Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Realizing Home

Hard to believe, but I am about half way through my summer vacation time already. Already! It has been a blast so far, and I don't doubt that the rest of the summer will be just as wonderful.

Most recently, I just returned from a week-long trip to Nova Scotia to see C&Lorie (and K!). I hadn't seen them in about a year, and was way excited to go back to the East coast, which I hadn't visited since 2005 when they got married.

The trip was wonderful. Nova Scotia is a beautiful province. A completely different beautiful than Alberta. NS isn't even remotely like Alberta, except that both provinces are in Canada. NS is almost entirely trees. Lush green rolling hills wherever you look (and because of the humidity, it all smells so good!). All the trees, and the small size of the province in general, allow for a really 'cozy' feeling. There are no long streets or avenues of cookie-cutter houses and neighbourhoods. Heck, there are no long streets or avenues, period. All the roads wind and curve in all directions. Houses sit nestled into the sides of hills, as well as along shorelines. Small towns are all the rage. Very picturesque. Cozy.

I enjoyed all of it so much that I was surprised to find that, nearing the end of the week, I was craving a little more openness. I wasn't feeling claustrophobic, per se, but I was realizing how Albertan I was. Having lived in Alberta my entire life, this makes sense, but I was nevertheless taken a bit by surprise to realize that by about Thursday, I was starting to crave 'the familiar' in a manner akin to that of when I was in Haiti.

I found it frustrating to not know whether the clouds were coming or going. In Edmonton, the weather travels consistently west to east (actually, slightly diagonally across the city--more like NW to SE). I can look west and see what's coming. In NS, everything moves around in circles up and down the coast line. I couldn't figure it out. Add to that the fact that I couldn't tell if I was facing north or south half the time, unless it was evening and the sun was setting. And despite the beauty of all the surrounding trees, the sky just felt a bit smaller. Horizon? What horizon? I just wanted to stand up on a roof somewhere and be able to look out over things. Cozy was getting too cozy.

THEN we went to the beach. L took me to her grandparents' cottage at Heather's Beach, up on the north shore of NS near Pugwash. On a clear day, you can look out across the water and see PEI. This was by far the best part of my trip.

First of all, I knew where I was. The cottage was atop a cliff that looked out over the water--north, east, south, west were all very easy to find. How reassuring just to be able to place myself! The sky immediately opened up on the higher ground, and it just felt so much better!

Still, had the cottage been nestled in the trees somewhere, away from any sort of directional indicators, this still would have been the best part of the trip. As I mentioned, it was SO good to be able to see C&L again. The whole week had reminded me of this. Lorie and I spent a lot of time driving, which allowed for the ability to catch up through conversation on the last year. On the Wednesday, I participated in C&L's kung fu lesson--as I had done some of these lessons a few years ago when they led them at their house in Edmonton, it brought back some fond memories. On Thursday, we went to the new Harry Potter movie.

When we were at the cottage, the cards were brought out in the evenings, and everyone grabbed their drink of choice, and we played. And I realized how much I had missed that aspect of my social life. For five years I had known that it was pretty much a guarantee that C&L would be up for hanging out on Saturday nights, and this almost always involved card games. For the last year, that social option hasn't been there.

While there are many things that I can do with all my friends, I have found that there are always a few select activities that are more or less specific to certain friendships. For example, Grey's nights. Those are with JM and/or JP and/or SC. I can totally watch Grey's with other friends, but it just wouldn't be the same.

So it was the cards on the Friday and Saturday night... along with the back-and-forth banter... and the laughter... and the one crazy story we hadn't heard yet (plus the stories we'd heard and laughed about 100 times)... and that Nova Scotian atmosphere... that reminded me of the unique aspects of this friendship that I had missed. I had traveled clear across the country, and it was still like being home.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Summer Sunday Sun

With nothing on the agenda this weekend, I wanted to take advantage of the summer sun. Yesterday proved to be a challenge, though, as it was mostly cloudy, punctuated with mere 5-minute bursts of sunshine every now and again. Also punctuated with 5-minute bursts of rain. It was quite the odd Saturday. There was a solid half hour where Princess and I both basked in the sun (her eating grass, me reading a book), but that was it. I raised my white flag at about 4pm that afternoon, and cozied on the couch with my book instead before heading to Jennifer's to watch a movie.

Today, however, was quite sunny out all day, so knowing that the forecast predicts rain for the next three days, I decided to take advantage of what I was being given. After church, Princess and I spent about half an hour outside before even I thought it was a bit too warm to just be sitting still. So I tucked the cat inside, brought my bike outside, and went for a lazy meandering ride in my neighbourhood. I am mere blocks from Ada Boulevard, a street that lines the north side of the river valley in Edmonton. Gorgeous houses, gorgeous view (if you don't look too far east to the refineries), and a nice quiet ride. I rode clear from one end of Ada to the other, and then rested on a bench for a bit to just admire the view. This city really does have quite a bit of beauty to it.

Friday, July 3, 2009


Two days into my summer schedule, and I am loving it. Respite in the morning, and whatever I want in the afternoons. I am still a bit slow-moving after my backpacking adventure, so I'm glad my schedule has afforded me the ability to be slow-moving. Yesterday afternoon, I puttered around a bit on the computer, and then had a two-hour nap. When I awoke, I thought, "should I be productive now?" But by this time it was 6pm, so I had supper, puttered around a bit more on the computer (read: played around in Photoshop), and then forfeited productivity in exchange for cozying back on the couch with my book (I am currently reading through the Twilight series, and finished New Moon last night).

This afternoon, I had more energy, so I ran a couple errands, and then tackled some organizational things--letters to mail, papers to fill out, junk to recycle. I haven't yet gained access to the third book of the Twilight series (Eclipse), otherwise I'd be on the couch again, for sure. Yes, I know, I could start reading any other book while I wait for Eclipse to come into the library, but I wasn't proactive in that task early enough. The library closes early on Fridays. ...I will saunter down the block (okay, three blocks) to the library tomorrow and see what I can find.

I am also s'posed to hang out with JC tomorrow. I am working up the courage to ride my bike to her place. I have done it before (although not since last summer); it takes about an hour. Thing is, today was the first day since returning from BC that I've been able to sit down or crouch without my legs being on fire; the first day that I haven't moved around like an 85-year-old lady! ...I would love to start taking my bike out more regularly; I just don't want to push it.

Ah, well, I can always have a nap afterwards.