Life in General


By on 10/10/2020

I started reading again today.

Only a few pages, of a book long ago pre-ordered, arriving on my ebook reader like a forgotten ghost. Sparing me space problems and not allowing me to loan it out.

My words always seem strange after reading. Bouncing around in my head with someone else’s voice but still distinctly my words, still distinctly me.

My hands started hurting today.

Old illnesses returning for another visit, inspired by the cold, damp lake air. My knees have been hurting for weeks. I keep trying to wrap my duvet tighter around my legs, tightly hoping for warmth, tieing up my movements, making my muscles sore and my knees ache with cold and with stress.

It hadn’t occurred to me to turn up the heat. It’s only October, it’s not as bad as back home. But back home wasn’t damp, it didn’t have low clouds that blocked out the sun for days at a time. Telling us that this is a better place to visit, than to live.

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Life in General


By on 03/10/2020

I grew up with words.

Regular trips to the library on the way home from school or swimming class, being greeted by many of the librarians by name, while I struggled with my haul of books.

Did you know there’s a limit to how many books you’re allowed to take out? Little me did.

I grew up wanting to be a librarian, to surround myself with these words and help other people find the right words that they were looking for. A way to assist in acquiring knowledge, relaxation.

I went through all of high school figuring that I would be just like my mother, spending my days organizing people and books, orders and shelves.

University can change a person.

I am not a great student, I write, while being enrolled in a distance master’s program. But I am not. I get distracted, easily stressed out by daily life, I moved a lot during my university times. My first year was miserable, my second year as well for different reasons, but my first year was where I realized that I wasn’t going to be like my mother.

I wasn’t going to become a librarian.

On the car ride home, from my last of three apartment in my first year of university, it became clear that I couldn’t manage a degree in English Literature. I had almost failed my second English Lit course, with a 55%. The only class I had passed with a good mark was German II, with a 78%.

It has been almost twenty years and I still remember my marks.

The change was gradual.

I never took another Literature course, but I took another 11 German courses after German II, finishing with a degree in German Language and Culture. Words suddenly became simpler, conveying basic ideas instead of complex, maybe even original thought.

Where is the train station?

How much is this apple?

It is hard to learn a language as an adult. You lose the ability to really express yourself, to make jokes without people thinking you misspoke, to get to the depths of problems or situations.

In meetings, I spend more time silent, as the words come to me in English and must be übersetzt for my German colleagues. I often misunderstand someone, if they use a different word than what I am used to. My jokes rarely land.

In my current studies, I am taking a break between course work and papers, a break between German writing and reading and English. I am lucky, this way, that English is considered the international language of science, as I will be able to write my papers for a German university in English.

The break allows me to relax, a chance to find that love of words again.

This year, I have accumulated penpals. Some are people I know, and many are people I don’t. I write I am a Canadian map maker living in Germany over and over, my fastest way to introduce myself.

Although I am so much more than that.

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Life in General

Another Change

By on 21/07/2020

I have had this website now for ten years, purchased initially to blog about mapping things I was doing or attending, and maybe getting my name as a GIS Specialist a bit more out there in the Ottawa area.

Fast forward ten years and I am still working with GIS, but in Germany. The tools I am working with have changed from QGIS to ArcGIS to FME, with QGIS and ArcGIS mixed in. Programming, if you aren’t counting FME, has completely vanished from my daily work load, and my job description is more cartographer with GIS focus, than just straight GIS.

A lot has changed.

This is, of course, emphasized by the current pandemic situation, where working from home for four months has given me a lot of time to think about what hobbies I have and which ones I would really like to persue.

I have a lot of hobbies that I dabble in, from photography to knitting, writing and language learning to hiking. Some of them go together quite well and some feel a bit eccentric, but writing and photography will likely be the focus of this site for the next bit. I have taken loads of photos over the past few years and have never really known where to put them online. Websites like flickr have come and gone with limited success, instagram is too bright and cheerful and my family in Canada isn’t on it. The nice thing with having my own blog is I can also put recipes on it, gluten free restaurant reviews, hotel reviews. Maybe I’ll even write about my attempts to be minimalistic, despite too many hobbies, health concerns and impulsiveness near shops. Generally whatever I want to write or post, I can do that here.

So that’s what I am going to do.

This may not work as much as I want it to, due to lots of different circumstances. I have the last term paper of my master’s program due in two months, and then I’ll start working on a research paper before doing my master’s thesis. We’re still in the middle of a pandemic. I am working mostly from home, but have to travel a few hours to check out my apartment in Stuttgart every so often. We will see how well this works out. I am also doing this as a kind of a therapy, a way to sit myself down and write for a bit, or think about my photos more. And I think right now, everyone could use a little bit of therapy.

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Life in General

Return of the Words

By on 13/07/2014

You change, you move, you see things one way, then another. You cry, you scream, you kiss the world goodbye for an instant. You think, you consider, and consider and consider. You make your move. You hope you’re right. You scramble, you feint left, you faint right. You try and outstep your opponent, try to step away from the fight. You shift your mind to the world outside your doorway, you send your thoughts careening down subway tunnels on fast moving rickety trains. You see the world as it is for an instant, all blurs and colours and illusions, until it too is gone.

My creativity, long kept tucked away by school books, brain fog and mental health problems, has resurfaced. I grew up with words, with books, with an entire library at my fingertips, then two, then three libraries. I devoured books faster than the librarians ever expected. I devoured the other worlds that they showed me. And then somehow, things faded. The fiction got replaced with text books, the poetry could never be replaced by anything, plays disappeared behind the lights of the movies. It all just faded away for years.

Strength is where you find it, and it is often found in the most unlikely places.

The fiction arrived back first, in the form of the eBook reader that allowed me hundreds of out of copyright books free and instant. I found that even this Tolkien fan could definitely appreciate Jane Austen and that suddenly I had even more topics of conversation with my parents.

The poetry was always there, just hiding in music lyrics, tucked in the soft folds of the sheet music. It graced my lips while reading the inscriptions of poets, of kings, of fools. It couldn’t bear to leave and I couldn’t let it.

The plays have yet to return, but I think they are there, just biding their time until I am ready to receive them. They too will come.

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Geography | Germany | Life in General

A New Definition of Local

By on 08/10/2013

What is local to you?

Local is an extremely subjective idea that differs from person to person, from moment to moment. The same person searching for a grocery store with a car will have a different definition of local when looking for a store while on foot.

It’s all relative.

I grew up in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, which is more accessible than Siberia but not by much. It’s a farming area, with a very low population density that goes lower as one goes north, approximately half of the world’s potash and 260,000 kilometer of road – mostly gravel. When I needed to pick up milk, I went to the corner store that was a few blocks away. That was my local source when I needed just to pick up one or two items. When I needed to pick up something like lettuce or onions, I went in a different direction to a much larger grocery store, the local Co-op or local Safeway. (They are practically neighbours in Moose Jaw, so the geographical difference was irrelevant.)

Later on, the locavore movement started with the 100 Mile Diet. In Moose Jaw, this is ridiculous. You would find wheat, barley, some vegetables, occasionally saskatoons, raspberries and strawberries, milk and beef. Except, I don’t actually know if there is a place where you can purchase that all and know that it is coming within a 100 miles. There is, however, a restaurant in Regina that does source everything from Saskatchewan. (Note: there used to be a restaurant in Ottawa that sourced everything from the Ottawa area, but it unfortunately closed.)

While I lived in Saskatchewan, I would try and purchase fruit from British Columbia. I then moved to Ottawa, and started wondering. Was Florida closer to Ottawa than the fruit valleys of British Columbia? Which was better for the environment? To be trucked through Canada or trucked through the US? The main environmental cost of many fruit and vegetables is the transportation. Bananas are easily the best, as they can be put on a ship weeks before they need to reach their destination. If you consider how many bananas can be placed on a ship, the environmental impact of one banana – or even a bunch – is relatively low. It is the cost of the truck from the ship to the warehouse, from the warehouse to the grocery store.

Now I am in Germany. Local food can come from Thuringia (the state where I live) or Germany, but of course from all over Europe and beyond as well. It seems that it is mostly European produce that we get in the shops, but I don’t go to every shop so I’m not sure if that’s always the case. One thing is I realized is that, coming from North America and growing up on the Internet, I’m willing to purchase items from around the world. Bento box? Japan. Wool? England. Shoes? Portugal. Cute little stuffed polar bear? Latvia. I keep trying to purchase within Europe (so I haven’t ordered anything from Japan since I’ve been here) but even that seems far away to the Europeans. ‘Why order shoes from Portugal? Is there nothing in Germany?’  So I looked on the map. From Portugal to Erfurt, it is approximately the same distance from Toronto to Moose Jaw. To me, it’s local. To the Europeans, it’s ridiculous.

What is your definition of local for food? for other things?


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