29 May 2012

My work is google-able!

so, last summer i worked on a huge report about mental health and drinking, drugs, and smoking habits in the province of nova scotia with a new boss named mark asbridge. well, i was thinking about it today and googled the reports title: "Mental Health and Addictions Epidemiological & Demographic Analysis"...
and found the pdf link to our report! this will likely be dull to others, but it is my first published thing that i can point to that i do for my job. very neat.

sidenote: in the report, they listed me as having an "MSc" which is false, i have an "MPH" which is very similar, but still an error.

28 May 2012

Dell[t]-a lucky hand

surprise, more visitors!

so, my sophomore year at UM i shared a room with georgette. our floor in west quad had a hallway that was shaped like a "T". in the left pocket of that "T" was our room, a room with friends missy, jen, and jody, and a room of freshmen...melanie and taryn (incidentally, the right pocket of the "T" held friend ntinas room, and down the stem of the "T" was friend sarahs room). mel and taryn were adorable blond girls who were rooming blind, and over the course of that year my friends and i got to know them and ultimately love them (or at least i did). taryn was the tall cali (LA) girl who had a huge dave matthews poster above her bed and wore flip flops in the snow and talked a mile a minute. she came, initially, to be on the UM womens swim team, but dropped off the team within the first year. she has great energy and is a blast to be around. we saw her and mel a bit over the later years of college but there seemed to be a distance created by us being upper classmen (by one year!) that never zippered them fully into our crew. but through the loveliness of facebook i have kept in touch.

well, taryns husband, luke, had a trade show to do in halifax for work. taryn had always wanted to see halifax (for the whales apparently). so they ended up booking a flight as a family to come out and see nova scotia (they live in chicago). they have a one year old daughter named della, and i was excited to meet her too.

may 25 (friday):
we agreed to met up at indochine for lunch and then do the public gardens. it turned out great. i was shocked and incredibly grateful that X self-occupied at the gardens for the 1.5 hours we were there. she observed della and inspected the grounds and i got to talk to taryn for that whole time, nearly uninterrupted. basically unheard of! and taryns a fast talker (i had almost forgotten!) and so we crammed a lot of "catching up" in that time. such a great play date (for X and me both).

i love taryns personality: its loud but not rude, its fast-talking but she totally lets you get a word in, shes exudes a mega happy vibe but its not saccharine, shes cynical but not bitter...what can i say i love being around her. did then, do now. and more than most people, i felt like she truly hadnt changed since having her daughter. its like i could go back to sophomore year and hand a baby to her and she would be acting the same way (by and large). and i mean this as a compliment. 

(X and rhododendron; taryn, della, and X on the top of a hill in the gardens)

may 26 (saturday):
we met up with taryn and della at the childrens hospital kids fair around lunch time. X and i did a little train ride and got her face painted like a tiger. i cant believe she was patient and brave enough to do it. she answered all the ladys questions and didnt get scared at all! i was impressed since shes been so nervous around other people lately (though, interestingly, not with taryn and della). then we went in to the petting animal area with della and loved on their bunnies named pancakes and maple and some goats. X also located the goat poo.

then we went to the fire engine and climbed up to sit inside. the fire fighter gave X a sticker and asked her if she liked fire engines; she said yes, and again wasnt (too) afraid of him talking to her. then she finished up our afternoon hangout with a run around the hospital courtyard while we ate cheap hot dogs and hamburgers and chatted more with taryn and della. for multiple reasons, this years fair was more fun than last years (although, last years was pretty nice too).

(train ride; petting the bunny named pancakes with della)
(scary tiger in a cage; sitting in the halifax fire engine)

later, after taryn & co. ate dinner at fid, they came over for some late night playtime and local beers. the major bonus was that we got to meet luke! i loved him right away and would have expected nothing less from taryn. hes a michigander (grand haven) and a UM grad, so whats not to love. miss della loved roaming around in our baby-friendly zone and X loved showing off for della and making her laugh. i havent seen her so curious and attentive toward another child, ever. it was adorable and made me happy to see her interacting so positively.

may 27 (sunday):
our last visit with them was over a pancakes and bacon breakfast at our place. we had a lovely wandering conversation about travel and whatnot with them. and then they headed out to explore nearby coastal nova scotia for their last day in town. such great people and their visit was all the more exciting because it was totally unexpected. of course it was not motivated by visiting us specifically, but im glad it worked out that way! i hope we can see them again, some random day. 

*sidenote: the title for this entry could have been "dell[t]-a luke-y hand" but i thought it was just a touch too much (btw, taryns nickname was/is "T").

21 May 2012

Victorias beach day

victoria day weekend here in canada, and today was a victorious day at the beach (see what i did there with the title for this entry? yeah, i know youre impressed by my middle school level skills).

after lunch, we packed up and drove out of town. destination: crystal crescent beach.

the last time we had been to this beach was when we first arrived in town, july 2009. i was excited to see it again after so long. also, last time we were there it was foggy, so i was interested in seeing the differences on a clear, sunshine-y day. on the way, X napped in the car. this was great because then she had the energy to play, play, play while we were out. when we arrived, the first thing we did was pop a snack in her hand and proceed on to the boardwalk paralleling the beach. what a gorgeous place: clear green/blue water, white sandy beach, weathered boulders and perfect (for me) beach temperature [~70 F].


(first view of the beach)

at first our goal was to do part of the hike we did last time but as we walked on i was drawn more and more to the beauty of the beach and the idea of playing and relaxing there. also, the trail was moderately busy and having to pull X to the side every few minutes was no fun for anyone. some things just arent so toddler-friendly. so we turned back just as we got to the edge of the nude beach and gave ourselves the chance to just hang out as a family and relax and be goofy.
(on the hike; X loves boardwalks; this is the water of the nude beach, for obvious reasons i did not point the camera in the direction of the sandy areas. we turned around after i took this.)

back at the clothed beach, we took off our shoes (risque!), dipped toes in the water (it was ~51 F!), built sand castles, and buried our feet in the sand. when we had had enough, we headed back to the car and had a huge snack on the way home. this pattern is working out great for us. we did it for the duncans cove walk when aunt megan and uncle courtney were in town too. somewhere 30-60 minutes away is easily doable if we go at a time of day when X can doze on the way there, get out and have a mega dose of activity and then get back in the car for a huge snack on the way home (keeping her both occupied and awake) and her bedtime wont be disrupted to boot! i think we can work with this for the summer. victorious!

 
(us at the beach; X and her custom-made sand boots; me attempting to touch the cold, cold water...we actually saw a college-aged bikini-clad girl jump in the water and fully submerge. she must be a local; another rare photo of dave relaxing. the last such photo was taken in iceland.)

18 May 2012

Auntie M, auntie m, come back!

we.had.visitors!!

our last visitors to town were in november of 2010 (my mom and al), but even then dave was not in town. our last visitor who came to see all of us was our friend ntina in october 2010. this week broke the dry spell! daves sister and her husband came to visit. aunt megan and uncle courtney (hereafter labeled "m/c" when present at the same activity), hooray! a breakdown of their visit...

sunday (may 13):
X and i went to the farmers market (post-pancake breakfast and mothers day flowers) to get lunch for everyone from our favorite pakistani food stand. dave went to the airport to pick up m/c and then we all had lunch together. m/c went to their hotel (lord nelson) to rest and settle in. dave took X out and i curled up in bed and listened to the birds sing (serene mothers day moment). m/c came back and dave made chicken and dumplings for dinner and we all went for a walk. this is when we discovered we had become "those people" who dribble out random factoids about their towns local history and surroundings: "this is the tallest building east of montreal" and "theyre putting in a new downtown library branch over there". damn we need to get a life. sidenote: on our walk, m/c said that halifax was reminding them of a bigger marquette, michigan (they both went to northern michigan university).

monday (may 14):
X and i did our own thing in the morning. in the afternoon we took m/c over to point pleasant park. the sun hadnt burnt through the fog clouds yet for the day and so the damp wind was not making it the most lovely time to be on the water but we found enough to do for a couple hours. m/c were really wanting to just hang around X and get her comfortable with them (she was totally fine with aunt megan but still warming up to uncle courtney). they could have gone off and done a much bigger walk by themselves but they just dawdled with us and looked for puppy poo and had snacks. i tried not to feel anxious about them hardly seeing the park, and in the end it was perfect for X to have others who were willing to go at her pace and stop and do all the silly things she wanted to do. this will be a memorable visit for her in many ways and i really appreciate them giving her their time like that. then we dropped them back at the hotel for a short break and then met back up at rockbottom brewery. X and i basically dined and dashed but at least dave got to catch up with them for the day. and then we all went to petes to pick up some desserts. these very nice low pressure days with visitors are so pleasant.

 
(m/c at point pleasant; aunt megan and X floating dandelions down the creek)

tuesday (may 15):
despite a big question mark for the days weather forecast, it turned out to be beautiful. at about 2p m/c came over and we all drove out to duncans cove (last time we were there was with visitor phil). we had hoped to show them the seals, but it looks like our luck ran out with that spot. perhaps they arent there yet for the season? oh well, the trail was lovely as usual though and the weather was nice (though windy). X dozed on the way there in the car so she had the energy to basically walk the entire trail (there and back) including climbing up and down the steep rocky parts. she didnt even require assistance on the way up the steep rock scramble. crazy lady! back at home we sent m/c off with a gift certificate for dinner to five fishermen.

(all of us at duncans cove; X sat throwing rocks in this puddle for quite a while; climbing back up the steep rock hill; the village of duncans cove)

wednesday (may 16):
i spent the day crippled with a headache (thanks allergies). late in the afternoon m/c came over and we went to dals campus to poke around and eventually found ourselves in daves prison-inspired building. we did get to hop on the elevator to the 8th (top) floor and get a good view of the northwest arm and a bit of the lay of the halifax land. then we shared a homemade dinner and m/c headed out for a viewing of tim burtons new movie, "dark shadows".

thursday (may 17):
X and i hit up the library in the morning and i then began dealing with another mounting headache. megan came over for a tarboosh lunch and then dave and megan went to the grocery store with X for some blueberry/pear pie ingredients. then i drove everyone down to the ferry terminal and spent the rest of the afternoon attempting (in vain) to get rid of the headache. down at the waterfront, they got "battered fish" for courtney, X saw sea urchins and a flounder in the harbor, and they all rode the ferry to dartmouth. they skimmed through the dartmouth commons and came back. dave made dinner for everyone, though m/c had given us the lovely offer of babysitting. my headache was horrible and the place we wanted to eat (bicycle thief) was booked up, or else we would have bolted. i took m/c to deedees ice cream and picked out some goodies. we all ate together and X played with aunt megan and then aunt megan made the pie (which didnt end up working out). X actually got to bed at a good time and we had an hour to spend adult chatting! what a treat.

friday (may 18):
m/c toured the nearby coastal towns of lunenburg, mahone bay, and chester in a rental convertible (what a perfect thing to do). while they were gone, X and i went to the park for several hours and had fun. m/c came over before dinner to play and X loved it. we had our last dinner together and then went for a walk in the nearby cemetery. m/c had also brought a pie from mahone bay that was X friendly, yummins (as aunt megan/X would say). anyway, we then had to say our final farewells and sincere wishes to see them again soon (christmas hopefully!).

(about to object to uncle courtney reading to her; ipad with aunt megan; animals with aunt megan; silly hats with aunt megan)

*summary:
what a great visit. it took a little getting used to...having visitors in town who only spent part of the day with us. but in the end it was the perfect choice. for part of the day: they did their own thing, had their own vacation, moved at their own pace. we still got to see them every day at a place and time and pace that was (essentially) of Xs choosing. m/c didnt push for more from X than she could give and they were so very patient to let her open up to them at her own speed. and i think by the end she was very nearly herself with them (which is honestly saying a LOT) and it made me so happy and grateful. they really love her and she sees it and feels it and i totally dig it.

it reminded me that having family close by can be a really lovely thing. not that i didnt know it before, but because its not really an option for us i tend to think of it as something that is a "want" but not a "need". and its not a need, really, but i can see how great it would be for X, for ourselves, to have that closeness nearby...in-town people who love her and dote on her and care about her present and future, wow, such luxury. it would really be great for her personality too i think, to learn to share her true self with people other than us. maybe one day we can share the same city. dare to dream.

anyway, i hope i can be as great an aunt to m/c's kid(s) as they have been to X. i have very different relationships with each of my 4 aunts, but ive learned that that relationship can mean a lot as long as you both continue to show love and support and genuine interest as the years go on (thanks aj!).

lastly, that was the first time i felt like our visiting groove was just right since X has been in our lives. im glad we had such a special time with m/c and that we now know at least one way to make a visit work really well. finally, a good travel template!

**title note: not sure if i need to explain this, but auntie M refers to aunt megan, which also alludes to auntie em from "the wizard of oz". i think technically the quote is said by the wicked witch of the west but i like it and that it evokes the film which also gave us the famous quote "theres no place like home"...and that also works as a theme for this entry.

14 May 2012

Lucky number 7

what you are to me has no name. the void you fill is inexplicable. i am not dependent on you for much, but without you things would be stale and stagnant. instead, lifes every memory, every feeling is filled with color and texture because it is shared with you. your love is warm, strong, comforting, and yet leaves me lots of room to breath...just like a beloved wool sweater. and while it may be itchy sometimes, it is still the only itch i wanna scratch. ;) happy anniversary nib. 

*the 7 year wedding anniversary gift is wool...my mention of the wool sweater is what i consider to be my gift to dave (youre all jealous you didnt marry me, i know). im not sure how many more years (see 4th, 5th, and 6th) i can keep up my extreme bending of these anniversary gifts (next year is bronze, linen, or lace...hmm), but we shall see.

03 May 2012

Heading to a new land in the new year

today the university of helsinki people agreed to an early january 2013 start date.

this was the first item of "business" to take care of: when can you arrive and be ready to work? im glad to have this piece of the pie agreed upon at least, and now a new round of anxiety ensues about the planning, organizing, and packing for the move (not to mention the anxiety, more strongly felt on daves end likely, about settling other contract details). dave needs to wrap up work here and attend various meetings (helsinki, san fransisco) at the end of the year. then i would like to be in michigan around early december. we need to collect all of our belongings in one place, purge what we dont need and ship the rest off to finland. then we hope to head to NY around christmas and take a direct flight to helsinki around new years day. this idea works in theory, and allows me time for some decent goodbyes. however, i have no idea how to successfully execute said plan. we shall see.