August 27, 2015

Words Count. Use Wisely.


 Ha, Ha.

What’s so funny?

This.

What?

Just this.

Whatcha doing?

Reading.

Reading what?

An article?

About what?

Computers.

But what’s funny?

Just something he said.

Who said?

This guy.

A friend?

No, just a guy.

Ok then.

What do you have there?

My shoes.

Are you going somewhere?

Yah.

Where?

Out.


‘The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.'

-George Bernard Shaw

August 21, 2015

A Clog Avec Cause

image of mangled shower curtain


We’re experiencing a few anger management issues with our shower curtain. For the past week our kitchen sink has been clogged and we’ve been washing our dishes in the tub. The bathroom is not down with that. Neither are my knees, my back, and my proactive disposition, which instead opts to leave dirty dishes piling up in the kitchen to remind my husband this is the room we’re supposed to be doing them in.  He’s refused to call the plumber, assured somehow that his PhD in biochemistry will lead to unclogged pipes—the same way this stature got us the apartment in the first place. But now, we’ve surpassed that assumption.

The truth is, this clog has become an exponential source of paralytic anxiety for both of us. To fix it, we must first get permission from property management and that’s a whole other level of clog that dismisses, then denies, patronizes and then blames. Tenancy laws are similar to those in Canada except in Switzerland property owners generally have an uncivil attitude towards the rules, relying steadily on the population’s proneness to be easily dispirited.

To our surprise, in a thirty second call, the regis sends a plumber right away. It is the plumber that misses the appointment, and then loses our address, but he shows up friendly and full of advice. 

“C’est profond,” he says as he attaches another strip of auger to the tubing already down the sink. If the clog had been located in the trap, we would have had to pay. But ten metres into the wall, it's clearly a clog ‘avec cause’. And it's taking a while. Me and a complete stranger with plenty of time for small talk in a language I don’t understand and an odour resembling the bowels of hell. Not awkward at all.

He sits on the floor, sullied in putrid vegetable matter and tells me he enjoys his job. He’s a family man. When he's done, he looks at my water heater and tells me if it clogs, it could explode. I thank him for his time. He is a source of kindness I did not expect and it made my week. Relief, elation, reflection and resignation. 

Now I have to do some cleaning. Move over shower curtain. I’m first in line.

August 13, 2015

Top 10 Reasons to Visit Iceland


The Strokkur
 Every 2 minutes. Need I say more?
For our 10th anniversary my husband and I took a 9- day self-driving tour through the highlands and southeast coast of Iceland.

 “Why Iceland?”

Perhaps Iceland is not the most romantic choice, but we also see our life together as a shared adventure.  What could be more apropros than a secluded island abound with earthy contrasts and stark beauty. If you’ve seen the movie “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” you’ll know what I’m talking about. Iceland really does look like that. It also looks like “Oblivion".

So how do two kids make it ten years when celebrities don’t make it past seven? Let Iceland show you the way.

1. Geysir Hot Springs




2. Puffins

picture of puffins
Fidelity is a noted characteristic in Puffins



3. Sulphurous Mud Pits

picture of Námaskarò
You'll never complain about farts again



4. Geothermal Baths

picture of Jaròbödin in Iceland
Compatibility. Glacial water and hot springs produce the perfect temperature



5. Pseudocraters

image of pseudocraters in iceland
 Cool temperament. Pseudo craters occur when  hot lava spills over water. 


6. Dettifoss Gorge

picture of Dettifoss gorge
Charity. Your partner is willing to spend three hours gripping a steering wheel on teeth-chattering backroad to take you to the film set of one of your favourite movies. 


7. Basalt Columns

image of basalt church floor
Humour. The 'church floor' is made of hexagonal columns that run deep into the ground. Compressed and cracked lava.


8.  Black Sands


image of black sandy beach
Black sand, white sand. Enjoying similarities and valuing differences.


9. Random Craters


image of crater near dettifoss
Mindfulness: otherwise you could miss something big, really big. (note the hikers on the left)



10. Glaciers, Horses, Lakes and Mountains


picture of Hoffell glacier, iceland
Knowing you wouldn't want to be on this journey with anyone else.

July 18, 2015

It's Back



July 5, 2015

A fortnight ago (‘fortnight’ is your word of the day) we had a heat wave that sent temperatures to record highs. It lasted seven days and, because central air conditioning in Europe is about as prevalent as donuts, towards the end it didn’t matter how many fans were blowing on me, I couldn’t sleep. I must have gained a kilo eating popsicles. I was so uncomfortable, I couldn’t have my laptop on my lap. Now, a week later, it's back. 

The second worst thing about a heat wave, next to sleep deprivation, is that it affects everyone. Look no farther than the bus for flat hair, sunken eyes and clinging t-shirts (thankfully people were still wearing them). Every Tom, Dick, and Harry (family, friend or colleague) in a 100 km radius had a violin playing their song and sympathy left the city like fresh air. I started going through withdrawal.  I needed a hit of pity and I needed it quick. So when my husband was skyping with his mother, I threw my head onto the screen to deliver the bad news. "It's really hot here."

“It’s really cold here,” she replied. 

“Uh huh. But we’ve had record breaking temperatures,” I said, wiping my brow in case she couldn't see the sweat. She was 'down under' where it's currently winter. She was also sleeping in a trailer but really, it's Australia.

“We have too.” Then she pulled her shawl around her shoulders and I could see I was in for some competition.

"I have to wash my hair three times a day."

“I sleep with socks, three blankets and a hoodie.”

“It hasn’t dip below 27 oC (80.6 F).”

“We got snow for the first time in 30 years.

“We’ve got duck lice.” I read about this problem in the paper. There were warnings about swimming in the lake. Not sure how it correlated with the heat but it didn't sound normal.

"And gale force winds."

"We have no wind. The heat just sits on you, like sadness."

“My heater broke.” 

Ugh. FINE! You win. 

And I lose, again. Poor me, I thought. Poor, poor me.

July 4, 2015

Summer's here, finally



“It’s only the black ones that carry lime disease,” she tells me.

My step-mother and I are walking around the property she and my father recently bought to ‘get away from it all.’ It’s a forest of intertwining spruce trees, overgrown lichen and part marshland that runs from the road down to the rocky coastline of the Atlantic Ocean. I’m told there’s a beach. I’m also told there are ticks and for the last twenty minutes this hike has been mostly jerks and spasms. I’m quick about my legs and everything brown in contact with them. Did I mention I have brown skin? But my discomfort hasn’t been lost on my step-mother.

“They take their time,” she reassures. “They crawl around for a while before they nestle in.”

Crawl? To where?

“If you tuck your pant leg into your socks they can’t get up your leg.”

I start skipping because it means less contact with the ground but I’m not, it turns out, coordinated enough to execute this and remain on the path. So I’m landing in tall blades of grass, exactly what I shouldn’t be doing.

“If one burrows into your skin,” she adds, “ I know how to get it out so that the head doesn’t come off.”

“What happens if the head comes off?”

“Well..,’ she turns and looks at me. “It’s not good.”

Just another relaxing summer holiday, at the cottage, along remote shores of Nova Scotia. There’s no ticks in Toronto. Nothing like getting away from it all.