Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Terra Nova (update)

Terra is settling in like a queen. Here is an assortment of photos Matthew has taken over the past two weeks.

Terra loves the top of the sofa. There is a baseboard heater directly behind the sofa, so this is the warmest spot in the apartment.

Sussing out the printer. How interesting.

Getting comfy on the bed. She is so on the bed. *sigh*

Matthew was brushing his teeth and this happened.

This is what we see when the alarm goes off in the morning.

"My cat likes to hide in boxes". Classic.

This is a photo Rachael sent me of Terra and her bonding over a cuppa and a novel. Natch.

Glorious stomach fur. This is the most relaxed she has gotten so far.

I tried to have a sleep in on the weekend. This happened.

I may have included this one in the previous cat-related blog post. But whatever, I like this photo.

More hilarious sleeping postures.

Sussing out the dishwasher. Terra has no fear of machines and appliances. Only curiosity.

We went Christmas shopping and she dived nose-first into she shopping bag. Since then, the bag has been her number 2 favourite toy (shoelace is number 1). Look at those flashy eyes!

On a rare sunny morning, Terra was taking advantage of the view from the bay window in our bedroom.

Me and Terra chillin' on the couch

Regrettably, Terra has decided to own Matthew's favourite green woolen sweater. This is her kneading it; she subsequently slept on it for half the day.

More ZB + TN qual couch time.
Cute story: we have no cat toys, and so we found a spare shoelace for her to play with. It is a real hit. However Terra now associates all shoelaces with play. So every morning when I am trying to put my sneakers on at 5:50am in the dark, Terra thinks it is party time. Likewise, when Matthew is getting out the door to work, Terra is right there at the front door, biting his ankles. It's still early enough in the cat ownership that we find this charming and hilarious, but I can see it wearing off pretty soon.

On the Festive Season

I am writing this from under a blanket. Blogging is the last thing I will do before going to bed at 9pm this evening. It's the Tuesday before Christmas and I have bailed out of most Christmas activities so far. The first couple of times I had to say no to a festive commitment, I was wracked with shame. And after that it got easier.

Aunty Lorraine taught me to make dark fruit cake. Rachael helped me to make some panforte for a work cookie exchange. I went to Matthew's work Christmas party (fully Bacchanalian). We sent some packages to overseas family and friends. And the rest is just gym, work, home, cat, sleep.

I complained to Matthew that I don't know how we did it all last year - cookie exchanges, Christmas parties, shopping, and a pretty heavy workload. And Matthew reminded me that I drank every day last December, and by the time I got to January I couldn't remember the last time I went to bed sober. So although I may be a bit checked out this Christmas, at least I'm not a drunk.

With a tone of desperation in my voice, I really hope that I can recharge during the week between Christmas and back-to-work. I thought that I was cracking the whip pretty hard in 2014 when I was finishing my thesis and working full time. I now understand that that was nothing compared to the vast volume of work I have done this year.

There are 2 workdays to go. We can do it.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Terra Nova

On Saturday we got the best Christmas present ever.* Terra is a 4-year old female domestic longhair stray from Richmond Animal Protection Society. She was found wandering Terra Nova Park in Richmond, which is how she got her name. She has been with the shelter since 2012, and has been adopted and returned twice before. Poor thing! She is glossy, grey, and gorgeous.

We went to RAPS last Saturday and looked at all the cats. It was hard to decide between her, a young ginger boy named Parry, and an enormous tabby named Ruca (with a very loud purr). Honestly, I chose Terra because she is very pretty, she was affectionate, and seemed low-energy. She let both of us give her pats. She was a furry puddle who refused to move off her perch.

We filled out an application form, got a call back on Monday saying we were approved (sooo happpyyy!!!!), on Wednesday we hit up a pet store for all the necessary accessories... and after such a long week, we finally picked her up yesterday.

She howled pitifully in the car, especially over the bridge. But once she got home, she popped out of her cage very confidently, and commenced a very strategic 'splore around the apartment. Within 15 minutes she was lolling in the living room and receiving much pats from Matthew and me.

We retreated to the sofa to see how she would go with other surfaces. She understood the concept of lap time with crystal clarity.

We are not allowing her to go outside but we let her sit in front of the door open with the screen. She was intrigued. We live on a fairly busy street, and we are two floors up. No place for cats!

Last night we had a rough one. After a whole day of being adorable, mellow, napping, affectionate, she suddenly got all playful at 10pm, just when we were winding down. She took a bauble off the Christmas tree and batted it up and down the hall. And when we went to bed at about 11 she could not accept the closed bedroom door. ...She howled all night, scratched and hurled herself against the bedroom door with loud thumps. When we got up to go to the bathroom, she shot into the bedroom and had to by picked up and carried out. At about 3am Matthew took pity and went and kept her company in the living room for a couple of hours. Lucky she's so pretty, we forgave her immediately. At 7:30ish I let her in, and she hopped up and settled at our feet, and we all finally slept until about 10 this morning.

So. Experiment failed. Tonight we're just going to let her sleep on the bed, hygiene and privacy be damned.

Today while I was at a champagne brunch and a massage appointment (yes, I am an intolerable yuppie), Matthew bought Terra a tower perch. When I got home, she was ensconced. 

Richmond Animal Protection Society is an amazing place with literally dozens of cats for adoption. There were three rooms full of cats when we visited last weekend. They also have a cat sanctuary for unadoptable cats. It has a wonderful and heartwarming blog, which I highly recommend you read for some warm and fuzzies.

We love Terra. And I can't wait to share more pictures of her on this blog!

P.S. Thanks to two amazing ladies, flatmate Rachael and friend Maddie, for decorating our beautiful Christmas tree last week!

(*When I was about 10, we got a cat for Christmas, called Jasmine. She was the best cat who ever lived. Terra is a close second.)

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Tess and James in Vancouver

Welcome back! We have some catching up to do. Last week Tess and James came to visit from Melbourne. Tess is one of my besties from way back. She came to visit in January 2012, and we went to Japan together in 2014. We were so excited to see her back on home turf last week. And equally excited to spend Qual Time with her beau, James.

Here's a recap of activity highlights:

Ice Skating
Matthew and I live just that little bit closer to Kits since we moved in July. So we have been venturing West when possible to suss out new neighbouhood activities. We knew that Kitsilano had a rink, so we all took a vacay day and hit the rink for some All Canadian Ice Skating. The rink was mercifully free of children, so we could totter gamely without fear of falling and injuring the young (children on ice are volatile). There was a sweet Disney theme song mix on the speakers. Pretty much an authentic rink experience.

Matthew as usual was a total hoon. Tess and I held our own. And James, who had never skated before, did a top job.

James and Tess are keen skiers so we knew that Whistler was a necessity. We took Tess to Cypress when she visited last time, and I discovered that I loathe skiing. Luckily, there is more to do in Whistler than just ski. Whistler opened for the season on Thursday, and we went on Saturday. It was fairly busy.

We set off at 7:30am, before the sun was up.It took about 3 and a half hours to drive from downtown because we stopped at Tim Horton's for breakfast. The views along the Sea to Sky Highway were divine, because it was a perfect clear day.

It was about -2 degrees in Whistler. Matthew and James dropped Tess and me at the Scandinave Spa, and went off skiing. Tess and I got our kit off and hopped in some very warm pools, steam room and sauna. It was a silent environment so we communicated telepathically (actually we just did a whole bunch of ambiguous hand gestures and then conversed properly at lunchtime, but doesn't telepathy sound nicer?).

Stanley Park
On Sunday we rendezvoused downtown in the early afternoon and walked as much of the Sea Wall as was open, and then veered off into Stanley Park proper. We took Lovers Trail to Beavers Lake, then got back on the Sea Wall at Lumberman's Arch until the Totem Poles. And then we walked the ineffably long and windy way back to Coal Harbour whilst watching a brilliant magenta sunset, and spying a seal!!

Ice Hockey
Tess and James very generously took us to a game at Rogers Arena, Vancouver Canucks vs. New Jersey Devils. The Devils wanted it, and defended well. The Canucks did not want it, and flapped around the ice like chickens. But we had a great night anyway.

I would like to take this opportunity to extend the warmest congratulations and best wishes to Tess and James, because while they were visiting our fair city, they got engaged!!! We love them both, and it has been a privilege to share in their joy. Tess and James are continuing on their long North American Adventure, and we miss them already.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Maplewood Farm

Last weekend we spent Sunday morning (blue, warm, sunny!) with our friends the Stoker Family, who took us to the Maplewood Farm in North Vancouver. We got there at opening time, bang on 10am, and there was already a crowd forming! I had heard great things about Maplewood, and so I personally was very much looking forward to seeing it, and it really exceeded my expectations.

First in the gate, miniature ponies!

There were two ponies, a mellow one (pictured) and a really sad-looking one which wasn't so amenable to petting.

Next stop, Vietnamese pygmy pigs. These ladies were not pretty. They were black with wiry hair, very pot-bellied. They were snoozing in a pile under a red lamp (not flattering light), and in the enclosure there was a glass cabinet full of little bric-a-brac pig miniatures made of glass, plastic, ceramics, etc. Weird.

Pretty soon we encountered a flock of confident ducks. These ducks do not experience food insecurity. It was only 10:00am and they were being fed by the fistful by our young friend. She cottoned on super quickly that the ducks will come to the food, so every handful was thrown closer and closer until they were crowding greedily around her little pink-sneakered feet.

There were a couple of exotic parrots including a rainbow macaw. And a turkey. We got up pretty close to the turkey, enough to discover that it had a very alarming protuberance on the top of its beak. It was like... well, it was mesmerising. It had a kinetic life of its own, like a trunk. Since then I have seen multiple large photos of turkeys in shops and other places, and these bits of animated pink skin seem to be photo-shopped out. Mystery.

The highlight of the trip was so obviously the miniature goats. These things were petite, friendly, soft, and otherwise lovable in every way. We were allowed right in the enclosure, and we spent a good (excellent) 15 minutes playing with them.

In the picture above, one of the little goats was licking Matthew's shoe. It did this for some time. Goats like to taste all things, so my shoe-laces and shirt got well nibbled too.

The other charming thing is that the goats notice when one is receiving attention, then they all gather around. And of course they love to climb up high. Argh, they were delightful.

We saw a stoic peacock family unit (got a brief and sharp talking to from the mother figure when I got too close) and lots of New Zealand white rabbits. The rabbits shared an enclosure with a sweet little posse of guinea pigs with fascinating hairdo's. But we couldn't quite convince any of them to hold still enough for a pet. I guess if my hair was that fabulous I wouldn't want people to touch it either.

After all the animals were inspected we headed down the road to Lonsdale Quay for some brunch in the gorgeous midday sun. Because it was still fairly early in the day (and also because it is a bit sleepy) the Quay was not busy, so we had a beautiful view of Vancouver from the side patio. At this time of year, if there is a piece of patio to be had, you have it, because you never know when it will be the last sunshine for 7 months.