Wednesday, August 31

Things to Do in Red Deer

I have been doing my research about Red Deer since I will be there in less than two weeks.  The good news:  there is a vietnamese restaurant.  The bad news:  I can't get Sault pizza.  I was important for me to know that I would have access to pho.  After finding a place to live, buying a car (will update soon on this) and then actually working to get a paycheck I plan to get myself a Canada Goose Jacket.  That is because goose feathers make life worth living in the dead of frozen Alberta.  In order to accept my wintry fate I plan to join a curling league - probably the beginner one - to stave off boredom.  Who knows, maybe there is an Olympic medal in my future.
So far that list is:
1. Get a wicked winter coat.
2. Join a winter sport ("sport"?).

And I will add:
3.  Take a class.  The local college has a plethora of classes.  While the nerd side of me is drawn to "physics" and "human osteology" and "the philosophy of knowledge" the person who is tired of studying is considering "ceramics" or "cooking".
4. Buy organic and nice-to-animals.  A friend of a friend has given me the name of her organic farmer.  Now I just need my own cheese maker.
5. Join the local NDP party.  Is it bad to state my political allegiances online?  I guess I already gave myself away with my sad post about Jack Layton.
6.  Outdoor skating.
7.  Running.  Right.  I want to do that again.  I need a goal of another half marathon to get myself motivated.

Oh yeah....and working full-time.

Monday, August 29

Begin Again

I got fat in Africa.  I probably wouldn't put that on the internet but it is topical:  running is hard.  Apparently I was taking a break from everything other than hanging out and stuffing my cake/pie/chip/ice cream-hole so today was my first run since I left for Africa.  Yeah, that's almost four months baby.  For a person who loses her stamina by just looking at a donut and thinking about a couch this was deadly.  I felt those extra pounds hammering down on my poor legs as they TOUCHED when I ran.  It was nothing impressive, that is to be sure; a mere 4 kms but I didn't stop and I didn't get a stitch.  Let's hope that thigh rub is enough motivation to keep me going.  It is disheartening (even if it is my own fault) to go from half marathons to wheezing after a jog around the block.  Help me stay motivated, friends (ie. ask if I have moved my lazy butt on a regular basis).

Thursday, August 25

A New Badge

In a previous post I introduced the idea of Life Badges - a way for adults with a certain type of personality to continue getting tangible proof of accomplishment.  I whipped up a new badge to commemorate getting the email to confirm my completion of all course requirements for SLP.  Maybe this badge should wait until the official graduation when we have fake diplomas in hand but it is ready NOW.  So now the badge is posted.  Feel proud to claim this badge for yourself if you have completed the SLP masters program.

Monday, August 22

Salute, Mr. Layton

The last time Canada experienced an election I relished the opportunity to visit the polls and indicate my support for the NDP.  I penciled in my vote with the hope that the next day would bring news of a new era with Jack Layton as leader of this fine country.  Great things happened in the last election with major political upheaval in the Parliament, enough to hold my hope over to the next election, to bide our time until we could have a leader with a vision of a better Canada.  My condolences go to Olivia Chow and their two children but also to our country because we lost the chance to see his great vision for us come to fruition.  Young people are looking for somewhere else to place their hope for our country.  Wherever we go next I hope Jack Layton would be proud of the direction we take; that we would strive for the fairer, better, more equal country he dreamed about and called for in his last letter to our nation

Thursday, August 18

Another First: Head Wound Edition

You may want to skip this post if blood makes ya queasy.  This morning I took the little corolla out on the highway for almost two hours in order to meet my aunts and cousins at a lovely place called bathtub island.  Situated only 45 minutes from Wawa it is hard to believe that I had never been to this cutesy alcove of smooth rocks and shallow, sun-warmed pools of warm water.  I'll have to go back because my memories of it are still a bit blurry.  After 10 minutes in the area I promptly slipped on the rocky island (it was BERY SLIPEWY) and cracked my head.  The first thing I noticed was the enormous gush of blood all over.  The island is about the size of a postage stamp but there happened to be a registered nurse hanging out with her kids who also had a maxi pad and a bandaid.  They cleaned me up a bit and got me back to the shore where we discovered that my aunt had run out to the road and flagged down two MNR (Ministry of Natural Resources) guys and the whole troupe came running down the beach to me sitting calmly on a log with a big bandage on my forehead.  So much for visiting with family; the nurse recommended stitches so we arranged to meet my mom halfway and have a friend drive the car home.  Before I could leave for safety my family insisted on me having my photo taken with the MNR guys and a few with all the blood - thanks family!  So far no headache and only the teeniest bit of nausea - as far as I can tell I never lost consciousness.  Fastforward a few hours - the doc sewed me up good with FOUR stitches.  The stitching didn't hurt it was when he pushed my skin and pulled it to show my mom where I tore right through the muscle.  When I do something I do it all the way.

Warning:  possibly disturbing photos

The bathing suit aftermath

Pre-stitch - thanks mom for cleaning up my wound.

Despues los stiches.  More gruesome?

Monday, August 15

Becoming all Growed Up

It has taken me forever to update the internet on my latest news because I was committed to creating a new header to go with my NEW JOB (imagine Bob Barker saying that).  It went like this:  a friend sent me a job posting for a mat leave in Red Deer, Alberta during my last week in Kenya.  I applied because, hey, why not?  In a few days I had an interview set up for the Thursday after my return to Canada.  Thursday morning I had a phone interview for this year contract.  Friday they contacted my references (and probably weren't expecting one to act more like a mom - she let them know that they have to be understanding and flexible as this will not be an insignificant move - thanks beekeeper!).  On Friday night, after finally flying back north to see my family, they sent me an email* to offer me the position.  Apparently I interview well (if just a little to verbose).  On Saturday night I accepted.

Fast forward to today:  I bought myself a swanky blackberry Torch so I can be up with the techno revolution; I am test driving cars since I will need one for my job.  More on that in the future.  I am looking for a place in R'Deer and even ordered some literature from amazon to celebrate my employment.  My biggest fear now is that I'll put out all this money for this job (no paycheck until the end of Sept, eep!) and then I won't be able to do it.  Intimidating!

*Yes, it is odd to get a job offer by email, however, I had limited phone access throughout this whole process.  I actually had to stay with a friend in order to have a phone on which to do the interview.

Sunday, August 14

Back from Africa

It has now been almost two weeks since I flew back into Canada and it already feels like an alternate reality.  Since returning I have spent 4 days in Toronto, interviewed for a job (more on that in a subsequent post), got a job, and spent a whole week at Jesus camp (definitely more on this in a subsequent post).  To be honest, I had expected the transition to be more difficult.  I suppose that three months is not long enough to unlearn 26 years of life in a developed country.  A year abroad might demand more of an adjustment upon returning.  The things that felt the weirdest were minor things.  This computer for one - it is MASSIVE at 17 inches compared to the 10 inch wonder I had been using.  But really, the biggest adjustments included:

1. "I see white people".  In Africa I always found I got my back up when there were too many whities around; it felt uncomfortable, like we were all seeking each other out.  Seeing a gaggle of melanin-challenged people was a reminder that I was a tourist just like them and no one wants to be reminded that they are tourists. Now, we are everywhere.

2. Sidewalks.  We have them.

3.  The lack of smells.  This is a primarily smell-free zone whereas my nose was assaulted most of the time in Kenya.

4.  Not getting as much sleep.  We have electricity all the time here and TV and other distractions so I don't go to bed at 10pm every day and get up at 7am.  Getting fewer than 8 hours of sleep puts me in a crabby mood - ok, fewer than 9 - and when I get tired I can barely keep my eyes open.

5.  Time.  I'm now in the SAME time zone as most of my friends and family now (or at least separated by only one or two hours instead of 7).  Yet, I still find myself converting the time in my head whenever I go to make a phone call.

Honestly, other than those minor things it does not feel that strange to be home. 

Quotes from a 3-year-old

This blog needs some serious updating including:  returning from Africa; Jesus camp; my future career.  So instead of all of that I will give you some quotes of one of the best 3-year-olds ever.  Ever.  Seriously.  We'll call him Ripper.

Me:  What are you doing? (as I approach child sitting on the stairs)
R:  Shooting bears with my laser eyes.  Look, a bear!  [opens eyes as wide as possible and stares]
Me:  Can I have laser eyes too?
R:  Oh sure, here is an extra pair.

In line at Wendy's on the drive home from camp.
R:  Mom, I want one of those toys.
His mom:  Well, you can't have one of the toys.
R:  But I WANT one. 
HM:  You're already getting a froster.
R: Fine, I'm just going to tell this lady that I'll have a toy.
HM:  No you won't, you can try telling your dad that you want one.
R:  Ugh, he already knows!  FINE!  I'll just play with this then [sits down at mom's feet and starts playing with the rubber carpet]

A conversation between 3-year-olds - both walk in to the cabin - I hear them walk into Ripper's room.
R:  No, M, you can't come in here, I'm changing.
M:  yes I can.
R:  Go away.  Unless you want to see my penis and my bum you need to LEAVE!

There are more but I'm drawing a blank.  This should buy me some time until I can update my blog fo reals.

Tuesday, August 2

Going on 46

46 hours that is - of travel.  We left Nairobi at 930am (EST) Sunday, July 31st and should arrive to downtown TO at approximately 4pm EST - about 55 hours from when we started.  I thought the 36 hours to get to Nairobi last time was my limit.  Apparently this is my limit.  Everything went smoothly on our first two flights. 
      We even spent another lovely evening in Doha, Qatar where it was about 45 degrees celcius and humid.  I thought the desert wasn't humid.  Warning:  it can be.  We didn't arrive to Doha until around midnight so most of the city was closed but the restaurants in Souq Waqif stay open late - some until 4am during Ramadan.  So we hunkered down for some beloved Qatari food (thyme and flatbread + goat cheese and flat bread + mint lemonade) and practiced drawing animals.  We made them all into Masai animals with shukas, the traditional plaid blankets, and beaded necklaces.  We then wandered through the closed market and ended up at another restaurant where we sat on the roof overlooking all of the city lights and languished under their fans drinking soda that quickly got warm and partaking in another social tradition.  When we arrived two local men asked us to sit with them but the restaurant was almost empty and we felt somewhat uncomfortable so we turned them down and sat at a nearby table.  We got a creep vibe.  We ended up making friends with the restaurant workers (mostly from Nepal and some from Egypt) and spoke in gestures and incomplete English.  They gave us free soda and shared their chicken sandwiches with us at 2am.  When we went to pay our bill we were informed that the two "creepy" men had paid our bill for us on their way out.  Ouch.  A big thank you to them, we are sorry we never got to thank them in person.  Qatar has amazed me each time with the friendliness of the people and the safety of the city (we walked alone along the boardwalk at 4am without drawing any attention).
        We made it through the 13 hour Doha - DC flight without a hitch (except for my inability to sleep on a plane.  Hi-C was log-like before the plane even took off.  With two of three flights done we were excited to be nearly finished our journey.  We raced through all the checkpoints in the DC airport to make our TO flight on time only to be told it was delayed.  No big deal, we sat and read.  Flights were being canceled all around us due to lightning but the storm was clearing and they boarded our planes.  Poor suckers going to Syracuse.  After a half hour on the tarmac we were informed that our flight, too, would be canceled and we were ushered off the airplane.  They booked us on another flight - at 8:53 pm the next day - more than 24hours later.  Finally with some finagling we got a seat on the 1230 flight and here we sit.  I slept in the airport lounge in two hours spurts.  This is the second day in this outfit (yes, even those, these are my extra undies) and I just washed my face and armpits (in that order) in a public washroom.  Toronto will not be seeing my freshest side.