Mr. Noodle

Mr. Noodle
Mr. Noodle

Monday, December 17, 2012

On the Hundred Mile Diet

Sometimes on Twitter you can run into a conversation between other people partway, and because it's public, it's possible to weigh in on the matter at hand. Someone I follow was having a conversation with someone about shopping at Wal-Mart, but I didn't see that, and the other person said something about how farming practices on Vancouver Island make the 100-mile diet unlikely (I can't remember her words exactly).

Now this is someone who I once followed on Twitter, and who once presented a workshop I attended. On seeing that her values are not in line with my own, I stopped following her, but I can see (based on the Wal-Mart conversation when I went back to look at it) that she is someone who is fully in the fold of our modern consumerist society and doesn't really get the whole local food thing.

I tread carefully here, because while I'm on a soapbox, I also don't want to be too critical. My friend's part about Wal-Mart was that if you have to use it, it's a good thing that it's there, but we do have a choice. And despite that the ultra-low wages of Wal-Mart employees have been in the news lately, and that outrageous statistic that something like more than half their employees are on food stamps, I would argue that there is a portion of Wal-Mart customers whose attitude is of "I don't care about them, I have to feed my kids".

But the equation is not that simple. Everything we do is a choice. We weigh our choices as a consumer based on our values. What is important to you? There was another study arguing recently that organic food is not significantly more nutritious than conventionally grown food. To base ones choices on whether to buy organic on this single point alone, I think, misses the point entirely. Conventionally grown food uses all kinds of herbicides, pesticides, hormones and all manner of chemical to force food to grow in a sterile environment. I would bet money that if the farmers in the prairies stopped using chemical on their fields, the incidence of asthma in those provinces would be reduced by half. Another point: tons of fossil fuels are used so that we can have Peruvian asparagus in November, and tropical fruits year-round. I went to a grocery store in Cobble Hill earlier this year, passed a handful of cattle farms on the way to the grocery store and they had no local beef, only beef imported from Australia. How does this make any sense?

So I decided not to engage in conversation with this woman on Twitter. I didn't feel like I had the energy to have that conversation and I didn't think it was worth my time to educate her. People don't like being preached to. I don't even know what she meant by "farming practices" on Vancouver Island, but goodness, it sounded like she wanted bananas to grow on the Saannich Peninsula. I commented about the farming practices she referred to, saying that it's not just farming practices, but the kind of diet we have gotten used to. Her reply: "I agree. I prefer fresh out-of-season veggies to preserved local most of the time". GACK!! I was not supporting her in the argument! I dropped the conversation at that point.

I have, since late summer, been reading a number of books about growing food, food preservation, self-sufficiency, permaculture, self-reliance, and more or less being prepared for the decline of our current way of life. Between climate change, energy decline (as in the decline in the extraction of fossil fuel resources from the earth), and the current economic situation in the world (which I believe will never "recover" as the economists would have it), I think it is important, for me at least, to prepare for a life of not finding things at the grocery store, or not being able to afford what is offered there.

Our modern way of life is not sustainable. It's only in the last century that we have even been able to get out-of-season veggies in the grocery store whenever we want them. That is only made possible by cheap fossil fuels. The point I was trying to make to this woman is that the 100-mile diet is possible on Vancouver Island, we just have to change the way we eat, which includes putting food by and eating from the pantry. This doesn't mean we can or even should grow it all ourselves - but I do feel that building relationships in our communities where we can trade or barter our goods and services for things we can't produce ourselves will become an increasingly important aspect of our lives.

//end rant

(So much for not being critical. Just before I wrote this post, one of the bloggers I read posted this about the price of food in the store and being able to grow it yourself. Have a look!)

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Chicken in a kilt

Ok so in November I participated in a swap put on by LouiseJHunt of the Caithness Craft Collective podcast. This particular swap was for a handwritten letter and a handmade Christmas decoration.

I was paired up with my new friend Arlen, a Scot transplanted into Boise, Idaho. I didn't have much information to go on for what to make him, but I knew he was originally from Scotland and that he had a number of chickens. So obviously...

Because chickens wear kilts, right? Well, even with a quick Google search, I didn't find chickens wearing kilts, but really they should because, especially for hens, it would be good for them if they have a randy rooster that has his favourite girls who lose their back feathers with all the attention. Chicken sweaters are a thing, why not chicken kilts?

I have a date!

January 24th, 2013 at 9:30am.

I just need to fly to Montreal, stay the night with my brother-in-law who is attending McGill University, go to the US Consulate and present all the documents, and they will tell me "Yes that's great, we'll send your visa via courier tomorrow, you should have it by Monday".

Meanwhile, the week before, I will go to Surrey for the immigration medical exam with the only immigration doctor west of Ontario. I present records of my vaccinations and immunity, have blood drawn, a chest X-ray and the physical exam. My appointment there is on Friday January 18th, the documents for that will be available on the Monday afterwards - but I'm not going to stick around on the mainland for three days waiting for my papers - I'll arrange to have them couriered to me.

When will Dan come? We're working on details for that right now - he does need to make arrangements at work but we expect it will be the week after. There will, I expect, be a brief round of visits and then we will drive away, either at the very end of January or beginning of February. My immigration was approved in May, so this visit to Montreal is supposed to be just a formality, but they and the border could for some reason still deny me entry. I won't feel relieved until we are in Port Angeles.

With just a few days to Christmas, I am still not quite ready. I did send out holiday cards this year, which I seem to do one in every three years, give or take. I am also trying to observe birthdays (three of my family members have Dec 19 has their birthday, and there is also one on Dec 27) and renew my old habit of hand-written letters. In sending these cards and with holiday festivities, I have been reconnecting and spending time with a bunch of people I haven't seen in a while, and I have to say I just love getting together with friends, new and old, and hearing their stories. You just never know where life will take you, and hearing other stories leads me to reflect on my own journey. Despite my odyssey of this past year and a half, I do feel I have been blessed in a number of ways with all the interesting things I have experienced. When we heard that my interview date was for January 24th, we thought "that's later than we were expecting, but at least it's a date". It's next month. It's weeks away instead of months. So rejoice with me!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

inch by inch


Last Thursday we received notification that they have now received all our documents and my file has been sent to Montreal for processing. I should have my interview date within ten days.

Well, it's not bad news. We were hoping for our next correspondence from them to be the actual date of the interview, but it seems like they add three extra secret steps for every one we know about. So I should know before Christmas.

Now for some reason, I was given to understand that the US Consulate in Montreal takes a week or two or more off for the holiday season. I checked the website, not so! They only close for Christmas Day and Boxing day (December 26th).

Wouldn't it be funny if I had my interview the week of Christmas? Just think of how exciting it will be for me to arrange sudden air travel from Victoria to Montreal over the holiday season, not to mention interrupt time with my in-laws. That's Murphy's law or something, right?

Well, if it happens, it happens. I am open to whatever the Universe has in store for me. Once we get my interview date, Dan will book his flight and we will make our travel plans.

Any day now...

Thursday, November 29, 2012

let's all hold our breath

The NVC has declared finally that they have all our documents.

Now we wait for the consulate in Montreal to tell me when my interview date is. When will we hear from them?

Please please please please please please let my interview be before Christmas.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

getting in the water

So after my post about my meltdown last week, I decided that's it. I'm going swimming. I looked at the schedules of the swimming pools in the area, saw that there was an aquafit class in 20 minutes, figured I had time to throw together a bag and go. It was fantastic! It was basically me and a bunch of old ladies and a few older men, thrown in with a few special needs people with their care aides.

I've since been back a few times, having decided that since it looks like I'll still be here through Christmas, then I might as well get me a 5-week pass. Now I'm committed. If' I'm not able to make an aquafit class, I'll swim. On Sunday night I did 1300 meters!

Immigration-wise, nothing is happening. We were promised a "progress report" that was supposed to have arrived two days ago. No surprise that it hasn't come. Certainly it seems like everything that could go wrong in my case, has gone wrong.

So I am resigned to being here for the Christmas holidays, especially given that it is now less than four weeks away until Christmas. How much do I have time to knit?

Also, last week I got my Tdap vaccination. I was really irritated when the doctor gave me the "WHY would you want to move to the US?" song. I must say I'm getting really tired of that one. I felt like saying "yes Vancouver Island is lovely but it is not, as our British Columbia license plates say "The Best Place on Earth" (I mean really, how obnoxious is that?) My husband lives in the United States, that should be reason enough. North Carolina has way more opportunities for us than Canada does. We have family there. Not only that, we like it there.

For my American readers, maybe you know this, but it is common and popular among some Canadians to bash Americans or America. Sometimes these same people will claim not to be sexist, racist, homophobic or otherwise discriminatory but somehow it misses their radar that railing against people of a certain nation is also bigotry. I get real uppity about this, as you can see. How would Canadians feel if Americans commonly thought of us as a whole as 'awful'? If it was any other nation Canadians were wrinkling their nose at, anyone with a brain would call it intolerance (religious, race, or otherwise).

So to my Canadian readers, for the record, America is not awful. Americans are not awful. Canada has its warts too, as does every country, no place is perfect. Millions of people immigrate to the United States every year, whether legally or illegally, so clearly it has something going for it. It's not okay to say "America is so awful", and particularly insensitive to say that to someone who has been without their husband for a year and a half and is trying to move there.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

ineptitude, despair, and restlessness

What a cheery title for a blog post.

Before Dan came to visit me from October 27th - November 15th (which is largely the cause for my internet quiet), we (thought we) were on the verge of having my interview date. We had resubmitted the things the National Visa Center (NVC) had asked us to resubmit (namely, the Japan Police certificate and the photo), and we were sure we were just a few days away from getting my date. Then they said "we need you to resubmit the photo again". So we did. And then we waited.

Finally, two weeks later, they said "we need you to resubmit the marriage certificate".


We submitted that in June or July, and seriously guys, if we have to adhere to a checklist of things to submit, why can't you check all the things that need to be submitted on the same checklist? And why not tell us all at once if there are things that need to be done instead of waiting five months?

So Dan dutifully resubmitted the marriage certificate and got the usual banal response "please allow up to 20 days for us to process".

So once again, or still, I have no idea what the next month or three or five holds.

I'm so tired of being tossed around. There is supposedly an "expedite" flag on my file, and given that my priority date is January 5, 2012, we really expected I would have been there by now. Are they really just messing with us? Because it sure seems like that with every single thing we have to do or step to take, there is a problem. It is so exasperating.

Prior to my medical exam, the appointment for which I am not allowed to make until I have the date of my interview in Montreal, I am required to get some vaccinations. The flu shot is easy, it's available anywhere. In September I called the public health clinic and was told I could get the other vaccination, Tdap, free, any time. I went to get these done yesterday. I got the flu shot at a pharmacy, and while the pharmacist did not have the Tdap (Tetanus, diptheria and pertussis) vaccine, she said I could just go to the public health clinic four blocks away and get it for free.

So off I went to the clinic. A snarky receptionist told me that NO they don't do the Tdap and that I would have to go to a travel clinic, that I would have to "purchase" the vaccine (why not just say pay for?), that I would need to make an appointment and phone around because it's not easy to find.


Deep breath. Back to my truck. Look up number for travel clinic on my iPhone. Phone clinic. Get voice mail. Leave a message.

Two hours later they return my call. Nice receptionist. Appointment on Friday afternoon, $40 for the doctor's fee, $45 for the vaccination. So much for free health care in Canada.

Now I am mindful that Mercury is in retrograde so maybe after it goes direct on Monday then everything will work out. Even so, there is a limit to how much I can take.

I had a thing happen this morning which is not worth retelling because it is a minor thing, but it triggered an emotional response that basically broke the dam of emotions I didn't know I had been holding in. I cried for hours, felt gutted by despair, and wondered how the heck I am going to get through the next weeks or months until I can be with my husband again. I want to start living my own life again. I want to build soil and plant flowers. I want to be working and feel useful.

I'm not sure what I experienced this morning was actually a depressive episode. My last episode was some time in May, I think, and because I have had a number of them in the past year and a half that Dan and I have been apart, I am keenly aware of what it feels like. Today I was just sad and then mad. Why is my immigration taking so long? Do the letters of the senators and governors and other government officials mean nothing? Will I be with Dan for Christmas?

Yesterday I was installing foam insulation in the basement while listening to the Caithness Craft Collective podcast. LouiseJHunt has a segment called "Random Hellos" and she included me, saying "yarnsalad, how are you, O quiet one?" and that was very sweet. I have been unusually quiet-on-the-internet these past months, it's true. I have so much unstructured time you would think I would be able to put a blog post together a bit more often but alas, it has not been so.

So to wrap up, then, while I don't wish to speak disparagingly of the people who are handling my documents at the NVC, because we have had to submit and resubmit each document at least twice, it makes me wonder what their job qualifications are and what is happening to all the misplaced documents we have submitted. That's the "ineptitude" of the title of this post. Despair was me this morning, Restlessness is me now. I'm ready to move on to the next thing. There is a nice big house and yard waiting for me in Kinston and I can't wait to get unpacked. I haven't seen most of my stuff (in boxes in the basement) for a year and a half. How much longer will it be?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

a peep or two

Hi Friends,

I'm in the middle of the visit with Dan so I have not really been online much and probably won't be until after he leaves. It's been great to have him here, and from the minute I picked him up at the ferry we agreed it was like no time had passed at all. What a relief after eight and a half months! It took a few days to adjust to the time change, the leisure to relax (i.e. sleep), to sleeping together (i.e. the snoring!) but our reconnection was just as our first meeting was - free and easy, as if we have always been together.

Dan and Stacey Reunion socks as they are meant to be worn!
We have visited with some family and friends, been to a few restaurants, spent a couple of days in Vancouver, and today I think we'll go off and see the salmon run at Goldstream Park. The time is flying and we still have a few other social engagements to attend in the next week, but it's nice that we get to have this time together.

An immigration update: last we heard they weren't happy with my photo so we resubmitted another one a week ago. The photo is the last thing they need before setting my interview date so for goodness sake I hope this all happens soon, before Christmas.

At any rate, all is well and the sun is shining.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

an update: still waiting

What can I tell you? I'm still waiting.

I'm still waiting for the National Visa Center to declare that they have all the documents they asked us to provide. Then I can have my interview in Montreal. The confirmation was supposed to be this week at the latest but there was some issue with the photo so we had to redo that part. Dan is handling that though, they should have everything by tomorrow and it is once again looking possible that I could have my visa interview in Montreal next month.

Now Dan will be arriving on Monday for a 17 day visit. We'll be going to visit friends and family in Vancouver, are undecided about a potential trip to Pender Island (day trip? Overnight?) but mostly we'll just be spending time together falling in love again. :-) Wouldn't it be funny if my interview in Montreal was scheduled for the time while Dan is here? What would that mean for our plans? Well, it's just so darned hard to make any plans.

Meanwhile, I'm helping with the improvements to the basement in my in-laws' house. I'm having great good fun building forms, pouring concrete, knocking out forms, digging trenches, laying drainage pipe, doing math and geometry and physics, driving to the hardware store for cement, tying up rebar, drilling holes, and all kinds of other home-building apprenticeship kinds of things. (It's not a formal apprenticeship, I'm just calling it that.)

But it means that since I'm doing physical labour five days a week, I don't feel like I have much energy to do anything (such as blog) during the week.On the weekends I do my social calls, clean my room and do laundry, bake cookies (I'm on a mission to not run out of cookies), and other sundry activities. I have not had much time or energy to even knit, if you can believe that, and I really miss knitting. All this activity is good, though, because it also means time is flying by.

It occurred to me the other day that in this time that I have been living apart from Dan, that even though I have been living with generous friends and family, it means that I also have had those people in my life to lean on for moral support. I can't imagine what my mental state would have been if I had been living alone all this time. It is an amazing thing to feel taken care of. I really appreciate it. And I try my best to do my part and be helpful, I hope my efforts are enough to offset the cost of my upkeep, though I would do it for a friend or family member in need too. People who need people are the luckiest people in the world, remember? So that's me. Lucky. I get to see My Sweety in six days. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

what I can control: space

Ever since I was a kid I have always been a person who would rearrange furniture in my living space. I would regularly try a number of orientations of furniture to eke out the most possible floor space or wall space or sunlight, depending on the circumstance. I can remember doing this in my bedroom as a child, and certainly everywhere I have lived as an adult (where I was living alone or with Dan).

I don't know the reason I do this. Is it because I get bored? Is it because I have an engineering mind and I am looking for optimum form as well as function? I have a hard time being content with one static way of doing things.

I moved back to Victoria a month ago, and I think I have changed things around this room about four times so far. There were things left in this room that have no real purpose, so they were tucked away elsewhere. I needed light by the bed. I needed a place to put Sam's two scratching posts. I wanted more floor space to put down my yoga mat. I wanted a place to have my chair by the window so I could knit by daylight. (Ha ha yeah right, as if I have TIME to knit during the day!) I also wanted to be able to access the windows to open them, as one of them sticks and needs some close-up force to get it open.I added some fabric to the sheer curtains to give me a bit more privacy and to shut out the morning light when I'm still sleeping.

At any rate, as it looks like I'm going to be staying in this room for more than just a few weeks, I am settling in to making it my own for the time being. Sam likes the constant change, as it gives her new places to explore. It also means, for me, that when I move a shelf or dresser that I can clean the wall and floor behind/under it. It may be a small thing, but if I can't control the main chart of my life right now, at least I can manage this.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

more waiting

Well it turns out Judith was right. She is an Internet friend who is also waiting for immigration to the US, and she told me - what - a year ago? - that we can't count on anything because this whole thing is not real until I have the document in my hand that says I can enter the United States.

You know me. I am different. I am special. So, my ego has been continually getting slapped in the face for that run of pride and here I am, still waiting.

It was a year ago yesterday that we were rejected at the border. When we started the entire process over again we sure didn't think it would take a year or more. In fact, in November of last year, it even looked hopeful that I'd be there by Christmas. How naive we were.

It keeps on happening where we think we are almost there and then they add a few more months and another list of things they want us to do. No one can really understand this, because it doesn't seem like this should be such a complicated process. I keep hearing questions like "what do they think people who are waiting for immigration are doing while they are waiting?" but the truth is that we are not special. The United States lets in one million immigrants a year, I read (not sure if that was one million people going through the same route I am or if it's entering as illegal and going that route).

I keep getting asked if it wouldn't have been easier if we had lied and said we were just going on vacation and then applied from within? Yes, yes it would. But Dan and I were determined to do everything the right way in line with what the government has decreed the correct routes are. And we are being penalized for it. This is not sending a good message to new or potential immigrants.

So Dan spoke to the people yesterday about the whole 20 days thing. We have submitted all our documents electronically, but it went to the National Visa Center, and they have to verify that everything is there before they will release it to the Consulate in Montreal. That could take up to 20 days. Luckily they work a six-day week so it will hopefully be only three weeks instead of four, but perhaps less. Dan also asked about the 83 days thing (in the summer when I checked it was something like 47). It's because a number of the staff are on holidays right now so they are running low on agents to process these files. So there we are. If I get my interview before Christmas, then I will be very happy. If I don't though, it sounds like they shut down the office for a few weeks around the holidays - which means further delays - and it will mean traveling in the dead of winter.

Now as it is coming up on eight months since I last saw Dan, he is going to come visit me. Tomorrow he'll have a meeting with the powers that be to discuss when and how long he can be away for. I can't tell you how good it makes me feel to know that I will at least see him even if I can't go back with him just yet.

This whole debacle has really made clear that our marriage is solid and it is an amazing thing to know that we can depend on each other. I also have to remember that we will be together again one day, someday I will get my husband back. The husband of a woman I know came down suddenly with dementia last year and was recently hospitalized, the health care professionals are talking about putting him in a care facility because he is more than she can handle in his declining state. She will never get her husband back, so I am reminded how lucky I am that I will.

I am also reminded that, if I have a few more months in Victoria than I was originally expecting, then I have to think about what to do with my time until I can go. There has been talk in the family of spending Christmas in Las Vegas. That plan assumed that I would already be in the States and not prevented from entering as it stands right now. I hate to be the thing that gets in the way of a fun family holiday season, so who knows what we'll end up doing. Maybe sometime in the next, say, 20 days or so we will have a better sense of where I'll be, which will also indicate where Dan will be, and we can go from there. As you know, I *love* Christmas with Dan's family so it would be nice to be with them, but there are no guarantees. But I can spend the next two and a half months thinking about what to do for gifts...

Friday, September 28, 2012

well, maybe January

I could really use some good news friends. Seriously.

Today we got the email that said "thank you for submitting all your documents electronically, we'll let you know in the next 20 business days if it's all in order".

So that sucked. We thought we were ready to schedule.

Then I logged in to try scheduling anyway, since we are extremely certain they have every document they want.

The next available appointment is in 83 days.

Words cannot describe how we are feeling just now. We thought we were within a month of seeing each other.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

still waiting

Maybe tomorrow's "tomorrow" will be the right tomorrow.

There was the submitting of documents to the National Visa Center and then the waiting for them to check and see that we had everything they wanted. That took longer than expected (why are we surprised?)

So, with any luck, I will be awakened tomorrow morning by the sound and vibration of my phone, which sleeps next to me, indicating a text message from Dan saying he has talked to the NVC and here is my date and it will be something like November 4th. Or maybe it will be sooner. At any rate, I hope that we are not 12 hours away from an actual date.

Anyway, I'll let you know.

Meanwhile, last night I had dinner with some friends I hadn't seen in several months. It was so nice to be around people who share my interests, who can get equally indignant about grammatical errors, and who are always happy to see me when I come. I keep hearing from many people "I hope I don't see you again" or "I'll be happy to see you leave, but in a good way".

More on the events as they happen...

Thursday, September 20, 2012

on the edge of a go date

My criminal record check from Japan, the last document I have been waiting for, arrived today. We have only to submit them electronically (Dan will do tomorrow) and then it looks like we can schedule my interview with the consulate in Montreal. THIS COULD ACTUALLY HAPPEN TOMORROW. So I'm a little excited. The knowledge of the date of my interview will trigger a cascade of other actions:

- I book my flight to Montreal
- I make an appointment with an immigration doctor in Vancouver
- I inform my brother-in-law in Montreal the dates of my stay
- I inform my friends in Vancouver the dates of my stay
- I tell the Internet
- I make a dozen phone calls informing friends and family of my happy news
- I kiss my kitty
- I make arrangements with the person who will be taking over my smartphone contract (now with only seven months left, hurray!)
- I celebrate with alcohol and family
- I decide what my travel knitting will be
- etc., etc.

(not in this order)

When my document showed up at the Vancouver consulate on Tuesday, I could not sleep at all on Tuesday  night, I was so excited. I sure hope I can sleep tonight.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

One step closer

Yesterday was the two-month mark since I had applied for my Police Certificate from the Japanese Consulate in Vancouver. They said "two months", and I have for the past several weeks been carrying around an Expresspost envelope with another Expresspost envelope inside so that I would be ready to send it off at any moment, and they could send me my document quickly without me having to go to Vancouver to pick it up.

I phoned yesterday to see what was happening. They said they were working on the July 12 applications (mine was the 17th), and the fellow told me mine should be ready "this week or next". So that was encouraging. Then, this morning, I received the email. My document had arrived!

I finished my coffee and cake and went straight for the post office, sent off my return envelope. Thinking, thinking okay so I could have this back as soon as Thursday, I will scan it and send it to Dan and he will submit it to the US Consulate in Montreal. It's the last document we need.

We are told, then, the next step is that once we have completed the checklist of documents to be assembled, they will let me know when my interview in Montreal will be. I don't know how much time there is in between the completing of the checklist and the notification, but here's hoping it's less than a week. Here's hoping there are no further things I need to do. Here's hoping I can proceed without obstacle.

When I have my interview date, I need to arrange for the medical appointment in Vancouver with an immigration doctor. When we know my interview date is, Dan will book his flight. Guys, I might actually be traveling in October. It's still possible. My interview date could be anywhere between two and seven weeks away.

Tonight Dan and I were on the phone, talking about what route we might take, looking to see what cities in the east have Ikea, since we will need to buy a bed before landing in Kinston. Dan has been sleeping on a foamie for almost a year and a half, I have been sleeping on the guest beds of whoever I have been staying with. It will be nice to have our own bed again!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The day I should have stayed in bed

No really.

Yesterday morning I woke up thinking that I wasn't rested well enough, I  had been working so hard and I was really tired. I thought I should maybe just cancel my trip up to Duncan to spend the day at Providence Farm and rest up. I started my day feeling a bit grumpy and emotional, which I know I can attribute, at least partially, to PMS.

But as I'm only going to the farm one day a week now, I felt obliged to go and that I would really miss it if I didn't go. I wasn't at all excited about the thing I was going to be knitting that day - someone had requested a neck warmer that basically fit the description of the Bandana Cowl. The yarn the woman had chosen was a boucle yarn in browns and blacks. Boucle. Browns and blacks. UGH. I hate boucle and I will go to great lengths to avoid knitting black. Further, the person wanted it to be quite small so some significant modifications needed to be made to the pattern (requiring counting, maths and other mental acrobatics). By the end of the day it was WAY too big and I wasn't happy with it. I decided to call it a day early, put the thing down, and come back to it next week when I'm not grumpy (I have since decided to rip the thing out and reknit it, which I am confident I can do in a day).

Also, while I was knitting this ugly thing, I felt the beginnings of what I thought was a cold. I had the all over body aches and the pain when swallowing. Great. A cold. I'll head over to London Drugs after and get some Hot Lemon Relief. 

So, grumpy, I left early. I was driving down the gravel driveway on the way to the road and saw a number of people standing around looking at a man, face down in the gravel and seemingly unconscious, having had a seizure and fallen off his bike. There was an elderly woman in the Corolla in front of me, and instead of getting out of her car, she just shouted "tell him to move his bike!" which went ignored by those with more compassion for the man bleeding profusely from his face. I got out right away, with the scene from Wednesday fresh in my mind. One man told me that the cyclist had had a seizure and fallen off his bike and the he (the only witness) had to go. Then he was off. The woman who had called the ambulance on her cell phone handed her phone to me and asked me to talk to the paramedics as she was with a client (accident scenes are rife with inexplicable chaos). She remained at her vehicle with her client, about 30 feet away, and I talked to the paramedic, explaining the scene. Man is on his belly, face in the gravel, blood coming out, he is breathing heavily. Paramedic instructed that the cyclist should not move. Soon people arrived on the scene who knew this man and started calling him by name. Turns out he is mentally challenged and prone to seizures. The cyclist suddenly jerked awake and started flailing about, despite a number of people telling him to hold still. Someone brought a rolled-up towel to put under his head. I was off the phone with the paramedic, gave the phone back to its owner, and the ambulance arrived a minute or two later.

There were three paramedics and they were all asking did anyone see it happen? and no one had. The only actual witness had fled the scene as soon as he could pass off responsibility to someone more willing to take it. Why? Was he in a hurry? Late for work? Had to pee? Or just frightened? It made me irritated that compassion and empathy does not come standard issue in every human.

The paramedics did everything they could to help our man the cyclist, but he was flailing and they had to do a lot of wrangling to get him into the ambulance without having him hurt himself. He was in shock and had not said anything, but his eyes were darting about like a scared animal.

Here's something else that was weird. Once again there was the bicycle to consider. How would it be later restored to its owner once the cyclist went home from hospital? Even though there were a number of people on the scene who knew this fellow, not one of them offered to take his bike and return it to him later. Nobody offered to take it up to the Farm, where I'm sure it would have been kept safe until he could get it back. The paramedics said it would have to be picked up by police.

That's too bad. This man was of a visible minority, and with having special needs, he likely suffers a double stigma. I hope getting his bike back won't be too hard.

Crowd dispersed, ambulance packing up, I returned to my truck (second in a now long string of people waiting to leave the Farm). The grouchy old lady before me still sulking in her car, and I happened to be behind her for much of the way into Duncan. She was driving painfully slow and braked hard if anything moved in her peripheral vision. She was driving all over the road. When it came to the traffic circle, she signaled when she was going in (unnecessary) but not when she was exiting. Given my mood, I wanted to call the RCMP and report her erratic driving.

My drive back to Victoria was thankfully uneventful. Now I had a new accident scene to play itself in the theater of my mind.  I got home, explained to my in-laws that I wasn't feeling well, and plunked myself on the bed. Had an emotional text chat with Dan (as in I was emotional and he got me through it). Went down for a lovely dinner, but then came back upstairs and was in bed by 8:30pm. Got out of bed at 8:12am this morning.

Today has been a weird day because I have felt out of sorts for all kinds of reasons that weren't present yesterday. Maybe rest really was the thing I needed? But then with all that time in bed, I must have moved weird and pinched a nerve in my neck and now I'm doing the whole move-my-torso-when-I-want-to-look-sideways thing. Not awesome. I'm not as grumpy as I was yesterday, thank the heavens! But I did manage to get things in my room a bit more organized, and that always makes me feel better.

I think tomorrow I might actually post about my knitting, as I might just have things to report. Stay tuned.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Thoughts on Love, no solid conclusions

After closing out my post yesterday, I got to thinking about the possible reasons why it is so hard for me to tell my loved ones I love them. At least in words. I can easily I say I love you in a hand knitted item, a batch of cookies, or some other symbolic gesture. Why do the words get stuck in my throat?

My mind reeled back to a memory of late June 1991. My mum had just left my dad (my sister and I knew it was coming, she had told us, but she didn't inform him until the day she left) the day before hand his life came crashing down. I had just finished grade 10, my best friend Jeremy had been in the hospital for a week having died from an asthma attack and then been revived, airlifted to the University of Alberta Hospital in Edmonton from where we lived in Wetaskiwin (roughly 50km away), and Jeremy was not likely to survive. A large group of friends was grieving the loss of our friend who would die at the age of 15, and we were all deeply traumatized.

When my mum left, my sister, then 12, opted to go with her. They took two of our three cats and my sister's dog, leaving me and the oldest cat with Dad. I was 16. My dad came home from work and just fell apart emotionally, something I had never seen before. He cried and told me he loved me - something I had never heard him say before. In that moment I gave the expected response, which was "I love you too" but the instant it came out of my mouth I knew it was not true. I regretted saying it. I never told my father I loved him again, and more or less vowed to myself that I would not say those words to anyone I did not actually love.

This is sort of along the same line of when I was 12, and my mother told me "don't get pregnant, it will ruin your life!" when what she meant was don't get pregnant until you are actually ready to be a mother, I must have subconsiously taken her literally because I knew even in my mid-20s that I didn't want to ever be pregnant or have children.

My family of origin was not affectionate. I always felt strange around my mother and ambivalent around my father. My sister was naturally an adversary, I being the big sister and we are three and a half years apart. After our parents split up we were more or less only children.

After a few months of being away from her friends, my sister decided to return to Wetaskiwin and live with Dad and after I finished grade 11 I moved in with Mum. I know I have told this story here before but I believe this time it is in a different context. I think the last time I wrote it, it was on the topic of being able to relate to men.

Back to the topic I meant to write about, which is my difficulty saying the words, I don't know if it will ever be possible, or if saying it out loud will make me cry, or if I'll just feel like a phoney even if I do say it out loud and mean it. I have tons of wonderful people in my life, many of them I am related to by marriage (I really won the in-laws lottery, I'm telling you), and... yet... I don't know.  Luckily all my loved ones love me and know I love them, and I bet they even know it's something I'm awkward about. Life goes on.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

It only takes a moment

I witnessed a tall man in his 70s crash into the road as he fell off his bike, having underestimated his speed down the hill and the angle at which he needed to turn. I just happened to be looking out my window at that moment. He fell to the right and over his bars, doing a face plant (albeit the side of his face) on the pavement. No helmet.

I raced down the stairs and out the door in my bare feet to see if he was alright and what was needed. There was a woman that was driving a car that, had she not been there, he might have made the turn okay, but she was on her side of the road as he slid under her vehicle. Blood was streaming from his face, I raced back into the house to grab a blanket and paper towel. He had hit the ground hard and I knew he would be going into shock.

I took first aid a long time ago, and one of the few things I actually remember is that when someone has a shock like this, they are likely to lose body heat quickly so it's best to wrap them up. It was a warm sunny morning in Victoria, so there was no need for covering, but we did manage to get him sitting down on the grass. By the time he was sitting down, the ambulance was already on its way. I handed the roll of paper towel to one of the passersby and asked him to tear off a number of sheets to stop the bleeding, our man was bleeding in a number of places, most notably his eyebrow and out his nose.

The man was on his way to play tennis, and one of his tennis buddies happened upon the scene. He said he would relay the message to their tennis people that our friend would not be able to make it.

I offered to keep his bike here until he or someone could retrieve it.

The paramedics were here in no time, and of course the first thing they did was ask him questions, checking for concussion. He did seem a bit confused, he wasn't sure if he had been wearing a helmet or really what had even happened. Then they checked for spinal or shoulder injury, thankfully there was none. They managed to get him up walking to the ambulance, away they went, and I went back inside.

This scene has been playing itself out in my mind all day. When this kind of thing happens, we often tend to ask ourselves the "what if"s or consider that if the car had been at this point or if he had been wearing a helmet or if only... It's moments like these that (to me, at least) serve as reminders that we are on this planet for a short time and it could be our time to leave at any unplanned moment.

Later in the day our man phoned to say his daughter would be by this evening to retrieve his bicycle. She came, and said her dad had a broken arm and would require a pin, they were doing surgery this evening.

This incident wasn't exactly traumatic for me, but I do feel a bit rattled by it. Not in a sobbing emotional premenstrual sense, but it felt like a sort of reminder to be careful, stay safe, and tell your people you love them. That last one is a hard one for me. I can say it to my cat and my husband until I'm blue in the face but saying "I love you" to anyone else, including family, feels just so darned awkward. Anyway, I didn't mean for this post to head down the lane way of mush, so I'll wrap up here.

But before I go, I should give you a brief update: I'm in Victoria now back with my in-laws and things have been great. Sam has settled in comfortably and I really like the room I'm in. It's nice not driving anywhere. Still no word on my documents, but on Monday the 17th it will have been two months, so I'm checking for voice mail and email every two hours to see if they have tried to contact me.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The follow-up to a one-off design

Turns out I prefer one-offs to doing repeats of previous creations.

So this is the second Runner Duck Cosy but it wasn't nearly as fun to knit as the first one was. Granted, it knitted up faster, and it was a bit easier, but because I wasn't designing on the needles, the spark of creativity was gone. Just for comparison, I'll post again photos of the first one below:

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Oh hi

Hey friends and readers. Yes, I'm still around the Cowichan Valley, still volunteering at Providence Farm, and still doing some reno work. I have been so busy I hardly have time to do laundry, much less blog. But I *do* miss you and miss writing! So fear not, I haven't forgotten you.

Immigration status: it's been almost a month since I applied for my document from Japan. That's the only holdup now. I received the one from Korea last week. We aren't clear about if I just need the long form of my birth certificate (which I have) or the Registration of Birth (with signatures of my parents back in 1974), so to be on the safe side I'm sending off for the latter today. I also forgot about the photo, so I'll see what the requirements are, take a photo of myself, send the photo to Dan who will muck around with it in Photoshop, and he will send the file back to me in ready-to-print format.

Homestead status: At the moment there is one adult rooster, three laying hens, five teenagers (three hens and two soon-to-be-frozen roosters), and three little ones. I have lost track of how old the youngest ones are - there were five but two disappeared a few weeks ago, one on the same day I found a juvenile sharp-shinned hawk in the chicken run. The three 'teenage' hens should start laying in September, which will bring up the daily egg production from two or three to five to six. So that will be good. The garden is raging out of control and I honestly haven't been home/had time to help with weed control or harvesting. We are eating fresh fruits and vegetables out of it every day, and last week Toni and I put up a bunch of zucchini. We found a U-pick cherry orchard just down the road ($1.50/pound!) and gathered 45 pounds of cherries on two visits, then later made preserves and jam. I spent two and a half hours on Friday night pitting cherries.

Knitting status: Alas! I have had very little time to knit these days. I finished the duck, which I blogged about, but haven't really had time to do much of anything. I am (I think) a few hours away from finishing the cardigan I started in the spring. I picked up my Brother Amos Hellfire Lace socks again, started back in 2010 but got frustrated with the more-intricate-than-necessary construction and have been inching away at them. I did start another Runner Duck cosy, so that will probably get most of my attention for a while. I am also working on a simple shawl with yarn donated to the farm, as my mindless knitting (I let myself work on it for a few hours on Sunday, desperate to knit something).

Emotional status: as of Saturday, I think, it will be three months since my last depressive episode. I am actually doing very well, and being busy has a lot to do with it. I think the other thing is doing work that I really enjoy. Toni and I have been talking about my work experiences, and the jobs that have given me the most satisfaction are the ones that: have physical activity; have tangible results; keep me busy/use my brain; and involves working with people I like. I think that is really telling. In most of those cases, those jobs haven't paid very well but that hasn't seemed to have made an impact. In fact, years ago I left a job making $12/hour for one that paid $8/hour, and I was WAY happier at the cheaper job. On another note, I miss Dan a lot, as it has now been six months since I have seen him last, but we are increasing our efforts to have actual phone conversations twice a week instead of one, and we communicate by text message every day. We know we are near the end, and whether he is able to make it out for a visit or we just sit tight until it's time for me to leave, we are managing okay.

Weight status: I might as well tell you that I have gained back some of the weight I lost last year. I lost something like 30 pounds in the first half of 2011, and in January (or so) of this year it started creeping back. I blame the bread. Well never mind what is to blame, it's coming off again. I'm working really hard at this physical job of renovation, so I'm feeling my muscles all day long when I'm there. It's *great*. I'm also not beating myself up about it, because I know that I will take the weight off again.

Geographic location status: I will be moving back to Victoria at the beginning of September, and I'll be scaling my volunteer time at the Farm from three days down to one. It's more of a transition time, really, which I think (I hope!) will be good for everyone. Toni and the Skipper will have their basement back and they can once again host house guests. They can also sleep downstairs when it's really stinking hot outside and the basement is a haven, as I have joyfully discovered this summer. :-) Sam and I will be in a different room in my in-laws' house, as the step-bro-in-law has now moved to Montreal for grad school, so we won't be so cramped and there will be room for Sam's two new scratching posts. I'll have time to repack all my stuff before the trip. I won't have to drive into Victoria for an hour each way to work at the renovation job. I'll help with cooking and other things around the house. My truck will be available for the family to use. It will be an easy taking-off point for when I need to go to Vancouver for my immigration medical check and to Montreal for my visa interview.

I feel like it could be soon. I've been disappointed time and again by my wishful thinking, but this really does feel like a time of transition. I have done so much inner processing and personal work in the last year that in some ways, I feel like a new person and have quite a different outlook on life. Toni says she has seen some major transformations in me, and I think that that is not only encouraging, but a testament to how her care, mentoring, influence and presence has been immensely healing for me. (O great I'm going to start crying) No really, Toni is an amazing person and I am incredibly grateful for having this opportunity to attend the UofT (University of Toni) this year. I'm near graduation though, and it's time for me to start the next phase of my life.

Whew! I didn't mean to write such a long post. I was actually just going to drop in and say hi! I'll be back soon! And then I got rolling. O well. I hope you are all well!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Indian Runner Duck Bodum Cosy

On Fridays at Providence Farm I participate in the Textiles program. One day in early July, I was between projects, I decided I was going t knit a tea cosy and asked the others what animal I should knit it in? The response was swift: An Indian Runner Duck! So I set to designing.

Barbara, the one who made the suggestion, had already decided to buy it when it was finished. She later said (before I got too far on it) that she doesn't actually drink tea and could I maybe knit it in the shape of a Bodum instead? Perfect. Indian Runner ducks are tall and skinny, much more suited to that shape.

I started knitting the bill and the legs, then went on to the head. It took me four Fridays to get him done but I am very pleased with the outcome.

 I knit the bill first. That was easy.

 The webbed feet took a bit of doing too. I had to restart a few times to get the shaping right.

 This is after week two I think.

 After week three.

 I stuffed the leg with some rope trim. I found a bit of fleece to sew to the bottom of the foot to keep it stable.

 I'm very pleased with how the tail turned out.

 Temporary eyes - a pin stuck through a bit of felt until we decided what the eyes should look like.


Yeah, I'm pretty happy with him. The weekend before last he was on display in the Store at Providence Farm during the Folk Festival, and apparently someone came in and wanted to buy it. This means not only did I have to set a price, but I also need to make a second one. It will be much faster the second time around because I don't need to do the designing, but it will probably still take me three or four Fridays at the Farm. The ladies who are in the Textiles program have encouraged me to enter my duck into a local fair, and I might have enough time to organize that. I have never entered anything in a fair before but I think it would be a fun thing to do. The Cowichan Exhibition is the second weekend of September, so I think I could manage it. My duck fits into the "knitting - other" category as well as the "Kitchen Kover" category. Can I enter one item in two different categories?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

a handmade wedding

Yesterday I went to a wedding with Toni and the Skipper. I had met the bride once before and the groom not at all, but at that one meeting the bride said "If you're still here on July 28th then please come to my wedding!" So I did.

It was lovely. My wedding was a handmade wedding so I could appreciate all the thought and preparation that went into this one. The couple lives on a 20 acre farm near Nanaimo and grow fruits, vegetables, chickens and ducks. (WHY didn't I take any pictures of the chickens and ducks? *kicks self*) It's a lovely farm and you can tell right away that a lot of work goes into its maintenance.

There were about 50 people there (I didn't count). We parked in a field, put our potluck offerings in the recently completed barn, and poked around the farm until we were summoned to the tent where the ceremony was to be held. The officiant was a relative of the groom but had legal authority, and it was a lovely ceremony. The bride had made her own outfit and the groom in his Scots attire.

The ceremony referred to passages and stories of the Bible without being too churchy. The bride and groom had written their own vows, which were each put in frames from which they read to each other. The groom's vows were very moving, the brides were decidedly earthy. Yup. The whole darn thing made me cry - not just from all the love present but for missing My Sweety. We got married almost four years ago and I know well that moment of marrying your best friend.

I will admit that I did fall into a bit of sadness after that, so when the ceremony was over I wandered around the property by myself, found the washroom (in the farm house), leered at the bride's three spinning wheels, snooped in the knitting basket, admired the strings of hanging herbs, counted five guitars, pet the sleeping cat, then headed back outside to say hello to the ducks and chickens before making my way to the WINE. After a bit of food, I suddenly felt human again (food is amazing for that, what with having calories and all) and able to socialize. I tried to convey my story (I have been apart from my husband for 14 months, haven't seen him for nearly six months) without seeking pity. People were delighted to hear that I have been volunteering at Providence Farm. I showed photos of my recently completed Indian Runner duck Bodum cosy (for a later blog post).

The dessert table will win me every time. The cheesecake was amazing. The carrot cake was good. Lots of cookies and squares and other sweet things. The wedding cake was a fruit cake, made and decorated by the bride.

Other items of interest: there was maple sap wine! (I'm sorry, the secret is out). Did you know you could make wine from maple sap? They also had blackberry wine as well as a number of other wines. The wedding favors were little jars of homemade jam and a bar of handmade soap. It was a lovely wedding and picnic, and it served as a good reminder to me of just how much I love parties. I'm not the most outgoing of people in a crowd of strangers, but you just never know what kinds of interesting conversations you might get into. I had a good time.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

at least two more months

An update on my immigration.

Last Monday, a week ago now, we found out that I do in fact have to have my police certificate from Japan. The website says it takes two to three months to acquire.

Dan was gutted.  I was, well, I don't even know. Sad, I think, but it didn't even really hit me until I got home that night and started thinking about the implications of that. Months. We thought, once again, foolishly, that we were only weeks away. When will this end? What can we do? I went into panic/overreact mode. I applied for a bunch of jobs. Why? I'm not sure exactly. My mind went to worst case scenario and it just felt like there was no end in sight to this saga.

The next morning, Tuesday, I went to the website for the Japan Consulate in Vancouver. Website said I had to go in person to apply for this document, but contact us first. I called at what I thought was a reasonable business hour for a government agency, 8:30, and they don't open until 9:30. So I called the Toronto consulate - I figured the procedure would be the same and since they are three hours ahead of us, they would be open. I was told that yes, I have to go in person to apply because they take fingerprints, bring my passport, and a document saying why I need a police certificate. I needed the latter because my reason did not fall into their list of reasons. Well, it just so happened I had one from the National Visa Center, so at least that part would be easy.

Then came the logistics. When would I go to Vancouver? At first I decided to go on Wednesday, the next day, but then I thought wait - if I leave right now (just after 9am) I could make the 11:00 ferry. With public transit I could be in downtown Vancouver by 2:30, and their office closes at 3:30. I could make it.

So that's what I did. I called Providence Farm to tell them I wouldn't be in that day, grabbed my water bottle and a few things and hopped in my truck, thankful there was enough gas in it that I didn't have to stop. It took me just over an hour to get to the ferry terminal, I arrived with just enough time to get a ticket and get on the ferry.

The ferry ride is an hour and 40 minutes. We docked at 12:40, the bus that goes to the transit station to catch the skytrain leaves on every hour. We left at 1:00 and I remember thinking to myself, "my, we sure are going fast. I wouldn't be surprised if we arrived early". We were scheduled to arrive at 1:37, we arrived at 1:24. I ran up the stairs and caught the train that was just about to leave. I got downtown and was in the Japan Consulate before 2pm, which pleased me.

It is a very quiet and comfortable office. The staff are efficient, friendly and gracious. It reminded me how much I loved the Japanese people. The process was very easy and I was finished before long. I asked about the two months thing. The woman I spoke to from Toronto told me that sometimes it takes less than two months, but they have to tell people "two months". So there is hope. The man who took my fingerprints told me that the time it takes is out of their hands and there is no way to expedite. O well. He also told me that when the document comes, it will go to the consulate, so I can either pick it up in person or they will send it to me.

From there, I could have taken public transit back to the ferry and driven home that night, culminating in a long and tiring day of travel, but I instead opted to visit some friends of mine who live just above the Chinatown skytrain station. They were happy to have me, even though they thought I would be gone (to North Carolina) by now. We had a simple dinner of prawns and sushi, and I pretty much retired early, being knackered from all my to-ing and fro-ing.

My friends cooked their prawns with the heads on. Do other people do this? I had one, then wasn't really excited to see all the cooked guts and eggs still inside, and focused on the sushi instead.

I had planned to take the 9:00 ferry back to the Island the following morning. That would mean leaving my friends' condo at around 7:30am. It would also have meant that I would arrived back on the Island around 10:40, and my parking expired at 10:30. I don't know how militant those parking attendants are about giving tickets, so I was a bit nervous about leaving so late. In the end, I was awake anyway (who can sleep in Vancouver with all that NOISE and LIGHT?), so I was out the door before 6:20 and left a note for my still-sleeping friends. I caught the 8:00 ferry in plenty of time and had terrible ferry food for breakfast.

My truck was still there on the other side, I came straight home and spend the day hanging out with Sam, who had missed me terribly during my night away. You might say we have a co-dependent relationship, and that would be true. I missed my kitty too.

So it's been a week now since all this has happened and I've had some time to let it sit with me that I would still be around here until at least September. I observed to Toni that I was sad but not depressed - so that was good. No one would fault me for either, I'm sure, but it is WAY easier to bounce back from being sad than from being depressed.

Normally I would have blogged about this right away, this immigration update, but quite honestly I haven't had the time or inclination to blog. I'm at the Farm three days a week, have a little job helping with some landscaping/reno stuff two days a week, and am spending the rest of my time reading, knitting, gardening and resting. There is a lot going on and at the moment it seems I only turn on my computer twice a week or so. I'm sure you all would love more detail about my life, but alas, there are only so many hours in a day and I am making a concentrated effort to be gentle with myself. I'm sure you understand.

a day trip to the west coast

I know what you are thinking. Am I not already on the west coast? Well, not exactly. I'm on the east coast of Vancouver Island. The west coast is a three and a half hour drive from here. So, on Saturday, Toni and I headed west!

The first place we stopped was Coombs. Coombs is this lovely little touristy town set in the middle of agricultural land. It is the setting for a number of interesting and quirky shops. I've been on the Island long enough to not be to drawn into all the quirk, but I do love stopping in at the Coombs Country Market, where, in the summer time, you should be able to see the Goats on the Roof. The goats weren't on the roof of the main shop on the day we went, but I knew they lived out back, so we had a look. I saw this sweet little guy itching himself on the fence and went over to give him a scratch under the chin. They see people all the time, and because they are kid-height, probably get a lot of loving.

Here is is his buddy, overlooking a very steep ravine. 

 The washroom at Coombs Country Market.

 The Market is a neat place for all kinds of reasons. Their schtick is to have lots of interesting import food, some of it healthy, some if it just interesting. Dan and I have a habit of looking for the latest in new beverages. I hadn't seen this one before, different flavors of ginger ale.

 We arrived in Ucluelet some time after 1:00. We stopped in at our friends' house, then the four of us went to the aquarium. It used to be just a little trailer, probably not more than 200 square feet, with no heating or bathrooms. It was a long time fundraising goal to be able to build a new aquarium. When I left in July last year, they had reached their goal and had started pouring concrete. It was finally open!

 They did a good job of the buildings and displays but I have to say, I found the selection of species featured here a bit disappointing. Above is the octopus, which of course is sleeping (she is always sleeping!) but it is much better to see her here than how they had it set up in the old trailer.

 Suction cups!

 One of the two jellyfish displays, this is one of the tanks from the old aquarium. Kind of boring.

 With the lighting coming in from the windows and creating glare, and with my little iPhone camera, it wasn't easy to get a good shot. The above photo is taken from the back of the aquarium, looking towards the door. It's all one big room with a main display in the middle. They used as much local wood and materials for construction as possible.

 I think the flatfish display was my favourite. Mostly it was Starry Flounder but the guy with the big dot on his side is a C-O sole. Why is it called a C-O sole, you ask? Well, it's because when they first identified this species and were thinking of a name, they couldn't decide if the spot looked like a 'C' or an 'O'. I know, right? That's what I was told when I was training for my fish job a few years ago.

 At one point I felt like I was communing with these guys. A bunch of these flat fish with buggy eyes came near to where I was sitting. It's a low tank, maybe no higher than my knee, so I could squat down and be really close to them. I know they could see me. I wonder what they were thinking with their swively eyes?

 I don't think I caught it very well but there are two sculpins leaning on the starfish, having a conversation.

 Same tank, different sculpin.

After the aquarium we headed to Tofino to visit Ellie at Knits by the Sea, the yarn shop I worked at when I lived in the area. Then to Tacofino for fish tacos. Stopped back into our friends' house for a snack and to look at photos, then Toni and I were back on the road.

Oh yeah! This is the bread I bought at the Coombs Market. When my sister was visiting last year, she bought this loaf called Triple Spiral Rye bread. We loved it and it has since been made into legend in our family. I got another one in her honour. Also: fudge. This helped fortify me and Toni as we spent Sunday gardening and laying around, the Skipper had some when he got back from fishing.

We left for our trip just before 9am. With all the stops and the construction on highway 4, it took about four hours to get there, then three and a half to get back. It was a l o n g day, we got home just before 11pm. I think if we do it again before I leave, we'll do an overnight trip.

Also, if you are reading this and you live there and I didn't visit you, it's because we didn't have time!

Monday, July 16, 2012

two steps forward, one step back

Turns out I do have to get a Police Certificate from Japan, even though I lived there less than a year (49 weeks, to be precise).

Average processing time: 2 to 3 months.

Plus about 48 days after that for my visa interview in Montreal.

GOD DAMN I miss my husband.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

just one document away

As of today, I am now just waiting for the police certificate from Korea and then I will have everything I need for the Visa Center to tell me when my immigration interview will be. I received my notarized and authorized document back from the Korean consulate today, then headed straight to the post office to send it to Korea. It hasn't been cheap!

Almost there. We are reasonably certain my departure for North Carolina is only weeks away.

Monday, July 9, 2012

convince me peak oil and climate change isn't happening

For the past few weeks now, Toni and I have been immersed in discussions around peak oil, climate change, a post-industrial world, the collapse of civilization and other fun topics. We have been reading and sharing everything we can get our hands on (and there is quite a lot of material), and most of our conversations of late have turned to this topic.

Basically, life as we know it now is about to come to an abrupt end, we will all have to live on less, much less than we do now, and that is going to mean living with less electricity. Less gas. Less money. Less manufactured food.

The midwest has been experiencing extreme heat coupled with no electricity. I read a story about people who had no food in their pantry so they went to the nearest gas station - all that was left was Cheetos and Gatorade.

If you found yourself without power for an unknown amount of time, how long could you last? How much food do you have in your home? How much water? Not just for the people in your house, but your pets?

In the news tonight, there are rolling blackouts in Alberta - as in people are being asked to reduce their energy usage in the Canadian province that produces the most energy in the form of fossil fuels. Does anyone else see the irony in this?

 My sister lives on a chicken farm in Alberta, where even a five second interruption in electricity, especially in the heat of summer, could be catastrophic. The birds live (well, maybe not live, but "are raised") in barns that have fans going to maintain a steady temperature. This is, in fact, how most mass-produced poultry is raised - not in green pastures but in buildings that require fossil fuels to power. Without fossil fuels, this type of agriculture is not possible. (Admittedly I see this as a good thing, as I have now seen how happy chickens are supposed to live).

I don't want to sound alarmist, but this is alarming. Climate change is real. And yet, I forget that even though I now have a fairly decent grounding in understanding the reasons why solar and wind energy won't save us (they require massive inputs of fossil fuel and there is no real infrastructure to get them up and running, much less material to maintain these modes when they begin to deteriorate), I realize that not everyone else has also come to realize this or even wants to believe it is happening. North Carolina, the state I'll be moving to soon, has passed a law banning evidence of rising sea levels. Figure that one out.

To add salt to the wound, everyone knows that economies are collapsing left and right. People are going bankrupt. Municipalities are going bankrupt. If you ever wondered what your municipal taxes paid for, you (if you live in a town that goes belly up) will soon see what that money paid for. Garbage collection. Recycling. Policing. Parks. Libraries. Water and sewage. What will happen if cities can no longer manage these things? You can bet some enterprising corporate entity will swoop in and demand high prices for these services that no one can afford.

If provincial and state governments or federal governments go this way, what then? Say goodbye to health care, education, social services, always the first to go in Canada and the US in a crisis.

I'm not really doing any of these major topics on which volumes have been written much justice here, but my point is in wanting to convey, just as Toni did in her post, that collapse is not some thing in the future, it has already begun.

I am taking this summer as my summer school to get immersed in collapse preparedness. I have time to read, after all, so I am reading much of the same material that Toni has been reading.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

and now I wait... some more

Goodness. This whole certificate from Korea thing has been a bit of a hassle. Dan mucked around with my photo and managed to fit nine 3x4cm images of me that would print out on to a 4x6 inch sheet. I downloaded this to my phone (where all my other photos are kept), and when I got to Wal-Mart (yes, I admit I went to Wal-Mart, but that's where they have the DIY instant printing of photos), I discovered that I couldn't retrieve the photo. That meant I had to go home, download it to a memory stick and go back.

That was yesterday. However, I don't know what I had done but it seems I threw my back out and even though I did do my volunteering stint at Providence Farm, by the time I got home I was exhausted. I didn't feel like making the drive all the way back to north Duncan (about 20 minutes from here) for a 30 cent photo. So I came home and got out my hot water bottle and took some muscle relaxants. The day was shot.

Today was my big day to go back into the Victoria RCMP to get my police certificate and fingerprints. Remember now, this ONLY happens on Wednesdays at 1:00. That's what I was told. And yet the sign said 1:15. At any rate, last week the nice lady told me to show up early and take a number, so that's what I did. After my huge frustration about parking last week I was delighted to find a great 2-hour parking spot right out front. I took my number (turns out, there was one other person ahead of me), and waited. Meanwhile, about 18 other people showed up behind me. It was a bit confusing because there is no sign telling you what to do, so normally a person would just approach the Inquiries desk. With nearly 30 people standing in the lobby, anyone just entering would think that we were all waiting in line, which wasn't quite true, because there were three different kiosks running. And then the homeless guy comes in with a chip on his shoulder about his stuff being confiscated and NO YOU DON'T NEED MY NAME OR ID I JUST WANT MY STUFF BACK and he was going on about how SOMEONE IS LYING etc. It was very nerve-wracking. I don't do well with confrontation, even if I'm not involved in it. I suspect the fellow had issues of mental health because he was being quite abusive to the clerk unnecessarily, and she just kept on saying 'how can I help you?'.

The first Criminal Record Check window opened up, and the lady processing the paperwork was lovely. The fellow before me was quick, and when I told her I needed this done because I'm trying to immigrate to the United States and I haven't been with my husband for 13 months... she said "I'm sorry". I'm getting that a lot these days. Apologies. Well, that's sweet. I have to say, through all of this gathering of documents stage, I am thanking the heavens that I didn't change my name when I got married and that I have only ever had the one name I now use. It sure makes things easier...

So I filled out some forms for the first lady, and then about 20 minutes later the fingerprinting guy (a uniformed officer) showed up. He set up his room, snapped on his latex gloves, looked out into the room as if he wanted to give us all rectal exams and said cheerfully "who's first?"

Again I was second in line. It was pretty straightforward. Have you ever had your fingerprints taken? It's an exercise in awkward physical intimacy. I experienced this too when they fingerprinted me at the border last September. The border agent or police officer takes each of your digits, rolls them in ink, and then rolls them on the paper. That sounds pretty benign but just imagine how close you have to be standing to a person if, say, they are to your left and you are reaching your right arm across so they can hold your hand. Awkward. They are used to this of course, and I'm sure they are trained to use all kinds of distracting tricks such as engaging you in conversation. I know how this works. The guy today asked me why I am immigrating. (Last fall the nice border agent asked me about the origin of my last name.) Afterwards he directed me to the sink where I could wash the ink off my hands. It wasn't coming off. I suggested they put some GoJo there (or Fast Orange or some other awesome de-yuck-ing agent).

I took my paper with fingerprints with me, and I will return next week to pick up my criminal record check.

Meanwhile, with memory stick in hand I went to the Big Scary Wal-Mart in Saanich. Luckily, I know where to park where I don't have an issue with my big truck. I went in, fount their photo finishing department, plugged in, boom, done. I love it when things are easy. Getting out of the store was also easy. This new store they built is SO ugly I don't know how people can go there but it is always busy. All I had to do from there was to cut out two of the nine 3x4cm photos, drop them into the ExpressPost envelope, take them to a postal outlet (in Mill Bay, on my way home), and it's done.

So now I wait for all the things. Hopefully my birth certificate will be within two weeks, my police certificate for Canada will be next week, and then the thing from Korea - that will take the longest. When I have these documents to hand, I will scan them and send them to Dan, who will turn them into PDF format and submit to the Visa Center. Once all these items are gathered, then they will give me my interview date. I'm sure I've told you this before, but I reiterate it to make it clear in my own head too.

Meanwhile, we are in full swing with harvesting stuff from the garden every day. I'll have to start posting about these things.