Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

Tell me what you see...

New therapy analysis tool - instead of look at this ink blot and tell me what you see (side note - the one time I tried that, my answers were so far off expected it was as though I wasn’t looking at the same card.  Who’s surprised by this? Lol).  Anyways - instead of the ink blot test, the Hopewell Rocks test...   Today we saw two elephants, an angry mother-in-law, a giant, a flowerpot, women dancing, penguins, Jay Leno, and...  I can’t even remember the others...   And I didn’t come up with any of it!  Lol for just this once I just went along w what everybody else saw.

So yes - today we left Moncton to drive to Hopewell Rocks in the Bay of Fundy.  The whole way down we drove along a river.  It took me longer than I want to admit to figure out that the reason the giant but water-free banks were wet was because it was a tidal river.  I know, I can hear teenage me’s eyes roll with a condescending “duh”.  But yeah - I was thinking it hasn’t rained, but that mud is very shiny...  Weird mud?  Right, Occam’s Razor anybody?   To be fair to me, I’ve never lived where tides are a thing, and my little mind only associates them with oceans, not rivers.  But still - gold star to me ;-P

So we get to the Rocks for low tide and wander the ocean floor.  In some ways the experience was similar to the wildebeest migration in Tanzania.  No, I haven’t had anything interesting to eat ;). Remember- my brain doesn’t always see the same pictures as everybody else, but stick with me here and I’ll talk you through it.   Before going to Africa, I’d seen multiple Nat Geo specials that included various clips of the migration.  And yeah, moderately interesting but not necessarily my number one priority.  Sort of a “happy to see it, but not devastated if I don’t” kind of thing.  And then the reality was so mind blowingly beyond anything I’d ever imagined that I struggle to even reconcile how wrong my original thoughts and expectations were.  In this case I actively wanted to see it, it was right at the top of my list of things for this trip, but it was so amazingly above and beyond what I’d expected.  Even though it very much matched the photos, the reality is so much more powerful.  And a ton of fun running around taking photos, finding interesting lines and angles to tell the story, and trying to time it so there weren’t extra people in the shorts (well, except when I wanted them there for scale of course).  It was, in its simplest form, really really cool.

There is, of course, a time limit.  So we were shooed off the beach as the water started creeping its way back up.  We hiked to a couple lookouts, got some food, and then headed down for our high tide kayak adventure.  We got warned that it would be a workout - today’s currents and weather were not conductive to a leisurely paddle, but we were still in.  We got a quick lesson on paddling and steering the two-person sea kayak and away we went.   Took a bit to get the hang of steering, and at least once we were paddling and going nowhere which was less fun.  But other than that it was very cool.  We were at the end of high tide so not quite as dramatic as it might’ve been, but still fascinating to paddle around where we’d been walking only a short while earlier.   We also got to paddle through the rocks  and some areas we couldn’t walk earlier, so yeah - generally amazing.  The guides were great, both knowledgeable and personable, as well as moderately amusing story tellers, so all in it was a really positive experience.

Once we finished up and changed into dry clothes, it was back into the car for the drive to Charlottetown.  I think this was about 2h?  A little fuzzy on time - but involved driving back to Moncton and going from there...  The bridge to PEI is an engineering marvel - it must’ve been a nightmare to build!   And I’m reasonably amused by the fact that it’s free to go to the island but you have to pay to leave - very Caribbean of them ;).  Scenery was dramatically different as soon as we crossed, and the drive to Charlottetown was fairly stunning.  We had absolutely perfect photography light, but it had been a v long day and Mum’s not quite as addicted to her camera as I am, so we just enjoyed the sunset on the drive and went to the hotel - which I think is the nicest one yet.

So yeah - amazing day.  My Fitbit is proud of me.  And maybe that means I’ll sleep tonight :)

A trip down memory lane

It’s Labour Day wknd and Mum and I are driving from Oakville to Fredericton (about a 14h commitment for those not familiar with the area ;).   For several years of my life this was an annual trek each year as I relocated to uni.  This year, it’s just for fun ;).

When I was at uni, I was mostly broke and definitely did not have a car, which meant little to no exploring happened.  So this year, Mum and I are doing a short Maritime road trip.  Woohoo!

The drive out was fortunately uneventful.  We crashed for the night and then visited some old haunts in Fredericton.  I even got myself a UNB sweatshirt - which I always regretted not doing when I was a student, and am disproportionately pleased to have remedied this situation *g*

After Fredericton we drove to Magnetic Hill, outside of Moncton.  Here gravity works backwards.  You drive down this hill, put the car in neutral, and it pulls itself back up the hill.  Both creepy and unbelievably cool at the same time.  Science says it’s an optical illusion and in-fact the hill is reversed of how it looks.  Blah on science - our car definitely went uphill, backwards, by itself.  Lol I have video to prove it.   But yeah - I did not expect that to be anything worth mentioning but it was a very impressive example of how unreliable our senses are.

We had been tentatively planning on heading to Charlottetown tonight, and on the way home were going to visit Hopewell Rocks, which I’ve always wanted to see.  Well one of the cool things there is to kayak at high tide- but google said that’s only an option until Sep 1.  Hmmm perhaps, given that it’s like an hour from here, we should go there first - while it’s still August ;).  So first step I called (actually called - like found and used the phone portion of my cellular device) the kayak company to see if we could get a spot.  Well both the normal tours are full, but this is one of the few days of the year with an extra long high tide, so they’re running a third tour and it has space!  Win!  So booked into that, moved Charlottetown reservation by one day, and found somewhere to bunk in Milton for the night.

Super excited :)

In search of words...

Right, so I failed my Spanish exam the other day.  Pretty disheartening :(.  It was to cover the last three chapters and we were told to review direct/indirect objects, imperatives, and present subjunctive.   Okay so I did that.  I made a serious effort at that -- up to and including drilling all the exceptions to all the rules.   I both know and understand it.  So A, pretty pleased at that.  And B, should be ready for an exam right?

Except that where I went wrong is the exam is actual application.  So all the study exercises of the "conjugate verb X in the sentence" variety, or rewrite sentence in subjunctive, or any variation thereof goes out the window when it's "read this article and respond".   Frig.  So my vocabulary still sucks.  Which means that even though I understand the article well enough to respond, know how to respond and which tenses etc to use, I can't use them if I don't know the words to apply them too :(.  So that effectively wiped out both the reading comprehension and the writing portion.

Listening, as per last time, was a complete disaster.  On the plus side -- I at least understood parts of it this time (progress over last time).  On the down side, none of the parts I understood were relevant to the questions asked.   AND part of the question was essentially "write a synopsis of what they just told you".  Well I could barely figure out what they were telling me, much less reiterate it back in Spanish (again, vocabulary).   Given a ton more time and a pause button I could've done it, but not at rapid fire speed with only one repeat.   Fail.   Only thing that made me feel slightly better is that student peer with significantly better vocabulary (although zero grasp of grammar?) who spends a lot of time in Guatemala, said he can carry on conversations on the phone in Spanish with no problem, but he couldn't catch that.  So at least I'm not alone.

Then the grammar section, which I should be good at, half of them I couldn't understand the question.  Again - fried by vocabulary rather than lack of knowledge.   And of course there's no vocabulary list for the course -- you're just randomly supposed to know things.   I spend a ridiculous amount of time learning words, clearly I need more words, but would be really nice if I could point that in a useful direction *sigh*

Lacking a useful direction, my latest was that I'm learning a lot from Harry Potter, maybe I should make a vocabulary list for that...   But then that seemed excessive...  So maybe somebody's already done it?   LOTS of somebodies already have done it.  Varying degrees of quality but eventually found a list with useful vocabulary to learn that seemed correct.  lol.  Other than that, all my lists come from my self-teaching textbooks (which DO have vocabulary lists)...

I keep telling myself it IS much better than it was and I AM learning.  And I know that I learn best when I'm at the bottom of the class.  But is it ever hard on the ego to be there :(.  I'm not a fan of feeling stupid.

Ah well - mini victories...  Harry Potter is at least getting easier to read.  Lol still painfully slow, but that's got to count for something right?

#FridayFlash 73: The Check List

Just one long to-do list after another.   Lizzie sighed and considered the multitude of things on her list for tomorrow.   It was the weekend, a time she once looked forward to, but now seemed to consist only of the chores she didn’t get done during the week.  Adulting was not turning out the way she’d once dreamed.  Nothing was really.

-      Laundry!   The situation is becoming desperate.  Clean underwear is not optional.
-      Tiny (remember, you’re his whole life.  Play ball, take him for a walk, something!)
-      Get groceries (all that’s left in the fridge is wilted lettuce.  You don’t want wilted lettuce for dinner)
-      Put gas in the car (or the groceries won’t make it home)
-      Exercise!  Those last 2 lbs aren’t going to lose themselves.
-      Bake cookies.  After all, you just exercised.  You’ve earned them.  Lemon ones. Pick up lemons when you get groceries.
-      Study.  Something. Anything.  Preferably something related to work you’d like to do.  It’s the only way you’ll get out of the work you currently do.
-      Vacuum.  It’ll be a great way to avoid studying, and Tiny’s hair is all over the place.
-      Mow the lawn (maybe can count as exercise?). Unless it’s raining.
-      Weed the garden.  Seriously.  It’s starting to look impressively junglish.
-      Nap.  But set your alarm – you don’t have time to sleep all day (see above!)
-      Buy bday gift for nephew.  Something noisy and obnoxious.  Revenge is best served cold.
-      Mail wedding RSVP – it was due last week!  Bad guest.

She shook her head looking it over, knowing she was forgetting something but not sure what.  And not sure she could bring herself to care.  It had been a very long week.  With a smile, she added a few more things hoping to spur her memory:

-      Win the lottery (buy a ticket?)
-      Find soulmate
-      Plan dream vacation

With thoughts of her “one day” Africa trip in mind, and no idea what she’d forgotten from the list, Lizzie closed her app and dismissed all thoughts of tomorrow’s chores from her mind, pouring herself a glass of wine and settling in with a book she’d be moderately embarrassed to be caught reading but fully planned to enjoy every moment of.

The next morning she started with a long bath.  Just because she had a ton of things to do, didn’t mean she shouldn’t start the day out right!   Then with a sigh she reluctantly opened the list and started ordering things. Laundry first, it could run while she was doing other things.  Oh and she should probably do dishes at the same time.   Groceries would have to wait – once she went out, she knew her productivity would plummet.   Tiny could go for a short walk in the am and be sure it happened or a longer walk after everything else was done – but she might be too tired then.  Or both?   She looked to her great dane to judge his thoughts on the matter, but he was still sound asleep.   Afternoon it is.  

Exercise.  She should probably do that now.  But she just got out of the bath.   Not good timing to get sweaty again and then have to shower again.  She could exercise later.

Executive decision that lawn and garden were both getting bumped to Sunday.  She didn’t have anything on tomorrow anyways and this list was ridiculous.

Can’t bake cookies without getting groceries.  Studying is definitely an evening thing.   

So.  Laundry and dishes.  While they’re doing their thing, vacuum.  Then go out and buy all the things.  Put groceries and dishes away, put laundry in the dryer.   Bake the cookies.  While the cookies are baking, wrap the birthday present.  Rescue cookies from oven and taste test, put laundry away, and then the nap.  The wonderful nap.  Highlight of the day really.  

After the nap, a quick workout, then take Tiny on a walk to the mailbox to send the RSVP, maybe farther if things are good.   Study a little before dinner, and then freedom for the evening.  Maybe time for that dream trip planning (optional).

Feeling pleased with herself for having sorted a workable plan, Lizzie tackled the list with far more enthusiasm than she’d written it. She even picked up a scratch and win lottery ticket – couldn’t guarantee it’d win, but at least she could say she made a solid effort at that part of the list.

All was going well until while walking the usually impeccably well-trained Tiny through the park, he suddenly tugged on his leash and bounded away.  Lizzie was so stunned by the behaviour she dropped the leash; not that she could’ve done much about it – Tiny weighed as much as she did.  He stopped only a few feet away, head down on his front paws, peering under a bush.

She didn’t bother to call him, just went over to see what he’d found.  Telling him to leave it, she gave the strongest wait command she could and then bent over to see for herself.  The bush scratched her face as she lifted the bottom branches to see underneath.  And found a tiny black kitten, no bigger than her palm.  It stared back at her, didn’t seem scared – after Tiny, she surely seemed the better option.

She reached out and got swatted for her efforts.  Rolling her eyes, she tried again, catching the now angry kitten by the scruff of the neck.  She backed up out of the bush, bringing the kitten with her, only to find Tiny right beside her, eagerly nosing the kitten.  The dog had no maliciousness in him, only curiousity about the tiny fluff his person was holding.

Keeping the kitten close to her chest so it would neither claw her nor run away, she took both critters home, deciding she would keep an eye out for lost kitten signs, but suspecting she’d just inherited a new pet.

Tiny was fascinated.  Lizzie watched him carefully as she put the kitten down, he nuzzled her, so gently she didn’t even topple over, then followed protectively as she wobbled around the floor.

Watching the kitten explore her new home with her giant shadow, Lizzie scratched her lottery ticket.  $5.  Woohoo!  Enough for another lottery ticket.  She laughed and reached for her textbook.

Looking up after forcing herself through one chapter, Lizzie smiled to see that the kitten had curled up in the middle of Tiny’s massive bed for a nap, and Tiny lay on the floor, with his head on edge of the bed still watching the kitten.

And as Lizzie started to think about what her Africa dreams might look like, she realized even her completely unrealistic list items had been accomplished.  She HAD won the lottery – just not the prize she’d imagined.   And she HAD found a soul mate, from the looks of things, it just happened to be Tiny’s.

Pulling out her app, she started a new list for tomorrow.

-      Write more ambitious list.

Not my dog; not my kitten

Found this pic *after* writing the story -- but you have to admit, it fits well :)

I wonder how many calories I burn tossing and turning?

So I got home from teaching, fairly wired.  This is not unusual and one of the reasons I enjoy teaching on Friday nights (a time slot I bitterly resented at first) as I can be wired late at night and it really doesn't matter the next day.

Got home and decided I'd burn off some steam in VR.  Did a rather disappointing boxing round that was all squats and dodging and very little punching -- kinda defeats the purpose.  So then played some Beat Saber which was way more fun (I'm sorry but you really can't help but feel awesome slicing away at things w/ light sabers!), although I was off tonight which is frustrating, even in game world.

But more of an issue was that Chris, who has to work tomorrow and thus be up early, was ready for bed, and Sasha was even more wired than I was.   So while my games, being entirely contained AND in the basement, aren't likely to keep him awake, Sasha running around and bringing me each of her toys individually in an attempt to entice me to play, might.

So my solution to this...   I'll take her for a run :).  I love the night -- esp warm summer moonlight nights such as tonight.  And, weekend.  So win.  So we go for a run, but we're both wired so there's no pacing, no intelligence in this at all really.  Just booked it till very unfit me was not capable of moving and breathing at the same time.   Then we walked the rest of the way home.  Fortunately Sash isn't terribly fit right now either so it did at least take the edge off so she was more willing to chill when I got home.

But now I've got teaching high, exercise adrenaline, and the magic of a summer's night flowing through me.  Sleep is so not happening anytime soon.  I'd actually love to have Alexa blare some music while I clean the house but, well, sleeping husband.   (Side note -- did I mention Alexa moved in last weekend?  And I love her!!!   I've had more interaction with her in a week than with Siri and Google combined in all the time I've had them.   Unrelated -- anybody want a fully functional but slightly useless Google Home?)

So I decided I'd take physical energy and see if it can be turned into creative energy.   I even started sitting out back, which was awesome except that it turns out Night Magic (tm) isn't strong enough to counteract mosquitos.  Ugh.   So I have retreated indoors.   The dogs are now in bed.   And I'm in my cozy library which has actually become my favourite room in any house I've lived in to date.   It's tiny, but I love it.

Anyways - it's still technically Friday, so my challenge is to see about a Friday Flash ;).  And it will be deemed Friday until after I sleep, regardless of what the clock may say.  This buys me more time for said Friday Flash.   Wish me luck!