Every kind of move requires a change in mindset. An adjustment period, so to speak. Moving from Victoria to Ottawa required me to adjust to the idea of walking down a busy street or through a crowded mall and not knowing one person. Or having gone to school with their sister. Moving from living with my roomie to living on my own required me to accept the fact that I could, actually, spend an entire evening watching episode after episode of Felicity and not feel the slightest amount of guilt for doing so while there were dirty dishes in the sink. Not that my roomie was a guilt-tripping type, but I was fairly good at guilt-tripping myself. I could also eat ice cream at 2:00 a.m. and no one was around to judge me for it. I never actually did this...but I remember marvelling at the thought that I could. Damn you, guilty conscience. Moving from my own apartment into a house with Kurt required me to realize that I can actually function while only using half of the cupboard space in the bathroom.

Moving to a tiny island in the middle of the ocean has required more adjustment than any of my previous moves. Yes, I went swimming today - in the ocean - on November 25th. There's one mindset I don't mind getting my head around. OK...I have a palm tree outside my front door. I don't mind that either. They drive on the wrong side of the road - this one still gets to me a bit. But the worst one by far is the fact that groceries are never, ever a sure thing.

In the height of my suburban Ottawa life, I enjoyed the many luxuries that come along with being surrounded by a number of clean, well-stocked, well-lit, gigantic grocery stores. I had my favorites - choices based not on the availability of certain items, but the quality of said items. I could get my olives here...or I could drive just a little further down the road and get the really good olives over there. I preferred one store over the others because they arranged their fruit and vegetables symmetrically and they always seemed to be shining. Maybe it was the wax coating, or the light reflecting off of crystalized pesticides...but I liked it. No matter where I went, I knew that I could always find an eggplant, a can of chipotles, pita bread...whatever I wanted.

This is no longer the case.

It's not even remotely the case.

I feel as though I am participating in some sort of treasure hunt where the only prize is spending far more money to settle for something that is not quite what I am looking for. Like spending $8.99 for a jar of peanuts, when what I really wanted was natural peanut butter. And then having to grind them yourself. Which I may or may not have done last week.

Like most weekends, I decided to make a big pot of soup today. I'd picked my recipe on Saturday, based on what appeared to be readily available in the local grocery stores - sweet potatoes, red peppers, garlic. I made a list and went out yesterday to the pinnacle of fine local shopping to gather my ingredients. What a bust. Sweet potatoes, previously available in abundance from any local produce merchant, were mysteriously missing from the aisles of this fine establishment. And when I say fine, I mean Godiva chocolate and artisan sea salts fine.

So, on we went to two other places. Both were well stocked with various other types of potatoes, but absolutely no sweet potatoes. I should mention here that one of them displays its produce on what appear to be a bookshelf, under a shelf of salted cod. I had already purchased the other ingredients for the soup...I was desperate. After our ocean swim, we headed to one final grocery store in the hopes of success. And this is what we found:

It was in the right area for sweet potatoes, in betwen regular potatoes and those things that I don't have a clue of what to do with....they look like brown roots, coated with wax...? Anyways, it looked like the right place. But it did not look like a sweet potato at all. First of all, it was huge. To exemplify the size, I posed it next to the recently deceased Sony Ericsson (R.I.P.):

Gigantic. The thing weighed over three pounds. Secondly, it wasn't the right color. It was under the sign for sweet potatoes, and it was in the right colour family, but I wasn't positive. But, given the need to use the other veggies I'd bought (at great expense, assuming that this wouldn't be an issue), I figured that desperate times call for desperate measures and we bought it. At $2.79/lb. The recipe called for a 45 minute roasting time...this took twice that, and it was cut in half.

This wasn't the first time that we've driven pretty much end to end of the island, looking for an ingredient that we probably used to have backed up stock of in our cupboards. It is true that it's easier to see what's in the stores and then plan your meals, since you never know what you will or will not find. The most readily available ingredients back home become hot commodities the second a ship is late, and some things are just not around at all. Luckily, we've found most of what we've needed and actually found some decent substitutions. There are a lot of things here that we can't get in Canada, which is always neat. Like Oh's! cereal, which I looooved as a kid, but isn't sold in Canada anymore. The fact that it's on the shelves here is a small miracle, though all the Spanish on the box makes me think that it may have been destined for Mexico and took a wrong turn. Lucky for me.

Another new find is Bare Fruit, which is exactly that...baked fruit, sold in bags like chips, with only "organic apples" or "organic cherries" listed under ingredients. Delish.

Back to the mutant potato. It was delicious.

And, it was most definitely a sweet potato.

By the way, I highly recommend the recipe on page 121 of rebar cookbook. Wow.


Clearly, I'm still dealing with a serious lack of internet. We're weighing our options now as far as service goes, but it doesn't look like we'll get internet service at home for under $180/month. Isn't that just freakin' fantastic? I can't get over what a great deal that is..n't. It's brutal. But, I'm stuck halfway through television seasons and am dying to find out what happens to Meredith and friends, so obviously, it's a must-have service.

I am so out of touch.

I have access to everything during working hours. Unfortunately, I spend those hours "working". We have no TV at home, so I'm totally behind on the Hills, ANTM, Grey's (like, an entire season behind...seriously), the Office, Weeds...I have a lot of downloading to do. Legally, of course.

The weather is cooling down a bit. And while I don't want to say too much on the subject and piss off my snow-laden Ottawa friends, the sunny beach weather may be over for now. At least, in the "spend a day at the beach" sense, though I'm told that you get those days off and on throughout the winter as well, so maybe there's still hope of rectifying the raccoon tan that I have acquired. It's been incredibly windy for the past two days. We went for a somewhat insane run yesterday morning and I thought, as we ran at an angle over a bridge with flimsy sides, that it wasn't a very smart thing to do. The wind was so strong that we weren't running in straight lines at all...we totally looked drunk at 6:30 a.m. Which, here, wouldn't be that odd, actually. At one point, the wind was blowing so hard into my ear that it actually hurt. The island isn't wide enough to give any shelter, so you're pretty much due for bad hair, no matter where you go. The ferries still run, though I'm pretty sure that I saw a woman run outside to barf this morning, so it's a bit choppy. Still, I'm not wearing a coat, so...I'll be quiet now.

The vacation feel is finally starting to wear off, though our weekends still seem like mini vacations, since we're always seeing something new. Or new to me, anyways. We've got a good little routine started with our morning runs or walks, actually eating breakfast (as opposed to the caffeine and baked goods diet I was on during my last few months in Ottawa), and I'm already feeling a million times better. I do shed a single tear at the thought of Farm Boy...or even Superstore...or the Market on Yates, since produce is such a bugger to come by here. Yes, you can find a fennel bulb...but you will pay $7.99 for it. Seriously. We've dabbled in the locally grown produce (marginally less expensive), which is limited to beets, sweet potatoes, some things I don't recognize, and fat carrots. They grow fat because they can't grow long, because the soil isn't very deep. Some things are tricky to find - we finally found capers and kalamata olives and Kurt located some canned chipotle peppers today, which I am pretty excited about. I do love a caper and a chipotle. But not together.

We have found the most amazing sushi. I'm a bit shocked at just how amazing it is, since sushi doesn't seem to be a real hit with the locals. About a 7 minute scooter ride from our place is this great little restaurant that has become our favorite, possibly because it is the most random place I've ever been or possibly because the awesome bartender brought a bottle of Grand Marnier to our table and literally drenched our tiramisu in it last week. Either way, it's pretty great. There is a take-out hut attached to a normal looking restaurant, attached to a dark English-style pub that doubles as the sushi bar AND an internet café. We went there on one of our first days here and we shared #60 off their sushi menu. What arrived is only "sushi" in the sense that it's rolled and involves rice and seaweed, but what they've actually done is take an inside out spicy tuna roll and then lightly deep fry it and drizzle some sort of delicious sauce over it. I'm not big on fried fact, the smell of deep fried food occasionally makes me dry heave...but this was/is AMAZING. Last Friday was not a good day, so we took ourselves out on a date and got a #60, along with various other delicious numbers, followed by aforementioned drenched tiramisu, and left in much better moods. Luckily for us, we can't actually afford to eat our feelings very often.

The other good thing (besides #60) that happened last Friday was that we became the owners of real, actual furniture. As in, items that do not require a pump to inflate. A queen-sized bed, a sofabed, table, 4 chairs, a desk, a tv/armoire, a mini-bar (haha), the biggest mirror that I have ever seen and three of the ugliest lamps I have ever seen became ours last Friday, at the total cost of $900. Thank you, Fairmont. Yes, it is hotel furniture and quite obviously so, except that Fairmont doesn't skimp on the swank and it's actually pretty decent stuff. So long as it's not inflatable, I'm happy. We're no longer eating off our laps, while sitting on the floor. Baby steps.

Finally, I just finished booking our trip to Mexico in February and already dreaming of fresh picked pineapple, pelliscadas, morning walks on the beach and quality time with the family. I'm so excited. Our 2007 Mexico trip was by far the best trip we've ever taken together, and we're hoping for a repeat performance in '08. Of course, actually getting to Mexico is slightly more tedious. Instead of a lovely direct flight from Toronto, we fly from here to Miami, and then on to Dallas, where we spend 4 hours, and THEN on to Mexico. Too bad that neither Miami or Dallas made it on my "cities to see before I die" list, or I could have at least made some headway. We do stopover in NYC on the way back, but I'm not sure if a 6 hour overnight stay qualifies as really "seeing" the city, so that box will remain unchecked for now. It's only a 2 hour (cheap) flight from here though, so the Aussie and I are planning a shopping trip.

Anyhoo...that's all.

OH...and the mourning period for Samsung X426 is officially over, with the acquisition of a far sleeker replacement. The mourning period for Sony Ericsson w810i continues until further notice.


I regret to inform that Samsung X426, age 3, and Sony Ericsson w810i, age 1, died on Saturday, November 10th, 2007, during an unfortunate incounter with a torrential downpour, whilst seemingly safe in Kurt's pockets. This was not the case, and though there were repeated attempts made to revive them through the use of various silica products and a hair dryer, all attempts were unsuccessful.

They leave behind their grieving owners, Kristin and Kurtis, their friends, iPod and wallets (with whom they travelled most frequently), and their SIM cards. Their tragic and accidental death was unexpected, but we are left with fond memories of zero dropped calls, amusing text messages, inappropriate camera phone photos, and Beverley Hills 90210/Warren G ring tunes. Our only regrets were paying some guy in the mall $50 each to unlock them before we left. What a bust.

Oh...and putting them in Kurt's pockets before riding into the storm.

Gone, but not forgotten.

Until we get newer, cooler phones, that is.

Two Weeks In.

It's now been exactly two weeks since I arrived here, even though it somehow seems longer. Three weeks ago, I was hanging out at the Moka House, and here I am...unable to find a decent latté anywhere, but definitely enjoying the fact that I spent Monday, November 12th, at the beach. Yes, Monday. It's a holiday here (Remembrance Day long weekend).
We have found ourselves a car. Finally. It's a bit of a piece of you-know-what, but it has a trunk large enough for me to buy an ironing board, which was really my main concern. I'm pretty excited to be able to grocery shop for more than one meal at a time. Besides which, we need furniture in a bad way and are pretty lost without a way to get it home, once found. Most people buy their furniture used here, since the turnover is so huge with people coming and going all the time, but the problem is - how to get it home? So long as we stay away from gargantuan, mammoth furniture, we'll be OK for now.
My first week of work went well at IBILF. My boss is great, the work is good, I loooove the location (though I was pretty spoiled for location in Ottawa too), and even though the office itself seems to have some sort of love affair with the colour beige and computer systems that channel 1999, I'm generally enjoying my days there so far. And that's all I'm going to say about work, since a) it doesn't really define my life here (though it does fund it), and b) I don't want to get fired for having a blog. That is so cliché.
Speaking of cliché, Kurt and I have traded in our mornings at Starbucks for morning runs. I'm sure that if there were a Starbucks here, this wouldn't have happened, but there isn't, so we've been hitting the road a few times a week, easing back into it so as not to scare my knee. Prior to this move, we were the ultimate snooze-button-hitters. We had it down to an art and, even though the initial alarm would go off at 6:30 or so, wouldn't usually roll out of bed until less than 20 minutes before we had to be out the door. We even went so far as to shower at night to save us that step in the morning, thus buying us precious time. And now? Casually jogging down the road at 6:20 a.m. We're starting slooooow, so it was more of a walk/run, but it's our third time out since we moved into the apartment and so far, so good. The sun is rising while we're on our way back, s0 we can see it lighting everything up. The sky does amazing things here at sunrise and sunset. If I could run effectively with my camera, I would take photos of it. We walk on our "rest" days, so maybe the camera will make an appearance tomorrow. We come home and still have plenty of time to shower, change, eat breakfast and walk to the ferry.
Speaking of my camera, it has gotten a workout. I am so happy that I decided to buy it when I did, even though it would have been even cheaper if I'd waited until the dollar hit $1.10, but then, I don't have any Canadian money anymore, so does it matter? Plus, I'd pay a fortune in shipping and then duties here...anyways....I'm glad that I already have it because it's been averaging about 60-100 shots every time I take it out. And, thanks to my awesome camera bag recommended to me by my awesome fellow Nikonian, Shan, it can go pretty much anywhere. It's especially great for the scooter. Everywhere I turn, there seems to be another calendar-worthy shot. To the point that if I posted them all, I would bore everyone to tears with various views of sand, waves, rocks, Kris, Kris and Kurt, Kurt etc., so I'll only put the best of up. You're welcome.
We just came off of a long weekend, which we spent pretty much just relaxing. We hadn't done that together since...oh...June, so it felt great to just watch shows on the laptops, do some cooking (the Rebar cookbook came with), do some exploring and hiking and planning out what we need for the apartment. Currently, our furniture list is as follows:
1 craptastic air mattress.
We're hoping that this will be a very different story after a big liquidation sale at one of the local Fairmonts, but we'll see how it goes. It may be a madhouse, but we need things badly, so we're hoping to score some deals.
We went out for the first time on Friday night. I mean, OUT out. We had dinner at a great restaurant downtown with my new Aussie friend and then the three of us headed to a local...I don't even know what you would call it. I do know that I had a latté there the morning I started work (not tasty). And then, apparently, at night, this place morphs into a nightclub...of sorts. You walk in through the café, where you are met by a middle-aged woman who sells drink tickets for $5 and ushers you into the "yard" behind the café (through a door opened by a security guard) and you suddenly find yourself at what appears to be some sort of happening backyard party. You seriously feel like you're at your friend's backyard party, and their mom is home. There was a DJ, who played songs twice consecutively if people cheered loudly enough when it came on the first time ("Way I Are" is very hot here right now, not unlike EVERYWHERE). There were some seriously questionable - one might even wonder if legal - dance moves. There were ex-pats everywhere, mingled in with the locals. Thigh-high socks are apparently also hot here right now. It was awesome. I was still dressed in my work clothes, which made dancing a bit awkward, so we pretty much just observed. Hilarious. We met up with a friend of a friend (who I only knew through Facebook prior to Friday) and some of her friends, most of whom were Canadians, most of whom were from Ottawa. And randomly, Quebec City. Everyone is so friendly here. So many of us are in the same boat, so everyone is eager to meet people, network, etc. There seems to be a lot going on, all the time. After that, we headed home. We had the bike downtown and weren't sure how long it would take us, but as it turns out, only 25 minutes. So long as one of us is sober, that is.
I digress. Good times.

Paradise Found.

I'm writing this post perched on the edge of our new porch. If I point my computer just this way, I can secure one bar of unsecured wireless network. Thank you, wireless network. As you may have guessed, I've been a little bit out of touch! Start a blog specifically for this move and then actually move and don't bother to update. Brilliant. Until we get our own legit internet connection up and running (only slightly more exhausting a process here than at home), I'll count on my unsecured friend, but it looks like I'm OK. For now.

Last Tuesday, I boarded my plane to Jersey and then on to our final destination, only a day after getting off of my plane from Victoria. After the loooooong process that we'd undergone to get to that point, my enthusiasm was pretty dismal. I think I was more excited about the SkyMall catalog in the seat pocket than I was about getting here. Something about no sleep, exhaustion of losing things in suitcases and the general anxiety that goes along with me generally had me completely zoned for most of the journey. I hadn't seen Kurt in over a week, and I hadn't even really thought about it. Not that I didn't miss him when I did think about it, but my mind was pretty much mulch.

And then the plane descended out of the clouds and I got my first glimpse of this beautiful, quirky little rock and it all came back. Literally. Like, in a Lifetime Original Movie way, complete with a tear, a racing heart and all of the excitement that I'd lost. I was a kid in a candy store. WITH change in my pocket. Glorious.

Kurt met me at the airport (he came down a week ahead of me) and drove me back along the (one) road towards the temporary accomodations we would be staying at until we got the keys to our place. Ah...our place. More about that later. It was about 4:00 in the afternoon and the roads were covered with scooters, driven by people on their way home from work. In between the scooters were various versions of tiny European cars. More about THAT later as well. That was a less adoring "AH" than our apartment got. The only way that I can describe the air here is jungle-y. It has a greenhouse feel to it, but in a pleasant, fresh-air kind of way. And all the smells that mix in with it are, salt, Downey dryer sheets...the list goes on. Every house is a pastel color and has a white corrugated roof, which drains rainwater into tanks underground, which supply the tap water. Palm trees grow next to cedars (which are, surprisingly, indigenous here), and everywhere I look, there is a plant or bird or flower that I have never seen before. At least, not growing naturally. There are tons of frogs (I actually just saw my first one, making its way down the stairs in front of me), and they make noise all night. Not a ribbit-ribbit kind of noise, more of a two-toned beep. It sounds like a noise that a Nokia cell phone would make, if someone were to pick the most annoying ring-tune possible. I'm used to it now, but it pissed me off something fierce the first night. Frog beeping aside, this is an incredibly, incredibly beautiful place. And from someone from Victoria, this is very high praise.

We stayed at the guesthouse for the first few days as I got my bearings. However, as of the first of this month, we had the keys to what has to be the most amazing apartment on the island. I'm not totally convinced that someone didn't die here, given the obscenely low rent (for the island), the space itself, but we're happy. Really, very happy. High ceilings with exposed beams, brand new (amazing) kitchen with corian countertops, huge bedroom, one and a half's gorgeous. I think Kurt was just in the right place at exactly the right time (a phenomenon not present for our search for a car), and signed a lease on the spot. Finding a home is the biggest thing...the biggest expense, the biggest impact on your lifestyle...and we have one that suits us perfectly.

A seven minute walk from our house takes us to the ferry stop, where I catch my catamaran to work. It's kind of like the Clipper, except smaller and no one barfs. It cruises in at 8:15, cruises around the corner to the neighboring bay to pick up another load of passengers, and then picks up speed and flies across the Sound into Hamilton, where I work. I'm walking up the hill to my office at 8:45. I sit outside on the upper deck. The weather is still somewhere around 22-26 during the day, so I have yet to unpack my coats or heavy sweatshirts.

I started my new job on Monday with a couple of days of "computer training". It was the most elementary training I have ever done. And yet, totally mandatory. But today I actually sat at my new workstation for the first time and started work. My boss is awesome so far. I had a feeling from our phone interview that he would be and my co-workers on the floor were really welcoming. I do miss the LUNLF girls, though. It's not going to be the same without DDC, KKB, EXH and SKZ. I signed something with my LAS ID today by accident and felt a small pang of regret. But then I got over it.

I have met my first new ex-pat friend. She's from Australia and started the same day as I did, so also endured our training period. We've planned our first night out for Friday, which marks the end of the big rugby match going on here right now, so that should be fun. I believe it will mostly consist of getting drunk and meeting people, which sounds about right for people who currently know no one. Something about it isn't lonely though. Having Kurt here, of course, makes a huge difference, but everyone is so incredibly friendly here that you are constantly finding yourself in conversations with strangers at the ferry stop, on the ferry, on the street...everyone says hello, how are you, have a nice day. In fact, the ones who don't are the ones who look miserable.

Our apartment is currently unfurnished, though we did manage to completely outfit our kitchen and have started cooking for ourselves already, which feels great. This also means that we have done our first grocery shopping and yes, the rumours are true. It's expensive. But really, if you are careful with your shopping, check out the ENTIRE shelf, and don't buy more than what you'll need for a day or so, you can do it affordably. For instance, we picked up a salmon filet tonight (about four servings for $13), along with a lemon (0.99), three apples (0.99/ea...seriously), brown rice ($2.50), some "green squash" (a.k.a. zucchini) for about $2...not terrible. It kind of evens out, since there are things that are cheaper here than at home. Such as, surprisingly, maple syrup. WTF? And soy milk. And after we shopped? We loaded the two of us with the grocery bag between us onto our new Vespa scooter, snapped on our helmets (very cool look, by the way), and zoomed on home. Right around dee cornah, and dawn dee road. That's how they talk. It may or may not be how I talk after some more time here.

Anyways, I want to end this before this unsecured person shuts off their computer and I'm stuck with an unposted post, especially after my embarassing absence. We're having a blast so far - still feels like a vacation. Of course, work is hammering in the reality pretty quickly, but something about climbing aboard my 5:30 ferry home, while the sun is setting, amongst the friendliest people I have ever encountered (minus a few crusty ex-pats) makes a day of work a distant memory before the ferry even leaves the dock.

Start counting your air miles people, we've got loads of room for guests.

I've uploaded some pics onto Facebook. If you haven't seen them already, they're here.