Thursday, 28 March 2013

Aloha, and Happy Easter Long Weekend!

Matthew and I decided to clear out of Vancouver for Easter this year. (It was a big decision to make, as we are missing out on a serious turkey dinner at my uncle's house.) In nine hours, we will be on a tiny plane to Hawaii! Neither of us have been there before (that we could remember; I was there when I was very young) and in fact neither of us have really ever been anywhere tropical.

The lead up to this afternoon has been and continues frantic, so this is only I short post.

I want to wish all of our family and friends in Melbourne the best for the Easter Long Weekend. One thing we really miss about living in Australia is how big a deal Easter (and Good Friday, etc) really is. Hot cross buns (haven't even clapped eyes on one this year), chocolate, lots of days off, trips to the countryside and egg hunts in the garden, and what I feel is generally a shared cultural (okay, secular) value of this holiday, so far from Christmas and just before the weather gets vile and cold for the winter.

Melbourne, we miss you.

Next week:
  1. Hawaii!
  2. All The Daffodils
  3. Last university classes for the term
Happy Easter xoxo

Friday, 22 March 2013

Lost in Pacific Spirit Park

On the way home from uni today I stopped at London Drugs and bought mould and drain cleaners. The checkout attendant was like 'Big night?' and I was like 'Yes'.

Crossing 12th Ave without traffic lights and with a set brow, I was encouraged by a man who said 'You have to cross with a prayer, dear' when I got to the other side.

Now sitting at home with super clean drains (mould can wait for the weekend my life is so exciting whaaat?), enjoying a red with Matthew and waiting for Indian food to be delivered to our apartment because even though it's the most beautiful evening of 2013 so far, I won't walk any further.

This morning my friend Aimee and I finally delivered on our mutual promise to go for a run after class. We changed into our sports clothes and hit Chancellor's Boulevard, past all the bourgeois mock tudor mega-mansions. Under Aimee's guidance, we then off-roaded through a trail down to the water. Eventually we got to Marine Drive and then jogged along the beach a bit. We didn't quite make it to Spanish Banks. When we turned around, we saw an attractive uphill trail: The Admiralty Trail. IT LED TO NOWHERE. We jogged up the epic hill, then walked, and eventually just stood around in the bush for a while, and then we found a staircase that led RIGHT BACK TO WHERE WE STARTED. After a perilous jog across an unexpectedly boggy swamp of lawn (in which we coated our beautiful trainers and also our legs in gross mud), we found our way back to UBC along Marine Drive.

It was my first time jogging with a friend, and also the first time I have jogged outside in months, and finally, the first time I have jogged outside in the sunshine in longer than that. And we smashed it! We did over 4 miles, and felt pretty good afterwards.

Also, first time exploring Pacific Spirit Park!

Then we got lattes and sat in the sunshine for an hour. Best day in a long while. Thanks, Aimee!

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Sunday Catch-up

1. Spring is SO HERE. This morning is stunningly sunny. I'm sitting in a ray of it, and Matthew is blogging on his new ipad mini nearby. We went out last night for Korean bbq and cocktails, and we are feeling it this morning. Also, I have done something to my neck. Srsly, the pain.

2. On Friday night we went to see our friend Bryerton play ice hockey at Hillcrest. He plays in 'beer league' (not kids but not pros either). It was tense. Bryerton made some slick moves.
Action packed!
3. The countdown is on to Hawaii. Less than two weeks, guys! Can't wait. At my friend Aimee's instigation, I have signed up for a Map My Run account. Ironic, since I run on a treadmill. I ran 14 miles last week! But the nutrition calculator (or whatever it's called) has shown me that perhaps two or more cakes in a day is not the most effective way to prepare for a beach holiday, so I'm working on reducing it to one cake per day. Wish me luck.

4. This afternoon I am catching up with Cousin Sophie for a coffee and then Matthew and I are going to a St Patrick's Day dinner in Burnaby! Going to try to rustle up some green clothing. I can't remember ever really celebrating St Patrick's Day in the past. Which is funny, since there are an awful lot of Irish relatives in the old family tree.

5. I have been invited to join a softball team over the summer! The UBC English Department team is called 'The Prose'. (I know. Best name ever.) Stay tuned for stories of my humiliating fails.

Have a lovely week, everyone.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Snowshoeing at Mount Seymour

Typing gingerly because just painted nails tarty red. It is the first day of Daylight Saving, so getting up at 8:45am was extra tough.

This weekend was more exciting than usual: on Friday night we met up with friends Mike and Laura and had dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant in East Vancouver just near Fraser St. It was just as delicious as we remembered from our last Ethiopian food experience in Melbourne... now that we know how close and convenient this restaurant is, I'm sure we will be back for more. btw: If you are reading this blog and you haven't had Ethiopian food before, you better go get some. Injera (spongy sourdough) + curry = like no other flavour.

Saturday I took Matthew to see UBC's Green College (where some grad friends live) put on The Tempest. I am teaching The Tempest this term to my first year English students, just coincidence, but a happy one. It was surprisingly funny, the cast were very believable, and their use of the all the theatre space (walls, windows, front, back, outside, inside) was very attention-grabbing. Funnily enough, Saturday afternoon was the most gorgeous sunny weather, not tempestuous in the slightest. We were transported nonetheless. We also saw one of my uni friends, Jeff, there, so it was good to chat with a colleague out in the sunshine and not about work!

Today Matthew and I went snowshoeing on Mount Seymour with Aunty Lorraine, Cousin Elly and Bryerton. We drove from Burnaby across the Ironworkers Bridge (rather than from Vancouver over the Lions Gate), which gave us a different view of the Burrard Inlet. It was a balmy 9-ish degrees in town, and didn't really start to get chilly until near the top of the mountain.

Neither of us had been to Seymour, I'm not sure about the others. They came prepared however with extra gloves for us to share (we forgot our ski gloves which we bought for our one and only ski day back in January 2012, and which have been mouldering unworn in our closet ever since), and their own snowshoes.

Snowshoes are not actually like tennis rackets taped to your shoe, which is the vision I had of them from my parents house in Australia, where an antique pair was crossed and mounted to a wall. I don't even have the words to describe how they are; hopefully some of the photos will illustrate. Suffice, they are very high-tech, light-weight, and with sharp aluminium teeth which dig into the snow. This is especially helpful for downhill walking.
Elly and Bryerton modeling their shoes

Snowshoes don't look like this anymore.

We "hiked" (more like wandered) the Discovery Trails around a frozen lake. The trails were, we guessed, about five kilometres? The walk from the snowshoe rental to the trails, all of the trails, and then back to the rental place took us one and a half hours. We had the trails all to ourselves, and when we weren't shuffling loudly thought the snow, it was pristine and silent all around us. The trails are also fairly far away from the skiing and boarding mayhem, quite secluded and pretty.

Interesting fungus

Matthew delighted in running, jumping, sliding and otherwise tooling around in his new snowshoes, while the rest of us contented with plain old walking. I think he got a better work-out than all of us put together. He also pelted lots of snowballs. Hey, snow is a novelty, I get it.

During the walk we saw two ravens, which looked like big crows, but made a much different, more melodic and warbling sound. They were sitting at the top of a dead tree, super poetically.
Right at the top, if you zoom in.
After the walk we drove back down the mountain and continued further East to Deep Cove. Matthew and I went to Deep Cove in the late summer, and it was beautiful, but we had real trouble finding a park and lunch because it was so jammed with fellow Sunday afternoon adventurers. Not so this afternoon! We pulled into a pub and ate hungrily. Snowshoeing is moderate-effort (I don't want to say hard because it was relaxing compared with skiing, for example) activity, and so we definitely worked up an appetite.

There are lots of places to snowshoe in Vancouver, but Matthew and I have both already visited Grouse Mountain and Cypress Mountain, so we felt that we really needed to explore Seymour (which is the last of the mountain ski-parks super close to the city). We didn't really take in any stunning views because it got very foggy. But unlike Grouse and Cypress, Seymour is not packed with people, so it felt like a private wander through a quiet white woodland. Perfect spring Sunday afternoon.

Thank you to Lorraine, Eleanor and Bryerton for accompanying us on our first ever snowshoe hike!

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

"We all know you're not 29."

Last Friday was Matthew's 28th birthday. Last year on his birthday, he had an allergic reaction to our apartment. This year, he was sick with an aeroplane headcold that I gave him. Sorry, honey.

So we had to make the best of it. He took a sick day on the Thursday before and so I gave him one of his birthday gifts a day early to cheer him up (it was a coffee card loaded with many dollars to keep him in fancy lattes for a while). I can't ever compete with the grand romantic gesture that was taking me to Seattle for my birthday weekend, so I had to make do with organising a string of gifts and events over several days (still going!).

On Friday he perked up a bit, so we went ahead with boardgames and birthday cake at our place.

Settlers of Catan with Bryerton, Eleanor and Lorraine.
As requested by the Birthday Man: chocolate and cherry cake. Pink icing was my own addition.

The blowing out of the candles
Largest Army!

He also received a bottle of wine from our friends' winery, Langmeil, in the Barossa Valley. He was impressed at my wine finding skills!


On Saturday night we went out to a local sports bar and ate steak and watched the Canucks cream the Los Angeles Kings on the big screen.

Sunday night we relaxed at home and Matthew opened his many cards from family internationally. (Ref. the title of this post: they don't make birthday cards for unspecial numbers like 28, but I found Matthew a birthday card meant for much older recipients I'm sure, which said "We all know you're not 29." on the front. This is in reference to the fact that for most of last year, he thought he was still 26, and also, he keeps giving me the hardest time about being 29.)

Last night (Tuesday) we went with Martina and Stu to a live game at Rogers Arena: Canucks v. San Jose Sharks. Martina and Stu used to live in California, so Martina was considering barracking for the enemy. She didn't have to; the Sharks totally won after the LONGEST MOST TENSE MATCH I HAVE EVER SEEN. Omg there was a draw, and then it went to overtime, and then -- still undecided -- it went to a shootout ...OR TWELVE! Sooooo many shootouts. It was MOST THRILLING.

The epic opening sound and light show
The Canadian National Anthem, 'Oh, Canada!' (also sung was the American National Anthem)
One of many Tense Moments during the game
Next weekend we are continuing with the birthday celebrations by taking Matthew snow shoe-ing on Seymour Mountain, which he has wanted to do for a long while. Neither Matthew nor I have ever snow shoed before, but we are accompanied by cousin Carolyn who is a seasoned outdoorswoman, so we have nothing to be afraid of. More photos to follow!

Friday, 1 March 2013

Happy Birthday, Matthew!

Happy Birthday, Matthew!

May you spend this day doing interesting work, eating delicious food, playing strategic boardgames and drinking fine wine, in the company of people you love.

Zoe xoxo