Tag Archives: Vancouver

Vancouver Redux

I’m out west for another two weeks. I’m basically a “fixer” for my hard-working spouse. Or maybe a concierge-with-benefits. My thoughts on the morning of the first day:

Packing: I keep telling myself to make a packing list so that I don’t forget stuff. Perhaps it was because we didn’t leave home ’til 6 pm yesterday and I had the whole afternoon to organize myself. But I had to drop off Ollie at boarding, and finish my Coursera assignment and so time reverse-telescoped I guess. I carefully set my noise-cancelling headphones to charge (and then forgot to pack them.) I stashed my fuzzy slippers in my suitcase and then, at the last minute, went to pack my street shoes and they were nowhere to be found (did I leave them in Ottawa?). I didn’t have a reasonable alternative.  So now I will either be wearing boots for the next two weeks or will be shopping. I blithely decided not to bring iPad but forgot that it’s the best way to read the paper first thing in the morning. Forgot my computer glasses.

The travel: We (I?) had cocktail hour before we left home with some cheddar and nuts. Then a glass of wine in the airport lounge with a small salad. Then a G&T and nuts on the flight. We were upgraded into Air Canada’s newish layout of their B777-200LR‘s business class, with fully reclinable seats in a little pod. Dinner took forever to be served and I was headachey and sleepy. I had to be woken up to eat. After the meal, I flattened out and slept for whatever time was left of the flight(an hour?) By the time we landed I had a migraine and major body-ache. We were met by the car service and as I drank the little complimentary bottle of water, I could literally feel my cells expand. Or whatever. I was clearly dehydrated.

The apartment: We’re trying out a new place, close to Yaletown. It’s a shorter walk to work and closer to a lot of stuff I’m interested in (Art Galleries, Library, Cathedral). It’s a smaller place than the last one and is lacking in the fab view, but it has a heated saltwater pool and spa on the roof so there’s that. Apparently a gym but too but I am unlikely to need further details. Today I’ve got to stock up on some basics like soap (body, laundry, dishwasher) and food. It’s the Chinese New Year plus Family Day today and apparently a lot of places are closed. But first, I need to find something to eat and some coffee.

My personal plans for the next two weeks are to:

    1. continue my genealogy do-over with some initial population of my new software and a review of documentation (source citation) methods.
    2. do lesson 2 of The Story Course
    3. get my February reading done:
      – Paris Stories by Mavis Gallant for my IRL book club
      – Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler for the Goodreads CBC book club
      – The Virgin Cure by Ami McKay, a terrific novel I’m listening to
      – How to Use Evernote for Genealogy: A Step-by-Step Guide to Organize Your Research and Boost Your Genealogy Productivity: my current organization obsession. Just grabbed this from the Toronto Public Library.
    4. Get to the Contemporary Art Gallery (just around the corner from me), walk the seawall around Stanley Park, visit the Bloedel Conservatory, taste-test spirits at the Long Table Distillery, and a lot of wandering.

Friday seven – Things I’ve learned

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  1. I love cooking on a gas stove.
    We have one here in the condo and it’s the first time I’ve ever used for any length of time. Fast heat, fast off, and easy to clean, the only negative is the retractable vent hood that rises from just to the rear of the cooktop that is really loud. We will definitely be putting a gas cooktop in our kitchen when we renovate.
  2. The name “Istanbul” is actually a variant of  “Constantinople”.
    I mean, we all knew that the original name of that city was Constantinople, but i didn’t know that one came from the other. I met a Turkish jewellry vendor in the Granville Island Public Market and we chatted for a while. He told me that people shortened “Constantinople”, dropping the first syllable, and the word morphed to Stamboul, or Istanbul. (When I checked this out on wikipedia, it turns out to be something of a simplification, but I had never made the connection before.)

    Bracelet by Murat Senemoglu, Turkish silnersmith at Granville Island Public Market.
  3. I can live without owning a car, in the right place.
    I took out a car2go for a spin the other day with Alex, when we went to Granville Island. I love the fact that you just drop it off when you’re at your destination and pick up another one when you want to continue your trip. The smartphone app makes it so easy to reserve a car (optional), unlock it, and manage your account. Driving (and parking the Smart fourtwo was a little unnerving at first, but actually quite enjoyable.)
  4. I’ve missed Netflix.
    With the renovation of our main living area and some reconfiguration of our electronics, we haven’t had easy access to Netflix on our living room television since the summer. The setup here in the condo is a Samsung Smart TV and so we have access to a pile of streaming services from one device. (I don’t really like watching video on my computer or ipad. I can’t explain it. could be my age. Could be that I prefer the big screen and better sound.)  I finally watched the NFB film on Healey Willan that our choir director recommended (very interesting), and have been catching up on some series (Master of None (Aziz Ansari), Marvel’s Jessica Jones). Last night I watched a riveting doc on Iris Apfel, who reminded me immensely of my Grandma Winer (Vera Elstein) and makes me want to pump up the colour in my wardrobe (and the size of my accessories.)
    Here’s a trailer:
  5. The best part of genealogy is meeting new relatives.
    I’ve said before that a blog is like “cousin-bait” to genealogists. If someone googles and ancestor’s name and your blog comes up, bingo! I’ve recently had an email exchange with the wife of a cousin on my father’s father’s side. We’ve exchanged some information and I hope to meet them in the near future as our geographic circles intersect on a couple of fronts. (We both have relatives in each other’s home towns.) Briefly, my grandfather (David Berkman) had a sister Sadie who married a Samuel Rubenstein and lived in Hawkesbury Ontario, a predominantly francophone town between Ottawa and Montreal. I’d very much love to see pictures of David, Sadie, and their parents (Myer and Adela), and get any further info that might help me with my research.
    Here’s their marriage registration:

    Marriage of Sadie Berkman and Samuel Rubenstein, Lachine QU, 1909, Beth Israel.
    Marriage of Sadie Berkman and Samuel Rubenstein, Lachine QU, 1909, Beth Israel.
  6. I want to read more internationally.
    I posted about this a couple of weeks ago, but am pleased to learn that one of the Goodreads groups that I belong to is starting a new sub-group called “Around the World” where we will be reading from various areas for the first six months of 2016, and then concentrating on Asia in the second half of the year. I’m starting to get my list together. In January we will be focussing on North and West Africa, and I’m hoping to read some Egyptian and Nigerian writers that have been on my radar for a while. In particular, I want to read The Automobile Club of Egypt by Alaa Al Aswany and Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. And maybe Woman at Point Zero by Nawal El-Saadawi and Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. If anyone would like to join me in this venture, consider joining The Roundtable on Goodreads!
  7. I can’t live happily without sunshine. Temperature doesn’t matter.
    Since I’ve been out here in Vancouver, we’ve had a few periods of sun. It’s nice to be able to live in a midweight (waterproof) coat.  I picked one up with Vancouver in mind at the Royal Winter Fair from the London Trading Post booth. (They’re located in Bobcaygeon ON and have a lot of great British gear.) But honestly: the gorgeous views, sea wall, and mild weather, cannot make up for the lack of regular sunlight. It makes me feel sluggish and like I want to cocoon at home. And my knees? I’ve had to up my Naproxen since I’ve been out here to compensate for the dampness.

That’s all folks!

Last week in the west.

I arrived in Vancouver on November 15, to join my husband who’s (maybe) settling out here for a while. His job is very western-Canada focussed and they’re on a high-profile, fast-moving project that is more difficult to manage from our homebase in Toronto.

I’m heading back next Monday, a couple of weeks in advance of his return. There are bills to be paid, home things to manage, a dog to cuddle, and family to see. Choir. Hair cut. Plus Christmas is coming up.

We have been rented a lovely condo out here in Coal Harbour. And I’ll miss many things about life in this city.

  1. I never tire of seeing sea planes taking off and landing. And sea gulls. Fog. Mountains. This city is gorgeous (if you live anywhere with a view.)
  2. Living without a car. The man can walk to work and everything we need to buy for day-to-day life is steps away. We have a transit pass, and a car2go membership for when we need to travel farther afield. The airport is easily accessible on the Skytrain. Our parking spot sits empty.
  3. Elder son has been out here for a couple of weeks and it’s been great spending time with him. He has a bachelor pad in Toronto so we otherwise need to book time to hang. Younger son will arrive after I leave to spend the last week with Daddy-O.
  4. Sushi. I have been remiss in not starting to eat sushi the moment I arrived here. My sis was out for a few days and she’s just not that into it (plus can’t eat soy sauce) so I didn’t get on that train right from the start. Last night, the man was out for dinner so boy and I picked up a platter from Oysi Oysi around the corner. And the three of us will hit Sushi Itoga tonight.
  5. Public art. Well, Toronto has lots too, but it’s nice to live with another city’s art for a while. I’ve included a pretty window (not public) just because.

I love living in different cities, and will always take the opportunity to rent an apartment over a hotel. Next summer, we’ll spend two weeks in Marseilles, and we can’t wait. Anthony Bourdain has cast a spell over the man and, well, there you have it.

But going home is the best.

Friday Seven – Chilly in the YVR Edition

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  1. This pretty much sums up the week:
    IMG_1823
  2. My sister was here this week for a medical conference, and my elder son arrived for a visit as well. It’s been lovely to see them both and to check out some new-to-me restaurants (Cactus Club Cafe, Nuba, Joe Fortes) as well as a meal here at the condo. Fran heads back east today on the train, and Alex is here for another week or two.
  3. Charlaine Harris's Dead Until Dark
    Photo credit: Wikipedia

    My four month reading challenge is winding down at the end of November. I’ve got two novels to finish up by the 30th: Dead Until Dark: A Sookie Stackhouse Novel by Charlaine Harris (the first of the Sookie Stackhouse series) and Story of Blanche and Marie by Per Olov Enquist. The first is a vampire novel and fulfills the task to read a book set in Louisiana. It’s not the sort of book that I would normally read, but it’s entertaining and light. I picked up the second book in Stockholm and it fulfills a task to read two books set in the same watershed. I’ve chosen the Seine and this book is set in Paris.

  4. The trash sorting system in this building is intricate. Unlike in Toronto, where all the recyclables go into one bin, we have to separate everything here including paper into “dry newsprint” and mixed paper (magazines, junk mail, writing paper, phonebooks, cardboard). No styrofoam or plastic bags, and only plastics labelled 1,2, and 3). I haven’t figured out how to return beer, wine, and liquor bottles yet, and milk bottles go back to the grocer. There is compost for the building, so that’s good.
  5. Our extended family meals are starting to go here.
    rozchastthanksgiving
  6. Last Saturday, Z and I had lunch with a colleague of his and her partner. She is Jewish, from Odessa, and when she heard that my ancestors were also from there, was interested in getting together. We had a lovely time, and it has spurred me on to try to break through some brick walls on my Berkman research.
    Baron de Hirsch - De La Savane Cemetery, Montreal.
    Baron de Hirsch – De La Savane Cemetery, Montreal.

    My great-grandfather was Myer Berkman (b. 1863, Minsk), who was married to Adela (d. bef 1909), for whom I do not have a surname. My grandfather was David Berkman (b. c 1888, Odessa; d. 1956, Hawkesbury, ON). David had a sister Sadie who married Samuel Rubenstein in Lachine, QU in May 1909. They went on to live in Hawkesbury and have nine children. I have recently been in touch with one of Sadie’s descendents and I hope to get a chance to meet him next time I’m in his city.
    I continue to pour over JewishGen, a very comprehensive set of databases, but records are scanty, language and transliteration make names difficult to find, and I still dream of hiring a researcher to see what can be found on the ground in Ukraine, Belarus, and Lithuania. I’ve also done DNA testing, but I really need to get my brother to do it as well as we need the male line to trace paternal genes.

  7. How awesome is this?

    “About to take a Selfie with Medal of Freedom co-recipients Barbra Streisand and Steven Spielberg at the White House. OMG! I’m so excited!” — Itzhak Perlman (posted on Facebook)

    Itzhak Perlman, Steisand, Spielberg

 

That’s all folks! Keep warm. Enjoy your leftovers, my American friends. More quick takes over at This Ain’t The Lyceum.

Sunny Sunday

We’re battening down the hatches here in Vancouver, expecting some cold weather and snow this week, so we decided to take advantage of the sunnier-than-average day and head out on the town.

Today is the Solemnity of Christ the King, the last Sunday in the Catholic liturgical year, and so we walked over to Holy Rosary Cathedral for the 9:30 mass. It’s a lovely neo-gothic church, small for a cathedral (in my limited experience). The women’s choir sang with the Assistant Organist Catherine Walsh and they were joined by a violist whose name wasn’t printed in the bulletin. (At 11:00, trumpeter Katherine Evans was to be present with a number of Telemann pieces on the program.)

After mass, we wandered over to the Vancouver Centre Skytrain station and purchased a Compass card, the transit payment system here in Vancouver that recently launched, and then rode south to the King Edward station. We grabbed a coffee at Starbucks until Pronto opened at 11:30, where we had lunch.

pronto lunch

It’s across the street from the Park Theatre (our ultimate destination) and had good recs on Yelp. Zouheir had an excellent sandwich and so-so soup. My pasta special was dry. Seemed like leftovers, put in a bowl, topped with cheese, broiled, then some tomato sauce spooned on top. But my glass of wine was just fine.

But then we saw Brooklyn at the theatre, and all was forgotten. Based on a novel by Colm Toíbin and with screenplay by Nick Hornby, it was a lovely film, beautifully shot, great cast, and a heartbreaking story. While I had read the novel some time ago, the film particularly resonated with my husband, an immigrant multiple times and familiar with the pull of the old (and the new.)

 

I missed my book club meeting in Toronto today. I had suggested that we read an aboriginal author this month, and chose Medicine Walk by Richard Wagamese. This was before I knew that I would be in Vancouver, so I sent in my comments by email last night. I started:

This book is as close to a “10” as I can imagine. From a structure, story, and writing perspective, I find it pretty much perfect. I read Indian Horse, his previous novel and rated it 4/5 on Goodreads. I recall that it sat inside me for days after I finished reading it and I suspect this one will too….

Wagamese has received multiple honours for this novel, and they are well-deserved. Highly recommended.

Finally, a petition has been initiated to ban battery cages (used in raising chickens) in Canada. Please visit this link to find out more and sign the petition.

Friday Seven: Vancouver edition

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  1. I’ve been in Vancouver for five days now and don’t seem like I’m adjusting to the three hour time difference. I’ve been waking up between 4:30 and 5:00 am PST and am pretty much nodding off by 10:00 pm. I wonder if it has to do with the dearth of sunlight here. The condo has a gorgeous view, but it’s northwest facing and so doesn’t get any direct sunlight, even on the few occasions when the sun is visible in the sky. Perhaps I should  have brought my Golite with me to dose myself with rays during the day.
  2. We have a lovely condo apartment with a very well-equipped kitchen. I’ve tried a few new recipes, and hosted an old friend for dinner on Wednesday. I worked with him at Bell Canada in the 80s and we’ve kept in touch ever since. I made Za’atar Roast Chicken with Green Tahini Sauce, mashed yams and green beans, plus a cheese plate and a lemon tart purchased from the Urban Fare across the street. Martinis and red wine were also consumed.

    We're on the cheese course here. I probably could have dimmed the lights a little...
    We’re on the cheese course here. I probably could have dimmed the lights a little…
  3. We’re in the Coal Harbour area of downtown Vancouver, right on north shore of the peninsula, overlooking Burrard Inlet. It’s lovely to see the water and the view constantly changes with the movement of the sun and the weather. It’s a great area for walking as everything we could need is close by. Z walks to work every day, the aforementioned grocer is right across the street, and I’m steps from great walking paths along the water.
  4. I brought a couple of small knitting projects with me, as well as a book called ZENSPIRATIONS, CRÉATIONS DE MOTIFS by Joanne Fink. I picked this up in Paris when we were there in September. It suggests a process for creating your own art for colouring and it’s a nice compact book to spur on some creative work.
  5. The apartment is very quiet, with a couple of notable exceptions. During the day, there is a persistent tapping sound that seems to be coming from another unit. It sounds like someone is lightly hammering fine nails or something. It’s most noticeable in the bedroom. I’m wondering whether someone is making jewellry or working on some other small craft in an adjacent suite. Also, I thought a seaplane was taking off this morning, and realized that it was in fact the very loud washing machine that I had just started.
  6. I’ve been trying to find out something about the gorgeous bronze medallions embedded in the sidewalks on some streets in this area. If anyone has a lead, I’d be interested. Haida or Coast Salish perhaps?

    Medallion embedded in some Coal Harbour sidewalks.
    Medallion embedded in some Coal Harbour sidewalks.
  7. How about that investigator on this season’s The Good Wife??
    Jeffrey Dean Morgan

    That’s my seven for today! Visit This Ain’t the Lyceum for more.

Seven Quick Take Friday – Leaving on a Jet Plane

Seven Quick Takes Friday

  1. I’m off to Vancouver today on the early morning flight. Zouheir has been out west since last Monday and will be there until next Thursday evening so I decided to cash in some points and join him for the weekend. I haven’t visited for years, probably in the 90s sometime, so I’m looking forward to seeing the sights. We have a reservation on Tojo’s on Friday evening (thanks for the recommendation, Kathleen!), and then I’m hoping to get to the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia, maybe Granville Island if the weather is good. Or just walk the city.

    Creation/Raven – Bill Reid
  2. Michael has been subbing on Eb tuba with the Weston Silver Band this summer. They’ll be playing some free concerts in this part of Ontario and I hope to get out to at least one: Ancaster on July 14, Stratford on July 21, and Orillia on July 28.
  3. The Toronto Symphony Orchestra has a couple of events as part of Luminato this weekend. Their big free concert at David Pecaut Square is tonight at 8. Billed as a “Symphonic Birthday Party”, Verdi and Wagner make up most of the program this year. Tomorrow afternoon, they’ll be hosting a “Music Mob” in the same location. Folks can dust off their instruments, download the music, and show up and play with the pros. As a member of the TSYO, Michael has been recruited to assist Mark Tetrault, the TSO Principal Tuba as well as other tubists who show up to join the fun. Michael’s had a couple of lessons with Marc and he’s a great guy. Sadly, I’m missing both these events due to my Vancouver trip. Hit the link above if you want to join them. They have simplified instrument parts if you think you need them!
  4. Alex has been in Kingston this week, starting his Master in Management Analytics program. It’s part of the Queen’s School of Business, but classes are (normally) held in Toronto. This week is kind of the kick-off where students get to meet one another, are placed into multi-disciplinary teams, go to classes, and generally socialise. (Apparently a river cruise is part of the program.) The next module starts in Toronto on July 3rd.
  5. Michael never fails to find the funniest stuff online. Yesterday he showed me this: classical sculptures dressed as hipsters. Click on the link. You will not be disappointed.
  6. Vegan Before 6 update: I’m now drinking my coffee black or with heated almond milk. I’ve discovered some new veggie prepared products, and this week made a big pot of vegan bolognese sauce so that I could have leftovers for lunch (or breakfast.) It’s a bit of overkill really… I regularly make tomato sauce for pasta and don’t bother with meat (although adding some crumbled spicy sausage is terrific), but I picked up some Yves Veggie Ground Round and threw it in, along with some fresh herbs from my new planter. So far, so good. We’ll see what eating out this weekend does to the plan. I see some soy lattés in my future. I also neglected to order a vegan meal for my flight today so that may require a cheat.
  7. Reading: This weekend, I’ve packed my current Dominick Dunne novel as well as my Kobo. I’ve got Sussex Drive by Linda Svendsen and Howard Engel’s Man Who Forgot How To Read. I’m also finishing up Skios by Michael Frayne on my ipod (Overdrive Audiobook) and have some new short stories by William Trevor (A Bit On The Side) queued up.

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