Showing posts from October, 2012


So I said that I'd feel better once my grandpa is out of ICU.

He's out of ICU! I do feel better.

Now the real work starts. He'll have to recover from a major surgery. But he's tough.

I'm less tough when I'm away from my family. I'd really like to be there.

Luckily, I've been able to receive all the text messages that my cousin has sent me so I'm getting all the latest updates! Yay! (for some reason I don't always receive them. The "some reason" is Madagascar).

Looking forward to my July Quebec trip.

We suck sometimes

I know what I want to write but I don't know how to write it properly, so forgive me because I'm just going to do a brain dump.

Sometimes Louis sucks. And sometimes I suck too.We work weird/long hours, we get tired, we are different yet the same, and sometimes, Louis sucks and he annoys me and we argue and I don't always see all of the wonderful things that he does and the wonderful person he is and I/we don't always appreciate the day-to-day stuff.

Yesterday, Louis made my heart burst (geez....I feel like I'm writing a cheezy romance novel now) because he truly, truly cares and he is truly an amazing person. Even if he sometimes sucks.

I gave my grandparents a call the weekend before my grandpa's surgery. We chatted like normal, and I planned to call them before the surgery. My plans didn't work out (and as much as I complain about feeling lonely, I am horrible for not picking up the phone more often) and I didn't call. Louis had been wanting to…

Quebec Party Trip

Well, the day has finally come. My grandpa is getting his surgery today and I can't wait for it to be over. Actually, I can't wait until he's out of the Intensive Care Unit after the surgery. It's going to be an incredibly long year for him, my grandma, and really the rest of our family/friends back home, but not impossible.

His operation is at noon today (Monday). I'll find out how things went around 05h00 my time Tuesday.

I'm thinking about the nurses, doctors, and surgeons today. For them, it's like any other day. For me, I hope they know just how important their patient is today.

I'll breathe a sigh of relief when he's back home. That's when the real tough work will start, but he's a really tough guy.

And to celebrate his recovery, we're going to Quebec in July. I can't wait.


When Louis and I first started dating, I had no idea how much of an impact it would have on my life that he had two daughters. Two TEENAGE daughters. While the transition hasn't been seamless, it has been as smooth as possible, as far as smooth goes for "blended" families. I still quite often get the hilariously stupid comments from strangers, "OH! You don't look old enough to have two teenage daughters!". Oh, I also don't look ANYTHING like either of them. We always smile and nod, but part of me is tempted to say, "Oh, they're adopted", or to have one of the girls yet, "She's not my mother!!!" and storm away. We'll see one day.

I'll write more about them later, but the family member that's on my mind today, is little Maggie. She's a shitzu, and yes, she's part of the family. Louis gets shared custody of the dog too. Wherever the girls go, Maggie goes.

Maggie, is probably one of the funniest dogs I've …

Let's try this again.

Everyone has bad days and bad weeks and sure, even bad months. Sometimes I feel like I'm a bi-polar maniac, and perhaps Louis feels the same.

I'd like to say, oh, it's work that's stressing me out. Or, oh, it's Madagascar that's stressing me out. But if I take away work. And if I take away Madagascar. If I put myself in Canada, doing some kind of uber relaxing job, I'd still have these...moments.

Moments where I feel like I know nothing about life and that I'm not being as happy as I "should" be. I'd like to just roll with the punches.. I'd like to go back to myself when I was in Italy, where I had this revelation that worry was wasted energy.

Until then, I'll continue to over analyse everything. One day, I hope that I give up and just look forward. Leave the past in the past. Care less, be  more efficient, and laugh a lot, lot more.

{Disclaimer: I'm not crying myself to sleep or anything. Just kind of frustrated at the numbe…

Perking Up. Which kind of Sounds like Peking Duck.

So yeah. This morning I was pretty down. I'm homesick. I'm friend-sick. I'm family-sick. I'm...well, I am/was lonely and certainly feeling sorry for myself.

Then somehow by lunch, I was feeling like...good. And I am making A LOT of progress on this one project that is FREAKING DRIVING ME FREAKING CRAZY.

The secret?

(Well, another secret might be to figure out how to take a picture of your office...without looking like a dork....)

There's something about Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, Maroon Five, Green Day and Fleetwood Mac that totally perks me up. Yay music.

Hi. I miss you. And I suck for not keeping in touch!

Hey Everyone!

What ends up getting typed might come off as a bit pathetic, but I'm kind of feeling lonely right now. It happens now and again.

2009 I had the following different "groups" of people in my life:
people I emailed/phoned/saw 1-7x/weekpeople I emailed/phoned/saw 2-3x/weekpeople I emailed/phoned/saw 3x/monthpeople I emailed/phoned/saw 4x/year It was a good mix. I'm pretty sure that everyone has a similar kind of "people grouping"...if I can call it that.

In 2009, my chart looked like this and contained (a guestimate) 30 people.
Now, my chart looks like this and contains (a guestimate) of 22 people.
I'm SUPER grateful for the people that have stayed in touch and not like....I don't know...resentful or anything for the people that haven't stayed in touch (it takes two to keep in touch!).
I totally understand the phenomenon. If you're in a different country from're not exactly going to remember to keep in touch with…

It's hard cause it IS hard! (TWSS)

So...after 1174 days of Madagascar life (which I guess is an untrue number since I've spent many days off of the island), I had some kind of "light bulb" moment.

THIS WAY OF LIVING IS HARD. That's why we get the pay uplifts and that's why we get weird questions during our job interview and that's why we have to go through an extensive (and disturbing) medical before setting foot here.

THIS IS HARD. Not impossible.

So allllll of the times in these 1174 days where I've felt frustrated, confused, angry, incompetent, or...a million other feelings - have been wasted. I'm not supposed to find this "easy". If it was easy...everyone would be doing it and everyone would be loving it.

Sure, they throw us a bunch of extra goodies to make up for it, which I gladly accept, but I never realized's OK to think that this is hard.

I always felt like some knock-off expat because I found certain parts of this job/lifestyle really hard. IT'S …

Dem Babies

I just did a quick calculation and saw that I've been in Madagascar for 35 days. It seems like a lot more than that and it seems like even more when I check to see I have 18 days left. It's a long rotation. Work-wise, I'm happy because it means that I can get more done. Energy-wise, I'm tired and tired and tired.
Last weekend's little adventure helped and this weekend's plans will too. Yosemete Sam has organized a golf tournament with the proceeds going to a local Nutrition Centre. I have no idea what a Nutrition Center in Madagascar consists of, but I'll be visiting them before the tournament to see what kind of supplies we will need. Yosemete put this tournament together in a matter of two weeks, including the catered lunch!
"The Hawk Country Club" is hilarious. We have a sort-of golf course on camp. If they keep the grass cut, people go out almost every weekend and play. There is a golf course about two hours from here, but you need to get u…

Chineeza - Part II

I was kind of worried (that word should be eliminated from my vocabulary) how crazy the process of obtaining a visa for China would be.

1. It's China and I have no idea how strict their visa policy is or anything
2. I'm in Madagascar, where everything is backwards and jumbled and mixed together.

I had my appointment today at the Embassy. I finished late with a meeting and was kind of flustered. I met my driver and told him we needed to go to the bank first and then the embassy.

There is construction going on, which means we have to take a 30 minute detour of SUPER bumpy roads filled with potholes bigger than a kiddy pool. Like, these things are so big they should have a "No Lifeguard on Duty" sign next to them! (I'm pretty impressed with my comedy right there.)

We drive for what seems like forever, and then we stop outside what looks like a house and my driver says, Ok, here it is!

I'm He has this surprised look on his face even though we …


I've really been sucking in the organizational department in general for this China trip. Sure the trip was booked and paid for a gazillion days in advance, but the little things like....PACKING WARM CLOTHING....or....APPLYING FOR A VISA WHILE LIVING IN MADAGASCAR....kind of slipped my mind.

Warm clothing:
I'm so super smart and brought most of my warm stuff to Canada. Not thinking that 99.999999% of the time I'm leaving Madagascar to go somewhere colder. Not thinking again since I'll be in China in winter...

Luckily, I have been shipping (as cheap as possible) stuff to my mom's, I have a super nice expatriate bringing me a coat I ordered, and there's a few (reasonably priced) shops in the Johannesburg airport. Between the three, I'll have enough to get by, I think. I will certainly be spending lots on laundry costs...and will be trying to wash as much as I can by hand.

Then the visa...
I kept putting it off....
Then putting it off...

and in three weeks tod…

Turtle Love

I plan on sorting through my pictures and seeing if I got any good lemur shots or anything like that, but I wasn't in photo-tourist mood.

Louis and I went to the lemur park/zoo (which is only about 15-20 minutes out of town. Actually, at one point we saw a sign that said it was only 4km away and because the roads were so bad, I'm pretty sure we could have walked there in just over the amount of time it takes to drive there. But it's summer and it's hot and I had already ran in the heat, so we drove. That - and we're lazy).

While there wasn't really anything spectacular, and the lemurs that are outside of the cages STINK like no other STINK I've experienced (which is really saying a lot after spending a few summers here), but it was OH EMM GEEE so nice to just get out of camp.

I leave plant site and I leave camp usually once or twice during the week, but it's always for either to get groceries or cash, or to get a massage (which I have REALLY decided tha…

I've got a hot date this Sunday!

Woo hoo!!

I've got a hot date this sunday with Louis. We're driving 20ish km to the lemur park just outside of Toamasina. The last (and only) time I've been is probably back in September 2009 just after I first got here. It's a total dive, there are few lemurs that are "allowed" to rome free and most of them are either in cages or on a little leash. So...yeah, I'm sure making this sound like a hot date, right?

Regardless of the dive-ness, we'll still play (, I guess, since those things aren't actually cute and probably have rabies) with the lemurs, walk around (from what I remember there was a nice hike?), and then head back. It's not a terribly excting Sunday, but for's something DIFFERENT!!!

Now that summer is coming, we'll start heading to the pool most Sundays, which is always nice. Add the occasional boat trip, but for the most part...anything that involves planning ahead or waking up early isn't high on o…

It's nothing new...or rocket science...

A SUPER good friend (who unfortunately is a non-blog-reading person in general) sent me this link. I have officially added it to my Google Reader. What's written on the blog isn't rocket science or's nothing new...but I liked a lot of the content. Sometimes its easy to get so caught up in...the day to day of things, that the obvious "principles" can slip away.

Every day is a new beginning.  But in life, sometimes you have to stop before you can truly begin.  So starting today…
Stop caring about everyone’s opinion of you.For the most part, what other people think and say about you doesn’t matter.  When I was younger I let the opinions of my high school and early college peers influence my decisions.  And at times they steered me away from ideas and goals I strongly believed in.  I realize now, many years later, that this was a foolish way to live, especially when I consider that nearly all of these people whose opinions I cared so much about are no lo…

More Flights!

Also, on a lighter note, I am so freaking excited to be flying into these airports. I am really, really, really bad at geography and until three (ok...maybe two) years ago I'm not sure I could point these places off on a map. Like, ok, I could get the correct continent...but other than that...eek.

I have a love/hate relationship with booking flights. I love to book them, want to do them as FAR as possible in advance, and get so excited that I know the airport codes (I know, I'm really 7 years old). I have a hate relationship because I CANNOT GRASP the concept of time differences, which usually means that I book a connecting flight on the wrong day and have to call the booking agency back, pay a fee, and then re-book.

This time, I've booked my flights with Louis, so I think we're covered. January I'm going to Edmonton and then to Montreal so we booked our flights earlier this week.
We fly:
Toamasina to Antananarivo Antananarivo to JohannesburgJohannesburg to Zurich …

If You're Happy And You Know It

Today is Thursday and I can't remember as far back as Monday. My brain is tired, which means I'm more emotional, which means that I have more crazy moments than usual (I know...I didn't think it was possible either).

I'm trying to go a bit out of my comfort zone, and publically write about things that I am happy for, because this week I've really sucked and focused on all of the negative. I'm sure everyone falls into this trap at one point or another, but I want to change it. I remember wayyyyyyyyyyyy back I used to try to post five things that I was thankful for. I'm not going to enforce the (made up) rule, but I'm going to challenge myself to do this more often. Sometimes I think it's cheesy and too embarrasing to post...and then I remember that the words "puke" and "vomit" and "I'm a sweaty mess" show up on this blog about thirty nine thousand and five screw it.

I'm happy that I fell for …


Wow yesterday turned out to be a super taxing day. I didn't realize how much until I saw the title of my post. I have no idea what "Sweaty" relates to...I wasn't sweaty while writing...I think I was just totally exhausted.

Sometimes my brain worries way, way, way too much and sometimes it's just exhausting.


Tonight I need the ability to see that I screwed up, but that everyone screws up.
Tonight I need the ability to see that most bad moods stay with me for a short time.

Tomorrow, I need to address what's really bothering me. And get on that plan.

Tomorrow, I need to make a series of small goals, so that I can get through the day.

All I ever want in my life is for my husband, family and friends, and ME to be happy. That idea sometimes sounds impossible.

Even if I took everyone out of the picture and just focused on ME.

I'm really tired of worrying about things that don't deserve worrying about. <------that needs to be my top priority. Instead of Don't Sweat The Small Stuff and it's All Small Stuff, I'd like to read a book that says, Don't Sweat the Small Stuff - but freak the F*CK out for the stuff that Matters.

Maybe I'll write it myself.

{No intent to be cryptic, I'm sure I'll post some kind of overanalysis in the next few days.}

China Domestic Flights


Yesterday I was anxiously awaiting our domestic China fights. Today I got the email! Woo hoo!! All are great (or they look that way) and are mostly around the 2 hour mark. No early morning flights!!! Woo hoo!! (Let's see if I'm Woo Hoo-ing after going to the local airports...)

A 2 hour flight from Beijing to Xi'an on Chinese Eastern AirlinesA 1 hour 50 minute flight from Xi'an to Guilin on Chinese Southern AirlinesA 2 hour and 5 minute flight from Guilin to Shanghai on Chinese Eastern AirlinesA 2 hour 20 minute from from Shanghai to Hong Kong on Chinese Eastern Airlines No clue if these are good/bad/horrific airlines, but I don't think I have much option.

Random China Fact of the Day: China blocks Youtube and Facebook!

The Apple Crisp Challenge - Series Finale

So, we left off here. When you realized that all of your intentions and all of your expectations were completely normal and rational.

Yet none of them happened.

For nearly all of them, you had to come up with the most random (umm…kiwi juice and paper towel!?) solutions, which in the end, basically got the job done (minus the "broil" oven error).

But after all your hard work, your inventiveness, your solutions, the end result was a COMPLETE failure and had to be re-done.

You could have declined and given up, but you didn’t want to. After all that work you wanted to feel some sense of accomplishment!

And that’s the point I’m making. This isn’t a post how like, OH, I am so unfortunate, my life is sooooooooooo hard. It’s just has hard or unhard as everyone else that I know over in Canada or France or whatever developed country. But it’s a different kind of hard that I’m not sure one ever gets used to.

Sure, if you went to your friend’s the next time, you’d bring your own pan,…


This seems like a really long time.

It should be enough time to read my "China" book that has been in my possession for about...six months...but I just can't get through it. All the dynasties and rulers and wars and fights...I can't keep it all straight.

I am in love with this website called Trip It, where I email my flight confirmations and it keeps track of everything - including gate changes or flight times. It has a million other features but I can't be bothered to pay for the "premium" service...or figure out the rest of the cool things it can do.

Ok, let's talk China. It's FREAKING HUGE!! 9,598,000 km² (which is just a mere 396,000km² smaller than Canada's 9,985,000 km²)

I had a (false) impression that I wasn't travelling far because I wasn't crossing the ocean, but I'm racking up a few miles (or km) on my Aeroplan card: Toamasina to Antananarivo: 45 minutes, 323 km Antananarivo to Johannesburg: 3 hours 40 minutes, 2134 km …


Summer's not even here and I'm dying. I decided that an afternoon run would be a good idea. NOPE. I lasted a mere 23 minutes before I decided I was too freaking hot. I see that the weather channel says there is 22km/h wind. I didn't feel a slight breeze...maybe that's down by the port or something.

It's usually the same temperature at night, but with the sun beating down on was too much. So much for that idea. At least it's SUNDAY!

Ahead of myself

I got a little ahead of myself.

The cyclone (storm really for us) won't be here until after the weekend.

The "rain" that I thought I heard was actually our air conditionner. I thought we had our storm shutters open, but they were closed, thus making things look a lot darker than they were.

I'm smart sometimes.

Also, I'm not sure if it's a cyclone, typhoon, or hurricain because different websites refer to it differently.

Right now it's sunny and sitting by the pool is totally an option. Walking to work next week might not be so much fun.


Interesting how at this exact point in time, four years ago, I would be talking about/reading about/hearing about the first snow, how the roads are bad, and how we're in for a long winter.

I was all in a tizzy (ha ha ha) when the cyclone news came out and then I was like, wait a second...this is kind of like allllllllllll of the people that are shocked when it snows in Edmonton in October, May, or...even July. It's pretty much the norm, it's pretty much the way that the life over in the Indian Ocean works, so...........take a pill and enjoy the Sunday spent in bed instead of at the pool.

I have a ton of downloaded stuff from iTunes (I'm still debating if I want to start watching Mad Men. I hear a lot about it...but I can't decide), we have water/pop/juice, and if we brave it we can walk to get breakfast/lunch/supper....we might just get a little wet.

The trajectory path looks like the main "cyclone" activity will hit in the middle of the ocean, and by th…

Apple Crisp Challenge - Part IV

We last left off with a burnt crisp and an unknown lady entering the kitchen.

Mrs Marriewly! What are you doing here?” says your friend, obviously very surprised.

Long story short (or long story long, in general, in this case), Mrs Marriewly, your friend’s housekeeper, went grocery shopping as asked, but didn’t know that the groceries had to be delivered in the morning. She knew that guests were arriving late afternoon, and thought that the groceries be needed after their arrival.

Your friend then asks you how you’ve managed to make the crisp, and then, after lots of translating, laughing, and explaining, you recant how your “nice day at the cottage” wasn’t so nice. But it made for a good story!!!

Your friend politely asks if she can help you make a new one, if you’re up for it? (Um, that's pretty brave of her, no?)

You tell her no problem, provided that she and/or her guests get all the ingredients ready. One of the guests and your friend volunteer, and your friend makes you a…


Today at lunch, a collegue from Canada that we haven't seen in a long time came up to congratulate Louis and I since she hadn't seen us since we got married!

We talked about the day, how the surprised that we were planning turned out better than we could have ever planned for.

I haven't looked at the pictures from the day in a while...and sometimes, I don't think of it as that big of a deal. It wasn't something that we planned for a year, it wasn't something that everyone in our lives got to see, it wasn't this..production. It was just one day out of a gazillion that Louis and I will spend together. I still think it was awesome, but I also think that my views on weddings have changed a lot. I think that for some people, they totally work! For others...not so much. I used to think that maybe for our ten year anniversary we'd have a wedding...but even that sounds daunting, I'd much rather have a party like we had back in February.

From allll of the p…

Apples Crisp Challenge - Part III

{if you haven't religiously been following this riveting series, start with Part I and Part II}

Ok, so here’s what you decide to do. [After you make the muddy track to your car and back. I’ll skip these details because you’ve heard about them in part 1)

Using some scissors, you cut very small holes in the bottom of 2 Cinnamon flavor and 2 packages of Maple & Brown Sugar flavored packages of the oatmeal. You shake-shake-shake what falls out into a bowl, and then measure out what’s left.

Okay…so usually, for a big pan like this, you’d use one cup of white sugar and one cup of brown sugar. The gunk that’s fallen out of the oatmeal packages makes up about one third of a cup. You’re missing two thirds of a cup. You could use white sugar…but that would kind of be missing something.

You go looking in the fridge for inspiration. You see some ketchup packets, some *real* maple syrup from Quebec (marry a Quebecer to find out what a big deal this is), and sour cream.

You’ll deal with that…

Not Cool

There's a reason that I pay someone to make my eyebrows look pretty. But for some reason I thought I should try myself. I bought one of these cute little things that are for trimming/shaping your eyebrows.
My hand slipped. I'ts hard to tell, but there's about a one inch gap where I have no hair. I'm pretty. :S

Costca Rica Mexico Edmonton!

It's been driving me crazy that I haven't been able to commit to a vacation plan for January. I like to book everything a ridiculously long time in advance.

I just heard that my grandpa is having triple by pass surgery with valve replacement this month. While I always knew this was in the plans, no one in our family knew that it would be this soon.

I'm a little confused how to deal with this from a distance. My first reaction was to see if I could cancel all of my November travel plans to head back to Edmonton, but I think that's the wrong approach. I don't like the idea that I won't physically be there to help. This is a big surgery, with an even bigger recovery time (it can range from 3 to 12 months). This isn't going to be a walk in the park. My grandpa's basically going to be doing a six month marathon.

I will continue to do what I can from a far, visit in January, and then make plans for my grandparents to join me in Montreal (I'm hoping the…

Apple Crisp Challenge - Part II

[I thought I'd be done by Part II, but obviousy I'm more wordy than I thought. Not sure if you already know where I'm going with this story...] If you missed Part I, start here. You go outside and look at the compost “pan”. Um. Not gonna happen. You look around the bathroom, the living room, the “root cellar” and still nothing. The kitchen…there’s a shelf with some pans, but they all have 1990’s Teflon coating (half scratched off) and plastic handles. There are no other options. Okay…okay…so what to do with the compost? After a pantry search you find some Safeway bags. No black garbage bags. You remember seeing a bunch of large rags in the root cellar. You go and get the rags and bags (this is reminding me of a rod stewart song). You line the a small area on the porch with some of the Safeway bags, then put a layer of large rags (it takes about 9 of them), dump the worm/apple peal/dirt/gunk out on your new little invention, and then cover it with the Safeway bags. You find a …