light my fire

Spent the afternoon at a beautiful lake along with sun-worshipping Swedes, and it was quite enjoyable. It was an excellent way to relax after working in our yard mowing, pulling weeds, and raking in the hot summer weather. There were numerous amusing and interesting things I wanted to write about over the course of the last few days, but didn't find the right moment. Here are some:

Amusing: A young guy driving a huge enclosed tractor through downtown Vetlanda on a busy Saturday afternoon, with his girlfriend riding shotgun in his lap. There is a reason why I call Martin the Swedish redneck.

Amusing: At least six young guys in their twenties packed into a new, jacked up Dodge truck, with their shirts off and Euro techno blaring.

Amusing: Clothing stores advertising end of summer sales with the sign, "Slutspurten".

Interesting: People at the lakes here do not seem so concerned about body image. There are people of all ages, sizes, and shapes in bikinis, seeming pretty confident and relaxed. Not like Kelowna or Penticton, thank goodness. I quite enjoyed myself at the lake, when normally I am very uncomfortable in a bikini. I guess a new bikini also helps.

Amusing: "You're breasts are not soggy." Gee, thanks!



It's a Thursday morning and not quite the usual Thursday for me. The mid-morning sun feels unusually hot and I feel like a kid out for summer break, with nothing pressing upon me, no demands or exacting schedule, just the sounds of the bees sipping from the flowers outside the window, and in the distance, a chainsaw working in the forest. My senses feel wide awake with the wonder of sounds and smells I am accustomed to being overpowered and drug under by machinesand people. The richness of cedar and pine forest, insects, birds, or the chuckle of a hedgehog rummaging about. We saw a fat little hedgehog in the evening, trundling to the neighbour's yard. I was surprised at how big he was. Easily a foot long.

This morning's breakfast was barely finished when the airline called to tell us our bags would finally arrive this morning. To say we are grateful is an understatement. Although we mostly remained calm throughout, the edges of panic were starting to creep in at the thought of our luggage being rummaged or lost. Where it could have been for nearly five days we do not know.

The jet-lag is starting to edge off, and I am feeling calm and happy. We arrived in time for the strawberries and raspberries, and blueberries are yet to ripen, and this afternoon we are going berry picking. The yard of our home is even more delightful than I imagined, with strawberries, raspberries, currants, apples, and sour cherries. Every Tuesday there is a market in the square of the nearby city of Vetlanda, and I have heard promise of fresh plums to be bought. I feel slightly intoxicated by the beauty of this place, and the opportunity to live here. Standing outside our house last night with the evening sun piercing through the trees, I wondered if people realized what an idyllic place this is.

There is work to be done, of course, the roof to be replaced, and we have yet to begin painting some of the rooms in need of help. Thankfully the task isn't overhwhelming, just a bit of cosmetics and we'll have it looking quite nice.

Now we are just waiting for our bags to arrive, and with them, my paintbrushes. And underwear.


the dam

The tears have begun and whatever psychological dam I was using to hold them back before now seems to have crumbled. I feel as thought I am partly in an alternate reality where this isn't really happening, and partly feeling the realization of leaving so heavy I can't comprehend it. The thought of not seeing my mom and dad's dear faces and sipping tea around our worn kitchen table, not laughing fits with my brother, or hugging my sister almost chokes me. I have to push those thoughts away because they feel like they could collapse me.

My prayer today is that I can keep it together for my family. I don't want to completely lose it. I have managed to hold myself in check through the process, packing our massive bags ( we bought extra luggage and have about 100 lbs each), running through the checklist, and really, just closing up shop here. The tears come at night, when the wears of the day have set in and I realize I have three, two, one, days left here with my family.

NOw the time has come and we are mostly packed and the sun is shining. I can still drink tea with my parents on the deck and while I am doing it I won't think about leaving, but just enjoying.



Woke up before dawn today with my mind whirring with thought after thought. This is what emotional strain and coffee does to me. I finally got up around 6:30 and my parents house is so quiet I can hear the tick-tick of the clock.

I am trying to keep track of all the little things we have to do before we leave next weekend. Banking, money transfers, goodbyes, birthday gifts, and most importantly, spending time with people. Strangely thought, I don't feel stressed, which is a huge blessing. For the most part I am just enjoying each day.

Martin and I were also very blessed this week to get together with the most wonderful family. They are an Ethiopian couple that we got to know through Martin's work, and their five children. When the evening ended, they gathered together and prayed for us and shared their hearts with us, and it was the most incredible experience. I could not stop the tears from pouring as they were so vulnerable with us. It was hard in a way as well, because Martin and I have yearned for relationships with people in Calgary, where we can be ourselves and share our hearts, and here these amazing people were doing just that. I have never felt such a spiritual connection, and it both lifted our hearts and broke us, because it was encouraging and heart-rending.

The weekend coming holds many goodbyes for us, and I hope I can make it through without completely breaking down! I am looking forward to my birthday party and several farewell parties, and they should be mostly fun, with a little sad. At least that's what I am counting on.


got a haircut, but no job

It's past midnight on Wednesday and I am enjoying one of the (luxuries?) of an unemployed person -- staying up late doing random activities like laundry and watching the absolute stupidity that is the TV show CSI: Miami. I mean, do people really make a living from writing this kind of stuff for TV? I could have a real career ahead of me if I wanted to pander to undereducated simpletons. Anyways, makes me laugh because whenever it comes up that Martin and I don't have television, people regularly ask, "how do you live?!" And that kills me because somehow watching cheap, gossipy, hole-in-the-head TV has somehow come to be classified as "living." I am entirely grateful for the pop culture I haven't subjected myself to by watching the boob tube.

Okay, but enough of the rant. This is my first week officially unemployed, and I am quite happy. We have finally! moved out of our apartment after a very long and tiresome move. I decided I really don't like moving. It's not fun at all. We gave away what seemed like a ton of stuff and we still have a ton left over. We sell our car this week and then that's the last of the major stuff to rid ourselves of.

I am still living in this surreal time-suspended state. It doesn't feel like I am moving away in less than three weeks. I am neither fully excited, sad, or frightened. I am somewhere in between, and I am happy that I can live in the moment and just enjoy each day as it goes. I hate to see the sad look on my mom's face if things come up like deciding who is going to drive us to the airport. She is absolutely heroic in holding back the tears. It's going to rip up my insides to say goodbye, and I can feel that clench in my gut when I think about leaving, but I just want to be happy about the time we have together.

I have had a growing respect for so many people that I have loved and respected all along, but as I go through these emotions and experiences, I admire them all the more. Hyonjoo, Jihae, Drew, Martin -- people that made these huge decisions and faced the unknown and said these difficult goodbyes many times and still will themselves to do it once more. To face a culture"alone", I absolutely respect that. I don't think I could do it.

This weekend we are heading to Waterton with my parents, and we're going horseback riding and other excellent activities which I am excited about. And my birthday is coming up soon so I think there is going to be a steady stream of partying going on in the next while. Yay! The fun part of goodbyes comes first.