Thursday, March 4, 2010

Over The Hills And Far Away

One of my favourite movies of all time is 'Coming to America'. I've probably seen it literally 100 times, and can quote it verbatim. I find it even funnier now that I've been submerged in the American experience. :D

If you're offended by the F- word (and I don't mean 'freesias') don't click. But I've clicked on it 5 times myself, and I'm still laughing....great way to enjoy the ol' morning coffee.

My original intention was to talk about the flower I have in my header (a couple of readers have admired it in my comments section), but my fingers took me to other places, so I hope you decide to read on. I'll get to it eventually :)

I shared my story of how I came to the States in Love, Cancer and Good Friends. For the first two years I was here, it was pretty hard on me, and not only because of Mr.A's cancer.

I couldn't work, because it would be illegal. I didn't have a car, I had to have my brother sell it for me in Canada. Hell, I didn't even have a license after awhile because mine expired while I was here. The reason I didn't try to get my permanent residency (aka green card) right away, is because it's such an expensive process. People wonder why there are so many illegal immigrants here, it's because you practically have to sell a kidney to pay for the right to live here. Plus, I'm lucky I'm white and speak English. Sounds terrible, but the government favours me. People from other countries have to wait 5, 10, even 15 years before they can come in legally. I still had to get a lawyer because of the way I came to the country, and then there were all the forms. If I want citizenship, it's going to cost me the other kidney!

Everyone thought that just because I was married to an American, that I was a citizen too. It hasn't been that way since 1926 lol. Even being married to an American, I wasn't safe from being kicked out. I had to jump through several flaming hoops like a circus dog.

'Biometrics' was first on the agenda, which was a trip to Charlotte. About 5 hours away from me here on the coast. There they took my fingerprints, and my picture, and asked me all sorts of questions. I felt like a criminal lol.

I had to visit an immigration doctor to get examined to make sure I didn't have TB or STD's. Actually they were searching for any acronym-worthy disease imaginable. I had to get all of my childhood vaccinations all over again, because I wasn't sure where my records were in Canada to have them sent to me.

Finally, I had an appointment set with my official interviewer on June 16, 2008. We had originally had tickets to see Robert Plant and Allison Krauss play in Asheville for June 14, and we hit the interview on the way back.

The interviewer was the dude that would make me legal, or send me home.

The things we had going for us?

He was also a Zeppelin fan, and he was interested to hear how the Plant/Krauss concert was. One of the questions they ask you is what you did together 'last weekend' to make sure you don't have a sham marriage. And even though I stayed illegally in the country, it was because I was taking care of someone with cancer and got married to him. He had a little sympathy for the situation.

The things we had against us?

He felt like we didn't make enough money together. I had actually gotten a job a few months earlier, because they let me work while I was waiting for the interview to be granted. Not making enough money is grounds to send me home and bar me from the States for 3 years. The Immigration and Naturalization Services are highly worried that people are going to end up on welfare and suck money out of the 'real' citizens. And it didn't help that the interviewer's ex-wife was Canadian, we could tell that hadn't gone well for the man.

Luckily I was approved anyway! Obviously :)

Long story short (I hate when people say that, sorry), we had a great time in Asheville before the interview, and took some excellent pictures. :) We saw the concert, experienced the wonderful city that is Asheville, and explored the Blue Ridge Parkway.

We hiked up Mount Pisgah, and that's where we saw the red mountain columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) that you see in my header. It's being held up by Mr. A's manly mitt. You can read more about the plant here

Mount Pisgah from the ground. Doesn't look very high, until you're climbing straight up it. Especially for poor Mr. A....he just has a lung and a stump O_O

This is sort of the beginning of the Smoky Mountains. They're not huge, but very pretty because they're like massive rolling hills.

Hehe....oh, the immaturity.

We found one of the prettiest waterfalls ever...that was a long hike down into a gorge...and then of course you have to hike back up. But it was worth it :)

The flowers blooming in early June were beautiful! I know I have more pictures of them somewhere, but these were all I could find.

The rhododendrons were not bushes, they were TREES. And they were everywhere.

And these are 'fire pinks' I believe.

Mr. A found himself a really cool tree. And he looks just like a hobbit peeking through it. I'm married to Frodo Baggins...

We even saw a crazy religious cult guy! I was afraid to drive past him...I thought maybe he had a Super Sinner Death Ray rigged up on the back of his pickup truck...O_O

If you ever get a chance to go to Asheville and surrounding areas, I highly recommend going in June. Amazing weather. And the Biltmore is there, I hear the gardens are amazing. We were tempted to stop there, but we wanted more time to explore them.

If there's one thing Mr. A and I are good at, it's turning a boring/stressful trip into an adventure! :)


Floridagirl said...

Okay, for the record, I did NOT click the link (F-word and all), but I have seen the movie in edited version. Anyway, I just had to comment on the NC photos. We've been haunting the western NC mountains for a gazillion years (it's something Floridians do), and I definitely recognized that waterfall! It is "Second Falls" at Graveyard Fields. I have a photo of my daughter sitting in front of it in this recent post:

The "slow-flowing courses" photo was taken on the same walk. Don't you just love North Carolina?!!

Catherine@AGardenerinProgress said...

That's interesting about what you had to go through to become legal. My Mom was Canadian and working in New York when she met my Dad. She didn't become an American citizen until after my second sister was born.
Your process and interview along with the concert sounds much more interesting than her story. How appropriate that you would be seeing Robert Plant the same time you become legal since you met through the Led Zeppelin boards.
I've noticed the flower in the header before, now it's great to know the whole story behind it.

Kimberly said...

What a wonderful, wonderful post! Your story is touching, and hits home a bit. There are so many illegals here in Florida that the regular citizens become very tainted. Your experience sheds some light on the process and its trials. Unfortunately, the US has its share of blood suckers...thus the extremes of gaining legality, I'm sure. Bravo for your efforts!

I'm glad Mr. A is better. Cancer is a hard road. I've lost a number of friends and family to the beast.

Your photos are beautiful, too! The best part is that the two of you seem like a perfect couple and you have a lot of fun together.

Curbstone Valley Farm said...

The video went perfectly well with my morning coffee! Thanks :P I'd missed your original post about Mr. A. You two have really been through it. I understand some of what you went through, as my poor husband had to deal with my own cancer last year.

I can attest to the fact that just being married to an American does not make thee a citizen. I've been with hubby 22 years, and I STILL don't have my citizenship. In my defense...I'm not sure where the last 22 years went! Might have something to do with both of us having this compulsion to collect degrees LOL. Anyhoo, I want to finally get my citizenship taken care of, and had planned to do that last year, but it was all so up in the air, I didn't want to get the interview scheduled and then have to miss it for surgery or treatment. I'll have to take a leaf out of your book though, and when I do finally get it scheduled, plan something fun to do around it! Congrats on Frodo Baggins looking so happy and healthy, you two look great together, and congratulations on your citizenship too :)

Bangchik said...

It is a nice post. Life is truly an adventure... ~bangchik

debsgarden said...

I just finished reading this post and the love, cancer, and good friends post. You have an amazing and very touching story. Welcome to the USA, legally and officially! I enjoyed the beautiful photos. I will remember your story now every time I see your header.

Anonymous said...

I've been listening to and a fan of Led Zeppelin and their remaining members' endeavors for 37years.I knew it would come in handy one day! :D

"Why don't you let me be your ever-truly,can I make your garden grow"

We have the most fun when our plans become unscripted!
Touche' Kyna Rae!
Mister A

Kyna said...

FG: Well, that's why I left that warning, because it was an optional part of my blog :) It's ok lol!
That's cool that you recognized the falls, because I couldn't remember the name of them until you jogged my memory :) I do love North Carolina...well, most of it anyway lol. Jacksonville leaves a lot to be desired...

Kimberly: Thank you for your kind compliments! There are a lot of illegals here too in NC. It's funny to see the looks on people's faces when I tell them that I was one too. And then they say, 'Well, you're different'. Which isn't so funny, that's a little sad to me ;)

Catherine: Well, I still think to myself that I can't believe I'm really here. And I can't believe how I got here. I'm grateful that my husband's been ok so far. I do miss my family a lot though, I haven't been able to get back home since I've been here :( Mr. A and I have definitely had some cool times together, and we agree that the concert was one of the best we've ever seen in our lives. :)

CVF: Wow, I didn't realize that you had cancer, I'm so glad you're ok as well! I would never pretend to understand what it's like to go through cancer personally, because I've never had it. But I feel for your husband, because it's terrible to watch the person you love hurting, and not being able to do anything about it :( I'm so glad you liked my video clip! :D

Bangchik: That it is, that it is...!

Deb: Hey, thanks for reading both of the posts! I know they were kinda long lol. But I'm glad you enjoyed it, and know more about me :D

Mr A: If Jimmy Page had a quarter for every woman that's been wooed by his music, he'd be a...oh. I guess he is a rich man. lol

Noelle said...

What a memorable trip. I can empathize with you regarding INS. Although I am an American citizen, we had to jump through hoops and lots of paperwork to adopt our 3 children from China. Thankfully, all went well and I didn't have to sell my kidney ;^)

gippslandgardener said...

Wow Kyna, your story was an eye opener. I've known in a vague sort of a way that 'green cards' are hard to get, but you've really put the humanity into it.
I hope your Hobbit's feet aren't too hairy ;)

Kyna said...

Noelle: Wow, I bet you had to go through a lot more than I did. Getting kids into the country (and out of their home country) would be difficult I'm sure. And I'm glad you've got your kidneys intact lol.

Gippy: Yep, they always make it look easy in the movies. But it is definitely not so lol. Nah, his feet aren't too hairy, but he does like 'second breakfast' :D

Edith Hope said...

Dear Kyna, What a nightmare of a story but one which appears to have had a happy ending, at least for you with Mr. A.

The bureaucracy of the United States sounds very much like that of Hungary [the People's Republic as I think of it]where, even though I have property, it is not possible to do anything without hundreds [not lol] of pieces of paper! But, like you, if you are determined it is surprising what can be achieved. The system relies upon people giving up!

Sunny said...

Hilarious...I love that movie and love your are a very awesome couple :)

√ Abraham said...

If you have a chance to go back to Ashville, North Carolina please do go to the Biltmore House. It is really a great place to visit. Plan on staying most of the day. You can spend a lot of time in the greenhouse, or barns, or their restaurant. But we just loved to walk along and explore the rooms with all the fabulous furniture, paintings, rugs, and you name it.

I am amazed at your tenacity in working your way through the maze to get here and stay here. It must have been a challenge none of us can understand as we were born here.

My wife has had breast cancer twice, ten years apart, once on each breast. We are both old farts so we may not live up to your expectations all the time but then you'll have to forgive us.

Thanks for all your visits and comments on my blog. I do appreciate it a lot.

NellJean said...

I'm glad everything turned out well for you and Mr. A.
As for saying 'Long story short' it relieves the listener who now knows they didn't have to listen to a prolonged tale -- kidding.
The phrase that gets me is 'no problem' which always leaves me wondering if he thinks that next time I might BE a problem.

We've been to the very part of the mountains you showed. When the summer gets unbearable here, we long to go again.

Laurrie said...

Kyna, your story about coming here, marrying and all you've been through is remarkable. And I loved how you met your husband (I met my husband online too... randomly, from a unsolicited e-mail). Thanks for finding me on Blotanical, I'm looking forward to reading more about your life and your gardens!

Kyna said...

Edith: You're right! It's funny though, I never thought I'd fight so hard to live in another country. I love Canada. I thought I'd be there forever lol. But now I love where I live too, especially the rare snow part!

Sunny: I'm glad you enjoyed it :D

Abe: We definitely want to visit the Biltmore. That's high up on my list! I'm actually waiting until my mum comes down to visit us from Canada, she really really wants to go lol. I'm glad your wife has come through her cancer. I can tell that she had a very supportive husband to get her through it :)
I love your blog, you take excellent pictures! I appreciate the fact that you take the time to comment on your visitor's blogs, even though you have many visitors :)

Nell: I'm surprised at how many people have been in that area. But I guess I shouldn't be, it's so beautiful! I've driven through to Tennessee in the fall, and that's a beautiful time as well around Asheville! I'd love to move there, I'm still working on Mr. A....

Laurrie: Thank you so much for stopping by, and I'm glad you enjoyed yourself! :D More and more people are meeting online, and I'm glad less and less people are feeling asheamed of it. We knew a couple how didn't want to tell anyone they met online, because they were embarrassed about it. I say pish-tosh! :P

GardenJoy4Me said...

Kyna girl wha can I say to this amazing story !
I feel like I will be front and center soon with what you went through ..number one son is headed that way and through that process too .. he is looking towards marriage to his American girlfriend (they have known each other 3 or 4 years before this decision came about) now the stress of that whole agonizing process will be a more than major mission .. I think I will get him to read this so it does sink in ?
I have the Canadensis columbine in my garden ; ) it is lovely isn't it ?
Wow !! on those pictures and your story girl .. you made it and that is wonderful .. make sure to hold onto your Canadian side too .. eh ? LOL
PS Thank you for the "fav" girl : )
I have to shift some of mine around to get more too !

Kyna said...

Actually, Joy, it's funny. When I got married, I found out just how many of my Canadian friends were considering moving to the US lol. I became the Online Immigration Guru :D I had questions coming in from all over...
I'm glad your son took some time before they made the decision to get married. I was only with Mr. A a year before I made mine. I'm glad I did it, but I wish I would have had the time to prepare an actual wedding, instead of going Courthouse with none of my family there lol. And many of my things are still in Canada 4 years later...It's such a long process, make sure you tell your son to do his research! it will save them headache later on. And of course, if you have any questions, I am the Immigration Guru, just ask me! :D

I've been trying to get that columbine to grow in my garden, but it just isn't taking so far...I'll probably try again this year lol.

Carol said...

Oh Kyna, What a story your life has woven. Reading your trials to become a citizen here stirs up a bit of my ongoing rant about how so few really take advantage of their citizenship. So few pay attention to policies made by our "leaders" or call congress to demand true reforms for health care (it would be interesting to hear you take on this issue), finance, energy, environmental, foreign affairs, etc. Too many rely on sound bites for news and often that is distorted. I get very weary of many citizens coming down hard on immigrants and blaming all our woes on them... as if we are not a land of immigrants! I wish more would 'look up' for a change ... to corporate greed to see the trillions that are not paid in taxes ... not to mention bail outs and horrid wars! I had no idea of what hoops one had to jump to be a citizen and now I feel more compassion for all those trying to establish themselves. The hills there are beautiful and I have heard great things about Asheville. My son is getting married in Charlotte this June so I hope to visit then. You and your Mr. A look great together! May you share many many healthy happy years! It is never too late to have a wedding!! Wonderful photos and post! ;>)

The Idiot Gardener said...

As a self-confirmed cynic and pooh-pooher of life, I must admit I found that quite an honest and touching post. For a moment, I almost felt compelled to spend at least one hour of my day being nice to other humans, but I soon got over that idea. All the same, good on yo both!

Kyna said...

Carol: A lot of people ask me my opinion about health care down here, and then they berate me for me answer. I think they expect me to say how horrible it was in Canada. In fact, when I tell them I had excellent health care and miss the hell out of it, they don't believe me. Health care and immigration are two of three political issues I will debate about. Gay rights is the other, in case you're interested lol. Basically I'm for human rights. Which include ALL humans. Rich, poor, black, white, gay, straight... Everyone should care for everyone, I say. And I'm not even a hippie LOL
Charlotte is so awesome! What a nice place to have a wedding. I think I'm partial to the city, because it reminds me a lot of Edmonton (the downtown area does, anyway). Maybe one day I'll trick Mr. A into a penguin-suit and have a real wedding lol. I think that was the only thing I missed, was not wearing a wedding dress :)

IG: I don't know about touching (I'm not allowed to do that now that I'm married :P), but I'm nothing if not honest :) I'm probably too honest in real life. I hold back a little on here :) I'm glad you liked the post, and glad you swallowed the urge to be nice to people. Don't go changing for anyone! ;)

GardenJoy4Me said...

Kyna .. I want him (son) to read your story and that would be wonderful if questions came up that you have experience with. Linda his girlfriend works at a university library in Rock Hill S. Carolina .. so she has access to a lot of information and people .. but we all know roadblocks happen every time you think you just got over them ?
I meant to say what an amazing story you have with Mr. A and his battle with cancer .. you are so strong to fight that w ith him and fight for your right to be with him.
You are a true trooper girl ! but hey .. that is why you will always be Canadian in your heart : )
PS I always laugh my self silly over that movie .. too damn funny !

Kyna said...

I'm sure they'll be fine, most people file all the paperwork themselves, and everything is just fine. I only had to get a lawyer because of the way I came in (and stayed in). They have to make sure paperwork is filed in the right order/combination, and that nothing is filed late. They have to have all of their documentation (ID's, passports, birth certificates, vaccination records, etc). They should also know all of their big dates: when they met, all of the dates they've visited each other, anniversaries, a photo album documenting their relationship together, etc. And your son and future daughter in law should have an easier time than me, if they're doing this the legal way with a 'fiance visa'. :) The INS website is excellent and should answer most of their questions. :)

Thank you as well for your kind words, my husband fought the battle, I just was his wing-man LOL. I'm just so glad he caught it so early. Most lung cancers aren't caught till it's too late. I still tear up a little when I think of all he went through :) Glad you liked my clip! I was worried that people would be a little offended lol.

Eliza said...

"Super Sinner Death Ray" is giving me the giggles. Love the App Mnt photos & the rhododendrons!

Kyna said...

I'm glad you liked that, that was one of my favourite pictures from the trip. LOL It was just so weird...glad it didn't get me ;)
Thanks for stopping by!