Tuesday, 23 July 2013

A Day at Locarno Beach

The weekend was so massive that I've split it over three posts (see yesterday and the day before). Sunday started appallingly early because we woke up naturally at 7am, and decided there wasn't enough time left to go back to sleep before Long Run Pinky Promise, so we just got us and put our running clothes on and bloody ran for it.

Lucky we did, because a) it was hot as, and b) we saw a turtle!! It was a big one, too! Below are photos of the turtle and the run in general. We rocked 7.69 miles. *high five*

Afterwards, we came home and I managed to write some thesis. So it was truly an Achievement Day (because honestly, every day that I write a bit of thesis is a massive cause for celebration).

Then we went to my friend Judith's beach birthday party! It was at a place called Locarno Beach, which is along from Jericho, and which Matthew and I had actually already been to, thinking we were at Jericho... Anyway, we laid out our towels, ate some food, and then Matthew and the UBC crew actually went for a dip in the drink. It was cold, murky, and very adventurous of them.
Matthew looking wistfully at the beautiful view.

Carmel, Corey, Alec and Matthew enjoying the tree-dappled shade.

Matthew is waving to me. Also in the water: Craig, Carmel, Alec, Sheila, other Matthew, and Corey.

Birthday girl, centre stage.

Happy Birthday, Judith! I'm so grateful for the excuse to finally have a beach day! It was just delightful.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Crossing a Big Border

On Saturday, Matthew and I had a well-earned sleep-in. But after that, we drove to the border for a day in America.

The border line was bloody ridiculous. We waited at the Peace Arch in the car, listening to classic rock, obviously, for about an hour and a half. In fact, the line up was so crap that there was an ice cream man making a killing rolling his trolley up and down the queues. The weather was hot too.

And then when we finally got to the checkpoint, we had to go inside and get Matthew's short-visit-visa (all $6 of it). That took another hour. By that time, I'm not joking, it was 3:30pm. Day = wasted.

We drove to Bellingham and did a totally Canadian thing: went to Trader Joe's and stocked up on cheap American groceries. And enjoyed the novelty of buying wine in a food store. For $5 a bottle. Yes. Actually, the very best things about Trader Joe's are the cheeses and the deli items. Sadly, we knew we were not going to get across the border home in time to preserve the integrity of any cheese, so we refrained.

We then went to a horrible little shopping mall and Matthew bought some excellent clothes, including a pink tie with recurring mini hula-girls and palm tree motifs on it. Clearly we need to go on a tie-worthy date asap. I'm working on it.

This is why I did not buy any clothes in America.
By that time it was in the region of 6pm, so we headed back to the car with quite heavy hearts, and drove North in the bright evening sun back to Canada.

Matthew's working holiday visa was set to expire next week (it has been two years since we landed), and we have been through quite a lot of strained international phone calls, hundreds of dollars, and several 'what are we even bothering with all this for?' moments over the last couple of months. It has been trying. At one point, we were advised that Matthew would be at least a month between old visa and new, meaning that he would be unemployed for that time. After the initial shock, we actually grew to look forward to this impending unemployment, planning that Matthew would cook all the meals, meet me for lunch and walk me home from work, and do All The Taxes. (Can you tell who was making these plans with Matthew's time? Yep, not Matthew.)

And then, last Thursday, the new visa arrived! We were relieved, but also a bit deflated. How nice would a month off work be? Exactly.

On with the story: Matthew told jokes, and I gave 'that was funny' in response instead of laughing, and generally the tension in the car increased. We rocked up at the border and actually turned out to be waiting in line right in front of my friend Alec (from UBC) and his wife! We waved to Alec and Caity, and listened to more classic rock, and generally freaked out.

As we were walking in to get assessed, Alec drove by and called out 'good luck!' He had no idea. We waited a mere 15 minutes, and the stern-faced but kind border security guard asked us some questions, and voila, 2 more years of work and play!

On the way back to the car, while wearing massive grins on our faces, we saw Matthew's friend from work, Bao, drive past. He gave us a wave and shouted something hilarious about us getting nailed for shopping too much (ie. having to pay way more tax. Not so.). Even though it was totally random and unlikely, it was actually kind of heart-warming to know that we have been here for long enough to recognise not one but two friends in the border line-up.

We celebrated by, the minute we got in the door (at like 8:45pm) by scrambling into our date-night clothes (dress for me, shirt for Matthew) and heading to a local Italian restaurant. It was hugely relaxing and romantic, and we generally laughed and enjoyed ourselves. We had three courses and wine, and it was just the best.
Matthew with a cappuccino stache, enjoying the lighter side of life.
Cheers Matthew. So here's to an extension of our holiday. Family, we miss you. Friends, we miss you too. We're not sure how long we'll be here, but we're doing our best to make the most of the time we have.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

The Best Ice Cream Shop In The World

I'm sitting at the computer full of food, covered in sand, and feeling so tired my eyes might fall out before I get to the end of this post. Soldier. On.

Friday evening a knocked off work early because I had a load of hours left over from Wednesday when I worked like 11 hours. So at 3:40pm I was just about ready to turn everything off when I got a This Is Very Urgent email from one of my millions of superiors. Le Sigh. It was the first time such an Urgent Event has happened, and I've been there for a month, so it was to be expected. Luckily it was handled in about 5 minutes (it really was quite urgent), and I was outside the building by 3:50pm.

I met my intrepid cousin Carolyn (of blogging fame, The World to See) for the first time since she had returned from roaming the southern hemisphere. A portion of that time she spend staying with my sister, mum and dad, so I was keen for news from home, and ENTHRALLED by her tales of travelling in Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. Seriously, go read her blog. The photos alone are worth it.

We decided that 4pm is not too early for a hard-earned cocktail, so we ordered lavishly. Matthew joined us when he got home from work, and we were later met by Carolyn's mum, Aunty Lorraine. We then walked from Granville St over to Broadway for an Indian feast. But we finished up so early and the sun was still so high and hot that we decided, thanks to Intrepid Carolyn's genius suggestion, to roadtrip to a brand new neighbourhood never yet explored by Matthew and me... Strathcona!!

Okay, Strathcona is magical in an East-of-Downtown way. It's right next door to Chinatown, and is chock-a-block full of adorable old Vancouver houses, mostly meticulously renovated. We spied many neighbourhood cats lurking in the late evening sun, and there were lots of people out and about. Carolyn led us straight to the BEST ICE CREAM SHOP IN THE WORLD. I'm not kidding. I've actually been around the world, and I've eaten enough ice cream in my time, so I'm totally an authority on this. I'm not even saying it's the best ice cream in the world. It's just the best ice cream shop.

Without further ado:

Right in the door, I was already off my nut for excitement. I'm pointing at a dinosaur ice cream cake. There were like 30 cakes, all more gaudy than the one before.

The store was ice cream cases on three sides, and people walking around dazed by the glut of choice. The store was also outrageously pink and diversely mural'd with various national pictures.

Waffle cones! Mural! Pink!!

Tasteful interior mural.

Some of the more colourful flavours. Not pictured: garlic ice cream, curry ice cream...

You can see how utterly more excited I am about this experience than my fellows, here.

Us ladies are standing to the left, near the corner door of this magnificent barbie-pink ice cream shop, and to the right of us are a couple of the zillions of motorcycles... yep, bikies love ice cream too.

At one point, while we were standing out the front licking our waffle cones, Matthew nearly lost his ice cream entirely. It toppled out of the cone and was in the air of a second, and then Matthew caught it with his bare hands and stuffed it back in the cone. Saved!

We didn't actually end up with the most interesting flavours. I had pear one scoop, chocolate & candied ginger the other scoop. Aunty Lorraine had Bailey's Irish Cream, and Matthew actually was the most adventurous of us all with a taro scoop! But he does love a taro bubble tea, so I guess it wasn't too out of his comfort zone.

Funny story: I was going to make this blog post about our entire weekend, but then I remembered how totally epic and packed it was, and also how frontier-of-excellent the ice cream shop was, that I decided to refocus. Good night. You're welcome.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Photopost: At the Ball Game

While I was google-checking whether it's "Ballgame" or "Ball Game" (latter, thanks google), I found this gem of a poem, by William Carlos William:

The crowd at the ball game (1938, I think)
The crowd at the ball game
is moved uniformly

by a spirit of uselessness
which delights them—
It is summer, it is the solstice
the crowd is

cheering, the crowd is laughing
in detail

permanently, seriously
without thought

And I thought, how perfectly like our experience last night! Anyway, on with the post: Matthew and I went over to Nat Bailey Stadium in the old neighbourhood where my mum grew up, and where my Gramma lived for nearly 60 years. When I was younger and we were on holiday in Vancouver, once or twice we saw the post-game fireworks from Gramma and Grampa's front window. Late summer last year, we went to a fireworks game with Mike and Laura, on a similarly perfect evening. This summer, we had tickets courtesy of Cousin Elly. Elly was coming from a wedding, so she and her beau Bryerton met us a bit later. Elly had the amazing forethought to get us a free barbeque wristband, so Matthew and I were excited to check out the corporate area!

Obligatory hotdog.

We then got an icecream, because summer? and proceeded to our seats, which were THE BEST. We could see everything, and the sun was not in our eyes. Bonus.

The Vancouver Canadians played the Boise Hawks. (Canadians white, Hawks grey.)

Sushi run, halftime entertainment.

My favourite bit, the rake dancers...

...Yes indeed.

Trevor Gretzky. He was a hitter, that's for sure.
Boise had a significant sporting and cultural advantage, because their number 9 player was a certain Gretzky Junior. About three quarters through the game, his famous dad Wayne Gretzky swanned into the Stadium and even though play was still going, everyone in the crowd stopped watching, stood up, and gave Gretzky Senior a standing ovation. Yep.

Wearing a cap, dead centre.
As the sun went slowly down, all the crows flew over (this is a nightly occurance in Vancouver, and since we live 6 floors up, sometimes the crows fly at balcony-height. It's creepy).

After several hours, the Hawks were caning the Canadians 5 to nothing. And then all of a sudden, the Canadians started hitting, running and catching.

Can't believe I almost forgot to include this shot! Matthew took a hilarious stealth photo which he remembers not. We are obviously riveted to the action.
Boise Hawks got so nervous they stalled play for aaaages while they huddled. I'm not sure what they were talking about. There's not much strategy to talk in baseball, and anyway, they were still winning by a long advantage. Finally the game was over and we could all settle in for the fireworks!!

Matthew looking handsome and me looking sun stricken.

Young lovers, Elly and Bryerton

FIREWORKS. Perfect end to the evening
The fireworks had a soundtrack from 30 years ago. Seriously, early 80s radio faves. Started with Hey Micky and ended with AC/DC. It was like being in a time warp.

The evening was so nice, we walked Elly and Bryerton back to the train station and continued home. The traders were all just closing up along Cambie corridor. It was lovely and neighbourhoody, and not too quiet.

Thank you Elly, for a perfect summer evening at the ball park! (And a massive congratulations to her, for acing her first week in her new profession!)

End note: last night actor Cory Monteith passed away in a hotel downtown. Terribly sad. I only watched a couple of episodes of Glee so I don't really have a lot to say, other than it's awful to think of someone suffering so greatly, especially at a time when we were enjoying ourselves so much.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Photopost: Khatsahlano Street Festival!

This afternoon Martina and Stu came over and we all walked to 4th Avenue for the Khatsahlano Street Festival between Burrard and MacDonald Streets. It was hot and sunny, a perfect street festival day.

We were greeted pretty much immediately by a public yoga display. Ah, Kits.

There were lots of mascots wandering around, but Purdy's chocolate hedgehog was the best. We have no shame.

We fairly quickly made our way to 49th Parallel and Lucky's Donuts, a newish cafe on 4th and Yew, at the recommendation of Stu. Our donuts of choice: lemon poppy seed, tiramisu, apple maple bacon, and orange pistachio. I accidentally ordered Matthew an 'iced coffee' which in Vancouver means cold drip coffee with ice cubes in it. Barf.

Martina and Stu enjoying a donut.

Matthew putting a brave face on it.

We walked around in the sunshine, played a game of connect four?? I don't know. Matthew won, of course. It continued hot as blazes.

There was a couple of extreme leisure activity booths, including skateboarding down the steep hill to MacDonald, and also a dodgeball cage! Martina is in our University's dodgeball league, and I experienced a new level of respect for her after witnessing the game from the cage (from which we all abstained).

The Khatsahlano Street Festival, I have neglected thusfar to mention, is actually a music festival. I would not say that was a highlight. The music was ambient at best, and mellow at worst. Maybe it will perk up this evening, but it was a bit too chilled out to loiter for, and definitely too chilled to dance to. No dancing seen.

The last stage at the end of the festival.
Finally we veered over to Broadway (which was ghostly in its quietness) and walked back up the hill to the Regal Beagle for a bottle of rose and late lunch.

Thanks Martina and Stu!

Thursday, 11 July 2013

The Long Run

Matthew and I are having a quiet night in after what seems like a busy couple if days, although we really haven't been up to that much. I guess when you work, life just seems much busier. It is a novelty to be rediscovering this, I realise how privileged and horrible I must sound.

Progress Report:
1. Health: Dessert is back on. Every night. Life loses something without it. But alcohol is reduced to weekends only, and 2 max.
2. Employment: Boom. Employed. *smug look*
3. Thesis: Last night I went to my thesis support group, which is an increasingly intimate gathering of fellow MAs from my department (last night there were three of us). It was a bit sobering. I'm trying to meet my chapter 2 submission deadline. We'll see how that goes.

I realise it's really far after the fact, but on Sunday Matthew and I had the biggest day ever. We got up at 7:45am and went for a run around the seawall. And actually, we ended up running 7.4 miles! (That's a long way, for me.)
Public piano project in Vancouver city: there are painos stationed in random spots for people to play. This man was playing Twinkle Twinkle under Cambie Bridge, but the man at Olympic Village was playing Benny and the Jets. I heart Vancouver.

Stadium over False Creek and PROOF THAT I WAS RUNNING.

Totem pole under Burrard Bridge, and FURTHER PROOF.

Our destination: the Starbucks at Kits Beach, corner Cornwall and Yew Streets, where we gratefully slowed our pace and sucked down a latte. I have to say, Yew Street is mighty steep. Glad we decided to walk up it.

...And then we went to our friend Alayna's housewarming garden barbeque in East Van. We met a sporting Englishman (Alayna's housemate), played racquet sports, and introduced a bunch of (admittedly unimpressed) Canadians to Pimm's and ginger ale. Good time had. Then we went to Cousin Sophie's birthday party! And ate birthday pie, because Sophie, discerning woman, prefers pie to cake.

The moral of the story is that Matthew and I are trying to cram a lot into our weekends before the weather gets cold again. But golly it's tiring. It also means going to bed before the sun goes down most week nights.

Also, I feel self conscious that the details I'm crowding the blog with are not the most exciting ones (more parties, less bloody jogging!). It's hard to strike a balance, right?

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Long Sunsets

It has been rather a while since I had at the blog. Matthew and I have been trying our best and hardest to live the good life while the summer is with us. Between our new working lifestyle and the beautiful weather, we haven't had a whole lot of time to sit down and just write. Obviously.

This is the glorious view from our apartment, as I type.
This past weekend was the Canada Day Long Weekend. We didn't make any plans, but it was just as well because:

a) My very very dear friend Jenny and her dashing beau Ove were in town visiting from London on Friday night only. We went to her mum's gorgeous apartment in West Vancouver and ate succulent salmon, fancy cheese and home-baked treats. Jenny is pretty much the perfect hostess, and so worldly (she has been here, there and everywhere in Europe since leaving Vancouver back in October last year).

When searching for a bottle of sparkles to take to Jenny's, Matthew and I discovered this gross affront.

Not actually Jenny's place, but a perfect West Vancouver specimen.
b) My other very dear friend Maddie was having a big birthday on Saturday and she kindly invited us five-pin bowling on Commercial Drive. It was hilarious. I caught up with some uni folks I hadn't see in a while (everyone is making the very most of summer), and Maddie bowled up a storm. The surprise of the evening was Matthew: usually so deft at these things, my friend Sheila and I surmised that he was being subconsciously chivalrous in playing badly enough for me to look good. I of course am reliably terrible at these things. By 'these things', I mean leisure activities including tandem bike riding, mini golf, karaoke, and every board or card game ever. Nevertheless, Maddie turned another year older with grace and charm.


[By the way. Can you tell I'm tired? So many cliches... Don't even care.]

c) Matthew and I made a long overdue grown-up dinner date at West, a restaurant around the corner from our apartment. We reserve West for special occasions, and this special occasion was the second annual smashing of the piggy bank (the last time we smashed the piggy bank, we were so remorseful that Matthew glued it back together and we started our $2 deposits over again from scratch). It was nice to put a dress on. Our waiter was professional in the extreme: he had a long and worthy opinion on every menu item, and an amusing goat story to go with our cheese platter.

Poor old pig. Don't think he'll stand another year of loonies and toonies.
The bourgeois life at West.
d) Canada Day proper (Monday) was hot as blazes. So naturally I dragged Matthew on foot to Hillcrest for a spin and a sauna. Like, what else do you do on a hot day? Eh? Come on, it wasn't that bad. While I cooked in the sauna, Matthew relaxed in the outdoor pool. And we both avoided sunburn.

As you can see, the weekend deteriorated in excitement, from a purely narrative point of view. But you know what? I rediscovered that feeling of a Monday off when you work full time. Priceless?