Wednesday, October 31, 2012


First item of business, welcome new strangers! Over the past few weeks we've seen an influx of new traffic to Stranger, which I understand is primarily due to what the kids are calling "Pinterest." As I understand it, one spends the entire day putting pictures and links onto the Internet that represent things they hope one day to do in real life, which ironically takes all of their time and keeps them from actually doing those things. Sounds like other people's version my equivalent activity: laying on the floor after work eating candy until bedtime. In any event, thanks all for sharing Stranger on Pinterest, Facebook, Pinfacespacetwitgoogle+, or whatever else is out there that I'm not hip enough to be a part of. I can't tell you enough how much I appreciate you stopping by now and again. You people are my homies (in the non-gang way). As always, I welcome you to like Stranger on Facebook if you've failed to join the family over there.

I'm getting more and more settled into my new home. Work is keeping me relatively busy, as is all of the beach time. Last week both Daniel and I were given assignments in the small Mormon congregation we attend to work with the youth. Each Wednesday night we will meet with them and have various activities. I feel like I've just adopted a dozen Palaun teenagers. I've already planned to explain to others when they ask whether I want to go do something on Wednesday evenings, "I would love to . . . but I've got the kids tonight." Having the kids on Wednesdays is already proving to be a fun way to get to know some great Palaun families.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Yahoo! Answers III

I bring you now the third edition of Messing with People in Yahoo! Answers. What good is a Halloween week if nobody has asked the Internet about what to do about their various cat-related problems? I'm not sure whether I like the sarcastic or serious answers to my questions better. In any event, Rosemary wins the award this time for being the most upset about my ignorance of feline needs.

Question 1: How can I keep my cats in the stroller? I used to take one cat for a walk at a time by holding her in my arms but I started to feel guilty about leaving the others at home. I bought a baby stroller that can fit 8 or 9 at a time so I can at least take them in groups now. But I cannot for the life of me get them to stay in the stroller! Does anyone know of any seat belts or nets I could get to keep them in?

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Eli McCann School of Diving

Alii, strangers. To kick off your weekend in the states, I bring you three short videos from Palau. My friends and I down here run off to a great beach near my apartment most days right after work to snorkel, read, watch the sunset, contemplate the things of life, etc. until dark. One of the more productive activities at this spot has been Daniel's participation in the Eli McCann School of Diving.

I discovered shortly after arriving that Daniel is about as good at diving as the the Queen of Colors is at loving others (which is not good, in case you're new). We swim out to a floating dock and hang out there frequently. One evening I told Daniel I thought we should practice diving off of said dock. Daniel then ran to the edge to dive and that's when I discovered that he had a problem. And the really shocking part was, he didn't know he had a problem.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Alii from the south Pacific. "Alii" is a greeting in Palaun. I used that word so you would think I'm super cultured and practically a native Palaun now. (He says while sipping his can of Diet Coke and applying Aloe Vera to his burned skin inside his AC cooled office).

Life is dandy in the tropics this week. The jury returned a guilty verdict on the murder trial, I found Ben & Jerry's ice cream at one of the grocery stores (covered in 2 inches of freezer burn), and the very personal presidential elections are entering the final weeks. I say "very personal" because when there is a presidential election on an island of 7 people, practically everyone has been in a coconut fight with at least one of the candidates. So, as part of the "get out the vote" efforts, the entire population of the country stands along the sides of the main street on the busiest island every evening holding up signs for their candidate of choice, screaming at the 3 or 4 white people who are not out campaigning (because they can't even vote here) to honk at the sight of their sign. But since the people holding signs of opposing candidates are all standing interspersed, it's really hard to tell which horn honks belong to which candidate. But it's exciting to see the democracy in action nonetheless. And fun to see people get so excited about their political process, be it in the U.S. or somewhere else.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Book Club Emails

One stranger, Margret M., sent me an email a few months ago about a book club with very strict bylaws and suggested that I email the group. After doing a little research, I found another book club group online that also seemed unreasonably strict. I sent an email to them and the following transpired.

To: Anna
From: June Hansen
Subject: BOOK CU-LUB!!!


My name is June Hansen. I found your email online as the person to contact for a GREAT book club. I'm new in the area and had SUCH a wonderful book club in my last town and would just love to get started with a new one. I don't even know whether you are taking newbies! ;-P But I thought it would be worth checking. My last book club was very organized and efficient and yours seems to be the same way.

PLEASE let me know!!!



Sunday, October 14, 2012

Pictures from My Phone: European Edition

A little late coming, but here at last, I give you Pictures from My Phone: The European Edition. I know, I know. I'm in Palau now. I should be posting pictures of myself on the beach doing this (picture me doing something that people on the beach usually do, but that also makes me look super hot). Life has been a bit crazy for me for the last 2 months, but things are finally settling down. Or, rather, my days are turning into a more consistent and manageable level of strange.

You know the drill. I'm no photographer, and I'm not really trying to be one. Each of the images below are shots I've captured on my phone during the course of a normal day. Except these images were all taken during my recent Eastern European backpacking trip with Daniel and Krishelle.

I don't really understand this phenomenon. But it seems that no matter where I go anymore, I see signs of the Queen of Colors. I always view these signs as threats. And reminders that the Q of C is truly capable of unspeakable evil. This shot glass was spotted in Krakow, Poland.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Piranhas. Everywhere.

Mere moments after I informed you of my China Air lost bag naked wanderer catastrophe of last week, I received a phone call informing me that my bag was found and would totally be on a flight the next day to Palau.

Actually, that's a very cleaned up summary of the actual phone conversation that I had, which went something like this:

Hello!!! Ellie McCain??? Hello!??

Yes . . . this is Eli . . . McCann.


Yes? I'm right here. Can I h--


Yes! What?!

Ellie McCain??!?!?!


Oh. Yes. Ok. Bag you have. China Air. Tomorrow is coming.

You have my bag?!

Bag is China Air.

Right. My bag was lost by China Air. So you found it?

Bag tomorrow is coming. HELLO!?

Yes. I'm still here! So my bag will arrive tomorrow?

Yes. Tomorrow. 6:00. Bag is China Air coming.

Great! Thank you so much! I'm so --


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Greetings from Palau

Hey strangers. The haggard and terrified Eli of one week ago reports to you now from the edge of the world, buried deep in the Pacific, one small breeze away from devastating hurricane.

We arrived on Tuesday night in Palau, exactly 745 hours after leaving Salt Lake City, and were greeted by a couple of people from the court. They drove us through the dark islands connected by long bridges, through the jungle and to our apartment. The entire way I tried desperately to enjoy my first view of Palau while crying silently to myself because of a sad experience at the bag carousel at the airport only moments before.

I checked three bags. Only two came around.

That means I was missing one, for those who were searching for your calculators.

Remarkably, the soft-cased guitar survived the journey with not a scratch. But the giant bag with LITERALLY all my clothes except for the ones I was wearing at the time was never to be seen. I watched the same four bags that nobody seemed to want go around and around and around, hoping that they would somehow turn into mine.

Monday, October 1, 2012

All At Once

I'm sitting in an airport in Taipei now with Daniel. This is our second layover of two. Our first was in San Francisco where my dear friend Elsa picked us up and drove us across the Golden Gate bridge for some dinner and one last chance at gelato.

One long week turned into one long travel day and, well, now I'm sitting in an airport in Taipei, smelling like a person should never smell, feeling like a person should never feel, and dozing off like a person should never doze off.

My life is spread across the Earth now. More than it ever has been. In a week and a half I have crossed almost every time zone and right now my body isn't sure if it's 5:00 AM on a Monday, or noon on my 42nd birthday.

And now I'm just waiting for my final flight before the next adventure really begins. I'm tired. And wondering whether my guitar, which China Air forced me to check in San Francisco despite being in a soft case, is still in one piece. I'm feeling bad that I was a little rude to the people who made me check it. I'm feeling achy and so full of so many different emotions from saying goodbye to so many different people all at once. So many different emotions all at once, in fact, that I'm stuck with a feeling that I've never really had before and one that I don't really know how to describe.