Sunday, February 18, 2007

In Between Time

After a busy but brief six weeks at home, I am off again for ten weeks to Uganda and Pakistan. I have had a chance to reconnect with a group of friends, relatives and community here on the Pacific West Coast where I am still a bit of a newcomer. My batteries have been recharged and I feel reinvigorated. I am struck by how well I am supported in my work by my friends and community. The two groups are only somewhat connected at present. Few of my friends of longer duration are part of my local community, a situation I share with many in today’s world, but the two spheres are beginning to intersect more. Both groups are important to me.

A coterie of local friends water my plants, check my mail box, look after my basement suite, keep my car battery charged, arrange for my house to be rented, drop me and my baggage off at the ferry, donate materials for the projects, collect baseball hats, search for puppets and offer encouragement for my work. Most importantly, they manage to slot me seamlessly into activities when I am back. Books we will discuss at book clubs are shared, church members inquire about my travels, invitations are extended, a small group of us attend the West Coast aboriginal version of the Magic Flute opera and friends visit from Belize and Vancouver. It is a busy time with Xmas to be celebrated in the Okanagan, games of Scrabble, cribbage and Boggle played, visits made to friend’s art displays and annual Tarot readings for the New Year arranged.

Although I have had to withdraw from several of my ongoing activities, such as Toastmasters and Sweet Adelines, because I have been away so much this past year, I am welcomed to drop by and encouraged to participate. All of this social networking feeds and sustain my soul. I have missed some people and some opportunities but overall the peripatetic life style is working out wonderfully. I even experienced a brief exposure to the storms that have swept erratically down the west coast this year with such ferocity, shifting global warming front and center even into political consciousness. The latter I am glad to witness.

My visits home have an underlying pattern, a weave of simultaneously activities to be undertaken. First my social networks are revitalized. Almost as soon as I come back I am acutely awaream stuck by an overwhelming need to simplify, to lighten up and unclutter my life. The contrast between how most of the world lives and my luxury in Canada unsettles me. As a friend puts it, we need to live more simply, simply that others may live. I make a start by sorting through boxes of clothes and clobber this time, finding things I had forgotten I had and moving them on. As the piles build, so does my enthusiasm for this activity.

Maintenance is also needed on the house - roof replacement arranged, an outdoor bench stripped and fixtures replaced. A young millwright from the local pulp and paper mill is settled in as the new occupant of the basement suite. Finally preparation for upcoming Pakistan and Uganda visits involves preparing training sessions for the STD workshop for physicians, collection of support material for several development activities, communication with possible partners, coordination of visas, air tickets and visits for myself and others. I am running behind on the STD training. Although most of the material needed has been collected, I have only completed two of the needed 10 sessions in writing and then it is time to return.

Photos: View from porch, chalk sign says Never Forget Me, Papyrus hat, Side of truck



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