05 July 2013

Oh canada, once our home and Xs native land...

nova scotia, you slay me. i love your nature but am so happy to wave goodbye to your weather. we ultimately needed to come back to halifax for dave to get some work done with his post-doc boss, and i had a meeting with my still current canada boss. it wasnt exactly a relaxing time, but we made the best of it.

[the following daily entries will include the date/day. major events of the day, noted briefly. and comments about the day, strung together by "*" symbols to break up unrelated thoughts.]

june 22 (saturday): flight to iceland. flight to halifax. rental car. chocolate lake hotel.

* our tv screens were broken on our first flight. boo. * X ate fishcakes and chicken in the iceland airport, it was not cheap but good to see her eat real food on travel day. * the kid did not sleep on our second flight (we landed at 9p local time, which was 3a for her body). we made it through the customs line and baggage claim and she finally zonked while in line for the rental car and tanked in the hotel bed. *

june 23 (sunday): up at 5a. hotel breakfast. swimming pool/showers. frog pond walk. grocery store. apartment. davids tea. woozles. beer store. driving get-re-acquainted tour around town. grocery store. amos house for playtime and dinner.

* everyone very grumpily butted heads in the morning until the swimming pool where X had fun and burnt off some energy. * frog pond was a perfect idea. it was still early enough in the morning to not be crowded and we had nice weather. what a great place. * the grocery store felt absolutely enormous, and the produce selection was mental compared to finlands grocery stores. X spotted and remembered the cookies that were okay for her tummy from 2 aisles away. * the apartment we were able to rent for our whole stay in halifax was a basement walk-out. not the cleanest place in the world, but a family with 3 young kids lived above us. * an employee at davids tea remembered us (i think it was because of X though). * the beer store employee asked about X too (even though she wasnt with dave when he went in alone). * X was in love with woozles while i was submerged in the joy that is having an independent childrens (english) book store in your area. so so so delightful. X was so excited she asked when we could come back as soon as we were out the door. * our drive around town was as fun as it always is to note what is the same and what has changed, and to see what memories float back to you. halifax is a nice town to visit with some knowledge of the lay of the land. * on our way to the amos house for dinner, X remembered the name of the (macdonald) bridge we drove over. she had a GREAT time with the amos kids (rowan and sadie). it was absolutely adorable to see them play together. catching up with the adults was lovely too. dinner was yummy and it was so nice to have someone else cook for our first dinner. *

                
(at frog pond)

------------dave now begins working regular working hours during the weekdays------------

june 24 (monday): up at 7.30a. fairview cemetery to visit titanic graves. strawberry hill thrift store. grocery stores. point pleasant park beach area. grocery store. pizza dinner. walk to store for popsicle.

* it was nice to mostly be rested and back on a normal schedule (time zone-wise) with sleep so quickly. * the titanic graves at the cemetery were underwhelming. im not sure what i had expected but there were a few dozen of them lined up next to each other with plain granite headstones. a few had interesting epitaphs written on them, but thats all * going to the thrift store, for me, was like doing drugs, i was high. i got like 10 books for $9, all known good ones. im officially in love with all things children books and am daily amassing my knowledge of authors, illustrators, series, etc. its so much more fun to thrift shop when you have an idea of somethings worth. * im so glad we know the halifax area and the places that sell food that is okay for X to eat. it made it so easy to grab items for dinner that we know will taste good. * point pleasant park beach was awesome, as always. i think that park will always be a place that reminds me of Xs childhood and my time with her. we have thoroughly enjoyed 3 distinct areas of that huge park, and it all came rushing back to me when we hung out at the beach. every season she finds entirely new and different ways to entertain herself in the exact same area. we collected an assortment of seaweed, climbed boulders, learned how to use seashells as tools for various things, found animals and acquired our first sunburns of the trip (whoops). * our pizza dinner was so yum and walking around the block afterward was something i forgot how much i missed. its nice to do a nature walk at night in finland too, but walking around the block gives us a chance to people watch and see peoples yards and flowers. our days routine basically hit all the high notes today. *


(a titanic gravestone)

june 25 (tuesday): grocery store. public gardens. lunch (bahn mi) brought to daves work. library. playground. outside playtime for dave and X (bishops landing fountain, salter sands).

* the public gardens were beautiful as always. X spent much of the time getting ants to crawl on her. * lunch from bahn mi was delicious, best smoothies. * the library provided two giant stacks of books for us (i still have my library card, so i pre-requested the books) and the childrens staff all remembered and talked to X. i would love to come back after fall 2014 and see the new downtown library with her. * the playground provided barefoot climbing fun and more ant collection, and, while waiting for dinner, X collected bugs in the backyard and made them a nice home in an old sour cream container. it marked the beginning of a serious bug collecting habit on this trip. *


(jumping from logs at salter sands)

june 26 (wednesday): natural history museum. lunch (gingerbread haus bakery). library. dinner with janice and family.

* the museum was set-up differently enough to be interesting for a couple hours, but same enough to be remembered by X. the animal guy showed her a bunch of animals up close and took some out of their cages for her. its nice to get such personal, one-on-one attention at a museum. * the bakery still had great bread and we tested her tummy with a shortbread cookie as a treat. * this first (of many, many, many) rainy days was cause for finding worms and slugs outside after the library. * we had a nice dinner with friends with a kid (janice works with dave and has 2.5 year old molly and another on the way). *

june 27 (thursday): dingle park (beach/playground). lunch (cantina mexicana) brought to daves work. point pleasant park western rocky coast area. grocery store. library.

* the dingle was such a well-timed choice. we were the first ones on the playground that morning and ended the visit with crab and starfish hunting in the shallow waters, and watching a huge jellyfish swim back out to open water. its so nice to be close to so many different natural environments here. * alas, going to pick up lunch reminded me why i hate the roads in halifax. this city just boggles the mind sometimes. * point pleasant park was nice for the cloudy weather we had and X remembered the spot and all her old favorite things to do there, as well as adding new things. *

                 
(boulder climbing. i love the rocky coasts of nova scotia)

june 28 (friday): green street thrift store. farmers market. garrison brewery store. art galleries at the seaport. discovery centre. library. dinner (cafe karachi).

* more cheap, quality book finds at the thrift store. love that place, this was the one down the street from where we used to live. the place closed a few weeks before we left due to smoke damage from a fire in the restaurant next door. * the farmers market was lame but X got a free matted photograph for "being cute". we chose some fancy macaroons at the french sweet shop and ate them on the new staircase/bleachers that the market created in our absence. it was pouring rain on the way back to the car, so we stopped in to the beer and art places on the way back to break up the drenching. * after lunch we tried the discovery centre for their new aquarium/touch tank exhibit. that place disappointments me more and more each time i enter it. it also doesnt help that there are such nice museums in helsinki to now compare it to. * cafe karachi for dinner was awesome. the food was great (and spicy) as always and the couple who own the place totally remembered us and were so happy to see us. the woman loved seeing X again, she seemed so happy. we told them we had moved but would come eat whenever we are in town. too cute. *

june 29 (saturday): rain gear shopping. lunenburg for lunch (salt shaker deli) and the fisheries museum. mahone bay for dessert (biscuit eater cafe). errands. dinner at isabelle/djordjes.

* rain, rain, rain (i honestly dont think the province has seen much sun since 2012). seeing rain in the forecast for still several more days was making me feel indoor claustrophobic (and its not even as if we stay indoors when it rains). after purchasing some new rain/snow boots for me (and attempting to find a new rain jacket for dave) we went in search of fun for the weekend. * lunenburg was a good choice, we had only misting rain while we were there and were able to enjoy lunch (X was so adventurous and tried everything we ordered including the fishcakes and pickled relish) and the museum quite a bit (the touch tank was a major hit, the scallops area especially. X also gave me a tour of one of the docked fishing boats. lol). * the treats in mahone bay put Xs tummy over the dairy (or perhaps it was the cinnamon) edge and she complained of a painful bum after a trip to the potty. i have been glad to see that this trip she can tolerate some dairy though. perhaps in a couple years we can even do a france trip right. :) * dinner at isabelle/djordjes was very pleasant. we had just enough time to visit without X getting destructive. they did make-your-own vietnamese spring rolls, a new-to-us meal and so easy and fun. we hope to replicate it back at home. *

june 30 (sunday): rainy day close-to-home activities (indoor reading, worm/slug gathering, and grocery store). farmers market. harborfront boardwalk. chapters book store. three attempts for dinner (ended up at burrito jax). skype calls.

* im so, so tired of the rain. make it stop. please make it stop! and this town doesnt just do a rain shower in the morning and then a nice rest of the day. its rain/drizzle/mist, grey, humid. all. day. long. * we did hit up the quarrelsome yeti stand at the farmers market. he's my favorite vendor, really cool graphic tees (and im not usually a collector of those). i got a new shirt with dancing lighthouses on it. * while over on the dartmouth side attempting to stave off rainy day boredom we went to 3 different restaurants to try and have dinner. no f-ing dice! they were either closed or too busy with a wedding. boo. we ended making a to-go order at a burrito joint. *


(aunt megan read "chicken soup with rice" to X. they both enjoyed it)

july 1 (monday): canada day parade. killing time downtown (buy tickets for tattoo, candy from freak lunchbox, mill around grand parade). royal tattoo festival. point pleasant park beach. failed firework viewing attempt.

* due to rain, i suspect, the canada day parade was shorter than normal but it still made me cry (every year!). * ive just now realized that candies of childhood dont taste as fun as i remember (i think the artificial crap hurt Xs stomach too). * the royal tattoo show was cheesier this year than last year. X and i left early (thankfully we had gotten half price tickets). * then. then, it finally stopped raining. a muggy heat and peeks of sunshine emerged. we went to the beach after dinner to help us stay up for the scheduled canada day fireworks. the fireworks were a bust (canceled). we were reminded of the poor communication skills of the city. *

july 2 (tuesday): new playground. lunch brought to dave (issas saj house). dalhousie mcculloch museum. argyle art gallery. library. sorbeto after dinner at humani-t cafe.

* mmmm yummy yum...issas middle eastern food. the place even showed me that pickles are good, when placed in the finest falafel sandwich in north america * the argyle art gallery was really awesome, all nova scotian artists with some really cool style and manageable prices. i wish we had our own place to choose some great art for. *

july 3 (wednesday): X to daycare/alyce to work meeting. errands. library. plan b shop. pizza dinner. shakespeare by the sea performance of snow white.

* X had a fun day at daycare (the same in-home daycare she went to while we lived there), despite all her worrying. i had a productive work meeting and apparently agreed to take on being first author for a paper to be done by the end of august. eeps. * after daycare, X seemed tired and fell asleep while driving home. i accidentally woke her up while trying to take something out of her (clutched) hand and get it in to the fridge. bad idea. what ensued was a very grumpy 1.5 hours (i can barely talk about the weird and interesting "plan b" shop we went in to because the grumpy factor clouded my viewing of the place), and then i got her to fall asleep again by driving around some more. my allergies/sneeze (tree pollen was making my head go bonkers) woke her up a bit too early from that nap as well and things continued with more grumpy wailing in my ear. ugh. thankfully pizza dinner and the snow white performance erased much of the memory of the afternoon. * the shakespeare by the sea childrens productions have been just awesome, i havent laughed so much in so very long. X is already embarrassed by my laughing (karma baby, i was always so embarrassed by my moms laughing growing up). *

july 4 (thursday): playground. lunch (tarboosh/gingerbread haus bakery). library. pond/cliffs of point pleasant park. dinner at chris and beckys.

* from dank rainy days to insta-hot hot humid blah. we didnt last long at the park due to the heat but we had a nice dinner in the back garden of chris and beckys. X collected all manner of bugs, rerouted plenty of earthworms to their garden, and removed some slugs for them. chris and becky were kindly attentive to her and we all ate well and enjoyed ourselves. *

                                       
(chose a different route up this year)
                  
(yoga poses with chris and becky)

july 5 (friday): apartment clean-up. errands. point pleasant park. daycare picnic party. airport hotel (alt).

* oh sooooo hot and humid. i cant believe we are next heading down to DC where there is the promise of no relief from this weather. * we had a hot walk in the park where X went barefoot and picked up some foot rash that plagued her and her sleep for the rest of the trip. * we managed to find some nice shade and a breeze for our picnic with Xs halifax daycare provider and families (the daycare woman is actually closing her daycare and getting back in to doing OT as her job). we had a lovely time visiting with kids X knew and seeing her play and eat kid-friendly food. she loved having her daycare grown-ups attention as well as other kid-minded parents and us. and i liked being around other adults too. * the airport hotel was a nice comfortable place to end up. *


a round-up of my halifax impressions:

1. the rain. the cold. because these two factors can surface at any time of year (and they did!) our suitcase had to be filled with not just summer clothes but also pants, long sleeve shirts, fleece, and rain gear.

2. dank basement apartment life in halifax came rushing back to us. yuck. so glad we dont have to live with that anymore.

3. halifaxs traffic and roads really make me want to pull my hair out. and we dont even commute.

4. i noticed it took a while for my ears to adjust to hearing english spoken all around me again. i felt like i was coming out of a bubble where previously all sound was garbled and confusing like the teacher on the speaker in charlie brown. while everyone ive needed to talk to in helsinki has spoken english, they of course walk around in their everyday lives speaking finnish. my ear got used to that, and then it was like turning a tv show off mute when we got to canada. quite a weird sensation. and i noticed that already my english had been slowly leaving me (the bigger words or the words used to convey a situation more complex than "where are the toilets?" or "no, i dont need a bag for my popsicles"). its rather alarming what happens when you dont live in your own mother tongue region.

also, aside from more overtly friendly customer service wherever we went, i would have to say i didnt find the canadians to be too much more open and friendly than finns. people act like not chit chatting with strangers is such a glaring absence in the finnish social culture...when really, i think...not so much. although, to be fair, i dont really initiate chit chat with strangers wherever i am, so maybe a more bubbly person would notice a more stark contrast.

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