Monthly Archives: April 2011

Roch Voisine.

No, not RoCH VOIsine.  RAW CUIsine.  A little misunderstanding with the roomie when explaining our plans for last night.  At that point I was skeptical and probably more interested in seeing Roch himself. 

But what Balls wants for her birthday Balls gets.  We headed over to Rawlicious in Yorkville to celebrate.  Before leaving the city I want to make sure I have tried all that this city has to offer in terms of awesome cuisine but I hadn’t even considered raw.  Probably because it sounds a bit crazy.  The concept behind this food movement is that nothing we eat should be cooked/heated over 40-42 degrees celcius (or 106-115 farenheit).  Just above body temp.  When you cook cinnamon buns the over is at 350 so just think that over.  The point (i think) is to preserve nutrients.  As you can probably imagine, all kinds of other restrictions usually come along with this lifestyle…like fun.  It usually incorporates veganism, organic foods and, heck, let’s throw local in there too.  Just to make every meal almost impossibly difficult. 

So, yes, I paid money for this food.  The restaurant was adorable and all the servers looked like they really believed in raw food (interpret that as you may).  My first thought was definitely:  salad.  I can have salad.  But it sort of defeated the purpose of trying raw food so I ordered the pizza.  So did Hi-C and RoRoW!

Looks pretty good, don’t it?  I have to say, I was definitely surprised.  If someone challenged me to make a pizza without being able to use an oven or traditional cheese it definitely wouldn’t be edible.  The first few bites tasted a bit like earthiness but it grew on me and was surprisingly filling.  There really was a crust, probably made of nuts or something.  Instead of cooking they use dehydration to get “bread-like” substances so they even had cinnamon buns! In theory that is, they were “all out” last night.  We thought the “cheese” was just the crumbled cashews on top but later hypothesized that the substance under the sauce may have been the cashew “cheese” they promised us. And yes, no ovens mean that the food is either room temp (ie cold) or lukewarm.  I would eat this again but I might get it to-go and pop it in the microwave for a bit.  B-Mac got the zuchinni pasta which was a mega-portion and surprisingly tasty.  This dish wasn’t even warm, though, and could have used some heating.  Seriously.  Cold pasta?  Meh.

Pre-pizza Hi-C and I split an order of spring rolls with Thai dipping sauce.  Now those were delicious.  I could eat them every day.  Major props for that culinary miracle. 

So, if you’re a vegan and it just isn’t hardcore enough for you then I would recommend raw cuisine.  Otherwise, it is a nice healthy treat every once in a while.

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Another Goodbye (This time with cupcakes!)

For a good portion of the time that I have been in this program I have been meeting with someone on a semi-regular basis.  We talk about feelings.  And strategies.  And life.  He gets paid to be my friend.  Oh, and he is my therapist*.  Although I can be a major pain in his rear end (“Ugh, are you going to ask me about how I feel about that?” – “Could you give me something a little concrete: what do I DO about it?”) and I get frustrated with the constant hippie-dippy feelings and meditation talk I think I’m gonna miss him. 

In order to commemorate our last appointment tomorrow I whipped up a batch of cupcakes as promised.  Initially my big plan was to make cupcakes from scratch with marshmallow fondant and use an edible marker to decorate them.  FAIL.  The cupcakes are actually homemade (no box!) and so is the icing but marshmallow fondant is a lot of work and I couldn’t find an edible marker – I swear they exist – so I settled for icing and a squeeze bag (thanks, ShanWow!).  

Wanna see the cuppy cakes?

I won’t tell you which emotion each represents but you can look here and try to guess.  This was quite the challenge!

*Or is it counselor?  Which one sounds less crazy?

PS.  Shout out to the Class Baketress.  She has mad skills and supplied me with the fabulous recipe for the cakes.

Countdown Obsession

Let’s be honest.  I just love the clicker thing. 

The number of classes left in this master’s degree:

How completely bittersweet is that?  8 years since the completion of high school there actually appears to be a (likely) end in sight for my post-secondary education.  No more classes or exams or cramming facts in beyond capacity or kowtowing to the lingo that professors want to hear when I reflect on my personal experiences.  No more room 420 with the same 45 other people 4-5 days a week, 2-5 hours a day + extracurricular fun times + projects.  No more holing-up in study rooms with teddy grahams and white board markers to hash out charts about various disorder groups or language milestones.  I have always been fortunate to have a great group of friends wherever I have ended up but there is something special about the SLP class.  A closeness of shared experience, shared lives, shared complaints, shared disappointment, shared excitement, shared worry, shared excitement for the future.  There has been much reflecting over the last few days about what and who will be missed and what exactly was so great about our time together.  What can I summarize from these talks as we try to grapple with leaving/changing/growing?

Everyone was accepted.  Whether you felt accepted or not I can promise you that you were.  There was no in-crowd or cool group.  No one was put on a pedestal and no one was torn down.  There was an unspoken (and sometimes spoken) respect for each and every person and exactly what made them unique; for the things that they brought to the table.  I hope that everyone felt that this was a time in their lives where they could truly be themselves and be appreciated for that.

To have a few good friends you have to invest in those relationships while not investing in others.  Everything is a choice, everything has an opportunity cost.  I wish I had had more time to get to know each person equally as well but I feel like that I’m still pleasantly surprised, even after 2 years, about what I learn about my classmates.  I may not have spent as much time with some people as I have others but I can honestly say that there isn’t anyone I wouldn’t be comfortable going out for coffee with and getting into a great discussion or someone I wouldn’t be extremely excited to see 5 years from now at a speech-language pathology conference.

Goodbyes are hard.  It hasn’t even sunk in yet that we likely will never all be in the same room together again.  Convocation will hopefully come close.  Things will change, I will change, people will move away and, in a few weeks, or a few months, I’ll be sitting at a cafe reading a book and I’ll realize that I haven’t seen my friends in a while.  I’ll be sad, maybe I’ll get a little weepy.  I’ll wish all the best for each of them (each of you!).

Oh, the sap!  I started writing little maple-sugar-filled notes for each of you lovely classmates on this blog but it felt cheesy.  Maybe I’ll come back and personalize it later.  Or send me a message and maybe I’ll let you know what I had planned to say.

The Countdown continues (no, this clicker thing just doesn’t seem to get old)

This many sleeps until I leave for Kenya (15 “sleeps”* until I set foot on Kenyan soil)

The number of objectives out of 8 that I STILL need to complete for my portfolio!

The number of days I have left in Toronto.  Sad.

The number of days I will be spending in Kenya/Africa.

The number of weeks until I am a grown-up SLP that can actually be paid for my services.

*I don’t actually anticipate much real sleeping over the two days of airplanes and airports.

Tools of the Trade

My to-do list keeps growing.  A significant portion of the list is acquiring supplies for Kenya:  dry shampoo for those days I don’t feel like having a cold bucket shower; cheap flip flops to avoid parasites and fungi on my precious feeties; a subscription for clean blood (just in case).  This week I was able to check off some major purchases for things I will actually need to do my “job”* while there. 

Naming Contest:  not as exciting as a puppy but my lovely new netbook needs a name.  I’m not sure of it’s gender, perhaps something androgynous?  I was thinking Temperence (which doesn’t fit my one criterion…I know).  Suggestions?  Here is some inspiration:

Perfect for streaming high-quality video.

A gorgeous/handsome pale blue shell.

Sooooo teeny tiny. 

A big shout out to my mom (Mrs. V!) for the awesome-tastic gift.  The webcam will be perfect for skype.  So skype me people!  Keep in mind the 7 hour time difference (I’ll be 7 hours earlier than most of you – 5.5 hours newfie time).  With 250GB I can bring all my episodes of No Reservations for in-flight viewage and the hundreds of lecture notes from all of my classes.  And some music just to be sane. 

The other piece of equipment I acquired was slightly less extravagant at $15.  A handy-dandy clicker-thing.  Apparently the proper term is “handheld tally counter”.  It took us forever to find them!  We were about to start emailing night clubs to ask where they get theirs.  Turns out that office supply stores carry them – no one uses to them to count laps in track anymore. 

Count down to take-off.  This may actually be one day inaccurate.  So if you read this on Thursday, we’re good.

Stumped as to what we might need these for????  Stuttering therapy.  It will be used to count dysfluencies.  Hi-C and I are going to while away the time in the airport watching videos of people stuttering on youtube and count the dysfluencies and then compare them to check our interrater reliability.  We’re party ANIMALS!

The other placement-related paraphernalia in my bag is a pen light courtesy of my last clinical educator (thanks!).  Used for checking inside mouths. 

CINNAPULLABUN UPDATE:  Awesome.  Soft.  Sweet.  They didn’t even need icing.  The one thing I would do differently next time is not try to cram all of them into one pan.  The ones in the middle didn’t rise enough and they were all stuck together.  So more space between them when baking but otherwise: perfection!

*unpaid internship position

Baking Mix Up

Apparently I’m going to be a great homemaker some day.  Since I don’t have a garden right now and I’ve been lazy with my crocheting, my hobby as of late has been baking (which doesn’t go well with my recent running hiatus).  Pulla (Finnish coffee bread) has been the target of my obsession.  My goal is to have a recipe that I know well, that I can whip up by only glancing at the instructions, a recipe that the texture is second nature.  A foodie friend, whom I have been sharing the bread with sporadically, made the genius (I hope) suggestion to use the sweet pulla dough as the base for cinnamon buns.  WIN!

We had the morning off due to passover (thank you my Jewish friends!) so I decided to start the baking process bright and early.  Knowing I needed groceries I set out to complete the dough so it could rise while I ran to the store for icing ingredients.  Woops.  The yeast was perfectly bubbly when I remembered I was sans milk.  So, the bread needed a take two after I picked up some foodstuffs but it was worth it. 

Look at this beauty:

All rolled up (butter, cinnamon and brown sugar all up in there)

Ready to rise before bakin’.

Fresh from the oven!

AND, these are for sale (plus icing) at school tomorrow.  You know you want one.  Money goes to supplies for the hospital in Kenya. 

Shooting Up

Right now I’m full of……LIVE VIRUSES!  Woo hoo!  Three needles in my arm later I am ready to tackle Kenya.  This gal will have man-made immunity from typhoid, meningitis and yellow fever (not to mention all the other things I have been vaccinated against in my lifetime).  And I’m naturally immune to chicken pox! 

Yellow fever, baby!  This one buuuurned.

Typhoid and Meningitis.  No tears.

Rum cake from Bermuda.  Wait, how did this get in here!?

Hi-C also convinced me to pump up my gastro-intestinal system with probiotics pre-trip and bring along some natural parasite killer.  Maybe I should just bring a giant plastic bubble or a hazmat suit. 

The medical kit will also contain shiny new needles (just in case), anti-septic and bandages.  I dropped off a prescription for ciprolex in case I get a fever and bloody diarrhea (TMI?  It could happen!), in which case my body needs some powerful antibiotics.  My purse holds a yet-to-be-filled prescription for 5 weeks worth of malarone to get me through any time I may not be in Nairobi. 

So far that is about it for health related items.  Wait!  Some packets of orange-flavoured electrolytes in case my Canadian body can’t handle the heat.  Too bad the people who actually live in Kenya don’t get this kind of treatment….

Blog Update

It has only been about 3 years since this blog got an overhaul and it was about time.  Everything I have changed so far is courtesy of blogger templates so *fingers crossed* this isn’t the final product but something acceptable along the way.  If I can figure out which images to use and maybe design a header of my own I’ll personalize it a bit more, so bear with me. 

There has been a lack of posting lately which either means I’m working through some head stuff or my life is boring (or both…the two are not mutually exclusive).  Right now it is sadly the latter.  All of last week I donned tapered sweats and hung out on the futon with two years worth of knowledge just praying to pass the CASLPA exam.  To those who don’t live and breathe speech-language pathology it is a certification exam of sorts that will set you back $450 (if you only write it once) and feels the need to rehash the minute details of the last two years of education in subjects as diverse as language development to aphasia to stuttering to anything else we may have studied (and, apparently, run on sentences).  I’ll see the results in 6-8 weeks but I feel decent about the four hour exam.  Correction:  it felt like bad news bears but I was informed that everyone last year felt the exact same way and passed the test so I’m hoping it is the magic feeling.

In order to graduate I now must:
-create a portfolio proving my completion of 8 crazy objectives (Adam Sandler, i’ll sell you the rights).  How does one prove one is ethical?  Really.  HOW???
-a few group projects (or just one left???)
-a few take home assignments
-complete one placement plus ensuing paperwork
-and…that’s it.  Wow.  Exciting and terrifying all at the same time.

I still don’t have someone to take my apartment and I leave in two weeks.  A bigger question is where I will be living come august.  Live is a roller coaster right now.  I’m going to try to enjoy it.

A Surprise 10k Anyone?

Alright, it wasn’t exactly a surprise.  G-Sis and I signed up for a 10km race for April and promptly forgot about it.  For some reason, in the back of my mind, the race was on the last weekend in April.  Nope.  Good thing G-Sis bothered to check when she did because we realized last week that the race was….today!  So I ran 10k this morning.

I had been carb-loading in preparation for this race for a month now.  Too bad that was all the training I did; and it showed/felt like it.  My time was 1:00:33 (maybe a few seconds faster since that was gun time, not chip time).  Still.  I thought I could pull it out in under and hour even after not having run for the last 7 days. 

Recap:
It was freezing.  Our hands were numb long before the run started and it drip-dropped for a few hours.  Until it rained for the last half of the race and poured while we ate the post-run chili under the bag-check tent. 
I started feeling it as early as km 3.  Ouch.  By the turnaround I was slowing to a pace above 6min/km.  Old people were passing me.  I think Dame Edna passed me at some point.  The Indian version of Mr. Bean flew right past.  **warning:  TMI ahead** My mind was constantly distracted by the fact that I hadn’t been able to “lay any cable” prior to the race despite the good vibes I was sending my colon.  I even visited the port-o-johns by the race course, but who can go like that?  It was filthy and a giant spider was staring at me.  *Shudder* If you run then you know that the poops is a terrible feeling and can completely mess up a run (no pun intended).  I anticipated the poops real bad after a whole weekend of awesome/bad food and had a close call at 6.66km but I made it.  At km 8.5 I started chatting with Howard, a man in his 60s who always seemed to have a cheering squad around the next bend.  He tried to get me to pick up my pace and finish with him but I fell behind to avoid emptying the contents of my stomach onto my shoes. 

Moral of the story:  I am incapable of pulling a 10k out of my @$$.  But my entry fee went to children with cancer so it wasn’t all bad.  In fact, I feel great now and I’m glad that I participated but it reinforced the fact that all of my stamina is hard-earned and easy-lost.

Props to G-Sis who ran it in 54 something!  Awesome!  Why do I always run with people who kick my butt?

G-Sis getting ready to go!
Me, pre-race.  The obligatory, nerdy thumbs up

Post-race chili.  It was too wet to photo during the race

Oh, preparations

I decided to buy a netbook to take to Kenya with me since the computer I have is a beast to carry if we end up traveling around.  Plus, it would be major bad news bears if the samsung were stolen or damaged because it basically contains my entire degree on it.  The computer will be useful in Kenya (except in Mbita where we will have no electricity) for skyping and blogging and referring to all those wonderful electronic resources.

So I went to craigslist but was stood up when I went to meet a dude to buy his computer.  Disillusioned, I turned to ebay and found a cute little Disney-themed lappy for a little cheaper than non-childish ones.  Hi-C had ordered hers from the same dealer and all was well so I felt good about it.  That was until it arrived and HALF OF THE KEYS DIDN’T WORK!  I couldn’t type my own name because the ‘i’ didn’t work.  Did I want to type the word ‘you’?  I had a short cut because if I hit the ‘u’ key I got ‘ou’; a package deal.  Gr.

When I contacted the seller he was kind enough to offer a refund, however, I’m still out the cost of the post to send the defective piece of crap back to the seller to receive said refund.  He said it is ebay policy that the buyer pays the shipping back.  Fine, I get that there is a cost if I suddenly decide I don’t like it or I dont’ want it but I should pay absolutely nothing if they send me something defective.

He tried to blame it on the shipping.  I should not have to pay anything when they should have turned the computer on before sending it to me and realized that one couldn’t even type anything coherent.  I’m paying for his* stupidity and/or laziness. 

On top of that, I’m reluctant to turn to ebay again and I don’t really have the patience for craigslist.  Does anyone have a teeny little used netbook in decent shape (with a webcam and an SD card reader) that you want to sell to me?  Eh?  Sure you do. 

*I’m debating whether to post his ebay username on here.  I’ll wait until I get my refund….

Get Excited with me People

Less than a month from now this blog will transform, yet again*, into a travelog.  You don’t have a choice in the matter.  I make no promises about the frequency of updates since I have no concept about the quality of internet access in the places where we will be traveling.  Why should you start getting excited?  Because I received two very detailed emails in the last few days providing, you guessed it, DETAILS!!!!  I now have a basic idea of what will be happening, where I will be at at a given time, the food I’ll be eating. 

May 5-7:  in transit
May 7-22:  Nairobi
May 23-June 9:  Mombasa (on the coast….of the ocean!)
June 10-July 1:  Nairobi (again!)
July 2-15: Mbita (on the coast….of lake Victoria!)
July 16-31:  TBD (ie. wherever we feel like)
Aug 1-2: In transit

I don’t want to give away all the excitement but I’ll wave a few morsels to keep you interested.  Besides, any of this is subject to change.

Nairobi:  We’ll be living in a large African city with an Indian family (eating Gujarati food….the best of both worlds!) near the Asian quarter of the city.  And you thought Toronto was a multi-cultural experience!  It isn’t all fun and games.  Our final placement will commence here at the Aga Khan University Hospital.  What type of SLT** things will we be doing?  Who knows!

Mombasa:  Look up photos of this city.  You will be so jealous of our time in this old colonial city, the second largest in Kenya and right on the salty coast.  We have very few details about this location but I have to keep reminding myself that my purpose there will not be to learn to SCUBA.  Perhaps it can be my secondary purpose.

Mbita:  Hanging with the locals eating traditional African food with fish straight from Lake Victoria (I can like fish, I can like fish, I can like fish.  Repeat).  Conservative clothing.  Malaria-engorged skeeters.  Possible anti-malarial-induced hallucinations.  No electricity.  Assessment and therapy using only what is within arm’s reach (any guesses I take as to the possible items available will just end up sounding culturally insensitive).  Oh, and mandatory church.  Apparently that is the non-negotiable. 


Suggestions for post-placement must-sees?

*Circa Sept-Dec 2007 I kept the internets updated on my travels through South America. 
**In Africa (and most other countries of the world) the proper term is Speech-Language Therapist instead of Pathologist.  This would save us from the disappointed looks on healthcare recruiters’ faces when we have to explain that we are not pathology students (ie. med students) but speech-language pathology students.