desoto_hia873: (Effulgent Spike - red_sunflower)
Everyone has their cross to bear (she says, despite not being particularly religious). Mine is depression. It's seldom acute--I've only once needed medical intervention, and that was a time of crises upon crises that eventually became overwhelming. Most of the time, it's like a veil--one that's transparent enough that I forget that it's there, but one that distorts my view enough that the colours of my world are not quite as bright as they should be.

My blessings (she says, sounding religious again, even though she's not) are many: I live in Canada where our many rights and freedoms are taken for granted; I grew up in a solidly middle-class family where there was always a roof over my head and food on the table; my parents encouraged me to follow my interests and supported me even when they didn't understand them; I am intelligent and have some talents, although not as many as I'd like (but who among us can't say that?); I have a secure, decent-paying employment and a very nice house to live in; and I have the love of a good and faithful man (she says, sounding like a cliché, but actually meaning it). My life isn't perfect, but it's better than the lives of a very large proportion of the people on this Earth.

The veil makes me forget that. Perhaps ironically, it also makes me forget that it is within my power to improve upon the parts of my life that need improving.

Travel lifts the veil.

Travelling in an unfamiliar country where you know little of the native language is stressful and exhausting (she says, not wanting to think about the increase in lorazepam consumption that kept my overstimulated brain from exploding out my ears), but it's also exhilarating and rejuvenating. For two weeks, colours were bright, new discoveries lay around every corner, and the world lay at my feet. For two weeks, I lived on a steady diet of anticipation, joy, and excitement. It's safe to say that I revelled in Italy. The thought of leaving our farmhouse in Tuscany yesterday almost brought me to tears--I've never seen countryside so beautiful. I'm already planning what I'm going to do when I go back, whenever that might be.

I like life without the veil. I wish I could travel always to keep it at bay. I can't, of course, so I have to figure out how to recognize more quickly when the veil is descending and how to lift it using the events and experiences of my normal, middle-class, Canadian life.

But for the next few days, at least, my head will be full of Italy and remembering and recording the things I saw and did there. There will be long LJ entries and pictures. LOTS of pictures. Warm up your modems.

In the meantime, what'd I miss while I was away?
desoto_hia873: (Me)
Chris de Burgh was one of my favourite musical artists, back in the day. That was the day when he was still a storyteller and before he started pumping out pop schmaltz hits like Lady In Red and suchlike. As far as I'm concerned, my C de B stopped making albums after Eastern Wind.

[Side note: Italian keyboards are *weird*. None of the punctuation symbols live where this Canadian thinks they should. The fact that I'm half in the bag after a long day and a very large glass of wine doesn't help...]

ANYway, possibly one of C de B's least known songs is Discovery, from mrphl years ago. (Yes, I'm old.) Being a sciencey-type whose life is made worthwhile by learning and experiencing new things, I've always liked its last verse:

"One day," says Galileo, "A man will reach the sky,
And see the world completely, from outside.
And gazing down from yonder, on a world of blue and green,
He’ll say with eyes of wonder, 'I have seen...
‘My eyes have seen.'"


Today, quelling an acute sense of anxiety and an almost complete ignorance of the Italian language, the mere smatterings of which I've gleaned from Hollywood movies and restaurant menus, I single-handedly tackled the spaghetti which is Italian train system and took myself on a trip from Venice to Bolzano (and back again) on my quest to see the Iceman. The journey was not without its difficulties (two wrong trains taken, one hefty fine paid, acute embarassment narrowly averted by a lovely young woman from Bolzano who argued with the conductor on my behalf), but in the end, there he was: my Ötzi and all of his belongings that were miraculously preserved intact for over 5000 years within a glacier. (Maple leaves! Three fresh maple leaves, with chlorophyll! In a glacier. Imagine.)

I've been wanting to see Ötzi since I first read about him in the early 1990s. And there he was. For this science-phile, it was like a pilgrimmage. I actually teared up a little.

"My eyes have seen."

Ciao!

May. 21st, 2008 04:25 pm
desoto_hia873: (Default)
The Iceman awaiteth. :-)

See you next month!
desoto_hia873: (Buffy and Giles - mangofandango)
The May 24th long weekend--which frequently doesn't fall on the 24th, and didn't this year--is supposed to be the first long weekend of summer in Canada. Last year, I spent most of the three warm, sunny days doing yard work, a task that I find pleasantly relaxing. I guess actually having a yard is still a novelty, so it hasn't become a chore yet. This year, though, we got two days of solid rain, and although it was intermittently sunny and drier today, it was cold. I pout.

On the upside, being stuck in the house meant that I had lots of time to get with the packing for Italy. I think I'm kinda, sorta ready, although I'm going to try to buy a better waterproof jacket tomorrow evening. I got completely soaked on Saturday morning while wearing my water-resistant jacket, and the forecast for Venice is rain. At least it'll be Italian rain.

The report that I've spent the last year and a half of my life working on is being released by the Ontario Minister of Natural Resources tomorrow. She's coming to Peterborough for the event, which means I have to get dressed up. There's nothing very Earth-shattering in said report, so I'm kind of wondering why she's bothering. As far as I can tell, government reports are primarily written to be read by other government workers. Which makes working for the government, well, not very exciting.

But at least it pays for trips to Italy.
desoto_hia873: (Buffy and Giles - mangofandango)
Dumbest. Survivor. Ever )

In other news, Bella and I did very well at our rally trial last weekend. They split the novice class into rookies (Novice A) and others (Novice B). Because the paperwork making me Bella's co-owner hasn't gone through the CKC yet, I had to compete in Novice B. There were several very experienced dogs and handlers in the class of 12 dogs, one of which gained two Utility Dog legs at the obedience trial (Utility is the highest level in obedience trials) the same day. My main goal was not to flub up the course like I'd done in the match and to get a qualifying score (anything more than 70/100 points). I rubbed pepperoni on my fingers so that Bella's attention would be focussed on me (she LOVES pepperoni!), and she performed like a dream. We finished with a score of 99/100, which tied us for first place! The other 99-point scorer was a dog who also competes at much higher levels in rally, and her round was faster, so she won, and Bella and I got the second-place ribbon. As it turned out, 99 points was also the highest score of the day, so we also tied for High in Trial.

I was completely blown away. Bella's SUCH a good girl! She's not exactly the retrieviest of retrievers--unless you throw the bumper into water, in which case she's quite interested (she loves to swim)--but I think she has a bright future in obedience, rally, and hopefully agility.

PADOC Rally-O Trial

~*~

In other other news, less than two weeks before I leave for Italy! I looked at our itinerary the other day, and man, the trip over is going to be a bear. I'm driving up to Ottawa on the evening of the 21st. We board a bus for the Montreal airport at 2 pm on the 22nd, and our flight leaves at 8 pm. This means that we have a four-hour wait in Dorval before we even get on the plane. We arrive in Paris at 9 am the next morning, whereupon we have another four-hour wait for our connecting flight to Milan. Then we have to get on a bus to Venice. Gads! That's about 24 hours of travelling to get to Venice. I'm not terribly impressed with the company who has arranged this tour. Granted, it's probably not easy getting nearly one hundred people from Ottawa to Venice all at the same time, but still. 24 hours!

Assuming that I am not catatonic after all that, plus the jet lag (and, frankly, that's a rather rash assumption), I'm going to try to go to Bolzano on Sunday, May 25th to see Ötzi the Iceman. It's a three-hour train trip to get there, which means I'll be giving up an entire day in Venice, but I will be so disappointed if I don't get to see him. My sister thinks I'm nuts. It's quite possible that she's right.
desoto_hia873: (Spike - Reading Is Sexy - vampkiss)
And still so very unposty. My life has kind of gone to the dog lately, so all the action's been over at [livejournal.com profile] spiceofbroadway. We're entering a rally obedience trial (our very first) on Sunday. I should be in a state of high nerves by Friday at the latest, even though I know that Bella can do everything she's supposed to, and the greatest danger of flubbing up will come from me. We were in a match (which is to say a practice trial) a few weeks ago, and I managed to miss a station entirely, and we wound up with a non-qualifying score. ::facepalm::

In non-dog news, the date of my departure for Italy approaches. I'm flying out of Montreal on May 22. This will also put me in a high state of nerves--in fact, it's started already--as I worry about what to pack. Also, I'm a white-knuckle flyer.

I'll be spending the first 10 days in Venice, Florence, and Rome with my mother, and then we're meeting up with my sister, her husband, and my father at a farmhouse in Tuscany. We're all readers, and my sister has very sensibly suggested that we each bring one or two books so that we can trade and thus avoid buying very expensive and hard-to-find English books in a non-English country. I'm bringing my book on the Iceman, which unfortunately is in hardcover. I'd like my other books to be paperbacks, but I think I've read everything I have in paperback.

So, paperback recs, anyone?
desoto_hia873: (William the Bloody - awmp)
Really, still here, still alive. Just, well, kinda quiet lately. I've been going through a bout of dysphoria, which sucks, but sucks much less than full blown depression would. I'm pretty sure I know what's causing it, and there's not much to be done but ride it out.

At least spring is here--sort of. The snow is melting, anyway, although that happy fact is revealing a dog-created mess in the back yard. That would be the downside of Bella-ownership. But that and the fact that she's not quite finished her heat cycle are the only downsides of her. She continues to delight me everyday in every way.

My life in bullet points:

* The Loudest Woman In The World retired last Friday. Woot! Peace reigns at the office.

* Bella and I are entering a novice obedience and novice Rally-O match on Sunday. A match is different from an official trial in that it's just for practice and doesn't count for anything. Although it will determine if we enter the trial in two weeks' time. All good obedience karma gratefully accepted. :-)

* It is daylight for more than an hour when I get home from work now. It makes me feel like a chrysalis preparing to leave my cocoon. I want to spend time outside in my yard, see what survived the winter in the flowerbeds, plant tomatoes, prune dead branches from trees, and then burn them in our chiminea.

* Bella greeted spring on Monday by running across the semi-frozen pool and falling in. :-)

* My trip to Italy is fast approaching--I leave on May 22. Egad! I actually have to start thinking about packing and how I'm going to fit all my stuff into the one suitcase I'm allowed to bring. Anyone have any suggestions for suitably touristy clothes to wear in Italy in late May/early June?

* I finally got my copy of the cod book I edited during the summer of 2006. Holy mackeral, that sucker is thick! 592 pages! And I read them every one of them, three times.

* I'm oddly obsessed lately with the For Better or For Worse comic strip. I've read most of the strip in the online archive, and I can't tell you how many games of "Dig" that I've played. This is the sort of thing that my brain does when it's not quite functioning right.

* I'm really enjoying reading the entries at [livejournal.com profile] joss_las. The ones in this round are particularly good. I'm quite entranced by entry #3. When this round is over, someone tell me who wrote it!
desoto_hia873: (Jayne - ligeres)
Bella LOVED doggy daycare yesterday. She had the biggest smile on her face when I went in at lunch and at the end of the day to pick her up. She was so cute. I need to win the lottery so that I can bring her in there every day. Of course, if I won the lottery, I wouldn't need to go to work and could stay home with her myself. Must buy more tickets.

Choir rehearsal last night was a mixed experience. We did an interesting adaptation of a traditional Italian song, but I've come to the conclusion that I dislike madrigals. They're squeaky (if you're a first soprano at the edge of her range) and repetitive and don't do a thing for me. I was all crankified by the time I got home and went to bed an hour earlier than usual.

Speaking of Italy, my brother-in-law booked a farmhouse in Tuscany for us all to stay in for a week in May. I can't believe a place like that is real. I may never come back to Peterborough again.
desoto_hia873: (Spike - Pecs - awmp)
Observation of the day: There's nothing like nicking yourself while shaving your legs to make it look like Norman Bates has been in the shower with you.

I seem to have been rather silent lately, haven't I? I've been on LJ every night, lurking and smoking cigarettes under that tree on your lawn... Okay, not so much with the smoking, but I've been around. Just not saying very much.

There's been a lot going on here in the past couple of weeks, very little of which has anything to do with me in a direct sense, but which has been causing me a certain amount of stress nonetheless. So much so that I walked into a colleague's office on Thursday morning to ask her a question and wound up bursting into tears instead. I haven't quite figured out how much I'm comfortable with sharing on LJ--if it was all about me, I wouldn't mind, but it's about Jim's ex and therefore his kids, and I worry about them stumbling onto my journal someday and discovering that I've been talking about them. Maybe I'll set up a filter. I haven't really decided yet.

In happier news, I talked to my mother this morning about our trip to Italy next spring, and it turns out that we have the option of flying home from either Rome or Paris. Paris! OMG, I love Paris!! I've only been there once, and that was in December when it's not really at its best, but it's still the best place I've ever been. I could so live there. Also, Mom reauditioned for the Ottawa Choral Society (the group that's going to Italy) and got back in, so she'll be going as a singer after all. This makes her very happy. I'll still be going as just a groupie, but that's fine with me. I can wander off and do my own thing when they're in rehearsals.

Jim and I are heading up to his cottage with the boys later today and will be there for the rest of the week. I'm taking my laptop (of course) and hope to make some more progress on the next chapter of Wish You Were Here. The forecast looks pretty good, and it will be some welcome R&R after the aforementioned vaguely alluded to events. Although MiddleJim wants me to try his new wakeboard, which could be an exercise in humiliation and possibly pain. Recall that I blew a tendon while trotting after a soccer ball in the spring. I has no athleticism.

See you on the other side. Hopefully not from a hospital bed.

Ciao

May. 11th, 2007 06:30 pm
desoto_hia873: (Buffy - Squee - myhearts_atart)
My mother was a member of the Ottawa Choral Society for years. Decades, even. They're an amateur choir that sings at a professional level--they often perform at the National Art Centre accompanied by the NAC Orchestra. Every few years, they go on tour somewhere interesting. Mom went to Italy with them in 1982 and Spain in 1989.

She no longer sings with them, but still does volunteer work, and many of her friends are members. She sent me an email a couple of weeks ago telling me that the OCS was going to Italy again next spring and that she's going to tag along as a "non-singing groupie." Half-joking, I asked her if I could go too. She checked and the answer was yes. I quailed at the expense for about 14 minutes and then decided that it just had to be done.

Venice! Florence! Rome! May 2008. ::squees::

My sister and her husband were planning a trip to Europe next year as well, so they're going to intersect with us. Not to be outdone, my father's decided that he wants to do the same, so we're going to have a family reunion in Italy. How cool is that?

I'm also going to take a side trip to South Tyrol in northern Italy. Why? Because the South Tyrolean Archaeological Museum is the home of Ötzi, the Iceman. I've been wanting to see the Iceman for years--he's on my life-list of things to see before I die--and I'm finally going to get to do it.

Most people go to Italy for the wine, the food, the history, the culture. Me, I go to see a 5000-year-old frozen corpse. :-)

::squees some more::

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