Friday, January 21, 2011

Small Things Make You Happy

We are always looking for the “big” things in life; the big moments that will make an impact, but this morning when the book that I ordered through arrived from The Book Brothers in Chatham, ON, in the mail, I realized that it is the small things that can make you the most happy. I am excited. I can’t wait to read it. This is my treat to myself after my exam is over. The book is called “The Gypsies”, by Jan Yoors. and for the front cover of the book
It is the story of the author who, at the age of 12, ran away from his privileged home in Belgium to live with the Gypsies. I have chosen the book as one of our book-club reads. This is the reason I gave my fellow book-club members: “Maybe those of you have ties with Europe will know more than others about the Gypsies. Coming from Britain, we saw the “Tinkers” and “Gypsies” regularly, but they were always described negatively…..naturally, as a child, to me they were “mysterious” and “fascinating” and although we would try to get close to see who they were, we didn’t want to get too close because there was that “fear” about them spread by the “adults” in our life. I am looking forward to reading the book and to learning a little more of the true facts about the Gypsies.” I think we have a choice about the way we live our lives. We can live in isolation of the realities around us, or we can embrace life and the many diversities that make up our “community”. Neither way is right or wrong, but  I choose to do the latter. It gives me deeper “perspective”, and “compassion”, and “tolerance” which gives my life more meaning.….I think!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Pole Dancing in Vancouver (Dec 30 - Jan 16, 2011)

Our Run this Morning around the Sea Wall at False Creek
Our life in Vancouver is not dull! Yesterday afternoon I went to a shower for a young friend of mine who is getting married in March. Apart from seeing the beautiful gifts she received, eating the delicious food her mother provided, and envying the pink, green, and white martini’s that the tall, dark and handsome young man made (he was the only man present), we also pole danced…and had a lesson in lap dancing! It was so much fun!! I managed the pole dancing reasonably well (so I’m told)but I am not sure I managed the sultry, sexy attitude that the PT demonstrated; and when it came to lap dancing, I knew I was beat. My body just didn’t seem to arch as arrogantly, or bend as flexibly, or look as enticing as the younger guests!! I couldn’t quite manage to undo my bra while executing a backward bend over my silently-absent, seated partner! But, nonetheless, it was a terrific afternoon and Nicola received a lot of tips for a romantic evening with her new husband!!! Ladies, if you want to “rekindle” the eroticism of your marriage I strongly recommend trying it…..along with the martini’s!! The young barman was a great sport and did try the pole dancing, but was nowhere to be seen when the lap dancing started!! And....the reason I was "envying" the martinis...well first of all I was driving, but secondly and more importantly, we are all on an alcohol-free month - Jan 2 to Jan 26. It's actually doable, and quite bills are cheaper, general cost of "stuff" is less, and you feel great....don't miss it one little bit. But, no doubt we will all go back to our pre-2011 habits once Alanna's birthday hits on the 26th.
On a more serious note, I joined the half-marathon clinic at the Running Room on West Broadway. First class was January 4. We have started out with a slow 7 km on Sunday mornings and today just completed an 8 km run. The only hook is the hills. There are hills everywhere. So our “easy” runs are usually done half up hill and half down hill. Still managed a respectable 6.4 mins/km; but I don’t think I can keep that up for 21.1 km and certainly not over a hilly course. It’s a fun group of people, “Kitsilano” people, I’m told, as if that gives them some immediate identity….which of course is totally lost on me! Ray is joining me at the run club on Wednesday evenings and Sunday mornings. Then we try and fit in a fourth morning on Fridays. So that is certainly giving us some “schedule” to our life. Otherwise there is not much!

I am trying to do my reading and REMEMBER IT for my course. I thought someone said that running was good for the memory. I remember to go running….but not much else!! I have done a first draft of my essay and am now waiting to do a telephone interview with a charity that I am going to use as a cases study. Can’t wait for Jan 31 when it will all be over, and I shall be a free women again!!

Alanna joins us on Wednesdays and stays till Sunday when we drive her back to the West End (about 15minutes). The kilometre scale here is liberating. Instead of having to drive for half an hour to get anywhere, in 15 minutes we are practically at the other side of town….well, that is if the traffic is co-operating! We’ve had a few journeys over the Lion’s Gate Bridge that have taken a little longer than one would like. And we study (that's Alanna and I)………. Last night one of her class mates came for dinner and that was nice. I have also spent a couple of days with Alanna studying in the library at the Simon Fraser campus downtown. The atmosphere there is very congenial to studying for blocks of time without interruption. Bliss!

When Ray and I are on our own, I study (are you getting the picture???); Ray busies himself with listing our Collingwood Condo and the house for sale. We like to walk; so in between our runs, we try to fit in a walk, and of course we can walk to the “high street” in Kerrisdale to do our produce shopping. We walked "up" (note, yet another hill) there last Friday evening and had dinner in a neat little family owned restaurant called Suvai which was recommended to us by the owners’ of the house we are staying in. During the week, Ray had an outing to visit some business associates in Burnaby. Last Tuesday night it snowed, quite a bit actually, so Ray had to clear the front steps and the pavement in front of the house, and did the same for our neighbour. But by late afternoon the snow had turned to slush in the warm temperatures. We didn’t run that night because none of the side streets Otherwise, temperatures have been up and down - low was -4 or -5C at the beginning of the month; today it was 12C; and it has been up to 13/14C. By the end of Thursday, you would hardly have known there was snow. On Friday, I took the bus downtown to go “lingerie” shopping and spent a fun hour or so in Scarlet’s choosing some sexy lingerie for a shower gift.

Ray has also been checking out the real-estate in Vancouver. Most of it is totally out of anything that makes sense. I haven’t a clue how young people will ever buy a house here and since travel into the city is so restricted, I can’t imagine what the future for Vancouver looks like. The price of houses is just not in line with salaries. If your mortgage is $100,000 per annum, that means $200,000 earnings before tax; and if that is 50% of your salary, that means a salary of around $400,000. Unrealistic for the many. Of course figures for “affordability” are much higher and the average in Vancouver is more like 65% of salary.

We had a quiet hogmanay, and then on New Year’s Day our friends Cindy and Murray came for drinks. For those of you who don’t know Cindy, we lived together in a house on Davisville Avenue in Toronto “pre-marriage” together with Suzie, who lives in Sydney in Australia. These were my two cohorts on my August visit to Vancouver.

We made a trip today over the Second Narrow’s Bridge to Deep Cove on the north shore of the Indian Arm of the Burrard Inlet. It was a spectacular setting. The forested mountain slopes came right down to the shore line and there was a beautiful little hamlet right in the cove with a yacht club and piers for kayaking and other water sports. We had a tasty lunch in the Arms Reach Bistro looking over the water to the mountains on the other side of the Arm. It wasn’t raining but the skies were very gray and a white mist hung sulkily in between the mountain peaks so that the whole effect was very dramatic and very stunning. We ran out of road just past the houses in Deep Cove and so turned around and headed back to Vancouver over the Lion’s Gate Bridge. A really beautiful afternoon’s drive.

These have been our “highlights” to date, and sorry for not having more pictures…will try and remember to take my camera with me... stay tuned for more….