Happy Canada Day Plus One!

Happy Canada Day + 1! As in the day after our country’s 149th birthday. I’m writing this post late because on the day itself there really was not time for blogging.

As a country, we are officially 149 years old (if you care to ignore the generations and generations of First Nation people who lived on this continent long before the Europeans arrived – but as a united & politically connected Canada, we are 149), which pretty much makes us a baby when comparing ourselves to other countries.

After witnessing the UK vote themselves out of the European Union last week (!!!! Arugggghh!!!!)  I truly felt gutted. Zsolt and I had rich lives in England while there. We met the best darn people you’d hope to meet. Some of my fondest friendships were formed while doing my MA and working in the library. Lifelong friendship were made as Zsolt studied his PhD. And while I missed Canada and family in a way that ached, it was becoming more and more my country. If I hadn’t gotten sick we would have made it our permanent home, I’m certain. I’d be English today. Instead, as it is, Zsolt is Canadian.

But it’s also the first place I ever felt like I didn’t belong. While working in England, I was referred to as a foreigner. That was weird. Me, foreign? Maybe, but not by much I reckoned. It’s the first place I witnessed an open argument between groups of people on the street – specifically Polish and English, which certainly I’d never seen in my suburban home of Kanata, Canada. It was the first time I realized that not everything was totally okay in the world, and that tensions were creeping in – seeping into some minds. Not into all people, but enough that 2nd generation polish kids felt compelled to explain their Englishness to me on more than one occasion. (at work, and once in a restaurant with the waiter). Something was certainly going on then, and it has clearly continued.

Though by living and working for an international university, you get into a lovely liberal bubble of acceptance – and most of this passed by me without noticing. So when it came to the Brexit voting, I never suspected it was possible for the Leave vote to win. Except that it did. Leaving me to worry about my international friends in England, and how they will be treated.

Remember when Quebec held the referendum here in Canada to remain or leave? Remember that? That was the damn worst. To think a 149 year partnership (okay, it was like 129 back then or something) could break apart with a simple vote – it was scary to me even as a child. Even as a kid, I knew Quebec leaving would break something very special. I’m not saying it is something perfect, but guys – we have a very special country. The more I see of this wonderful world, the more I know there’s a strong reason to love this place so much.

We are not perfect. But we are special. For one thing, we’re proof that a country can evolve its identity while maintaining important values, even as it welcomes the identities of others. (Just crash a citizenship ceremony to see what I mean, it’s totally inspiring. They do them in Ottawa.)

You know, the EU is very special too. I hope it remains an ever strengthening and evolving entity – where countries within work well together, support each other, realize each other’s worth (as if they didn’t already), and don’t leave when things are hard, or because some parties promised a vote that was really just some political tool rather than a smart way to govern.

And I cannot forget the United Kingdom, because it’s a very special place, particularly in my heart (along with Hungary). I know that it is bursting with good people – even those who voted to leave, in their minds, felt they were doing the right thing (though my frustration with them remains very high because it was a damn bad decision. In hard times, we look to blame – and they were given an easy and massive target to kick, with extremely serious consequences.) But I know there’s so much goodness in the UK – and goodness knows the more we attempt to understand and support each other, the better off we are all around.

 

Anyhow, Happy Canada Day. I love this country, and as my life grows I come to realize in how many ways I’m blessed to call it home.

P.S. I had a lemonade moment yesterday (term inspired by Mandi) when it was 9:30 and we decided to race to from our apartment to Major Hill’s Park to see the fireworks. I was exhausted, but Canada Day is only once a year. So on when the rain boots, out came the umbrella, and we went to see those big BOOMS happen in person. It was so nice, and even if I was knackered to the bone by the time we return, it was worth every ounce of energy.

What is your picture?

Today is a post in response to Marie from ‘Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer’, who found the idea from Jen of ‘Keep the Calm’. The challenge is to post a photograph of yourself (or something that represents you) which captures the ‘you’ of the past little while.

So this is my photograph. It’s so peaceful looking and calm, but in reality we were travelling across Hungary in the backseat of a car, and I was trying not to vomit from the motion sickness. Zsolt thought I looked pretty.:) And I think so too, in my no-longer-nauseous reflection on the photograph.

But that’s not why I chose this photograph. The past six months . . . okay, the past NINE months (gag!) have been both wonderful and difficult. We are searching for ‘the big break’ in terms of careers & living on our own (cause yes, we’re still with my parents), feeling as though we haven’t settled, desperate, once again, to find a sense of home. And yet I am home with my family – something I’ve lacked for many years. We can get together for dinner, go for tea, share a beautiful day . . .

Both wonderful and difficult. All the while, I’m there in the back of that car waiting for resolution. With little bursts of success like my freelancing (at the detriment to my creative writing) and Zsolt’s consulting, we move forward. We are moving forward. I am saturated in the family I’ve been missing so much. Things are good. Things are a little hard.

But what you don’t know is at the end of this car ride we pulled up to a home where there were dogs in the yard, pigs in the pen, chicken running round, and a family with open hearts and tables filled with food. The good stuff exists (and much of it is already here), so I can tolerate this ‘ in-between’ness, because I’m certain it won’t last forever.

(Though displacement does appear to arrive in waves. That is the life of a person who travels, home is where the heart is . . . except we leave bits of our hearts wherever we go.)

Would you like to join the challenge? Post a photograph of yourself, or something that represents you, and let us know the story (or don’t since a picture is already speaking at least a thousand words). You can post the link here, or on Marie or Jen’s pages. I’m sure we’d all love to see.

Take care,

Catherine

Toilet Troubles

Friday morning the toilet was running – that valve inside the tank wouldn’t lift all the way up, so it instead kept filling and draining continuously. This had been going on for a while. While the toilet reigns from Japan (where apparently, they do toilets very well), I suppose all good things come to an end. A repair was required.

So off my Dad goes to the hardware shop. He returns with a ‘one size fits all’ toilet valve thing. “I don’t think this will work” he asserts. “We’ve got a Toto, and I don’t think this will work.” But nevertheless he takes apart the Toto valve and tried to install the new part.

It didn’t work.

So then he goes back to the store and instead of returning the generic ‘one size fits all’ valve, he instead picks up the Toto brand in addition to the generic he already has, and come back.

But then he needs a special sort of wrench, so run back to the shop.

He returns, ready to tackle the toilet. As he fixes the main hall Toto, he then decides to also refit another toilet (not a Toto) with the generic valve. And what follows is a journey of leaking pipes, second opinions, and nearly buying an entirely new toilets.

But he persevered, and about three hours later everything was running fine, all drips and leaks contained.:) (Whooohoo!)

Sometimes you think you’re dealing with a sticky valve, and wind up tackling an entire home renovation.  Which is kinda the journey we’ve taken ever since coming back to Canada.

The great news is that my freelance writing is going well, and Zsolt is doing some consulting for a patent agency. He thinks it’s an interesting field, so that’s very promising. Apparently it can take about 3-5 years to become a patent agent – but first you need to get hired as a trainee within a firm. (If you know any patent agency looking for a trainee to join their team, do let us know.) Consulting doesn’t count toward the patent agent exams, so far as I know, but it’s a step in the right direction in terms of experience.

Anyhow – I haven’t written very much on my blogs lately, largely because my mind has been all wrapped up and absorbed in ‘making it’ here. And like I said once before, I don’t generally write about a subject if it involves another person’s problem. Zsolt and I are a super-duper team, but that also means his problema are my problem, and my problems are his problem.

So the toilets need fixing, and it’s taking much longer than expected. However, I remain 100% optimistic that everything will turn out well. In the meantime we plan to move out very, very soon (to the relief of my parents, I’m sure) so that in itself will be a great adventure.

And of course there’s that oncologist appointment at the end of this month. I get these occasional pinging feelings in my breast that worry me, though I think they’re related to my cycle and hormones, but nevertheless I seem to be at my “pre-scan” stage where my worries begin to escalate. Dr Canada wants me to get a mammogram . . . I’d much rather have an ultra sound. We’ll see what happens.

And so we keep on keeping on. Life as of late seems full of transition. Transition is great and variety is fun, but my goodness, I’m hankering for some stationary living. Unpacking those boxes we’ve had stored in the basement, buying a welcome rug, feeling really truly within my own home. They’re coming. They are coming. It’s just taking a wee bit longer than expected.