Posted by: marthacoolcat | October 24, 2008

Saskatchewan Oct 13 – 16, Edmonton, London, packing, Holland

Small and tall

I got a Smart car when I was in Saskatchewan.  It’s small.

I bought an Eee PC for this trip, so I can blog when I’m away.  It fits into my purse (Vicki’s purse actually).  It’s small.

I’m tall.

Who’s calling the circus to get the clowns into the Smart car?


I thought about trying to crank wind charge up my computer battery, but I don’t think that’d work.  I am hoping I can bring my baby laptop lots of places when i am away.


Saskatchewan Oct 13 – 16


So Martha started traveling, and unlike most of her trip, she headed West.  Most of the time I will be running away from the setting sun, till I pass it crossing the pacific.  I had my third turkey dinner with Amy, Wyndham, Henry and Wesley.  There were some beautiful yellow-tree fall days.  Doors – reflections on doors, I am deeply grateful for all the open doors I encounter, friends who give me house keys, and places I don’t even feel like I have to knock.  Don picked me up at the airport, unlocking the car door for me.


Driving in downtown Saskatoon was kind of ghost-y, like deja vu, except it is what I have already seen.  It’s familiar, but I can notice the forgetting, like I couldn’t call up all the exits off of Circle Drive the way I could have a month and a half ago.  If I were bleeding I would feel it, but I am ignorant of the memories and knowledge of that place that are seeping out of me


My friend “Frozone” had her baby – the “ice cube” surfaced safe and sound, and I had a lovely reunion with all the Gwenna Moss folks, (except Dr.  Hosain wasn’t there).  We all contributed to making her a quilt, which has all these snowflakes on it – they are the Frost family, get it? 


Leigh-Ellen held a party, while I watched my country stay blue.  Since everybody says it is all decided in Ontario, I voted in Saskatchewan.  Solidarity!  But it didn’t help, the conservatives got in everywhere.  Nettie Weibe was within 200 votes of winning, and I moaned on Jason’s shoulder every time they reported on her numbers.  Kind of a downer for the party.  We played Apples to Apples, and I saw lots of people I love.


Maybe this trip was a little short on out and about adventures.  A lot of friend catch-up time.


I had an adventure.  I went bowling.  I lost.  65.  It was fun.


Then I headed over to Edmonton.  The International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning was holding its annual conference in Canada.  I submitted the abstract when I was working at the Teaching Centre still.  I saw a lot of great colleagues who also do educational development across the country.  My paper went well, and lots of people came to my session. 


And who came running up to me during the Saturday sessions, other than my cousin Mare-Claire!  We put up her poster, and went for tea.  It was lovely to see her, and catch up on her life since she moved to U of A.  She and her dog do animal therapy with psych patients – how cool is that?


Edmonton was balmy – and you know how wimpy I am about the cold.  Thursday Spooner and I sat in the sun on the beautiful balcony of the Hotel MacDonald (the Chateau Frontenac/ Laurier/ Bessborough of Edmonton).  That was the nice day.  The next day I threw up in the beautiful, classy, fancy pants Hotel Frontenac.  Friends we knew this day was coming, given my itinerary, but I just hadn’t thought it would come so soon.  I had banked on Edmonton being my gastrointestinal ground fall.  That doesn’t really bode well, come to think of it.


Greg was a consummate host, even before I came home bee-lining for the bathroom.  It’s good to see old friends – I need to put that in my pocket for later when I am far far from everyone I know.


London – Daddy’s birthday and the travel fiasco.


I left Edmonton at 5 am for the airporter, which Greg said never leaves early.  Is that enough foreshadowing for you?  When I called they said they’d turn the shuttle around or send the downtown guy, but in reality, they did nothing, and acted like they hadn’t received the call.  Fie on you Sky Shuttle to the Edmonton Airport!!!  I got there too late to catch my plane, which would have got me into London (Ontario, don’t jump ahead in the story, actually, I never go to or through London  England) at 12:30, so I could have helped plan and cook and clean for the surprise party for me dad.  They said they’d get me there for 8 at night.  No good!  So I looked around to see where in Ontario I could get to in the afternoon, Toronto at 2:15, and I would pay for my own shuttle to London.  That was all pretty crushing.  Then in the terminal, I walked past a gate which said you all can finally get on this plane to Winnipeg – that’s my plane!  It had had delays!  Woo-hoo!  So I got on my original plane, AND they sat in in the first row, lots of leg room, first off.  From the valley to the mountain top!  I said to the West Jet guy oh I’m happy  I’m so happy.  You can’t hug the west jet guy, can you?  No he said, and then said ahhh, and stretched out his arms.  Oooh, that was a happy excited hoppy Martha hug!


I was chanting I’m a lucky dog, and grinning so wide, completely delights.  I was mid song line when the steward said please raise your hand in you are continuing on to London.  Pleased as I was when I could answer my grade three teacher’s question, I shot up my hand, he knelt beside me and informed me I was going to have to get off, go to Calgary, and get to London at 8:00.  Errrr.  So I ran off the plane, and begged to be put back my plane to Toronto.


In Toronto I had to wait for the airporter, and when i got to London, the handle was ripped out of my bag, but the Oyas were waiting to drive me to the party, AND sweet souls that they are, they had driven my cheesecakes over early, so Betty did have birthday cake at the least for the party.  It was fun to see a lot of my parent’s friends, people who have known me my whole life.  I missed that in Saskatoon.  Everyone had a great time, we cleaned up, I winced through my second anti-cholera vaccine drink, and we all fell into bed.  The next day we had a great brunch in downtown London, and I said good bye to Dad, Molly and Betty till 2009.


I had some car trouble which again felt like heart-sinkingly bad, but maybe bad and good aren’t so black and white.  A lovely cigar smoking character pulled up very soon after I turned on my four ways, and offered to help, which was good as I was still blinking and processing that I was about to miss Angie’s party, and I had no free time to have car trouble in London when i had to pack and leave in days. 


He truly was a good Samaritan, help from the person you might not expect, and to be very honest, maybe not who you’d want to get help from.  Lovely Klaus worked for the ministry of defense.  There’s a lot of military stuff in London.  As a pacifist and Mennonite, I wish it wasn’t there.  I wish they were resolving conflicts with force and violence.  But as most people drive by, who springs into action/  Who has a government paid for cell phone, and an orange safety vest in his car?  Arguably, who did I need in that moment?  I mean he didn’t mention it till we said good bye, so most of these thoughts are just my reflections afterwards.  And to clarify, I don’t hate soldiers, I do think militarism and war are wrong. 


Then I ended up meeting the night cleaning guy, who is from Ethiopia, and he was a war resisting, political refugee, till Medicine Sans Frontiers learned he was a pilot, and then he flew them all over Africa.  He gave me his email and wants to go to the African cafe when I am back.  He said something wise.  He said don’t say you’re going to Africa, or you’ve seen Tanzania, you are just seeing one small part.  very true, rather, forgettable.  I’ll work on that Tesfaye.


So what looked like a totally rotten thing, led to me meeting two amazing people, so maybe.. there’s a lesson in there, about what I am not sure.  Everything is fleeting?  That’d be a good travel thing to learn.  However things are right now, they won’t stay that way.  Okay if I am in a Thai jail, maybe that’s kind of bad and likely to stay bad, but even there, I’m sure I would learn a lot quickly.



Departure’s Eve.

Packing.  I’ve thought lots about it.  I’ve made list.  I started putting everything that needed to come in my sitting room couch.

Thanks to Steve for helping me pack.  We (and when I say we, I mean he) got pretty ruthless with getting my clothes down to the bare bones.  I have 6 pants. (jeans, quick dry, shorts, cords, nicey brown, nicey black and white).  I am not counting the yoga pants/ leggingsy thing.  I was staring to feel nervous about all this leaving.  Sometimes it’s good to have a buddy.


Yep, not a lot of clothes for the next ten weeks.  I could buy stuff, and I could let stuff go.  It’s tricky packing for safari, a yoga retreat, swimming in the oceans, sweltering in Malaysia, winter wall watching in Beijing, and skiing in south Korea.


All upcoming adventures will see me in one of four pairs of shoes: new hiking boots, Teva sandals, black businessy flats, or low red pumps.  In case of dancing!


I was going to write a packing list, and then I pared my plan down to just writing out all the things people lent me (Vicki and Richard’s wind up flashlight, gauze from my Dad, travel clothes, first aid stuff and an eye mask [yes!] from my Dad’s girlfriend Betty, Rita will wake up sans alarm clock till 2009, Sawahlrus gave me a teensy sewing kit, Phaedra lent me her pack, and a silky liner sheet and a cover, and great tips and more, Kevin’s Nalgeen, Steve gave me a whistle, and lots of other people.  Donna snuck a note into my pocket, and these nicey ladies on the plane gave me a blanket.


Things I forgot.

my probiotics.  They live in the fridge, so they weren’t in my pile, and, uh, well, of faithful readers, this may not come as a total surprise, but I was running a bit late, so in the fridge they stay.

medical tape, but thanks to Phaedra, I have duct tape, so, I’ll just Red Green my way though any medical mishaps.  I’ll let the travel insurance pitch in if it gets really serious.

I forgot to photocopy the pages I wanted out of all the Lonely Planet guides that I got along the way.  Leigh-Ellen forbade me to bring them all.  They are heavy.

granola bars.  But I do have one puffed wheat bar.  There’s a little shout-out to my Sask peeps.  Mmm Mmm chocolatey goodness.  In the bread basket of the world, wheat can be any meal, even dessert.

leaving photocopies of my passport behind.  I can give one to Ang when she goes back.

Hive – that game i wanted to play.  After all my writing about it, I forgot to actually go get it.  Well, I will just have to busy myself other ways.  I -would-, could? have been a cool way to meet people – Kevin pointed out it doesn’t require language.  It’s kind of like chess, without a board, and with bugs that try to trap the other person’s queen bee.

I will add more later.



Oct 23 Flying to Amsterdam.

I don’t really like to be early places, so I would be likely to think of that get there three hours in advance of an international flight thing as more of a guideline  It’s good I am traveling with Angie, because she does not share this delusion.  We got there early, and – I guess most things are e-tickets now, and so we waited in one line, to discover that unlike most people, we weren’t going to get bumped off our flight, because we had to make a connection.  Phew!  Everything took a long time.  It is all a bigger deal than piddly little “local” Westjet flights 

Do i give off a suspicious vibe lately?  Leaving Edmonton, I got randomly selected (ooo lucky me) for a pat down search by security.  Geesh.  Leaving Toronto, they went through my make up case AND all my carry on.  I don’t know why.  Maybe my 50 ml hand sanitizer? Because it wasn’t in a baggie.  A baggy would foil even the most dastardly villain, and I didn’t use one.


The dutch are nice.  The stewardess said she had an EeePC too, so I got to use one of my two dutch words.  I said it was gzelich, hugging my baby computer.  Gzleeich means cozy.  My other word is klompen – shoes, and that didn’t relate to my computer in any way, so I didn’t get to use it.  Well, she was pretty nice, but she didn’t let me sleep on the floor.


I blogged through the night, and they’ve just delivered breakfast.

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