Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Hit me, baby, one more time...

Ever noticed how long it takes you, after being away for a while, to get back to the way you were before you left?  How long does it take for life to wipe that smile off your face once you're back?  How fast do you feel stress getting to you or how quickly the benefits of being away from it all disappear upon your return home?  That perma-smile doesn't last that long once back in daily life.  I can now confirm it.  It doesn't take that much, or rather that long to feel a known rush of stress.

Last week, Hubby and I drove to New Hampshire for the week.  A little get away, just the two of us.  Turns out, that the chosen location was actually very remote and there wasn't really much to do around there.  Given that my foot (still) hurts, hiking was out, and since we don't really golf that was out as well.  The nearest town was about 30 minutes away, and there wasn't much there either.  Thankfully, we were lucky with the weather and had a gorgeous week, an actual heat wave, and even luckier there was a pool at the resort.  So, for the week, we slept in, and lounge at the pool.  We rested.

We drove home Saturday.  It was a nice drive,
the one the Saturday before; it rained all the way.  While Hubby was unpacking the car, I made my way in the house, to realize that something wasn't quite right.  I looked around and noticed a spot on our kitchen tiles.  Oh no, crap, something leaked.  I couldn't quite tell where it came from, until I saw the ceiling above the cabinets. Crap!  I'm thinking "this is not good... this is not good!" as I make my way to our office.  As I walked in I see another spot on the floor, the hard wood floor.  I look at the ceiling to see it a joint all puffed up... as I'm looking at this, I also notice the wall and closet doors are all streaked... "oh no, what now?" That is when I opened the doors to find the self ripped off the wall, water dripping.  That closet is where I've kept all my books.  I'm actually remaining calm, until I start to make my way downstairs to meet up the unsuspecting husband to let him know that while we were away, relaxing in the sun of NH, our condo was being flooded again, for the third time.  Let's just say that the shit hit the fan, fast.

We didn't even unpack our luggage, started to look at what happened, contacted our neighbors who did confirm that yes they had a water leak, some problem with the thermo-pump that their owner/landlord had not fix... I took pictures of everything and then, with Hubby help started emptying that closet. That is one big closet and it contained a LOT of shit, let me tell you.

I've contacted the Syndic, to have the insurance appraisal for the repairs, which will not be minimum.  Our kitchen is seriously damaged; our cabinets are warped, and the tracks of the shelves are not working correctly, the hard wood floor is warped as well, the laundry closet, behind the appliances has a bubbling wall and the office's ceiling and floor is warped... so...

Let's just say we are not happy campers.  Not at all.  Our house is a big fucking mess at the moment, while we wait for people to come and see and evaluate and tell us what will happen and when... so frustrating..  We are both fed up.  Ready to snap we are wind so tight... not good, not good at all!

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Swimming against the current, or it's all relative?

As we were heading home after running some errands on the South Shore, I came to a realization, well, sort of: Hubby often said we were like salmons going up stream when we moved from the suburbs to downtown Montréal.  I didn't think much of it at the times, other then it might have been related to the fact that we don't have kids, unlike our friends, who wanted/needed more land, bigger house, etc. 

When we decided to go on our Norwegian adventure some people in our entourage mentioned they wouldn't do something like that; just leave everything behind and go away for a few months to live in a different country.

I, again, assumed it was related to the kid factor.  You know, having to deal with their schooling, etc.  During a  lunch with a friend, she mentioned how much of a pain it was for her to have to come to town.  She lives in a borough of Montréal, within fifteen minutes from downtown. 

I used to meet once every other month with a girlfriend, we would alternate once I would drive to her area and the following time she would come to town but when we moved downtown it went to once per season.  She didn't like coming to town.  She lives in the same suburb we used to, which is about thirty minutes away.  - By the way, please note that, of course, all the times I'm giving are traffic free, and since that is rarely happening, I have no clue how long it really takes to get anywhere.  Seriously.

Saturday morning, we wanted to have Dim Sum, since we had not yet gotten our fix.  The day we tried, walking to Chinatown, I sprained my foot (which is doing better and I was actually able to go walk around in a running shoe!).  We decided to go to Chinatown no. 2, i.e. Brossard.  We got in our car and drove to the South Shore.  It is about twenty minutes away.  We had our delicious fix of Chinese food, much needed after more than three months without any and then we proceeded to run some errands.  I had to get some supplies, so we shopped on Taschereau Blvd., then went for groceries on Nuns' Island and made our way back home.

As we were crossing the bridge back, that is when I thought "Hmm, I guess it's true were swimming against the current." Not only we don't stay in our hood for our everyday errands, but we go "far"! We both still drive to the West Island for our hair cuts, as well as for other things. I prefer to drive to Fairview for shopping than going downtown, not only because there is parking but mostly because they don't only cater to young skinny things. I've been known to drive to Laval, for a store in particular, because I like their clothes which are not only age appropriate but actually fit me.  Many people we know will only shop in their area, they go out in their neighborhood, they might work outside of their hood, but for the rest they stay in their area.  We are just the opposite.  We often say we're "grocery sluts" - we get our groceries wherever is near us at the time.  Since we've moved downtown, we've been to so many different grocery stores, in neighborhood we just drive through or happen to think of something we'll need and will go in the first store we see.  We are no longer loyal to a specific store; we do have our preferred places for different things, but we are not always going to the same place. 

I wonder why it is that we, as people, need to have this routine like behavior, this need to go at the same place, close by and not venture further?  Does it go back to the days when we had to fend for our food and would try to remain close to our caves, to be in a safe area?  I can't help and wonder what makes us want this?  One of the thing I absolutely loved from our Norwegian Experience, was the fact that I didn't know anyone, nor anything about where we ended up, and had to discover things. I liked that we tried Rema 1000,  and Coop and Eurospar each offering different things.  Some were near where we lived and yet we would go further to try some other store, to see what they also offered. 

I will admit, for my hairdresser I am loyal and somewhat scared to try someone new; especially for a cut.  We changed dentists (both of us) last week to give a try to a clinic walking distance from home.  I had the same guy since 1984, but his office looks run down now and in serious need of a revamp so I decided to change.  Hubby's dentist retired while we were in Norway, so he didn't have a choice.  I went for my exam and cleaning and what a difference - not only the decor, but the service, the high tech equipment... and the price!

Why is it we, well, most of us, need to have this security sense, this comfort I guess for things we know, near us?  Why is that some need to venture out while others are scared to do so or are simply not interested?  Doesn't it get boring, being so repetitive?  Do I feel like a salmon when I come home after running errands in an area outside my comfort zone?  I don't know, but I do know I'm not finding it hard to swim against the current in that case... 

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Oh Great! Welcome Home, Sucker!

We've been back for two weeks.  We've caught up with some friends. Enjoyed some food we hadn't had during our time away. I will admit it is nice to be back in our crap, even if it's dusty and all.  Our sofa is comfortable and well padded, we have more than four of everything as far as dishes are concerned, and despite what everyone has been complaining about, it's warm here. 

One thing we did not have while we were away is dim sum or any Asian food for that matter. 
This morning, being a nice sunny day, we decided to walk to Chinatown and go for dim sum.  Like every friggin' summer (and winter for that matter!) it is humid in town. 

We made our way, slowly, chatting along the way, when whack I felt this sharp pain in my left foot, and fought hard to remain standing.  Turns out I've twisted my left foot on a fucking crack in the sidewalk!

We've kept walking to the restaurant we had planned to go to, but it's no longer in business.  It's been there for years but I guess it did close during our three months away.  The pain was bad, this throbbing was increasing with each step.  Once we made it to St-Laurent Blvd. I told Hubby I was taking a cab home.  Naturally there was none to be seen!  We then walked towards René-Lévesque and again not one cab in sight, so Hubby decided to go home to get the car.  While he walked home, I limped my way to the corner of St-Laurent and St-Antoine and waited for him to pick me up.  I've watched people.  There were many.  Of all styles.  I (normally) love people watching, it's so interesting.  I saw a few brides making their way to the Court House, many tourists, even gave directions to a few, and many Asian families.  They travel in packs.  And they don't travel light. 

When we got home, I took out the ice pack and put my foot on ice.  Man oh man, that is not pleasant. We had a 50th birthday party tonight, a long time friend of Hubby who's in town with his family, but between the pain and having to ice my foot, we decided to stay home.  Sucks!  Oh well. 

Montréal's streets are not only full of pot holes and under construction but the sidewalks are just as bad.  It's infuriating not being able to do anything, not even worth a complaint, it's sad.  We pay more taxes yearly and it feels and looks like the services we are getting is decreasing.  To drive around time is an adventure daily.  New holes pop up like flowers in a bed of flowers.  And let's not forget the orange cones.  They also pop up everywhere.  This city has so many construction sites going, it's crazy.  We can't estimate how long it will take to get somewhere as we can and most likely will be surprised by either a construction site, some traffic or deviation that will make a simple drive turn into a nightmarish adventure.

As I sit here, my foot on ice, once again, am feeling this was Montréal's way of welcoming me home...

Monday, July 20, 2015

Scandinavian Traveller: Likki the Trimmed Beaver - Chapter Ten, The Final One.

As I write this today, ten days after returning home, after a few days visiting Oslo, sitting in our living room, watching a movie, and after running errands part of the afternoon in hot and humid Montréal, we are back!

Before I get into how it has been since our return, I will share our last few days in Oslo.  Unlike Bodø, the weather was warmer and sunny!  We were able to wear shorts!  We walked around town, explore some.  We visited the Nobel Peace Center.  It's an interesting place, dedicated to peace.  Their main event was about children's rights with Malala and Kailash.  It was quite interesting even if their was a lot of reading to be done.  They also have a boutique, where they sold lots of postcards, and I did get a bunch, mostly famous quotes from Peace Nobel Winners.  Then after a refreshment, we made our way to Akerhus Fortress, where we had a nice view over the port and the city.

View from Akerhus Fortress
Akerkus Fortress
It was quite a large fortress and you could see why its location was so important.  Even if we didn't take the tour, walking around by ourselves on the grounds it was quite impressive.  

Not far from our hotel area, I spotted this little bookstore which had some postcards, or so I thought.  Turned out they had many artistic ones, very different from anything I could find in Bodø, so I bought lots. 

I had contacted J. a while back, asking her if she wanted to meet me when we would be back in Oslo.  She send us so many postcards from Norway, showing us different areas of their beautiful country, with explanations, I felt I just had to meet her.  And we did.  Likki got to send a few cards with her, which was nice.  We had planned a two hours meeting with her, and it lasted well over six.  We talked about so many things, such an interesting encounter and warm lady.

 J. and Likki, in Oslo

Our hotel had a nice lounge we could access anytime, where they served (Nespresso) coffee or tea and fizzy water.  After 6pm they also served dinner, which was also included in our room's price.We went twice but only ate there once.  It was actually a decent meal.  Because it was warm and humid, one afternoon we went up to enjoy a cold drink and since it was completely empty, I took some pictures of the view we had from there.  On one side we had the Palace and the other the North.

View from 8th floor lounge of our hotel towards the Palace
Overlooking Kristian Augusts gate
One evening we had made reservation at a little Italian restaurant, Ruffino, which we had tried to get in back in May with our friends, so we walked to it.  Along the way we passed this impressively nice building which had a little plate on its side, in Norwegian, of course, that I could read had something to do with the Gestapo back in 1942.  We had a delicious dinner at the restaurant, a nice way to end our few extra days in Oslo.

Victoria Terrace, the site of the Gestapo headquarters in Oslo. 
The morning of our departure, the street was mostly deserted.  As we walked towards the train station, we passed the university and I managed to quickly take a picture.

Oslo University, on Karl Johans gate
On the train, Flytoget, Likki made friend with a local, a little Norwegian moose, who was heading our way.  Lucky little fellow.

Once at the airport, we recuperated the rest of our luggage and made our way to check-in, security and duty free through which we simply walked through not even stopping anywhere.  We didn't even have time to get our tax reimbursement, since, once again, the line at check in was too long, and since we had a connection in Heathrow to Canada we couldn't use the automatic check-in machine, but had to go to the counter and see a person, which meant we had to do the queue.

Heathrow is a beautiful and big airport and we had over four hours there before our next flight.  We , hit duty free, grab a bite to eat and did some shopping while walking around.  We looked for a quiet place where we could get refreshed and rest a little before our long flight home.

A tea with some biscuits, please.
If not in London, where else would one truly enjoy a good cup of tea?  She knows her stuff that Likki, despite her your life, she knows!  It was strange, at the gate, hearing not only French, but Québécois and to see people with Montréal's Canadiens tee-shirts.  A fair sign we were heading home...
Last gate before heading home...
Our return home is done.  Our adventure in Vikingland is done.  We are now back to Montréal's never ending road construction, traffic and fast pace.  It was an experience of a lifetime, to be able to do so without the worries of what would await us upon our return. And this closes Likki's Scandinavian Adventure.

Friday, July 03, 2015

Closing a chapter

In order to close the Bodø Chapter of our Norwegian Adventure, things are happening and one can't help and wonder if this is the Universe showing us, it is time for us to go back home...
  •  Monday morning I was awaken by the fire alarm.  Not the best way to wake up and start the day, but then I made my way to the Bakeri and had enjoyed a good cappuccino.  Turns out our idiots neighbor above us, the noisy ones, burned bacon and smoked up their place.  It took a while for the firemen to come and turn off the alarm.
  • Monday night, despite the friggin' cold wind, was a clear night so I made my way to the lookout point to see the Midnight Sun.  The sky was so clear, it was gorgeous!  On the opposite side, the moon was overlooking the snow covered mountains and city...

  • Tuesday morning, I was abruptly woken, again, by a man coming in our flat, as I was sleeping, naked, on our bed.  He just unlocked the door and walked in, his arms full.  When I said "Hey!", he turned around mumbled something in Norwegian and walked out! WTF!

  • Wednesday, I brought back a book at the library, for the last time in Bodø.  I'm happy I've renewed my interest to that place.  Maybe now that contact has been re-established I will go to the one near home, in Montréal. I haven't even step a foot in since they opened it, and I'm told it's a nice one...
  • Last night, since I couldn't sleep (the rain was quite loud), I got back up and went through all my Bacefook "friends" and clean up house.  That felt strangely good.

  • What better way to close this chapter of our lives, than do it in the rain!  It's been raining for the past two days, in Bodø.  Why change now, when it's been shitty weather most of our time here?  From hard rain to tiny drizzle, but no matter what it's wet.  And this after I've packed my rain boots, grrr.
  • Went to the post office, one last time, and on my way back stopped for my Take-Away moca. I did manage, through their loyalty take-away card, get a free pastry and today a free coffee, yay me, never even done that back home!
  • Did all our laundry, every is on the rack drying, and that closes another load for Bodø.
  • Tonight, a first, having dinner with locals - air traffic controllers - what an evening out.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Scandinavian Traveller: Likki the Trimmed Beaver - Chapter Nine

Well, today is our last Sunday in Bodø; I've realized that as I was showering.  And, I had not shown Likki our little town yet.  On weekends, we tend to go for fikka either next door at the Bodø Bakeri or at Café City Nord.  The Bakeri has good sandwiches, good pastries and coffee. The Café is more like a cafeteria, but they serve some local food and they're not opened on Sunday.  So, we walked over to the Bakeri, and introducing Likki to it all.

After that, we finally made our way to The Nordland Museum.  We've been walking by often (it's next to the Post office), and until June it was always closed on weekends.  Since, once again, it's cloudy again, we thought it would be our last chance to actually see it, given their schedule and Hubby's don't match.

That museum was founded in 1888 and the building was raised in 1903 and was not destroyed in the 1940 bombing of Bodø.  It shows the Lofoten Fisheries, the Sami exhibit, the bird mountain, where I realized that Puffins are little birds.  I thought they were penguins size, was I wrong!  The seagulls are actually bigger than them, at least in Bodø.

Likki in front of the Bird Mountain
The section which interested us most was Bodø through time and how the city evolved.  It went from being a tiny huddle of houses in 1816  to a city which also went through a lot from being bombed by the Germans in 1940 and almost completely destroyed.  I thought it was strange not to say funny that the town was actually taken over by German soldiers on bicycles!  They've always had public activity, a hospital and health service and of course fisheries, canning industries and a brewery.

Bodø, now...
The NATO invested lots in Bodø, due to its location and being this far North, it would have a role as the airport in a possible reprisal attack on the Soviets (or others).  The military presence is significant in Bodø, 10% of people here are related to the aviation industry, either military or civilian.

Likki playing Godzilla over the Bodø model

It was an interesting little museum, nothing like museums I've seen before.  Everything was in Norwegian, only a few items on display had English translation.  The little leaflet we got when we came in was somewhat helpful, but most of the valuable information we've got (other than what we've decrypted ourselves along the way) was during the little movie showing the history of Bodø, in Norwegian with English subtitles.  A nice way to close our little adventure in Nordland was to find out more about this little town where we could live, if only it was sunnier!!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Many postcards later...

A month before coming to Norway I put my Postcrossing account to inactive, I had four hundred eight cards received and sent at the time.  Being set to inactive allowed me to send postcards but I couldn't receive any.  I didn't want to chance any getting lost between Norway and Canada, so I went that way.  It wasn't easy.   I know I'm addicted, what can I say, it could be to worst things, right?

As of today, eighty-five official cards were received/registered since I've been in Norway.  Yes, I've been sending lots.  According to my Flickr album, I've sent (as of today) one hundred thirty six cards.  That includes officials (for Postcrossing), RAS (Random Act of Smileness for fellow Postcrossers) and personal (for friends and relatives).

Since we've been here (March 30th) I did give our address to some friends who asked for it and some postcards friends.  Because Bodø is so far North, when I thought I could maybe "explore" outside of Bodø - I didn't know at the time that Oslo was actually thirteen + hours drive - I wouldn't be seeing that much of Norway. So, I've contacted, through Postcrossing, members in Norway.  I wanted to visit Norway through postcards.  A few of them answered and we started swapping cards since most of them were from Southern Norway.  They wanted cards from Arctic Norway in exchange for the cards of their areas. Fifty-four cards later, through current and vintage cards, I've seen Norway.  Along the way I've also made friends, and that is priceless.

Norwegian cards received
Because of very thoughtful friends, cards from all over the world started coming in, eighty-nine of them to be exact. 
Worldwide cards received
It was Hubby's idea to put them on display when they started coming in.  I took him up on his offer and started covering a wall on our living area.  It not only brought colors to our room, it also brought smiles to our faces.  The power of postcards.

All the cards received...
Today, after being inactive for many months, I've made my Postcrossing profile active again.  Here's to hoping I will have at least one or two official cards waiting for me when I will get back home.  I already know there are lots of other awaiting my return, as well as some goods...  Until then, I will most likely will write a few more cards here and there...