Sunday, December 23, 2007

My Christmas Letter

Under the suggestion of a certain American, who suggested that it would be preferable to receive another mass Christmas letter from me, rather than a unique birch bark card, I did both. I made the cards and I wrote the letter.  For those who addresses I did not have, or were too far flung from Eastern Canada to get the letter in time for Christmas (I didn't finish it until mid-December), I am posting it here and then I'll email all of my favorite people and they can check it out if/when they want. Here's wishing you all peace, joy and love in this season and those that follow.

Season’s Bleatings from the East Coast of Canada

Well, it’s that time of year again - time to trim up the tree, carve the turkey, sing Christmas carols by the fire and wrap presents in pretty paper and ribbons of blue. Sounds so idyllic, doesn’t it? Almost like something out of a timeless Disney movie, starring you and your wonderful life.  Ah, but let’s face it, December is rarely the harmony-filled, tranquil month we all crave. It’s more often a cross between being a contestant on Survivor (The Wal-Mart edition), Jerry Springer-worthy family feuds, and, depending on how many peanut butter balls you consume, a chance to star on next season’s Biggest Loser. 

Phew. It’s enough to make one want to skip Christmas, except, according to John Grisham, that’s easier said then done. So I’m trying a precarious balancing act this year – one in which I celebrate what I believe Christmas is all about (see below for Shantimentalities) and attempt to debunk as much of the commercialism that this season invites as. That’s why you’re all getting personalized pieces of bark from me! 

I suppose it’s time to check out the 2007 Tickle Trunk and see what wonderful memories I’ve packed away over the last year. 

OK, so I welcomed in the New Year on the famous Sydney Harbour, in the company brilliant friends, including Lisa, Sara, Craig, Kelly, Mary, Amo, Shannon, Brett and Peter.  Shortly after I recovered from the obligatory hangover, I flew the Citibank coop, and started trekking around Australia.  Over the next four months, I found myself staying at a number of farms and homes, working minimal hours in exchange for a room, scrumptious meals and the incomparable company of people such as Jo, Seva, Lynn and Janine.

In between farmstays, I checked out Tasmania (read: indulged at the Cadbury chocolate factory) with Sara, toured the world’s largest sand island (Fraser Island), drove along the Great Ocean Road (koala sightings!!), trampled my way through rainforests and soaked up a few beach rays. Sadly, May meant leaving the Land Down Under, which I’d fondly come to call home. On the way back to the Great White North, I thoroughly enjoyed a short sojourn in San Fran, and a slightly longer interlude in Michigan. Yes, Michigan, with its Annual Asparagus Festival and Molson cheaper than you can get it in Canada.  

And then June came and with it a sweet return to the warm embrace of an Island summer, the familiarity of family and old friends, and, well, unemployment. Ah, but that didn’t last more than a few weeks and by Canada Day I had a day job at UPEI! The rest of the summer and fall were wonderfully busy - working out at the gym, writing, volunteering, taking a UPEI course, trying to figure out my next move and applying on scholarships to do grad school. All the while, enjoying the company of old friends and new, and reveling in the moments as they came my way. And that, my dear friends, brings me to today, the 12th of December, 2007. Are you as astonished at the brevity of my recap as I am? Never been one to flaunt my abilities in the area of conciseness. Ahem. 

So, yes, I did a lot of things and went a lot of places, but what really sticks with me are the things I learned; the insights I’ve accumulated over twelve months and three countries. This has been a Year of Magical Learning. Evidently, all that time I spent mucking out horse paddocks, picking up cow paddies, and chasing chickens did more than just build up my sensory resilience. Along the way, here are some of the things I learned (and, yes, it’s a wee bit sentimental):

  • Whether you sleep in a king-size bed or on a single mattress without a box spring matters little; what matters is if you can rest easy at the end of each day.
  • The more you give today, the more you’ll be able to give tomorrow. 
  • There is a reason for everything that happens in your life, and everyone that passes through it.  Let yourself be open to all possibilities. 
  • The past has passed and the future may or may not come. Entrench yourself in the present – it is all you can actually live in.  
  • There is nothing better than sitting around with friends, new or old, eating chocolate, watching the sun set and talking about life. 
  • Perspective is everything.  It should be lost, found, challenged, questioned and redefined as time goes by. If it’s not, ask yourself why. 
  • Time. We all start the year with the same balance in our account and how we choose to spend it is entirely within our own control.   Time, however, is not like money. You can’t earn more than you are given and you can’t get any on loan. So choose how you use your time wisely and you’ll end up with a bank full of amazing memories and friends.
  • People are interesting. Much more so than their Facebook profile might suggest. So enjoy their company - listen to their stories, laugh with them and learn from them.  Most of all, let them know you appreciate them
  • In this journey called life, the only compass you’ll ever need is love. 

And those are just a few of the things I learned this year – from books, from people, from life and from love.   I’m excited about what 2008 holds; I reckon it’s going to be chalk full of more first-times, friendships and fun!  

I wish you all the most wonderful moments in this season and all those that follow. Please give generously of your hugs, smiles and love and you’ll find yourself with an abundance of the same in your life. Thank you for being brilliant – you are in my thoughts, memories and heart.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

When did THAT happen?

Apparently December has arrived. I didn't really take notice until this weekend, when the snow started to fall. And still it comes down, much to my surprise and delight. Yes, that's right, I've discovered that the perks of working at UPEI don't stop at getting first dibs on the leftover food from meetings and getting a 20% discount at the bookstore. Turns out we also get to, on occassion, shout out 'SNOW DAY!" along with all the kids.

So yes, I had a day off today. A gloriously plan-free day, something I've not had in a very long time (note this is opening line to backtrack of what's been going on in life to make me such a slacker-blogger). Right, so life has been extremely hectic as of late. Work itself continues to run along at a relatively decent pace most day, but my after-hours have been monopolized by self-induced, slightly stressful activities such as applying for scholarships to do grad studies, doing contract work for extra $ and experience, and finishing up my webcourse at UPEI. So yes, I may very well find myself in grad school come September, or maybe I'll have enough contract work to keep me busy w/o worries of a day job. Who knows? Right now I am keeping ALL options open. Nothing is out of limits, the possibilities are unlimited. I want to keep it that way for awhile.

In addition to the above, it seemed that November was chalk full of events that I felt obliged to attend. Oh, and I started volunteering with Junior Achievement which pretty much blocks out my Thursday nights until...March. But it's loads of fun and it turns out I absolutely love working with least the eager beaver ones that join things like JA! So, yeah, that's my poor excuse for not posting.

I thought the end of NOvember would spell some relief, with scholarship apps in and my course completed, but it seems I temporarily forgot that December follows November. And apparently there's a big birthday bash on December 25th that I have to get read for. This year I've decided to debunk commercialism as much as possible, so Im making my gifts this year. At least as many as I can before the deadline! Thusfar it's been an enjoyable pursuit, much more so than tramping through malls trying to find things that someone might like enough to at least pretend their excited when they open the gift! Let's face it, most presents are rather forgettable. The most memorable gifts I've ever recieved are the ones that family or friends have made for me.

Anyways, I should be working on those gifts right now. Or sleeping. Or reading Crime & Punishment, which I have to say I am loving so far. Phew. Parties galore this month. Thank goodness I've managed to shed most of my Australia weight just in time for the holidays. Which reminds me - should I be concerned when a random woman in the changing room at the gym comments on how much weight I've lost?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Why People Fall In Love

The following are excerpts from a piece passed on to me by one of my favorite people, Joan Fleming. I don't know who the author is, but wanted to share some of his/her insights about love.

It is a mystery why we fall in love. It is a mystery how it happens. It is a mystery why some love grows and why some love fails.

Just as life itself is more than the sum of the bones and muscles and electrical impulses in the body, love is more than the sum of the interests adn attractions, and commonalities that two people share.

Sometimes, hopefully at least once in your life - the gift of love will come to you in full flower. Take hold of it and celebrate it in all inexpressible beauty. This is the dream we all share. More often, it will come and take hold of you, celebrate you fora brief moment then move on. Too often when this happens, people try to grasp the love and hold it to them, refusing to see that it is a gift taht just as freely moves away.

You need to know this. You need to know that there is no meaning beyond the love itself. You need to treat it wiht kindness. If you find yourself in love with someone who does not love you, be gentle with yourself . There is nothing wrong with you. Love just didn't choose to sit in the other person's heart.

Remember that you don't choose love. Love chooses you. Alll you can really do is accept it for all its mystery when it comes into your life. Feel the way it fills you to overflowing, then reach out and give it away. Give it back to the person who brought it alive in you. Give it to others who deem it poor in spirit. GIve it to the world around you in any way you can.

Love has its time, its own seasosn, its own reason for coming and going. You cannot bribe it or coerce it, or reason it into staying. You canonly embrace it when it arrives and give it away when it comes to you. If you keep your heart open, love will come to visit.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Aging Disgracefully

Tonight, on all Hallow's Eve, I found myself reminiscing about, well, childhood and the annual promise of a pillowcase overflowing with mini chocolate bars, lollipops and bags of chips. Costuming for the night of trick-or-treating was always given the utmost consideration and concentration. In the end, it was usually Mom that put in the most hours, using her creative genius and the sewing machine to turn me into a black cat, angel, leprechaun, gypsy. Once Sara and I were in full costume and makeup, we'd pack up our bags for the night (always hopeful that one would not be enough!) and hop in the old Volvo for our candy excursion. Some years we scoured the countryside and lucked out, with neighbours dumping entire bowls of candy into our cases or rummaging through the pantry until they found canned pop or some other elusive treat that would be bragged about the next day on the playground. Other years we went to Kensington and stripped the streets of Suburbia, counting on getting loot through sheer volume of households covered rather than through generosity at every door. Once curfew hit, we'd head home and dump our bag(s) of treats on the livingroom in two piles. Then we'd methodically organise our loot by candy type - chips in one pile, choclate bars in another, packaged candy in another and, of course, the 'undesirables', which most often included raisins and floss. Finally, we'd start the negotiating/trade process. It's a good thing Sara and I didn't like the same types of candy, because we both left the bargaining table (or floor) believing we'd gotten the sweeter deal. Candy was then consumed in mass quantities and walls were bounced off for days to come.

When did the appeal of this ritual wear out? When did I decide I was too old to dress up and go candy hunting? I'd like to say it was when my sister began refusing to join me, but no matter, at some point I would have resigned myself to that fact that trick-or-treating was not acceptable at my age.

This year I bought Hallowe'en candy for myself, dressed up in a somewhat riske costume, hit up a couple of house parties and drank too much wine. It wasn't nearly as fun as going out on October 31st with my big sister , both of us in costume and freezing our fingers off in the bitter cold of a Canadian autumn, receiving 'oohs' and 'awws' from the adults that opened their doors to us and gave us candy for no particular reason, sorting out our treasures and then begging Mom to let us have more than one for lunch the next day..and every meal thereafter!

It's funny, in the crossover from childhood to adulthood we willingly relinquish so many rituals and beliefs with little more than a short-lived sense of resignation before embracing the rituals of adulthood. We give up planning Barbie weddings, in favor of planning our own;we stop believing in Santa Claus, telling ourselves that there is no magic in this world; we stop painting the sky purple because it's supposed to be blue.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Global Warming...oooh..Sorry, I Mean Climat Change

So I have a TV with 60 channels and I'm watching the Fifth Estate on CBC. Go figure. I haven't watched more than ten hours of t.v. since I got home in June, but I'm glad I flipped it on tonight.

Right, so tonight the topic of discussion is global warming and, more specifically, how big business and government have employed spin doctors to raise doubts about the scientific validity of claims that the Earth is heating up. The Bush administration recieved direction from Frank Luntz, who studies the impact of language on people's reactios. In 2000, Luntz wrote a memo for the Republican party, advising them on how to talk about global warming. Actually he suggested they call it 'Climate Change' because it is less threatening and seems like something that is going to happen over a longer period of time. Someone recently challenged me as to the fact that people aren't using the term global warming anymore (although they actually are in places like Australia..just not in America), implying htat perhaps it was because there wasn't sufficient evidence of global warming. Well, nope, it just looks like the Republican party was actually successful at spinning the term 'climate change'., But, well, a rose by any other name....

Anyways, I think it's 'cute' that this debate is still going on about the existence of global warming, when evidence is taking place every day in the form of catastrophic fires, record droughts, unusually high temperatures, super extreme storms, etc. A couple of years ago, I had a hard time talking about global warming with anyone, becuase most people still wanted to believe it wasn't happening, but now I think the proof is too prevalent for the majority of people to ignore. Those that continue to question it are either looking to get a good night's sleep (read Michael Crichton before heading to bed), or have simply been exposed to an excessive amount of 'Luntz' spin via the media, business and government. This was going to be a rant, but I am too tired, so I am going to sleep instead!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


I'll be the first to admit that my blog is self-censored. Whose isn't? There are simply some subjects that are not for public consumption. But then, if a blog is supposed to be a journal, and you're skipping the real meat of what's going on in your head and heart, well that begs the question - what's the point? Why am I writing a blog that is, for the most part, self-censored and self-centred at the same time?

And the answer, I have come to realise, is that I am self-censoring for ME, moreso than I am for anyone who might be reading this blog. By choosing to journal on a public forum and neglect any private journalling, I am really censoring myself from delving too deeply into my thoughts and feelings. The only time I ever journal privately is when I am travelling for lack of access to the Internet and when I read these pages back, it's damn revealing. And sometimes inspiring. And sometimes embarrassing. But it's all there in ink and for my eyes only.

So where does that leave me with blogging? Well, I still like All Shanadian, it gives me a chance to bore people without having to look into their eyes while I do it. Kidding. Now I am being self-depreciating. Sometimes I blog things that people indicate they found to be insightful or inspiring. Those are the posts where I let my emotions reign free (only the positive ones though!). I also like rereading my blogs to remind myself of what I've done and where I've been. My memory is fading fast with age. So, in the end, I think I will have to continue blogging, but take on the private journal too. All that being said, I *may* decide every once in awhile to blog more candidly than I have in the past. Just so you are forewarned.

Yawn. I am tired. I was tired when I started writing this, and I am tired now. yawn. yawn. yawn.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Gastronomical Overload in Toronto

Is it possible to gain 5 pounds in 5 days? I hope not, but my belly tells me I may very well have accomplished this feat. I look forward to many, many hours at the UPEI gym starting tomorrow.

Thanksgiving 2007 was spent in Toronto with my friend, Andrew. I flew up to TO on Friday evening, after the most hectic week I've had in a VERY long time.

It all started well enough last Saturda with me gratefully accepting Mom & Jim's old computer, and a desk & chair from my newly acquired friend, Ryan. Then on Sunday I arrived home after an afternoon with my Dad, to discover a TV and stand sitting in the livingroom - on loan from the fabulous Patersons. So yeah, I was all hooked up by Sunday night, with my new desktop and 60 channels of TV to flick through. Woohoo!

Monday started out innocently enough, with work somewhat busy, but not overwhelming. Then, somewhere between Monday and Wednesday things started to get a little crazy. To make a long story short, I had to enrol in a UPEI course....which meant I had a month's worth of work to catch up on and no text. This was Thursday's fun little adventure. I'm also in the midst of applying for a couple of scholarship and had to pack and do other things like eat, work out and work. Anyways, in a nutshell - it was a crazy week and I was looking forward to a relaxing long weekend in Toronto.

So...Toronto's been enjoyable, although I do have to admit that I still prefer medium-sized cities, small towns and the countryside to BIG cities. Anyways, Andrew happens to like cooking and baking as much as I do, so we spent a good portion of the weekend in his lavish, massive kitchen cooking up pot roast, a turkey dinner, portobello mushroom stacks, cookies and other things that I can't even remember, but which I know were both sinful and satisfying to the palate.

Did I mention that on Monday, the temperature was a sweltering 36 degree in Toronto?? If that's not global warming, I don't know what is. We ended up at a pumpkin patch farm, where we picked everything except pumpkins - they even had raspberries & freaking OCTOBER! Cooking a turkey dinner in the heat was super fun.

Today we rented a car and headed down to the Niagara region for some wine sampling and sightseeing . I had fun at the wineries, although I wish Andrew hadn't had to be the DD, as it's never as much fun to drink alone. We stopped in Niagara Falls and I couldn't get over how ridiculously tacky it was - seriously, get me on that city planning board, I want to make some changes! Went to the Hershey store -had high expectations, but was completely underwhelmed by the store - namely because of the super high prices. I did, however, love Niagara-on-the-Lake, a much classier, very quaint town. Reminded me a lot of a town in Michigan...right down to the plethora of fudge/chocolate shops.

Yes, yes, I did eat chocolate and candy this weekend -waaaaay too much of it. Andrew doesn't believe that I resist such foods at home, he's convinced I'm addicted to candy. I've given up trying to convince him otherwise - every time he sees me, I am celebrating a special occassion (eg. birthday Nibs!) or on vacation.... And it's not entirely me fault - I mean, he was the one who mentioned the Annual Candyland event at the Runway 224 bar on Saturday night. I was pumped, because the ads said the whole bar would be covered in candy & chocolate. When we arrived to discover four tiny piles of candy at each of the four corners of the rectangular bar, I have to admit I was truly disappointed. Luckily, we hadn't paid the $15 cover charge, or my disappointment 'may' have turned into a stronger feeling. As it was, we simply left early and found ourselves in the midst of an extremely heavy downpour. Good grief, weather in Toronto is crazy.

I am tired and have to fly tomorrow. I also have work to do. Boo. Good night.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

I Had Something To Say But Now I Forget What It Was

Oh right. Now I remember. How could I forget? It was yesterday, but still . . .


Some might say I'm cruel to mention both her age and the fact that she is older, but what else are little sisters for? Really though, as we both creep up in age, the four year gap doesn't seem nearly as big as it was when I was say, 11 and Sahra was 15. Oh boy, those were interesting times. least I think they were. I find my childhood memories very fuzzy, for no particular reason. At least Sahra has a definitive reason for her lack of early memories (i.e. skull fracture at 17 from horse accident)

Anyways, as each year passes I become more grateful that I do have a sibling and a kind, intelligent, highly sarcastic, interesting one at that. Yay to sisters!

So, in other news, I went to Scottish Dance class last night. I'd been before, just after returning from my stint in Scotland, but had to drop them after a few weeks due to other obligations. It was great fun and I was glad to have company this time from Ms. Keri. I really think, in terms of uplifting, energizing things one can do for oneself, dancing ranks right up there with eating chocolate, savoring a glass of wine and watching the sunset with someone you love. There's just something about moving to music.

Tonight I am heading over to the Student Centre to join in celebrations for Co-op Education's 10 Year Anniversary - looking forward to seeing some familiar faces and enjoying the platters of free food. I can't help but be enticed by free food, especially this week because my budget is going to be blown after I get a haircut/highlights this evening and there are still two days to get through without cash.

I have other things to report, but must get back to work as lunch is over.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

It Seems Logical To Me

A few days ago I read something that I intuitively knew to be true, but which came as quite a revealation considering how often people deny it. What I read is this:

Every single decision we make (or don't make) is emotion-drive. Not 50% or 90%, but 100% of the choices we make are directed by one of two emotions: fear or desire. And most of the time, most people let their fear direct their choices.

Wow. OK, maybe this seems elementary to some and unthinkable to others.

For me, it seems like such an obvious truth, but this is because I don't do well at containing my desires and will generally follow them to the ends of the Earth.

I had become convinced by others there is an alternative to letting emotions drive your decisions and it is called logic. This seemed to make sense at a theoretical level, but never having found myself able to completely avoid the paramount importance of m heart in making decisions, I figured I was just some sort of anomaly that lacked 'Logcal Decision-Making' DNA.

But maybe I'm not DNA devoid. Maybe logic is really just a validation for fear-based decisions. I mean, let's face it, no one wants to admit they are afraid to take a chance, to make a leap that could lead to failure, to leave their comfort zone. Admitting to fear is something we are supposed to be ashamed of. It apparently shows weakness of character. And so, when we're afraid to do something, say something, be someone, we disguise our decisions to 'stay the course' as being those of logic without consultation of the heart. Really, though, they are decisions made in denial of desires and compliance with fear. Most of the time it's not even a conscious thing - most of the time the fear is so numbing that we don't even realise that it is, indeed, the emotion that is the basis of our choice.

I don't know if the above is a logical deduction of what logic is, but it kind of makes sense to me!

In other news, there are no people left on the Island. Labour Day has come and gone and with it went all the fanny packs and license plates 'from away'. The Farmer's Market is no longer open on Wednesdays and there are 'Sale' signs at all the souvenir shops. Anne & Gilbert are in love and off on their honeymoon. The fall leaves are starting to carpet the ground and sweaters are now the wooly kind and not the drenched co-workers whose offices had no A/C.

I am following a budget these days and it's going remarkably well. It turns out I don't spend much money on entertainment or other things, just on food. I can't help it - eating healthy is an investment that I am willing to make. I carry over the cash I don't spend from each week, so it's cumulative. At the end of a four week period, I'll put aside what I've not spent and either invest it or eventually treat myself to an extravagence. Whatever I save in September will be going towards my five day trip to Toronto in October. So that begs the question - do I get highlights with my haircut or save the money so I can have a fine dining experience in the big city sans nicely coiffed and colourful hair? And, for the record, coiffed is, indeed, a word that is in the dictionary.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays, is coming to a close. In its place we are entering a period of consequence - Winston Churchill

Destiny may lead you to the path, but it's up to you to do the rest.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Fantastic Plastic Flowers

I'm starting to think I prefer the lifestyle that can be maintained via a non-conventional employment arrangement which would involve me waking up when I want to, going outside to muck out the horse stables or milk the cows or whatever for a few hours, then spending the rest of the day as I wish. No cheque, but three yummy meals prepared for me and a bed to sleep in. Yes, I think I am having Help Exchange withdrawal symptoms. I truly miss having free time each and every day to simply think about life, enjoy the scenery and engage in interesting conversations with people who are actively living, rather than just going through the grind.

I daresay getting through the first week of 'Back to School' might have something to do with my nostalgia. Not that I mind being super busy at work, but add to that my exercising plan, cooking every meal, having a social life and trying to juggle othter commitments, and you've got yourself one very wiped out Shanadian.

And this was only a four-day work week!

Anyways, life continues and I haven't have time to start plotting my next move. but I will have to v. soon if I intend to apply for any scholarships on the chance that I apply to do my Masters degree.

I haven't had any time to think about my Escape to Toronto in October. That's a lie. I did do a quick google search to determine what candy stores I will have to check out (you know, in case I decide to open a LolliShop someday, I'll have done my research..). ANd I didn't realise, but Niagra Falls is only 1.5 hours away, and Andrew seems to think it'd be a great day trip that should include a tour of the wineries in the region. WOOOHOOO!!! I can't say I've been the biggest fan of Toronto based on my previous visits, but I am sure it'll be a fab time given the company of Andrew, whose a bonafide resident, for the moment anyways! It didn't occur to me until AFTER I booked the ticket that by choosing to spend Thanksgiving in Toronto, I would be forgoing the option of spending it here with family. Booo :( WHy can't I be in two places at once?

I had a fantastic time going out on the town Friday night. Who would've thunk it- a good time im Ch'town and I wasn't even drinking. I was dancing and sweating though! Originally Jen & I were meant to go to the drive-in, but then she suggested going to Baba's Lounge to hear DJ Skratch Bastid playing. Well, I'm not a huge fan of DJs, but thought it had more 'fun' potential than the drive-in. No offence to Jen, but drive-in theatre is sooooo much more fun when you're not actually watching much of the movie and, well, that would've required different company.

This week I am going to give blood for the first time. I want to know what my blood type is and if I am iron deficient. SHould be fun, considering how much I love needles and the such.

On Wednesday I am going to a Toastmasters event with Mom, where the guest speaker is going to talk about Climate Change - he's one of only two people in Atlantic Canada that has been assigned to spread Al Gore's message. Mostly I'm just interested in maybe joining Toastmasters, but it's cool that the speaker will be talking about something that interests me and not about potato crops or car racing.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

In Labour

"So I went to a prenatal class this week."

I have to say, when I first made this remark to Jen & Joan over lunch at the Farmer's Market, I wasn't even thinking about how odd this might sound. Joan just nodded her head, waiting for me to continue, but Jen's jaw dropped and she looked extremely confused "Am I missing something?' she asked.

A legitimate question given that 1) I had not made any announcements regarding the carrying of child 2) I don't have a partner 3) I am losing weight not gaining it! On the other hand...I am living on PEI and I swear, just having that status alone could result in one acquiring 'pregnant' status.

Anyways, as it turns out I'm not pregnant and I went to the prenatal class to learn more about the programs offered by CHANCES, an early childhood educaiton/develpoment centre that is doing amazing work on the Island to provide children and new parents with the best start and support possible.

The topic of this particular class was 'Comfort Practices For Labour/Birthing'. A bit of an oxymoron in my opinion, but it was certainly an interesting and informative class. I had no idea that squatting was considered an excellent positoin for giving birth. I have to say though, I was not necessarily comforted by the class and am thankful that at this point in time I am not carrying anything aside from a bit of extra weight.

It's Labour Day weekend. Woohoo, a whole three days off!! I'm excited, becuase I have NOTHING planned for the next tow days. I think I need it. I've been run off my feetover the past month and it's done absolutely nothing for my stateof mind - I'd go so far as to say I find myself being more easily agitated than usual. And i can't think properly. Never a good sign.

Today I moved into my new place adn I reckon this will do much to calm my nerves. The roommates are much more to my liking - the level of maturity is much higher and the place,in turn, is much cleaner and quieter. I am living with Dan, Rana's future husband; Dorothe,a French girl that is here as a teaching assistanat; and Alison, who is a Nursing student.

Yesterday was my last day at my old place and I came home after work, having packed all of my stuff the day before except the food in the fridge,to discover two older women in teh kitchen dumping everything in the garbage. They'd tossed about half of my food in the garbage inclding blueberries, my homemade flaxseed muffisn (20!) and my veggie dogs. I kind of blew a gasket because they were very unapologetic suggesting I should have come earlier. Then one of them accused me of having made a mess in the kitchen and wasn't happy when I indicated it was actually a mess left from a party her daughter had two days prior. Oh dear me. I was shocked at the lack of respect she gave me, and am so glad to be out of there.

At the beginning of the week, Jimmy was supposed to come visit me at 6.000 and we were going ot see a movie and catch up since it's been over an year since we saw each oher. Wel, Jimmy never showed and, in going with teh agitation theme, I can't say I was particularly impressed when he called four hours later with the lamest excuse ever (basically, even though he didn't say it, he had had a number of drinks at a birthday funciton and forgotten about our date. SO I told him he could make it up by coming over on Wednesday. Well,didn't he show up with a bouquet of floweres and a coupon for a 30 minute massage at Radiant Reflections. Now if only every stand -up was so well compensated!!

On Thursday night I went to a potluck at Keri's place... or should I say Prof. Don Wagner's. She's got the best housesitting gig ever. No animals to look aftera nd a gorgeous house! Anywas, I made Banoffee Pie and it was sooooooo delicious, but sinfully sweet.

Amazingly, my weight is still dropping and clothes are starting to feel a lot looser...old clothes are even starting to fit again!

I'm goin to go read now. I just came back from seeing Sicko at City Cinemas. Interesting stuff - mostly entertaining I love how there's always a Canadian component in his films!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Off Island

This weekend past I went to Halifax with Rana to shop for wedding dresses (hers not mine!) It was nice to get off the Island, despite the rainy weather and my horrible navigation skills, which found us lost many times over the three day trip. Upon Rana's insistence we had dinner at Lonestar one night. Now I am not a fan of chain restaurants, but I will give Rana this...the fajitas were pretty good. What was better, however, was our visit to Freak Lunchbox, where candy is all that lines the walls.

On Saturday we went to three wedding dress shops and Rana tried on a number of dresses while I slyly took pictures with my digital while hiding behind curtains. Until we learned that it's only at Caseley's on PEI that they don't let you take pictures. After that I took a gazillion pictures, but also found time to try a couple of dresses on!

After returning to PEI, I decided I will need another break from the fast-paced, crazy lifestyle here so I booked a flight to Toronto in October.I'll be shacking up with Shackleford and enjoying the delights of Toronto and surrounding areas as a tourist. A tourist with no money, but a tourist nonetheless...

So YAY to seat sales and friends who live in places that are worthy of visiting!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Gold Cups & Saucers

Thanks to the popularity of horse racin, gambling and floating advertisements, I have a day off work tomorrow!! Yes, that's right folks, it's the Gold Cup & Saucer parade tomorrw morning - rain or shine. Such an important event here on PEI that we get it off instead of August 6th, which the rest of the provinces get off as a civic holiday. Anyways, I'm ditching the parade in favor of working out and sleeping in. Then it's off to Halifax. Woohoo - a roadtrip and my first time off PEI since I came back from Oz in Jun!! I'm excited to say the least, although I'm not sure that's coming across because I'm bloody tired right now.

I jus spent the evening enjoying dinner and dessert with Keri, Sherilyn and Dawn in honour of Dawn's farewell event - although I managed to abstain from ordering either dinner or dessert and stuck with Diet Pepsi. Having somehow managed to maintain my weight over the past week of birthday gluttony taken to a new level, I am not in a position to test the kindness of the weigh-in gods. Anyways it was a lovely evening, but it's always sad to say goodbye to a person that you really enjoy the company of and Dawn was definitely in that category.

Backtracking a little bit - spent the weekend milking my birthday for all I could. On Friday I 'may' have skipped out of work a little early in order to join the family on Argyle Shore where Mark & Rita had rented a cottage for the week. It was a gorgeous day - perfect for taking pictures with my new DIGITAL CAMERA!!! I am eternally grateful for Jim's addicition to technology:) Anyways, the evening was enjoyed in the compnay of family. On Saturday I treated myself to - get this - a step class down at my old gym. Yes, I am masochistic. Anyways, rest of the day was spent cleaning the house so that I could play hostess to my potluck birthday party in a sparkling venue. A grand night was had by all who were enteretained by my willingness to tell tales that I would not normally relate were I not completely induced by red wine and a game of Truth or Dare, which also found me eating from a plate of nibs that were on the floor sans hands. Oh dear.

Anyways, it was great to see some friends I'd not seen in a while, including Christine and Andrew - who wins a prize for being the friend who travelled the farthest JUST for my birthday party and not at all to help his mom pack and move to Vancouver...Right, so he may win the prize of hosting me when I fly up to Toronto this fall!!

Sunday I was very very tired and not at all hungover. Adam and I went to Cora's for breakfast/future heart attacks. It was alright, but seriosly breakfast is overrated as a meal. Dinner and dessert is where it's at. Speaking of dinners - Mom made teh most fantabulous one for me on Sunday night- salmon steaks, burgeres, new potatoes, garden salad and the MOST DELICIOUS Raspberry Pie EVER!!! Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!!

Monday night I hung out with Andrew again and ate another piece of pie. Seroulsy life doesn't get much better than that - good company and good food.

Tuesday I made dinner for my dad and he gave me birthday presents. I am now the proud owner of a pair of stylish rubber boots amongst other things...

I now retired to bed, knowing that the weekend holds many exciting adventures since it will be enjoyed in the metropolis of Halifax where Costco and Freak Lunchbox are not just dreams, they are realities. Oh,and my sister is fabulous!!! So is Rowan Thunder!!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The Unusual Suspects

I was going to write a venting blog. I haven't done that in a long time. Mostly because I've been very content with life, especially in the last year. Well, the past two weeks have been wearing on me... I wish I could say I don't know why, that it must be something innocuous like the heat or my horomonmes or my impending birthday, but it's not. It's Men. Details aside, I've basically realised that I'm very very close to letting history repeat itself - the lovely old cycle that each of us creates and carries out over and over again. Unless we recognise it in time and make a conscious decision to avoid repetitive, self-destructive ways. And that is where I am right now. I'm walking the line.

Therapy amounted to me making Chocolate Chip COokies (not eating them) and dancing to as many crazy tunes as possible. And being alone.

I'm reading Harry Potter - that's great therapy as well.

On the weekend I went to the Gallant/Wedge family reunion - it was great to see all sorts of relatives I had never met and ones I'd not seen in ages. I'd forgotten how many American relatives I have - hello Boston! So, being one of the youngest there (aside from the little kids), and one of only two cousins that isn't married/engaged, I was getting questions about my 'status' left & right. At one point I was sitting with my sister and Dad, relating how I kept being asked whether I was married. In response my dad asked if I was being asked by guys or girls, insinuating that if it were men, that they were asking because thye were interested in me. I kindly reminded him that we were at a family reunion and I wasn't quite THAT desperate yet. he looked only slightly embarassed.

To be honest, i was a bit disappointed wiht teh tameness of the reunion. I guess Nan and Aunt Mill are 87 & 90 respectively, but I was hoping for a little crazy sister act. Would it have been too much to expect some of the Courtneys to jump up on the tables and start dancing. I guess I have to accept the fact that my family is not as crazy as I'd imagined and it's just my Dad who can retain that title without fail.

After the family reunion, I hopped over to Argyle Shore (since I have no car, I've been using a pogo stick to get around the countryside)to hang out with Mom, Jim & the Sampson clan - namely Uncle Mark, Aunt Rita, Sharon and her three brilliant kids. Every time I get to hang out with them I really really want to be a Mom. All was good until the crazy lightening storms put the power out permanently. thank good ness Long Creek was with power. I could still read Harry - v. important.

Sunday I can't even remember what I did, but it was nice to be in the midst of family. It turns out I have an awesome immediate and extended family.

K -I have to go put cookies away and not eat them. This wil be difficult but I willn persevere.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Summer...At Last!!

Summer came late to PEI this year (I will refrain from commenting on the obvious reason for screwed up seasons and the such..), but it FINALLY arrived and in a big way. The past week has been FULL of sunshine and high temps (for East Coast Canada anyways!)

I heart my mountain bike, it's been a fabulous way to get around town since I moved in to Carvell Court and ceased constant reliance on using Mom & Jim's cars to get around. I find myself constantly impressed with how quickly I can get to places. It's so easy to just hop on the bike and roll on. Prime parking and no worries about being stuck in long lines at the lights. I have only two big beefs with the whole biking thing. Firstly, given my five-year relationship with a hairstyle that is not conducive to helmet-wearing, I find myself torn between protecting my vanity and protecting the contents of my head. Secondly, when it rains or gets dark I kind of miss having a car. Right now it's not a problem, but come winter and early nightfall I may have to find some other mode of transport...

The last week has been pretty busy. On Sunday I picked strawberries then went to the movies with my dad. Monday I made the hottest THai chicken curry I've ever had.

Tuesday I baked cakes - Carrot cake with cream cheese icing and chocolate cake with chocolate icing. They were for birthday celebrations at work and seemed to be recieved very well. Dawn even suggested I try selling Carrot Cake muffins at the Farmer's Market. I reckon my weight loss would not continue if I started spending more time in the kitchen, but we shall see, maybe I'll go all entrepreneurial with my sweets at some point - enough people have told me I should!

Wednesday I went to see Hairspray. What an awesome, uplifting film!! I guess I'm a sucker for any movie with song and dance, especially one that's set in the sixties.

Thursday I joined Keri & Dawn at the Charlottetown Driving Park for some exciting Harness Racing and betting. I only got there for the last race and lost $5.00. Sadly it wasn't like the Sydney Cup races, where I was treated to all you can drink booze and all you can eat food for an entire afternoon...The more I think about it, the more it becomes obvious why I gained weight in Oz...

Friday was fabulous. After work Adam picked me up and we went to Brackley Beach, specifically Robinson's Point, where there was no one else on the beach. Just us, a bottle of spiced rum, a cooler full of ice and a bowl of fresh pineapple. After watching an amazing sunset, we headed back into town for dinner at Chez Shannon's and while we were eating, a cat wandered in through the kitchen window. A cat that did not belong to the household. I tried to pick it up but it hissed at me, then it hissed at Adam then it realised it wasn't welcome and left the same way it came in. I am embarrassed to admit that we decided to head out for some dancing and ended up at the VU. Now, to be fair, we were planning to go to the much more classy Piazza Joe's, but it was shut down. So yeah, wow, the VU is something else.....

Saturday I picked Dawn up and we headed East, taking a nice drive up to St. Peter's Bay, where we walked along the beach then did a bit of shopping. Eventually we went to Mount Stewart, where we had dinner reservations at the Trailside Cafe. Nathan Wiley was playing at the cafe, so I thought it would be a brilliant chance for Dawn to enjoy some local music. It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

Wow. I have to write a list of my plans for the next few weeks, I don't know how I could have forgotten how busy it gets on PEI in the summer..So excuse me, while I write my little list, which is really more for myself than for anyone's enjoyment. Unless you enjoy lists, in which case, enjoy away.

Tuesday - CHANCES (5.30 - 6.30) and Short Films at City Cinema (7.00 - free!)
Wednesday - Drinks w/Ryan et al at Fishbones maybe?
Thursday - Meet w/al for drinks/trivia at Churchill Arms (tentative)
Friday - Family Reunion Meet & Greet in S'side
Saturday - Family Reunion BBQ at Cabot Park
Sunday - Day/evening at Mark & Rita's cottage

Wednesday (Aug 8) - Shawn's Strawberry Social
Thursday (Aug 9) - Ceilidh at Poole's Corner w/Cynthia and Dawn (tentative)
Friday (aug 10) - birthday celebrations & Andrews arrives!
Saturday - birthday celebrations w/family
Sunday - more Andrew time or drive up West w/ Dawn

Thursday (Aug 16) - Farewell Drinks for Dawn
Friday (aug 17)- NO WORK and Parade Day
Saturday (Aug 18) - Roadtrip to Halifax w/Rana

Thursday, July 26, 2007


OK, so anyone who knows me well, knows I am addicted to personality tests, most specifically the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator Test. It turns out that the reason this stuff intrigues me so much is because I am an ENFJ Personality type. I know some people dismiss the significance of these things (probably in part because of their personality type!), but I've found it to be useful in understanding myself, developing my 'weaker' areas and in understanding my relationships with other people/personality tests.

Here are snip-its about my ENFJ Personality Type:

The Idealists called Teachers are abstract in their thought and speech, cooperative in their style of achieving goals, and directive and expressive in their interpersonal relations

Teachers expect the very best of those around them, and this expectation, usually expressed as enthusiastic encouragement, motivates action in others and the desire to live up to their expectations. Teachers have the charming characteristic of taking for granted that their expectations will be met, their implicit commands obeyed, never doubting that people will want to do what they suggest.

The Teachers are found in no more than 2 or 3 percent of the population. They prefer to plan both work and social engagements ahead of time and tend to be absolutely reliable in honoring these commitments. At the same time, Teachers are very much at home in complex situations which require the juggling of much data with little pre-planning. In much the same way, Teachers value harmonious human relations about all else, can handle people with charm and concern, and are usually popular wherever they are.

Teachers can overwhelm their loved ones with their exuberance, and with their Pygmalion presumption that everyone wants to be helped along the path of self-discovery. Then, when their loved ones either resist their pressure or fail to meet their idealistic expectations, Teachers can feel frustrated, disillusioned, or even betrayed by the persons they care most about.

Oh dear me - I want to laugh. Hahaha. I am off the races now - the harness races that is!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

I Do I Do I Do

If you haven't seen Muriel's Wedding, put your best slippers on, slip out to the closest video store and get yourself a copy. I guarantee you'll love it. If nothing else you'll have a newfound appreciation for ABBA.

Is it just me or is EVERYONE getting engaged/married/preggers??? Seriously,. I think I've been kidding myself that it's only because I'm back on PEI that I find myself surrounded by people that are getting hitched. The fact is it has more to do with me and my ripening of age. Sigh. I guess I have to face it - I am mere days away from turning 27, which incidentally is the average age that a woman in the UK gets married these days. It's a good thing I'm not in England then isn't it? I mean, I might feel a bit spinster like.

This whole tying the knot thing... I've though more about it this year than in all the previous years combined. I suppose this is probably related to my age, but it's also because I consciously decided to put a huge love affair on hiatus. That's right, the love affair I've had Mr. Travel is officially 'on a break. Mr Travel was a brilliant companion and I've nothing but the best things to say about him, but I just think we need a break from each other. I'm currently dating Mr. Career and Mr. Gym. they're both becoming pretty serious commitments. Maybe I'll eventually marry one of them. We shall see.

Anyways, enough chat of that. Time for a quick rundown of life as I get settled back on PEI (again, I emphasis that I am only settling for a limited time and am already being convinced by) an unnamed certain someone that moving to San Fran is an attractive option for the future):

Living in the big city now. Shacked up in a 6-bed house for the next six weeks and sharing with two gals. The rent is cheap and it's a ten minute walk from UPEI,Mr. Gym and the grocery store. Could it get any better?

Finally had a FABulous weekend on PEI. To start, the weather was brilliant- sunshine and warm temps. On Friday I went out with a whole crew of friends with Arkansas, Michigan, Ontario, Nova Scotia and PEI representing. Oh how I love people 'from away'! We went down to Victoria Row for drinks, then 42nd Street for more drinks then (gag) Peake's Quay for a sample of the amazing nightclub options available on PEI. Saturday I moved into my new place,then ironically decided to go visit Mom & Jim and stay over at their house. Sara came to visit on Sunday and we had a lovely relaxing day.

A very sad thing happened - Jim found Smudgie, who'd been missing for a few days, injured and lying in a ditch. They took him to the vet and he had to be put down. I'll miss his meowing and prowling. I know Mom & Jim will miss him a lot, but he had a wonderful cat life in Long Creek and that was because they took him home from the Humane Society and gave him free reign to live life as cat should.

I registered for a university course. It's not until the new year, but I'm excited because it's a course in Small Business Management and, well, that's where I'm heading.

Been busy at my UPEI job - the days fly by. My other jobs are keeping me busy enough in the evening - one in particular which involves proposal writing.

Hmmm. I guess that's about it. Wow. It seems like I'm crazy busy but when I blog it out, it doesn't sound quite so overwhelming. I do have a lot of things planned up for the summer, which I think it part of the reason I feel flat out - between family reunions, friends from away visiting, birthdays (OK, just one, but it's mine!) and roadtrips, I'm starting to think I might actually have to get a day planner..... nah. where would the fun in that be?

I'm tired. Time to sleep.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

For some reason Blogger doesn't want me to title this post. That's OK by me, I'm happy to be titleless!

So..I've been back on PEI for four whole weeks now. Wow, a whole month and I've managed not to go stir crazy. I suppose this is namely due to the fact that I've been spending all my time job-hunting, working out and looking for a place to live.

My investment in the first two has paid off brilliantly. I somehow managed to land myself a day job, as well as two contract positions doing interesting/challenging things that promise to keep my brain somewhat occupied. I've also managed to lose some weight already and am planning to keep that trend on the downward!

As for finding a place to live, well that's not quite come to fruition yet, but it will soon enough and then I'll have to face the fact that I am LIVING on PEI again. Since I first left for Ireland back in '03, I've never returned home with the intention of staying, so this is all just a little bit new and intimidating for me, but I am 100% sure that the next year will be brilliant and then, well, then we shall see what life holds in 2008. To be honest, I'm already 'kind of' planning to pack my bags and head somewhere. No idea where, but that will become clear. THen again, planning the future is never a particularly reliable thing.

Hmmm...OK, so yeah life's been mostly work, working out and working on a place to live. It's all fun and games. Last night I went out with Adam to 42nd Street Lounge. We had great conversations as usual and I tried a Baha Beach Bum, but it wasn't like I remembered. Charlottetown was eerily quiet. The rest of the summer is promising to be full of fun and visits from away - first up is Sister Sara next weekend, then Rae, then Sara & Rowan again, then Andrew, then Jimmy, then...well, who knows?!? Woohoo - summmer on PEI!

Saturday, June 30, 2007

A Sober Blog

You know what really sucks about cutting out alcohol completely? When you have the urge, for the first time since the birth of your blog, to write a drunken post and you just can't. You know the kind I'm talking about - the one where you rant and ramble on and say things you would never think of writing in a sober state, and yet the words, the sentence, seem to flow from your fingers effortlessly.

You have an imaginary conversation with someone that you will probably never have in real life and even if you did, it would most certainly be a private affair. Yet it all seems to make sense in you fuzzy wine-induced state - this blogging what's on your mind and in your heart. You wax philisophical about everything from the importance of daily flossing to questions of our existence. And then you relate a story of such hilarity that you literally fall off your chair in fits of laughter as you are writing it.

Mind you, I can only imagine this scenario because this is indeed the first time I've ever desired to write such a post. And yet I can't, because I am sober and will be for the forseeable future. So instead I will write a blog post in my current stat, which is, sadly 'very tired and smelling of campfire smoke'.

This is where I am right now - I love life. I love the universe. I love love. Good things are happening and I'm excited. This whole 'follow your heart' philosophy, it really works - and I'm not just talking about one area of life here, I'm talking about the whole gambit. If you feel a tug, don't ignore it. It's your soul speaking to you. Don't let your own thoughts inhibit you. It's like the multiple choice tests - 90% of the time, your first gut reaction/intuition is the 'best' answer. Think about it too much and you might make the 'not so great' choice. I say best and not best, because this is an analogy and while tests have right and wrong answers, in life things are never quite that black and white.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Help Exchange - Jump On Board!

While I was in Australia I went 'backpacking' around the country for 110 days. I couldn't afford to do this even as a budget traveller staying at hostels and eating McDonald's (shudder), and, to be honest, I couldn't bear the thought of spending three and a half months moving from bunk bed to bunk bed, sharing a room with strangers every night and, very likely, some hungry bed bugs. I had a choice to make - I could cut my travel days down to about 35 and give it a go on the ol hostel scene, which I'd already done in Europe OR I could find a way to stretch my budget, a way to get through 80 of those 110 days without spending any money.

A quick Google search led me to the answer I'd been seeking:, also known as Help ExChange.

'Help Exchange is an online listing of host organic farms, non-organic farms, farmstays, homestays, ranches, lodges, B&B, inns, backpackers hostels and even sailing boats who invite volunteer helpers to stay with them short-term in exchange for food and accommodation (board and lodging).'

The primary purpose of the exchange is a cultural one, with travellers having the chance to meet locals and gain experience, while the hosts have a chance to learn about other cultures while also recieving help in their daily activities.

I stayed at 8 different places while I travelled around Australia and I can't even begin to explain how invaluable it was. The work was fair and I did some fun things like milking a cow, making preserves, cooking dinners, and looking after horses. I was also put up in some lovely homes and fed some delicious meals...and made a few myself, BUT by far, the greatest value of this exchange was in meeting some absolutely brilliant people whose wisdom and knowledge have had a resounding impact on me.

For the hosts, as well, I believe the exchanges are beneficial. Helpers that come to visit are often, themselves, full of knowledge and insights they can pass on to their hosts. Some have special skills, such as carpentry or horse care, which can be really useful to the host. In any case, from what I gathered, Help Exchanges are mutually beneficial, which is, I suppose, why they are still happenning!

Right, so here I am back in Canada and thinking to myself - I wish more people in North America knew about this network. The site does provide networks for both Canada and the States, but there aren't many hosts listed. I can think of some reasons why this is the case, but I still think there is huge potential for this network to expand in Canada and the States.

For those concerned about their security or safety, well there is a 'reviews' section, in which helpers can post their reviewsof hosts and vice versa. I rarely found any negative reviews, but when I did I took them seriously. All said and done, the world is full of good people and the chances of finding yourself in an unsafe situation are extremely small - common sense speaks volumes when you're travelling in any case!

You don't have to be a farmer to host a helper - the majority of places I stayed were just homes where the family needed a bit of help doing this or that. I spent four hours a day cleaning walls and countertops at one place, I made crepes for dinner at another and hauled tree branches from one yard to another in yet another place.

So, I suppose what I am saying is: check this site out! Maybe you would like to have some helpers come to you, maybe you know someone else who needs help, maybe you are travelling yourself soon.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Hmmm. I'm Drawing a Blank Here ____________

Some VERY Random Thoughts of the Day:

So here I am back 'home' on PEI . Somehow I forgot how beautiful this island is during the summer months. I have to say, even after living in Europe and Australia, this little island on the East Coast of Canada still gives me the goosebump. My dad and I were driving down through Stanley Bridge this afternoon and I commented on how gorgeous it was. He seemed surprised, asking if I thought so even after all the travelling I've done. Well, the answer is an emphatic YES. And there's more to this Island than its beauty, there's a certain character to it that I can't find the words to describe, but which is both invigorating and calming at the same time.

I suppose sometimes we don't or can't appreciate the true brillance of something until we are in its absence. Luckily, we always have the opportunity to return.


At the moment my mind is churning around a lot. I have so many things to think about and do - find employment, explore entrepreneurial ventures, focus on my health/nutrition, catch up with friends, start looking for a place to live in Ch'town, figure out where I am going and why, look at my finances, etc.

And yet I find my mind wandering. A lot. It wanders in one direction only. At least I am a consistent wanderer.

I need it to stop wandering - it is consuming too much of my time and energy. I blame my heart. My heart blames my head. It's all very circular and uninteresting to the rest of you, so I digress.


There are so many new things in Charlottetown since I left. Oooh a new intersection and a Boston Pizza. We are moving up in the world. There are also a few new bars and restaurants in town that might actually be worth checking out....once I am in Stage 3 of my Lifewise plan, where I can eat more than just chicken, fish and tofu.

I am genuinely excited to go to Blues night at the Maple Grille. PEI entertainment in the summer rocks. I was on Victoria Row Saturday night and was pleasantly surprised when a jazz band started up just as the sun was starting to fall. It would have been very romantic aside from that fact that I was with Schemida. But at least I was in good company.


I have four weddings to attend next summer. Hopefully no funerals. I refer to the film,in case you think I am just being morbid. Anyways, so my big sis is tying the knot with Mr. Thunder and they are having and Island wedding. Three of my friends are also getting marrie in various locations and to men/women with last names that are not nearly as interesting as Rowan Thunder's, but who are brilliant people nonetheless.


I miss my Australia friends. I think they should all come visit me on PEI. Or we could meet halfway - say in Hawaii.


I want to work out at the gym but I can't afford a gym membership yet. Instead I am jogging 4 k a day, doing step for half an hour and lifting weights for another 30 minutes. That's about 90 minutes of my day dedicated to feeling better, being healthier and looking more like I did before I left Canada.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Home At Last

I took the ferry to PEI for the first time since the bridge opened back in '97. It was a brilliant way to come home - waves lapping gently against the boat, the white sunlight streaking its way through the heavily hung gray clouds and, of course, the ruddy red cliffs greeting us with open arms. It was a sweet way to return to my roots.

Originally I was planning to take the shuttle back to the Island, but Patrick saved me from that horrible fate by deciding to head to Halifax for a weekend of couchsurfing & partying. He had the company of two travellers - Sebastian, from Romania and hitchiker Dave, from the UK. Hitchiker Dave made it from Calgary to PEI in a mere four days. That is impressive.

Friday afternoon the guys rocked up at my sister's place and after a brief visit, we hightailed it to Halifax for a couchsurfing shindig, picking up Natasha on the way. I was soooo happy to see both Patrick and Natasha, as they are both fellow wanderlusts who haven't fallen into the whole 'hatch, match & dispatch' mentality that seems so prevalent on PEI. After the couchsurfing shindig, Tash & I retired to her place on the navy base, intending to have an early night, but I had already indulged in too much alcohol and at around midnight insisted that we hit a pub in town so we went to a brilliant Irish place on Barrington and I kicked up my heels like I haven't for ages. It felt great! Eventually, the DJ handed the reins over to The Boys Next Door, whom I've been trying to see for ages. Yay! But seriously, why do people keep telling me I look like Betty Boop?

On Saturday Sahra, Tash, Schemida and I headed to the farmer's market, which would have been thoroughly enjoyable if I'd had more sleep and less wine the night before. Well, in any case we then made our way to the Greek Fest, where we enjoyed some delicious souvlaki and pastries, and watched little Greek kids dance in a circle.

Eventually Sahra, Schemida and I made our way to the public gardens. It ended up being prom day, so there were loads of high school kids decked out to the nines getting their pictures taken. Some of the dresses were breathtakingly beautiful - I think Sahra might have gotten a few ideas for her wedding dress. I, meanwhile, found myself admiring one or two of the men who were wearing forties style hats. So very nice.

My heart is tugging. I need some distractions. It's a good thing I am back home - job-hunting, apartment-hunting, working out and catching up with friends/family should provide almost enough in this regard.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Stranger Than Shannon

It's 11.39 a.m, I just woke up to find myself snuggled up on my sister's couch with two black cats perched upon the living room furniture (one enjoying the softness of my bath towel), watching my every move as I groggily made my way to the bathroom.

That's when I finally woke up.

I am back in Canada. The Australian chapter of my life is closed. My interlude in Michigan has come and gone. I'm 26 years old. I have a backpack and a suitcase full of clothes, an ancient Toshiba laptop and some random furniture packed away at my parents' place from university days. I'm unemployed and basically homeless. My bank account is fast dwindling, thanks to student loans and credit cards used to finance my explorations of Europe and Australia.

It would seem that I have nothing, and yet I feel as though I have everything.

I've decided to hang up my travelling shoes for a couple of years, but it feels like I am about to embark on the greatest adventure of my life so far. There is nothing tying me to one place or another, to a particular job or way of living. It's like I'm at the Universe's buffet table and I just have to pick and choose what I want from the endless options available.

I'm excited. Life is beautiful.

A long time ago I promised myself I wouldn't let fear guide me through life. This resulted in me booking one-way flights to countries far from home, throwing myself into the unknown before I could think rationally about what I had done. A lot of people have labelled me as brave because I've lived abroad, not knowing a single soul in the country I landed. The truth is, I wasn't brave, I booked my tickets on impulse, painting myself into a corner that I couldn't get out of without a significant financial loss.

And you know what? Things always worked out some way or another. Life has a way of doing that, if you just let it.

Everything happens for a reason. You just have to have faith. Australia and Michigan taught me that.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Job? On PEI? Anybody????

So yah. I'm heading back to PEI next week. YAY!!!! Finally, a summer in PEI !!! I am stoked - really and truly I am. It's just that, well, I need a job. And fast. If anyone knows of any position that requires more than the ability to operate a cash register or serve food, please please let me know. I will soon become desperate . . . and I really don't want to know what would happen then....

Monday, May 21, 2007

Closer to Canada

I abhor time zones. In the past week I've travelled over 20 time zones. I've also voluntarily chosen to enjoy $1 alcoholic drinks with fellow hostellers versus getting a decent night's sleep. So yah, I'm responsible for my current zombie-like existence. Oh well.

Right, so San Francisco was as brilliant as it was ten months ago. Mind you, I didn't see nearly as much of it this time round, due to lack of time and the fact that I basically just slept and drank my time away. I stayed at the Green Tortoise hostel again - it has got to be the BEST hostel I've ever been at in terms of meeting people. Of course they were all British/Irish...I can't seem to get away from them, they are everywhere.

Anyways, I left San Fran on Friday at noon, all ready for my easy peasy flight to Michigan. Nothing could equal the debacles I encountered trying to leave Sydney. Or could it? So I approach the counter and am immediately informed that my flight to Cleveland has been delayed, thus they have to reroute me in order to get me to Traverse City the same day. Well first they tell me I am flying through Chicago and won't arrive until 12.12 am. I am tired, hungover and really not impressed with all these air travel hassles, so I 'kind of' insist that there must be another way to get there earlier and indeed there is. So I find myself flying to Traverse City via Houston. The flights were pretty noneventful, I had good seat mates so spent the entire time talking when I should have been sleeping.

Yay. I am so close to the Canadian border now, I can smell the Molson. And the hockey. Anyways, since I've been shacked up in Traverse City I've spent a rather disproportionate amount of time sleeping and have completely lost my appetite. That beind said, Nathan took me to the happening Asparagus Festival in Empire, Michigan and we enjoyed an asparaugs dinner at the Lion's Club, with local wines to accompany the splendid meal.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Same Day, Another Tick

Wow. This is literally the longest day of my life. I arrived safe and sound in San Francisco today, May 16th at 10.40 am. I also left Australia today, May 16th at 2.40 pm. Crazy.

So, despite the debacles in leaving Sydney, all has gone smoothly since I last wrote a post from the Red Carpet Club lounge in Australia. Most noteably:

1. The immigration office at San Fran let me into glorious United States of America without batting an eye. I can even stay here for six whole months if I so desire.

2. The plane did not crash. Yay! Something about flights over 6 hours kind of makes me uneasy

3. I FINALLY get to tick off yet another thing on my list of 101 things to do before I die. Yep, that's right,I got upgraded to Business Class!!! Ask and you shall recieve as my friend Mr Crossman says. Only myself and two others from the cancelled flight were upgraded. I think they felt really bad about telling me I was going yesterday, then giving the other dude the last seat.The other couple got upgraded because I told them I'd asked and recieved, so they followed suit. Anyways, if there's anyone else out there like me..who was under the lovely delusion that Business Class wasn't much better than Economy..just a bit more leg room, well let me say that's precisely what it is - a delusion.

Indeed,it turns out Business Class means being spoiled from take-off to landing. With super comfortable chairs that recline to almost fla, lots and lots of leg room, individual tvs with movies, a pamper kit with toiletries and the such, as well as MUCH better food and service... Dinner was a three course affair with a choice of mains (I had salmon). Food was served on plates wwith real cutlery and glass wine glasses, which were never empty for long. Ahhh. Definitely the best flight on which to recieve an upgrade!

Well, despite the lovely seats on the plane I couldn't sleep at all - something to do witht he turbulence, my fear of crashing and the loud noise that a plane makes when flying at over 1000 kmsground speed. So I'm at the Green Tortoise hostel, I have a headache and should probably take a nap, but I'm not tired and fear wrecking my sleep schedule even more. If that's possible.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Stranded in Sydney

Oh dear. I am still in Australia thanks to United Airlines. I was pumped to go yesterday and went to the airport early to have a final lunch with Shannon Courtney the male version, but discovered upon arrival that the flight had been cancelled due to crewing issues - as in not enough of them. I was given the option of waiting on standby for a flight that would go thru L.A. or taking a hotel for the night and getting on a flight direct to SFO today. After a bit of humming and hawing I decided to go Stand By. It was down to the wire - there were not enough seats so some people volunteered to stay over but they were still two seats short for the rest of us.

IT was myself and a guy that weren't going to get on, but at the last minute they told us they had two more seats so we were going. I headed back to check-in my baggage only to hear one of the flight attendants say that one of the passengers already on the plane did not have a seat. So yeah, two of us and only one seat. I said we should flip for it but the other guy seemed to think he deserved the seat more b/c he hadn;t been home for a WHOLE three weeks. Whoa. I mean, that's nothing compared to TEN months..... ANyways, they gave him the seat because his bags were checked already. I ended up staying at the airport hotel and hanging with some Americans and a Aussie last night which was fine. Today we all headed back to the airport. We've been upgraded to Economy Plus, but I was told they'd try to get me on Business Class and am hoping that's the case. We're in the Red Carpet Club lounge write now - it's pretty nice. If I get my upgrade I'll be happy because that means I can tick off another on my list of 101 things to do before I die.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

So Long Sydney

Wow. It's really here. My last night in Australia. Lots to do in my last hours here, most noteably deal with my luggage crises (i.e. the fact that I have too many clothes and books). What can I say? It's been a wonderful ride, these past ten months. I wouldn't trade them for anything. I still am not in a place (literally) where I can write a blog post that appropriately reflects my fondness for this country, but I will be soon and so will write a wrap up then. In the meantime...

A HUGE THANK YOU to all my wonderful, generous friends in Sydney who made my last week here especially enjoyable and offered me their hospitality/help in so many ways most notably : Mary, Shannon, Amo, Lisa, Kelly, Shaz

Off I go to find my last gift for a family member then it's off to dinner in The Rocks. Tomorrow's flight is at 2.40pm, arriving in San Fran at 11.00 am same day. hilarious. DOn't worry Mom I'm almost always careful and I will email you with a phone number in case you need to call me in Michigan. But don't worry, I'll be fine.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Sydney and Beyond

Just a very quick one to say I am safely back in Sydney and...get this....working in an office again!! Yep, that's right, I am so poor I've been driven to return to the corporate world for my one week layover in Sydney. It's not so bad though - it's decent money and keeps me from spending money during the day. I am working at Citibank for the rest of the week.

Also just to let you all know - I have basically no phone credit left and refuse to top up, so I am sorry Mom, but there'll not be a call on Sunday unless I find a landline but HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY and I wish I was there to celebrate it with you!
Anyone who wants to call me, however, is more than welcome.

Um..ok that's about it. I can't believe it's almost over. But it's not really. I still have three weeks in the States...maybe longer if I decide I can't bear for anyone at home to see me in my current state. Ahem.

Oz has been Ozeome and I will endeavor to write an entry that does it justice, but not right now. Right now I am going to go chill out with a movie.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Milk Maiden and Crepe Chef

I can now officially tick off yet another of my 101 Things to Do Before I Die. Number 36 - MILK A COW, eludes me no longer. Yes, that's right folks, I finally got my hands milky thanks to Jetty, the beautiful Jersey cow that likes to have her hay and eat it too. I've been at Janine's Place for nine days now - a bit longer than planned, but that seems to be the norm with HelpXing on tihs particular trip. Anyways, at around Day 3 talk at the dinner/cigarette smoking table on the verandah turned to Fraser Island. Julia and Tina, the wonderful and funny German girls that have been staying at Janine's for a few weeks now, were both very keen to go to the sand bar and Janine, who hasn't really left this place in 2 years was easily talked into the idea.

And that is basically how I found myself staying longer than planned and milking Jetty twice a day. Janine was keen to have someone stay and look after the animals and, well, there I was. So it's Saturday night and I am 'FARM ALONE' with the company of many animals to keep me sane - 4 dogs, 3 llamas, 1 horse, 1 cow, and a lot of chickens. I am getting damn good at milking the Jersey if I do say so myself. And yes, in case you are wondering, it's all done by hand. It's all very photoworthy actually - every morning I gather up some hay, a metal bucket and a bucket with some soapy water. I go down to the feeding area, spread the hay out for Jetty, who is always waiting with a cute, innocent cow look on her face. Then I set up my milking stool (a plaastic bucket), wash her teats with a sponge then start the milking process. At first it was really really hard- there's a technique to the milking and for each person it's different. Once I got the hang of it though (on the 3rd day) all was good - except one always has to watch out for a stray hoof that might end up stepping in teh milk bucket. At the moment, Jetty is giving about 4 litres a day.

Anyways, my time at Janine's Place has been fantastic, namely due to the company. I guess I didn't realise it, but I was in dire need of being around other people if only to save myself from my own thoughts/obsessions (namely about my weight) And these three women turned out to be absolutely fabulous and funny. I only knew them for a week, but now that they've all gone to Fraser Island I miss their energy and insights. Perhaps I also miss the distraction from my all-consuming thoughts.

So, although I don't hold them responsible, I would say..if it weren't for my visit to Janine's place I would have been able to keep my resolution regarding chocolate and candy restriction mostly intact. As it was, however, the girls just LOVED their candy and Cadbury's and so I broke under the pressure. Ah, what the heck, it's not like my plan to lose weight by avoiding sugar and alcohol was actually working anyways...

In addition to eating a lot of chocolate, I may also have made a couple of chocolate cakes and volunteered to make crepes on two seperate occassions. In my defense, one of the cakes was for a birthday and one crepe meal was savoury. It seems I am becoming much more interested in presentation and experimentation with my cooking now - I blame it on Jamie Oliver.
I was told on more than one occassion over the week that I should open a restaurant/bakery.

Phew. Less than a week from now I'll be back in Sydney and 3 weeks from now I'll be in the States. I can't believe it. This time last year I was living it up in Miami with Schemida and Ko. Crazy how time flies and things at home actualy change while you're away. New jobs, engagements, new appearances, new names (Rowan Thunder).

I feel like I should do some sort of trip wrap-up post even though I've yet to hit up Byron Bay and I reckon that with be a HIGHlight. I am too tired tonight though - milking cows, chasing escapee horses and trying to tucker out three dogs that are all under two years old has wiped me of any energy I might have had at some point during the day. Next time.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Sand, Sunshine and Sugar

Since I last left you in Midge Point, I've been having an absolute blast!!!! OK, so here are the highlights by gepgraphical location:

Midge Point

- I left not a moment too early, having spent 5 days at Cathy & Terry's. Four hours a day I spent cleaning a house that, in my opinion, was spotless. Three hours a day I spent exercising my butt off (hopefully). The rest of the time was spent doing very little and quite enjoying it. But it was definitely time to head south after five days.


- I spent a non eventful night in Rockhampton in an attempt to avoid the overnight Greyhound bus trip, but my clever plan was averted by my brain which decided I was not going to sleep well at all. On the upside I did meet a bonafide cowboy who was driving a herd of 1500 hundred cattle to the death (but at least they were getting the scenic tour to cow heaven)

Hervey Bay/Fraser Island

- I arrived at the Friendly hostel and enjoyed a quiet afternoon in this bayside town. I was enjoying my own thoughts whilst looking out over the bay from a jetty when a random Australian dude carrying a can of XXXX beer decided to start a conversation with me, which turned into him walking me to the grocery store and then back to my hostel where I bid him farewell and enjoyed a quiet evening at the hostel

- The next morning I boarded a HUGE ASS 4WD bus for my Fraser Island 2 day /1 night tour. WHAT AN AWESOME TIME I HAD!!! This was definitely one of the major highlights of my trip so far - everything about the tour was fantastic - the Island is something special - it is totally composed of fact it has enough sand to fill the Sahara desert. It is pretty much a green oasis with random, clear blue lakes that beckon you to take a dip in their warm waters. We walked through rainforests, stood 5 feet from a wild dingo that was walking along the beach, drove through tracks of sand and down the island's highway - the eastern shore of the island. I decided to go all out and splurged ona scenic flight with a beach takeoff and a landing - oh it was wonderful. We also walked through rainforsets and had a fabulous meal at the campground before enjoying a fitful sleep in luxury safari tents.

If anyoe is thinking of going to Fraser Island I highly recommend the Fraser Island Company's tours and Captain Kirk in particular as a guide!!!


Well, that's where I am now - my seventh Helpxing experience and it has been brilliant. Janine is a lovely woman in her late forties - very relaxed about life and a wonderful spirit. She has all sorts of farm animals including a horse, a cow, llamas and chickens. She also has two chiuauas, a poodle, and Italian greyhound and two Siamese cats. Awwwww. There are also two very funny German girls staying here. We've been having a ball and yes, I finally broke my No Sugar resolution - screw it. I have not been drinking or eating sugar since I started thi trip and I STILL managed to gain weight so I've decided to give in and accept that the only place I can lose it is on PEI. Hey at least that's one thing that will always draw me back! So yah, we'ev been enjoying our chocolate, good conversation and some lovely days out and about. Right now we are preparing to have a Hair Night which involves pink adn purple colours. I am being boring though and going for some blonde and caramel highlighs.

Less than two weeks of travelling left. SOB!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Midge Point, Midgies and Other Matters

Since last I wrote the following interesting and less-than-interesting things have occurred in my life:

  • I got to hold a koala (it pooed on me), a snake, a lizard, a big bird and a crocodile
  • I survived a tsunami warning, despite choosing to board a ferry whilst the country was on alert
  • I went on a two-day, one night sailing trip around the Whitsundays on the Tall Ship Defender
  • I went snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef
  • I got really burnt on just my knees and cheeks- very sexy looking
  • I was picked up from Airlie by Carl, my latest Helpx host and, despite a slight sense of apprehension at hopping into his old Landrover and being taken into the wilderness of Midge Point, I was pleasantly surprised to find that 'Carl's Place' was a little piece of heaven on the hill - with spectacular water views and a hammock for lazing the afternoons away.
  • I spent five days at Carl's Place (over Easter). I spent the majority of my time playing chess and cards with Carl and walking up and down his steep driveway/lifting free weights in a last ditch attempt to get in shape before I head home.
So, yah that leaves me here, in the present. I left Carl's today, but only to go down the street to stay with his neighbours who have a sprawling house, complete with pool, spa, pool table, etc. It's gorgeous. I get to clean it. I have a feeling Mom ( and former flatmates) would be very surprised at how much of a domestic goddess I've become since starting my travels in AUstralia. It turns out people like my cooking too, which has been a blessing and a curse - see above attempts to lose the freaking weight. Speaking of which., yeah I'm having a rough time with the whole weight thing. It seems that giving up all the vices (drinking, candy, chocolate, cake, etc) is simply not enough! Argh. I am soooo frustrated :( On the other hand, I am assured by the knowledge that once back on PEI it will all fall off....

In other news - the midgies are absolutely LOVING me. MIdgies are little insects that like to bite - and they really like to bite me. I am absolutely grotesque at teh moment, between my weird sunburn marks, midge bites, various bruises that I don't know how I got and with the excess cargo on my derrier, thighs and, well, pretty much everywhere. Sigh. It's a good thing I don't have a digital camera....

K, well I must go for a dip in the pool! Next up for me is Fraser Island/Hervey Bay in case any of you are tracking my progress on a map :)

Saturday, March 31, 2007

I Just Spent Half My Remaining Budget on Two 2-Day Tours

Yes, that's right folks, I just forked over about $550 for two amazing experiences not to be missed in Queensland.

On TUesday I will board the Defender - a classic tall ship that sails the Whitsunday Islands. I will be onboard 2 days and 1 night. We'll be stopping on some of the islands and going snorkelling. We'll also be fed all our meals and get to help with the sailing if we want.

Further on down the coast I will be taking a 2-day one night trip to Fraser Island - the world's largest sand island, where beauty and dingos abound.

Oh, but what of a recap...I actually don't remember when I last posted, I think I was staying with Lynn & Aaron at the Nature Refuge, so I'll pick up from there. Right, so I left Bibinda and headed to Mission Beach for just one night of chilling out. I ended up having an absolutely BRILLIANT time - mainly because I ran into two people from......PEI!!!!! What are the odds??? Also, I actually KNEW one of them. Anyways, yeah a good time was had and I finally got to do something I've ALWAYS wanted to do...push someone into a pool. Of course, as was to be expected I somehow found myself being pulled in as well. Fully clothed.

I made it to Magnetic Island where I am currently shacked up at a great hostel/resort. Just back from a long hike which actually ended with some hitchhiking - we got picked up by a Mokie..which is a golf cart with some power. Tomorrow I get to hold a koala.

That's all for now folks

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Bitten by the Bugs

It's been a week and a half since I arrived in Cairns. I am finally leaving head a whole 45 minutes south! I've really enjoyed my time in Cairns (more about this in a bit), but, to be honest, my delayed departure has more to do with excess baggage I had to lose than it does with my being enamoured with this Queensland city.

I mentioned previously how I was staying with a great Help Exchange host, who hd kindly offered a bed to the girl I met on the plane up here. Turns out Rachel was very fortunate as her transfer of funds took another 5 days and her $40 would certainly have been gone by then. Anyways,I was not up for having a 22-year old narcoleptic Welsh girl travel with me for the next month. Yes, that's right - narcoleptic. I go from travelling with Sara, who's an insomniac, to Rachel,who falls asleep every 15 minutes or so and, when she is awake, has no energy. Anyways, it turns out I wasn't the only one who found her presence a bit tiring (pardon the pun) and Seva took it in hand to ensure she headed on her way.

Right, so now she is gone and I am heading to Lynn & Aaron's. THey are friends of Seva and own a Nature Refuge that borders the World Heritage Rainforest - apparently snakes, spiders, birds and bats abound. Lynn is from Michigan (US) and met her husband, Aaron, whilst backpacking round the world during her twenties. Awww.

OK, so I realise Ive neglected to say what I've been doing with my time here in Cairns. Aside from helping Seva out around the house and lounging in the pool, here are the main highlights of the past week and a half:

On Tuesday morning I joined the Cape Tribulation Connections bus tour, which takes travellers up to the Daintree Rainforest, with stops along the way at Mossman Gorge and a Wildlife Sanctuary. Cape Tribulation is situated in the heart of the rainforest - it is unbelievably, specatcularly beautiful up there. The Daintree Rainforest is one of the oldest rainforests in teh world, surviving from a time when there were only two super continents on this planet. The diversity of plant and animal species is amazing.

Anyways, once up in Cape Trib we were dropped off at our accommodation of choice. I decided to stay at the Cape Trib farmstay upon Sara's recommendation. It turned out to be a great choice, particularly given the large basket of exotic fruits we were given for breakfast. I only recognised one of the fruits - papaya. They were all very yummy and interesting looking. I think the Jakfruit was my favorite, just because it was so pretty!!

While up in Cape Trib we took a few walks through the rainforest and went for a swim in a safe watering hole - most are not safe to swim in because of the crocs. As it is the Wet season at the moment there were plenty of heavy rainfalls during the three days we were up there. WHen it wasn't raining it was bloody humid. I mean seriously muggy - like nothing I have ever experienced before. I don't know how people live up there on a permanent basis to be honest.

Upon returning to Cairns Thursday evening we joined Seva at the Yacht Club for some live jazz music and watched as couples danced swing and jive. Afterwards we went across the street to the Casino and enjoyed Motown classics courtesy of Lisa Hunt and her amazingingly talented band (they didn't hurt the eyes either)!

The rest of the weekend was pretty quiet, but I don't mind. One doesn't have to always be 'doing' something to enjoy a place. That is one thing I find frustrating - why do so many people think a place has to have Things to DO in order to be interesting. Isn't just being and seeing enjoyable enough in itself. Why do we always feel the need to be entertained and on the go??? Relax for feck's sake. It's Australia after all, not New York or London.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

On Top of Oz

Yesterday I flew from Adelaide in SA to Cairns, in Northern Queensland. Cairns is the major starting point for backpackers making their way down the East Coast, which is famous for, amongst other things - the Great Barrier Reef, Whitsunday Islands, Fraser Island, Gold Coast and non-stop parties. I plan to enjoy/see all of the above over the next six weeks!

Upon arriving in Cairns I met Seva, my latest Helpx host - it turned out I am her first helper and she is absolutely lovely and v. undemanding with regards to chores. Anyways, I had met this girl on the plane to Cairns who was running somewhat short on cash so when Seva mentioned she had a spare bed if Rachel was interested I went back into the airport and dragged Rachel along. Since it was evening when we arrived, last night was just a relaxing night at Seva's.

It is'THE WET' in Cairns at the moment and so it poured last night by the bucketful, but I get the impression it is a good thing it rained as the climate here is tropical and without a rain it can be sticky, muggy and unbearably hot.

I was supposed to head to Port Douglas tomorrow morning, but I've decided to stay in Cairns for a couple more days as Seva is so nice and so I can sort out what I want to do with regards to touring the Daintree rainforest.

I can't believe I am leaving Australia in less than 2 months!!!

Note to all at home (PEI) - if you know of any jobs/places to rent in Ch'town please let me know, I will need both a place to live and a place to work when I get back in June.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Back in Adelaide

Free at last! Yay - Sara and I left the vineyard this morning and made the trek back to Adelaide. We're spending two nights here before we part ways (sigh) - I head North East to Cairns and she heads West to Perth. We are looking forward to eating and drinking well and having some free time to ourselves.

To be perfectly honest, the vineyard was getting a bit old over the past few days. No need to go into details, this is about my adventures not my misadventures!

In any case, we did have some enjoyable experiences on the farm - namely when we left it to explore the area. The highlight by far was last Friday when we were given the day off (yah - but we worked 10 hours the next day doing cooking/catering).

We decided it was the opportune time to do our cycling tour of the McLaren Vale cellar doors. Cellar doors for those of you who are not familiar, are vineyards where you are invited to sample many, many wines grown locally.

For some reason I figured we would be able to handle six or seven. Sara just laughed at me and rightly so, because after our first stop I was in dire need of some bread to soak up the alcohol. It didn't help that it was 11 in the morning, I hadn't drank in two months and we had just finished a 10 km cycle! Anyways, we cycled on from Penny's Hills to Richard Hamilton/Leconfield Winery where we sampled some lovely wines then on to the town of McLaren Vale where we took a well deserved break from drinking and turned to almond sampling and lunch.

After lunch we hit up Hardy's, Beresford's and Hugh Hamilton's amaszing vineyard with 360 degree views of the area. By this time my ability to cycle 'may' have been slightly compromised. We headed back to Leconfield so I could pick up a bottle of Merlot then raced back to Penny's Hills so Sara could buy Almond Liquer (mmmm!).

Back in Willunga we decided a couple more drinks couldn't hurt us before we made the final leg of our journey home!

In total I think we cycled around 30 kilometres on our tour and drank at least 9 full glasses of wine. It was totally worth it...and it was absolutely free :)

Other highlights from our time on the farm include learning how to make pasta from scratch, making pizza crusts and doing a catering stint at one of the Fringe Festival shows in Adelaide. We also shovelled a lot of cow poo, which, it turns out, was surprisingly light and non-smelly. In fact, the shovel was much heavier than the poo so we all started picking it up with our hands (gloved!).

Well, time is wasting away and the sun is shining so will love you and leave you all for now.

Ooooohhhh - just a note - if you want to read more about our adventures or maybe see a pic or two, just click on the link to Sara's RTW Blog (see panel to your right)