Can't Sleep ...

I was doing some searching on the net yesterday and came up with some disappointing news. China has a one pet per passport rule. I've sort of had my heart set on going to China to study for a few years, but I can't bare the thought of having to give up the little ones ... or even worse, having to choose one to go and one to stay. How traumatizing!

I guess I will make contact with someone to see if there are any exceptions to the rule, but I imagine if they make an exception for me, then they'll have to make an exception for the next guy and so on. What would be the point of the rule? All one can do is ask, I suppose.

My other thought was to find someone to claim one as theirs ... try to bring them both over that way, but after reading an article such as so ...

Dog cull in China to fight rabies

... it disgusts me. I would think there had to be a better way to handle the situation. I'm not really willing to risk their lives over there. I would be devastated if I let something terrible happen to them ... something that I knew I had the ability to control.

It presents the problem of a girl with a love to travel and a desire to see the world but also a girl with an unconditional love for these two cats. Should I be selfish or do I stick with the responsibilites?

I brought them into my life to provide them with all the love I can give so that they wouldn't have to live the lonely life of a street cat. And, I know ... they will probably be able to adapt to life with another family in another home but ... the thing is ... I'm not sure I trust that someone else would spoil them as greatly as I think they deserve to be!

What's a girl to do?

Beautiful British Columbia ...

As Tuesdays are an easy day ... I have one two hour class in the afternoon ... I was able to upload my photos from BC. There were so many, it was hard to pick and choose. I have come up with a few pages. If you have a moment ... take a look and enjoy!

Click the link on the sidebar ----->

As the sign says ...

Two new albums have been posted. If you have a moment, please take the time to check them out. Another of BC is soon on the way. There are so many photos that I think I'll need the weekend to sort it all out.

See the links on the side ----->

Monday August 28th, 2006

As you can see ... things are getting back to normal around here ... fast internet and two cats that won't let me out of their sight. Levi came around quite quickly yesterday but Datsun was a tough sell. He came out around dinner time ... must have liked the smell of the food.

This afternoon is the start of the new sememster at school. I will now be teaching Level 2 and Level 3 ... I am looking forward to seeing the new setup along with the new materials ... fun, fun!

The weather calls for highs of 34 all week ... going to spend my mornings at the pool, catching some rays before the typhoon hits ... looks like it may arrive by the weekend which'll be purrrfect. That means a quiet weekend with some movies and some cats!

Home Sweet Home ...

Today seemed like the perfect day to arrive. Although I was tired, the plane landed just in time for the sun to show. The airport is about an hour away from my house ... it was really nice to be able to watch the day come in. Taiwan varies greatly from day to night ... each bringing lots of different goodies.

I arrived home to a big, white apartment and two unhappy kitties. I miss having coloured walls ... it was nice to see so many during my travels. If I want to paint the walls here, I have to paint them back to white before leaving. I'm not sure it's worth the work as I don't know that I'll be here for too many more years.

Lea and Dustin drove me to the airport on Friday night for the trip home. (Thank you, thank you!) Three hours in the airport, twelve hours on the plane and then another two for customs, bags and the limo home made for a long trip. You'd think the more you have under your belt, the easier they'd become but I don't think this is so. It was a long flight.

One thing I will say ... although I spent the month complaining about the cold ... I am shocked at the humidity. First thing I did when I got in the door was strip down to some short shorts and a tank and I'm still dripping with sweat. Hamilton, humid? Hahahaha ... take the trip to Asia and see what the word really means.

My cats still aren't ... cooperating with me at the moment. They are both hiding in the couch. I can't access them where they are now, but I can lie on the floor and talk to them and guess what ... they are both purring like idiots, yet neither will come out. Each time one or the other comes out, they stare at me with these unhappy eyes and if I make a motion to go towards them, back in the couch they go ... brats. I guess they have a right to express their disapproval.

A storm is coming in ... I guess it wasn't such a good day to do laundry as I don't have a dryer. Thunder is pounding out there ... it's not helping with the cat situation. I even tried luring them out with some new tasty treats but no dice. Rain is coming down in sheets ... I'd say torrential even ... after one month of blue skies and sunshine ... the rain is kinda nice ... it's definitely cooling down that humid, sticky air. I guess you really do get acclimatized easily to what surrounds you. I miss the food already, that is for sure.

Anyway ... my apartment is a mess and I have a ton of things to unpack so off I go. I hope to be making some changes to my blog over the next few weeks, if time permits. Keep your eyes posted ...

A place for my stuff ...

It's kind of a funny feeling knowing that I no longer have anything here in Canada. It allows me a feeling of freedom, yet it also leaves me with a feeling of loss. Stuff is a funny thing. We, as people, always have more stuff than one could possibly need. I wonder why it is that we need these material things ...

My storage locker contained 25 boxes as well as some furniture. As I looked through the boxes, each particular item brought me back to a time and a place of how it came to be with me. Some brought smiles ... others, not so much. As I looked through my things of so long ago, the memories brought a feeling of not wanting to give any of it up. I had to remind myself that I haven't lived with these things for over three years, so why the sudden thoughts of desire or need?

The other night, I was helping to put my two adorable nephews to bed and I told them the story about the boy, Hong, I had met in Cambodia ... the one I offered my pencil and paper to ... I remembered his confused face at the thought of me actually giving away, in his eyes, these valuable things. My nephews are 7 and 5 and I'm not totally sure they understood the point I was trying to get across with my story. It did remind me that stuff is only that. People hang on to so many unnecessary and more importantly, unneeded things. We feel we need these things to carry on with life, when in actuality not much is needed at all.

So ... with my storage locker empty and paid in full, with nothing left but a few small things that will join my life in Taiwan, I leave Victoria today. I will spend a few nights in Vancouver with my friend, Lea. Late Friday evening, I'll be hopping a plane to Taiwan.

This will be my last post until I arrive back home. Here's hoping for some safe travels ... see you on or from the other side.

Monday August 21st, 2006

Used Victoria seemed to be a success! I had so many responses that I decided to hold a garage sale out front of Mom's building on Saturday morning. I sold most of my things, leaving me with about $400 in my pocket ... needless to say, I am thrilled. I will be taking the rest of my CDs to a second hand shop where I hope to get a little more money for them.

I have a pile of knickknacks that I'll be taking back to Taiwan with me ... I am hoping they will fit into my two bags. I have also left a few choice things here with Mom. Other than that, everything I had here ... gone. It's amazing how one can close up a chapter of their life and start onto the next. I suppose I'm three years into my new chapter already. I never imagined I'd stay in Asia for as long as I have.

British Columbia has been great so far. I stayed two nights with my friend, Jody, upon my arrival. We cruised the Sea Wall which is one of my favourite things to do while in Vancouver. We also visited one of my favourite restaurants ... Cafe Luxy. It was delicious!

It has been a bit cold here for my liking ... the breeze is so chilly. I do miss the sounds of the ocean, however. The west end of Vancouver has changed a lot in my eyes. I can't believe the number of homeless people around. It's sad and depressing and not a place I'd choose to live in anymore. Who needs to see all that unhappiness everyday. It's hard to believe the city can't do something to clean it up ... it's making a beautiful city into a very unappealing place.

I know I said in an earlier post that I'd post some new albums of my time in Ontario, but I haven't had the time and Mom's internet connection is too slow. I will work on it once I get back and settled in Taiwan. I hear Taiwan has been having a heat wave ... I am very much looking forward to it!

I have three days left in Victoria before heading back to Vancouver. Today, a few of us are going out hiking ... it should be fun! Victoria is a place I could see myself moving back to ... it's a place with lots of character and beauty.

I guess that's all for me for now. I'll leave with one last photo ... swinging on one of my most favourite swing sets. I must admit, while I was in Melaka, Malaysia, I found a swing set that topped the one on the Sea Wall. It was bigger and better ... amazing! I love swings!

Saturday August 19th, 2006

A bit of a giggle to go with your morning coffee ... a birthday card from my 16th birthday, titled 'The Italian who went to New York'.

One day Ima go to New York to a bigga hotel. I go down to eat somma breakfast. I tella the waitress I wanna two piss toast. She branga me only onea piss. I tella her I wanna two piss, she say go to the toliet, I say you no understand. I wanna two piss on my plate. She say you better no piss on the plate you sonna ma bitch. I don't even know the lady and she calla me sonna ma bitch.

Later, I go to eat soma lunch at Drake Restaurant, the waitress bringa me a spoon ana knife but no fock. I tella her I wanna fock. She tellsa me everybody wanna fock. I tella her, you no understand, I wanna fock on the table. You sonna ma bitch. I don't even know the lady and she call me a sonna ma bitch.

So I go back to my room inna hotel an there's no sheet on my bed. I calla the manager ana tell him I wanna sheet. He tells me to go to the toilet. So I say you no understand, I wanna sheet on the bed. He say you better not sheet on the bed, you sonna ma bitch. I don't even know the man and he call me sonna ma bitch.

I go to check out and the man at the desk, he say peace to you. I say piss onna you too, you sonna ma bitch.

I go back to Italy!!

Thursday August 17th, 2006

I am sitting down with my lunch which consists of spinach and mushrooms and red onion and crushed almonds and mandarin oranges ... it's all topped with some greek feta type dressing ... mmmm ... it's like heaven in my mouth. I like the food here ... I don't like the cold. I am bundled up in my Mom's heavy track suit. She offered me a heating blanket last night and my thought was ... heating blanket in August? ... after a cold night, I've decided I may give it a go this evening. I hope I never get reclimatized to this weather ... it must be about 14 out there.

This morning, Bill and I ran to the storage locker and pulled out a lot of boxes which contain my life in Canada. I remember getting rid of so many things way back when but it wasn't nearly enough. I find myself left with so many boxes. This morning, I started with boxes of cards and letters and small knick knacks and photos that I've kept over the years. Some things I seem to remember like it was yesterday, while other things have left me feeling a bit clueless. It's hard to pick and choose what to take and what to donate.

It seems we aren't having the garage sale after all. I hear Victoria is a city of newlyweds or nearly deads. A website has been suggested to me called Used Victoria. I have spent the day going through boxes, writing down the contents and taking some photos here and there. Hopefully I can get rid of a good chunk, otherwise the women's shelter is laughing!

I, of course, have pulled out too many things to take back to Taiwan. As the next few days go on I will have to weed some things out. It was rather interesting to see what I had packed from so many years ago. My cousin asked me to write about the most interesting thing I found and at this point I can't come up with a good answer. I think the whole thing has been interesting ... it starts with birthday cards as far back as three years old.

It's signed, Aunt Jill, Uncle Terry, Eric and Sarah. They have two other kids, but I suppose at that point they weren't born ... funny. Well, back to digging I go. It looks like this is going to be a project and a half.

Sunday August 13th, 2006

Today is my last day in Hamilton ... tomorrow morning, bright and early, I'll be catching a plane to BC. My time here has been wonderful and I, luckily, managed to see all of my relatives except for one cousin! Coming from a family with 55 aunts, uncles and cousins, I'd say I didn't do too bad this time around. It was great to see everyone and hear about all the good things going on in everyone's life. Again, two weeks wasn't enough and I'm sure it will be another two years before I find myself back in this part of the world.

Toronto hasn't changed too much from what I remember ... my friend and I walked around for almost six hours taking in the sites. We walked the main streets, shopped through Kensington Market, took photos of the CN Tower, sat by the waterfront and watched the boats. We walked through the Steam Whistle Brewery and even stopped for a free sample glass. We went to a restaurant called Live which serves raw and vegan food ... if you find yourself in T.O., it's a must go taste kinda place.

My friend just returned from six months of travel through some great countries and the stories he told brought a smile to my heart and fond memories of the treks I've made thus far. Michael ... thanks for sharing your stories and your photos ... and keep on trekking.

After a long day cruising the streets of Toronto I found myself back home with a message waiting to be up and out by 830am the next day ... Niagara Falls, here I come! Well, 830am didn't happen ... Freda and I were out the door by 1030am instead. We made the drive to the falls and I had forgotten how unbelievable they are. It's just a mass rush of water ... amazing. I took a ton of photos and some video which I hope my students will appreciate. I stood in awe staring at the falls ... there isn't a word that begins to describe it's greatness. It's been years and years since I've been to that place and it was nice to get back to see it.

As for my food list, it still continues on with lots of yummy goodness ... turnip and roasts and Swiss Chalet and East Side Mario's and lemon meringue pie and spinach and wine gums and sour keys ... have I gained 10 pounds yet? Perhaps ...

Some new albums will be posted once I arrive at my Mom's ... keep your eyes posted.

Wednesday August 10th, 2006

Time is flying by and I haven't had a moment's rest. I guess this is the way it goes when you get to your hometown once every two years or so. I was looking for a nice, relaxing vacation ... so much for that. Just when I get a moment to sit down, it's only another few before I'm up and running out to the next place. I've hardly done any of my Chinese writing homework ... bad student! I am going to have to bust my you know what when I get back to Taiwan. I'll have about three weeks before Uni starts.

Tuesday, I went to St. Jacobs, ON with Freda, my Dad's girlfriend, and my aunt Pauline. St. Jacobs is the home community of many old order Mennonites who drive around town via horse and buggy. I noticed that horses are put to work rather than using the conveniences of tractors and such. The town has many unique shops along with a huge farmers market and flea market. I was amazed at the abundance of fruit, vegetables and meat available. If there is one thing I've learned this time around ... it's that North America is overly spoiled and overstocked with food.

I went to Sobeys in Brighton with Bill, my stepfather, and he had to drag me through the aisles as there were so many things I haven't seen in years. All of the grocery stores here are at least three times the size of the ones in Taiwan ... never mind how many stores exist here. I wonder how it is that there are so few people in Canada, yet the food supply is massive. I wonder how much of it actually goes to waste ... I'm sure it's shocking. Taiwan is a country of convenience and a lot of the older homes don't have kitchens. I suppose that's why there isn't a need for big grocers. There are small food stalls and restaurants everywhere and you can eat for next to nothing on the streets... but, still. I miss the big grocers with all that variety to choose from.

Today I went to Dundurn Castle with my friend, Jada, and her daughter, Savannah. It's hard to believe she's three. What a cutie she is ... although, it still doesn't make me want one ... sorry, Mom! It was $25 to take a tour through the inside of the castle but we decided that was a bit too rich for our blood ... plus trying to take a three year old through ... probably not the best plan. The grounds were beautiful, so it was nice just to walk around.

Tomorrow I will be heading to Toronto for the day. I am meeting up with a friend I met in Cambodia. He owns a house in T.O., so he's going to show me around in exchange for some of my photos from Cambodia. It'll be nice to see someone from the other side of the world ... share some travel stories.

Only four more full days for me before I head to B.C. Most of my time will be spent on the island with my Mom and Bill, so I should be able to find some time for R & R as I don't know anyone except them. I do have to deal with a storage locker full of things and a garage sale, but I hope that won't take up too much of my time.

For now, I am off for beer with one of my oldest and dearest friends, Howie. I can't wait to see him! Knock, knock ... good timing, Howie ...

... 130am ... just arrived home from Hess Village. We decided to go to the Pink Flamingo ... after sitting down, the girl at the door came over to tell me that they don't allow bandannas at the bar ... huh? How silly is that? We decided to take our business elsewhere. I am off to bed as I have an early start tomorrow.

Sunday August 6th, 2006

... and the list continues on ... apricots, blueberries, 12 grain bread, donuts, raspberry vinegarette dressing, timbits, heavenly hash ice cream ... oh, so heavenly ... cheese, pitas, hummus, spinach dip, cream cheese, homemade hamburgers on the bbq, radishes, zucchini, cinnamon buns, assorted lunch meats, apple cobbler, Rolo ice cream, ju-jubes, honey lager beer... so, so good!

I now find myself in Brighton, ON at my aunt and uncle's house ... this is day three. They live about 5 minutes away from Presqu'ile National Park which is situated on Ontario Lake. It is very beautiful and peaceful. My whole family has managed to make it up for the event. That means there are 34 of us here ... we are missing 2 as they are about to have a baby. I can't believe how big all of my cousin's kids are ... it makes me feel a little old, if you want to know the truth.

Today I am sporting a bit of a sunburn, but I am looking forward to another full, relaxing day on the beach. I suppose it will be another day of yummy western food. I think I will try to ride one of the bicycles down to the park. There are so many hiking trails within, I'd like to do some exploring.

I'd like to get some more photos as there is a 2006 photo contest which gives one the chance to win a new digital camera. I would love to get a better camera, so I'm going to enter some photos ... see if I can't upgrade.

We are having a photographer come today at 10am for some family photos ... I best get myself up and ready!

Cat of the day ...

It seems that it's Datsun's turn to be cat of the day. With a face like that? Why wouldn't he be?!

Check out the link:

Kat's Cat of the Day

Knowing Datsun, he is probably asleep at the moment ... his favourite thing to do! I miss him dearly ... sending him all my love.

Wednesday August 2nd, 2006

I am hoping today is the day that I find myself in tune with the time. The past few days have been a bit of a write off as I've been quite tired throughout the day and quite awake throughout the night.

Yesterday, Brother J and I went out around Hamilton. He took me to Battlefield park which doesn't seem nearly as massive as I remember it. It's been years and years since I've been there ... I mostly remember going as a little girl. I did get some photos but the day was almost too bright for me to get anything good.

The weather has been at an all-time high, temperatures are in the high 30's. To me, it feels like a very dry heat ... I am quite enjoying it. We get this heat in Taiwan for months on end, but with it we get this amazing humidity that keeps you soaked wet with sweat for most of the day. I'm not sure I even broke a sweat yesterday.

Dad has been laughing at me since my arrival. He leaves his air on all the time which means I'm in pants and a heavy sweater while inside ... usually with a blanket on my feet to cover my cold toes. He can't believe I feel chilly, but I don't think he understands the heat I reside in. Taiwan homes don't have central air, so it's a very different thing over there. I live in the hot, hot heat with two fans and a great cross breeze ... one just gets used to their environment.

After Battlefield Park, Brother J and I proceeded to Value Village ... one of my favourite places to shop! For $22CAN I was able to buy two tanks, two long sleeves and a pair of surf shorts ... what a deal! I love that place! The clothes in Asia, for me, aren't a great fit ... I am shaped quite differently than that of a Taiwanese girl.

After Value Village, the fun continued on to Stoney Creek Dairy. I had two scoops of tiger stripe ice cream on a cone ... another treat, indeed!

I hung around the house last night with Dad and Freda. We watched Canadian Idol ... it's pretty funny and not nearly as exciting as the American version. The talent seems to lack in comparison. While watching TV, I was able to indulge in some Lays Ketchup potato chips that Freda had bought for me in the afternoon. Thank you, Freda! I was considering having some more for breakfast this morning, but I think that would be pushing it.

Brother J is moving into his new apartment in a few short hours. The earlier the better as we don't want to move in the high heat of the afternoon. I am, once again, reading The Alchemist. This is my third time through. I am only a few short pages in and it's already a breath of fresh air. I will leave you with some words from the book for thought:

“To realize one's destiny is a person's only obligation. Whenever we do something that fills us with enthusiasm, we are following our legend.”

How true, those words ...

Monday July 31st, 2006

225am ... it's been almost a full day since my arrival in Canada and let me tell you, things seem a bit weird this time around.

It was a long travel day ... my flight left Taiwan on Sunday at midnight. I arrived in Vancouver at 830pm on Sunday ... funny that ... and the first thing I noticed was the sun ... it was still flying high in the sky. Taiwan doesn't participate in daylight savings so it's always dark by 7pm. In the winter, it can get dark as early as 5pm. I must admit, I do miss the long summer days.

I stated in my earlier post that I was looking forward to the 15+ hours I'd have in the air. I completely take that back. I wasn't able to get any sleep on the first leg of the flight ... the flight out of BC left at 11pm. As my timing was off and I was starving, I decided to eat a meal which means I wasn't able to get any sleep on the second leg either. I arrived in Toronto at 6am feeling very tired.

What can I say about Canada? The empty streets are shockingly eerie. Gas ... 108.9 ... what is that? I wonder how one can afford to drive. I don't know exactly what the gas prices are in Taiwan ... I've never really considered taking the time to look. It only costs about $4CAN to fill my scooter and I can run on that for 4 or 5 days, depending on my schedule.

Tonight a group of us went to Hess Village ... six of us to be exact. GST 6% ... PST 8% and Liquor Tax??? Our bill contained $23 in taxes, then a $15 tip on top of that ... ouch. Living in a country where taxes and tipping don't exist, it seems a bit outrageous.

It's nice to be back in the world of western food. I've already had nachos and salsa and sour cream and lasagna and red onions and roasted peppers and baby carrots and dip and a Five Alive ... all things not easily attainable in Taiwan. I found myself drooling over the abundance of candy and chocolate bars at the airport tills ... Coffee Crisps, Wine Gums, O'Henry Bars, Licorice, Mars Bars ... mmmmm ... the list goes on.

Recently, I've been teaching my kids words like yard and fence and hedge and staircase and driveway and garage. My thought is to take some video of the streets here which can allow them to see the homes and properties that are kept by families so they can relate a bit more to how it works here. I'd like to show them the space that one family is allotted which normally goes unused. I know we have the space to spare and it can afford to go unused, but it also seems a bit unnecessary.

The roads ... it's an amazing concept that red lights really mean stop and wait ... yellow lights mean slowing down instead of speeding up ... that changing lanes means turning on the ticker and doing a shoulder check before crossing over. One can't compare it to the madness of Taiwan. As I said earlier, eerily quiet.

Although I know Taiwan is a foreign country ... to me, at this moment, Canada couldn't feel more foreign ... I find myself looking around in amazement at such a different world from what I know and live. I'm glad to be experiencing it all, of course ... but it certainly is being seen from different eyes.

One last thing ... a few months back I entered my favourite photo from Cambodia into a contest. I didn't hear anything back so I hadn't really thought anything of it. As it turns out, a letter was waiting upon my arrival stating that my photo has been chosen to be published in a book which my father has already purchased for me. I don't have the actual book in hand yet as it's still being published. It's all very exciting but more importantly, it's inspiring ... inspiring to want to continue to bigger and better things with some of the photos I have taken over the past while.