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Theme Song of the Day:

Night WindowsThe Weakerthans


British Columbia is a place that sings loudly to me.  I have grown up with the mountains and the ocean and the forests in my backyard – three decades of walking through postcard-quality scenery on a day-to-day basis – and yet it still takes my breath away. 

We’ve all heard that one of the great things about going away is how much you appreciate what you’ve got when arriving home again. This has to be true for so many people around the globe.  The comfort, familiarity, and routine of home…it’s got its appeal.  We derive focus and a sense of direction with this blanket of habit and recognition.

A pattern to smudge over the chaos.  

In this part of the world, on the west coast in particular, we are blessed to not only have wild, natural beauty at our doorstep, but the laid-back friendliness of the people that surround us should not be taken for granted.  A simple stop in the middle of a busy street (with a slack-jawed look of confusion) warrants a stranger stopping to not only offer assistance… but you know what?…uh, I was headed in that direction already so why don’t I just lead the way and make sure you get to where you’re going?…Want half my muffin?

It’s like living in a Disney movie.

This is not to imply naivety.  Not at all.  We just have friendliness and it perpetuates itself…one person smiles and then the next.  It’s science!  As a whole we are educated and alert and maybe we have an underlying confidence that allows us to put ourselves out there.  It’s really something.

Where am I going with all of this provincial pride?  Well I didn’t actually intend to go on and on about how great we are up here in the Pacific Northwest.  I just couldn’t help myself…! 

But truth be told, I guess it all comes down to the fact that I’m seeing home in a very different light than ever before.  My main component isn’t here anymore. A huge part of the ‘home’ equation has been taken away.  My comfort and belonging is emotionally tied up in the life I have been building with one person for ten years.  I can still appreciate the qualities of home.  I still have that life…it’s just very different now…it’s individual – my observations may be more objective in some regards because of this… or, I don’t know – maybe they’re teetering towards a more subjective nature?

Anyway, I didn’t have too many expectations of coming back.  I knew I had to face the paperwork I have been putting off.  I have beautiful new babies in my life (all of them boys!) that I have had so much fun visiting.  I am honoured to take part in a couple of weddings, some BBQs, and more than a few parties!  I get to visit with friends and family and its been fantastic so far. 

A few hiccups along the way have threatened the digestive peace that is home.  Some of the hiccups are bigger than others, but I know I am strong; I can handle these…I will drink my water upside down and get through the worst of it (by the way – in Oz they stand on their heads and drink water right-side-up to cure hiccups).  

I am very aware that as issues arise, the temptation to pull away from all of it gets stronger.  I have to be careful not to become too numb or distant when dealing with stressful situations. Sometimes the little things seem unmanageably big and then at others the big things seem so small in comparison to all that I have been through. 

Uh…yup….’subjective’ is the clear winner here. 

Give me the stress of a lost bus ticket or a language barrier any day – it seems easier than trudging through even the smallest confrontation or mishap at home.

All of this: the good and the bad, it’s all part of life.  Things should get easier as time moves forward.  For now I am happy to visit ‘home’ and I am looking forward to heading back on the road in only a few short weeks.

Let the adventure continue.

Island View Beach

Airlie BeachStacey and I arrived in Airlie Beach and checked into a fully-stocked cabin in an RV Park. Pure luxury – all the amenities we could need…Tim Tams in the fridge. It was important for us to be comfortable, as we were still feeling Jucy-Van withdrawals.

We thought we should explore the town that evening and as we were getting ready to go out, we turned on the TV. I am proud to have watched a grand total of maybe five hours of television since arriving on the continent four weeks ago. The part I’m a little less proud of…: the entirety of my exposure to Australian television has been So You think You Can Dance: Australia. Crikey…! Well at least I can blame friends for ‘making’ me watch the first three episodes (thanks Alice, Megan, Cat…); I happen to be in Brisbane on three different occasions when it just happened to be on. Stacey got hooked during two of those occasions, so we not only watched the entire episode that night in Airlie Beach…we guffawed with the audience when Timomatic was voted off. Poor guy.
Anyway, we tore ourselves away from the riveting show (we waited until it was done) and had a fun night out. We were told later that it’s an unwritten rule that people get to A.B. and stay up late dancing and then have to get on their sailboat tour the next day. I like to think I already had my sea-legs on. I was swaying before we left shore! Ha, no, no, it wasn’t so bad…
The Condor

The Condor

We boarded the beautiful Condor, a well-traveled and highly adorned tall ship that reached her peak, racing-wise, in the 80’s. We met our crew: Aaron, Ange, and Adele, and the 27 other 18-35 year-olds we would be bunking with for the next two nights and days. After the administrative/rule stuff was dealt with, the sails were hoisted and we set off at a mad pace towards our first destination: Whitsunday Island’s Whitehaven Beach. This is a beautiful mass of white sand; swirls of light blue and white that spans over seven kilometers. We would would anchor there for the night. Unfortunately the mad pace to get there was more of a saunter as the sails billowed in an ‘S’ shaped – we failed to catch the non-existent wind. It was still beautiful as we slowly motored our way through the many islands (there are said to be over 70 of them). The lazy sunset suited the atmosphere of the boat and the feelings of the passengers. We ate our chicken dinner, and we all got to know each other a little better. Whitehaven

It was a long, hot and muggy night. The Irish boys were drinking goon until 3:00am and attempting to mimic all the bird sounds they had heard in their many months of travel. They were surprisingly talented, much to the chagrin of the 20 odd people listening below…. I would be surprised if anyone got any sleep before 2am.

I have to admit that although I make every attempt to avoid thinking myself a victim, I really felt hard-done-by with my particular bunk. It was a coffin! Stacey and I were ‘lucky’ to get a double bed. This meant that some one (by chance, a really charming bloke that was quite disgusted with the whole arrangement and made every attempt at making it easier on us) slept above the person against the wall (me)….less than two feet above… when I turned on my side, my hips would move the mesh of his hammock (and apparently give him a relaxing massage – but that’s for another blog). It was already stuffy in the cabin and the human sandwich that was me just couldn’t handle it. I crept onto the cool, dewy deck above, and managed to sleep a few. It was hard, and actually a bit cold with the sopping sheet that was my blanket, but the view was unbeatable!

The stars: wow. With very little interfering light and only a sliver of a moon, the stars were very clear and bright. All the constellations are upside down and Orion lies on his side down here in the Southern Hemisphere. The second night of the trip, with some forethought and the necessity of avoiding the dungeon below, I saved myself some pain and asked for a mat to sleep on. As I was falling asleep I finally found something I have been trying to locate for the last month or so: The Big Dipper. It’s here, it’s just turned upside down and only visible along the horizon for part of the night. It’s also really faint, so definitely not the superstar it is up North. I felt comforted by seeing a little speck of home and was able to sleep soundly the second night.The Boat

Anyway, we spent the next full day swimming and checking out Whitehaven Beach. We weren’t able to sail that day either, but as Aaron, our captain, pointed out: we got blue skies and calm water and intensely warm sunshine, so it was a bit of a trade-off. He said this after blaming us passengers for not doing the ‘wind-making dance’ well enough.A brief moment caught on film

On our way to one of the other bays we saw dolphins. They played in the wake of passing boats and provided much entertainment. We spent some time snorkeling and swimming and then watched the sunset from a small island made of sand. The second night was a little tamer (everyone had run out of booze) so it was a little more relaxed. We had to get up early to take advantage of being anchored in Blue Pearl Bay – also dubbed The Fish Tank. There are SO many fish. They swim around you like you’re the good looking one! The visibility wasn’t spectacular, but it didn’t matter because they are all so close to you. Sweet!

The Lovely Crew

The Lovely Crew

So that was our sailing trip through the Whitsundays. I would highly recommend it if you get the chance to get out this way. The boat was beautiful, the staff was really laid-back, but still professional, and the scenery was outstanding. My one suggestion: just ask for the sleeping mat right off the bat and save yourself the feeling of slowly drowning in a too-hot, stinky-foot-stew. Mmmhh….

Theme Songs of the Day:

Neopolitan Dreams – Lisa Mitchell, from the album Welcome to the Afternoon [note* this one’s for you Kim & Jenny]

Only Love Can Break Your Heart – Neil Young, from the album After the Gold Rush

Hospitla Beds – Cold War Kids, from the album Robbers and Cowards

Absinthe Party – Minus the Bear, from the album Highly Refined Pirates

Another Sunset, oh my

I’m almost in the clear – mere boxes to move and some floors to clean, and I will be free of the heavy house hanging over my head. Ha.

Why am I writing this all down? Should I have started this whole blogging thing once the actual journey began?…maybe on the plane…or in Brisbane, my first stop? It definitely could have been a little more exciting, had I new and novel things to write. But no – I think I started writing – or, more precisely, sharing – at the perfect time for me. Starting now, while I’m still at home, offers some sort of anchor to my world here; a point of reference.

After spending many hours with friends, packing and cleaning and talking – well, it reminds me why this will always be home for me. I am so comfortable here. I am so safe and cared for. Who could ask for more? I am grateful.

While an old friend and I briefly talked this evening, I realized that writing has always been important to me. I find joy in keeping track of stuff – all of it – thoughts and ideas, events, quotes… it’s inspiring, but it can be a lonely place as well…an oubliette of sorts. I delve and sometimes I can’t find the way out. Writing with intent may be a good way to stay out of the dungeon. If I believe that someone may read the stuff I put down on paper (so to speak) then I should be able to stay coherent! At least I will aim to be coherent…er…at least after this paragraph!?!

So only a couple of days left in town. Every moment is something special. I am taking snapshots in my head. I am racing around to tie up all those loose ends, and all the while I am doing my best to have fun. I think I am succeeding. I KNOW I am.

How do I know?  I know, because no matter how high-strung I feel, I can still find time to sing loudly in the car.  To all the songs.  Whether I know the words or not.

This is one of my favourite things in the world. Everyone should do this. Who cares if other drivers look at you funny! Maybe you’ll inspire them to do the same. Admittedly, I often take the long route in order to finish a song. It borders on ridiculous, but there it is…my semi-guilty pleasure. Oh, really…you know, I don’t feel guilty at all.

Anywhere we can find joy – that’s a good place to be.

Theme songs of the day:

Take Me to the Riot – Stars, from the Album In Our Bedroom After the War

Anecdote – Ambulance LTD, from the album Ambultance LTD

Can’t Stand Me Now – The Libertines, from the album The Libertines


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