THEN AND NOW

A good afternoon to you on this 7th day of the November Ultimate Blog Challenge. It is past the noon hour. No snow yet so the mornings are dark. I slept in! It was still pitch black at 7:30 am. My blackout curtains are also working too well. I made them last fall because my next door neighbour started to keep her outside garage light on 24/7 as security. It is mounted high, casting a bright light at night over her backyard as well as ours. The light goes through the aluminum venetians and reflects it onto our bedroom walls. It was rather disturbing for sleep. Negotiations was too difficult. The curtains was my beneign solution.

We had a late breakfast, our usual Sunday fare of bacon, eggs and sourdough pancakes. It’s quite filling. I can delay lunch a bit, sip my tea and lay out the foundation for today’s post. Our digital maestro, Paul Taubman, suggested writing “about where you have been, where you are now, and where you see yourself going in the future.” I thought I would take it literally and talk about my physical where have I been.

I was born in a tiny village on main land China in the Taishan region in the province of Guandong. The name of my village (san eng) means mountain top. It’s all very complicated especially when it come to passports nowadays. In the past, I’ve always put Canton, the old name for guandong for my birthplace. Now immigration is super picky. They want the name of the actual town even though they can’t find or verify it on the map. So I had to make it up. It’s very difficult to translate it phonetically. The immigration person couldn’t find it, of course, but it was acceptable. Strange, isn’t it?

our house in China

I was born before we had electricity. So it’s been a few years. I saw my first electric lightbulb when I was six in a hotel room in the city of Canton. My mother and I along with 3 cousins and their grandmother were on our way to Hong Kong to join my father. It would be my first time seeing my father since I was 2. He had immigrated to Canada and now we were meeting up in Hong Kong. It was tricky for my mother and I to get out of Communist China. I have vague memories of mother going to Taishan City to get this and that paper. And it was who we knew that helped us.

I think my father stayed with us in Hong Kong for a year or so before heading back to Canada. That’s how my sister came to be. At first we lived in rented rooms in someone else’s flat. We were able to share the kitchen. That’s how alot of people lived. After awhile my paternal grandfather sent money from Canada and we bought our own flat. It had 3 bedrooms. My paternal grandmother and my 2 uncles were already in Hong Kong ahead of us. We all lived together.

I can’t remember how long after my father left for Canada that my grandmother and my younger uncle also left. Then it was my older uncle. That left my mother, my sister and I. My mother’s family was worried about mom alone with 2 children. My mother’s sister and younger brother came to live with us to help out and keep us company. Then it was our turn to leave for Canada. My sister was not quite 2. Here’s our family photo before we left.

This is turning into a long story. The short of it is we ended up in Maidstone, Saskatchewan, a small town of 600 then. It had electricity but no running water and no flush toilets. I was almost back to where I started out in China. Though I had lived in the big city of Hong Kong for 2 years, I don’t remembered being frazzled by the drastic change in my environment. I did have a sense that the lights had gone out. I had a vision that Canada would be full of colourful balloons and cotton candy. The adults called it Gold Mountain. How was I to know?

Enough for now. It is getting late. Tomorrow is another day. Perhaps I can talk about the now, how I ended up here, in Saskatoon, later on. You are always welcome to come back.

A LITTLE CANADA, A LITTLE FRANCE

mornIt’s 6 o’clock Monday morning.  I’m having my first cup of Chai since coming home.  It’s hot and I can faintly taste its spiciness.  The thing with a cold is it kills your taste buds and your sense of smell.  My tongue feels like sandpaper.  My head feels full of cotton batting. No matter.  Hot tea is good going down my throat.

I’m not sure if I’m feeling better.  I think the nature of the cold is changing.  My cough is less frequent but harsher when it comes.  I hear myself wheezing.  Will I live?  There is a relief in being really sick.  I can give myself permission for doing or not doing.  So – here I sit in my pink bathroom.  My hair is standing on end, almost tomahawk style, looking and feeling like hell.  Somehow that feels good.  I’m comforted by the tapping of my fingers on the keyboard.

Canada is experiencing so much drama recently.  First there’s the killing of a soldier by a ‘terrorist’ in Ottawa. Then yesterday, news of CBC’s firing of Jian Ghomeshi hit the air waves.  It’s a case of sex, scandal and she said, he said with no women coming forward publicly.  BUT seeds of doubt have been planted.  I feel myself being swayed in one direction, then another.  You know what they say, where’s there’s smoke, there’s fire.

I am sure we all have been in situations of you said, I said.  They may not be the same high stake situation that Jian Ghomeshi is in, but aren’t all truths costly? Each of us have to weigh how much ‘the truth’ is worth and be willing to pay the consequences.

I had an epiphany recently about the truth of you said, I said.  We all wanted to be right and I want the other person see my right as his.  That is impossible because he wants the same, that I see his right as mine.  It’s an impasse. A little something nudged me.  Maybe I was hearing Dr. Phil saying:  Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?  I chose my well being over being right.  The truth does not set you free.

So much about Canada and truths, let me move on with my musings while in France.  The slow Internet had interrupted my postings.

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It’s Tuesday in France. I’m here and tapping some of my thought and feelings. It’s been awhile since I’ve been in foreign country and in a foreign household. The language is different but we are managing somehow with our broken words and sentences and gestures.  We have more similarities than differences.  We are all human.

IMG_1533The village is small, containing over a hundred some inhabitants. The streets are mostly empty on all our walks. A dog and a cat greets us once in awhile. I can hear the echo of our shoes on the street. Life is a leisurely pace here. We hear the chime of the church bells signalling noon as we climb up and down the hillsides.

IMG_1693We are back at the house. After some time we leave to have lunch at the truck stop. It is a popular place for everyone, truckers and non truckers. There are separate dining rooms for each as the truckers have to eat quicker and be on the road.  The rest of us can take our time.

For 13 Euros each, we have a buffet of salads – as much as we want . It consists of a selection of cold meats, fish, shrimp, cheeses, fruits and vegetables. We get to choose a main course from 4 selections or ‘the plate of the day’. This is followed by a selection of cheeses and dessert.   Also included : a 1/2 carafe of wine , coffee or tea.  This takes a bit of time.

Finally we are finished with the courses of our meals. It is a grey and rainy day in France. We go on a tour of a high technology company where they make parts for airplanes. Metal is cut using laser and water. It is all very fascinating but I am sure it has more meaning for the men than me. It makes me see how different our brains are, how non tech I am.  I can only blink and scratch my head at what I saw.

So goes our days – a little bit of this, a little bit of that.  Then it’s the evening meal.  It’s usually 8 pm and after.  If you need time and space to be, France is the country to come. That is my experience anyways.

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POSSIBLES

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Do you know that anything and everything is possible, especially in Canada.  Just look at what is happening in our Senate now – Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin- accused of inappropriate travel claims.  And look at how our prime minister is responding, on the defensive.   What about Toronto’s mayor, Rob Ford, accused of smoking crack cocaine.  Wow!  Who can say Canadian politics is boring?

And if I’m not a little inebriated, I would be weeping at this state of affairs in our country, in the world.  What is wrong with these people?  What is wrong with all of us?  Why do things good and moral not matter any more?  Why is money and power so enticing?  WHY?

I am trying to keep a perspective on things.  I know it is important which side of the picture you are looking at.  But there are times when sides don’t matter.  There are times, no matter where you are coming from or at, it is always wrong, or always right.  I know I will feel better in the morning.  I will see in a different light.

Still, I should not despair.  There are things to rejoice and celebrate.  I am alive and healthy.  I have baked three loaves of awesome bread and 15 yummy cinnamon buns.  I have washed, scrubbed and swept.  I have exercised and walked Sheba.  And I have written 1100 words on my novel.  I am doing all right.