Thursday, October 24, 2013


Work for me has always been a bit of a defining thing. When I was a kid, I couldn't wait to grow up and have a job. I just wanted to be responsible for something, and make things happen.

I got my first job the day after my 16th birthday. I worked in the kitchen of a small restaurant in Benicia, California, and it was there that I really learned to work. I was told things like "work smarter, not harder," and learned how to achieve high expectations. The work ethic I gained at that first job, has stayed with me through every job I've ever had.

The next major job was the Army. In the Army, I learned how to problem solve and how to think ahead. If anything ever fed my ambition it was the Army. I was constantly striving to achieve more. I loved it for that reason. It was a place where my desire to always do more was more than welcome.

After the Army, I had a string of jobs hardly worth mentioning. As rule though, I always made a point of learning something new be it software or a different way to accomplish tasks. Then in the year 2000, I started working in nonprofit. I had a great boss who was a wonderful mentor, and really loved the sense of mission that came with the work. I worked in the nonprofit sector for 11 years. I gave a lot, learned a lot, and often miss it a lot. Sometimes work that feels like a struggle can seem more meaningful, even if it does wear you out.

For the last three years, I've been consulting, mostly doing websites and social media integration. I like working with clients, but the need to constantly hustle for the next job can be overwhelming at times.  I will likely continue to do this sort of work as time and laws permit.

Coming to Canada is representative of a whole new life for me. I'm essentially starting over, and the concept bleeds over to my occupational life. I'm looking for work here, and am hopeful for a new job soon. But, what I really hope for the most is a life that doesn't leave me looking for gratification solely from what I do. I'd like to have a life that simply just makes me happy.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Fall in Saskatchewan

Fall in Saskatchewan is cold by California standards. Most mornings begin below freezing, and if the temperature does rise, the wind chill reminds you that something far colder is in store. 

My current locale is Saskatoon, and here,  everyone is preparing for the main event: Winter.

As a newcomer, I am woefully unprepared. I don't have the right clothes and footwear, although I do seem to have outerwear mostly covered. Even my car is unprepared for winter here. There's a requirement for special wiper fluid, special anti-freeze and winter tires that must be put on if I want to go anywhere once the white stuff comes in force.

To facilitate my winter readiness, a trip to Canadian Tire was in order. Canadian Tire is an interesting hybrid of automotive, home, and sporting goods. Kind of like Sears without the clothing lines, furniture and major appliances if that makes sense. It's a great store to get lost in. There are canoes, and kitchen appliances, and power tools, and big rubber bins and of course, tires.

The tire counter was busy, but it wasn't long before a slim young man helped us buy two winter tires for my car. I will still need to get steel rims for them, and have them installed but luckily I have an in for that part.

Besides the winter tires and all the special fluids, I will also have to get a chip in my windshield repaired before the extreme cold comes. Failure to do so could cause a failure of the windshield. And, to clean the windshield, I got a wooden ice and snow scraper. Apparently the plastic ones just shatter in the cold.

After our success at Canadian Tire, we headed to Timmy's. Timmy's is slang for Tim Horton donuts. If anything is ubiquitous in Canada it's Tim Hortons. They are in every shopping center, every neighborhood, every truck stop, just everywhere. Timmy's has good coffee, donuts, soup, sandwiches and bagels. There's also free wifi and at many locations a drive-through, not unlike many Starbuck's in the states. I am yet to enter a Tim Hortons that isn't busy.

In Saskatoon you can find a complete cross-section of the community within Timmy's: families, elderly couples, students, teenagers, professors, immigrants, farmers, and professionals. For this reason, and because they have donuts, Timmy's is one of my new favorite places to be. I especially like the Tim Bits, which is what they call donut holes, and yes, the pun is absolutely intended.

This morning I was met with a dusting of snow. There's no denying what is to come, but at least I'm starting to feel a little more ready than I was when I got here.

Thursday, October 17, 2013


A lot has happened since I blogged last. Burning Man came and went. I went, as did my 18-year-old. He worked with us on the Gayte Crew and totally kicked ass. I was a very proud momma out on the playa this year. It started out as, "oh you're Clarity's son," and ended as "wow, you're Shirly's mom?" He made a name for himself, and it was awesome to watch.

After the Burn, we returned to California, Shirly returned to Japan for a while, and I started preparing for a new adventure: The Great White North (aka Canada). Yes, I'm attempting to "winter in Canada," and yes I know how absurd that sounds, but it's the only way I will know if I can really hack it.

Why Canada? That's another story entirely, but for all intents and purposes, I'm starting over, and attempting to do so in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, which is about 3 hours or so above the American border.

Getting there was a three-day adventure through Nevada, Idaho and Montana. I have a few regrets from the trip, like not stopping at the Potato Museum in Idaho, and not buying boots in Montana, but for the most part, the trip was smooth and uneventful. I narrowly missed hitting a coyote in lower Montana, and sadly injured a pheasant about 20 miles from the border.

The border was a bit of an ordeal. They let me in, but only after 2 and a half hours of interrogation and inspection. And there are conditions, and issues, and hoops. It suddenly became clear to me the irony of my current status as an immigrant given my family history and ethnic background.

But things are slowly falling into place. As usual, consulting work fell from the sky at just the right moment, so I'm busy, doing work and looking for work at the same time. Rebecca has succumbed to a new routine of walks and is warming up to her kennel for when I'm out of the house. And me, I'm traversing a new culture, with entirely new (to me) environmental requirements that include winter tires for my car, hats and gloves, wool socks and a new pair of boots ordered from the store I saw them at in Montana. It's an adventure. It's definitely an adventure.