Pinned

I have been seeing various pins around and I love them so much! But at the risk of looking like a TGIFriday’s waitress, I thought I would post 9 that describe me to a T (above) plus a tenth that is spot-on and which I do already own:

I am so very Canadian. Or Cascadian. An adventurous, dog-loving, sensitive vegetarian Feminist Cascadian, who can nerd out deeply on books but who will take a quiet stance and not back down.

02.09.18

What was Beautiful:

My brand new baby niece.

What made me Laugh: 

Dogs in the snow, Maceo with her fishies.

What I’ve been up to:  Workity, work, work, work, which means inventorying, and assessing the data from inventory and trying to help out as much as I can, having come into the project mid-way. Then running up to the interior and seeing all the family super fast, learning more about the school to prison pipeline at SVP, seeing an absinthe-themed burlesque show (with absinthe service for our table of course), seeing a seminar on cave diving and exploration and then dipping into Howe Sound for a bit of (non-cave) dive exploration with friends, catching a flamenco show at the Kino Cafe on my way home. Then more late nights and long hours in war rooms, topped off by a trip to Whistler to play in the snow with the dogs. I am tired! But it’s all been a slice and I get to take a break from both I-5 and conference room food / chairs for a while, so I’m grateful for both of those things.

What I’m reading this week:

The 50 Best 1-Star Amazon Reviews of Ulysses. Even the headline made me laugh in anticipation but there is some good stuff in there.

1-866-MRTR by Ann Carson, at Brick Mag.

Don’t Date a Girl Who Travels …unless you can keep up with her. And if you unintentionally fall in love with one, don’t you dare keep her. Let her go.

This anthropology research assistant job posting at UW. Just for kicks.

01.19.18

What I’ve been up to: The day after we got home (Christmas), I went back to work at my new job, and then we immediately started doing inventory. So it’s been (SO) busy, but all in a good way. This weekend we go to visit our brand new baby niece!

What I’m reading this week:

Mapbreaking, at Medium, talks about the various ways we represent the physical landscape. I would have been a cartographer in a previous life so I devoured all of this but in particular, I love the genius behind the Polynesian Stick Maps.

The anger of women and how our collective categorization seems to fall into either sad or angry. “The sad woman often looks beautiful in her suffering: ennobled, transfigured, elegant. Angry women are messier. Their pain threatens to cause more collateral damage.”

The conundrum of happiness increasing as we age. “Gerontologists call this the paradox of old age: that as people’s minds and bodies decline, instead of feeling worse about their lives, they feel better. In memory tests, they recall positive images better than negative; under functional magnetic resonance imaging, their brains respond more mildly to stressful images than the brains of younger people.”

The Codex Quetzalecatzin has been published online. I geek out almost as hard about ancient manuscripts as I do about maps.

The Tribe that Would Not Die – an older article about the Duwamish that came up after I read through what felt like hundreds of articles about various indigenous communities trying to keep their culture in a quickly changing world.

Amazon Awakening – about Ayahuasca tourism, part of which lead to the deep rabbit holes of reading mentioned above.

Women are reclaiming the Adventure Story. Hooray! And then – 10 of the most Inspiring Female Adventurers. So inspired! And so Jealous!

How Yoga Won the West – and how much it has changed. “Yoga to the man who most famously delivered its message to America meant just one thing: “realizing God.” He abhorred channeling, séances and past-life hunts as diversionary. Worse, the great seer savored a good smoke, and on occasion chowed down on meat.”

Understanding the Patriarchy, at Darling. A good primer… and a reminder to rise up.

Regretful Mothers at MacLean. I don’t understand why this it is surprising news that some parents regret having children but the backlash about even having the conversation seems to indicate it hits close to home. I am fascinated by these new(ish) discussions – not only because it validates my choices not to have children but because population growth seems to be slowing up FAST and I can’t help but feel the two are related.

Seattle’s living wage experiment has been a success. Hooray! Now we just need to make it possible to live here.

A new way of telling women’s stories. Fairy tales have ruined us.

Where will 2018 take the #metoo movement? I’m curious too.

How to do everything better. Basically always on my task list.

2017

I love the yearly recap so much, and I love how hard it is to choose only as many adventures as will fit in a 3×3 grid! Last year was tough in a lot of ways but mind-blowingly amazing more often than not and I accomplished a lot of life list items that I will spend this year – going to be a quiet one – mulling over. Before all of the excitement happened, things were just a little bit shitty. My office closed down and most of my team was laid off, but I was kept on and had the privilege of working from home all winter / heading to LA every 6 weeks or so.

That was fun until my dog, Tyler, had to go through two ACL surgeries on his back legs, complete with PTO exercises and weekly water treadmills. And then I crashed my motorcycle, and while I escaped with only a busted finger and damaged knee, it meant that I was sitting out of most of my winter sports and activities.

But! Then I quit my job and went to India, by way of Vancouver (to visit my mom and sister and to check out some new cocktail bars), Montreal (to visit my friends), Ottawa (to do some business at the embassy), Toronto (to visit more friends), and finally London (to wander the British Museum and leave my computer at my UK office).

India is a place I have been wanting to visit for a long time but have listened as so many people tried (and succeeded!) to dissuade me. This time even I wasn’t sure I was going because I had my bag packed but I still didn’t have the India portion booked (and was still working remotely) when I was 3 weeks into being on the road.

India did not disappoint. Random people approached me daily to tell me that I have a good heart and that I’m a lucky one – don’t I know it! I was able to spend the day with an elephant and fed her banana sandwiches to her heart’s content, rode a camel who tried to still a kiss while I got a selfie, showed videos of my dog playing in the snow to young boys in the desert while we drank chai and listened to the sand blow around outside, wandered down to the “back” end of the Taj Mahal where I hung out with security guards / ate free dinner at a temple and was ultimately coaxed out into the boat that takes women home from the temple, so I could see the Taj Mahal at sunset from the water (stunning but even better were my new friends who chatted with me as if we spoke the same language and hugged and kissed me like we were old friends after a crossing that maybe took 8 minutes). And then in Varanasi I met a friend who, after the mother Ganges festival, took me on a tour of the “hidden” places – an ashram of gurus, a secret temple to Durga and finally a “ruined” temple in the abandoned palace that looks over the Ganges which one will find (after crawling through the broken door and through corridors I wouldn’t have attempted on my own) is still very much in use and has regular visitors. Plus so many other amazing bits that will stay with me always.

For the rest of the summer, I spent as many days in the garden or outside with the dogs as I could before I headed out again for about 5 weeks, riding my motorcycle through Washington, Oregon and BC (Cascadia, yo!) and then Arkansas (!!!), visiting friends and family. And only then did I tuck in and start looking for a job, landing at Nordstrom just before it was time to back up again and head to Ecuador (a trip booked a loooooong time ago) where I rode a motocycle through the Andes, dove with marine iguanas, hammerhead sharks, and Mola mola, then camped out in the Amazon for almost a week with monkeys and giant river otters and an insane amount of tropical birds.

Wishing you all the best and lots of love to you and yours for the next roll around the arbitrary calendar! 😘 Happy New Year!

29.12.17

Missed a few due to being on an incredible adventure in Ecuador, so in turn, this is going to be a bit of a massive update (and at the same time just the tip of the iceberg).

What was Beautiful:

Just before we left, my Flamenco teacher organized a studio show to showcase her students. I was grateful to be part of it but the advanced students blew my mind with their grace and skill.

Then we flew to Quito and drank in the colonial architecture – including a Gothic cathedral with Ecuadorian armadillos, marine iguanas, crocodiles, pumas and monkeys in place of gargoyles and a Jesuit church basically covered in gold – sat in the square, surrounded on all sides by mountains – drinking mochaccinos and people-watching. In a way, it doesn’t feel new because I’ve been to quite a few Latin capitals at this point but it really gives you the opportunity to dig into the details and difference and I love that.

Our hotel was an old school hacienda with a well (!!!) in the courtyard outside our room and beautiful wooden beams throughout, local handicrafts put in use / displayed everywhere.

From there we rented bikes and I found out upon arrival that I had been upgraded to a Husquavarna 701 – truly a beautiful machine. I wasn’t all that worried about not being able to touch the ground until much later when I ended up stalled in a steep uphill curve (in sneakers, in the rain 🙄) but the combination of grace and power in that motorcycle is something I personally aspire to.

The Galapagos islands were as amazing as promised and I delighted in my first sightings of Mola Mola sunfish and playing with marine iguanas in the surf, as well as spending more time with hammerheads and various other sharks.

And finally, we headed down river to Napo Wildlife Center in the Ecuadorian Amazon. This was an add-on leg and neither of us expected it to be the highlight but we loved the Kichwa Anangu community, the incredible diversity of the plants / animals / insects, etc. , a chance to practice different camera techniques and learning about all the various species in the area.

We brought the audio recorder to Ecuador so even when it wasn’t in use I was on the lookout for new sounds and that made me experience the boat, the rainforest and even the airport hotel in a new way.

The full list of wildlife sightings is:

  • Frigatebird Various Finches
  • Blue-footed Boobies
  • Red-footed boobies
  • Magnificent Frigatebird
  • Flightless Cormorant
  • Agamie Heron
  • Great Egret
  • Black Vulture
  • Snail Kite
  • Spotted Sandpiper
  • Hoatzin – beautiful, but very common where we were
  • Greater Ani
  • Short-Tailed Swift
  • Neotropical Palm Swift
  • Ringed Kingfisher
  • White-throated Toucan
  • Grey Antbird
  • Great Kiskadee
  • Crested Oropendola – beautiful song and neat nests
  • Yellow-Rumped Cacique
  • Blue-grey Taninger
  • Brown-Black Grosbeak
  • Common Squirrel Monkey – had a neat interaction with this one
  • White-fronted Capuchin
  • Black Cayman
  • Sea lions
  • Mola mola (!!!!!)
  • Scalloped Hammerheads (!!!!!)
  • Galapagos Shark
  • Silky Shark
  • Galapagos Bullhead Shark – found only in the Galapagos
  • Torpedo Ray – rare, and found only in the Galapagos
  • Eagle Ray
  • Stingray
  • Marine Iguanas (!!!!!) – found only on one side of one island in the Galapagos
  • Yellow puffer
  • Box puffer
  • Mexican hogfish
  • Harlequin Wrasse
  • Parrotfish
  • Barberfish
  • Sea turtle
  • Common Dolphin
  • Red-lipped batfish
  • Octopus
  • Spotted Moray Eel
  • Shrimp
  • Nudibranch
  • Crabs
  • Line-spotted fish
  • Damselfish

What I’m Grateful for:
My amazing flamenco teacher, Ana Montes, who has suffered through trying to teach me how to clap and walk, amongst other basic things that have suddenly become important.

Being on this Trip of a Lifetime to explore Quito, Otavalo, volcanoes, the Galapagos and a bit of the Amazon.

My new job, that has paid me for all of this vacationing, even though I’ve only just started.

What made me Laugh:
Pictures of (my) dogs, children in the market, children at the flamenco afternoon, river otters, monkeys, my own dog and cat monkeys being super excited to have us home.

What I’ve been up to:
Dancing, travelling through Ecuador, crossing the equator!, trying to remember my Spanish, holding space.

What I’m reading this week:

Radio Handbook Manifesto, to try and learn a bit about podcasting.

Celebrate your accomplishments. Remember to look back as well as forward.

How American Women Helped Win World War II in the Wake of Pearl Harbor

Using star maps to identify whale sharks.

Patagonia and REI have posted about Trump’s decision to reduce the size of the public land allocation in Utah’s Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante parks. Tragic stuff but it feels like just another drip in the ocean during this administration.

And speaking of lost land, Ecuador is drilling for oil on edge of the pristine rainforest in Yasuni. At the Guardian. 😩

And speaking of the Amazon, I fell into several rabbit holes learning about the people;  Uncontacted tribes of the AmazonAmazon AwakeningInto the Amazon (a photo essay) and what felt like all of Wade Davis‘ writings and half of Wikipedia. 400 indigenous groups live here.

Why Birds Matter also proved more interesting to me after looking at birds for a week.

Plus two actual books that were incredible; Yiddish for Pirates and the Orenda, and a LOT of poetry.

and Watching:

Islands of Change Galapagos. My dive master is featured in this episode as he is one of the local success stories of a fisherman converted to ecotourism and guiding.

and Listening to

What “namaste” really means. At the Allusionist podcast.

 

02.12.17

What was Beautiful:

The scallop eyes, above, from the Atlantic. “Look at a full, living scallop, and you’ll see a very different animal. And that animal will be looking right back at you, using dozens of eyes that line the fleshy mantle on the inner edges of its shell. Some species have up to 200 eyes. Others have electric-blue ones.” The sea never ceases to amaze me.

Also the urban stand of birch trees close to my office:

What I’m Grateful for:

Time with my sister, dogs, balance, visits to the sea, Rainier Ravens, real conversations, friends reaching out, PTO, adventure.

What made me Laugh:

Flamenco hijinks, impromptu dinner with a friend, chatting with a new friend about books in a bar, and every day the dogs.

What I’ve been up to:

Along with packing for the expedition to Ecuador’s jungles / volcanoes / oceans / old towns, ramping up at my new job, prepping for a 5k holiday run and a Flamenco studio open house show, my Raven’s holiday party and a Death Cafe, I’ve barely had time to think.

What I’m reading this week:

Have we always been depressed? Yes. The answer is pretty much yes. But that doesn’t mean we can’t achieve radical happiness. at Literary Hub.

Using elephants to demolish homes which forest officials claimed were illegally built in the Amchang Wildlife Sanctuary in Guwahati, India…and thereby co-opting elephant habitat. at the Atlantic. I’m really (still) not sure how I feel about this.

How Wolves Shape the Natural World, at Literary Hub again. Reminds me of this TEDx video.

Fertility rates are declining super fast. I’m surprised and yet I shouldn’t be this paragraph amalgamates almost everyone I know (and doesn’t include the many who, like us, have forgone children altogether); “In 2017, things have changed. Emma ended up breaking up with the guy she thought she might marry because he turned out to be kind of a deadbeat, so she didn’t have that kid she hoped to have in her 20s. Olivia got a great job… which has really long hours, and she really loves the job and she loves how comfortable it has made her and her husband’s life, but there’s no way she and Bob can care for a kid right now: life is just too busy. And Harper? Well, Harper and her husband were enticed to take a few extra vacations by generous credit card rewards programs and super-low mistake fares online, so they used up their vacation time and their disposable income, and so a third kid just isn’t in the cards anymore.”

About Real Rent, a type of reparation project for the Duwamish tribe. This is an amazing idea and I’m so glad it exists.

“Savoring is a mindset that doesn’t wait for life to get perfect to enjoy it. It believes that life is worth it, no matter what the state” at Darling Magazine.

My friend Eagranie writes about connecting to Syrian refugees through food at Saveur.

About Lagertha, the Viking Shieldmaiden. Someone told me last night that I looked like the portrayal of her in Vikings.

The Enduring Power of Aunties is a great read, even more now that I’m going to be one.

The effect today of blasting the Bikini Atoll coral reefs. It’s not what you think. At Medium.

25.11.18


What was Beautiful:

Grey sky stretching out to grey waves crashing against grey sand beaches… it’s weather that only a Pacific Nor’wester family could love but we do. So much.

What I’m Grateful for:

This is a big one since it was Thanksgiving weekend in the United States but for me not a tough one. I am grateful every day for these dogs that get me up in the morning, get me walking even on rainy days, get a laugh out of me even when I feel like I could clobber them….but also my sister who is the most amazing person I know, and our proximity to the sea, our ability to come down here once or twice a year and re-connect to our souls (human program) and / or to our joy (dog program).

Additionally this year I am grateful that I have started a new job at Nordstrom, and in spite of now working in the retail industry, they were gracious enough to gift me this time off as well as for our upcoming trip to Ecuador.  And I am especially grateful that when Tyler decided to bolt down the beach, some combination of my being able to keep up with him in Wellies and he stopping to smell the dead sea creatures meant that he didn’t run all the way to California.

What made me Laugh:

Fawlty Towers is the easy one, as my sister and I watched almost the whole season last night and found ourselves holding our guts pretty frequently, but also dogs running on the beach for all they’re worth.

What I’m creating and doing:

Before we left for the weekend, I started a new job at Nordstrom, made a coffee scrub and a couple of face spritzers, bathed the dogs, ordered a bunch of stuff for various parts of our upcoming expedition and then got us all to a place of resting and not thinking so much.

What I’m reading this week:

I picked up 2 volumes of “Whiskey Words & a Shovel” poetry by r.h.Sin as well as Felicity by Mary Oliver and while I didn’t get through all of them it was the perfect pile to leaf through while curled up on the couch at the cabin, raindrops pelting the windows and the sea crashing, continuously,  just a little ways off.

17.11.18

When I was small, my mother used to ask us before bed, what was something you learned? something that made you laugh? and probably a few other questions in there as well. I’ve read since then that this asking for details results in a better memory but I find the act of taking note helpful in and of itself, and so I’ve continued the tradition for years, recording bits of gratitude and spots of beauty in my task list application – which means it gets archived at the end of the day and I never go back to look at it. I haven’t blogged here in such a long time but I’ve been reading and doing some interesting things and want to put them somewhere more accessible. So:

What was Beautiful:

Hummingbirds buzzing around the feeder, fire in the hearth – with dogs luxuriating around it, rainy days, the maple tree shedding its leaves like flames, the phenomenal Casa Patas flamenco show, luminescent anemones covering underwater structures.

What I’m Grateful for:

Yoga, dog snuggles, cats in boxes, my Rainier Ravens, this crisp fall weather, legwarmers & wellies, Matt’s help sorting out my dive camera and gear, new fences.

What made me Laugh:

Buying dog coats. Picture this: wrestling one huge into trying on coat after coat while he was trying to kiss everyone in the shop, play with the dogs and steal some of the bulk treats while I wasn’t looking then swapping him out for the even bigger dog who is terrified of everyone and trying to back into me and rack while staff were trying to give her treats. By the end of it, I had broken a sweat and my gut hurt from laughing so much but we are now all outfitted for the rain.

What I’m creating and doing:

A new blog – https://www.asgoodasarest.com (still very much in progress)

A lot of dancing of various sorts, diving with my camera and dog training. Next week I start a new job, try out Capoeira and head to the Oregon Coast for the holiday.

What I’m reading this week:

Rebecca Solnit: if I were a man at the Guardian. If I were I man it’s not the direction I’d go in but I still found this snippet appalling, “But success was available to them, and that was an advantage – and still is. We still have wild disproportions on those fronts; the New York Times reported in 2015 that ‘Fewer large companies are run by women than by men named John’.”

Rebecca Solnit: The Loneliness of Donald Trump at the Literary Hub.

And re-reading her old but always good “Men Explain Things to Me

This all came about because I have been struggling to get through The Mother of All Questions before it needs to go back to the library because in spite of being amazing it is also a paper book and I just don’t have as much time for sitting and reading as I would like.

Various posts about the #metoo movement – here and here and here. I’m glad this has not gone completely quiet. I have been thinking about it quite a lot still and probably need to do some writing there myself.

Dangerous Life,” an arresting poem by Lucia Perillo.

Why People Can’t Stop Touching Museum Exhibits. I suppose it’s helpful to know why, but I just wish they’d stop.

The Story of Self at the Guardian, which talks about how memories are constructed by the brain, the unreliability of memory and how that plays into our sense of self. I am fascinated by the overlapping and editing that happens here. For instance, this is my earliest memory but I am also sure that my memory is largely (if not entirely) informed by that photograph. “And yet these untrustworthy memories are among the most cherished we have. Memories of childhood are often made out to have a particular kind of authenticity; we think they must be pure because we were cognitively so simple back then. We don’t associate the slipperiness of memory with the guilelessness of youth. When you read descriptions of people’s very early memories, you see that they often function as myths of creation. Your first memory is special because it represents the point when you started being who you are.”

4 Unconscious Questions that we are all asking ourselves.

Other bits of inspiration:

Looking Past Limits by Caroline Casey via Mel Robbins‘ newsletter

TylerMan Badoo Melty-face Walters

I am posting this for posterity, so that when I look back at this past winter and don’t look back and wonder why I wrote nothing about the best thing that happened all year – the addition of Mr. TylerMan Badoo Melty-face to the Walterses family.

We weren’t looking for a second dog but my friend was fostering Tyler and she was worried no one would adopt him because he was a big male pit bull who drooled a lot, but who was also a super love in spite of having been used as a bait dog and tortured.

At 65 lbs, he was quite a bit smaller than Riley (who also drools a lot), so we figured that those were problems we could handle and decided to take a look. Within a few minutes, it was pretty clear we were getting another dog.

Riley’s a pretty happy girl (except when she feels like she needs to protect me) but it’s been a while since we’d seen her that happy – rolling around in the grass with Tyler, sniffing each other’s butts, tug of war, finding sticks and all the good dog stuff. She made the decision for us.

We had a bit of an intro period into our home but now there’s no separating them. Best friends forever, for real.

Tyler is a melty-face because you have to laugh or you’ll cry your heart out – he was used as a bait dog and had acid poured in his mouth, I assume because he does not have an aggressive bone in his body. He loves EVERYONE except cats and squirrels (but he and Maceo are coming around). So much so that he climbs into our bamboo planter to try and go see the neighbors on their deck. And he cries on leash when he can’t go and see the other dogs.

He even loves going back to the surgery center where he had 2 operations and a bunch of physical therapy!

When we got him he also add some ear infections, a skin rash from a wheat allergy, and a torn ligament in his knee, which our vet told us would likely lead to a tear in the other one. Yes it did! Only a few weeks later. So we spent the winter walking around the house and then around the block and then repeating it with the other leg, all the while going to puppy PT (which I renamed PB after seeing how much peanut butter was involved). Luckily I worked from home for most of it and when I was laid up with my injury, both dogs stuck very close by…like usually on top of me.

We got a larger couch when we moved into this house, which is great because there are now regularly 180 lbs of dog on it (not to mention the dog hair) and Tyler loves sleeping.

It’s not enough for him to be on the couch, he also has to gather all of the pillows together and then he wants a blanket or two as well.

I mean, he really loves sleeping.

He also loves his toys.

Stick!!

A post shared by Matt Walters (@mattfwalters) on

And I’m pretty sure he loves his new home too.

Travel planning and Traipsing through Canada

Current status: hanging out with Kim Crawford on the couch, listening to Spotify and mucking about on the internet. Not all that different from a typical Tuesday night except that I am in an Airbnb in Ottawa and there are no dogs.

I’ve quit facebook, quit my job and taken leave of my husband and animals and home to travel to India and Nepal but I lined up a bit of “practice” traveling, wrapping up work remotely and visiting friends. The day before I left a friend told someone I was off to India the next day and I had to explain a bit ruefully that I wasn’t going to be in India for a little while still. Leg #1 was Seattle to White Rock, leg #2 was to Vancouver, leg #3 Montreal, leg #4 Ottawa, leg #5 Toronto, leg #6 London (with a layover in Iceland) and then Mumbai from where I will make my way north to Delhi (as well as east and west and a bit farther north, and finally home through Hong Kong. I can write that now because although I’ve been on the road for 10 days, I only just booked my flight home.

It’s kind of exciting, really. As a project manager and therefore usually a super-planner. I often make reservations months in advance but this trip I am kind of making things up as I go along and that has meant some scrambling (for visas, passport renewal, giving my company enough notice, figuring out outfits that will work across cultures and climates and landscapes, etc.) but it turns out that most of these things can be done in a rush and / or online – something that I am finding out at a whole new level now that I have lost my wallet.

New credit and debit cards overnighted to me? Don’t mind if I do. New green card and Nexus rushed to me so I can get back in the country later? Yes please.

I’m consider myself a fairly seasoned traveler so this is an embarrassing and rookie mistake but I had an errand at the embassy where they require you to bring no bags, sunnies or cell phones so I was literally carrying everything in my pockets, in the pouring rain, in a country that I feel safe in so I wasn’t really on my guard. And so I’m grateful for these weeks of practice travel while I ramp up and get my sh– together.

One gets old and set in one’s ways and even in my home town I was glad of free public Wifi, Google maps and friendly bartenders. In Montreal even more so. as I spent a good portion of the week dealing with rudeness, apathy and ineptitude as they tried to fix my notebook. In Ottawa the response to me losing my wallet was “not my problem” or “I need to get paid” but I’m sure it will not be long in India before I’m laughing at how infuriated I have been about the noise and construction and lack of WiFi, customer service and kindness. It’s tough out here in the world.

Travel is a muscle that needs to be exercised regularly. That is how we grow.

Instead of grumbling, here are some of the many new and / or cherished experiences I’ve had this week:

VANCOUVER:
Sorting through all kinds of old nostalgia and photos with my mom, a great sleep with her tiny dog curled up in my armpit (as compared with my mediocre sleep most nights cramming between my two enormous, snoring bulldogs), a ride to the bus stop on the corner (literally 3 blocks away) so she could see me off, the ahhhh-mazing Apple customer service and quality program fixing my laptop on the road – for free, high quality delicious and sustainable sushi at Hapa Izakaya, inventive vegetarian Chinese comfort food at Bao Bei, delicious and creative cocktails in beautiful rooms at Nightingale and The Botanist, and finally a ride to the airport from my sister.

MONTREAL:
Being met at the airport by my lovely friend who I’ve not seen in a while, who fed me all kinds of delicious food and wine, snuggles and kisses and playtime with the second loaner dog of the trip, happening across an amazing Chagall exhibit at the art gallery and another Amazonian one at the archeology museum, surprising sunshine allowing for wine and burrata on a terasse with a good book, more wine and deliciousness at Vin Papillon, and then even more wine and more deliciousness at Nora Grey, teaching the loaner dog to waltz, brunch at the spectacular Satay Bros. and finally coming across an urban “cabane à sucre” in a park.

OTTAWA:
Arriving at my Airbnb to find it so charming and lovely and heart-warming that I didn’t even want to leave – and that was before I saw that my hostess had left me some chocolate, ducking in out of the rain at a cosy pub to have some seriously good pizza and beer.

TORONTO:
Having said credit cards arrive over night – with a photo that my husband had included of him and all of our animals, catching up with more good friends I haven’t seen in a while, delicious cocktails and dinner at Byblos, mind-blowingly amazing peach beer at Momofuku (and lunch to go with), the availability and ease of hailing cabs, interesting and sumptuous flavours at Banu Iranian restaurant and cafes with good coffee that haven’t minded me hiding out from hours from the rain. And tomorrow we dance! I can’t tell you how excited I am about that.

I am feeling very loved, cared for and connected…and this is another reason one must travel – so that we can spend time connecting with people in person. As I have learned from working from home this winter, video chat and IM just don’t cut it.

Finally, being away from home is an opportunity to appreciate the things one normally takes for granted. I am so happy to have my high quality pack / boots / Goretex with me, my Canadian passport, to be free of allergies and allergies and have a relatively good ability to adapt, to be hosted by so many lovely people (both because it helps my travel budget but also because it’s a new perspective on how others live, not to mention extra time to catch up). Conversely I have loved and needed the downtime in between staying with friends, appreciated the flexibility to work remotely…and of course to have enough health and wealth and courage to be able to take this trip in the first place.

Next stop: Londontown.