Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Never a Dull Moment

A few weeks ago I decided to go "home" to the Ottawa Valley for awhile. Sadly, one of my aunt's had just died, and I wanted to take advantage of my 'free' time, to go and stay with my what I could to help him through this horrible transition period.

One thing led to another. There was no more denying that this country girl was ready to get back to the woods and the water. And, once I put that out to the Universe, things started happening.

Eight days ago I went to look at a little place in the village of Chapeau, Quebec. I fell in love...knew immediately that both the village and the house felt more like home than anything I could have imagined for myself. 6 days ago, my offer to purchase was accepted. 4 days ago, a home inspector gave the place his's a 1940s house but all the right upgrades have been done and it's move-in ready with no necessary investments. Yesterday I met with a banker to finalize a ridiculously tiny mortgage. Today, there are only a few formalities left to complete (none should prove to be obstacles) and very soon, I will own my new home.

It is a perfect place to write. My terraced little lawn ends in the Ottawa River. My canoe can come out of hiding and be happy once again. I can come out of hiding and be happy once again. The location, though a little off the beaten track, is absolutely perfect...smack dab in the middle of all the folks that matter most to me here in this part of the world.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Then again...

A few days ago I realized that the time has come to stop talking about writing a book and actually do it! It will tell the tale of my inner and outer travels, the power of paying attention when the universe tells us what we are meant to do. Thank you to each and every one of you who has been with me through the journey, and encouraged me to share it with the world. I'm finally ready to try.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


More changes. Economic realities being what they are, it's time to accept the rather difficult fact that it's time to re-enter the workforce for awhile. First round retirement has been a non-stop adventure that leaves me looking forward to more of the same, but...

I've completed the International Community Development program, and decided to put my philosophy/ethics studies on hold (though the newly ignited excitement around philosophy isn't going to go anywhere!). For the foreseeable future, my Longido adventures will need to be lived vicariously while I keep my focus on generating money to support the Girl-Mothers program.

So now...adventures will be of a more home-grown variety. No less interesting I'm sure, just different.

Thursday, February 05, 2009


Today, perhaps, I will finally get round to unpacking the last duffel bag. It sits, hides, behind my bed so I'm only reminded of it on rare mornings when the night before was restless enough that I need to actually go back there to properly readjust the bedding on that normally unruffled side, the side some part of me always holds on reserve for another.

There's always a last duffle...on my return it catches the odds and the ends and the bits and the pieces of things that aren't really needed here but for whatever reason I choose to bring home rather than leave them behind in faraway Africa. Unpacking it requires that I acknowledge that I have chosen to be here, and carries the same degree of mental struggle as would going out to buy the much needed blinds for my too-light windows. Too big a leap to say this is my home...this is where/how I have chosen to be, in a space just big enough for one plus the ghost of a beagle...moreover that I'll likely be here long enough to make the investment in leave-behind blinds worthwhile.

I have been sleeping without darkness since I chose this home in September 2006.

Today, perhaps.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Adventures of a different sort

I miss this one-sided conversation with whoever you are out there. Not posting underscores a view that "Jo's midlife adventures" are somehow on hold, when in fact I most need to remind myself to seek the adventures in every day, even here, freezing my now reduced butt off in the midst of an Ottawa winter.

The African journey is only on hold. All the questions it's raised, all the inspiration to do more to help, has led me to start adventuring in academia. I'm now officially registered in a Certificate in Applied Ethics program at the Dominican University here in Ottawa. My first two classes felt like no less an adventure than my first day in Longido. For starters, I don't speak the language. Philosophy?? Me?? All those years of formal education, initially so focused on the sciences then economics mostly of the mathematical sort, and suddenly I feel like the only 50-something on the planet who hasn't read Plato...doesn't know one 'ism' from another. But the adventure comes in suddenly finding myself old enough and fearless enough to look a professor in the eye and say "I don't understand this" and ultimately learning something totally new. My brain is excited...looking forward to the challenge of the next few months.

Friday, December 19, 2008


36 hours of travel, including time to hunt for a cheap pair of socks at the Schipol airport in Amsterdam. My body is not amused at moving from the 30+ degree heat of Longido to today's -29 windchill in Ottawa. I am, however, delighted as always with the wonders of my refrigerator and boundless hot water. Tap water is too cold to drink...hurts my teeth. The grocery store has far too many choices in the laundry soap aisle. High speed internet is fun. Thinking about seeing my sons and retrieving my dog tomorrow morning is exciting! Driving in snow when I haven't driven in months was a bit disconcerting. My favorite hot and sour soup made the drive worthwhile.

I'm home. There are, I suppose, only 5 shopping days left til Christmas, if in fact I had any intention of doing much of that. The next few days will be dizzy ones I suspect, as I try my best to keep one foot in each world. Soon enough I'll be swept up into this one, and Africa will be only a memory until it's time to give into the pull to that other 'home' once again.

I've posted a few of my favorite pictures at Facebook.

Monday, December 15, 2008

More Transitions

Sitting in an Arusha hotel room, enjoying a wee bit of air conditioning...filled my face at the Indian buffet lunch after a long hot shower that would have been pleasant had I not needed to stop midway, get dressed and go seek housekeeping help to deal with a shower head problem that threatened to flood the entire room.

Yesterday was incredibly relaxing but somewhat mind boggling as I found myself sipping red wine and swimming in a gorgeous private pool with the most beautiful vista I've seen in Arusha. The contrasts here are hard to fathom especially after such a long stint out in rural Longido.

I left the village early Saturday morning with Happiness...bound for a town called Monduli where her little guy, Bryan, lives with her mom, while Happy works with us in Longido. Reminded me why I don't much enjoy traveling around the district. We waited one hour in Longido, sitting in a dala-dala (mini van) waiting until a total of 20 or so passengers had assembled such that we could hit the road. The highway to Arusha is under construction thanks to a huge Chinese project to improve the entire road between Nairobi and Arusha. A great thought, but meantime traffic is subjected to these wild detours, nicely called 'diversions', down bumpy and incredibly dusty gravel 'roads' built for the occasion. Between being mashed into the side of the vehicle by my overabundance of seat mates, and not being able to see at points where we were literally in a cloud of dust, I was not a terribly happy camper on arrival, mid-way, at the Arusha bus stop. From there we hopped into another overloaded dala-dala and made our way to Monduli. Enjoyed a pleasant lunch with Happy's mom, played a bit with Bryan and then, back to the bus stop for the return jaunt to Arusha. Once again, an hour or so of waiting for the bus to fill to capacity before departure. Overall, I think I covered about 170 km. Driving time was 3.5 hours. Waiting time 2 hours. Accumulated dust and grime...immeasurable. Arriving at Corey's at the end of the day....priceless.

And now, a few days to kill in Arusha, waiting for my Wednesday night flight to Amsterdam.