Friday, March 29, 2013

On Andros

Unfortunately I have not been able to figure out how to bring my recent photos into the blog so this will have to be a narrative until I find a way to add images.

We are staying on the island of Andros with our friend Kalliroi. She lives on the upper floor of a house near Chora and cultivates a small garden at the back. It has been a joy to eat freshly harvested lettuces, spinach, arugula, onion and radish salads at the end of March.

The weather has not been balmy...rainy yesterday but sunny today. We are still wearing long sleeved shirts and jackets. Still, it is much warmer than the temperature in London where we spent our first night...2 degrees!

As well as jetlag we have to adjust to the Greek eating habits...our main meal in the late afternoon or late at night. The first two nights we shared our dinner at 10pm and needless to say, I was starving!

Today we explored Chora, the island's capital city where all of the civic business takes place. It was really bustling, street cafes were full, groups of students were on outings, the narrow main road was impassable. Green peace was in the harbor and some of the crew were talking to the students about overfishing in the Aegean and Mediterranean.

Later we shared a late afternoon meal at a small taverna. The table was loaded, in typical Greek fashion, with plates of octopus, goat, baked cheese, wild greens, local sausage, wine, raki and finally sweet cheese pastries.

Ater a long day of walking, climbing, eating, discussing, beach combing ...John was in bed at 7pm. Our young friends expect that we will reemerge around 10pm for more merriment but it is doubtful.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Across the Atlantic

Arrived at Heathrow after a smooth flight in a British Air 747! Not fond of that size! As usual the food was less than stellar. The attendants feel overworked but were quite friendly. Deboarding assistance was sparse for those who weren't capable of walking endless miles to Customs.

It was 2 degrees outside where we went in search of a Hotel bus. The driver of No. 51 thought that he could take us to the "right" Holiday Inn. If not, we could take another bus back to Heathrow and find the "right" bus????! Fortunately he dropped us at the "right" Hotel where we were upgraded to a room with a king size bed and given coupons for free drinks at the bar!

It is our goal to keep ourselves awake until around 8-9pm in order to transition to this time zone! Of course tomorrow we add another two hours to our distance from home.

Friday, March 22, 2013


As our days in Vancouver are coming to an end we have found ourselves wandering everywhere! This morning we drove over to "Bean Around the World" on Main Street for morning coffee. Unfortunately, the place was packed, no seats available.

Back in the car we decided to try the Willow Cafe again. Last time we were serenaded by Dean Martin and Farsi music. This time they played an entire retrospective of Elvis songs!! When the young man behind the counter saw our backgammon game he called to one of the owners who told John that after John had practiced with me, he would challenge John. It wasn't John's day! He lost all three games to me! As the winner, I had to play against an extremely experienced Persian guy who had been playing since he was three years old!! Of course I lost but he gave me some valuable tips along the way. John promised to have a game with him when we return from two months of practice in Greece.

The sun was threatening to shine so we walked down to Granville Island, touring around the perimeter in order to avoid the spring break crowds. Crowds of families were visiting the island.

The Federation Gallery had some wonderful pastel paintings by Joan Larson alongside ethereal oils by Michael Abraham.  Also of interest were several large watercolours by Jennifer Olsen that had been drymounted on board rather than framed behind glass.

Taking a roundabout route back to the apartment, we discovered "Chocolate Arts" on West 3rd Avenue. Unable to resist taking a peek inside, we inhaled the heady aroma of chocolate and stayed for lunch. They offer sandwiches, coffees and a selection of baked goodies as well as an incredible array of sweets that are created onsite using top quality chocolate. I can still taste the sample that was offered to us before leaving, a creamy champagne flavoured filling coated in dark chocolate.

The sun was still struggling to shine as we left. There was fresh snow on the mountains and a chill wind blew from the northwest. We are definitely looking forward to warmer temperatures!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Reflections of a sunny day

of a sunny day
in Vancouver.
When was that?

Monday, March 18, 2013

March 18, 1952

My sister would have celebrated her 61st birthday today.
I miss her.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Continental Coffee House

This morning we drove over to Main Street to do some produce shopping. There is an Asian grocery store that always has an amazing selection of fruit and veggies at very good prices.

Enroute the skies opened so we stopped in at the Continental Coffee House. After a night of stomach distress, I opted for a pot of green tea with a delicious cranberry/lemon muffin, still hot from the oven. John experimented with a pot of Rooibus Surprise and a blueberry/passion muffin. The interior has a modern industrial feel but the chairs were super comfortable and the staff was very friendly.

During the downpour an Asian woman asked if she could join our table. From Beijing, she told us stories about her 12 year old daughter's education. Coming from a class size of 70 students in China to a class of less than 30 in Vancouver was quite an adjustment. She explained that the teachers in Beijing get "boners" when their students do well. I was trying to visualize this when I realized that she meant "bonuses"!! In China the students have no free time, here they have too much free time!!

She also told us that it was very difficult to make friends and become involved in the Kerrisdale community where she lives. That area was chosen because of the high quality schools but her daughter has found that cliques were formed long before they moved to Vancouver. Next year her daughter will attend Magee High School, taking academic subjects during the morning and studying ballet every day from 1-6pm.

They don't like the idea that their daughter wants to pursue a profession in the arts but this is a different generation. In China, they did what their parents told them to do. Their daughter has tasted life in Canada and is determined to follow her own dreams.

Monday, March 11, 2013

The sisters meet!

Yesterday was a special day. It was the first time that my sisters met each other!

From left: Dorothy, Lin, Tracey, Tara

Tracey was performing in a play, "Death Among the Delphiniums", out of town in Mission. I invited Dorothy and Tara to come along to a matinee on Sunday. The community theatre held about 50 guests and the production was top notch. Tracey mastered a flawless British accent. She and the rest of the cast did a wonderful job of leading the audience through a murder mystery plot!

Tracey is my sister through my father's second marriage while Dorothy and Tara are my sisters through my mother's second marriage. I am very fortunate to have so many wonderful sisters including sisters-in-law and a step-sister in England.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Testing the blog with iPad and photos transferred from camera to IPad.


Friday, March 8, 2013

From Apple genius to the knee surgeon

What a day! We met another "Apple genius" this morning to solve the problem of connecting my digital camera to John's ipad. When I hooked up the connector, the ipad screen said "the connected USB device requires too much power". Of course the "genius" was able to solve the problem within about ten minutes. It was the camera, not me!!

Afterward, we decided to explore a different part of Vancouver between Cambie & Oak Streets and between 14th & 16th Avenues. In the process we discovered a great coffee shop...maybe the best. While sipping and munching we were serenaded by an unusual mix of Farsi music and old Dean Martin classics.

The Iranian owners were very friendly, coffee was excellent, comfortable seating and all of the baking is done onsite. Unfortunately it is a bit further than our usual walking range but we will return!

Back on the street we were thrilled to see the first cherry tree blossoms!

This afternoon we drove over to North Vancouver to see John's knee surgeon. We had some concerns about fluid retention in his left leg but the Doctor assured us that it appeared to be an effusion that was
nothing to worry about! It is not painful, just unusual...but this is John! When was he ever "usual"?

There are several "mosaic" cars driving around the streets of Vancouver. This one invited us to "tickle me"!...where?...under the hood, behind the rear bumper, inside the trunk???

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

My Vancouver Doctor

I visited my Vancouver Doctor today to have a small growth removed from my right breast. He thinks that it is a keratoacanthoma and thought that it should be biopsied.

It is possible that, after 45 years in the medical profession, my Vancouver Doctor is the longest practicing physician in the lower mainland. He has occupied the same space in the same building for the entire 45 years! He refuses to stop because he still enjoys his job! It is impossible for me to view him as too old because we are almost the same age! My first appointment with him was 36 years ago. Now we meet only when I am staying in Vancouver for months and need medical attention.

Mariah, his absolutely crazy receptionist, showed me into a small room with an examination table pushed against the window wall. At the foot of the table was another small table to hold the coffee maker and microwave. She left me with a few words of wisdom "I hope you survive!"

He appeared wearing a face mask (because I am still suffering from a cold) and a weird magnifying glass that wrapped around his head. Behind the glass his eyes peered at me through a pair of eyeglasses creating the illusion of a Hannibal Lecter.

"I have complete faith in you!" I stated bravely. "Well, I have done this before" he replied.

"Are you going to hurt me?" I asked. "Only in order to not hurt you" he retorted.

Aha...a needle! We chatted a bit during his excavation. I was careful to not distract him from the task at hand. He described the shape of the incision and the three stitches that would leave a small scar.

Leaving, I was happy to report to Mariah that I had survived. She might not have heard me between singing along with Shania Twain, one of her favourites.

An internal discussion

I am having a discussion with myself. It isn't easy because the "me who wants what she wants" always has valid arguments. The "me who wants to change the habits of the me who wants what she wants" is readily convinced that any changes are unnecessary.

The internal discussion began when I decided (maybe) to leave my laptop behind when we go to Greece. It is heavy and I thought that it would be a good idea to lighten the load. That's when the internal suggestions started to pop into my head.

I could buy another ipad so that we each have one, but, would I rather spend $500 on another ipad or on travel experiences. Then a serious thought surfaced. Why not try to travel without being glued to an electronic device?! OMG!! What about my scrabble addiction? What about my blog? What about my photos? What about email? Of course we would still have John's ipad. That would mean constant disagreements about whose turn it is to use the damned thing!

Finally it dawned on me! Too many hours in my day are absorbed by the need to be connected!
So, we will travel with John's ipad as well as my writing pad, drawing book and camera. In lieu of looking at an electronic screen I will savour my surroundings, draw my impressions and write some thoughts. That will be enough. (maybe)

Saturday, March 2, 2013

heavy rainfall warning!

This is what the heavy rainfall warning
looks like from the apartment... downtown buildings,
no boats in the harbour,
no mountains,
no walks!

Friday, March 1, 2013

A drippy day

On a drippy day
as droplets dangle
from delicate buds