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Our Life

Settling In

July 5th, 2004  · stk

The move from Vancouver took place a couple of weeks ago, as scheduled, on the 17th. It took a complete day to load the 26-foot U-Haul truck (see slide show above). We were bushed, but very thankful to have Grandma and Grandpa Pilley there to look after the Oop, while Rachel and Scott were busy loading boxes, bikes, tools and STUFF.

The next morning, we hit the road early. The fully laden truck had a slow time of it, making it over the Canadian Rockies and we were slowed to 15 km/hr on some of the steeper grades (seems like we could have just jogged faster)! Still, it was way better than hauling each box by hand! The truck sucked some fuel too -- about $600-worth to get our STUFF to Edmonton. We got a hotel in Valemont (just shy of Jasper National Park).

The cat (who had spent the balance of the first day's drive hiding under the passenger seat), was relieved to be out of the truck. He immediately sniffed around the room and promptly sat in the middle of the bed (I guess he thought he deserved to have the king-sized bed after being cramped under the bench seat all day). Alex slept a good part of the way, but she too, was happy to be out of her cramped car seat. I think we were all happy to be out of the cab, even if it was just overnight.

The next day we drove through Jasper National Park (we saw a bear, a big-horned sheep, some elk and a few deer on our drive through). We figure that Edmonton can't be all that bad if the best way to get there from Vancouver is to drive through Jasper National Park! We pulled up to our new home early in the afternoon and began unloading. We did half and then left the other half till morning. The goal was to get a bed up so we would have somewhere to sleep for the night. Whew ... we were "home".

The next few days were hectic, as we found ourselves deep in boxes, packing paper and trying to find a home for all of our personal possessions.

Two weeks later, we're beginning to have a semblance of a "home". Computers are up and running again. Rachel has an "office" area downstairs, where it is nice and quiet, where she can study and also work on crafts. (She has not one, but TWO desks - Scott is jealous). He has an office too, on the main floor, where he can better look after the Oop while Rachel is in school. The kitchen is functional. Bedrooms are still a mess, with boxes of clothes stacked on top of one another. The Oops room is pretty organized, but her dresser drawers need some handy-man attention, so her assortment of clothes are stacked on make-shift cabinet of cardboard boxes. (She doesn't care). She's just happy to be out of the truck and in a house with lots and lots of carpeting (softer on the knees).

We love the neighborhood. We've now met our immediate neighbors. Fortunately, the neighbors to our south - Wayne and Diane - were willing to look after Alex while we unloaded the truck that first day. THAT was a huge help, allowing us to concentrate on getting the couch and bed into the house. She even brought over some dinner for us that first night, because of course, we had no food, dishes or silverware. What GREAT people!

The first Sunday we were here, we took the day off and went for a cycle ride along the North Saskatchewan river parkway. It was a pleasant outing and we took a picnic lunch. We followed something like14 miles of dedicated bike paths during the 20-mile ride, opting to following city streets back, getting a flavor for the east-side.

We still have much to do before we're "settled", but the major things have been done and now we can relax some, tackling them in smaller chunks (rather than non-stop all-day for 10 hours).

Tuxedo loves his new back yard. He's found a place in the flower garden off by the back door, nestled in tall Irises that just finished blooming. He'll sit in the middle of the grass, lounging in the sun or poking around Anna's backyard (our neighbor to the north, who is pet-less and has wonderful gardens in her backyard). We think he likes Edmonton a lot, but we haven't yet told him about the cold winters. No doubt he'll survive by finding himself a warm lap to sit on.

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Filed in:Alexandra

9-Month Oop

July 5th, 2004  · stk

Alex celebrated her "three quarters of a year" birthday between Canada Day and the 4th of July. No special cake this time, just her normal fare: oatmeal cereal and a few un-sugared Cheerios (that she barely chews, just plops them in her mouth, gums them a while and then swallows them with a grimace). A little breast milk mid-morning, right before a nap, then a variety for lunch - banana, applesauce in yogurt, a cracker maybe or some other solid food concoction that we've blended up and saved for her (leftover big-people dinners). More breast in the afternoon followed by a bottle of formula, perhaps. The afternoon nap is sometimes long, sometimes a 10-minute power-nap, or sometimes non-existent. Dinner must come around 5:30 PM or we have a fussy little girl on our hands (she takes after her dad, apparently - ha ha). Dinner is the BIG meal ... nearly two Gerber bottles of solid food (again, rice & beans mixed with other things, parts of our leftover meals - blended and frozen, fruit and yogurt for dessert, punctuated by crackers, bananas or "O's" (Cheerios) and other 'finger food). A bit more breast in the evening, then it's off to bed and quickly asleep around 8-8:30 PM.

She has a bath every other night and OH BOY, has she been enjoying those baths! She's got rubber duckies and colorful plastic tugboats that swirl and splash around the tub! She gurgles and coos and swims and splashes herself (the wall, the floor and the towel) till she's clean. Yep, our little girl is eating and growing.

And of course, what goes in, must come out ... so we're very busy in that department too!

She knows three words: kitty cat, mom and dad. Of course, it's more like "Pitty-blat", "maaaa-maaama" and "plah-dah" ... and they're often said about MANY things OTHER than kitty cat, mom and dad ... but you know how parents are about interpreting child-speak. So, in our eyes, she's quite conversant. To anybody else, it's just so much blather!

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Scott

8-month Oop

May 31st, 2004  · stk

We can't say that the "Oop" had a great time on our trip to Edmonton, but she did survive. It's tough to ride in a car-seat for 1,159 kilometers, but (as usual) she was a trooper.

She had a difficult time adjusting to the tent-trailer that we borrowed from Rachel's parents, however. The first night, we tried to put her to sleep, by herself, on one side of the trailer. But she just howled! She ended up sleeping with Mom, which helped settle her down and dad ended up sleeping on the other side.

At home, Alex is now consuming more and more solid food. She's drinking from her sippy cup (but not by herself yet, because she keeps insisting that the bottom tasts better than the top (which dumps the liquid out of the sippy cup all over everything).

She is just starting to learn to crawl, getting her knees up under herself in a very unsteady fashion. She's knows what "kittycat" means, and looks for one of two cats every time we say the word. She absolutely SQUEALS with delight when the cats come near, as she loves to pull their tails (they don't come near very often, either one!) It doesn't seem to dampen her enthusiasm for cats, however.

Rachel spotted a used bike trailer in one of the local 'bargain classified ads' that come to the door. We drove out to have a look and it seemed to be in pretty good condition and fairly well constructed, so we bought it. Of course, we had to test it out, so we took it out for an inagural ride around the seawall at Stanley park. It's a two-seater and Alex is still pretty small, so we ended up having to prop her up with blakets and pillows, so she would stay upright. In true "Oop" form, she slept most of the ride away. She did have fun at the park, where we stopped for a bit, had a snack and let her play in a field full of daisies. It was a gorgeous day.

In unrelated news, Scott has been working at a handyman painting job, left over from the tail end of the last "painting season". He is eager to be finished, as he says, "The only thing less exciting than painting is watching the paint dry!" It's been raining some lately (which is why you're able to read this journal entry). Hopefully, the weather will cooperate and he can finish prior to June 17th, our move date.

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Topsy-Turvey: An Update

May 3rd, 2004  · stk

Family News (Short Version)

New Abode: It's our first move of 2004, but our fifth since Jan 1st, 2003! We've moved out of our little coach-house, boxed our belongings, left out only what is necessary, stored the rest, and are (once again) house-sitting the Pilley residence while they are away to England. It won't be for 5 months, this go-round, but only for a month or two. We've said it before and we'll say it again, "Moving sucks!" (but house-sitting is easy on the old wallet)! We think that Scott fractured his right thumb during the move (what a klutz)! We're now ensconced in the main house and busy updating our site from the 3rd floor office.

Trip to CA: Before we began boxing, hauling, stacking and carting ... we took a 1,200-mile trip down to northern California to visit Scott's folks at their ranch. It was a long trip, especially for tiny Alex. We left at 3:30 in the morning (so Oop could sleep). We crossed the border with nary a problem and drove and drove and drove and drove. (Okay, we stopped for breakfast at a Denny's and lunch at a Burger King ... Alex needed to get out of her car seat and Mom needed a fried potato fix). She was quite the little trooper (not one tear shed). We had a wonderful time at the R2 ranch. Grandma and Grandpa Kimler fell in love with their little granddaughter. What's NOT to love? She's such a happy baby, such an EASY baby! Below are some snaps from that visit.

Alex rode a swing for the first time, at the Pilley house, only day's before we left for California. She enjoyed swinging SO much, that at the last minute, we tossed the Pilley toddler swing in the back of the van. We're glad we brought it along, as she just had a ball, swinging under the patio at the R2 ranch. (We're a tad concerned that if she likes swinging at this young age, that Alex might grow up to be an 'adrenalin junkie').

While at the R2 ranch, Alex was introduced to a variety of farm animals. While she can growl like a bear, she hasn't learned the fine art of mooing like a cow. She got plenty of instruction from the big beef cows on the ranch, who - despite their size - were far more afraid of Alex, than she was of them.

Tricky Tranny: As easy as the drive down to California was, the drive back was even easier ... that is, until we got to Seattle. We stopped to spend the night with our Big Ride friend Dave (and his super girlfriend, Karen). The next morning, when we got into our van to come home ... NO POWER in ANY GEAR! Tranny GONE! We had to have the vehicle towed (thanks Dave, for having the premium AAA membership) to a garage across town. We hopped on a bus to Vancouver and managed to get home around 7pm. It was a looooonnngg day and (AGAIN) the Oop was terrific. (Even managed to make friends with several of the bus passengers with her quick smile and perky demeanor). Our van, on the other hand, is on our #%@#-list. Cost of repair? $2,675.00 So much for our "bargain" used car!! (A reminder to ourselves: NEVER, NEVER-EVER buy a used car off a lot.)

Moving Again: Oop's Canadian tour is now on hold. Van isn't powerful enough to tow the old fold-up camper. Neither Mom nor Dad can imagine car-camping for that length of time. Plans are up in the air. Rachel has not yet heard from the University of Calgary, but expects an acceptance letter any day now. We're leaning toward the University of Alberta (Edmonton) anyway. Perhaps we'll take a drive out to look for a new place, so that we can get settled before the term starts in early September.

Oop @ 7 Months: Hard to believe that our little girl is now 7 months young. Dad baked her a 1/2 birthday cake on her 6th-month "birthday". (It was a double-layer, half-circle vanilla-chocolate cake. It was quite cute and admired by all). Oop had her first taste of 'cake' and decided it was PRETTY GOOD! In fact, Alex liked it so much that she thought every fork-full should end up in HER mouth. None for the commoners, only the princess!

She's now gotten the hang of "solid" food and her repertoire includes: (pureed) peas, apples, bananas, carrots, rice cereal, oatmeal cereal, and various tidbits gleaned from the plate when mom and dad aren't looking! Oh yes, and CAKE! The BIG news for little Alex is, however, that she's MOBILE! We can't claim "crawling" yet, but it's a squirmy, rolling, pushing and pulling bundle of energy that knows no bounds. She's had a couple of disasters (pulling things down on top of herself), which result in tearful crying fits, but they don't dampen her spirit of adventure (5 minutes later she's off and into new things). We've now got our HANDS FULL!!

Gran Pilley gave Alex a "jolly jumper" for her half-birthday. What a wonderful gift (for BOTH Alex and her parents)! "Thanks, Gran," Alex says, bouncing between the door of the bathroom and the kitchen (darn near the only place in the house the bloody thing hangs from, because of the way the doorways are constructed). She growls, bounces and coos ... keeping herself happy and entertained for long periods of time. A great baby-sitter.

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The Medan Bus

May 8th, 1986  · stk

My first post in the "hisstory" category, this article discusses the road hazards one might come across in the Aceh Province of northern Sumatra, in Indonesia. I supervised two remote jungle seismic crews (over 1000 men on each crew) for two years, from 1985-1987, while working for Mobil Oil Indonesia. I kept a journal of my experience and am finally getting around to getting some of it posted.

Driving Hazards of Northern Sumatra
Both Real & Imagined

About This Article

 mobil oil logo

For two years, from 1985 to 1987, Scott worked for the Field Operations Group for Mobil Oil, based out of Jakarta, Indonesia. He was the company geophysicist, working in the remote jungle region of the Aceh Province, at the northern tip of Sumatra, supervising two helicopter-supported, remote-jungle seismic crews. Each crew was made up of over 1,000 men. During this time, a National Geographic photographer visited and some of those photos are included in the August, 1989 National Geographic article "The Quest for Oil".

This journal entry was made during Scott's first 2-month tour (Scott worked a 2-month "on", 1-month "off" schedule and when he was "on" he worked from 6 AM till 6 PM, 7 days a week.

The journal topic for tonight is "Driving Hazards".

There are many driving hazards in northern Sumatra (Note: I am only talking about the driving hazards in the countryside. So far, I have little experience driving on the roadways of Indonesian cities, but from the little bit I have experienced - it's a constant hazard! Avoid city driving if you can!).

We have paid drivers that do all our driving for us. This is mostly keep us foreigners out of trouble. If an accident occurs, no matter who is at fault, all fingers (by mutual agreement) point to the "orang puti" (white man). He is the one with the most money! The police will back-up this policy. (Graft is alive and well).

Sometimes it's nice to have drivers, but it is hard to be a passenger in a car when you're sitting in the drivers seat! (Indonesians drive on the left-hand side of the road and because of this, most steering wheels are on the right side of the vehicle. "On the passenger's side," is where I describe the location of the steering wheel, to all those that will listen.) As a passenger, I am always - out of habit - trying to sit on the passenger's side of the vehicle, which is the driver's seat in Indonesia. All of our drivers think this is really funny.

Aceh Road Hazards

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