Thursday, 28 August 2008

served and deserved

After coffee with Suz I shower and head to 4th Ave. to buy some fresh underwear and a sandwich. My first attempts are not successful. I try the drug store for the underwear but they have none and I try Capers for the sandwich but bizarrely that does not work out so well. I do not want any of the pre-made, meaty sandwiches and ask for a cheese sandwich. I am offered a grilled cheese on foccaccia but I do not think it will be nice for the plane. The server goes to consult with two others and returns to tell me that they are out of bread. I kind of want to point out that I am standing just 2 feet away from a rack that is displaying about 200 loaves of bread but feel they must already know that so I just nod and leave.

I find nice on-sale underwear at American Apparel and a not-on-sale cucumber and cambozola sandwich at Terra Breads. The sandwich is $7.50!!!!!!!!!! but I get it anyway plus an apricot and ginger scone -- I am not even going to tell you how much that was.

I have to call a cab but it comes instantly and I head to the airport very early just-in-case. I am so early that I decide to try and cash in my cab receipts. I stood in 2 lines, talked to 3 women (1 very nice, 1 pretty edgy and 1 who entered the conversation uninvited and was downright horrible and made Ms. Edgy even edgier). I ended up with a business card with a the address for a P.O. Box in Calgary circled on it. I give up and feel quite depressed. Why so "edgy?" I do not think I was doing anything to deserve being spoken to that way. And I really do not think that circling an address on a card counts as customer service. Oh well. Next time I'll take the hotel room and meals.

I get another mucky Starbucks coffee and drink that and eat my sandwich. Then it is time to leave. Ms. Unflappable is the gate agent and remembers me. She is right -- I do have the best seat. I watch Kung Fu Panda. All of it!?!? And I laughed a couple of times. Weird.

And then I have a cup of tea and my scone. I arrive @ YYZ feeling quite relaxed.

I go to get my bag and the Toronto baggage guy insists that it is still in Vancouver. He tells me that the Vancouver man who said it was on flight 100 yesterday was wrong. Then he tells me it might have been on the flight I actually took — to wait and see if it came off the carousel and if it does not he will make a report. I ask him to make the report before that and he agrees but is quite poopy about it all. The more questions I ask the poopier he gets. Another guy overhears his poopiness and takes me to three different rooms to look for my bag. It is not in any room. He then suggests that I wait by the carousel in case it shows up. I sit on a bench to watch the bags go round — I have a feeling that if I leave without the bag I will never see it again. As boredom creeps over me, I glance across the room and see what looks like my bag sitting in the middle of the floor about 6 feet from the desk where I had met Mr. Poopy. I walk over to check in a state of disbelief. It looks like my bag. I unzip the duffle and reveal the orange knapsack inside. It is my bag!

I go to tell Mr. Poopy and he asks for the report card back. I say I want to keep it and he replies, “Fine, you cannot do anything to me with that card.” Quite odd. I tell him that I do not want to do anything to him (I want the info in case I have the energy to make a complaint) and leave. Good to know that in Toronto, baggage claim means wandering around the airport until you happen to see your bag somewhere.

The person leaning on the counter talking to Mr. Poopy may very well be the owner of the wheelie bag next to my duffle. It had a "standby" tag on it.

It occurs to me as I am walking out that my bag has probably been sitting there "unattended" for about 22 hours. So even if there is no system for tracking baggage, and even if the tags they attach to your bags and boarding pass turn out to be meaningless, shouldn't someone from security have noticed? In Vancouver a guy left his bag by the carousel for about 5 minutes and they were all over it. I am just saying.

The cab fare from the airport went up $5 on August 24th.

When I get home I find that Dad, who came by with supplies for my return (sweet!), had locked the bottom lock which I do not use and I cannot get in to the house. I call him, hide my bags in the garbage can and pip down to College to get a cab to go pick up his copy of the key. It is POURING rain and I get wet right through to my brand new underwear.

But I am lucky. There is a cab right at the end of the alley and the driver is most pleasant and cooperative, Dad is waiting on the porch with my key and some cab fare (so wonderful to see him there all concerned and DAD!), my bags are still in the garbage can when I get back, the key works instantly, everything in my house is right where I left it, the internet is working, there are three episodes of Corrie on the VCR, and there are crumpets and bananas and cheese for a bedtime snack.

So all is well that ends well!

Thank you to all BC relatives for the most excellent holiday. Thanks for the great company, the good laughs, the beautiful and cozy accommodations, the fabulous meals, the new book, the new furry camping pillow case, letting me have the 3 precious days with the wee boyos, and for making me feel most lovingly cared for the entire time I was in your neighbourhood. I hope that I can try to do the same for you in my ‘hood soon — but it is a tough act to follow.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

not so fast

The Vancouver airport is often a bit of a nightmare and today was no exception. When I got the airport, the line to drop off a bag was looooooong. It wound around all the little Canadiana souvenir and chocolate shops almost to the security gate. I arrived at 11:30 and it took me until 12:24 to get my bag tagged by an Air Canada agent and then I had to get in another line to drop my bag on the conveyor belt. There were no agents helping people in the line and so some people -- people who gave themselves only the required 60 minutes -- missed their flights. I made it through security and dashed down the hall to get to gate 52 in time for the 12:35 boarding time only to find that there was no gate 52 and my flight had been cancelled. Don't you think it was a little odd that at 12:24 the agent did not know that the flight was cancelled and checked my bags on to a flight that did not exist?

Anyway, a sort of harried woman was trying to get people who had to be in Toronto in time for another flight onto the next plane and the rest of us had to stand around and listen to her sputter and and tutt. Then Steve showed up all testy and full of self-importance and proceeded to redo all that she had done and yell at people and dash back in forth in a futile attempt to exert some control over us all. He got 12 people on the flight and then put 70 of us on standby for a flight leaving later in the afternoon. The gate for that flight was near a Starbucks so I got one of their horrible coffees settled in for the wait. It turned out that the flight was full. I went to a very nice unflappable AC agent and asked that if I could stay overnight, would it be better just to try again tomorrow. She said that that was exactly what she would recommend. She looked me up in the computer and it turned out that I was already booked on a flight for the 8:00 the next morning but Steve had neglected to mention that. Ms. Unflappable booked me on a later flight and got me a seat by the emergency exit with "14 feet of leg room -- the best seat on the plane." She offered me a hotel but I refused and asked for cab fare. She agreed. And I headed off to get a cab chit and reclaim my luggage. The baggage guy called the handlers and they told him that my luggage had been loaded onto the standby flight and could not be recovered. I was given an overnight kit of a t-shirt, deodorant, a razor and a toothbrush and told I could get my bag in Toronto the next day.

I grabbed a cab (not one cab driver nor the cab assignment guy knew about the chits so I paid and got a receipt in full confidence that AC would honour it -- a misplaced confidence as it turned out) to head down to meet Suz and Paul. We went to Steamworks for a well-deserved beer and plate of food. And then home to sleep in my new t-shirt.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008


Today is not so brilliant weatherwise and tomorrow I am leaving. I feel I should go downtown to the art gallery or something edifying like that but I just don't feel like it. I head out with my book in search of coffee and a place to read. And yes, I am still reading Yellow Dog -- it is one step forward, two steps back with me and this book but I like and so I persevere. I linger and loiter here and there. I walk along the beach one last time for this summer. A perfect last day.

I meet up with Paul and Suz at their place for a fabulous dinner and conversation. Perfect ending to the day and to the holiday. Bye everybody. And then back to 3rd Ave to pack and sleep.

Monday, 25 August 2008

neighbourhood day

It is a glorious summer day. Bright blue sky and bright yellow sun. I feel kind of crap because of my cold but I head off to meet a literacy colleague at Calhoun's on Broadway. It is a fantastic walk and I get there a bit early. I go an poke around the Parthenon and try to go to the funky little second-hand store we visited last summer but it is closed on Mondays. Poop. Probably just as well. I bought quite a bit last year.

I have a great chat with my colleague and then walk back to 4th Ave to do some shopping for dinner. All goes well but I am feeling quite achy and done in so I return to 3rd and Cypress and flop down on the couch and promptly fall into deep sleep. My cousin Kath and Rosie are staying in Sidney with my aunt and have kindly given me the use of their condo. It is such a beautiful and cozy spot. She has a shady balcony that feels like a tree house and her place is decorated in reds and yellows and mementos. It feels like home.

Dinner plans change and we are to meet in a restaurant instead. As I am getting ready to leave I realize how crappy I am feeling and decide to stay in and sleep more. I am sad to miss the festivities but I cannot keep up any longer.

Sunday, 24 August 2008


The brothers were taken to Qualicum Beach by their Dad to spend a week with Nana and Papa. My cousin and I took the early ferry from Tsawassen to Sidney to return the car to my aunt and to have lunch with her and my other BC cousin. It was quite a rainy and cool day so we could not sit out on the ferry deck. I found a sheltered spot and stood out for a while but my cousin was wearing sandals and stayed in and read the paper.

We met my aunt and other cousin at the Beacon Landing and had lovely lunch and chat. My aunt treated which was very nice of her. After lunch, we went and got Rosie and then they drove us back to the ferry and we returned to Vancouver -- this time we both stayed inside for the whole trip.

I did not take any pics but you can see my aunt, my cousin and Rosie here.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

vespers vancouver-style

haircuts and chocolates

saturday night's alright for ice cream

The boys got haircuts in the morning and then one brother, his mother and I went to the car wash to clean the camping debris from my aunt's car. The other brother and his Dad came to join us for dinner at the Noodle Box followed by ice cream.

They have 218 flavours. Among us we tried curry, balsamic vinegar, fennel, grapefruit and campari, lemon fudge, fig and lemon rind... before settling upon coffee crisp, oreo cookie, espresso chocolate chip, chocolate ice and a fruit that starts with l.

Car wash brother and I share a birthday in September. We exchanged gifts -- mostly chocolate but I also got a lovely mechanical pencil with orange leads. Then we went home to eat chocolate and admire the haircuts.

Friday, 22 August 2008

gift from auntie joan

tapped and dancing

We started the day on 4th Avenue. We shopped for our picnic, one of us picked a book to buy with the money from Auntie Joan, and we bought chocolates for our birthdays and for me to bring home to friends and family. We went home to get our picnic ready and then headed down to the beach. Everybody was in a bit of a goofy mood and there was some tension. My cold was making me feel extremely droopy and short-tempered which probably created most of the tension. We ate and played ball and then 2 of us went for a swim and then got buried in the sand. I did not have the camera so you will just have to imagine it + how much sand came home with us on our shorts, shoes, towels and hair. After showers and the cleaning of the bathroom, we tried to play Monopoly but we were feeling too goofy to concentrate properly. It was a Simpson's Monopoly board and all we could think about was watching the Simpson's. I wonder if the trip to Science World tapped our brains and we needed a long brainless break before they could work again. We decided to play battling tops instead which proved to be exactly our speed that afternoon. Equanimity was restored and the usual good-hearted hilarity resumed.

Thursday, 21 August 2008


In the morning it looked as though it was going to be another rainy day
so we planned a trip to Science World.

It turned out to be gloriously sunny and the rain gear I lugged about all day proved to be surplus to requirements. But we had a great day. We got day passes for the False Creek ferries and used them to go up and down the Creek.We spent hours at SW. We watched an IMAX movie about dinosaurs, tried all the experiments, ate grilled cheese sandwiches, watched a movie about how an asteroid is going to smash into the Earth and kill us all and then tried to cheer ourselves up with ice cream and more skill-testing activities. We spent the whole day learning and did not even notice it. Beauty!

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

arts and smarts

The boys and I went to the fabulous Kitsilano branch of the Royal Bank -- these people understand the meaning of customer service -- so I could replace my bank card. I lost my card somewhere between the Duke Point ferry cafeteria and the Newcastle Island ferry dock. We spent the rest of the morning on 4th Avenue peeking in stores and snacking. I got a new wallety thing for my new card.

The brothers were very nice to me and to each other. Big brother bought little brother a grab bag of candy. When I offered to buy them things, both brothers expressed concern about me spending too much money. They also expressed concern that we were only doing things that they liked and not any thing that I liked. They suggested that I might enjoy the bead store. We went to the bead store and made each other necklaces.

It was a kind of rainy day so we went to a movie in the afternoon. We chose Get Smart which is based on an old tv show written by Mel Brooks. The 2008 version sort of reminded me of the movie at the end of Pee Wee's Big Adventure where James Brolin plays Pee Wee and Morgan Fairchild plays Dottie. We laughed a lot. We all liked Alan Arkin and the line about the swordfish.

Memory Lane: My first friend in Ottawa was a girl called Pia. One day she and her sister Kim and brother Kai came over to our place and they played a game of Get Smart where everyone was a character from the show. I had never seen the show and was quite confused. I did not even know what Agent 99 meant. I wondered if I would ever catch up to my new friends in Canada who seemed to know about so many things I had never heard of. (Of which I had never heard?!? - see, people who say that you cannot end an English sentence with a preposition are just plain loopy - ed.) Later, when I did see the show -- probably with another friend, Karen -- much of the confusion lifted and I started to feel like I was getting a handle on the cultural touchstones of my new community. I have always had a pretty warm memory of Get Smart and the role it played in acculturating me.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008


these photos by suzanne ahearne on my camera.

leaving newcastle

Monday, 18 August 2008


long live the king

comfort and abundance

There is a beautiful building on Newcastle Island where you can have a party,

relax on a gorgeous wrap-around porch,

or enjoy a snack and a game of cards (that is us in there at the table).

star power

Mum, I'm ready for my closeup.

It's the pictures that got small...

oak trees

You know how some spots just speak to you. This row of oaks by the bay spoke to me. I spent quite a bit of time here listening and looking.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

life is a beach

story juice posts and pictures
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