Mr, Cupcake at Craters of the Moon

Mr, Cupcake at Craters of the Moon
Mr. Cupcake at Craters of the Moon

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Dan and Hurricane Irene

Dan and I have iPhones. Between Twitter and our WhatsApp text messaging app, I was able to keep in touch with him and know that he stayed safe.

Over the weekend, I was checking Twitter and the hurricane status every hour. Kinston lost power. What does that mean? Was Dan prepared? What did he do? Turns out, he spent much of his time at the brewery.

See when you make beer, part of the brewing process is that it needs to be chilled. And chilling requires power. So it was extremely important that the beer remain chilled, or lots of beer (read: money) would be lost. Dan made sure everything kept cool.

Lots of trees, large trees, came down during the hurricane. Dan had just bought a new #floundertruck on Friday, and on Saturday he put it in the ditch. He did so because he was avoiding the HUGE tree that fell in front of him. He was able to pull it of the mud the following day with his other #floundertruck Remember he drove to North Carolina in a 1986 Nissan 720 pickup with 4WD, and now has a 1962 Dodge pickup truck. Guess what? They're both blue. (I think that is fodder for another story).

Last night there was a tornado 35 miles north of Kinston. Great. But Dan said he was not worried. We are still keeping in touch. It's so funny to think that we went from an earthquake/tsunami zone to a hurricane/tornado area.  

finally saw a doctor

I've been sick for just over three weeks now. It started as a nasty head & sinus cold that hung on for dear life. It used to be that a cold in me lasted about five days and then I was back to normal. In the past few years, I've noticed that they are lingering (or malingering, as it were) for a lot longer.

After about two weeks, my head cleared up, and then the coughing began. At first it was relieved by throat lozenges, but it wasn't getting better. In fact, it was getting worse. Then two nights in a row of not sleeping due to coughing all through the night, I finally took Dan's advice and went to see a doctor.

I have spent rather a lot of time in health care settings, almost as much time as a patient as I have as staff or a student. Not by choice, I am acutely aware of the challenges of health care - so I try not to burden the system unless absolutely necessary. In this case, I was desperate for sleep, my insides hurt from the constant coughing and I was absolutely wretched.

So the doctor prescribed azithromycin, an antibiotic. Take two on the first day, one on the four days that follow. Really? I'm used to the ten-day course with three or four pills a day. This is way better. He also prescribed salbutamol, an inhaler. I was very reluctant to take the inhaler, since I feel they are overprescribed (it seems all respiratory problems are asthma around here) and worried that they would be expensive. Not so! In fact it was way cheaper than the azithromycin. He also suggested Benalyn to dry me up so I can sleep.

On top of this, I sustained a minor injury after some fun times on a boat the weekend before last. See, I was swimming in a lake (!), and when I went to get back on the boat, I was all "I don't need a ladder!" and hoisted myself up on the back platform. Um, and then I miscalculated the force it would take or which direction the water would push me, and I ended up - well, I don't know exactly what happened. I seem to have landed on a bottom rib that bent in and bruised an oblique muscle. That's the consensus, anyway. And oblique muscles take a l o n g time to heal. The pain from that only stopped feeling intense a couple of days ago. So sleeping on my left side has been out. And with an old shoulder problem, I can't really sleep on my right shoulder. And when you have a productive cough, sleeping on your back is really the last place you want to be...

I'm trying really hard not to whine (poor me!) here but really, my health has pretty much been the only thing on my mind these last few days. And O yeah - the hurricane that swept through  my future home and where Dan is now...

Well, I'm hoping that my cough will go away in the next day or two, my head will clear, and I will feel up to doing some physical activity again. Lori has more things for me to do, see, there is the other half of the TV room that needs painting...

Friday, August 26, 2011

Hurricane Irene

Hi friends,

Just in case you were worried about Dan, and that he is presently living in one of the states that has declared a State of Emergency, I just wanted to let you know that he assures me his alright. Where he lives in Kinston is about 50 miles from the ocean and the house is on high ground. If he feels under any threat, he says he can stay at the brewery which is quite a solid building.

We went from living in an earthquake/tsunami zone to a hurricane zone. Every place has its threats!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Google maps' suggested route

So... I have applied for a job in Greenville, North Carolina. It's hard to know how good my chances are. I think if I was actually there, my chances would be pretty good. But I'm not and I need a work visa (if my green card doesn't magically appear in the next week or so) so I just don't know. But on the off chance I do get it, I'll need to leave in a hurry. I have been poring over my road atlas for weeks now, thinking about how long it would take and what route to go by. Then I looked at what Google maps would suggest. It is way different, no big surprise. I what thinking of a more southern route but this is more direct. Here is a link to the map and route:

Stacey's Grand Road Trip Adventure 

All told it will be about 50 driving hours. That doesn't include stops at all, and with my mother in tow, there will be several stops, plus we will be staying in a hotel every night. So it should take us six to seven days. If we weren't going through Missoula, it would probably take us five, and we would cross the border in Saskatchewan to North Dakota.

Waiting...

Monday, August 22, 2011

RIP: Jack Layton

Earlier this year, Jack Layton and the federal New Democratic Party shocked the nation and won enough seats in the election to become the federal opposition party. I haven't been interested in politics of any kind for a long time, not really, even though I used to be a card-carrying member of the BC NDP. No one knew what the outcome of this most recent federal election was going to be, given the Conservatives' previous minority government. And then due to the intelligence, charisma, and momentum of this man, Jack Layton, the NDP basically took the province of Quebec, which was enough to tip them over into official opposition. It's the first time in Canadian history that the opposition was not held by one of the bit two - Conservative or Liberal. It was indeed an historical event.

I don't pretend to know much about Jack Layton, but I was definitely surprised to see when I looked at my Twitter feed this morning that he had in fact passed away from cancer at the age of 61. But I sure have a lot of respect for what he did for Canadian politics, for the federal NDP party, and for Canadian history. So, for what it's worth, rest in peace Jack Layton.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sam the crochety old cat

O my kitty.

She is only 9 years old. She is the only pet I have owned in my adult life and didn't really have a sense of what normal cats are like.

Sam landed on my doorstep when I was living in Korea, in 2002. She was a kitten, probably 4-5 months old at that point. She was an apartment cat for several years and was never socialized with other cats. As a result, when she finally ventured outside and encountered other animals, she was a mean, vicious, tough cat. When we moved into the suite in East Sooke, where our landlords had three big dogs, at first the two younger dogs chased Sam up a tree. A few times. Dan had to rescue her every time. Eventually she figured out that she was tougher than the dogs and after a few penetrating swats, showed the dogs who was in charge. Sam also established her self as Top Cat while we were there, and one day we found our suite full of white fluff and a scared white Lily cowering in fear underneath our bed.

In Ucluelet, Sam learned to be more friendly with people and was even okay with the occasional kid. There were quite a few feral cats around and the only one Sam couldn't scare away was Ginger Tom, who clearly owned the neighbourhood. One day when there were feral kittens in the yard, Sam even attacked them, which mortified Dan.

Since we've been here, Sam has had a few altercations with the house animals. There is Roxy the dog, who is a Yorkie/Shihtzu puppy, and Piper the kitty. Sam has mostly stayed downstairs, but if the other animals are outside, Sam will venture upstairs. She is interested in going outside, especially since the magpies look so fun & delicious. One day, when I was letting Roxy out, Sam just about followed the dog until she saw Tianna and her six kittens sitting directly outside the door. You could almost see the look of "holy CRAP that's a lot of cats!" on her face, and then she ran away.

So Sam is not very sociable. All the farm cats get along. There are four adults, one juvenile from Yoga's previous litter, Tianna's current litter (born in June), and then Yoga just had eight more kittens last week. I would love to let Sam outside to play and hunt and just roll around, but really she would just get her ass kicked by the kitties.

Last night when Sam was sitting up in the window downstairs, one of the June kittens (who we call Coconut) came to the same window, outside. Sam was yeowling and mad, and Coconut who is half Sam's size, yeowled back and stood her ground. All the other animals here are so lovey which the kids and Lori are all accustomed to. But Sam, no, she really is just a grumpy bitch sometimes, just doesn't take the affection like all other normal cats. O well. I love my kitty anyway, and in those snippets during the day when she is lovey, I take it as it comes.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Almost ready

I forgot to tell you! I discussed the mattress issue with Dan and he said ditch it. That got me thinking about what else I can ditch, and further paring down happens.

There were a number of things I needed to get done while I was here, and a few things I was waiting for. I have submitted all the address changes. I have received all the cheques I was waiting for. I have replaced the windshield wipers on my truck. I have done almost all the projects Lori has asked me to do (though her list grows, I am referring to her original list). The last thing for Lori is to help her with their new king sized bed which will be coming this week.

I still have to get the tires on the truck rotated and have the oil changed. I still need to air out & repack all my stuff. I also need a sleeper cap for the truck, but Dan is working on it via a previous employer so he may just get it all taken care of for me and all I have to do is be here when they deliver it and oversee the installation.

Changes are afoot here at Casa del Lori. There are changes for her work as well as her husband's, grade one for my niece and preschool for my nephew are starting soon, and the weather has started to turn cool. I have been *loving* the heat here this summer, and I got rid of most of my warmer layers before leaving the Island because a) they were too big for me and b) I'm moving to a warmer climate. At any rate, change is in the air and I hope that means I will be casting off soon as well. I hope I hope I hope.

Speaking of casting off, I think I'm due soon for an Off the Needles post, as I have completed a number of projects lately and am galloping through a number of Works in Progress. Remember all those Cookie A socks I started in the early spring? I'm just about finished pair #3 out of 5, and I would like to have ALL my sock WIPs turn into FOs (finished objects) before I take my big road trip. I have been catching up on lots of podcasts, as the slow downloading speed of this Internet connection will allow. There are a few I listen to and keep up with as soon as they come out, and a few that I'm weeks or months behind on. I sure wish I could listen to podcasts while I cut the grass, because three hours on a lawn mower is prime time for listening pleasure. Alas, with the noise of the engine, I am left to my thoughts.

Monday, August 15, 2011

I save you from me

Hoo-boy last week was rough.

Mercury is retrograde from August 2 - 26. That means anything to do with transportation and communication will be problematic. It is also a good time for tying up loose ends. I finally got my damage deposit back! The United States Immigration Service now has all they need to process me! But the retrograde period can be a frustrating time.

The full moon was the other night, and the days leading up a full moon are often fraught with challenges.

I came down with a cold on Monday, a week ago, and it's only just now leaving me.

I was experiencing the physical and emotional symptoms of PMS.

I hadn't slept well in weeks, and being sick sure didn't help. 

And I miss My Sweety.

Friday was the crappiest day of the crappy week. Lori had a big trip to Edmonton planned so we could go to IKEA, so I put my game face on and away we went, me, Lori, and the kids.

I love IKEA. It's one of my favourite stores. I love the clean lines and solid colours, the storage solutions, the interesting combinations of form & function. Not everything they have is awesome, I'm not a fan of anything made with pressboard, but there is a lot there I do like.

I really like imagining my house with different colours and furniture and accessories, which is part of what makes IKEA so much fun. Only... I don't have a sense of what the house I'll be moving into looks like. And I can't make these decisions without Dan. My head was full of fuzz and yuck as the cold medicine I took wasn't working, and I felt somewhat numb as we floated along the store.

It was around the pillows where I broke down. I really need a new pillow. A firm-ish pillow, preferably a contour pillow, but nothing they had was suitable. And then I thought of Dan and how much I miss him and how it's been 11 1/2 weeks since I'd seen him and DAMMIT I wish I knew when I was going to see him again because this "being strong on my own" crap is killing me. So there I was in IKEA, in front of the pillows, crying. My niece comes along. "What's wrong Auntie?" "I miss Uncle Dan." She never knows how to respond to that, but she offers a compassionate look (which in itself impresses me, coming from a six-year-old) and that is enough.

I was finally able to talk to Dan on the phone that night, we hadn't been able to connect in nearly a week. It was the first time we'd had a phone conversation where I was crying during our talk, and it was pretty hard to get words out with my sinuses full from being sick and crying.

But I got it out, this big emotional dump, and I felt better the next day. Another conversation with Dan the day after made me feel even better.

It has been really difficult being away from Dan for this long. We didn't meet until I was 33, so I have spent a lot of my adult life as a single woman, but when I finally found the Love of my Life, I sure as heck wasn't going to let him go. At first I kept reminding myself about Toni and the Skipper, how when she was starting her Ph.D. she went to school in Edmonton while he held down the fort on Vancouver Island. They had spent entire semesters apart, as I recall. I thought "If they could do it, then so can I". But the difference is they knew when the end point was. They had a date of her return. I don't have that. I have no idea when I'll be leaving, no clue when I will be reunited with my Love. I hope it's soon.

Lori has started asking me about the fall. Can I take her son to preschool on Wednesdays? Can I put her daughter on the bus in the mornings? Maybe I'll be here for Halloween... NO! I mean, I love spending my time with my sister and being a good influence on the kids but I really hope I'll be long gone by then. I desperately want to get on with my life. I ask the Universe, the Ancestors, the powers that be - every day, please let me be reunited with My Sweety soon.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Drumheller: The Royal Tyrell Museum of Paleontology also starring Reptile World

I haven't been to the dinosaur museum in Drumheller since I was 12. I didn't realize then that it had only been open for a year, but my 12-year-old mind always wanted to go back. My dream came true, 25 years later, last week! Lori & I packed up the kids and made the drive south, pretty much directly south, for two hours. On the way there,Chase needed to pee.
 For some of the displays I have the information of their name and species, but I'm not going to post all that here. Not unless you're really interested. And even then, you'll have to ask me nicely, as I took about 200 photos that day...
 Now this was cool. A local school had a contest where elementary students drew pictures that included dinosaurs. I believe this is a grade 1 drawing.






We stopped for a snack halfway through the exhibit. They have a beautiful patio and as it was just before lunch, we beat the rush! 



After lunch we went to Reptile World. The building was ugly and the displays were bare bones, but they did have a LOT of interesting critters from around the world. I learned that reptiles can be beautiful! 








World's largest dinosaur at the Drumheller tourist information centre. For $3 you can climb up inside! We did, of course, it took us all of 90 seconds to climb up the iron and fiberglass structure. The kids loved it! 


This part of Alberta is called the Badlands.  It is very desert like and, as some of you may know, I *love* the desert. Drumheller has a thriving arts community. This community has really figured out the whole tourist thing - the dinosaur museum only charges $11 for admission. On Vancouver Island, you'd be lucky to pay anything less than $25 for any attraction. It was really a pleasant day on the whole. At the gift shop at the museum, we found dinosaur chopsticks - cheater chopsticks for kids. This was fortuitous, since I had gone to Chinatown in Edmonton a few weeks ago looking for cheater chopsticks but my search bore no fruit. 

I may post a more detailed story of our day, but with my shaky Internet connection, I am lucky to get these 21 photos up.

gardening in the praries

I woke up this morning, early, around something like 4am is my guess, and my thoughts just started running around and crashing into each other in my head. I haven't been sleeping well this past week in particular, not sure why (maybe my body knows something I don't, like maybe I'll get to be with My Sweety soon and is excited).

I mentioned before my sister's garden. It could be massive, there could be way more food produced there than she has planted. With two small children, there was no way my sister was going to plant up and maintain a huge garden. So she planted a half dozen things in May, and then forgot about it.

When I was living on south Vancouver Island and had a small vegetable garden, I started planning my garden months ahead. I started seeds indoors. I mapped out what seeds & seedlings would go in each raised bed, ensuring that I didn't put the same crops in as the year before because crop rotation was important. There was a fence around the small garden to keep the deer & rabbits out. I had cooper wire netting around each bed to keep the slugs out. I went through my garden every day to pull weeds, thin seedlings, remove pests. My garden was my baby. About six weeks after some things were planted, such as salad greens & peas, I started harvesting. As the dill came out and the chives started to flower, we ate those too.

In my first year of gardening, I learned and absorbed as much information about how to grow a successful garden as I could. Gardeners on the west coast have a rolling harvest. My friend Toni harvests from her garden every day.

Around here, people plant their garden in May, harvest some time in August or September. Harvest the corn when the corn is ready, the potatoes when the potatoes are ready, the onions when the onions are ready. The lettuce, I observe, has been ready for weeks, and I'm the only one harvesting it. Not only that, it is a variety that could probably serve as cut & come again.

Something else: because my sister had not been able to attend to her garden, the weed population had grown to almost fill in the rows with green. Weeds here are combated with the rototiller.

The raspberries in the back are now full-on ready. If only I had time to get to them, get them in the house without eating them first, and make jam. Not that I can take jam across the border, but still. Lori has a hundred or so empty mason jars downstairs, ready for jam. The Saskatoon berry bushes have, I kid you not, probably about a hundred pounds of fruit on them right now. Ready. Think of all the pie and preserves!

No time, no time. Today it has been a month since I arrived here on the farm. Tomorrow it will have been eleven weeks since I have seen my husband. Yesterday was 75 days since he filed the original petition for my immigration to the United States. We talk and we text, but we are both having a hard time without each other. I at least have the kitty with me, and the comfort & familiarity of family. Dan is in a new place in a new empty home without me, without furniture. I can't wait to get there so we can start rebuilding our nest together. Lori keeps me busy with all kinds of things, next she wants me to renovate a bathroom... 

Friday, August 5, 2011

no time for the computer; mattress dilemma

*pant*

My sister and her children have kept me quite busy. Lori has been off work this week so we are doing all kinds of things, including mowing the lawn, weeding around some trees, cutting down an in-the-way tree, etc. This morning Lori helped me replace the windshield wipers on my truck. I need to get the tires rotated and change the oil, that will probably happen next week.

When I drove from Vancouver Island to Alberta, I packed up all my stuff in the bed of my truck (well, really Kirsten packed up the truck but it amounts to the same thing), put a tarp over it and tied it down with a bungee net and ratcheting ties.

This will work for a short distance, but I need something more solid for making the trip across the border. If mum & I drive through storms, we need the back to be waterproof. I need to be able to lock my stuff in the back of the truck, I will not go to all the trouble of carefully selecting the things to bring only to have them stolen. Last, and I think I have mentioned this before, we will be traveling with my cat and she needs to have access to her litter box. On the drive here, the litter box was in the foot well of the passenger seat. Mum probably wouldn't like to have to rest her feet on a litter box, so my idea was to have the litter box in the bed but next to the cab of the truck. If I had a canopy with a sliding window, I could build a little tunnel for Sam to go back & forth from the cab of the truck to her litter box in the back. That was the original plan.

And then yesterday, I found mold on my mattress.

(sigh)

I bought this mattress at IKEA after having landed at the airport in Edmonton when I came back from Japan in 2004. I've never had a frame for it, I've always had this mattress just on the floor. I know, I know, not the best idea for air circulation. Now, it's possible that on the drive from BC to Alberta, the mattress got wet. When I brought it into Lori's house, knowing that she had had some flooding in the basement, I put my mattress on a clean tarp on the carpet where I'm staying. The dehumidifier has been going nonstop since I arrived here four weeks ago, and the 10L bucket is full of water every day.

I had been meaning to flip the mattress or at least tip it up to air it out for a while. I should have been doing it once a week, knowing the dampness problems in the basement. Finally I did it yesterday and found a spot, right smack in the middle of the bottom of the mattress, about 18" in diameter. Crap. This mattress was going to come to North Carolina and be our guest bed. Now I am fairly certain that I do not want to take a moldy mattress across the continent.

So...

I have sprayed the affected area with a bleach solution. I have a fan and the dehumidifier pointed at the area. I seriously doubt the mold can be eradicated.

What does this mean?

Finding a canopy for my truck is quite challenging. For some reason, the Ford F150 longbox from 1997-2003 is a very unusual length and hard to find second hand canopies for. They are either too long or too short by something like an inch and a half. I looked at a canopy a few weeks ago but it didn't have a window to meet the cab, the lock needed replacing, and all the side seals were peeling off. Even if it was free, it would have cost me hundreds of dollars to make it usable. No thanks.

So now, with the possibility of not taking this mattress, suddenly there is a lot more space in the back or much less stuff that needs to be covered. Almost all my stuff is in Rubbermaid bins. I'm wondering if maybe with some plywood, sealant and some clever design, I can create my own cover for the truck that would include a place for the litter box and would be something I can lock down. See, this is exactly the kind of thing Dan would do. I haven't yet had a chance to talk to him about my crazy plan, but it just might work. 

I would possibly continue to sleep on this mattress until I leave, though there is a hide-a-bed downstairs that I could sleep on. It would also mean that Dan would have to buy us a mattress before I get there (he has been sleeping on a foamy all this time), and that Mum would need to stay in a local motel for the few days before her flight back to Canada. We'll see what happens...