Tag Archives: expatriate

The day after the 2012 Election in the US

Wednesday November 7, 2012, The day after the 2012 Election in the US.

It is interesting in this day after the 2012 election pondering what this means for the United States and how I feel as an expatriate.  I am still a citizen of United states although am a permanent resident of my adopted country Canada and will soon be applying for citizen ship having been resident for now fives years. 

We are expatriates, my husband Mark and I, having left the United
States after the re-election of George W. Bush in 2004.  When Obama was elected four years ago so many of our friends,  family and acquaintances who knew of our “defection” asked, “Are you going to move back now?” Well if Canada and the Okanagan Valley had not embraced us so warmly and so generously, maybe I might have considered it. But it is clear that we are meant to be here in Canada, in British Columbia, and in Peachland, on this lovely little “hobby” fam.  But of course we replied that  we will wait and see.  And how prophetically this convenient answer was to this query, because how sorely disappointed we have been in the performance, the decisions and the lack of honouring promises made by this idealistic and amazing young leader.  But when Guantanamo Bay’s prison was not closed down and still detains, to this day, suspected terrorists without due process of law, I wonder, “Where is Justice?”  When the war in Afghanistan, albeit an inherited war, continues as a Quaker I ask, “Where is the peace making?” 

One cannot deny that Obama inherited a hideous situation not of his making and was challenged far beyond what any president since Roosevelt faced with war, pending economic collapse, and countless other debacles that were foisted on the American people by an ineffective and glib and ignorant president who was at the beck and call of people fueled by greed and the hunger for absolute power.

So you can see my politics.  But what are my politics?  In this time of spiritual upheaval and spiritual renewal and spiritual awakening, where are their politics. And what do I believe is the meaning of
this election in which Barack was re-elected by a hair with a country divided in their politics, their beliefs, and their values. 

It is an election where people have

  • respected people of the same sex to marry. 
  • recognized that maybe marijuana is not much different than alcohol and should be legal.  And that the
  • understood that the United states is a cultural mosaic like Canada and not a melting pot in which everyone is assimilated into one, but a country in which we have our differences of race, creed, sex, sexual preference, education and whatnot. 

In a country that is nearly evenly divided, are we “polarized” or are we coming into balance? Are we no longer giving credence and lip service to the extremists, but realizing that there is value in recognizing and respecting our differences? Maybe we are getting closer to becoming “one”.  Is it blind optimism to believe that we are witnessing a shift? We all saw how Romney went from the extreme right trying to appeal to the “Tea Party” to becoming more and more moderate to appeal to a larger electorate. There is a coming together in this balanced and evenly divided election.  I find hope in this election like I haven’t felt in a long while. 

It’s been a year since immigrating!

It’s been a year since immigrating! It was Labour Day 2007 that I took off for Canada, for a new life on a farm in a new country with a new job.  It has been a year of making new friends, developing new routines and learning new things. It is hard for me to believe that it has been a year, despite living on a farm with an orchard where the seasons are pronounced and the passage of time is told by the piles of pruned twigs and branches that grew through the winter, the blooms in early May, the slow and gentle growth of the fruit through the spring into the summer and then the ripening sour cherries, apricots, peaches and now plums that have been picked and processed from mid July til yesterday. The day we arrived we saw a big black bear which had been foraging in our orchard and he came to visit last week, but this time Cleo, our dog, was on guard courageously enacting her role as protector of the land and been keeping him at bay, giving us time to harvest the last of the fruit.

The winter was long and dark literally and figuratively. Our beautiful Okanagan Lake creating an inversion cloud that hung over the valley for most of the winter from late October to April. Combine that with one hour less sun than the lower 48 at winter solstice. Thank goodness for a little wood stove with a glass front so we can seethe flame and our funny electric fireplace that creates a little fake flickering flame with lights and mirrors and a small fan that pumps hot air through hole at the top. This winter we will paint the kitchen and dining area a bright yellow and paint the bathroom a warm red.  We bought anew comforter to get us through the winter with a bit of more warmth. And a new Heat Pump will replace our old oil furnace to ensure a more ecological and economic winter.

Last spring was a “hundred year event” colder longer and wetter than anyone in the Okanagan can remember.  It was a blessing for our orchard giving us time to get trained in irrigation repair by local “friends”, Alan and his son Fred who works in the oil fields of Alberta as a Piper layer during the winter when the earth is frozen and the trucks can cross the scrum.  Mark was a natural and in the ensuing weeks repaired well over 20 sprinkler heads and a myriad of broken lines. The majority caused by anew septic system ensuring that we could handle all the guests we had visit this summer. Twelve sets in all.  A brother and then a sister both who dove with their respective partners all the way from Southern California but only 200 miles further than Colorado.  And lots of other good friends who willingly helped us tackle a project on the farm each day.It is a relief to know that we don’t live that far away and people are intrigued by the award-winning wine country of the Okanagan Valley.

When sharing with colleagues at Ballet Kelowna my amazement at how the Okanagan Community has welcomed Mark and I into this valley, one said that is the culture and nature of the Company, which is open, engaging, and feels like a family. However, when I told this to Mark’s mother she said, “What do you mean?” Reminding me that we have been welcomed into the Quaker Meeting as if we were just returning from a lengthy time away. (I am becoming a member this fall) Mark is the new “kid” on his passionate softball team which plays a double hitter every Tuesday and Thursday. Our Friends Jock and Carmen who we call “Mom & Dad” have adopted us and include us into their circle of friends. The other organic farmers in Peachland Joe and Jessica are always available with advice and a trade of vegetables for fruit. And we could go on.

At last, with the help of an irascible tenant who never paid his rent on time and complained about everything, we decided to sell our beloved house in Boulder. Despite the valiant efforts of friends who were property managing for us, it is simpler not to have to deal with troublesome individuals. I just think that we were supposed to sell last year and embrace our new life, but I just couldn’t cut all ties to Boulder; another lesson about “attachment”. Our lives will be a bit simpler each month and there is so much to attract our energy.

That has been my motto both at work and home: “Simpler is better”, which is quickly followed by “Patience is a Virtue” when restoring an old family farm and building a Ballet Company.

Finally, there is much that I miss, which just as I began to enumerate, I decided that I don’t want to think about how wonderful the past has been. I don’t want to feel sad as we can’t have everything from the past in the present, but I carry it all in my heart and in my memories. The reality is that I am creating another wonderful past every moment. I am staying present with what the universe continues to provide us and being grateful for an adventuresome life shared with a wonderful partner with support from family and friends old and new, near and far.

Alison