Monday, June 30, 2008

Photos I found this afternoon...

This is either the face he is going to use to challenge a bear, or he's angry at me
I told him he looked like he was homeless because of the sweats in this tourist town. So he thought he'd play it up in the park.

After our hike and nap on the side of the mountain

The mountains....

Just after we came back from a romp in the snow
Umi and Mr. Solomon in Ronaldinho jerseys- Umi's is a bit big on her.

Orange Juice Scented Day

I woke up with the plan to attend a church near down-town. I ate a very Canadian breakfast of perogies and orange juice and then headed out the door believing that I knew the address of the Gospel Church I've been wanting to visit. It seems upbeat and has an evening service which looks like my kind of thing.
However, I missed the bus I was supposed to take, so I figured I would walk the rest of the way, it's only 7 more blocks anyway, to 14 Ave.
So as I get to 11 Ave it suddenly occurs to me; I'm going the wrong way- the church is on 14 St, not Ave. And I am only on 1 St and don't really feel like walking 13 more blocks. So instead I meandered around downtown, went to a book store that could have been so cute- spiral iron stair cases, 3 levels, a little balcony for the cafe at the top. The issue? Most of the shelves were empty, the front was full, but the further back one walked, the fewer the books until there were completely empty shelves. They should have been ashamed of themselves!

And then, suddenly, I don't feel so good. Maybe I should have just stayed home all morning after all... and I've been increasing my intake of water because I had a UTI and the medicine makes me go about every half an hour, so I will be dehydrated if I don't drink all the time. So now my bladder is full, my stomach is killing me and all I feel is pain in my abdomnial and bladder areas.
I go the the nearest mall (there are about 3 in a 2 block radius of one another in downtown Calgary- the number of malls in this city is ridiculous!) and try to find a bathroom. However, in the whole high-rise building there is only one bathroom on each floor (so far as the legend tells me).
The first bathrooms I run to- locked. So I try the boy's bathroom (no one is around, I just really needed to go) but those were locked as well. Finally someone tells me the next bathroom, on the next floor. Those at least are open and useable. I thought I would feel better, but I don't.
So I head to the train station to go home. After a little bit on the bus things get worse- I start sweating like crazy, a sure sign I will vomit in the near future. I lay in any position I can on the small metro-train seats, but nothing seems to help.
And then, at the second to last stop I start to feel a little better (also a sure sign that something is coming up), but the bus just sits at the station for another 3 minutes or so. When it does set off, it slows, then stops halfway to my station. Thankfully, it was one of the last stops, so there were only two other people in my car when I threw up. It was mostly the orange juice, so it was very runny and citrus-smelling. I'm on my hands and knees yaking on the floor of the train and the two other people in my car? acting normal. They were sitting in their seats, totally unfazed, not even staring at me. The bus finally gets to my station, so I stand up, wipe my face and exit the car ASAP.
I had called one of the guys I live with, asking him to give me a ride from the station, as I did not want to be on the bus. So, as I lay in the grass, under the noon sun (and remember, Calgary is out West) he proceeds to the wrong station. And alot of the intersecting roads are closed that day, so it takes him about 15 minutes to find a road that is open so he can come back the other way. And then he goes to the wrong side of the station. Here's what I don't understand, this guy is a healthcare aid, his job is to take care of sick people. So, as I get in the car I thank him for the ride and explain that I threw up on the train. He proceeds to show me his work schedule. Did he not hear me? "I got sick on the train." And so he shows me other paperwork from his job. Then dropped me off at home and drove away. If I was sick- I would never have him be my healthcare aid. And upon arriving home later that day, where I have been sitting all the couch for hours, drinking water and managed to eat 1 empty, warm pita, his first words to me were talking about his sister, who I know nothing about and blowing 'shisha' smoke (which is scented smoke) in my direction. I live with nice guys, but they are not good housemates.
I feel fine today, so I hope it was just a one-day thing.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Again with no phone

I went to Indiana for a week for a wedding and this is what I learned:

Not all E-brakes are pull-ones, but sometimes they are high pedals far to the left
Not all brides are glowing and pleasant- sometimes they become vicious monsters
Outdoor weddings are hastles which require worrying about bugs, weather, electricity and more
I probably cannot go to Kenya during January, as previously planned- however, I might be able to take that trip in May.
Sleeping in is great!
I possibly signed up for the wrong online course, because I just realized their titles are slightly different and the numbers are also different (however, that has happened before and I was assured that it was the same class/credit as the requirement).

Its begun to become quite frustrating no having a phone.
As things get closer and closer to starting college again, I need to get things sorted out and organized for that. Most of the people invovled have requested that I call them- however that isn't easy because even when I do get a phone, with the time change, I usually miss everyone else's business hours while I am at work.
I signed up for a new online course and was just about to take an exam for my other course. However, for some reason, when the new course was able to be accessed, they changed my password. Now, the only way to find out my new password is to call them- which I have tried to do, numerous times. I never get a person, and when I went to leave a message, they wanted me to leave a phone number for them to call me back on.
Why can't we be more dependent on email instead of phones!?!
So now, I can't take my exam, because I don't know my password and I need to change my newest online course- and again I can't because I need to do so via the phone...

I did try to get a cell phone for the last few months I was going to stay in Calgary- but for some reason the phones that were affordable for me wouldn't let me sign up for pay as you go.
Biruk later mentioned that I should have bought one at 7-11, I guess I should have known that they sold them there as well, but remember- I don't own a cell phone so I wouldn't be on the up-and-up about where to buy them, either.
So now I feel addicted to the internet because I'm so dependent on it.

Coming back to Calgary was nice, alot better than I expected. Indiana didn't feel as it usually did- probably because it was so stressful and not restful. I remember thinking as we flew over the city, the mountains in the distance and thinking 'I'm coming home'. Not as if the house where I live is my home, but that the city is my home because of the people there, even if it is temporarily my home.
I felt very welcomed back, everyone was so happy to see me; one of the ladies at work was nearly jumping up and down when she saw me.

It's hard to believe that I have less than 3 weeks left here! I have mixed feelings about leaving- but am very excited to go back to school full-time and work on completing my degree.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

No current phone number

I have been hard to get ahold of lately because I don't have a phone.
My mom has called my work twice in the past week (and since it's tuesday she's shooting 2 for 2) not that I mind, infact, its wonderful recieving phonecalls at work. I usually joke that no one cares about me if i don't have phone messages and pretend to get excited when someone calls for me- when actually its about a fundraiser or a question they have about an invoice.

And I feel swamped because I'm leaving on Saturday for a wedding and I haven't decided if I am returning yet. Part of me is savoring the 'edge' to not know if I am coming back, but I am not so far from reality that I don't know I need to decide- and soon!

The first, and least important reason being that my boss said that I could still work for those three weeks if I come back, but I can't leave with an answer like "maybe, I'll tell you if I head to the airport or cancel my flight" I need to give him a definative answer before I leave.

The other, much more important reason is Biruk. We had a huge, massive fight the other day- Biruk says that everyone was on my side, but I don't really know because no one else was speaking English and everyone was screaming. I think it was the stress of both of us living in someone else's house, Biruk's family moving here soon and the stress of that and finding a house for them and me leaving soon. Also, for me, it's been hard because everyone here is Ethiopian everything with clashing cultures. So, with having a big fight that we are getting over and making up from, I don't want to 'run away'; I want to work on our relationship in person.

I still want to spend time with his family and get to know them. Also, I think that it would be good for our relationship to see how things are when we are not living in this particular house. Biruk signed a lease yesterday- he has a house for July 1! It's a great section of a four-plex, clean and cozy. He said that Biruk was the first person to view the place, so he was going to rent it to him first, and after he viewed it plenty of people called for it. I figured he wasn't just trying to sell it- he only mentioned this after Biruk signed the papers.

I am still talking about it with God, so I still don't know where I will be in two weeks, let alone what I will be doing.

As for next week? I will have much more access to a phone, ten uninterupted minutes in the bathroom, and will be hanging out with a girl who is counting down the hours until her wedding.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Eating and Sleeping

I've been trying to get rid of some prunes that no one really likes to eat (except one of the semi house mate who eats ANYTHING). There is a dump cake with chopped up prunes that Biruk really likes:

I just dump some:
pancake mix (sort of as self-rising flour, except the cake still easily falls if the oven door is opened too early)
wheat flour
baking soda
milk and or water or fruit juice
cranberry sauce with whole berries
chopped prunes
lemon juice
lemon zest

400 degrees for about 20-25 minutes, when it is golden brown and a knife comes out clean.
Biruk and I eat this 'muffin cake' for breakfast regularly.

Tonight I invented this after reading a modge-podge of Moroccan, Italian, and Greek-style recipes:

penne pasta
feta cheese
garlic salt
dried apricots

I usually don't use garlic salt, but I didn't want a heavy garlic flavoring and Biruk always is adding salt to everything, so I thought this would kick both in the butt quite nicely.
Butter in the pan first, then garlic salt, then the chicken.
Before chicken full cooks, or begins to brown too much- add milk.
Add more milk and butter until there is enough sauce for the chicken, then add chunks of feta cheese. Crush some of the chunks, but not all so that some bites have a strong flavor and help the other pieces melt.
I didn't have much spinach on hand, so I ripped open a bag of salad that had some fresh spinach in it and tore up a few of the pieces, as well as dropping in some of little slivers of carrots. Not too much, this isn't supposed to count as your veggies for the day, just a nice touch to the sauce.
Lastly, chopped up prunes and dried apricots and tiny cucumber slices. I took the bitter outer part of the cucumber off, and cut out the seeds. Those were mixed together in a bowl and sprinkled on with the pasta and sauce.
It was soooo good, there wasn't a bite left. Biruk even ate the pieces with no chicken- just pasta!

What I've learned since living with Biruk:

He's a bear late at night when he's sleepy (and too early in the morning).
He really likes feta cheese and chick peas.
He likes watching the TV show Friends (and now has me hooked, too) and UFC, which is something with "ultimate fighting"
I am more messy than he is! but we both dislike being dirty (there is a huge difference between dirty and messy)
however- if it is not intruding on his space, he takes his time putting things away.

We had a little disagreement the other day about the previously mentioned semi-house-mate.
G's nephew often crashes here- probably 4, maybe even 5 nights a week. And even if he doesn't sleep here, he usually is spending his afternoons on the couch, watching TV. He lives a little ways away and sometimes bikes home at night.
Biruk and I are trying to save money, Biruk because he needs to save for renting a house for his family, who are arriving next month and me because I'm just cheap (or as I say, frugal). I noticed that Biruk's food supply was rapidly drecreasing. His brother just moved in, too- but Thomas eats like an infant. We went to a resturant the other day and he ate about a forth of what was on his plate.
We bought groceries last week and already needed to buy more again.
Well, the semi-house-mate almost half of our dozen eggs in one go! (and left the egg shells on the counter and put the dirty dishes all over the ones I had just cleaned! grrr....) that was what compelled me to ask him to please ask before helping himself to our food.
I don't think I said it rudely, but Biruk thought I was out of line. He sees it as helping out this guy, because he is a full-time student and doesn't work. However, I considered the guy being incredibly rude, besides he has his own home not too far away. Thus our culture differences showed up. Biruk thought I was being too possesive and I thought he was allowing someone to take advantage of him instead of making a boundary line- (besides, it was my food, too and I didn't have anything left to take for my lunch). Biruk thinks that people in North America have too much emphasis on ownership and 'mine', and I agree, but I don't think it is always a bad thing to have ownership. I think that ownership is a great motivator to care for something. If there is no ownership, things fall apart. If a person feels that they have nothing that belongs to them, that can be a desparate feeling. Biruk and I are living here temporarily, this isn't our home, and we treat this house and those who do call it home with respect because of that. We try to be respectful of others and sometimes I have a hard with how generosity is used- sometimes I feel that there is little gratitude and it people take advantage of it.
Biruk gets frustrated sometimes when I thank him for doing something or sharing something because he thinks I should expect that and not ask, just use it and I think that would be rude.
I guess we still have a ways to go with learning about one another's culture.

I told my parents that I would post about 'living with my boyfriend'.
A while ago, I approached the family I was living with I and H about moving out in June. There were many levels to this- I's sister moving in and they only told me the night before. Then after being told she was just visiting, 2 or 3 days later was was moving/moved there for good. I was scepticle, but I'm an optimist. However, I was frustrated about 3 people in 1 bedroom with the bedroom beside us only inhabited by 1 person. And I wanted them to tell me things more upfront- like if someone else was moving in and supposed to share a bedroom with me.
However, Biruk said that I should consider that they were hinting for me to move out- he said that it was a cultural thing (something that I still am trying to understand). They had become less open to me and were waiting for me to suggest moving out, because they didn't want to ask me to.
Things began to get tense and soon I began to wonder about what would happen to our friendship if I stayed. I didn't want to ruin our friendship, and I had to think about what that would do to my witness to that family if I became and unwelcome tenant.
Things got worse and when I brought up the idea of moving out, I's question was only to confirm the date.
That response was clear enough, and I decided to begin looking for whatever prospects I had for a house (which were slim and not promising). I knew I could always fall back on staying with Biruk. One of his friends offered for me to stay at his house, as he had an open bedroom- however, the traveling sister returned and there is no longer an open space for me.
I began slowly moving my things to Biruk's house, spending a few nights here, a few nights there. Partially for my own sanity, and a bit to help out with things at I's house.
However, more recently I was asked (they actually asked) if I could move into Biruk's house sooner than scheduled. Apparently I's family was moving to Calgary 2 months early. 3 extra adults in an already full house!
Now there are 7 adults (or persons over the age of 13) and 4 children (or persons under the age of 7) living in a three bedroom duplex! I'm surprised they haven't driven one another crazy.

And so, with being asked to move out with about 14 hours notice, I went to Biruk's house. The owner of the home is in Ethiopia, and his brother, G is taking care of the place for now. The other people are Biruk, Thomas and the 'semi house mate' who will remain unnamed.

The cicumstances I was planning on staying with Biruk were with his whole family for a few weeks in July so that I would get to know his parents, especially his father better. I didn't plan on moving in with my boyfriend, it was that or... there is a decent shelter downtown until I found another place. I also considered staying at a hostel for a few weeks.
God has provided for me- I am warm and dry and well taken care of. Maybe there is additional provision that I should look for or wait on. Reguardless, I am very grateful for God's generosity. Remembering our talk about culture and giving, I will try not to take advantage of that, but to be respectful and always thankful, while also knowing that God is good and will always take care of me, which is something I can and should expect.