Monday, 26 January 2015

Reasons to love Canada #736

We hired a car for the weekend to do some bits and pieces and I had to drop it back this morning.  Unfortunately my journey was slowed due to traffic caused by the West Vancouver Police having to assist a slow-moving beaver.  They're not sure where the tardy rodent came from, but they have released a video of the incident.

Welcome to Canada!  Beware slow beavers.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

What did you do today?

Well, I made a scale model of the Canadian Pacific Railway and Port Metro Vancouver.

Really? And how are those degrees in theology and archaeology working out for ya? 

Yeah, really well, thanks.

Scale model (not to scale).

Detail: a Canadian town, complete with church and post office.

Detail: container terminal.

Detail: Canada's boreal forests.  Note authentic pines and sasquatch.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

730 days old

It's that moment again when time catches up with me and I realise that a person I'm legally responsible for, who didn't exist at the start of 2013, has now been around for two years!  Yes, Pete is a two-year-old, and since birth has gone from a sub-3lb premie to a hulking 30lb+ toddler of mass destruction.  Some of those pounds have been added very recently, judging by his birthday cake intake.

As if he'd read a book on childcare, he awoke on his 2nd birthday and immediately decided that he was not going to put on any clothes or do anything else that his parents requested.  Yes, the twos in all their terribleness are here immediately, so while Pete will grow another year older in the coming 12 months I may age significantly more...

Christmas was merely the appetiser!  Now's the day of real present opening.

A birthday walk on the beach.

Being two - so much more tiring than being one.

Ooooh.  Cake!

Friday, 9 January 2015

There are many gods

But there is only one King.

On January 8th 1935, Elvis Aaron Presley was born in Tupelo, Mississippi.  He would have been 80-years-old today if a cruel and impersonal universe had not stolen him from us at the tender age of 42.  It might have helped if he'd eaten fewer burgers and taken less amphetamines too.

I've completed my own pilgrimage to Graceland, of course, but I was delighted to see that I didn't need to travel that far today - a local Vancouver community centre was celebrating with an Elvis birthday party.  The great man himself was going to be there, in spirit, and given corporeal form by Eli "Tigerman" Williams, an award winning Elvis tribute artist.  I was very excited.

When I arrived at the concert venue, a sign on the outside informed me that it was a "seniors centre".  Hmm.  I walked in and said I was looking for Elvis, and was directed to take a seat in the dining room.  It's been a long time since I was the youngest person at a party, but I can safely say I was about half the age of anyone else there.

A starter of peanut butter and banana sandwiches was served, sadly not fried in butter the way the King liked them.  There was a quiz on the table.  "Have you got a smartphone?"asked Sheryl, a silver-haired lady sitting opposite me, and laughed at my assertion that this was cheating.  Another lady joined us, and told me that she had been on a plane to LA on 16th August 1977 when the captain had announced to the whole flight that Elvis had died.

Then the strains of Also Spracht Zarathustra began.  One of the centre administrators announced that Elvis was in the building, and moments later a gold-chained, Hawaiian-shirt-wearing rock'n'roll legend arrived.  He sang the hits, he gyrated, he chatted with the crowd, he got down on one knee and serenaded several septuagenarians.  I got a handshake.  He informed us that Elvis had recorded 760 songs, so we'd be here for a while, but all too quickly it was over.

After that there were signed photos and souvenirs and, incredibly, lunch.  As I tucked into Memphis-inspired meat loaf I reflected that Elvis is like Santa.  You know it's not the real Santa, but the magic is in the pretending.  That's why it's so much fun to sit in a room with a bunch of screaming pensioners and watch a sweating impersonator bang out timeless hits.  "Tigerman" was certainly invested, and so was I.  So was everyone else, judging by the standing ovation he got at the end.  If the King had been there - he was certainly the right age today - he would have been impressed.  Perhaps he was.

Sadly, watercolour painting clashed with Elvis, but I might stay for Emotions Anonymous.

From behind he looks exactly like Elvis.

Nibbles fit for a King.

Even in the enclosed dining room, he had the moves.

After eating all that, I resemble Elvis at the end of his career.

A selfie with Elvis.  A selvis!

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Home for the holidays

My parents have left me!  Again!  I'm like orphan Annie, but with less singing.

It's been a wonderful couple of weeks, mostly because I haven't had to lift a finger when it comes to childcare.  And my parents still worry that they're imposing, which means I keep the emotional upper hand as well.  It's win-win.

Luckily they've got their next holiday booked already.  See you in April!

The indoctrination begins.

Mum needs a break.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Disposing of the evidence

A crime was committed in Vancouver.  An innocent tree was cruelly killed and then displayed in a grotesque and ritualistic manner, draped in lights and reflective trinkets, for the amusement of a family.  Luckily today the victim has been put to rest when it was bagged up and taken to a nearby car park where the local Lions Club arranged for it to be disposed of.  A "charitable donation" changed hands, and no questions were asked.

So we've regained some floor space in our apartment, and the smell of pine once again comes only from air fresheners, as it should.  There's an arrangement in our marriage that says: Hannah can have a real tree as long as every single needle disappears at the end of the Christmas season.  If not, it's artificial next year!  As I type I hear the sound of feverish vacuuming, which is strange as I didn't realise Hannah knew where we kept the hoover...

Pete is expected to join the family business when he's older, like in The Godfather.

Dragging the dead body into the lift.

Inconspicuously setting off across Vancouver.

Nothing to see here.

The end of the road.

Even in death our tree looked a lot better than this one.

Grandma drives the getaway vehicle.

You never close your eyes any more when I kiss your lips...(these have appeared all over town.)

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Reverse migration

Snowbirds are what they call the people who escape the frozen northerly wastes for places like Arizona over the winter months.  I'm not sure what the term is for those that come the other way, but we were very happy to welcome two sets of southern friends in the last few days.

First came the Schwimmers, staying with family in Seattle and making the trip over the border to see the delights of Canada (us, of course).  Logan was one of the first people to appear on this blog, so it's faintly terrifying to see him now that he's six.  We wandered to Bright Nights in Stanley Park (California may do Christmas lights, but it doesn't do them in sub-zero conditions) and the next day we took a trip to Science World.

That was great - Lauren is a scientist, a proper one with a PhD and everything, and I was able to deploy my theology degree to full effect.  "You might say that," I retorted to every one of her explanations, "but don't you think it might just be angels making it happen?"  She really enjoyed that.

Sadly they were only here for a night, so they crossed back into the land of the free and downward to warmer climes.  Logan is on the list of future au pairs.  He does owe me, after all.

Then came Sagy and Moran!  Moran's sister has lived in Vancouver for many years, and I miss the University Village days when I could stamp on the floor and Moran would appear shortly afterwards with a plate of freshly-baked cookies.

Noa, who was also once a little baby, is now a beautiful four-year-old, and her little brother Yuval is more handsome than both his parents.  Pete had a great time with them both, although he was far more keen to give Noa kisses than she was to receive them.  Like father like son, I suppose.

Cold enough for ya?  As we say in Canada.

Caleb pilots a flying saucer, while his dad sits on it.

Meanwhile, my dad explores fluid dynamics.

Check out my dam building!  Tiny villagers downstream see their fishing livelihood literally dry up.

Dad uses telepathy to keep a beach ball afloat.

Pete enters the eye of the storm in the tornado simulator.

Colour me beautiful.

Evan tests if he could have made it as a basketball pro.

A few days later, the chaos of Uni Village, recreated across generations.

All the kids are into selfies, so I try to keep up.

Well done Mum.

Riot grrrrrl.

Yuval has shades of the young Elvis about him.  Just like I did when I was his age.