Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I'm Dreaming of a White...Easter?

Yep, you guessed it...we had a white Easter a very white and stormy Easter! And all I can really say about it is, WOW! The only thing that gives me hope that it actually might be spring is the ocean across the street is no longer frozen. My little seedlings say it's spring, but I am concerned they are ahead of the seasons. I suppose spring is bitter sweet anyhow, because once the weather really does clear I have more work to do than humanly possible.

Gabriel and I have come to many realizations recently: We knew it got cold here and that winter lasted a long time, but we never could have been prepared for living in it. It never occurred to us how difficult having no other family around would be. We never could have known the timing of the economy collapse and our international move. Just to name a few!

There are many things I can safely say we would change if we got a 'do over'. On the other hand we know that stepping out of the comfort zone even if only for a year or two is what we desperately needed. It sure is scary though, but it is building an even stronger faith within us, and I did not know that my faith could grow stronger or be tested as it has in the last 6 months. Our experience has been filled with signs from God and encouragement from God. We have had guardian angels and bountiful blessing that are too numerous to even explain. I am very eager to see how the next few years will play out. I wonder if our hearts will completely turn and we will no longer long for our California, a place we thought we hated. Or if we will be back there sooner than we could have ever imagined with new eyes and changed hearts and spirits. As of right now I feel this is temporary, but that God will not allow us to return home until he is sure the changes within us are 'for keeps'. We can not and will not go back to the life we had, we both want something more.

On to another serious topic: Our eldest son, Will, has a goal at his young age of 12 years he is determined to go to Yale University. We could not be more thrilled and nervous for him. Getting into Yale is like winning the Lottery, but then again so is immigrating to Canada. This little guy of ours, who now wears a larger shoe size than his dad, has to start working on this goal now. It is going to be interesting to see what he decides to do. Will he have enough drive to cut childhood short and pursue this goal, or will he settle for something less than his ultimate dream? Gabriel and I have no intention to push him in either direction. We simply told him if he wants it, now is the time to start working for it, but if he does not really want it he can become a doctor through a number of other schools. This child has wanted to be a doctor since he was 4 years old, it amazes me to think about that. My little guy that slept with books instead of teddy bears and is infatuated by anatomy and disease over any other subject. I guess we will all stay tuned to see what happens over the next 6 years...

The sun is out and the snow is starting to melt...life is good!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Two months Too long.

It's been nearly two months since tending to this blog...sorry! We have been on an emotional roller coaster. Immigration combined with a really hard winter was nothing we could have prepared for. We were sure we wanted to rush back to California only weeks ago, but something happened...something changed. Somehow in the frenzy of desperation to reattach to our former life, a calm came over us. We suddenly could see the life we wanted when we first set out on this journey. We realize we can not return home until we are strong in our new found selves.

Spring has brought great hope. Spring is so welcome. The rain has come and the snow is almost gone now and the water ways are thawing as spring trickles in to this place that is beyond the word beauty. There are more colors than can be counted, it looks unreal. It seems impossible that there is a place that everyday you long to capture in your memory the majesty of it's nature. The ice floats in the bay across from the house and the steam rises up from the melting snow. The birds are all flying home and the buds are peeking out on the apple trees. I walk on the lawn with the squishy sounds beneath my feet as the grass yawns before it's new year begins. I feel the presence of his spirit all around.

The Islanders have been very kind to us this winter: Helping Gabe out of sticky car in snow bank situations and plowing our driveway. This coming Tuesday I will make a huge social venture by going to my first Women's Institute meeting. The kids are adjusting splendidly and show no signs of Pacific longing lately. Gabe is doing well and on fire to write for the first time in years. It is wonderful to see him starting to romance the career that God gifted him with. He has a fellow American at work that he seems to have formed a brotherhood with. This poor fellow just like Gabe has the great misfortune of being in love with a woman that is drawn in by this Island, she has a better excuse being born here though! During winter I was very unsure of my longing for this place, a love affair that started about 20 years ago with no explanation, but as we settle in I know that we had to come even if only for a short while. This was part of our destiny. Here we are learning so much: About who we are, who we aspire to be, what we believe, what we want, appreciation, creativity, survival, kindness, judgement, immigration, global awareness, the human spirit and I could go on and on honestly. So no matter weather we are here for 1 year or 10 or 20...we will be better for it. We will have more to offer the world because of it.

We have seedlings started for our first green house garden. I will start actual outdoor garden seeds in a few weeks, because they can not go out until June. Despite my anxiety of growing veg in a new climate things are going as they do every spring. Hopefully my years of knowledge gained will work for me on this part of the venture. We are depending on that garden like never before. We are contemplating our barnyard flock who knows what new creatures will make their way into our life by summers end. Will needs chickens back in his life, he has never been without them. Maybe we'll raise our first pig...anything is possible. Winny is very excited to get her herb garden planted she takes great pride in her herb garden every year. Josophine has many flower seeds and many plans for her flower gardens. Sam as usual is obsessed with planting corn and sunflowers...every year...it's corn and sunflowers. If he is not an actor he'll probably be a farmer I swear!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Truth at this point

It's snowing...as usual. I had no idea that the exchange for lush green summers would be 5+ months of bright white! And from what I am told a 2-3 month growing season. We are all wishing we could walk on the beach, or for that matter just step outside without freezing. I grow more sure with each day that we should have listened to the advise of everyone around us and paid attention to their concerns about this move. This is extreme weather, nothing I have ever lived in. The children loved it at first when it was still mild and they could play in the snow, The snow is now actually giant ice blocks and it is too cold for these California bred kids to be out in the 10F temperatures for long. The temperature range from -10F to 38F, It is rare that it reached 38, but when it does it is bitter sweet. On one hand it feels warm...yes...warm, but on the other hand we now know that if the temperature goes up the rain comes down and that is not good. This Island truly is a block of ice right now. Yesterday, I had the pleasure of hearing about a study that has been on going for the past 5 years or so, it indicates the winters will continue to get colder and more intense, Fun! It's sad really, things that I used to think were so beautiful have lost all of their glory in my eyes, because of this experience. I used to love the way the sun hit a tree that has been coated in a layer of ice and it sparkled and glistened. Yesterday I pointed this phenomenon out to the children, they were not impressed and said it hurt their eyes, wow! So I had to ask myself why did I think it was so magical as a child and they don't. In Connecticut this happened a couple of times a winter and the ground was rarely covered in snow for more than a week...maybe two. Then it would melt and be a while before another snow came along. It does not melt here.

Gabriel actually has been much more effected by this weather than I have. He hates it..he is tolerating it right now, because there is no other choice, but he does not like the cold and just the over all hassle of the whole thing. Many people who know us are probably thinking ...I told you so...and many of them did. The worst part has not been the weather actually. The worst part has been the illness, poor Winny has only had 2-3 weeks of health since we arrived. Her immune system just can't seem to cope with the new germs, the extreme climate and even perhaps the house. Last time she became ill she had only been well for 3 days and then the Flu hit her and she cried and cried. Will too has cried, he has never been sick for more than a week a year his whole life, he has missed weeks of school and been sick with 4 or 5 different viruses. Honestly, I have lost count at this point. There is nothing that bothers me more than the children being ill. When we nearly lost Sam at 2 years of age, it triggered something in me that I don't think will ever go away. I just can't handle them being ill, especially very ill as they have been. I hope now that we are almost done with the Flu, we will take a turn for the better, I pray.

The Canadian people are an interesting bunch. They are very friendly, if they feel like it. They are actually so friendly at times that it seems fake. This Island is a different story, they are a culture of their own no question. If you are not born here you are not one of them. It does not matter if your parents are Islander and you happen to have the misfortune of being born off of the Island, you are not an Islander and never will be. I have heard stories about some of these poor people, the Islanders do not seem to let them forget that they are from 'away' a day of their life. So how do they treat true outsiders, hard to explain actually. They are a very curious bunch and this curiosity seems to be our only hope. Honestly, I think the fact that we have children has helped us a lot, they love children. But the fact that we are from California has given them the impression we are wealthy and because we are not wealthy it seems they are starting to get annoyed with us. This is the smallest Provence in Canada with a population smaller than that of the little town we were all born in. It is also the poorest Provence in this country with the lowest housing cost, but the highest cost of living. They do not have proper health care for children, you have to travel 3 hours away if you want your children to have proper care. They have the highest unemployment rate, because many people only work about 4 months of the year. they have a small French population that seem to keep to themselves and with good reason. They have a small native population that seem to keep to themselves...again with good reason. The majority is an Irish/English mix. The religions here are predominately Catholic and Protestant, and these two are still bearing the grudges of the centuries against one another. Gabriel and I have started doing church at home, "Pancakes with Jesus" we are calling it. Because our faith is such a large part of who we are it is very hard being here around those that feel if you are not Catholic or Protestant you have no place. There are some non denominational churches, they have very irregular services every 2-3 weeks at different locations. So far it seems they do not like new ideas here and they do not like people who do things the slightest bit differently from them.

Gabriel has a very good job, one that pays very well for here, he does have to commute 2 hours a day, which is a big change for us. I spend my days alone caring for the sick children, trying to make plans for the garden, and debating if farm animals should enter our lives at this point, when we can not see ourselves being here any longer than 3 years maximum and honestly I just don't see that happening. Gabriel wants to return to California and he wants to be very active in the community of the town he was born in, he says he'll join every committee and group he can when he returns. I spent years thinking I was not happy in California and now that I have had time to step back and look at my life I realize that California is my home and will always be my home...my whole life I always ended up back there no matter how far we traveled we always went back to the Monterey County. As a teenager I was so angry for being taken away from Connecticut the only 'normal life' I had ever known. And then I married and years later was offered an opportunity to carry out a childhood dream to live on this Island, a dream that I had long forgotten about...who would not have taken an opportunity like that. I realize though that the life I have left behind was the 'normal life' I had really wanted as a child. Gabriel and I find family to be the most valuable thing in life, and we now realize that family is much like marriage really...it is filled with love but very messy at times it is hard work and sometimes it hurts. Maybe things will change, but I somehow know they won't. I was mostly concerned about the mosquitoes come summer...I had not given much consideration to winter and it's trials...man, I hate mosquitoes. I sadly after all of this time have more compassion for my mother than I ever did, there are things that you must experience as an adult (not a child) to truly relate to your parents, and I now might even understand why when my parents came back from that winter in Maine (I did not go on that trip) my mother seemed further away than she had ever been. These conditions would depress anyone who did not grow up in it. And from what I hear it depresses many of them too.

Too much for a blog...I know... This is mild compared to my journal though. And this blog is supposed to be about our experience, so I am trying to be honest and not sugar coat it. If anyone asked me if immigrating from America to Canada is a good idea or worth the trouble and HUGE expense I would say no...don't do it. There is a reason why despite all of it's problems, people want to immigrate to the U.S. still more than any other place on this planet. America is still considered the land of most opportunity. Thank God we were born there.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Dreams of Lace

Next to my senior picture in our high school year book there is a caption... Follow your dreams. This is the message I decided to leave with all of my fellow classmates for them to gaze upon anytime they were feeling nostalgic and wanted to dust of that year book on the top shelf and pull it down to reminisce for a moment.

I still stand by those words today, however with much wisdom gained. I must admit that following ones dreams is risky business. Dreams in life are much like dreams in sleep. They remind me of lace, lace is transparent yet the view of the other side is some what distorted and vague. That is the truth to dreams, once they become reality, it is never as you dreamed it would be. I have been very blessed in my life to have the opportunity to live many of my dreams. I realized the other night during prayer that I am granted just about every prayer or wish that I ask for. That was a bit of an overwhelming realization, basically discovering that many of the things in my life I am not happy with I have brought upon myself...wow!

We long for spring. We are so hopeful that with springs arrival all of these challenges will fade away and we will be left only with a fresh outlook. So many of the reasons we moved here will hopefully come through to fruition, especially seeing as so many of the core reasons for our move have been plagued by this depression we face as a world and other unforeseen circumstances. The move so far has not been anything we thought it would be. If it were to stay this way the only aspiration we would have is getting back home, because unfortunately this is not home to us yet. I know we are all hoping for the day that feeling changes. There are so many things about living here that we did not realize ahead of time and there are many things we romanticized in this "dream" of ours that when they turned out to either not exist or be no where near wonderful it was heartbreaking. We ask ourselves if we regret the move. There are days when we do, but how would we know if we never tried. And how will we truly know if we do not give it a fair shot. Therefore, we will not run home crying, not yet anyway! No we would not be crying if it did come to that. We would actually be holding our heads high and proud that we did it! We tried it! We have known since day one that this venture might not work. The truth is there are very few families anywhere right now that are not struggling. It just so happened we immigrated to another country in the middle of a world wide collapse. Well, Gabriel and I have always tended to do things the hard way. We also tend to take the path less taken and always come out on top. So experiencing this adventure and its outcome should prove interesting.

We are starting our planning for spring...that little ground hog better cooperate! We have started looking through the seed catalogs, talking about chickens, pigs, sheep, goats, cows, horses. Trying to find books from how to make cheese to how to restore a 100 year old home. I have taken a break from painting, 75% of the inside of the house is painted, so I guess a rest is okay. I am contemplating making all of the curtains in the next few weeks if time, health and money permit it. We desperately need furniture, but I think that is going to be a pretty long scavenger hunt seeing as I am so frugal and Gabe is now 10 times worse than I am. We have realized that all of the floors in the house are thrashed. The odd part about that is we can not figure out how much of the damage the renters did and how much was actually here when we purchased the house. This house is so elegant that she can be very deceptive. When you first walk in you are so taken by the beauty and grace she has that you often overlook her imperfections. We do love the house, I must admit.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Day That Sparkles

The bad run seemed to start on Sunday:

- Sunday: Too cold to cut wood at -26C, but no choice. Then the problems poured in: July fell on the ice and bruised whole left side of body. Gabriel smashed his hand between the 8ft logs and then managed to have a chunk of split wood fly at his leg cutting & bruising it. The good part was the burgers on homemade buns and the homemade fries we had for dinner.
- Monday: Gabriel is really sick from cutting wood in such bad weather, he calls in sick which is just as well because it is a Snow Day and would be bad to drive in anyhow. So we spend the day as a family watching movies and recuperating from the day before. Later that night we realise Will has brought home GERMS from a friends house and is now sick too. The good part was the mashed sweet potatoes, glazed ham and fresh green salad we had for dinner, not to mention the homemade churros.
-Tuesday: Gabriel is still not well, but heads of to work, unfortunately he can't get out of the drive way and in the struggle gets the car stuck in the snow ditch (there is a snow ditch along every ones property...for real), So in he comes to call a tow truck. Will is still sick, Sam is either sick or faking it...in this chaos who has time to figure it out. Winny is the only Edgcomb at school and the whole Island seems to be covered in a thick layer of ICE. After many hours of dealing with the tow truck and scraping the driveway the best we can as well as spreading salt everywhere (which by the way is pointless on that thick of ice) Gabe finally goes off to work hours delayed...(Thank the Lord we live here and not in the U.S. where he would have been written up, warned or even fired). July realizes the extent of her injuries and how much pain she is in now that the adrenalin has fully worn off. The good part was watching Obama officially become The President of the U.S.A. and the the chicken stew and butter biscuits didn't hurt either.
-Wednesday: We are all tired from the past few rough days, everyone is slightly slow to get out of bed, but we pull it together. Gabe heads of to work. Winny is up and cheerful. Will is still sick, Sam...oh.....Sam is having a frigin' nervous breakdown about going to school. Suddenly in the middle of eating his eggs with tears pouring out of his eyes he starts screaming of a stomach ache. What do I do? I know what I would like to do! I send him to bed. after things have settled down and he has woken the baby with his wailing noise, I venture to his room (the only finished room in the house) I talk to him and lay down the line. Part of why we moved here is so he could go to school, so if he is not going to go we should just start packing... harsh??? Yes! You have to be with Sam. Finally we agree I will drive him to school, just this one day and he will be good and cheerful there! Oh, how I pray this works!

Why did I go into all of this? It's simple, this is our experience. There are somethings in these last few days that could happen to anyone any day sure. But when there is so much that is new and it is so extreme (like the weather) it makes this immigrating so much harder. Because every time we are challenged in life we are vulnerable to weakness. With every challenge that comes in our path we have to make a choice... how will we handle this? Will we fall to pieces and start crying? Will we be paralyzed with the fear? Will we pause and wait for logic? Will we tell our selves, "I can do this", and just keep on going?

When you move children it is tough. I remember moving as a child, I hated it! It is so scary and I was used to it, we did it several times a year. We have just moved 5 children from the only home they have ever known since birth and taken them away from all of their family and friends. Why did we do this? Unfortunately, we lived in a place that was no longer a place to raise a family, the schools were beyond imagination dysfunctional, there was no pride of the community, the streets were littered with garbage, and drugs seemed to wreak havoc on many things people would not even think of. Some people don't care about those things, Some feel they need to stay to try to make it better, Some simply do not see it, because they have never known anything else. We wanted more from life both Gabriel and I, since we were kids. We wanted more. Each new phase in life is full of adjustment, and when 7 people and 4 dogs are adjusting in a new country...it's a lot!

Today when we drove Sam to school the whole Island was at peace. The snow laden fields and evergreens appeared to have been dusted with crystal glitter. Every which way the eye glances it catches a million glistening crystals. The sun is dancing upon them now. It would be foolish not to notice such beauty. such a show put on by nature. To take time to slow down and take in the simple elegance in our world. How blessed am I to be here in this moment to witness this! It really makes the trials of the last few days fade away and reassures me that this is right, and it will all be okay.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

My first entry

How odd is it that today of all days...today January 20,2009. I actually find the time to start this blog on the immigration experience. Here I am up in Canada watching my new president get sworn into office and for the first time in a long time I can say, "I am proud to be an American citizen". Today was the first day since 911 that I felt hope for our country and a sense of peace over our country. While here I sit in a whole other country having this experience. And it makes my immigration experience even more so bittersweet.

Immigration to Canada...no big deal right...think again! We have been here now for 3 1/2 months and there have more twists and turns on this roller coaster ride of a journey than I could even tell you about. As Americans I am not sure how much consideration we give to Canada and the culture of this very large country, second largest in the world to be exact. They have a very rich culture and for as many similarities as they have to the U.S. they also have differences. I did not think that moving up with "our neighbors to the north" would be as big of a change as it has been. This truly is a very different country than my America and I must admit that as of right now I am impressed by Canada and I am especially impressed by these Canadians. They are so different from Americans it is shocking and often times my husband and I do not know what to make of it. We have experienced nothing but kindness, helpfulness and occasional curiosity as well as sympathy for the state of our country and many congratulations when President Obama was elected.

We are legal immigrants (which is a very tedious process, not for the weak of spirit). We are strangers in a strange land. There are only a handful of familiarities and each time we stumble upon one we are so excited. The oddest part about our experience so far is that some of the reasons we moved here are turning out to be some our most challenging aspects of living here. We were disgusted by the waste of Americans, we have moved to the greenest province in Canada and find their waste laws and regulations a chore at times, I am embarrassed to say. We wanted 4 seasons, and yet we find that the winter is not so great after all... more of a hassle really. We wanted to get away from the consumerism of America and yet it is very hard for us that our closest store is a little country store and there is not a single Starbucks on this province. We wanted a larger home and I must admit...it is just more work! But despite all of these challenges we are learning so much from the Canadian people: They live life with so much less stress than we do. They do not fuss over the small stuff. They laugh more. They seem to love thy neighbor more and thy Earth. They have a way of calming you with their calm demeanor, because they just don't make a big deal out of the small stuff. They are polite and generous beyond belief. And I hope to be able to adapt these ways into my life, I pray to be able to. I feel blessed to have this experience and no matter how long it last I know that My husband and I will come out of this having changed for the better. And I feel confident that our children will benefit and appreciate this effort we have made in exposing them to a different life.

Will we stay here forever? Honestly, I do not know. Does any one really know what lies ahead? The uncertainty of life is part of the adventure. That statement was so out of character for me "the planner" so I guess I am already changing for the better.

I want to add on this day that our family is still American, we are citizens of one of the greatest nations ever and the affection we have for the country of our birth will never fade nor will our hope for the future of our country. If we do ever move back to The U.S.A. we plan to do so as better people so that we can better serve. Sometimes you have to step back a bit to see the clarity in things.

-May God Bless President Obama and watch over him and his family and may the Lord lay a hand upon him each day in every decision he makes.