Saturday, October 4, 2014

How to Grieve?

I believe that the extent of grieving is proportional to the depth of the relationship.  Know of people who will go to every funeral, no matter how remotely they knew the person.  I only feel comfortable attending ones that celebrate the lives of people I am truly close to.

Because I come from a fractured family, I can honestly say that the deepest relationships I have are not with my blood relatives, but with others who have come into my life by choice.  I am still grieving (7 years) the loss of the woman who in many ways has been more of a mother figure to me than the one who gave birth to me.

I cannot think of her without tears welling up because I miss her so much.  Whereas I can't say that about anyone I've lost from my genetic family.  The night the voice mail message arrived, my stomach and heart plummeted. When the news was verified, I completely broke down for hours, over days, weeks, months.  D had never seen me lost in grief like that before.  I had never seen me like that before.

We had just moved into our current house.  I had tradespeople all around working on stuff.  We were supposed to head up to the cottage that night and to Nice the week later.  But all I wanted to do was go crawl in a hole.  My biggest supporter had been torn from me and I didn't know what to do.  I had such great plans for us, now that we had moved closer.  Even now, I will find myself thinking how much she'd love seeing these places I've been...

So how do you grieve someone who has pushed you away and deserted you?  Who wouldn't let you in unless you concede to being "wrong"?   How that type of control and manipulation creates a barrier and robs both of you of something inherently human. Some things may not be reconcilable, even at time of imminent death.

In my case, I realized that I grieved the loss of that person a long time ago at the pivotal event when I was pushed away.  And though some tears broke through at the news of their death and was shaken from the reality of it, the depth of sorrow wasn't there even though it "should have been" or was "supposed to" or "ought to have been" as they had technically been "in my life" since I was born. 

I can't help but feel bad or embarrassed for not having an "expected" relationship with certain family members and thus not be able to even act "normally" in times that routinely bring people together.  It's a terribly ungrounded feeling and very difficult to go about your daily routine with that script running in the background.

I've shed many tears of frustration for all I could have done and are capable of giving but am prevented from. Impossible for me not to feel guilty for not "being there" even though you know you are not welcomed. 

Knowing how others will label you as a "deserter" or "unfeeling" when they have no idea how much you've suffered from not having a decent relationship to begin with. And how that lack of support throughout the years has meant growing up without the type of reliability and security you'd expect from the people closest, charged with your care. 

Taking a broad view of life, I believe those challenges existed to shape me, my thinking and my resolve. To force me to learn to stand up strong and fight for things I believe in.  Necessary to overcome in order to create a life I can proudly call my own.  To not assume that everything that was taught or had to do with "family" is automatically "right", "kind" or honorable.

I cannot begin to express how grateful I am that my childhood did not permanently damage or rob me of being able to feel love, empathy and compassion.  My upbringing felt unbearably harsh.  It was extremely difficult living with consistent unreasonably frank disapproval of who I was as a person.  I've always felt very deeply and am easily hurt.  On the other hand, very easily moved by beauty.

How differently would I have turned out had I been born into a family unit that is stable, full of love, compassion, kindness and honest guidance?  I cannot know.  But it is certainly within my power to create that environment now.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014


  • It's official.  The water pump at the cottage was destroyed by the crawlspace flood.  After speaking with the plumber, D's plan is to replace it next spring.  It doesn't make sense to do it now, just to close it up in a few weeks, when it is perfectly usable (stream water for toilet tank, access to municipal water for rest).
  • Relationship with Mentee is moving along slowly.  He is trying to do and be Everything and is having trouble balancing it all.  I did have to mention that overbooking himself isn't an excuse for not providing timely communication.  Other than that,  we are getting to know each other's style.  He's a bit "old school" and likes to use words like "delightful" and "most excellent". And much to my surprise, prefers to talk rather than email, which I suppose is consistent.  I think we could get more done if he uses email more often for certain things.  We actually do have a number of things in common (music, volunteering).  Got the impression he would have preferred to be matched up with a full time working male.  However, that impression may have existed initially because he hadn't done any homework on me yet and made some assumptions about my work schedule.  Whereas I went in knowing the times of the last 3 races he did.. Seems logical to look up the person you'll be working with (Or maybe he did look me up and saw the results of the last 2 races I did sucked...)  My working part time by choice and being able to financially manage it is vastly different than being part time by force.  His tone has changed significantly. I am beginning to think he may be starting to see and appreciate the work world through my eyes a bit.  
  • Moved to my temporary office.  Renovations to existing building ought to be done by spring.
  • D started a new position within his current company.  He had 3 interviews (2 external) and received 2 offers.  Was most interested in the one other external company but they kept delaying.  It wasn't until a week after D accepted an offer, that he found out they were finally ready to make an offer.  When asked if he regretted not waiting, D said that he has a really great feeling about this new (to him) part of his company and it was worth staying for.  Fingers crossed!
  • We have talked seriously about putting the cottage up for sale in the coming few years.  Nothing to do with the water pump incident.  More so to do with where we see our lives eventually shifting to -- Away from here.  Let's see if we will finally be able to pull the trigger.
  • I'd like to do the same with the ski condo (for different reasons) but the idea was met with D's firm "No".  So I will need to come at it from another angle...Next to be re-assessed will be my vehicle.
  • Cannot believe there are still mosquitoes around when we've been using our cottage fireplace at night.  Let my guard down and got bitten 3 times over the weekend.  
  • Feeling somewhat ungrounded as of late.  Mind has gone into overdrive considering thoughts and feelings like:  Not doing enough, inadequacy, worry about having too much time and not enough structure and the wild ideas that can come out of that.  Boredom, missing out.  Even when my rational side disagrees.  So what is missing or off?  Hoping to have time to sort through all that soon.
  • Been fighting a low grade "something".  Think it may have to do with eating stuff I don't normally eat anymore (sugar, dairy), even if it is gluten free.  Time to tighten things up again.  May be a cause of the above errant thoughts?  My body feels strong and there are no other "sick" symptoms, just a bit tired, which adds to the frustration.
  • The location of the Habitat build I'm involved with has changed due to the political situation nearby.  Add to it a record 5 flight time changes and I am beginning to wonder how this will all turn out. 
  • My long time travel currency exchange agent will be losing her position shortly (unexpected).  I'm sad for her as she is within 8 years to full retirement but still is far enough away.  I'm losing a valuable person on my "travel team".  She has gotten me currency, yes, but specifically the denominations I really wanted.  I've dealt with a number of money exchange places before and know it is not easy to find for custom orders.  Our final transaction was a week ago where she finally asked me, after all these years, what is it I do that allows me to travel so much?  I told her that my travels have nothing to do with work.  That I wish my work would send me all over the place. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


It looks like we've found it.  Our equivalent of an "all inclusive" vacation -- Bangkok. 

The city isn't what I would consider to be "beautiful".  There aren't any architectural stand outs.  I know a lot of people visit the temples (Wat) there but we didn't feel like it this time around.  Chinatown turned us off as did all the shopping malls.  Even the ride up and down the Chao Phraya river (all the way to the end) surprisingly didn't inspire and being on the water usually does.

What captured us was the calm of the culture and not surprising, the street food.  There wasn't the feeling of suffering or overwhelming poverty.  I didn't walk around feeling bad or guilty for what I had.  People work long hours outside but seem to do so with dignity and control.  Minimum wage has risen to around 9.55 USD Per Day...

As usual, a smile and attempts at speaking were appreciated.  The 2 times we led with English, we got overcharged.  There was no detectable tension or visible military presence in the places we went.  Although I was surprised at the number of older people begging. 

Thanks to advice from an expat I connected with online, we ended up staying in an older neighborhood, away from the main shopping and partying areas and it made all the difference.  We wouldn't have had near the immersive experience otherwise.  I knew I had found the right person to ask when he commented, "(those) areas are fine if you are wanting to spend your holiday drinking, shopping and more drinking.  But, why go on a holiday for that!?!"

We stayed in a studio apartment and never ended up needing the kitchen.  There is just too much great homemade food all around, all day -- And way better than what we could have prepared, that's for sure.  It was incredible and there were new things to try everyday.  The cost was ridiculously cheap.  We barely spent half our spending money.

Our biggest issue was trying to coax our stomachs to digest faster so we could make room to try something else.  We weren't successful on that front as the food we were eating was real food (very filling), which meant most days, despite hours of walking in high heat, we were only able to eat 2 meals.

For those of you who are into trying new foods, you'll be able to relate to us plotting our days and routes so that we would end up at the right spots at the right times to be able to indulge.  It was a miracle I only gained a pound on this trip.  It felt like I had eaten a cumulative whale.

The heat was challenging.  It wasn't as humid as Hanoi felt to me as my papers didn't curl irreversibly.  But it was humid enough -- Felt like 48 C by 8:30 am.  Good thing that coconut water and ice coffee were readily available.  Plus when you buy pre-cut fruit, there is salt and chili spices included which helps with electrolyte balance.  Hard getting used to eating steaming hot and spicy soup outside but it didn't stop us.

As for being there during rainy season?  It was probably my biggest concern (flight delays, water contamination etc.) alongside political tension.  This trip was a last minute decision (3 weeks out), which is rare for us, when considering the distance.  A combination of the water pump at the cottage being flooded and seeing a drop in price of flights made this happen.  We both had holiday time booked already.

Our stay wasn't impacted by weather.  In fact, we longed for rain as it was welcomed relief to the heat and humidity.  Prior to our arrival for several weeks, there was a monsoon trough stationary over the area ushering significant rainfall, everyday.  So we came with full rain gear and intentions of buying rain boots if necessary as flash flooding can be common place then.

For many years, I had avoided going to Bangkok, despite reading over and over again, how it was a perfect introduction to SE Asia.  It is considered to provide a relatively "soft landing" with respect to culture shock, tourist infrastructure and getting around.  Would completely agree with that. 

I also have personal issues with the well known sex trade there -- Just look up "Bangkok ping pong shows".  We did walk around the Patpong area many times but like our experience in Amsterdam, there aren't prostitutes all around the city at all hours.  In fact, there was much less of that there than I found in Phnom Penh.  D did receive a good amount of visual attention but nothing phased me nor tripped either of our caution meters. 

It was so very easy to navigate the city.  The transit system is first rate and orderly.  Occasionally we saw people (other tourists) who didn't realize you need to line up but that was an exception.  Having said that, we only took transit for one trip.  We braved the heat and walked, because it is more interesting for us as well as something needed to burn off all the food we had eaten. 

Having attempted Khmer earlier in the year made trying to learn Thai much easier.  My accent must have been acceptable enough because people would continue talking to me in Thai after they heard my greetings when I really couldn't say much more which was embarrassing.  Will endeavor to keep improving for next time.  And there will be a next time.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Scenes From Recent Outing

A favorite thing to do:  Watch river traffic after breakfast while sipping an ice coffee.

A family is still living there.

 Location of last great meal.  Complete with fighting cats underneath our table.

Thursday, September 11, 2014


After some persistent nudging from D some months ago, and with some reluctance, I decided to try my hand at Mentorship again.  Upon my return from our latest getaway (will get to that later), an email confirming the match appeared.  It has been 16 years since my first experience and 5 years since my last.  They have all frustrated me in one way or another.

This will be my first time via this particular program.  Maybe being matched will actually mean a better fit.  It hasn't been the most fun as I have found new grads to either be not so serious about the business aspect of their job or be just too serious about making money.  Which made me question whether I'm really the right type of person to be even doing this.  Why I hesitated with offering up my time (6 month min.) yet again.

D seems to think I have much to offer and eventually I'll be matched up with someone that "gets" it.  That I've evolved a lot personally and professionally in the last 5 years. Blah, blah, blah.  This will be my last shot at this.

It has crossed my mind that I may be the problem.  That maybe I'm being particularly rigid and difficult to deal with as I have expectations for punctuality, professionalism, reasonable attitude, willingness to think, work, self reflect.  That my role is to challenge and question and help reflection to occur.  I want to encourage free thinking.  As just copying wouldn't require a mentor.

My feeling is that we often go into things with an expectation and mentees tend to want some magical bullet list of action points that will guarantee success.  I think if you were in manufacturing, that thinking might work better.  When you are working with people in the private sector, in a country where people are used to getting what you do for "free" (taxes), that's a totally different ball game.  Whatever happened to just doing a great job and the success will follow idea?

I tend to zero in on a person's motivation as I assume that because they managed to pass their exams, they are competent in what they have been trained to do.  Only 1 so far have asked me specific technical questions.  Peoples' actions follow their motivations -- Sometimes people don't dig hard enough at it to learn why they do what they do.

As an aside, what has also surprised me was the style of language used.  A couple were quite casual, in person as well as via email.  I'm not here to become their best friend and hold their hand.  I'm here to help.

So where are they now?

The first one didn't really want to be mentored.  He wanted confirmation that his chosen approach was right.  He wanted to choose someone he thought was successful to emulate and join with long term.  He didn't choose the right person and fell for the fast talking, flashy type.  It wasn't a great move and it was done way too soon, at a time when you really don't know what you don't know yet.  The offer happened during our time together and while I did break it down with him and told him why it wouldn't be something I would sign up for, he went for it anyways.

That was over 8 years ago and currently he is even more in debt and locked into an healthy situation, working more hours than before.  Doesn't feel he has the strength to leave and "start over" again.  A shame as he is a hard worker.  That I can say for sure.  He is reliable, committed and will be there.  But because he isn't a leader and hates confrontation (even minor stuff), he can be easily taken advantage of.  For someone who was a varsity athlete, I expected him to be able to stand up for himself better.  We lost touch a number of years ago.

The second one was very high energy, hyper even, person who was an awkward match for me as I find it difficult work with and to be around people who exhibit borderline ADHD traits.  I like steady, calm, collected.  Even to this day, she cannot be described as such.  But that isn't necessary a barrier to success as she will "attract" like and she has.

Out of the bunch, she has done the best financially, purchased commercial real estate and has built up a good name for herself.  What she needed guidance with was work life balance.  Because she tends to function at the extreme ends of things, she burnt herself out.  And the physical recovery has taken almost 2 years.  She is finally realizing that you really cannot sprint full out your entire life.  Admitting to the existence of limits has been the most difficult thing she has done.  But she is in a way better place personally and professionally because of it. 

The third one was also high energy, cut from the same cloth as number two.  The aspect she needed help with was actually money management.  A particularly weak area for her.  Continues today.  I say needed because she resisted for years and have squandered a lot of money with unconscious spending.  She too has done well professionally but has realized she doesn't wish to continue for much longer as she isn't enjoying it.  But because of the level of debt, she has no real choice.

Though recently she seemed to have turned a corner and has finally realized there is no substitute for the act of just saving.   So with her high earning years behind her, the timing of this realization is not the best, but at least she is starting.

The fourth one is still a work in progress.  She is hung up on wanting the "good life" and still believes just showing up is enough.  It isn't.  You do have to work and put in your time.  There are also some deep insecurity issues.  After 5 years, frustration and mounting debt has set in.  So has training for another career in the public sector which has amounted to even more debt.  Already there has been complaints about the new career's work schedule!  She wants my life without having to work for it.  What do you do with that?? 

This fifth one shows well on paper.  In fact, they all did.  Very dynamic write ups.  High achievers in their own way.  But in person has been something else.  I mean, we all have our particular issues and hang ups.  I certainly do.  But I feel attitude makes a big difference.  Being that this is a mentorship opportunity, an open mind, I feel is crucial.  It's not like I don't understand the immediate concerns of a new grad, graduating with gigantic student loans.  But if you've already made up your mind, then why sign up to be mentored?

I think I'm supposed to meet up with #5 today.  Haven't received a confirmation yet which isn't the best start to a new relationship.  We'll see how it shakes out.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Aug Update

  • A girl I went to school with has been diagnosed with colon cancer.  You'd never know from looking at her because she runs and is vibrant.  They have operated and after a course of chemo, have told her to go home and enjoy her time...  She isn't taking it laying down.  I don't know where she finds it in her to do all the things she is doing and participate in a public campaign to bring awareness to others who are also suffering.  I don't know that I would have the strength and drive. My heart just breaks for her. 
  • We had a freak storm in our cottage area that created a significant flood.  Water from 2 nearby streams overflowed its banks and entered the crawlspace.  Not enough to reach the ceiling of it, but enough to submerge our water pump.  When we flicked on the breaker, nothing happened.  Called the plumber who told D that we have a 50:50 chance it will come back once it has had a chance to dry up -- a couple of weeks.  Fingers crossed.  For them to install a new one will be around $800.  D is reading up on how to DIY.  So it was a quick up and down for us, after packing for what was to be 4 day stay.  We could have stayed and used stream water for the toilet and municipal water for everything else but opted to come home as there was work we wanted to do.
  • Got our chimney assessed and apparently there is a problem with the cap and flashing.  The fellow we need now is a mason, who may not have room to fit us in this year.  
  • We have started having no drive weekends and are enjoying it very much.
  • This has been an unusually cool summer.  We like it because it has been great to use minimal AC but anyone I know with pools haven't been.
  • I am looking forward to the day when practicing violin isn't accompanied with clenched teeth!
  • Since I've publicly declared that I had no idea what to do with next year, ideas have been rushing in.  Will have to remember that trick for next time.  I live too much in my head.
  • I've gone mad and have ramped up the rest of the year's travel plans to crazy levels.  Try not to judge me too harshly...
  • Continuing with the water theme, we will have an opportunity to see what monsoon season is like shortly.  Will report back.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Quick Notes: Morocco

  • Did not at any point feel uncomfortable in any city or village I visited.  Sure you will probably stand out as a foreigner but the looks I got were not aggressive at all, simply observation.  Even walking back to the hotel late at night in Marrakesh was no issue for me.  I dressed conservatively -- Long pants, 3/4 sleeves. 
  • I severely underestimated the distances between interior locales even though I have experience driving through our Rocky Mountains here in Canada as well as in Colorado.  Going through the Atlas mountains took a long time.
  • Don't underestimate the dryness.  I was surprised with small signs of heat exhaustion when I thought I was doing well.  Moisture will evaporate so looking/waiting for signs of sweating won't be accurate.  Funny enough, thirst was less for me.  Again, not a good sign.  Although I took fewer rehydration tablets than in SE Asia.
  • Hotels have great signs with facts on water consumption.  Wish I had taken a picture of one.  They are very smartly done.  Seems obvious now, that a country like Morocco would be way more aware of and advanced in water conservation than we are in Canada.  
  • They are currently dealing with significant water table decreases due to the amount of agriculture they do.  I couldn't believe they grow watermelon in the desert??!!  Also the extensive export orange tree groves drink up a lot.
  • I found Moroccan family men to be so very present and dedicated to their families.  It was really lovely to witness. Felt very warm to me. 
  • Was amazed how women there could be so covered up (black!) and not be wanting to fall over from heat.  Maybe they did but I did not see it in their eyes.  Women didn't look at me at all.  They made sure they looked straight ahead when walking with their spouses who did look.  Noticed that when they would walk by other female visitors also.  I don't know what that means. 
  • Next time I visit, I will go during Feb/Mar when temperatures are much cooler.  It was mid - high 40s Celsius in the desert.  A lot fewer tourists though. 
  • I would also try and fly into Ouarzazate, hop on a 4 x 4 from there straight to the camels and fly out of Agadir.  It was wonderful to be in a "resort" city after being in the desert.
  • Fascinated with how the various nomadic Berber people have adapted to live and survive in the desert environment.  I'm drawn to harsh climates and civilizations who thrive in such extremes.  Bought a beautiful small handmade rug by a Tuareg woman.  
  • Each year rug stores personnel (many from nomadic backgrounds themselves) will go on a 3 month caravan to visit various nomadic groups to source out new rugs.  That is how many women contribute to their household.  They weave in between all the regular work.  So one piece takes months with each region having their own distinctive style and texture.  So very different from Turkish rugs.
  • I would love to participate in a desert caravan.  There is so much to learn about that type of travel and life.  For example, drinking tea vs water, using rose water to refresh (really works!), indigo dye all over which acts as sunblock and deodorant -- Thus the descriptor "Blue men of the desert".
  • Personally I do not feel a need to return to Marrakesh again.  Would like to spend more time in Casablanca.  Such extremes between the rich and poor there.
  • Having said that, the orange juice vendors in Marrakesh (Jemaa el-Fna) are a hoot.  Some come across as cheesy salesmen and some genuinely are fun loving people.  After buying a glass from a particularly friendly guy, I got to go behind his stall and climbed up on the platform so that he could give me directions to a restaurant.  (during one of the times where I took time off from the group)
  • There is a 1000 MAD currency limit in and out of the country.  It's not much and is easy to go over, like I did.  
  • Had no real issues anywhere in the country including the airports -- Always carry toilet paper, hand sanitizer.  Pharmacies are professional and helpful.  I drank tap water.
  • If you make even a small effort to speak French or Moroccan Arabic, doors open.
  • The roads are excellent!!!  I could not get over it.  We need to bring their road construction teams over to Canada.  Great, new equipment.  Beautiful paving.  (Remember I was Vietnam and Cambodia earlier this year)
  • And finally, for those like me who cannot get over/enough of the concept of goats in's a way better picture than I was able to get, courtesy of a friend.  Really shows just how strong Argan trees are to be able to support all that weight without bending much, if at all.  I can't help but smile when I look at this.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Group vs Solo

My trip to Morocco took the form of a small group tour.  Long time readers will hopefully have gathered that I tend to enjoy going at it alone.  I like the challenge of learning about a new place, how things work, how to communicate, how to get around etc. 

Since this continues to be a year of new stuff, I thought, why not try group travel and see what it is all about, after communicating with a number of people who swear by this form of travel.  I chose what I felt was a good company who offered unique itineraries. 

We were a group of 11 (me being the odd one out).  Stayed at very nice establishments (also something that I don't do a whole lot of anymore, preferring apartments and smaller locally owned guesthouses), ate at nice, upmarket restaurants.

For what was supposed to be a more immersive experience, surprisingly, we were discouraged from eating street food (didn't stop me)...And ironically only 3 people did not get sick -- Two who took medication from day 1 as a preventive (?!) and one who is a vegetarian.

In the 2 weeks or so, we covered a serious amount of ground.  There were many long travel days (9+ hours) on comfortable, private transportation.  With vastly changing scenery to view and nice people to converse with, each day went by much quicker than the itinerary would otherwise suggest on paper.

By the end of the trip, I did feel like I learned more about my travel companions than the local culture.  Cost wise, it was higher than what I could have done on my own mainly due to the class of accommodations and having a full time guide (fabulous guy).  I found the amount of sitting tiring.  When I have a chance to return, I know exactly how I would do it next time.

I also learned that a large motivating factor for those in my group were to meet people first, while seeing a new place a close second.  And in my instance, there didn't seem to be a lot of advance preparation nor interest in learning the local language.  Most were quite happy to be moved along, contained within a safe bubble even though I neither saw nor experienced anything that made me feel threatened.

There were a number of instances where I did deviate from the schedule to do my own thing (I Had to -- The regimentation was getting to me), to the surprise of the others and I know some them took it personally.

Realized quickly that there was an unspoken expectation that we'd all stick together.  The first evening I decided to miss dinner, I got a call in my room from a fellow traveler wondering where I was!  She meant well.  Was concerned that I'd starve if I missed supper and wouldn't take no for an answer...

I enjoy discovering things on my own without being told what to expect beforehand.  Funny, considering how much I like control.  Along the same lines, disliking change but having no problem thrusting myself in new places.  Not sure I'll ever be able to reconcile that in myself.

Certainly I'm not saying that style of traveling is a "bad" thing.  It's one way to go about seeing the world.  And I would commend anyone who gets out there and does so in whichever form they prefer.  It's perhaps not the route that works for me the best.

Now I can say that I've tried and it wasn't for me.  It's also continued confirmation that the way I've approached my travel is still preferable even though it means A Lot of preparation.  Never hurts to question old assumptions as I intend to keep growing as a person.

Having everything organized for you wasn't so "easy" for me either.  I found it more difficult to be woken up so early every day.  To eat at certain hours.  Needing to be conscious of a schedule.  To be taken places without having to think.  All opposite from what I do when away.  I prefer free flow time.  It feels more creative and leaves plenty of room for discovery and to be surprised.  Though, I learned more history and saw places I would not have chosen to do on my own.

I did find my travel companions to be pretty great people.  Well traveled, generous, good sense of humor.  Will for sure keep in touch with most of them.  In fact, had a generous invitation to stay with a couple who have a summer home in the Adirondacks.

And after hearing me go on about how I enjoy solo travel, am working with another couple to plan their first self guided vacation to Iceland.  And the lady who called me about missing dinner is anxiously waiting for my report on Habitat once I make it back from the build, as she is interested in getting involved too.

Meeting all of them was a definite highlight.  I know that by not continuing to participate in this type of travel will mean missing out on meeting more potential friends.  However, I would not have met them if I hadn't given it a go in the first place.  So I'm grateful for the trait that propels me to try new things.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Life Lately

  • The donation I made to a family in Cambodia back in Feb has finally been totally fulfilled.  I'm still getting used to the cycle of life there and differences in time perception.  Just received the pictures and am pleased with the results -- Turned out better than I imagined.  Hoping there will be an opportunity to meet up with them when I get to return.
  • I'm feeling somewhat lost with what I want to accomplish next year.  Seriously drawing a blank.  Have been trying out various ideas mentally, waiting for some emotional response and have been receiving just lukewarm ones, which isn't good enough.  Maybe I just need to stop trying so hard and trust that it will come.  Continue to think too far into the future is going to wreck my summer.
  • The 2015 dates I've submitted to the potential volunteer placement I mentioned earlier have not been accepted.  Found another opportunity recently with a much smaller organization, less organized who wasn't able to confirm dates until 4 - 6 months out.  That has been difficult for me as I plan a year plus in advance.  Taking a chunk of time off without pay, alone, requires planning, not to mention working around all the other stuff I tend to want to do in a year.
  • D has started interviewing with outside companies, mainly ones that are smaller who offer more direct control, impact and (hopefully) flexibility -- Though he will have to work even harder.  Those types of companies won't be able to offer any defined benefit pension plans but base salary will be higher, not enough to totally off set it but he is OK with that.  I'm OK with it because I've had enough of the negativity.  And financially we will be fine. 
  • In previous years, I have been quite frustrated at the number of changes D seems to make with respect to his work as I interpreted parts of it as an inability to stick with something for the long term along with being a bit of a "work divo".  Maybe I was just lucky that I picked the right field?  Since returning from a number of developing countries, I see it now as how fortunate he is to have the freedom to be able to exercise his options with no real dire consequences.
  • It looks like I will have to temporarily move to a new office location for  3 - 5 months in order to allow for the extensive renovation that the new owners have planned to be executed.  Originally, they said it could be done around us but now it has been determined it would be easier and quicker if we weren't there.  The roller coaster ride continues.  Nothing I cannot manage.  In the big scheme of things, not really even a blip.
  • Got to test out the antibiotics I got from my great new travel Dr on my last trip.  They worked the best out of what everyone else I met (who didn't see one) were taking -- One dose vs 10 days. And taking less specific antibiotics contributes to the larger problem of development of bacterial resistance. 
  • So much for "toning things down" this year travel wise.  Decided that it made sense to move up a short trip slotted for next year to this fall, before Delta's new Skymiles rules change over in Jan '15.  I'm covering a lot of ground this year.
  • On a related note, decided to try Airbnb, to great disappointment.  Signed on and reserved an apartment (have to pay in full) with no issues.  But 2 weeks later, was locked out of my account and forced to go through their "Verify ID" initiative which demands the upload of my drivers license and passport in order to have access again.  Therefore I had no way to even cancel or email my host.  Quite the "Charlie Foxtrot" as they say in aviation lingo.  I did not divulge my information and subsequently called their help desk to sort it out.  They had no idea I was locked out of everything...
  • I hoped to have had short hair for Morocco but there were just enough long layers in it to prevent a solid 8 inches from being cut and donated in time.  Upon closer inspection, I may have to trim it a few times and allow it to all grow to one length before proceeding.  That may mean donation won't be happening until next year.
  • Been gradually changing over personal use products (toothpaste etc.) over to natural sources.  Once you switch, it is scary just how harsh the products I used to use come across now.  Cannot believe I brushed with Colgate and Crest for so many years!  It's "Tom's of Maine" for us now.
  • Have had to replace the fridge at the cottage.  The original one that came with it was old when we bought the place 11 years ago.  It has been dying a slow death so we felt it was smarter to replace it before we lost food.  We went with a very basic model for about $670 taxes in, delivered and old one removed.
  • Starting to look at replacement cars for D, just for research purposes as we had time and happened to be right there.  We are going to stick with Subaru.  No decisions needed for hopefully another 4 years for D.  Test drove about 7 vehicles and decided that the larger engine is definitely the way to go for us.  Learned that if you buy an older Outback model (2008), it will need premium gas whereas a 2010 one, won't.  Also found out that the trade in value on D's car (2004) isn't enough to tempt us to do anything anytime soon.
  • Considering taking a year off of heavy research and traveling.  Think it would be good for me to step away as I've gotten into a heavy pattern in the last 4 years.  Could I actually follow through with it?  Kind of makes me nervous just thinking about it which makes me believe it would be a good thing.  Might ease into it with a reduction year first.  The money part is easy -- To the bank.  The slightly irrational part is, what am I going to do with all that time??? 
  • We finally mastered making homemade broth, from, of all things -- Turkey necks.  Cannot begin to recount how much money and time we've spent on various types of bones etc. and ended up with just watery uninspiring stuff.  Was in line at a local farmer's market and the lady in front of me started telling me how she learned to use every part of the animal in her home country and even though she could make broth with anything she wanted now, she still chooses turkey necks.   And having tried what feels like everything under the sun, we would have to agree. 
  • Need to update our wills.  Not sure if a whole re-write is in order or a codicil will suffice. 
  • Met up with my friend who had asked if I'd be willing to co-administer the trust for their children.  They have a lot of work to do before I can say yes or no as their knowledge of the whole process is too basic to be able to make strong decisions about their estate.  
  • I am trying to get a chimney/fireplace contractor to the house to take a look at our chimney as we've been hearing dripping noises when it rains moderate - heavy.  No damage is occurring (that we know of) other than signs of dampness in the actual inside of the fireplace.  It was an old ornamental coal burning fireplace, not the steel insert ones (like Vermont Castings) we have available nowadays.  The chimney was rebuild when we moved in along with a custom made stainless steel liner and cap.   It's a cosy atmospheric thing but not something that can be used to heat our entire house.

Thursday, July 17, 2014


This picture doesn't look real.
Think it has something to do with the heat.

Sand Storm!
Had my head covered, with sunglasses but that still wasn't enough.


My ride.  He was so gentle.
The camel has superseded the donkey as my favorite animal.

I cannot even begin to describe the quality of the silence.
It was stunningly peaceful.


...In Trees...extremely thorny Argan Trees

Shepherd of all those goats

So nice to spend time by the coast

Fishing port

The smell...

Women's cooperative Argan oil.
When I learned about how small the nut was and
how much work went into extracting the oil,
understood why my small bottle in Canada would cost $45.

Missing all the noise and hustle and bustle

Animal market

Could not get over how trucks are loaded.
Scary on the highways.

God, Nation, King

Hurray to all those who guessed Morocco!