Adventures in Mud, Floods & Buds

I stink.

I smell like I doused myself with some kind of swampy, muddy, sweaty, buggy, mysterious eau de drainpipe.

… Sigh, okay, I can’t lie to you…

I did smell that way – about 1/2 an hour ago, before I took a shower. But really, who starts a story by saying, “So, I smell kinda normal”?

I also didn’t want you to go on reading this entire post thinking that my blog is more important to me than things like personal hygiene or basic cleanliness. I mean, I really like you and all, but first things first, okay folks?

To re-cap:

1. I don’t actually stink (at the moment).

2. I can’t maintain a convincing lie for more than 2 sentences.

3. My blog ranks somewhere below soap but above dignity on my personal priority scale.

Now, back to my story. You might still be wondering why I was smelly to begin with. If you are actually still wondering that, then you didn’t read the title of this post very carefully. It’s kind of a big clue. So is this picture:

Slip'n'Slide anyone?

Anyone up for some living room Slip’n’Slide?

It’s prime travel time around here, so some people are Eleventy Thousand kilometres away (that’s about Eighteen Billionty miles for those of you who have trouble converting imaginary numbers). Meanwhile, it’s been raining pretty heavily, and the canal has also decided to take a holiday, and made itself at home in a friend’s vacant house. And really, a canal is a messy house-guest to begin with, but when it invites the shady friends it met in the Ditch & Drain to join the party, things get pretty gross pretty quickly. Especially when they get the munchies and raid the fridge:


Canals will eat anything…except honey & ketchup

You may remember a few weeks ago, I posted about the downsides of living in a transient community far from home. This week, I was reminded of the upsides. Within a matter of hours after the flooding was discovered, a group of people hailing from at least 4 different countries descended on our absent friend’s empty, squishy, soggy, smelly house. Everyone armed themselves with hoses, mops, squeegees, and ridiculously huge smiles.

It's always a party when mud's involved

Is there mud? Then it’s a party.

As we all worked together, it was great to see that being part of a supportive community isn’t dependent on geography, nationality, or even close proximity. It was also really great to eventually see a clean floor:


A job well done

It was a long, dirty day – and I was glad to be a part of it. I might smell awful, but being surrounded by people who care for and support each other in practical ways is pretty sweet.

Adventures in Concentration

I’ve never been confident in Math, which is why I always carry around this portable abacus:


Fingers: more than just chicken-wing holders

I can’t tell you what 18+6 is without asking my fingers for help, but there is one equation that I know with certainty:

Summer = Vacation

That one fundamental equation, reinforced through a lifetime spent in the Canadian education system, is part of the national psyche. When summer arrives, vacation starts; it’ll be gone again soon, so you’d better make the most of it.

Okay, it might not be a strictly Canadian phenomenon, but I do love that for 2 months every year, Canada comes alive. Really alive. The kind of alive that allows your toes to run around sock-free, and makes you think that sunscreen smells awesome. The kind of alive that convinces you that if it can’t go on the BBQ, it’s not worth eating and eating outside makes everything taste better, especially if you’ve just pulled it out of the garden and rinsed it off with the hose.

Sure, some people complain about Heat & Humidity, as though the words are a pair of villainous twins bent on siphoning off all your energy and hoarding it until September. But even the nay-sayers know, we’ve never strained our backs shovelling humidity, nor numbed our fingers scraping sunshine off a windshield in the morning.

I know I’m not alone in this, because every summer my Facebook feed lights up with photos of friends enjoying lakes and tents and picnics and ice cream with fervent exuberance. Why? Because it’s in our DNA. From our very first summer as a grinning red-headed toddler in a cute yellow dress – okay that part might just be me – we’re taught that Summer is Special.


Lovin’ Summer Training: The Early Years

Unfortunately, this deeply embedded Canadianism has been causing trouble lately. It’s been one continuous, non-stop, never-ending August for the past 3 years! Ever since moving to Thailand, every fibre of my being has been in vacation mode. I find it very difficult to concentrate.

Most of the time, I just roll with it, because – well, that’s what you do when you’re on vacation. But now, it’s crunch time.  I only have about 2 weeks before I fly home to enjoy a genuine Canadian August with my family, which means I only have 16-ish more days to finish writing the 1st full draft of my thesis.

It doesn’t help that both my work and research allow me almost unlimited flexibility in my schedule…like when you’re on vacation. It really doesn’t help that even my humble living room looks like a cottage…like where you might spend your time relaxing when you’re on vacation.

Summer sunshine beckons...every single day.

Summer sunshine and beckoning breezes…every single day.

You get the idea.

In theory, finishing this draft shouldn’t be too difficult. I am a writer, after all. The tough stuff is already done, so I should just be able to let my fingers fly and finish up, right?


Nope. I’ve spent the past (You can insert your own ridiculous number of days here, because I’ve lost count. I only have so many fingers, you know.) days trying to concentrate on my thesis. It’s like my brain has stopped listening to the lifeguard, and refuses to get out of the pool. It’s on vacation, don’t ya know.

I’ve even scoured Google for advice on improving concentration, only to find impossible suggestions like, “Clear away all distractions.” Even the freckles on my own arms can be distracting. I recently discovered that one of them is shaped like a tiny tulip…and now I’ve just spent the past 3 minutes looking at it. Wait…um, what was that about clearing away distractions? I don’t see how ridding myself of skin pigment will help here folks. Sheesh.

I have a feeling that the only way to truly kick-start my ability to concentrate is with a pile of crunchy autumn leaves or a slushy snowstorm. Since Thailand is unlikely to deliver either of those in the next two weeks, I’ll need to find another solution. (Hopefully something better than blind panic 24-hours before my flight.) I’m afraid even my trusty travelling abacus can’t help me figure this one out.

How do you concentrate when there’s work to be done, but summertime beckons?

Adventures in Moving

You should move.

My friend was talking about my house. (Because, you know, giant bugs, leaky roofs, scampering critters and such.)

That’s a great idea!

I agreed, thinking about my blog. (Because, you know, fancy widgets.)

So, here we are, you and I, together again for a few minutes. I’m so glad you found me! I really had been worried that you wouldn’t find me. After all, my old blog was waaaaaaay over there on the other side of the internet, and traffic can be terrible.

Since you’re here, this is kind of the perfect opportunity to share with you why someone who LOVES to travel HATES to move.

1. Boxes, Dust, and Finally Seeing What’s Been Growing Behind The Fridge.

My sister moved last week. Just hearing about movers and trucks and uprooting and disconnecting made me feel all clenchy and squeezy inside. However, her new postal code ends with 0B1. Yes, young Jedi, 0-B-1. That alone might have made the entire hullaballoo worthwhile.

2. Empty Chairs at the Brunch Table

What’s the very worst thing about living abroad? It’s not the giant bugs or the weird green jelly in the bread, or even the corn on the pizza. It’s saying Goodbye. To everyone. All the time.

You say it to your friends and family at home when you leave, and to your friends-like-family here when they leave. And people in expat communities are always leaving.

It’s not like on Sex-in-the-City when what’s-her-name with the red hair moved to the other side of town, and all the other what’s-their-names with other colours of hair acted like she was moving to another planet with no shoe stores. (I never actually watched the show, but I think that might have happened. Yes?)

In my world, one person doesn’t just move to the other side of town. No, around here, ALL THE PEOPLE eventually move to ALL THE EVERYWHERE. To all the other sides of the whole planet. And when they do, they leave holes in my life that come in odd shapes and sizes.

This past week, I said goodbye to this lovely lady and her wonderful husband:

For years, we’ve regularly shared life and laughter and (most importantly!) brunch. Now, they’re on the other side of the whole planet and I have a new hole in my life.

This particular hole is shaped like a blueberry pancake. Do you know how hard it is to find new friends to fill such oddly specific shaped gaps in your life? Do you? Of course you do. You know it’s impossible.

So there you have it. The very worst part of living abroad is going through life with holes in your heart shaped like pancakes and zebras and yoghurt tarts and knitting needles and tea cups all the little things that make the people in your life worth knowing.

In the end though, having the privilege of sharing a slice of life with such precious people makes it all worthwhile – just like a new widget on the blog or a Star Wars postal code.

Why do you hate moving? (Or do you love it?) Leave a comment below and share your story. (And let me know that you found your way to my new site. Thanks!)

~~ Like after any move, I’m still unpacking on this new site, so don’t be surprised if I re-arrange the furniture once in a while. And please, don’t be shy to tell me what you think of the changes! ~~