Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Happy Anniversary!

Three years ago today, Denise reluctantly agreed to date me. Happy anniversary hon!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Sign Of Things To Come

October 18th 2011 marks mine and Mark’s 3 year anniversary of non-married bliss.  We have been “debating” over whether or not we will continue to celebrate this date once we get married.  I say YES, because that means there’s one more opportunity for Mark to buy me a present.  Mark says NO because he sucks.  I am trying to space out all gift-giving occasions throughout the year, and failing to acknowledge our October-versarry creates a big, stupid, giftless, almost 5 month hole…

So, given that this might be the last time we celebrate the true beginning of our relationship, we should probably go out for a fancy dinner and a romantic walk on the beach or something like that...  

The expectation...

How do Mark and I actually plan on celebrating our anniversary?   The same way we’ll probably spend it for the remainder of our lives…. I’m in hospital all day, then I have a meeting at night, and then I will get home and be too exhausted to exist. 


The reality...

I told Mark that I felt bad that I didn’t have more free time on our anniversary, and he graciously said that he knew what he was signing up for when I started medical school.  So, the current plan consists of loading up on tasty snacks and watching back-to-back-to-back episodes of Battlestar Galactica.

Hey look!  There's a couple in there being all cozy!  Just pretend that's me and Mark.

Definitely not the most elaborate of anniversaries, but it actually sounds kind of perfect.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Gobble Gobble 2011

Semester 4 so far has felt almost exactly the same as Semester 3.  Other than having a weirdo schedule that changes every week, it is overall pretty manageable.  I had my last Mini 1 Exam EVER on Monday….it went pretty well...well enough that I get to pick out an "I got an A" present for myself.  My next midterm is on October 31st (on my favourite non-holiday holiday!).  I wish I was home in Vancouver for Haloween so that me and my bestie Vanessa could come up with some sort of awesome Halooween costume…

Monday also happened to be Canadian Thanksgiving (which is better than American thanksgiving).   This is mine and Mark’s second Thanksgiving in Dominica.  I honestly have no idea what we did last year.  This year though, we pulled out all the stops.  Here is a simple 4 step process for how to celebrate Thanksgiving in Dominica when you are both poor and lazy:

Step 1 –
Get turkey
Mark and I were not about to go out and find and cook a full turkey.  No way.  That’s what moms are for, and neither of our moms were here.  So, instead we just loaded up on turkey-based products.  Close enough.

Step  2 – Get pumpkin
Pumpkin pie is my FAVOURITE pie in the whole world.   Mark hates pie in general, so he’s useless.  Since pumpkin pie isn’t readily available here (there is one restaurant that serves it on Thanksgiving, but we try to avoid this restaurant whenever possible), we decided to just eat pumpkin in non-pie format.  Again….close enough.

Step 3 – Get pilgrims Cook turkey and pumpkin
Self-explanatory, but here's a picture anyway.

Step 4 – Nom nom nom!
Tur-turkey-key monte cristo sandwiches (turkey slices AND turkey bacon) with mashed pumpkin!  Delicious!

As of right now, Mark and I have ZERO idea where we’ll be next Thanksgiving – maybe Chicago, maybe New York, maybe Detroit – either way, it most likely won’t be Canada.  Regardless, I’m sure that Mark and I will follow the simple 4 plan process again. 

In other, completely unrelated news, I currently have a series of countdowns going on my computer:


31 days until Harry Potter World in Orlando!!!!! 68 days until we’re home for Christmas (and off this island for GOOD).
226 days until we get to put on expensive clothes and eat fancy food at our wedding!

This also means that in the next 266 days we will be living in 3 countries…which is bananas.....some people live in the same country their whole lives, and Mark and I are going to cover 3 in less than a year.  Although it is kind of exciting in that I-really-hope-this-all-works-out sort of way, I am REALLY looking forward to the day where we have a home...one home....for an extended period of time....preferably close enough to our moms......that turkey ain't gonna cook itself.


Monday, October 10, 2011

Ten Day Blogging Challenge: Day 10

What will you miss when you leave Dominica?

There are lots of little things that I'll miss here, most of which have already been mentioned, but the thing I'll miss that I think is most under-appreciated here is the sweet-ass exchange rate. When I play poker here, we use Eastern Caribbean Dollars (which gives you 2.67 for every US dollar), and so the stakes seem naturally inflated. When I make a ten dollar bet, I feel like a big man. But when I lose ten dollars, I remember that it's really only a little less than 4$ US. It's a win-win situation, where if you win big at the end of the night you feel loaded, but when you lose big, you just shrug your shoulders and remember that it's worth very little anyways. When I go back to North America, I'm going to look like one cheap dude, making quarter bets over and over again.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Ten Day Blogging Challenge: Day 9

Has anything made this journey easier for you?

There's a nifty little phenomenon here at Ross, and it applies both to spouses and students, and that is that the community bonds here in a hurry. The population is in constant flux, with people coming and going, friendships and agreements starting and stopping at various points over the four semesters, so the entire place...

(Strangely, the rest of this post has disappeared.)

Friday, October 7, 2011

Ten Day Blogging Challenge: Day 8

Does your spouse like it here?


Ten Day Blogging Challenge: Day 7

What is the best meal you've had on the island?

Denise and I actually ate it recently. We accidentally had the best meal we'd had in ages. It was fresh tuna steaks marinated in soy sauce, and rubbed with seasoning salt, then fried to medium-rare. We also made baked sweet potatoes that we doused with butter, and cheesy garlic bread made on six-grain bread.


Ten Day Blogging Challenge: Day 6

Tell about an "Only in Dominica..." moment.

My God. This one's hard, because I feel like I come across these all the freaking time. I think most of the gems can be found in my blog posts about trying to start a business, and being driven mad by the bureaucracy. The most recent one, certainly not the greatest, has to do with the crosswalk that was recently installed.

For those who have never been here, you have to understand that there isn't a single traffic light in the entire country; cars just make it on their own, and pedestrians scurry from place to place, largely unharmed. Not a pretty system, but there isn't a lot of traffic anywhere, so it's not really necessary. Plus the country has no money, so why spend money on these things?

So, recently Ross built an extra lecture building across the street from the campus, across the "main road" in town, which is really not terribly busy and is covered in speed bumps anyways. Not precarious at all. They've recently added a crosswalk to connect the two buildings. Cool beans, there are children and families and dog walkers and all that jazz, and what's the harm in some paint. I guess that wasn't making the cut, so they installed these colossal yellow crosswalk signs, with frames that blink an obnoxiously bright flashing yellow when a button is pressed on either side of the street. Again, excessive but fine, there're stupid drivers everywhere, and the streetlights here aren't the brightest, so why not err on the side of caution.

The "only in Dominica" part is that Ross now has a full-time security guard manning the crosswalk, whose job is to: (1) notice people who are about to use the crosswalk, then (2) press the button for them. So now it's on all the time. In a country without traffic lights, the one community of largely white rich people has thoroughly invested in a blinking crosswalk sign that can be seen from a mile away.

The overkill protection on what is really already a very safe street is just obscene. Only in Dominica. Or I guess just Picard.

Ten Day Blogging Challenge: Day 5

What don't you miss about home?

It's funny, because I recently posted about the pace of life here being so slow as to stall creativity, but there are days where I don't miss the stress of city life. I've certainly gotten used to a lot more free time; I work four hours a day, and I've started feeling entitled to my time off. A lot of spouses approach their time here as semi-retirement, and while I resisted taking on the same philosophy (nothing against them, especially since several people here just spent many years in stressful careers and want the break; I just haven't worked full-time in six years and I'm itching to get a move on for my own career), I must admit that I've become quite spoiled. I've grown used to waking up when I want to, taking my time on breakfast, enjoying a strong cup of coffee, working at a pretty laid-back job that I love for a few hours, then having my evenings free for whatever I'd like. So while I long to have my own classroom every day, I don't miss all the obligations and stress that come along with working forty plus hours a week.

Goodness. My prairie upbringing is screaming at me right now.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Some hockey predictions.

Obviously I have reneged on my Ten Day Blogging Challenge. I'll get back to that tomorrow, but in the meantime, the new NHL season is upon us, and I wanted to throw down some predictions, so that I can be mercilessly mocked at the end of the year. Go Leafs Go!

Stanley Cup Winner: Washington Capitals

Stanley Cup Finalist: Los Angeles Kings

Presidents' Trophy Winner: Vancouver Canucks (thanks to a terrible, terrible Northwest division).

Worst team: Ottawa Senators (but man, a few years from now, they'll be good, which is more than I can say for the Flames - ouch)

Where the Jets will place: 12th in the East, right ahead of Ottawa, Florida, and New York Islanders (conspicuously, like this year). I hope I'm wrong, as I am now officially a Jets fan. Go Jets Go!

Where the Leafs will place: 9th in the East. I'll spend the season hoping for eighth, but they're in tight in a race with Carolina and Montreal for that last spot, unless Tampa really craps the bed. Egads. Again, I hope I'm wrong.

My hope against hope, unlikely situation: That at the end of the year, both Mark Scheifele (of the Jets) and Jake Gardiner (of the Leafs) are competing for Best Rookie of the Year.



Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Ten Day Blogging Challenge: Day 4

What has been your favourite trip?

Originally we were hoping to take a lot of trips when we were down here. I think we assumed that just because we were closer to places like Brazil, Cuba, Venezuela, that flights would be cheaper. But with the exception of a couple of nearby islands, travel isn't very cheap at all. I've heard of people who have found good deals on flights or hotels, but generally island hopping isn't as inexpensive as we thought it would be, so neither of us travelled a great deal.

We were fortunate, however, in that my parents came to visit several months ago, and we hopped aboard a cruise that took us to Grenada, Bonaire, Aruba, and Puerto Rico. Of those islands, Bonaire was far and away my favourite trip. The beaches are beautiful, and the town we visited felt like someone had scooped up a little Dutch hamlet and dropped it off in the Caribbean. Charming little shops, lovely weather, and an easy-going atmosphere (I don't mean easy-going Dominica style, where you can be screamed at in the market place and they tell you to calm down mon; rather, it's a genuine, come-as-you-please kind of place) made it easily the best trip I've taken while down here.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Ten Day Blogging Challenge: Day 3

How does the weather affect you?

Strangely, not that much. Much fanfare was made about my fair skin and penchant for cold before we came here, but it turns out that the Caribbean feels very much like Manitoba on its hottest days. And you just get used to the fact that every day you'll need to change your clothes at least once, because you're soaked in sweat.

The surprising thing, and the part that I've gotten used to, is the flash showers. No matter what the weather, I always carry an umbrella, because a sudden storm can come with little warning, dumping rain for no more than two minutes. Being caught without shelter during one of those storms has the same effect as swimming with your clothes on. The flip side is that if you are under shelter, if you wait five minutes, the weather usually clears.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Ten Day Blogging Challenge: Day 2

What has been better than expected?

This is perhaps a cop-out, but the fresh food here is phenomenal. When we first landed on the island, and drove through a jungle to get to our apartment, we quickly realized that a lot of commodities we were used to wouldn't be available to us. Looking back at some of the first posts in our blog (oh nostalgia, check it out here), it didn't take us long to realize how exceptional the fresh fruits, veggies, fish and eggs are here. Since then, we've enjoyed (and often wrote about) the pineapples, mangos, plantains, breadfruit, and perhaps most impressively, fresh tuna steaks. For the past two or three weeks, Denise and I have been on a tuna binge (forgive me, my environmental friends), because we know that we may never again find such cheap, delicious fish.


Saturday, October 1, 2011

Ten Day Blogging Challenge: Day 1

My good friend Katie Price (whose blog can be found here), a fellow spouse down here in Dominica, has asked me to participate in her “Ten Days in Dominica” Blogging Challenge. It’s a pretty nifty idea, and Katie is almost genius-like when it comes to blogs, so hey, why not? I won’t be posting this on facebook every day, so that I don’t piss anyone off, but feel free to check back regardless. Hopefully, I’ll stick to the schedule.

What do you miss most about home?

I think the thing that I concentrate most on, and which most do, is the products that we don’t have here. In particular, I often crave a nice, cold, pint of India Pale Ale from Vancouver, where there’s a great market for local brews. A good, strong pint of IPA should kick you in the face with bitter flavour, and then soften into the most delicious thing in the world. It’s a beer that makes you work for it. I definitely miss IPAs a great deal, but I don’t think it’s what I miss most. Indeed, I didn’t really even realize what it was that I missed until this last break in Vancouver.

Never had this, but damn it looks good.
I miss the bustle of a city. There’s a certain charm down here to the slow paced life, inasmuch as it’s relaxing and it gives me the opportunity to work on projects that I wouldn’t otherwise have time for (ie. blogging). As some of you know, I’m fond of writing, and I’ve been trying to use my spare time to write as much as possible on a couple of books. The trouble with a small town, though, is that nothing is new. When I walk out the door, I know that I’ll probably see the same people, do the same things, and if I want adventure I have to really go and seek it out. This would be fine if I was naturally adventuresome, but I’m really not. What I miss is the controlled energy of a city. In Vancouver, I could walk out my door, walk around, and something will happen. Ideas flit around my head because I run into so many different personalities, locales, art forms, music, smells, and tastes. It was exhilarating being in Vancouver again, and it filled my head with ideas for writing that I’m currently poaching on, but I can feel the ideas lose steam here. It’s in the swirling bustle of a city that I feel most engaged and inspired, if not the most productive.