular salt flats I have already visited once) and climbed down the entire structure in order to follow the salt river canyon back to camp. It was one of the most amazing places I have ever been made all the better that nature didn´t just call but concripted me while in the canyon. Thank goodness for Puma-free caves.

Yesterday I became part of the history of Peru in their 2007 census. While I was expecting questions related to my stay in Peru I didn´t realize I would be writing down where I was born, how many children I have and my level of english literacy. For one day nearly the entire country was essentially on house arrest on order not to leave during census hours (6am to 6pm) so the family celebrated with a chill day and raw fish, the famous Peruvian ceviche (raw seafood 'cooked' in lime juice). The craziest part was IT WAS REALLY GOOD. Well, at least good. I would probably eat it again. That is so unlike me.

Monday, October 15

Be Agressive, be be Agressive

At first glance Cusco would appear to be a very 'gay friendly' city. Actually I think it is, just like many large Canadian cities but most don´t seem to advertise it as much as Cusco. That is what I thought until I discovered that the city flag happens to be a rainbow but purple in some other spot. I guess that explains why a main round-about near the city square flies a skittles coloured flag with its monuments.

My cheerleading title actually refers to the fact that being taken out of my comfort zone has revealed that I am a big wimp. My assertiveness level is comparable to my sporting ability. Atleast weekly, often biweekly, the adults in the orphanage I volunteer in blatantly ask me to purchase things. This isn´t exactly the centre of poverty either. I understand that they have little but never lack anything important. As soon as the pushing starts though my Spanish ability lessens, I shuffle the feet, anything to avoid the situation. It would be better for all involved if I could manage an outright NO. Today it was markers and supplies for a celebration. Project grow a spine is officially in progress.

Lastly, I had promised to share a bit more history, that of Wiracocha. I like to think of this story as one of the biggest You-Have-Got-to-Be-Kidding-Me´s ever. The word is that an Incan emperor was somewhat of an imperialist and also had some brains. He desired a unified (ie. easy to manage) kingdom and devised that the best way to accomplish this was to unify the pantheistic culture under one religion or God. He reached back into pre-inca culture and pulled up Wiracocha. Here is the kicker: Wiracocha was a God in man form, white, with the force of a beast and the awaited saviour of sorts. All was fine and dandy until, you guessed it, white dudes on horses (force of beasts) showed up demanding their share aka. all of the riches of the land. The great kingdom was mostly felled in just years thanks to a story. I can just picture the king making it up too: ¨Perfect. Like that´s ever going to happen¨.

Monday, October 8

With Hal Johnson and Joanne MacLeod

This entry is a bit on the tardy side. All weekend I was finally feeling inspired but unluckily it rained on Friday night so the phone and internet in house have been out for days. Its kind of nice because it gives me the illusion that I'm roughing it a bit (poor me with running hot water, ample food and cable TV). Some little things are missing or different that I would have thought.

Mantequilla de Mani (good old peanut butter) is sneered at here and very expensive. Luckily when I mentioned my craving my house mom produced a jar of real american Skippy that had been left behind by a previous student. I wonder what I could get for that on the street!

Milk doesn't come in the cold, bagged form. Warm boxed or condensed and canned. That I can't say I miss too much although it means cereal is a bit unrealistic and toasters are as rare as clean taxis (cab drivers) ie. I haven't seen either.

More than missing things here there is so much that just can{t be purchased or brought back to Canada. Where will I get my cocaine in Canada? On nearly the same level a very popular icecream here Locuma. It is hard to believe that soemthing so wonderful and sweet can come from the pulp of a nasty looking squash-like flora. I will not miss the warm papaya pulp for breakfast.

Now for a culture break. The Peruvian culture consists of Spanish colonialism and, as appears at first glance, indigenous Incan subjugation. However, if one looks a bit deeper it is something else entirely. The strict Catholic church has been infiltrated by the culture and beliefs of the incas, often at the time without its knowledge. Por ejemplo, it is common in paintings in the grand cathedral for there to be subtle changes to reproductions of European works like human forms in the shape of mountains. Interestingly, when the incas were put to carving the priest's chambers they put voluptuous naked women just under the arm rests of the chairs to stabilize what they believed was an imbalance in gender. One has to give them props for sneakiness. Even now Catholicism is often a front for their true beliefs. Tucked behind a door of the grand cathedral is an energy stone taken from a local mountain. Many indigenous people visit the church to tip the stone and feel its vibrations believing that it is a form of cleansing. As with Christian tradition many festivals here were first 'pagan' but converted by the Spaniards. For example, Corpus Christi. The locals used to take out their mummies and parade them around town each year in a great festival. Seeing this heathenism the Spaniards converted the day into one carrying representations of Christ's body. THe locals said thanks and stuck the images alongside their mummies and continued on their way. Another example of ingenuity: they had a sacred mountain which they completed pilgramages to which were subsequently forbidden after the arrival of the westerners. Not to be outdone they began claiming to have seen the form of Christ at the mountain and lo and behold the pilgramages resumed, Christian style. THe interesting thing is that today many Catholics still prostrate on that mountain unaware of the history of the 'sighting'. Next time you accept a tradition just because maybe take a minute to find out where it came from. For next time: the big oops of Wiracocha.

Friday, September 28

A few Firsts

1) My first sidewalk crapper. Urination, I´ve seen. Defecation in public is a whole other level. It sort of fit in the surroundings though.

2) On Av. Del Sol I was offered a variety of items for purchase. This is not unusual in itself however, the fact that someone decided to corner the market on small hand saws (and only small hand saws) on the sidewalk intruigues me a bit (how many are they going to sell?). Already taken items: batteries, squeegee brushes, hand saws, finger puppets, toothpaste....I wonder if I could make a killing with salt and pepper shakers. One can actually buy toilet paper through a car window while stopped at a light.

3) A first, of likely many, bootlegged items. The new Harry Potter today, in spanish, $3. I think it will help to read something I´ve already read in English. It looks pretty kosher wrapped in its plastic but its an obvious photocopy once opened. Here I come roadside movie stands!

4) Chewed hoja de coca (yeah, cocaine plant is legal here) with my spanish teacher during class. It really isn´t all that bada·· but it sounds like it. Nothing happened; surprise, they tasted like leaves, all dry...and crunchy...mmm.

Monday, September 24

Poorer in Plata, richer in knowledge

This past weekend has been a good one for finally exploring a bit more. Let me break it down for ya´ll.
Friday: After class myself and two fellow students caught a taxi to Tipon (a town about a half hour outside cusco) for a little Peruvian delicacy. Remember Polka Dot Door? Remember their pet G.P.? Well, I ate him! We walk into this dive (in isn´t really the right word because its more out than in) and the transaction goes like this
¨How many plates?¨
¨Three, please¨
¨Small, med, or large?¨
¨All small¨
¨With heads or without?¨
¨One with, two without¨
It was that easy. You got it, I ate a guinea pig. Mine was a headless one but it still looked like the animal (quartered) with its claws intact and the little ribbies inside. A good anatomy lesson. Too bad they have very little meat and quite a bit of fat. I didn´t eat much of it but I tried it and you didn´t.

Saturday: Justine and I took a bus up to some ruins called TamboMachay and walked back down, hitting four other sites on the way. The first set weren´t much to see so I spent more time falling the calls of some sheep but the rest, while not very large, were quite impressive. The stone architecture of the Incas is really unmatched by other civilizations. The last site and the largest (SacsayHuaman) consisted of a triple terraced defence wall that zigzigs and a large mound with rockslides on one slide (called ¨The Sliding Place¨in Quechua). The slides were popular in Inca times and still pretty darn fun. I bet little Inca kids would say things like ¨Mom, can I go hang out at the slides¨? ¨Not until you finish husking your corn, Wayruta¨Or something like that.

Today-Sunday: Bussed to Pisac with four others (4.40 soles round trip = $1.35 for two hours on the bus) to see some ruins and a market. The market was massive and fairly amazing (although a bit repetitive after a while) and I didn´t even see the ruins. I turned around when I found out I needed a very expensive ticket that would run out before I could use it again. I´ll see them but plan it a bit better.

Something finally hit me yesterday: I can´t get Pepsi anywhere in the country! No Pepsi? Ok, not the end of the world but sometimes you just have a craving. On top of that, if it has to be Coke couldn´t it be cold? Is that too much to ask? Obviously it is, sigh. One cannot locate ice cold (or even mildly cold) gaseosa ´round these parts. But seeing the way people live here it is a pretty incomparable hardship. I live in a very well-off neighbourhood but there aren´t words to describe the dilapidation in this city, of the colour of brown that seeps into everything. The pollution is incredible. The people are industrious. Even with 54% of people below the poverty line there are very few beggars. Not that you aren´t implored at every corner but it is for shoeshines, confections, phone calls, wherever there is the smallest need (often that of a tourist) someone has found a way to fill it. Just as I sat down to write this blog the earth trembled. Just slightly, just enough to cause notice, a small shake. My very first earthquake.

Wednesday, September 19

The Ruins of Sexy Woman

My theory: the only thing keeping the cab drivers and the passengers alive here are the massive dashboard shrines, because it certainly isn´t the nonexistant seatbelts. Every driver (or Chofer) has pictures and charms of Jesus and their favourite saints adorning the cloth and fringe-covered dashboard. This month was the festival of Señor de Huanca so they all have a banner above the windshield (in velvet and gold letters no less) welcoming him or something like that.
As for sight seeing I have to admit to not doing any yet (save for climbing up a ridiculous amount of stairs to a pretty poor area and catching a magnificent view of the whole city). However, this weekend calls for a visit to the ruins of Sacsayhuaman (pronounced similar to 'Sexy Woman' with a spanish accent). Apparently it is a half hour walk uphill from the school...woot.
Let's talk tourism though. It is hard to separate the evils and good of tourism in Cusco. It appears that the most common ways to make money here are: drive a taxi, sell your paintings to tourists or hawk postcards at restaurants (substitute carvings, finger puppets, jewelry, etc. for postcards). These jobs wouldn{t exist without tourists, would they be needed? Likely they would. From the history of Perú it seems that the government got the country into a bit of a financial bind well before tourists overran the place. Would the culture be on sale at every turn? Probably not. It is sad to see women dressed in their traditional clothing and carrying a lamb around to make tips by posing with tourists but one can't really blame them. If you needed money for food and tourists would pay you for something you had, you would sell it...even if it was your image. Oh, and talk about pollution with all of the taxi's- I don't need to take up smoking just a brisk walk to the grocery store.}

Friday, September 14

Can no longer claim my title

Me duele la cabeza por el primero tiempo de mi vida. I have a headache for the first time in my life. Nothing brutal so I can{t complain at all but I will no longer be able to use it when playing ¨I have never. The altitude will get you but I took it easy last night and today I paid for school and will getting acquainted with the town.
THe answer to everything here is ¨coca¨which I suppose makes Cusco similar to Vancouver. Not chocolate (cacao) but the leaf which cocaine is derived from. They give me glass after glass of the tea and it tastes good! The Spanish is coming back quickly. HOwever, concepts like ¨I feel¨or ¨I would, I could, ¨are difficult right now so I mostly stay in the concrete of life. It actually means I keep my mouth shut and listen quite a bit more; a new skill for me.
As for my homestay, it couldn´t be better. There is another student, a girl from Montreal, staying at the home. The house is home to an older couple and their married daughter and adorable grandson who is about 1 year old. There is also a domestic helper and her daughter Veronica who are always there (I don{t think they live there though) and a young indigenous boy who also works in the house ¨´villi¨. The home is hidden behind a wall and has a courtyard in the middle where their TWO DOGS stay (blondy, a golden retreiver pup, and puski, a mutt). Our rooms open onto an outdoor balcony that looks out over homes and a mountain (did I mention I was spoiled?) The other student and I share a bathroom with two sinks and two showers and HOT WATER!
I am doing my best to be open to the food and luckily they have been kind so far. For dinner was a beef product though, which I ate, I think it has actually been years since I have eaten something like a steak. For breakfast Aleja (Ah LAY ha) made papya smoothie things but something different is they don{t drink cold drinks so it was warm....but drinkable once it cooled off lol.
For three months my name will be ´Kah-tee´. I like it, its different. And hey, I get the T pronounced now. Pictures to come sometime this week I hope. There is so much to say but I´ll save it for another time.
oh yeah, Taxi´s are SO cheap here. I feel really bad. To go for about a 10 minute ride it is two soles. That is about 60 cents. What? The meter starts at way over that in Canada, but here there are no meters. ALso, I had to cash my travelers cheques to pay for school. So we're standing in the open doorway of a little shop counting out $2000 in cash. They gave me free chiclets for changing with them. Neato.
The flight here was also the nicest I htink I have ever been on. Comfy leather-ish seats, a good snack, oh and the view of THE ANDES. At one point while still climbing in altitude the clouds made the mountains appear like a mirage. And, guess what played on the flight?? Just for Laughs Gags, straight out of montreal. I guess its funny no matter what language you speak!

Thursday, September 13

Tired and constipated in Lima

My first experience of an internet cafe and I had to ask how to use the @ sign. It is a pretty significant amount of work for such a common symbol, having to press ALT and then hit 64 consecutively. I would not have figured that out on my own. Here I am, in badly need of a toothbrushing and a change of clothes but feeling fairly awake and excited to get started. The flight was so horribly uneventful I have nothing really to report except that my connecting flight from Miami to Lima was late so I missed my last leg to Cusco by, oh, three minutes!! But being unable to do anything about it until about an hour later when the American Airlines reps got in I considered crying about it and then decided to laugh and get some reading done. An observation: I would not have fit in in Miami. That´s ok with me. So far I haven¨t really had to use my Spanish too much except for an occasional gracias, which is probably good because my skills have seriously degraded. I did whip out ¨tres meses, por favor¨when bartering with the immigrations agent who insisted on giving be only 60 days entry into the country and not the 90 I needed. But he caved. After I was given a ticket onto a later flight (1pm in an hour and a half) it struck me that I was hungry (midnight lasagna on the plane didn¨t hold me past 630am so I went in search of some local cuisine. I was a bit disappointed to find that I recognized almost every food distributor except ¨Manos Morenas¨or ¨dark hands¨as it translates... Determined not to make my first meal in South America a trip to McDonald´s I settled for a donut and water at Dunkin´Donuts (I had no idea they cornered the Peru market). Even the donuts are different. The icings are almost neon and have flavours like pistaschio. I went for a halloween-y ¨durazno y chocolate¨or peach and chocolate (you figured out the chocolate all by yourself, didn´t you?) and it really tasted like peaches. Anywho, after losing three soles (the currency) to a pay phone in order to inform the school that I would be late arriving at the airport I was reassured by the fact that it seems as if they pretty much forgot that I was to arrive at 715 so it wasn´t a problem to come at 2. Oh, random event: so a band starts playing and film crews are squishing this stylish latina woman while she walks through the airport. The crowd then stops, parts and the band plays some traditional latin music while many of the excited followers begin dancing with her around the circle and waving some papers. I wish I knew what was going on but I decided to test out my Spanish right then and there and asked in my best accent who the woman was. Well of course I had to smile and nod when the reply was in Spanish. I think....that maybe....she was some sort of Spanish figurehead and was allowing some sort of immigration papers for some native peoples. Or nothing like that.

ps. I copy and pasted this. I apologize that it has no paragraph breaks but it did and now I don´t care enough to put them back

Wednesday, September 12

It was Jose's beanstalk and he lived in Leamington

Contrary to what some might believe I am not yet in Peru but still on Canadian grass. Which will only be true for approximately two more hours. Mark and I came down to Essex on Monday where I could be spoiled by his family for a few days and then fly out at 6pm tonight. Yesterday we decided to visit Colasanti's, a local petting zoo/tropical garden (although I was a little uneasy at supporting a place that would import lion cubs...sigh). We got a bit turned around and ended up driving through Leamington instead of finding the zoo and I was so excited by the little town that he suggested we skip the zoo thing and walk around downtown Leamington. I'm no longer allowed to use the phrase "this is one of my favourite places in the world!" so liberally since I apparently throw it about too often (but maybe they really are ALL my favourite places!) so I won't go that far but it was pretty nifty.

Leamington: the little mexican haven in southern Ontario. A mexican consular office, restaurants, grocery stores. The migrant workers have really added their own flavour to the town and it is so welcoming. On top of all that this little community has its very own Fair Trade store. Everything in it is traded fairly (meaning people who made the goods, often women and children, were given a fair price to allow them to support themselves) and the staff is all by volunteer. I found a fantastic leather ring and some chocolate grown in Ghana (very tasty!). Mark got himself a little basket to use as a candy dish that came all the way from Bangladesh and some more chocolate. This place is a hidden jewel.

The time is ticking by so I should end this and not spend my last hours on a computer. I am going to miss the local amenities and warm showers and vast English literature but it is all worth it. Here's to a safe trip!

Tuesday, September 4


mmmmm. fresh carrots picked in the rain. just a hint of dirt taste.

Monday, September 3

All about the Benjamins (translation: Queen's heads for canadians)

With about 6.7 billion people in the world I guess I can't complain about being the 837,849,304th richest person in the world. I could look at it and fret that over EIGHT HUNDRED MILLION PEOPLE are richer than I am, however there isn't a whole lot I'm about to do about it and this puts me in the top %13 of the world in terms of wealth.

Oh wait, did I forget to mention that the ranking above is MINE. Not my entire household income from living with my parents (their income puts them somewhere around the 51 millionth richest people in the world or top 0.85%) but MY income, after taxed, having worked for only 4 months of the year, for the summer, at $12 an hour. An amount that couldn't come close to supporting a Canadian family (or a single for that matter). Living in the top %15 of the world, had i had to pay my own living expenses I would have little to show for it. An ipod? Not likely. The luxury of three months to expand my horizons and 'find myelf'? Wouldn't happen. It is pretty incredible to look at how underprivileged I feel when I can't drop wads of cash for that really cute new dress in the store.

Friday, August 31

Blog Day

So, it's Blog Day apparently. How I almost let that slip I'm unsure. The way to celebrate this holiday is to post links to 5 new blogs (supposed to be out of one's normal realm of blogdom and culture).

I can't claim to be reading that made new blogs however I will make a contribution. My best discovery so far has been travelblog, a site that hosts nomadic blogs by some very fascinating (and, of course, not so fascinating) people. There are forums to discuss books to take backpacking and millions of photos from all over the world. One of the best features is their search function. A reader interested in a certain area can narrow it down to only entries written about a specific region or country. I recommend choosing obscure or difficult to travel to places (ex. bosnia, tajikistan, etc.) and live vicariously through the people who somehow take years off their lives to see the world.

I have had the privilege of reading the travels of a few adventurers. A surprisingly common route is to go from Eastern Europe to China by land (ie, poland, turkey, armenia, uzbekistan, pakistan, india, .....) The one I'm hooked on right now is the aspiringnomad who happens to be taking just that route. His photography of the local people is almost National Geographic quality and he even pays attention to composition.

Warning: This site is dangerous as it may cause you to be severely jealous and to consider taking a year (or 3) off of your 'real life' and trekking through the mountains to remote communities of Bangladesh.

Happy Travels.

Tuesday, August 28

Audrey Berdusco (Cameron) April 25 1928 - August 17 2007

This has been longer in coming than for my Nonno. Maybe it is harder to write down 22 years of history with Nana because she was the second to leave, the last in their home. I keep being asked what I would like from their home, be it furniture, jewelry, books, etc. Those aren't the things that mattered to me though.
If I wanted something to remember time with her it would have to be old worn cards, with the blue designs on the back. We used to stay up past my bedtime, her with her coffee in a big mug and saucer and a cigarette (until she started pretending she no longer smoked), and play 1 to 13.
Some old coins possibly since she would take out her coin collection (Buffalo nickels, bills from 1923, Scottish currency) and pour over it coin by coin so she could tell me the story behind it.
Old photographs. Family meant everything to Nana and she had dug up and saved photos from the dawn of photography. She had few living relatives (save some distant cousins) but she would tell me stories of her mother and father and uncles and show pictures of their lives at the turn of the century.
The little glass animals we used to play with in the family room.

One thing no one could deny about her is that she was so strong. As an only child she married the oldest of 8 children and would often be left to take care of the youngest of them while the in-laws we out or away. Not only did she care for nonno and her 5 children but she seemed to draw needy people to her and never refused them: neighbours with abusive husbands, ailing parents and in-laws, local children. Even in her last year our distant cousin began helping with her renovations in his free time outside school and sports practice. In the few months they spent together she treated him like a grandson and he saw her as a grandmother that he never had. He was a pallbearer and it meant quite so much to see that she was still doing what she did best at the end of her life.

She spent her last few weeks in the hospital meant that we were somewhat prepared and I was able to visit regularly. Sometimes she would be too confused or uncomfortable to hold a conversation but others she would be completely coherent. Even while she suffered she would encourage me. She would ask me questions about my plans for the future, my plans to travel but then nod and assure me that I would always make the right choice. One afternoon I brought out my Bible and I read her some Psalms (Ps. 23 seemed an obvious choice but she had it memorized as the faithful Christian she was her whole life). We got to talking about heaven and somehow I ended up talking about our new bodies and new life after death in Jesus. Just while i was thinking she didn't want to hear what i had to say she put her hand over mine and said "This has really made me glad. " I miss my grandmother, there is so much more to say but I will end by saying I hope I can touch half as many lives as she did.

Sunday, August 26

new appendage

This magnificent piece of technology has become part of my being, an extra appendage although it would be less awkward if it came in 'flesh-tone'. I needed a new camera because the digicam I have is great but 1) is waaaaay too massive to allow me to be inconspicuous in the least in a developing country 2) is crazy slow between shots (hey, people in the market, could you stand still while my camera finds itself?) and 3) it is completely inadequate for indoor shots, it just can't do them.

This snappy young thing is teeny enough to fit in my pocket and continues to blow my mind with all of its neato features. For one, my very favourite right now, is the colour select option. What doest that mean? I can choose a colour in a scene and then the camera only registers that colour and the rest appears in black and white. Think Schindler's List.Regular old 'out-the-window' picture becomes crazy with the blueness of the sky contrasted with the black and white of the street. Oh how camera functions make me a good photographer.

My camera happened to be on hand at work on saturday when Kumala the Ugandan Giant (!!!!) was just outside signing autographs. Apparently he is famous. And not Ugandan. He is from Tennessee.

Friday, August 24

Want not, Waste much

This summer I have been keeping up my act of at least looking like I care about the environment. I shop with canvas bags, recycle (most of the time), try biking (although not as much these last few weeks), etc. Oh I even keep up the pretense of being an informed, liberal university graduate and buy my Adbusters sometimes. The latest issue I read while on the elliptical machine at the local YMCA and was immediately drawn to an article about learning about environmentalism from our grandparents.

Thinking it was going to be about ways they learned to conserve I was surprised when it actually talked about their no-garbage lifestyle. I had heard about people going through the Great Depression and not wasting, I knew that it was likely a crime to leave food on your plate but I hadn’t quiet considered that an entire generation of people DIDN’T THROW THINGS OUT. This seems like an overstatement but it actually isn’t. They composted, they reused, they grew their own food and they bought good quality things that they took care of and used until they wore out.

This made me think: could I live even a week without generating fodder for our landfill (or even the recycling plant!)? I would have to seriously stop and think before I bought anything or risk being stuck with finding a use for an old chip bag (wash the grease out of the inside and voila! a….uh….new purse? We just don’t have a use for all the packaging out life comes with. If we had to put to use everything we consumed I believe we would consume quite a bit less. More unpackaged veggies and fewer individually wrapped snack cakes. Also, they saved scraps of paper from mail or butcher paper (instead of grocery store plastic and Styrofoam; who wants to write on that?). This seemed like something I could do except, wait, I have no use for those little scraps of paper. I already have an overabundance of scrap paper (old notebooks only partially used, pages and pages of discarded first drafts) that it would just add to the pile. Some things that I can do: stop eating things that come all packaged up! Nalgene, not water bottles (I am so bad for this!). Fewer new clothes (in fact, buy a few very good quality pieces, have them tailored and fixed and wear them forever…).

My hope is that this trip (which is 17 days away) will show me a simpler lifestyle where there is less waste and more respect for the things that we own. I can’t say I envy difficult times but privilege makes me wasteful.

Wednesday, August 22

Green Dreams

The summer here has been exceedingly dry. Christopher Walken dry. This has contributed to an abundance of forest fires and sienna coloured lawns. What is worth noting is that many people have just given in to the brown-hued grass and let Al Gore's climate change take its course instead of sucking gallons of water from Lake Superior for pure aesthetics. This impresses me. There are some who refuse to give up the perfectly manicured dream (including our crazy next-door neighbour). Apparently this was bothering even more than I realized because a few nights ago I dreamed about my frustration: I was watching lawns being watered and trying to get up the nerve to knock on doors and ask people to consider leaving their lawns to yellow for the greater good. Deciding that I didn't have the (insert body part here) to do it I contemplated leaving flyers in mail boxes to encourage water conservation. This wouldn't work either because it would be a waste of paper so, not wanting to look like a hypocrite, I did nothing (well that I can remember at least). Am I all talk? I hope not.

Trip Update:

Due to some schedule problems (making up time for Bermuda, all the students leaving for school at the same time, etc) I found out today that I will be working until the 8th of september! Crap. I had hoped for at least a week off before I leave to pack and say goodbye. That has now dwindled to one day: Sunday. The 10th (yes, my mother's 50th birthday) we drive down through the states and I fly out a few days later. I still don't have health insurance, medication, traveler's cheques, gifts for my host family.....

Not to mention making my mom's birthday gift and planning her birthday party (both of which I'm excited and lucky to do be able to do but just wishing for 36 hour days)

Sunday, August 19

The Grieving Process

Friday, August 17th around 2am Audrey Jean Berdusco joined my grandfather and her husband of 52 years barely 8 months after he passed away. She could think of nothing else for the last few weeks.

Since that time I have wanted to post something, a summary of who she was to me, but have put off writing anything (related or otherwise) for fear that it will not do her justice, that I'll forget crucial memories or that it will be insignificant. I am still putting it off but being in her home has been soothing. All of her five children and their children have been together for about a week now and we have spent days going through old albums and talking about the life my Nana and Nonno built. Today I just needed to be in the house. Often I didn't sit with anyone else but on my own leafed through old letters, photos and devoured the contents of her drawers. She saved everything. I had to be there because soon the buzz in the house will dissipate and it will be empty. Everyone will claim their tokens and after a while their life won't be in the house. In a few months it will be sold and we won't meet there as a family any longer. i need to be in that house.

A few things I have found this week:
1) A letter to my great grandfather from his brother. The brother was serving in the army and was stationed in Cairo, Egypt. Apparently the women had a reputation for loose morals so he made a firm decision to keep away from them. He also visited the pyramids and described the monstrous stones that made up the structures. He never returned home after WWII and his name can be found on the Vimy Ridge monument along with his other brother's.

2) A wedding book listing all the guests and who gave her what. Somewhere near the end I found my grandmother 'Miss Margaret Breton' who came with the man who is now my grandfather 'Mr. Les Vicken'. She spelled his last name wrong. They bought them green sheets.

3) Before she became to uncomfortable to sit and talk my grandmother and I were able to share some time together in the hospital reading the psalms. She then gave me a book of the psalms that had first been given to her great grandfather, David, in 1869 and was then passed down to her father, David, in 1910. The other book she insisted I have is an old Spanish grammar and instruction book given to her father by his grandfather on April 2nd 1910. Possibly a passion for languages ran in the family.

Everyone is preparing for the visitation tomorrow. My uncle is creating a video of old films and photos set to music. As of yet I have refused to watch it but will see it in its entirety tomorrow. I had hoped to have grandparents a bit longer than this, however, I have been very blessed as the oldest to have spent so much time with them. Tuesday morning I have the honour of reading Proverbs 31 at the funeral.

Monday, August 13

Yes, I would really rather have something else to do

Rarely am I pleasantly surprised by a movie so when 7 of us borrowed the van on Saturday night (siblings, cousins and boyfriend with me as the driver) to wander aimlessly around Blockbuster I did not have high hopes. Luckily Disturbia had a waiting list of sadists wanting to rent it my sister had to resort to something else. She chose “Driving Lesson”, I thought solely because it starred Rupert Grint (Ron from the Harry Potter movies) and said as much.

It wasn’t terrible! In fact, it was good and one of the cleaner films available lately (except for a few swears, mostly British ones). The main character is a 17-year-old boy who hasn’t learned to speak up for himself and is over-protected by her outwardly pious, fundamental Christian mother. Hoping to teach enlist her son in her good works his mother encourages him to find a job in order to contribute some money to the boarder she had just taken on. He ends up acting as a personal assistant of sorts to an alcoholic, lonely, melodramatic former actress who teaches him how to have fun and gives him a safe place to express his poetic heart. I don’t advocate the killing of innocence but it was interesting and touching to watch the young character grow and “find himself” to use a terrible cliché.

In the end it had very little to do with actual driving lessons but I’ll let that pass.

Friday, August 10

She who laughs, lasts

The other half of a 52 year marriage, parenting pair to five children, my nana, is in the hospital waiting to see her husband who passed away in January. "I just want to see the beautiful garden he must have this year" she said easily with full faith that it is there, waiting.

Just like my nonno, she can't help but crack jokes all the way through. Today she happened to have a friendly male nurse who also happened to be a brit (and call teeth Gnashers, ha). He came in to take her blood oxygen levels and this is how the conversation went.

Nurse: I have just come to check your blood oxygen levels.
Nana: you're not a nurse
nurse: yes, actually i am a nurse.
nana: no. You're not just a nurse
Nurse: You're right, I'm super nurse. However I forgot to wear my underpants outside my uniform today.
Nana: Can you prove that to me?

Tuesday, August 7

One more place down

Life at home for the summer has been a good surprise. Not surprised to be here of course (I was aware of where I would be spending the time) but that it has been full. The college and careers age group at the church I have been attending is a very considerate group who like to have fun and include other people.

Having to work Saturday I was looking forward greatly to the long part of the weekend and having Monday off. Sunday started with church where, being late as usual, we sat in the last row behind an overflowing congregation. The whole service I kept catching glimpses of people who didn’t belong (not in the “you-don’t-belong-here” way but that they fit into other parts of my life, other places). First I leaned forward to a woman who usually attended the church I went to in high school, “Is that…Pastor…..Dave?”.

Thinking to myself that looks like Heather R’s hair...oh, this is the Soo, not Guelph, nevermind. Of course I was pleasantly surprised to be greeted after church by a whole group of Guelphites who happened to join Alex W. for the long weekend. It felt great to converse and get caught up on all that I have missed and will miss being in the far away half of the province. After it all I am ok with the idea that I’m never going to be back in Guelph, not in the student way, not going to classes and meeting the same people at the grey stairs.

We were spoiled Sunday evening when a friend invited us to the camp of his family friends. Well-worth the half hour drive to discover that I actually do enjoy saunas, I enjoy sitting on the top and feeling my face burn (as long as it dies down a bit after) and then jumping into the cool lake water. My arms still feel just slightly tense from gripping a tube while being towed behind a speed boat with two successful rides out of three. Although it was fun there wasn’t any regret leaving because it was early awake on Monday morning to drive to Mackinac Island. Mark picked me up and treated me to the ferry ride to the tourist island; the ride into it actually somewhat resembling a ferry ride through the Bermuda Harbour with the colourful homes perched on the green cliffs to overlook deep blue water.

Easily my favourite part of the trip was the few mile walk up to an old cemetery. Some graves had fresh flowers even after 20 years. One couple had a Star Trek symbol of their grave, with the wife having been the child of an interracial marriage before while it was likely still quite taboo (in the early 1940s). There is so much to learn about people who lived before us, had lives and hopes and families and contributed to their communities before we even came along. The fudge on the island is pretty good too. There are actually no cars allowed there so everything and everyone must be transported via horse or bicycle. How do they clean the horse ‘meal remnants’ off the streets? With a street cleaning power washer pulled behind two Clydesdales of course!

The day ended by celebrating my sister’s 20th birthday with the family, her close friend and Mark treated by my parents to a nice restaurant. We are really starting to appreciate each other’s company more and more. That is adding tremendously to my time at home.

Saturday, August 4

Working on a Saturday

For some reason I have been contemplating the role of of government funding and agencies with taxes. Although I need to think about this quite a bit more in depth I believe that the Canadian government supports the middle class. If it wasn't for the regulation and spending of the government (however inefficient) there would slowly be no middle class or it would not be the majority. Consider what capitalism does to our country: in an effort to be more and more efficient it either outsources what were once the good jobs or it breaks each position into smaller, part-time positions to avoid paying benefits, pensions, vacation, etc. Where do most of the well-paid, full time positions with benefits come from? Hospitals, schools, universities, government offices and agencies.

It can be argued against of course since many communities are supported by commerce and large corporations (Algoma Steel in Sault Ste. marie) that employ many people. The age of unions and well-paid positions aren't over but they are phasing out. If capitalism had its way our income structure would look like our ozone layer in the 1980s, a gradually widening hole where the middle class used to be.

Trip update: since I will be volunteering a few hours a day with children I can bring supplies like clothes, school supplies and other basics to give to them. Exciting! It will be so fun to choose items and pack them for the children. If I bring things from Wal-Mart what are the chances that they actually made it themselves for 15 cents and hour?

Tuesday, July 31

I am Ross Gellar

In the process of coming closer to my goal of watching all 10 seasons of Friends (what a goal eh?) I have discovered a connection between Ross Gellar and myself. The title is a bit misleading since there are very many differences between the two of us (hopefully the gender thing is obvious, he doesn’t actually exist, etc.) but one characteristic stood out while I was watching Episode 14 of Season 1 “The one with the Candy Hearts”. Ross is awkward. A specific way that he is awkward is that he is nerdy and truly loves subjects like history, dinosaurs and general scientific facts. In this particular episode he is on a first date with a woman and the audience gets a clip of them sitting awkwardly at a restaurant. To break the silence Ross starts talking excitedly about a new scientific discovery (or something) and ends with what he considers a joke due to the irony of said discovery. The woman manages a small genuine laugh but was unimpressed throughout the telling and the conversation hits another lull.

That’s me! I’d like to think that there aren’t that many lulls for me however I regularly just get going on a topic that I find fascinating only to realize when I have finished that no one else finds it nearly as riveting as I do. The other day at work I was regaling Amanda with an interesting anecdote about my young bilingual cousin and his experience of English speakers trying to speak French only to finish and have Amanda laugh and say “You realize that you just had an entire conversation about the word Bonjour, right?”.

As I prepare to leave for Peru I am also scrambling to read as much as possible. I don’t want to be ingesting too much English while down there so my initial plan to bring hordes of books will likely have to be re-planned. Better finish the Harry Potter soon then!

Thursday, July 26

Shot in the arm

tuesday was vaccine day. I only went for Typhoid and Hep A, leaving Yellow Fever unless I end up needing it. Saved $80! In total the boost to my immune system was $85 but I believe I'll be going in for some government funded extras next week: good ol' TB test and an MMR just to be safe. This trip is so far on budget and its looking like I can get the snazzy slim camera so I can be more inconspicuous (I figure the ghostly pale skin is enough).

Driving around a double hamlet (200 people) on st. joe's island today made me wonder "at what point does a community become financially efficient?" This miniscule group of people had their own hospital (ok, it was very basic but there), libary, government offices, post office. Of course smaller versions of the ones in larger cities but unlikely to serve the same per capita. For example, the fire station. The town had at least one fire truck for 200 people. There had to be at least two or three fire fighters (well, they were probably volunteer) however, that one fire truck (for the same price and similar maintenance) could likely serve a community of over 1000, maybe even more. One community of 1000 gets one firetruck vs. 5 communities of 200 getting 5 firetrucks total. Which is a more efficient way to use our taxes? Social programs? When does this increase in population cease to be more efficient? It would change if by efficient I meant in terms of just the economy of added criteria like quality of life and environmental factors. What is an ideal sized community? hmmmm

Monday, July 23

Because I'm a Sucker

I had planned on posting about the way governments are organized to use our resources in more efficient ways than we ever could on our own but are still often very wasteful. Also that each person benefits to very different degrees from the same system.

Also, I've been reading a book about science experiments performed on humans in the name of national security. The US government injected and fed radioactive material to healthy newborns back in the 50s (or somewhere around there) to determine how radiation moves through the body and how quickly. What?

Something came up however of much more weight. Friday night a local Shoppers' DrugMart stayed open past midnight to make 144 Harry Potter fans weep with joy. Sadly, I saw it all from inside when I accompanied Mark to get his very own copy (well, it did beat waking up at 8am on a saturday to track one down). It seemed innocuous enough, waiting in line inside the store, until PHOTOGRAPHERS showed up to catch the moments forever. Why? It is now official that i am a nerd. the internet says so. The local online news source displayed an array of fans including two not so flattering numbers here and here. Just to clarify: I was laughing at all the losers in line (oh wait....sigh)

Sunday, July 22

Maybe i'll try acting my age (sometimes)

My family and I have become much closer since I left for school. Sad how that is the story but better late than never. I can even say with true conviction that i enjoy hanging out with both of my siblings. Against my first instincts I also decided to introduce my boyfriend to the parents. My mother has been cool. My father, well, he is getting better. That is where acting my age comes in. I can no longer blame my parents for not being close or not taking the initiative. My father has never exactly been an open guy. This means that he has yet to ask about or mention Mark directly but will make remarks or jokes to others when we're around. What should I do? Probably bring up the topic myself but i have no real desire to go there. He also may be a very caring person but he just has bad judgment when deciding what he should say to daughters. Some things have been hurtful but instead of addressing it I react "jokingly" passive-aggressive...the cold shoulder or just pretend like nothing happened. It could be up to me to grow up and stop waiting for him to do it.

Topic change: this saturday was great! While disappointment was starting to set in after pawing through hundreds too many Harlequin Romance novels (really people, must you?) my brother and i stumbled on a woman who was selling some of her classics to make room on her shelves. For $1.50 she parted with Catch-22, The Old Man and the Sea, 1984, the Merchant of Venice, The Pearl (John Steinbeck), Candide (voltaire), Of Mice and Men (Steinbeck). Woot. Which to read first?

Other finds: -- $1 for two neclaces - a cherry-red beaded one and the other with browns and faded reds made from seeds
-- $1.50 for a Spanish CD with lessons to go on my ipod. It is somewhat basic but I have to practice my ability to listen and understand.

Following up the garage saling (where my bro also found books, a leather guitar strap ($2) and devil sticks ($1) came a lovely nap and then my further domestication through baking of zucchini loaf (Have to impress the bf's parents since I will be meeting them tomorrow). Mark and I did Rotaryfest for the rest of the afternoon and even took in two free shows of local bands: The Revue and Catherine Taddo band. Both very different (one pop/punk/something and one jazz/blues) and great acts with immense talent. I could have stayed there all day.

The festival ended tonight and, without the stress of actually running the PlayZone, I worked at the inflatables, helped put away tents and tables afterward and then spent hours counting money in the banking room. Three years of waiting but Heather and I were able to be on the grounds voluntarily and even eat our candy apples before the draw. Tonight I will sleep peacefully.

Wednesday, July 18

I blow my own mind

So I like to think about stuff. Maybe everyone else thinks of these things but if they don't maybe they should try it.

1) When doing something random like catching a ferrett at 2am (steph), reading a random book, etc. I often stop to wonder if anyone else in the whole wide world of over 6 BILLION PEOPLE is doing the same thing as me at exactly the same time.

2) A variation on the above is I often ponder what others are doing right at the very minute. Por ejemplo: I may be bored or working or having fun and at that very moment there is someone (ok, probably many someones) having their first child, being diagnosed with cancer, dying, scared for their lives, getting married, etc.

3) It always throws me when I try to actually understand that for thousands (millions?) of years things were occurring (wars, Jesus' birth, rise and fall of civilizations, discovering North America) but I had no consciousness, I was not aware yet they still happened. (I realize that could come off exceptionally vain or self-centred thinking that the world began with my birth but that isn't what I'm trying to get at).

Until I meet someone we are entirely unaware of each other's existence. When I was learning how to ride a bike right at that moment one of the people who is now my friend could have been doing the same thing or having a birthday party or in the hospital. It is always so trippy when you talk to someone you haven't known for long and find out that you were at the same concert or summer camp at the same time as them 10 years earlier. Pretty much the whole time I was going to Guelph Mark lived in Kitchener and worked at the libby there but we were completely oblivious of each other's existence.

Conclusion: whoa

Saturday, July 14

Ella tiene su billete

It is time again to whip out the Tracy Chapman in celebration. "She's Got Her Ticket" is playing on my ipod...too bad the song is slightly melancholy. I am officially grown up: my ticket to Cuzco, Peru is booked for 91 days and 90 nights of crazy Spanish learning.

Deadline given to myself to book ticket: July 1st
Actual date of ticket-booking: July 14th.

That is pretty good in 'my time'. Much of the avoidance came from being nervous about booking something so final, not being able to go back or change it. Committing to one decision is often difficult for me. So really, this was an exercise in commitment. I passed. The website used was because it was the cheapest. However the price has been gradually rising all week as I repeatedly would try to book a ticket only to be redirected back to the beginning every time I chose the return flight: I say that they owe me the difference from when the site was being a jerk and now. It is over $50. But it was still under $900...woot woot. I may be able to afford this after all.

The next purchase: "The Rough Guide to Peru" in order to plan all the minute details. My appointment for immunization consult is next week (eep). I am looking into travel health insurance. Contact lenses in case I manage to lose or break my only pair of glasses (oh, its more than possible). How about if anyone thinks of something that I should do to get ready they let me know, ok?

New topic: an update to yesterday's 'new template' post. You may have noticed that it no longer says 'my blog', so what was all the whining about? Well, probably because he's one of the most thoughtful people I know, Mark stayed up past his bedtime and made me a new image to fix my blog. Isn't it perfect? I thought so.

Friday, July 13

Just because, apparently, I'm not original

I guess just because Beth and Vaness (no links now, i'm too lazy) just changed their templates I guess I had to do it too....actually I was inspired by Beth because I was tired of my boring old template. However, it is still called "My Blog" and I can't seem to find where that is in the template to change it....why would anyone want that there? I want to be the DAPPER DAME again! Honestly.

But the pink flowers are pretty.

Wednesday, July 11

The Closest thing to playing the harp

This blog has been a bit neglected. Hmmm. I wonder why? My friends point out that I'm in high demand lately but I think that I have been balancing my time quite well. Mark and I spend about 5 days a week together (the evenings, not all day every day) but are pretty good at incorporating other people into that...or other people are good at incorporating us and we are good at accepting invitations. It works out since the church has been drugging the juice every Sunday and there are new couples springing up all over the place.

The real reason for this blog though is to express my dislike of the letter "G". This isn't new and I may have even mentioned it before but this makes it concrete. It is only appropriate that the words "gross" and "disGusting"use the nasty hard "G" sound. I should clarify that when it comes to being easy on the eyes the capital version does not fit. Gregory...not a name any child of mine will ever have. The sound that begins "genre" and "giant" while not exactly in my good graces (ew, alliteration) have more redeeming qualities than the hard, glottal, sloppy "Guh"

On Imagination

What would the coast of Lake Superior have looked like to the people who first set eyes on it? Completely unblemished. Imagine Niagara falls. Now imagine stumbling upon that wonder of nature unannounced except for the thunder it produced; to walk out of a clearing and absorb parts of the scene before being able to see the whole majesty of it. There is something about imagining the pristine and uncorrupted that interests me. In reading "The Ingenuity Gap" the author is ranting about the slight (and not so slight) brown haze that extends over the entire continent of North America and dulls even the most beautiful landscapes. Try to imagine the most beautiful scenery in Canada: it should be even more brilliant. I feel like a colour blind person being told about blue and trying to imagine it from the hazy greens and greys that I do have.

The sky should be bluer. The water should be crystal clean. What would wholly unpolluted air feel like? Smell like? Taste like? We haven't been very good stewards of this world.

Friday, July 6

One glorious thing about living with the parents

My room is in the basement. Due to low ambient temperature I still have flannel sheets on my bed. That I use regularly. One of the wonderful things about fall and winter all year long.

Wednesday, July 4

Career Development

Yesterday I had the opportunity to job shadow a few speech-language pathologists who work specifically with youth (0-18) and still get paid (oh, career development). I can't reveal anything about the cases I sat in on however I did get to participate in therapy of two small children, one working on speech development (focusing on certain consonants or sounds) and another on social interaction. I also observed a session that was being taped for a new theory of treatment out of the States and watched a swallow exam for an infant. Swallow exams sounded the least interesting to me however, the film was made by a radiologist so the food was visible from the time enters the childs mouth for the entire path it takes to the stomach.

The facility included occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists and childworkers. The offices were crawling with toys, books and materials to engage children and work on everything from coordination to comparisons and pronouns and even had a fully wheelchair accessible apartment in the building where young people can practice independence.

The staff were up to date on fairly recent research and, for example, work very closely with autistic children just to get them to engage. The idea is to use nonverbal communication forcing them to look at the face of the therapist/playmate (something often of little interest to autistic children) for cues of when to act, how to act: help pickup the toys (shake head and frown) no not the truck, (smile and nod vigorously) yes, the elephant (wave the child over).

It was nothing I had expected and so much more rewarding. Is it worth 3 more years of school? Am I really scared of a thesis? I just want to have an education and be involved in a field that contributes to society, that helps others.

Saturday, June 30

Early Canada Day

Last night some peeps went out to a camp for a jovial time. In all there was at least $60 of merchandise blown up and a small lack of common sense. My first experience with do-it-yourself fireworks proved to be entertaining. Although a bit wary at first I greatly enjoyed the sparkly ones (star dust or balls of green and blue light streaming into the air) but not so excited about the loud bangs that some of the more cocky and arogant fireworks let out. Please, you expect me to be impressed by a loud noise? You're just moving air around to create waves that, when hitting my eardrum, are interpreted by my brain as a pop or bang. A whole lot more skills goes into being pretty and shiny.

Not to mention I just don't like loud noises. Correction, I like loud music or being loud at times but sharp, unexpected sounds....not cool. I'm already a jumpy, anxious person and I don't want a heart attack at 22.

Monday, June 25


Currently crashing on the couch of the lovely J.B. in transition between Bermy and home. As of right now I will finally be home in 24hours. The vacation was wonderful but tiring. There was so much to do and see that by the end I just needed a nap. Besides, I'm more of an explorer than a beach-lier-onner so I needed some time to do that.

Things I learned while away:
1) My house will be stucco and a butter cream yellow or aqua blue depending on how I feel that year.
2) I feel very convicted to watch my water usage after being with water-thrifty bermudians. I would like to challenge myself to try to conserve more (ie. use the rinse method when showering instead of the constant stream of water)
3) It is was too expensive to go out for dinner on that island

More to come once I upload my pictures, I don't want to ruin all the fun details for the people I will get to speak to in person. Now I must mentally prepare myself for 13 hours on the greyhound.

Saturday, June 16

Good thing I said change can be fun

This past week has been a biggun'. Funny how everything can come up at once.

On Monday my grandmother was admitted to the hospital in the soo for a leaking aortic aneurysm and with a poor prognosis. All of her children have gathered but as she makes it to day 5 coherent and without pain we all start to feel some relief...although only partial; aneurysms are time bombs. Of course she made me promise right away that I would still go on my trip to Bermy, regardless of what happened to her. It is good to be leaving with her in relatively good condition but not easy knowing I really may not see her again (of course I am thinking positively but I can't deny that I worry). They key is keeping her blood pressure down; not a small feat which you would understand if you knew my grandmother (aka. Nana).

Speaking of changes, I had come home with very few expectations and everything has surpassed them. I fell into a great church, a great job and was readily accepted back into a group of friends (some new, some old). On top of all that I really had not been looking to meet anyone as I plan to take off for a few months to Peru; I guess life has a way of catching you off guard. His name is Mark. I wasn't expecting him...

Saturday, June 9

Somebuddy call Mensa, and git me ma pokin' stick

I dont' talk about my family too much on here but right about now I"m going to do a bit of bragging. Basically I have the coolest little bro. And at under 15 he is also the smartest, I would go so far as a genius. The kid never studies, never, I have never seen it happen but his average is around 90.

but the real reason he is electrode-brain-test worthy is he just seems to know how to do things, especially with electronics (and it isn't from my dad because often my dad can't even help him with his projects). Por ejemplo: Today I come home from work and Dave has taken a little battery powered radio, turned it into an amp, hooked it up to an electric guitar and then, get this, takes a caribeaner (sp) and hooks the amp/radio to his belt loop and walks around. Voila! Miniature portable amp for those times you want to stalk someone and have the option of great acoustics. I'm already making him promise me things like expensive vacations when he is rich.

Deciding What I Want

My plans to spend three months in South America this coming fall will not be easily swayed. That doesn't mean that things don't come up that would make it easy (and profitable) to stay.

In the last two days I have been offered one position and one interview for good career-building jobs, here, in the soo. Settling down sounds easy. It sounds safe. Will those opportunities come up again? What will I do when I return from S.A., work at a regular job until I can go away to school? Maybe I won't figure out what I want to study so I won't go to school. Could I settle down?

My boss took me out for lunch yesterday (randomly), we'll call him Dwayne. There isn't anyone else who makes me consider where I am going in life and what I want out of what I'm doing than Dwayne. His stand-by advice is that the key is to figure out what makes you happy but that it took him 60 years to do it. It really is about the process.

Career woman or carefree young traveler?

Thursday, June 7

ahead by a century

"That is why we are told not to judge. We see only the results which a man's choices make out of his raw material [psychological/biological make-up and upbringing]. But God does not judge him on the raw material at all, but on what he has done with it. Most of the man's psychological makeup is probably due to his body: when his body dies all that will fall off him, and the real central man, the thing that chose, that made The best or the worst of this material, will stand naked. All sorts of nice things which we thought our own, but which were really due to good digestions, will fall off some of us: all sorts of nasty things which were due to complexes or bad health will fall off others. we shall then, for the first time, see ever one as he really was. There will be surprises"
~C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

This not only makes me feel a bit guilty but gives me great hope. Some pensing is in order.

Tuesday, June 5

Change isn't so scary

First, facebook has found another way to siphon my time (not that its as valuable as it was when I was in school, but still!). I added the 'iread' application and my love for books coupled with my slightly OCD tendency to HAVE TO INCLUDE EVERY BOOK I HAVE EVER READ and then COMMENT ON THEM is using up considerable time. I guess as long as i'm entertained, but why couldn't facebook only be powered by my sweat (ie. be bike or running powered).

yesterday I decided that long hair was not longer what I wanted.

I made a little change.

Monday, June 4

I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my bike....

For my graduation present I received a snazzy new bi-cycle for zipping around town. It was difficult to choose one since I first wanted a cool street comfort bike (a "sit-up-and-beg" in Brit slang) but then they didn't look as cool or practical in real life.

Here is my final selection:

It has done a pretty decent job of getting me off my lazy butt and biking around the city. Hills are still killer but I'm on it. Today I rode it to ultimate, played ultimate (poorly might I add, but at least I sweat a disgusting amount) and then back. Tomorrow the goal is to the library and back and then, later on in the evening, to girls night. The one downside is the stinky kick-stand they attached to it since it did not come with one (what??? is it childish to want to stand your bike up?). This bike-stander-upper is not firmly secured as is always flopping around. Overall a good ride, now I just have to work on the roads themselves: the Soo is NOT a bike friendly city.

Friday, June 1

I Laughed so Hard

Heard on a new episode of what not to wear: They team and family were discussing the bland wardrobe of the chosen one when her husband kindly compared it to vanilla.

In total agreement Stacey added: "Yes, why be vanilla when you could be...oh...tutti frutti...*turns and looks at Clinton*...or....

Clinton: *busts out laughing* "Don't look at me when you say tutti frutti"

Officially the first remark eluding to Clinton's 'orientation'. So sad, I will never marry him.

Thursday, May 31

Sigh of Satisfaction is in Order

Work today was work. The satisfaction came from doing something for someone else and being with great people. A young couple in our church with a 1 year old just bought their first house next to the Pastor's house. Being an older home it needed quite a bit of work and for the last few weeks they have been gutting it and refinishing in order to move in....eventually.

They happened to be going out of town this week so a group from our church got together and spent the evening painting for them. There were so many people that there wasn't really enough painting to go around so another woman and I explored the backyard and found a very disheveled, but once beautiful, garden. The next few hours we gradually increased our team and weeded, chopped, dug and replanted. They will have a few newly pruned gardens to look forward to. The company was wonderful too, can't find a nicer bunch of people.

Although I am a sucker. Jelena likes to bug me and call me mom because I sometimes nurture and I like to insist that she is incorrect. Well, she may be right. Tonight I was inside with the Pastor's son (he's only 3) and i'm washing my hands and he says "oops, i'm peeing on the floor". Well there isn't anything we could do about it so into the bathtub he goes. Being a 'mom' like person in spurts is fun.

Monday, May 28

I have been.....


As of 10:58 am I have been granted the permission of the Canadian government and her majesty the Queen to travel abroad with the protection of the Canadian government (hmmm, do I really feel safe?).

This seems very appropriate for my 200th post. A life goal achieved. An end to anxiety over a useless $400 ticket to the Isle of Bermuda. A terrible picture of myself enshrined in forgery protected laminate for 5 years.

Sunday, May 27

wheelin' and dealin'

Apologies for the cheesy title but its true! Saturday was garage sale day as usual but a little twist was that I taked my bike and did it all that way. Since I am mostly in the market for books and jewelry my packsack was sufficient carrying capacity and proved a good deterrent when people tried to force large items on me; "oh haha, that would be cool but I may have a hard time getting it home *gestures towards bicylcle*". It was such a good workout, and it put me in a good mood for sures.

The finds:
The Secret Garden: 50 cents (purchased slightly out of pity and awkwardness but the movie was good)
Prozac Nation: 50 cents
A Million Little Pieces: 25 cents (I am aware of the untrueness controversy around this book and was not that inclined to read it but I couldn't pass up owning it for such a bargain!)
Lemony Snicket book 6: 25 cents (again, don't intend to read it but a beautiful hardcover for this price had to be snatched; i'll find a child who reads them)
Grimms' Fairy Tales: 25 cents (its a classic)
The BFG: 35 cents (it ws by donation so I felt cheap giving 25 cents haha)

The whole day was wonderful. I stopped by the pastor's house at the end of saling because they were having one so I thought I'd say hola and ended up there all day. Eating cake, playing with their 3-year-old son, going to the fair, out for ice cream, across the river; a very full day! After spending all that time outside (over 12 hours) who is pretty much exactly the same colour of white as she was before? not even a sun burn to show for it and i had no sunscreen on.