Sunday, 30 March 2014

Scones with Jam and Cream

This afternoon was book club. The book, Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan, wasn't very good. It was my choice. We only got two other members to discuss it. That's a pretty small turnout. I'm rethinking my involvement in book club.

However, it was a stunning opportunity to make scones with jam and cream. They rose well, were a nice golden colour. Quite fluffy in texture, although they could have been more buttery. Not too much sugar, but of course slathered so thickly in jam and cream that it wasn't noticeable.

This weekend without Matthew has been a tough one. I have been doing the daily routine all week, but with a mild feeling of emptiness or meaninglessness, just running around in circles (gym work home gym work home ad infinitum). But on Saturday I stared at my 8000-word last thesis chapter dumbly and blankly, and only wrote 50 more words total. I'm actually starting to be scared I won't finish it.

Tomorrow is a precious day off work. I'm sad that this long weekend coincided with Matthew in Toronto, and yet because of our other vacation choices I couldn't fly to meet him. It is, after all, a special weekend, our 3 year wedding anniversary.

So you see, there were a lot of good reasons to make scones with jam and a generous dollop of cream this afternoon. They are a temporary cure-all.

Warm thanks to Ann and Martina, trusty book club attendees and good friends, for sharing their Sunday afternoon with me and two pots of tea.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Matthew in Toronto

Matthew has gone to Toronto for a looooong time. Like, more than one week. It's for a pretty exciting work opportunity, and so I'm proud of him and glad he's getting this experience. It's a privilege to have a workplace that will send him out to explore Canada.

But also, I miss his face.

Matthew and I have not been separated for this long since 2009. We've grown very used to being with each other every day. This is tough. But we have skyped every evening. And text-messaged throughout the day.

When Vancouver is just starting to bloom, our streets turning pink and white with blossoms, Toronto is still gloomy and freezing. It was minus 12 degrees there today. Matthew showed me a photo he took of a pile of snow taller than a car. Even though it rained all day today in Vancouver, there were still cheery flowers growing in every yard between home and work.

Things I have been doing to cope:
  • Sleeping with an extra blanket over the covers
  • Double locking the door
  • Meeting up with my Gramma for dinner
  • Cleaning the apartment a bit obsessively
  • Making plans to study with my friend
  • Reading my book club book and binge-watching Beverley Hills 90210
  • Eating chocolate after every meal
So it's pretty much the spinster life here until Matthew gets home.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

The Throes of Thesis Writing

Yesterday, conveniently pouring rain, I met Kelly at the one of the UBC libraries for a study sesh. I was an hour late. It was raining. The coffee shop wasn't open so I couldn't pacify myself with a latte. It was pretty grim. I found Kelly in a big chair, being studious, and we settled in for some work. We got two hours in (approximately 300 words for me) and then ... called it a day. Yep. So much for my whole day of study. Two hours does not a whole day make.

So today I have some other study buddies coming over to coax me through the process. It's getting harder the closer I am to a finished draft. And by harder, I mean slower.

It's the most beautiful day today, so I feel like I'm doing life wrong by being inside on my computer. But Matthew and I went for our first outdoor run together in nearly six months. It was a good feeling, however the spring blossom air is playing havoc with both our respiratory systems. Poor Matthew's always had the odd allergy, but I never have until we moved here. It was a real challenge coughing and sniffling through a measley 2.75 miles. We have a long way to go before we meet our half-marathon goal. More on that later.

I hope that by making my study a team effort, I can crank our a couple more hundred words this afternoon. Fingers crossed. Head down.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Wes Anderson

This post is dedicated to my favourite filmmaker, because I have one of those, Wes Anderson.

Yesterday my workday started at 6:30am and finished at 6pm. That's pretty long and unusual for me. Mostly I work about 8 hours or less. Matthew swooped into my office (he had the day off) and carried me over to Cambie St for a quick sandwich-dinner before our long-awaited movie date.

We went to The Park Theatre on Cambie. There's only one screen, and it was independent (or at least small-chain) until very recently. Last time we went there was two years ago, to see Moonrise Kingdom, another Wes Anderson film. This time we saw The Grand Budapest Hotel.

I knew we would love it even before I saw the trailers. We felt delighted to be walking in the evening sunlight, without a hat on; Matthew didn't even have a coat on! And relieved to finally be spending some time together. And when we finally got past the ads and into the actual movie, we were rewarded with the finest parade of mustaches imaginable.

Things we love about Wes Anderson films:


High romance

Dollhouse sets

This man.

The Grand Budapest Hotel, quite apart from all other Wes Anderson films, had the added benefits of:
  • L'Eau de Panache - a man-perfume which the main character proudly wears. 
  • Copious unashamed poetry recital throughout
  • Ralph Fiennes, who has surprisingly turned out to be in this film a Thoroughly Modern Man.
Mostly what I love about Wes Anderson films is that Matthew and I can love watching them together.

Yeah, I didn't credit any of these images because I found them all on Google. Sloppy, I know.

Monday, 17 March 2014


In summer 2013, my friends from UBC English started up a support group called "Master of Arts Anonymous". There were five of us, and we met for lunch or drinks and discussed our thesis projects and set goals. We read each others' work. It was nice.

One by one, the original M.A.A. cohort graduated. Some even moved away from Vancouver. I am the only one still writing.

In November I was invited along to meet with some thesis-writers from the new cohort. Yesterday evening we met at The Wallflower, a cafe on Main St, for a refreshment and some commiseration. I took fellow M.A. friend Kelly with me, because we had been studying together. I like the opportunity to talk to my peers and friends about their research. The thesis projects are diverse and fascinating. I also like the opportunity to have a big open-heart whinge about how awful it is that I haven't graduated yet.

But mostly I value the community, and I care about these people and the progress of their writing.

My goals for the next meeting, in April, is to have finished my final chapter. I'm so close. I only have about 5 pages to go. I just want to be done with the writing and start addressing the months-old criticism my supervisor and committee have kindly offered.

I told Matthew that I wanted to fast-forward my life a little bit, and how it made me feel guilty. I'm sure if when I graduate I'll romanticise this time of my life dreadfully.

Sunday, 16 March 2014


Things are quiet in my corner of the blogosphere. There are about seven blogs that I read daily or weekly, mostly of women my age, often expats. But blogging on the weekend is not a trend amongst them, so I am going to have a write a few words myself.

I'm sitting at the breakfast table with Matthew; we are at our devices, but simultaneously enjoying each others' company. It's raining outside, but it's not cold. Spring is here, and I know this because I have been wearing my pink cotton trench this last week (rather than my camel wool trench, which I have worn every day since late October).

I'm gearing up for a day at the Robson branch of the Vancouver Public Library, with my study-buddy and long-time friend, Kelly. We are both at similar points in our degrees. And we are both motivated to pass across that hallowed stage in November. But the only way we are going to graduate is if we knuckle down now and for most weekends hence.

Yesterday I met up with another UBC English lady, and fellow Australian, Mary-Anne. I had it in mind that we would explore Granville Island. It was pouring bloody rain most of the day, and it occurred to me later that I didn't even take her to the waterfront bit overlooking False Creek. So I think we need a do-over in the future. As with all expeditions to Granville Island, I came away with some decadent and interesting food specimens, including maple fudge and a cheese called 'Mimolette'.
Mimolette, good heavens. (This picture is borrowed from Wikipedia)
It looks a bit prehistoric. Here's what the venerable Wikipedia has to say about it, which I find poetic:

'The cheese has a similar appearance to a cantaloupe melon. The greyish crust of aged Mimolette is the result of cheese mites intentionally introduced to add flavor by their action on the surface of the cheese. Mimolette can be consumed at different stages of aging. When younger, its taste resembles that of Parmesan. Many appreciate it most when "extra-old" (extra-vieille). At that point, it can become rather hard to chew, and the flesh takes a hazelnut-like flavour.'

I am slowly realising that if I intend to keep this blog, I'm going to have to stop waiting for 'bloggable moments'. The truth is that Matthew and I are living quietly in between massive world travels. This means that our experiment in buying dried legumes is about the most exciting thing happening at Chez Beavis currently (for real, those chick-peas tripled in size over night! who knew?!).

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Birthday Party!

So as we know, Matthew had a big bad birthday last weekend. Because life was getting in the way (by life I of course mean work), we had to postpone festivities for a couple of days. Buoyed by the success of our recent hosting efforts, fitting more than 4 people in our 500-square-foot apartment, we threw Matthew a houseparty!

Because we were all having such a rad time, there are limited photos. But here are some key moments:

Matthew opening a gift.

The Cake.

Matthew + Cake.
It was the first year that I wasn't able to make Matthew a birthday cake, however I think the cake we sourced (carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, natch) was better. It is Matthew's favourite cake, by special request, from our very local cake shop (it's at the end of our street).

We also had fancy cheese which I am eating right now, and surprisingly brown-rice sushi. 

Sincerest thanks to the Gray-King ensemble (Gramma, aunts, uncle, cousins) for helping Matthew into the last year of his twenties! He's a jolly good fellow.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Happy Birthday, Matthew!

Birthday boy
It was Matthew's birthday yesterday. He was working, and I was studying, so we finally found each other at home a bit before 7pm. Matthew unwrapped some presents, and read some cards from folks in Melbourne (thank you!), and then we went out to The Cascade on Main Street for a very well-deserved and hard-earned English beer (Fuller's London Pride) and a lamb shank.* It was threatening snow when we exited the pub, but thankfully it held off until after we got home.

You will notice the glaring absence of birthday cake from this narrative. We are continuing the birthday celebrations in the coming week when Matthew has a day off, with a bit of a soiree-avec-gateau chez Beavis. More to follow.

It's a rainy late-winter day in Vancouver today. I'm actually relieved that it's raining, because it's washing away the snow that fell, most unwelcome, overnight. In fact I went for a long walk in the rain this morning without an umbrella, that's how psyched I was.

Since the week before we left for London, Matthew's work shifts have changed to a rotating roster of 4 days on, 3 days off. It was like this when we first moved to Vancouver, for about the first 9 months. Then, I was a student with a flexible schedule. Matthew and I took full advantage of all our days and hours together to revel in what was quite literally a long honeymoon period. Now, since I work full time and study on Saturdays, we have found ourselves with very little time together. It's an adjustment. We have made comparative lists of all our days off, and we have two consecutive days off together in May.

Happy birthday, Matthew. Here's to marching into adulthood together. With all love.

*I'm still going with the vegetarian thing, btw. I had a salad and polenta chips.