Monday, June 12, 2006

The Rest of the Journey

We returned this weekend from a stellar vacation.

After our Cape Breton adventure, we returned to New Brunswick via Prince Edward Island. We caught a ferry from Caribou in Nova Scotia, and reached PEI last Saturday evening. The drive through PEI from Wood Island to Charlottetown was lovely. The freshly-plowed potato fields glowed a warm red in the soft evening light. The soil is this hearty terracotta-red on PEI and it contrasted so beautifully with the spring-green trees and grasses. We overnighted in Charlottetown after shopping at Sobey's for a late night picnic in our room. The next day, it rained, so I regretted not stopping the night before to capture some of that Tuscan-light over those potato fields and gorgeous farm house estates.

We motored back home in the rain.

Then we spent a few quiet days with family, tired from the driving and the restaurants. My headaches seemed to be taking a vacation as well, so I savored good health along with the joy of being close to my dear Mom and family.

Last week, we ventured out of town with Mom for a few days. We drove to St.Andrews (By-The-Sea), this quaint picturesque old loyalist town in southern NB, beside the Maine border along the Bay of Fundy (world's higest tides!). St.Andrews was perfect, just as I remember it. Mom and I go there every 3-4 years for a day or two of sight-seeing and gift-shopping, so it was nice to share with David and go again with Mom to give her a couple of days of R&R. It was raining when we arrived, and we weren't sure where to stay. We just knew we wanted something lovely and quiet.

We stumbled upon a little place called Seaside Beach Resort (which sounds like the corny name of a bad campground), but the little cabins were all grey-weathered and shingled and very maritime, so we couldn't resist. The first couple of cabins we were showed were very *rustic*, to be euphemistic (think: wood-paneled cabins from the 70's, the ones with vinyl curtains, dead flies in the windows, stained mattresses, stand-up showers, and no electrical outlets).

Then we were escorted to a charming 3-bedroom cabin that had been "recently renovated". We were in yuppie paradise! We walked into this darling cabin all built of pine: every wall, ceiling and floor finished in beautiful, carefully crafted pine. Floor to ceiling wood! It was architect-designed and featured stained-glass windows, creative alcoves to let more light into the rooms, open-concept layout, and coolly apppointed with lovely quilts and matching curtains, antique furniture, a wrought-iron train station clock, modern applicances, lovely art, a BBQ, a deck, everything finished with such finesse! It was the prettiest cabin I've ever seen, and the second nicest place I've ever stayed (after the Middle Beach Lodge in Tofino).

So we said Yes! and had two restful days with my Mom, resting and reflecting in our beautiful oasis, wandering the streets and shops of St.Andrews, walking and driving around town, going to bed on time, sleeping in and waking up to soft, quiet light from all the windows and alcoves. It was heavenly.

David and I also managed to find a lobster, which we had previously dubbed the Great Maritime Myth (no one in Nova Scotia seemed to have lobster on the menu!). This myth was added to the Myth of the Puffin (those black, orange-billed birds which appear on all the NB postcards which no one has ever seen). So the lobster appeared to debunk the myth, but it was disappointing and should have been left in the sea....not to flavourful and awfully tough. Mom's halibut looked much much better!

Then we spent a few more days with family, visited my aunt Lib, cousin Mike and family and new baby Noah.

It was a great holiday. Everyone loved David and he was very patient with all the yakking and talking going on, particularly the long stories about people he has never met. Mom was lovey as ever, delightful to chat with, and so easy-going. Mom and Dad enjoyed our stay so much, and were so sad to see us leave. I miss my Mom so, and it is heightened by these all-to-brief visits. It would be so nice to live "down the road" and be able to drop by for dinner and gossip and just to sit together in silence. I was sorry it ended so soon.

It is surreal to be back in Calgary. It is surreal to have to come back to this boring job, this tedious existence after day-dreaming for 2 weeks about moving back to the maritimes and making pottery for a living (or something to pay the bills).

Sometimes, no, often I crave for a simpler life where you can take it slow, cook a lot, spend time on the things you love with the people you love, spend hours in the garden, own a big beautiful house on the water, read all day. I want to be on permanent vacation in a beautiful place around beautiful people, the ones I love most.

David and I were both overwhelmed by the beauty and charm and simplicity in some of the places we visited and people we talked to. It would be so nice to live in a small town, surrounded by people who know you, who care about you. To carve out a simple, lovely life in such a place. To be surrounded by nature. But the pay cheques aren't great in that part of the world, which relies so much on tourism. Professional jobs are scarce, so there is a great trade-off to be made for a quiet, simple life. But at least these vacation re-affirm our ideas of ourselves. That vision is firmed up every time we travel to lovely, quiet places. We realize what truly resonates with us, what truly makes our hearts warm.

And on the headache front, I am pleased to report that the 14 days was spent almost headache-free. Unbelievable. Why can't I tap into this well of good health in my everyday life? What's the hitch? We did sleep a lot, probably 9-10h per night. That is probably the biggest factor. And other than that, my stress level was close to nil. It is a frustrating dilemma, knowing what can fix you (peace and quiet and low stress and lots of sleep), but not being able to harness it in your real non-holiday world! I know it isn't solely a matter of location. I've had bad headaches in NB before, and also for 2 years in Toronto, so it isn't a humidity/elevation thing. They have been less in NB for sure, but it is the combination of extra sleep and low stress that is the likely answer.

Flying back to Calgary, I had a brutal headache, nausea, the whole thing on the plane. Flying out was okay, but it was like the headaches stormed back in the day before we were to leave. I was so angry! My system seemed hyper-sensitive to elemental quantities of stress/fear/panic, those subtle feelings of dread when your vacation is ending and real life is waiting at the end of the day.

Or perhaps it is the quiet, the air, the sleep, the elevation, the humidity, the something-or-other in delicate combination. I cannot speculate. What subtle combination of minute factors causes my misery level to rise?

Since returning, I've had bad headaches. Sitting in front of a computer is a big problem. My highly sensitive system seems to balk at the computer. The simple act of looking at the screen, the glare, reading too fast, thinking too fast, seems to trigger head pain, enormous head pain.

Even sitting to write the earlier post from Baddeck started to give me a headache. What is it about the computer that screws my system? Postural, glare, thinking too fast, reading too fast?

I don't know, but this does suck. Anyway, I got almost 14 days of relief, with minor headaches and back pain, mostly in the evenings. I am trying to carry the memory of peace inside of me, but it isn't working. Back to the familiar headache place I come...

Set my dreams aside for a few more years? Dream of a peaceful, quiet life without headaches...


  1. I'm so thrilled that you had a lovely vacation. I totally know what you mean, by wanting to live in the Maritimes, but the work situation being so much better out here. It is really a trade off.

    I'm glad that your headaches were good for those 14 days, but I'm terribly sorry to hear that they have come back.

    I have heard that perhaps the angle that the monitor is at can be a problem. Maybe try "messing" with it, and seeing if you can't find a good place for it.

    Anyway, sorry for rambling, glad your back, and hope the headaches leave!!

    side note, my head has started to act up this last week, especially today, I wonder if it isn't a weather system moving into Alberta that's affecting us both?

  2. it sounds like a fabulous vacation; i'm so glad you had some time to relax and recuperate. and best of all, some days without headaches! how marvelous. so sorry to hear they are back with a vengeance. :( as i was reading, i was hoping that the inderal had 'fixed' things for you, and you were steadily improving. i'm glad you're back!

  3. thanks guys....yes, it was so nice feeling 100% "normal" for a change. it is now a fond memory! i really need to keep up with this sleep thing. i think it's a big part of my problem. thinking about asking for a referral to a sleep clinic. i often don't feel refreshed in the mornings, even with 9h, so wondering if i have a sleep issue!

  4. I'm sorry the headaches are bothering you again :(

    The computer has recently been bugging my eyes (which stinks since it cuts into my blogging/blog reading).

    I'm glad you were able to get away for a vacation though!