Friday, 18 July 2014

Yellow Roses

This week has been a pretty big one. Recently I was invited to apply for promotion, a leave replacement for one year. I have enjoyed my work, I've been there just over a year, and I like my team.

On Wednesday evening Matthew coached me by asking lots of interview questions. I didn't ask him or anyone to do that last time, but I felt that this time it was important. Thursday I was interviewed, and today I was offered the position.

After my interview yesterday, Matthew came to meet me at the starbucks downstairs, with a beautiful pot of roses.


There's a stiff breeze blowing this evening, and all the windows and doors of the apartment are open. I couldn't get the roses to hold still while I photographed them, and the ambient light is a bit Dark and Stormy.

We're going to go to a homewares store on the weekend and get some real pots to split the roses into, and put them on our balcony. Roses are hardy. They can handle the balcony micro-climate, right?

I had planned to celebrate with ice cream at Mario's, but it looks like there's rain coming. Is it a sign? Cheers to the weekend, to promotions, and to massive work ahead.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Sunday, nothing special

Hi all. Matthew and I are sitting side-by-side in front of the little fan at the table at home. It's hot as can be. Like, 31 degrees! Global warming, eh?

This weekend has been ... well parts of it were lovely, and other parts were dull and painful, so balanced I think is the word I'm looking for. Here's some highlights:

1. Dinner at Gramma's
Friday evening I went to see Gramma for dinner, and Matthew met us and took us on a drive in a new demo car, the i8 BMW, from his work. It was very sleek and silent (electric), and so spacious on the inside, despite being a very modestly-sized car on the outside. We drove over to Aunty Lorraine's house for second dessert (and another test-drive), and then home.

Gramma has a new garden arch, which still has that fresh timber scent.

2. Sauna Time!
Ever since Matthew has been on Saturday morning work shifts, he has been dropping me at the Hillcrest Community Centre on his way to work. At first it was a bit of an affront to have to get up and at 'em before 7am on a Saturday, but now I am pretty adjusted to it. Also, I think in the longer term it preserves the sleep schedule, and makes the week-day early get-ups more normalised.

So I say a pretty pathetic goodbye to Matthew, and hop straight into the sauna. The other week I swam two laps of the pool before I was like "what are you doing, Zoe? get out" and went right back in the sauna. Per visit, I try to do three sessions in the sauna, maybe four if it's a cold day. By the time I'm done I look like a cooked prawn (tbh I feel like one too, all pink and bent).

3. Cafe Beaucoup
I met Maddie there for a good old fashioned ladies' luncheon. We hadn't seen each other in some weeks, so we had a lot to catch up on. Like me, she is staring balefully towards a hard thesis deadline in August. Many commiserations. We had the fanciest cakes ever. They were actually covered in actual gold. We chose fig and apple, but in fact the apple was the tastier. I know, but figs are so much better, right?

4. Not In Whistler
I have saved the crappy bits for the middle, so they can be sandwiched between more cheerful bits. Matthew and I had planned with a very good family friend to spend the weekend in Whistler, where we have not set foot since November 2012!! However due to a number of boring real-life things (I'm looking at you, Thesis, and you too, Permanent Residency Application) we are Vancouver-grounded. So instead of being adventurous and worldly, we are writing thesis (today) and going to the immigration lawyer (tomorrow). *weep* I have been reminding myself (using Matthew as a soundboard, obvs) that in the future when I am graduated and Matthew is a Real Canadian, we can go to Whistler whenever we damn want. But that's a long delay of gratification.

5. I was so glum that Matthew took me out for ice cream:
Isn't Matthew the best? I <3 him.

6. Dinner Date
That's happening this evening. It's warm enough to wear a dress with no tights. I'm excited.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Local Honey

A couple of weeks ago, Matthew brought home some beeswax from the hives on the roof of his work (remember the bees?). However, it was not in any form we were familiar with. It was very much raw, unadulterated, scraped straight from the hives. The wax is made by the bees in little scales, about 2mm diametre, if that.

The bee keeper at work had some recipes for candles and lip balm, but he didn't have any advice about how to separate out all the honey. So it sat on the table at home for a week, and then we came upon an ingenious solution...

We had an empty pickle jar (huge, like a litre) and also some left-over cheese cloth  from when I tried to make cheese in 2012 (maximum labour, minimum yield, never again). So we rigged up a straining system by putting the beeswax-honey-mixture in the cheesecloth and suspending that in the pickle jar.

I am ashamed to say that I was skeptical about how much honey would seep through the double-layered cheese cloth. The next morning I was coming home from the gym, and I received an excited text message from Matthew: "Check out the pickle jar!!!". Sure enough the honey was dripping out in slow, magical, golden, sticky drips. It was mesmerising to watch, totally thrilling to watch the single drop separate from the cloth and lower down on a honey-string to the bottom of the jar. After just one evening there was about a centimetre of honey in the jar.

Over the following two weeks we have been watching the honey slowly, slowly, drip out. We have collected about 100mls, we estimate. It has a fragrant, woody, complex taste, quite unlike the simple and sweet clover honey in our cupboard which we got from Harrison Hot Springs in January. It is an earthy brown colour, and not totally translucent.

We were concerned for about ten whole minutes about whether and how to pasteurise the honey. But after a bit of googling we decided to risk eating it unpasteurised. Of course, later we remembered that all the other honey we have had in previous years from the roof of Matthew's work has also been unpasteurised... no harm felt.

It's been about two weeks now, maybe three. The wax isn't quite honey-free yet, but Matthew squeezes the cheese cloth and pushes it down every now and again. I'm not sure exactly what we'll do with it, but it's fun to imagine. Any suggestions?

Freshly scraped from the hive

In the cheese cloth

In the pickle jar

After a week of waiting!

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Canada Day 2014

We're enjoying a relaxing, sunny and HOT Canada Day here in Vancouver. It's pretty glorious. Matthew took some photos of our adventures downtown, but to be honest we didn't do anything particularly Canadian.

1. Lunch with Martina and Stu at the Black Frog in Gastown

Ben was there as well (fellow UBC alum). We were "watching" the Belgium vs. USA game, and not much was happening. Like, no goals for over an hour.

2. Walking around downtown Vancouver

Gastown was strangely empty (photos above). Clearly all the people were five blocks West, because things were intolerably crowded at Waterfront Station.

It was my plan for us to go to Canada Place (with the white sails, in the photo above) and take in the Canada Day festivities. But as we approached and the people traffic got thicker, we chickened out and walked up Granville Street. I'm a bit shamed to say that we wound up in Pacific Centre Mall (we had some gifts to acquire before next weekend, so in fact it was an errand-run).

On the outside, waiting for the bus, we couldn't help but witness the marijuana rally happening in the Vancouver Art Gallery courtyard. It was less a rally and more a festival. Amazing. They had a lot of marijuana-related products (including more foodstuffs that I could ever imagine). To be honest, I'm still not sympathetic with the cause, but I appreciate that Vancouver is the kind of city which can be cool with such a festival.

3. Back home again

We spotted this bit of guerrilla crafting on Granville St. Isn't it appropriate to the occasion? We are now at home, smelling the banana loaf which is baking in the oven (we had a Banana Situation in the freezer, with one banana leaping out violently every time we opened the door, you know how it is). There is bocconcini for dinner. Things are as well as can be.