Saturday, 30 April 2011

It's Getting Real!

How many Ph.D.s does it take to build a BBQ?
Today I packaged and sent out the thousand and one documents to the Finnish Embassy in Ottawa for our residency permit applications - Finland or bust! Of all the questions, the most entertaining ones were in the "clarification of family ties" application. Among the theoretically possible but still silly questions: "Have you met your spouse since you married him/her?" and "Have you or your spouse been previously married (while you yourself have been living in Finland)?"
So sending that form away, and the combination of the first of many moves, is starting to make the whole adventure become real. But of course, it won't really be full speed ahead mentally until the permits land back in our hands! So for now, it's more hurry up and wait, but the big adventure is becoming more tangible each day and with each little step. Hard to believe that, in one way or another, this idea of a year abroad has been in the back of our minds for the past six years since my last sabbatical, and now it's almost upon us.
For some fun, I helped Glenn build up his enormous new BBQ yesterday evening. Strangely, it's actually my first BBQ setup, since that was always something that I delegated to somebody else in both our move to Halifax and here to Ontario!
For getting into the international spirit, Glenn introduced Debbie and me to the "Caipirinha" ("little hillbilly") drink tonight. Lime juice with lots of sugar, water, ice, and sugar cane alcohol. Nice! And to celebrate the Royal Wedding, we all watched our favourite, "The Princess Bride." Poor Debbie had to put up with both Glenn and I reciting every line in stereo!

Friday, 29 April 2011

Wizard of Oz Comes to Fonthill!

Today there was a big storm here in Niagara. At the house where we’re staying, the fence has blown down, along with the pool cover, the solar panels on the roof that heats the pool, and the bin with the pool toys went over to the neighbours! We didn’t know Glenn had so many toys! At the house across the street, there is a tall blue spruce tree that got blown down and landed flat on the lawn. On Highway 20 in town, on the side of the road was a camper where a tree had landed right on it and broke it open. Most of St. Catharines and Fonthill had lost their power for most of the day so far. Luckily, our house still had power. The traffic was slow everywhere because all of the stoplights were out. Our house on Milburn is still OK luckily, but the phone there is out. The wind has blown down a lot of trees and branches, some landing right across the roads. The internet was down at Glenn's house, so Daddy was worried he wouldn't get to watch the Canucks tonight in the playoffs.

This picture on the right is the Comfort Maple, located in North Pelham. It is thought to be the oldest sugar maple (Acer saccharum) in Canada. It has been protected on a plot of land donated by the Comfort family since 1961. We had to drive by after the wind storm to check if it was damaged and as you can see it hasn't lost any branches.
"Oh Lord, how glorious are your works"

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Couch-Surfing with an Amphiuma

Monday night was our first night out of our own house, so the travel adventures and this blog begins! Now we’ve moved to Glenn Tattersall’s house. Glenn’s one of Daddy’s friends from Brock, who teaches in the Biology department. Glenn lives in Fonthill too. Nothing like starting our around the world trip with a little baby step of 1.5 km away!
The house is very big, and comes complete with Celidh the Australian Shepherd that we often dogsit while Glenn is at work this past winter. Glenn has Japanese swords mounted above the stairway, along with spears on the living room wall. At the top of the stairs, there is a kimono mounted. Today Daddy and Glenn had espresso from Glenn’s fancy Saeco machine in Japanese sake cups – very international!

Glenn inherited an amphiuma. It does not move much and does not have very good eyesight. When Glenn put the shrimp in, it used its nose to find where the shrimp was. It sensed the shrimp up at the surface of the aquarium after only about two minutes or less. It started to go towards the shrimp almost directly rather than swimming all around. When it located the shrimp, it sat in front of it for a few seconds, then gobbled the whole thing and swallowed it in one gulp. This told me that its sense of smell is very good and better than its eyesight. Glenn says that it eats about once a week. The way that it eats is called suction feeding. It opens its mouth very fast, which pulls the water and food in because of low pressure.
Check out the amphiuma picture - it doesn't have a name yet but Daddy want to call it Gollum from "Lord of the Rings." See the little arms on the body - there's another set of small legs near the back.