Friday, February 25, 2011

Thanks Miriam. I needed that.

My cousin has been posting a series of questions on her Facebook page and I in turn have shared some on SS. One of them was:
If you could give your teenage self advice on a particular situation that happened in your life, what would it be? I'm looking for less "Life will get better" answers and rather things like, "start wearing deodorant earlier" or "don't sleep with the entire football team."
My friend Miriam reposted a blog entry that she wrote a few years back. I remember reading that entry then but this part really jumped out at me today:
The best thing you can do for yourself is to get out of that town. Look around you - are you seeing an environment that fosters your drive and ambition? Find one that does. Trust that you are still capable of so much more than what you are doing now. Remember to spread your wings and fly.
In the throws of homesickness, going/being AT home, sounds really, really good. But then I start remembering all the reasons why I made the decision to move and I just get confused. "Home" (meaning BC) is where I feel like I want to be right now but I know that if I was there, I wouldn't be happy either. There's a lot about there that isn't right for me right now. Here, I miss my family and friends, but I know this is where I'm supposed to be. Even if I don't really understand why sometimes, I know it is. This is an environment that can "foster my drive and ambition". My wings are spread, I'm flying and I just need to enjoy the ride.

I was walking home from the bus tonight (it's half a block to my street and half a block up the street to my house). The sky is crystal clear and the stars are twinkling, there's a plane moving slowly across the inky blue expanse blinking red and white lights. The street lights are reflecting off the fresh (again) snow and making it all sparkle. I had fun at work (even if it was painfully slow) and I realize my health is totally "back". I breathe in sharp icy cold air, exhale and say "Yep, life is good. Even here, with all my questions for the universe. Life is good."

Thanks Miriam. I needed that reminder. <3

Royal Ontario Museum

I knew that this week would be fairly anti-climactic as far as reading weeks go so I planned to meet up with my friend Grace on Wednesday to go in to Toronto to the Royal Ontario Museum, or the ROM as its more commonly known.
We met at Yorkdale Shopping Centre and took the subway to the "Museum" stop. Grace was looking forward to seeing the mummy (which we never actually did locate) so I took her picture with this pillar in the subway station :)

The side entrance to the ROM. Much more beautiful (IMO) than the very modern current main entrance.

The ROM is HUGE with artefacts from all over the world. We didn't really have a plan, just wandered around getting acquainted. I bought an annual pass so I'll definitely be going back. When I do I'll make a point of taking some of the guided tours. For now we just focused on seeing what was there and spending the day together. Because of this I really, really limited myself on pictures. Knowing I'll be going back meant I didn't take as many as I usually would. The picture above was in the Asia exhibit. They are little houses and feeding dishes for crickets!!! So cute!

The dinosaur exhibit is pretty impressive too. Grace and I found it a bit odd that they had some skeletons that were entirely replicates (no real bones at all). Especially for some of the other prehistoric animals (that I didn't take pictures of...cause they were fake anyways!)

It's become a bit of running joke that I've been in Ontario for over six months and still haven't seen a cardinal. They're around. I know they are because other people see them. Just not me. Of course I don't really spend that much time outside or looking outside so it shouldn't be that weird. Anyways, I was excited to see one in the museum :P Can you spot it?
Some of the butterflies were GORGEOUS. I loved this iridescent blue one.

One of the nice things about the ROM is simply the architecture. Exposed brick walls, wide marble (looking?) staircases and stained glass, as featured in this window although you can't see it because there's too much sunlight coming in.

This tile mosaic is in the entrance to the European Galleries. Probably my favourite part of the museum, at least this time, because it contained references to the medieval stuff I've been studying in school.

Loved this cabinet!
This display made me laugh. Picture this: you're walking through an exhibit of the evolution of armour, come around a corner and you see THIS. They had a whole write up of how modern hockey gear is modeled after metal armour! Very fun.
Grace and I spent a few hours enjoying the exhibits and then caught the subway back to Yorkdale. There we went for an early supper at the Rainforest Cafe and then shopped (although neither of us bought a single thing) for awhile before changing and heading to church. We have a midweek service and the church is a little over halfway between my house and Toronto so it's a good day to go since I'm driving anyways.
It was a fun day and it broke the week up really well. I look forward to going back soon!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Family Day

I'm still getting used to stat holidays in Ontario. It seems like everything closes. Not so in BC. I mean the government offices and the libraries close of course but all the stores are open and most other places. In Ontario though all the grocery stores are closed, all the malls, AND all the expected government places. It's weird. Almost eerie. Anyways, I'm off of school this week for Reading week and the school in all their wisdom made sure it corresponded with the staturtory Family Day (a holiday we don't even have in BC, although I hear there's talk of introducing it).

First off, let me tell you that celebrating "Family Day" when you're homesick, isn't really my idea of fun. That said, I made the most of it. My wonderful friend Jess and her family "adopted" me for the day and we went for a walk in the snow :) Going out wasn't exactly high on my list of things to do but I'm so glad I did. We met at the Spencer Gorge Conservation Area which is just outside of Hamilton (somewhat central for the three vehicles that were meeting up). It was cold and windy but a beautiful day for a walk.

Not far from the parking lot is Webster's Falls. It isn't all that tall but there's a senic bridge over them so it's very pretty. There's also a set of stairs that go down to the base of the falls but under the fresh snow was a layer of ice so we decided to leave the stairs for another day. I was speaking with a coworker later that day and he said that those stairs are tricky even when there isn't snow and ice on the ground. I'm glad we avoided them!

There are actually two falls in that same area. It's part of the Niagra Escarpment so the one is just a little shorter than the famous Niagra Falls. Of course there's not nearly as much water going over them, and definitely not as much in the middle of winter. This is Tews Falls, the one that is 41 metres high, only slightly shorter than Niagra. The ice formations formed by the falling water were beautiful. Lots of different kinds. It's hard to say exactly how far the water actually falls down. I'm looking forward to going back in the summer when everything is green and the water is flowing more fully but it was beautiful to see it in this state.

The Gorge is sort of Y shaped but it opens up to a view of Hamilton. Not the prettiest city to look on, especially at this time of year, but still kind of neat to see. A few of us even saw a hawk flying down in the gorge.

Even though it was Family Day, it was still Monday and I was scheduled to work. I made it back with plenty of time and put in a five hour shift. I was scheduled for six but this worked better because it meant I did't have to take a half hour unpaid meal break, and I got home and hour and a half earlier than I had expected. After all that fresh air and exercise in the morning, and lots of phyiscal tasks at night (sanitizing, washing floors, etc) I was absolutely exhausted by the time I got home. I was in bed, asleep around 11pm and slept right through till almost 10am this morning. It felt good! Today (Tuesday) I have nothing specific planned other than working on the three papers I have to write. So, for now, I'm off to the library.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

What is it about being sick

that makes you HOMEsick? Maybe I just want my mom. Maybe it's because in my slightly delirious state I kept forgetting where I was. I don't know but I don't like it. Sure I miss my family but for the most part I'm doing okay. Being sick sucks though and being sick and alone is even worse :(

The fever is gone now though and I'm definitely on the mend. Still a bit sniffly but that will pass too. Thank goodness for reading week to fully recover though! I need the time away from school to catch up and get going on these papers that are hanging over my head! Wish me luck!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Quelle Coincidence!

I've been fighting a head cold for most of the week. Tuesday I was in bed for most of the day, Wednesday I was just snotting and sneezing everywhere. Thursday I thought I was feeling better but that night I developed a fever and had a horrible sleep. Today (Friday) I still feel horrible but I managed to pull myself out of bed, shower and go to the one class I had. I am constantly amazed by what the human body can do. I feel horrible yet I still managed to walk down to the bus stop, across campus, sit in a class and actually comprehend most of what the teacher said, and then make it back home.

The funny part about being in French class today? We were learning how to say "I am sick", "I have a fever" and "I have a runny nose". Rather appropriate!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Well, I don't have to add that to the list...

I was thinking a couple of weeks ago that snowmobiling sounds fun and that I should add it to My List. That weekend I had plans to stay with friends of mine who live an hour and a bit away. They called on Thursday night to say that they had been invited by our mutual friends to go snowmobiling on their property on the Saturday and that I was included in that invitation.

It was SO much fun. We weren't out for very long but it was enough to get a good feel for it. The friends who's house we were at live in the country on a couple of acres but they have permission from the people who own the fields that they back on to, to snowmobile in the winter. I rode on the back for the first few times and then even got to drive twice myself! I could definitely see myself owning a snowmobile in the future if I stay in this area. At home we just don't get enough snow to make owning one worth while. Here though, if you can just go out your back door? Totally worth it!

I also tried cross country skiing. Fun but *hard*. I only did it for about 15 minutes but on Monday I was SO sore. I know I don't have any technique so the pain made sense. I can see why it's popular though. It's a very peaceful way to experience the outdoors. Much slower than the snowmobile though ;)

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Enough with War already!

Sorry for not blogging much this year. School keeps me pretty busy but, I need to...vent is a strong word. Something like that though. I can’t remember if I blogged last semester about how well my classes complimented each other. Anyway, they really did. I found I was constantly forgetting which prof had made which statement because they were often on the same or at least related topics. This semester I’m having the same experience. My classes are French 102, History 102 – The Central and Late Middle Ages, c. 1100-1400, History 112 – Canada after Confederation and North American Studies 202 – Narrative Place and Identity.

So far the two history courses have had really interesting parallels. When we studied the advent of towns in my Medieval Studies class we were studying how Canadians moved from the farm to the city in record numbers around the end of the nineteenth-century. Both of these shifts were cause by revolutions of sorts. In the Medieval period it was the Agricultural Revolution and in the Canadian example it was the Industrial Revolution.

This past week the parallel has been regarding wars. In Medieval Studies on Monday we had a lecture on “Castles and Siege Technology”. On Tuesday in North American Studies we had a guest speaker in talking about “Cultures of Militarization”. In Canadian History this week is all about World War I so I’ve been listening online to firsthand accounts of battles at the Somme, gas attacks at Ypres and Vimy Ridge.

We’re almost midway through the term (already!) so I have papers due and two mid-terms in the next few days (yes, this counts as studying because I had to reference my notes LOL) so being immersed in the horrors of war really isn’t my idea of fun right now. Wait, that sounds bad. What I mean is when I’m already stressed out, studying very stressful situations is that much more difficult. The parallels are interesting though. I’ll give it that. I’m just really, really looking forward to our Valentines lecture in Medieval Studies on “Chivalry and the Art of Courtly Love”. I need some lovin’ in my life!!!