It's always so exciting to go to town. When you live out here, you ask your people if they need anything from 'town'. They have more than one grocery store! A Canadian Tire! Restaurants that are open year round!
It's amazing what becomes exciting when you live in a remote community that only sees lots of people in the summer.
The weather wasn't too bad heading out. There is always concern about The Pass: Sutton pass, which is about 400 m, I think. At the north end of Kennedy Lake, as we were in the twisties of narrow road between the lake and the vertical rock face, we saw a black bear on the road and a semi approaching in an oncoming lane. Panic! But the bear ran away, there was no roadkill (or damage to vehicles), and our journey continued.
I was surprised at the amount of snow on the hills. The roads have been plowed, and ever since the two paramedics died on this road last month, the federal government has kicked in money to make sure this road remains clear all through the winter, 24/7.
It was around Sproat Lake and approaching Town that we ran into fog. Not literally, of course, you can't just run into fog. I'm sure there's a fantasy novel beginning with fog.
Anyhoo, I arrived at the college for my testing. I was to interview later in the morning for the Library Assistant position but first had to take the Microsoft Word and Excel testing. The job only requires a basic understanding of how to use these programs, but the testing software tests for all levels. I did very well, of course, since I am quite familiar with both programs. I had about 45 minutes between finishing the tests and the start of my interview.
I had been to the Port Alberni campus of North Island College once before, a long time ago, in another lifetime, it seems. It is with NIC that I began my post-secondary journey back in 1995, and was a student until I moved to Victoria to go to UVic in 1998. I was involved with the student movement then, so had occasion to go to Port Alberni for a meeting. It's been - what - 12 years? 13?
While I was waiting for my interview, I hung out in the smallish cafeteria. Was surprised to see a gal there studying in her pajamas. Ordered a coffee and breakfast sandwich, then settled into knitting socks.
Aside: I took up knitting socks the day after Christmas last year and ripped through several skeins of yarn and landed something like eight pairs of socks from my favourite sock book. Then I totally lost my sock mojo. They took too long, other quicker projects held my interest. Away with socks. Well, after all this Christmas knitting and knitting sale items, I decided it was time to return to the socks. So I did. I have accomplished three inches of my 2-at-a-time socks in the last two days, mighty pleased with myself
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Time for the interview. I feel it went very well and I hope I do get to work with these ladies. I had occasion to talk about my knitting (yay!) and ask about the instructors I had back in the mid 1990s. I learned that I am one of two people being interviewed, that they may well offer the job to both applicants. This was encouraging. Then they asked if they could forward my CV to other departments that need sessional instructors: International Studies, Nursing, Human Service Worker. Yes! Of course! I would be happy to drive to the Comox Valley (somehow, I'll figure that out later) if it would mean getting experience teaching at a post-secondary institution and actually using my expensive education. I was going to ask/suggest/mention (but forgot - rats!) that I could also teach English courses at the NIC satellite campus in Ucluelet. You never know what could happen.
Before we left this morning, I checked my Susan Miller December 2010 horoscope and was rather encouraged by my career prospects in the next two months.
Dan picked me up after the interview, and we went to RHM Subs - a new (?) donair shop in this unassuming building. Dan was super impressed, I thought it was okay. I don't think I've ever actually had a donair before, so the experience may have been lost on me. O well.
Next we headed to Fairways for our beloved Asian food products. Nori! Sweet Chili sauce! Sesame seeds!
After watching the coffee documentary the other day, I am now paying more attention to the coffee sources and Fair Trade logos. With friends about to launch their coffee roastery, I am also paying attention to local roasteries. (Sorry this came out sideways, it's horizontal in my file??) I hadn't happened upon this one before, but my roasteristas (my word) have.
Later we went to Quality Foods. Did they only recently open? When we went there early last month, it seemed they were a fairly new store and therefore had lots of great sales. We must have spent $20 on British candy alone. (Today we carefully avoided that aisle). But then I saw something else very interesting.
I like Karma Coffee, I think they have a good thing going. In fact, until I discovered they aren't producing Fair Trade coffee, they were my current favourite. It made me wonder though, how much did they offer Quality Foods to showcase their product like this? Obviously they are trying to promote localism, which I think is a good thing.
So food stuff. Dan and I admitted that even though we really shouldn't be spending extra money on frivolous food right now, we sort of can't stop ourselves. Dan calls us Foodies. I'm not sure I'm entirely comfortable with that designation, though I do appreciate good food. It just feels a little to pretentious for me. Not that I equate foodieness with pretention, I just don't feel that the title fits me.
So, after The Season of Culinary Indulgence that lies before us is over, we will put ourselves on a food budget and try to limit some things in our diet. This can only be a good thing for our health, of course, and our wallet too.
That was a digression, oops. Back to the story...
After groceries we swung by OhSweetie's house to collect a few items she had offered, then off to Serious Coffee to meet an old friend.
Good old Facebook. It's great for reuniting you with people you haven't seen or heard from in a long time and would like to see again. This old friend was instrumental in my becoming an activist in the student movement in the 90s. Though he is younger than me, he was politically my senior and mentored me through those years. We were colleagues and friends, adventuring to far-flung places like Renfrew, Ontario and St. John's, Newfoundland for AGMs of the CFS. O the memories. We were young and idealistic and just getting our chops in playing politics.
I moved on from NIC to the University of Victoria Students' Society when I transferred to UVic. I served one term as director at large, then joined with the CUPE activists when I got hired at the Greater Victoria Public Library. Not long after that, my days of student activism faded to the past.
That was many years ago now, lots has happened in the mean time. (I went to Asia for two years, my sister got married and had two kids, I went back to school, got half of a second Bachelor's degree and then an M.Sc., got married myself, took up knitting, have visited the US five times, moved to the west coast...) So when I found my old friend Rob on Facebook and saw he again lived in Port Alberni, well, we simply had to have coffee.
I always like these moments of meeting up with someone I haven't seen in a long time. Usually it's a good thing (occasionally there is an awkward we-have-nothing-in-common-anymore moment) and I have that realization that some things never change. There is a comfort in that.
The day was galloping on, so soon after Dan came to pick me up, we said our farewells to Rob, then headed for Canadian Tire. They had houseplants on sale!
I have long wanted to be one of those people who has lots of houseplants. I love houseplants, but have never been in a place that had good space/light for houseplants, or stayed long enough in one place to feel like I could settle into having them. We did move here with a few, some of them evens survived the journey. Three, to be precise. Two succulents and a cactus. And then with all our uncertainty about staying/going, we didn't want to acquire any. But now that we're pretty sure we'll be here a while, we bought - how many? - nine plants? If I can get myself coordinated, I'll introduce you (via photos).
Then it was time to go home. Start our long 1.25 hour drive through The Pass and towards the Ocean. We got home just before six (having left this morning at 7:30), got the fire going, and settled in to unpacking our groceries and making dinner. (Ha! Dan did all that, I sat on the couch with a hot bag on my back, sore from hauling firewood the last two days, and I knit on the socks).
I signed up for freecycle in Port Alberni last week, and just as we got home a message arrived with an offer of a free elliptical trainer. Oooh! Oooh! Me! Me! I messaged the woman right away and won my prize! So the next time we go to Town, I'll have the machine that will cancel any excuse I would have about exercising in bad weather. And boy do I need it.
So, yeah, it was a good day. :-)