Dear Westjet, Thanks for losing our bags!

No seriously, I'm not kidding. You can have them every time we fly home if that means you will give us $100 WestJet credit each.

Yup, last night we were waiting at the carousel and didn't see our tiny black boxes come down the line. A WestJet representative approaches us and 'regretfully' informs us that our bags went to Ottawa, but they will be in Montreal in the morning.

This isn't actually a problem to us, considering the only things in the bags that we actually need sooner than later are our toothbrushes, and we have extras at home. "The bags will be delivered as soon as they arrive. However, you have the option of picking them up, and if you do, you will be credited $100 WestJet dollars per person."

She also told us that we were the first customers to high-five each other because their bags got lost. Thank you WestJet!

"And don't worry Mr. and Mrs. Scatliff, you have a whole year to use the credit."

A whole year? Heck, we'll probably use it next week.


Congrats Mrs. Bogusky

What a beautiful bride you were, what a wonderful wife you will be!
Thank you so much for giving me the honor of being a part of your special day.

I love you!


Winnipeg Bound

We are really looking forward to seeing many of you this weekend!!


A Story of a Woman and a Horse: Part 2

[WAIT, STOP! Make sure you have read Part 1]

Now where were we...

Right, the horse draws to a painstakingly slow speed.

Could you image the spectacle it was? Not only is a white person odd to see, but a white woman, an hour outside the village and 2 hours from the road, sitting on a horse that is leisurely strolling where ever he wants, and she is babbling away at it, in a *very* harsh-whisper.

Translation of her babble:
"Move it! C'mon! We don't have all day....Your owner is going to be waiting at the bottom of this mountain, and its going to be your fault! It's also going to be your fault when I miss my bus and we get caught in the rain..."

And it is at this moment, I'm not kidding you, a woman passes me ON FOOT! Seriously, this woman, who is walking down the trail is faster than me on Slo-Boe. AND she heard me babbling away at it, in a strange language in a harsh-whispered voice. The way she looked at me? I may as well have been green and riding a motorcycle...Backwards...In a clown outfit.

I took a picture of her, I had to capture the moment.

Then we got to a really muddy part of the path. Slo-Boe noticed a packed-down route that lined a barbed-wire fence on the side of the path. He obviously didn't remember my belongings in the rice bag - and barbed wire tears belongings in rice bags. I was *not* going to be stuck out in the middle of nowhere with this ridiculous horse and spend my afternoon picking my stuff out of the muck. No sir!

So I steered left, he still tried to go right. I pulled left! Nope, he goes right. I pull the reigns to stop him. So, yes, he stops, but then won't start again. Seriously, it was like the battery died or something. He would *not* go. Every time I tried something, he would just pin his ears back. He was honestly telling me that "If we don't go my way, we don't go." He was not moving. At all.


Well my friends, sometimes a leader has to lead. I actually climbed off, looked at him straight in the eye and told him "Yes, we are going to go." And I began to trudge my way through the muck, PULLING the horse by the reigns. Stupid horse!

We make it through this one and I hear a jeep coming down the path ahead of us. I didn't want this intelligent beast to get all upset when this vehicle passes, so I finally let him have his lunch that he has been trying to have all morning. The driver, slooooows, and looks at like me with such great concern. I tell him in Spanish:
"It's all good!"

He continues. So do we.

Although the ride was extremely irritating, and horribly embarrassing, it was beautiful. And I thought to myself "I'm seriously getting paid for this." Of all the things I thought my masters may entail, this was not one of them. And, here I am, stuck on the side of a beautiful mountain, alone, in a Spanish speaking country, with the clouds rolling in, on horse that does not want to go anywhere, wondering how many buses are actually going into the city of David today, and if I will actually get down in time to catch one.

Then I hear that jeep again. So I pull over and let Lucky-Charms have some more lunch. The driver slooooows, then stops. Ugh! I tell him "It's all good!!!" (I am so fine and I can do this myself). But wait, who does he have with him this time? My "guide". Yes, the man that was suppose to go down the mountain with me jumps out of the passenger side of the 4x4. He starts asking me "What happened?" I wanted to him he gave me a lazy horse, you sent me alone, all the horse wants to do it eat and doesn't like mud... bu I didn't think that would have helped our situation. And,by the looks on their faces, they were very concerned that something was wrong.

I was told to get in the jeep and Guide will take the horse back to the village. Pride bruised and cow-girl dreams shattered, I threw my rice bag of belongings in the back and climbed into the passenger side. Guide gallops away. GALLOPS! That stupid horse can move! Ugh! How insulting.

The trek out was another hour by jeep. That meant it would have taken for ever for us to get through, but that also meant we actually weren't that far out of the village. Ugh!

We get down the mountain and I'm dropped off on the side of the road. Not only do I not know what time it is, I have no idea when the last bus is to David. Now, maybe I should explain how the bus system works in Panama. There are no 'bus stops', you kind of just wait on the side of the road and flag one down. When you are on the bus, you just tell the driver when you want him to stop. Then they charge you whatever they feel like.

So, although I am out of the bush, I'm not out-of-the-woods yet. I'm now sitting on my bag on the side of a Panamanian highway.
Waiting for a bus.
That may, or may not, be coming.

Wordless Wednesday

. .

. .


Tercel vs. Spectra... Fight!

We bought a new(er) car!!! In the style of a previous post, I thought I'd compare the old car to this one, head-to-head.

Model1991 Toyota Tercel DX
2003 Kia Spectra
EngineStarts everytime. Runs well if it hasn’t rained if the last 24 hours. Sporadic issue with revving up and down while idleing. Engine rebuilt within last two years.Starts like a car is supposed to. Runs like a car is supposed to. Is able to accelerate, even once it has reached highway speeds. Can actually pass other cars on the highway.
BrakesNo brakes at times. Once brakes were patched, had enough braking to be driveable, but only marginally safe. Brake lines scrape the ground when going over speed bumps.
Good solid brakes.
Transmission3 speed automatic.5 speed manual.
Gas Mileage (City/Highway)23/26
Door LocksManual.
Manual on three doors, not functional on one.
Body StyleBubble-inspired.
Actually decent looking!
Body ConditionRust all over, more near the bottom than the top.
Some spots of rust along bottom edge of car. Some scrapes/dents visible on fenders.
DrivetrainSteady, deafening whine at highway speeds.
No known issues.
E-BrakeNot functional.
Not functional. (We're going to get it fixed, this time.)
LightsVery good. One was pointed directly at oncoming drivers, other burnt out (now fixed). Brights occasionally do not engage.
SmellLike exhaust and gasoline. (For some reason, I’ve come to like the smell of gasoline.)
Faint smell of cigarette smoke. (Don't you hate the smell of cigarette smoke?)
Climate ControlHeat works great. A/C does not exist.
Heat works great. A/C needs new refrigerant, but probably will never get any.
WindowsManual crank. Works without additional assistance.
Manual crank. Driver's door needs adjustment.
Tires4 great winter tires. 4 good all season tires (total of 8).
4 winter tires, three hubcaps.
ColourWhite-ish. Shows every blemish. Several oily handprints adorn hood and trunk.
Indigo blue. Candice tells me it's a really nice colour.
Age (Calendar)175
Age (Mileage)245000185000
Gas Tank45L capacity. Key must be jammed into fuel door, applying pressure, while fuel door lever is pulled (keys fall on ground once open). Fuel tank does not line up with hole in body (held in alignment by gas cap?).
Stereo4 speaker tape deck.
4 speaker factory CD.
Road NoiseConstant whir that is proportional to speed, source unknown. Very noisy. Slight rattle as muffler, brake lines and fuel lines contact top of speed bumps. Some rattle as extra nut left on replacement brake line vibrates.
Is this car even on?

Bottom line: We're feeling a little spoiled!


A Story of a Woman and a Horse: Part 1


Set the Scene:
A beautiful remote Panamanian indegenous community, an hour's 4x4 ride to the nearest road. An early morning, a young Canadian woman thrilled to pieces that she is starting her journal home to her husband who is thousands of miles away. She has all her gear stuffed into her red backpack he bought her, and she is trudging down a mud path from the tent she camped in the night before to the local make-shift store where she is to meet her guide and noble steed that will be bring her closer to home. She remembers the bumping 4x4 ride in, she was one of the many that were left to hang-on-tight in the truck box, atop all belongings, research equipment, boxes of questionnaires, camping supplies, boots, pots, bug nets. The hired driver runs the route once a day, on days that he feels like it. This morning is not one of those days, hence the $10 guide and passenger horse.

The squishing and sloshing sounds of her rubber boots in the mud below build her anticipation of trekking home. Every few steps she nearly tumbles, as she is weighed down, top heavy, and sinking into the mud. Stumbling and sweating she turns the last corner and sees the meeting place.

And one lonely horse.

[Mix of Indigenous-Spanish and English-Spanish]

Guide: Have you ridden a horse before?
Young Woman: Why, yes I have! (All proud of her 1/2 hour experience with friends at a woman's retreat.)

Guide: Excellent, you will go alone.
Guide: Yes. I have to work the store today; there is no one to take you. If you go, you go alone. The horse knows the way.
Y.W: Oh, the horse knows the way.
Guide: When you get there, tie him to a tree.
Y.W: Tie him to a tree?
Guide: Like this.
[Precedes to swiftly and elegantly tie a cowboy-horse-to-tree knot.]

Now, Young Woman realizes that if she doesn't take this blond haired beauty of a horse down the mountain, she cannot catch the bus, that will take her to the city, that will lead her to the bus, that will take her to Costa Rica, that will get her to the plane, that will take her, eventually, to her husband.

She takes out her camera, takes a picture of the knot, and agrees.

Y.W: How the horse get back up the mountain?
Guide: My wife will come from the city today and she will bring it back. Here, please give her this sombrero.
Y.W: Um, ok. How do I know if it is your wife that is taking the horse when I am still there?
Guide: I will show you a [very fuzzy, very old] picture. Now please, go on the horse and try riding.

Y.W. musters up all the confidence she can find, knowing that she has to pretend like she knows what she is doing in order to convince this man to give her his horse to take on a few hours journey, down a mountain side with known poisonous snakes, and hope to get there before the monsoon rains start in the early afternoon. It is 9:00am.

She climbs aboard (surprised her shaking legs didn't fail her).


Guide jams Young Woman's stuff in a rice bag and fastens it to the horse; breaks a stick off of a nearby tree hands it to Young Woman, asks for $10, and slaps the horse on the tush, which sends it trekking down the road.

Young Woman: The horse knows the way, the horse knows the way, the horse...I can't believe I'm on a horse...

Yes, the horse apparently also knows the way to the school, the neighbor's yard, the hunting path, the other neighbor's yard....

Strong willed and bold headed, the woman steers the horse back onto the road she believes leads to pavement, flushable toilets, and running water. Then, oh then, the horse realizes where they are going. Not to the nearby school, a neighbor's yard, or the hunting path, no, no, they are taking the 2 hour long journey down the road. The horse slows to a painstaking speed. He doesn't want to go to that far today. He doesn't want to go at all.

Knowing it is too late to turn back, and knowing she is hours from the road where she must catch her bus and the guide's wife will eventually be waiting (or be picking the horse up from the side of the road tied to a tree), Young Woman urges the horse to continue. Horse pins ears back.

This is the beginning of their long day together.

To Be Continued...



Random Act of Kindness

So, we were running errands this morning, and we suddenly spotted a garage sale across the street. We pull an immediate u-turn!

While rummaging through these people's trash, I find a treasure. A hot pink purse. A purse you would love to have because it may be the perfect purse for a random-only-wear-once-and-actually-have-the-guts-to-carry-a-hot-pink-purse-outfit. But, this purse would need to be super cheap so your husband doesn't remember the cash that was forked over on a purse that was only wore once because it was the perfect purse to go with a random outfit and on a day that I actually had the guts to carry a hot pink purse.

So, I muster up my my best bargaining skills and push Tom over to the garage-sale manager to ask how much. The response? $1. SOLD! I ask Tom for the dollar, he doesn't have any change. Nor do I. So I check the car - nothing. Nothing besides the two sticky pennies in the glove box. I begin to accept the reality that this treasure will not be mine.

Then, a random woman passes by and sees me desperately digging through the trunk. She asks "Did you buy that purse?" I said no, couldn't find a dollar. She immediately opens her stylish purse and hands me a loonie. "I love purses too."


How do you say thanks?

I need to blog about a mentor of mine.

I cannot use his full name, as he would be mortified by being blogged about, but only because of his humble nature. So, we will call him "Dr. A".

I met "Dr. A" when I was doing my undergrad at the University of Manitoba. He was a professor for one of my second year courses. During the course, he made an announcement that, unbeknown to me at the time, would change my life. He told us about "NSERC" (Natural Science and Engineering Research Council) scholarships for undergrads interested in gaining research experience during the summer. After class I asked if I could work for him through one of these grants. To make a long story short, he helped me with my application, I was granted one, and I started in his lab that summer. Although the scholarship was only for a few months, I landed up working in his lab, year-round, for years to come.

When university classes were on, his primary rule was "School comes first." When school pressures grew, he expected my work hours to shrink. It didn't matter to him if this happened to set things back in the lab. School came first. During the summer, he accommodated me for when I wanted to go home and help my parents on the farm. [Now, what other employer would agree to this kind of schedule: "If it rains in Dauphin, I'll be here, but when it doesn't, I won't be."]

Not only was this man accommodating and understanding, but he was also merciful. Although I may have worked in a lab for years - I wasn't the 'best' employee around. Oh sure, I was honest, loyal, and a hard worker, but I was also a klutz and a little absent-minded at times. I spilled stuff, I made really silly mistakes, I came up with results that were a little more than worrisome. In the years I worked there, I probably cost the guy at least twice my salary in mistakes. He never angered. He listened, tried to help with the troubleshooting, and carried on with business. I remember one day in particular, when I finally figured out why the results of the last month's samples were so skewed - if you could believe, I had my excel spreadsheet set up wrong. Seriously, we had been repeating biochemical analyses over the last few weeks in order to decipher where the errors were coming from, and all along it was my oversight! I dragged myself into his office, teared up, and told him. I also told him that I didn't think I was suited to working in a lab, considering. His response? "It isn't those who make mistakes, no matter what kind of mistakes, that I worry about. Because everyone makes mistakes. It is the employees who "don't" make mistakes that concern me..."

Over the years in the lab, my confidence grew and so did my interest in research. He encouraged me to apply for grad studies, and asked me to climb aboard as a graduate student in his lab. I couldn't believe it, he was offering an additional three year commitment to me as a supervisor. I thought he was counting down the days until I graduated and finally left! [The nature of these undergraduate NSERC awards is to work for a summer, then move on. I, on the other, wasn't leaving...] The due date for graduate fellowships was approaching, and he got straight to work on helping me with my application. I remember the day before it was due, I was a little shaky on the abstract still and in an act of desperation, I e-mailed it off to him that evening. I didn't think I had a hope, because I knew he was at a conference and probably wouldn't be receiving it. In the morning, I found an edited (well, maybe we should call it "re-vamped") version of my application in my in-box. He stayed up, in his hotel room, the night before editing it for me.

As I entered my final semester as an undergrad, and my trip to Cambodia was approaching, we started talking more about my life goals, my gaining interest in international work, and the possibility of missionary work being in my and my new fiance's future. He encouraged me not to sell myself short, and be sure to look into other grad schools to make sure no one else out there had a program that was more suitable to my interests.

Soon thereafter, Tom and I found ourselves in Vancouver, Edmonton, and Montreal for interviews with potential graduate supervisors. On the flight on the way back to Winnipeg from my interview in Montreal, I wanted to throw up...Tom and I were just offered a deal of a lifetime if I attended McGill University.

What was I suppose to tell Dr. A? The man who piqued my interest in research, who spent years training me in the lab, who asked me to come on as a graduate student, who stayed up to edit my application, who helped me land a full graduate scholarship???

Again, I dragged myself into his office, teared up, and told him. His response? "That's the problem with great students, they leave."

Within a few weeks I received news that I won additional graduate scholarships that he had taken the time to nominate me for. He told me he wanted me to succeed, whether at the U of M or elsewhere. And I continued to work in his lab until the 3 days before my wedding.

He has supported all of our missionary ventures, drove all the way out to Clear Lake for our wedding, and checks in via e-mail every once in a while to see how we are doing.

A month ago we received word that a manuscript that we have been working on for the past 2 years was accepted for publication. Two days ago he sent me a congratulations letter that it finally hit the press. Honestly, it would have been way easier for him to just write the manuscript himself, but instead he opted to guide, and guide, and guide me through the editing process.

I will be forever indebted to Dr. A, and I am honoured to have my name published along side his.


Story of a face...

Now: The update everyone was waiting for!!!

Well, my beard-growing days are officially over. I've added a quick animation here to help us all re-live some of the best moments in the process. (I'll put together a higher quality flick when I'm not supposed to be working.)

And to my facial hairs: It was great while it lasted, I'm going to miss each and every one of you!


I hope you like pictures...

...Because we have snagged ourselves a fantastic camera and I'm pretty excited about it. We were looking at getting one of those fancy ones, but by the time it would have taken to save up, they would have been out of style ;) But then, oh then, we heard of one in need of a good home. No worries, Mike won't be lonely for a while.

Yes, we named it Mike.


Neglecting my blogger duties...

I know, it's been a while.

To the audience we haven't lost yet --> Sorry!

Things have been a bit busy since I've returned home. Happily back in my husbands arms, we have now completed 'moving-in' to our apartment and have already enjoyed entertaining guests in our new home. Parents visiting sans-extra bedroom turned out not to be a problem. Tom's parents have been here over the past couple of days (which is one of the many excuses I have come up with for not posting). We capitalized on the fact that there was a reliable car around, so the four of us headed off to Quebec City for a day.

Have you been to Quebec City? Nor have I until a few days ago. K, seriously, its gorgeous! We were spoiled enough to get a horse-drawn carriage ride through the old (old, old) upper city and a enjoyed a few meals while sitting out on a patio on the cobble stone streets enjoying the views. We had a great time. I also learned that I need to know more about Canadian history - this place was just full of it.

Here's a few shots of our day...

my second major excuse for lack-of-posts is that school is 'back' in action. (I think sometimes people forget that graduate studies aren't a fall/winter only venture like undergrad studies). So this means I now have courses to tend to as well as my project. So far things are shaping up, looks like I'll be in some pretty interesting courses this semester. I'll be sure keep you posted (pun intended).