Wednesday, December 30, 2015


We arrived in Puerto Vallarta on schedule despite problems with our departure from Portland...good strong winds blowing in the right direction. It is a long drive to our new location...about one hour.

The condo is a transitional place for our hosts 
as they follow construction developments on a new home.

Our bedroom

Living room

Kitchen and dining room (and cat)

Casita (outside on the elevated patio level).
Originally a bedroom, the Casita is now the TV/office/studio.

The view down to Mismaloya beach.

The view up behind the condo

Breakfast table

Skies are sunny...sometimes cloudy...
Warm but not stifling...
Life is good!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Christmas 2015

We shared another lovely Christmas dinner with family. It was the last Christmas at my sister's home in Burnaby. Next year they will have transitioned into their new home in Cloverdale.

Three generations of turkey carvers!

The expert gravy maker!

Our next generation meets the challenge of a "Rubik's Cube"!

The infamous Mad Elf!

Christmas dinner complete with gluten-free stuffing!

It was a smaller group than usual. We missed many family members and friends who spent Christmas away from the lower mainland but they were with us in spirit. Everything was delicious!!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Sushi on Christmas eve

It was an odd Christmas eve... the two of us wandered up to Davie Street for a glass of wine at The Fountainhead. The waiter advised us that it was last call. The place was scheduled to close in 10 minutes at 6:00pm. We stretched the 10 minutes into 35 minutes while reminiscing about past Christmases and I decided that red wine did not mix well with a head cold!

Back on Davie Street we chatted with a young First Nations man about his choice in reading material and his changing locations on the street. His smiling face always greets us from a nest of sleeping bags and other acquisitions.

After walking back and forth we decided to place a take-out order of sushi at Samurai. There are four sushi restaurants in two blocks along Davie Street and this was the only one with a line waiting outside...must be good!...and it was!

Waiting for our order.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas eve

Struggling with this damned cold. Took a night time Tylenol cold med last night and my eyes refused to close until after 2:30am!! Naptime this afternoon.

Met friends for coffee this morning at Caffe Citadella. Managed to catch up on family news from the past two years while devouring delicious cranberry/orange scones. Coffees are always accompanied (in European style) by a small gold foil wrapped chocolate....yummhh!!

We have managed to do our daily ramblings despite the cold symptoms....discovering new buildings and street art along the way. Yesterday we found The Lauren which caused a major outcry from local residents.

Construction of The Lauren caused disruption and disturbances
for the neighbourhood residents and lawsuits with the City of Vancouver are still pending.

The mosaic was made with pieces of the stained glass windows 
 from St. John's Church which was demolished on this site.

Happy Holiday wishes at Barclay House.

Back on Davie Street we spotted one of the Vankiss mistletoes
hanging from a light standard and asked a passerby to snap a photo.
There are 10 mistletoe locations in downtown Vancouver this year.

We aren't sure who OTTO is but we smile 
every time we see his message in the lobby!

Monday, December 21, 2015


Damn! Why am do I get a cold when I am the one who is constantly washing my hands and reminding him to do the same?? The usual symptoms..sore throat, sneezy and lethargic. Hope it's over before Christmas dinner so that I can savour the flavours!!

Because we were awake early this morning we decided to visit Granville Island for coffee and a walkabout. It was very quiet and enjoyable.

Ocean Cement adds a creative touch to their Island business.
This cement truck is festooned with strings of lights.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Yesterday's ramblings

Fire alarm testing in the apartment building yesterday started at 9:00am.

 To avoid the harsh ringing we embarked on a longer walk
to Finch's at Pender and Homer for breakfast.
It was a rare rainless morning!!

Enroute we discovered Santa resting in a window display...

...and met this little guy who had travelled from Whistler 
with his parents to see the new Star Wars movie!
Not sure which galaxy he is from.

John made his fabulous pork tenderloin dinner
as a special treat last night.

I discovered two of Gram's placemats stashed in our last minute packings.
They prompted us to share seasonal memories while enjoying dinner.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Zakkushi, umbrella etiquette and a birthday dinner

On Wednesday night we walked down to Denman Street and met our friends Arndt & Toshiko for dinner at Zakkushi. This restaurant specializes in charcoal grilled skewers so we sampled many different flavours including beef, pork and liver. For the first time we enjoyed grilled rice balls that were very flavourful. An order of edamame and several cups of sake warmed us before the walk back home. We shared our stories of packing up and moving...they relocated to a White Rock condo from Armstrong while we are still homeless with luggage in the trunk of our car.

 The rain returned with intermittent snow flakes yesterday. It was another dreary wet day in paradise. Time to reflect on umbrella etiquette! Brollies are essential and utilitarian in Vancouver. Unfortunately, while the City has created bicycle lanes, it has not created "Umbrella lanes" on the sidewalks. It can be a hazardous trek to the grocery store as ignorant brolly holders refuse to adjust the position of their overhead protection. Then there are the ultimate abusers of umbrella etiquette who place dripping umbrellas on seats in the local coffee shops! I was forced to reprimand one of the abusers and promised not to disclose "his" name!

Last night the ladies shared a belated celebration of my sister's birthday 
at Yianni's Greek Taverna in New Westminster.
It was great to have our younger generation join the sisters!
Good food...good company!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Dec. 16 - Theatre, coffee and more

We were given an early Christmas to a theatre production staged by Forbidden Vancouver at Roedde House in the West End of Vancouver. The house, designed by Rattenbury, is a part of the Barclay Heritage Square which features 9 historic homes built between 1890-1908.

It was about a one mile walk through the rain to the house where our group of 20 audience members gathered on the porch and waited for the Chinese houseboy to welcome us inside. Staged in 1915, the play was entitled "War for the Holidays". It touched on issues of the time...The Great War, prejudice, suffrage and family dynamics.

After being ushered into the sitting room we were offered cocktails of amaretto and eggnog. Throughout the play we had the opportunity to view various rooms as we followed the actors up and down the stairs. In the dining room we were given tasty plum pudding before singing a final Christmas carol, wishing a Merry Christmas to the family and waving goodbye.

The rain had stopped when we left so we had a leisurely walk back to the apartment past brilliant displays of Christmas lights. We are both enjoying our many walks through the neighbourhoods.

This morning we met our friend Arlene for coffee at Caffe Citadel. Time flies when we are together,
there are always so many topics to cover. Arlene is a talented writer and teacher with so many other creative skills. In the spring she will be conducting "foodie tours" from Yaletown over to Granville Island with a focus on sustainability. If you're in Vancouver...this is a must!

After coffee we visited the Bird-on-a-Wire shop on Main Street just south of Broadway. My sister and I discovered this little gallery/craft shop when they first opened five years ago. I am thrilled that it  still exists and is able to provide a venue for local artists and artisans to sell their creations. We found several treasures.

While John was napping this afternoon I went in search of a specific Christmas gift...enjoying the sunny day. Unfortunately both shops that carry the item were out of stock but I did manage to capture an interesting mural enroute.

This artwork is hidden in an alley behind The Two Parrots!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

The horse and the rubber ducky

He clutched a grey plastic horse in one hand and his coffee in the other hand. The horse was placed carefully on the counter beside creams and sugars. It stood upright, appearing to watch his movements. After stirring some sugar into the coffee he picked up the horse and moved to a seat by the window. Now the horse sat on the counter facing pedestrians as they walked past.

We had stopped in at Joe Rich's on Davie for our morning coffee. I was fascinated by the guy with the horse and wondered if it was a "coded message". He didn't seem embarrassed by his companion and the other customers weren't disturbed by its presence.

As I was mulling over the various possibilities another customer walked by and placed a yellow rubber ducky on the table in front of his coffee. That was when I knew for sure that something was going on. Had we stumbled into some sort of weird hangout where the regular customers signalled messages to each other with their toys? Was it a Sunday morning ritual? Did the horse indicate a huge penis? What could the rubber ducky mean? Who could we ask about this odd habit?

That was when the cook came out of the kitchen carrying two breakfast plates and calling for "the horse" and "the rubber ducky"! OMG!! Why didn't they just take the customer's name instead of giving them toys!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

St. Paul's - Lights of Hope

On our many walks we have watched the display at St. Paul's Hospital take shape. It is a beautiful expression of hope for many people in our province.

Daytime view

Each star is sponsored by individuals or businesses in B.C.

Their goal is to reach three million dollars.
As of today they have received $2,440,000 in pledges of support.

Dec. 11 - Lights

Yesterday was a glorious day! After a Doctor's appointment and brunch with a friend we walked along Beach Avenue in the sunshine. A cold wind was blowing but the sun on our backs felt wonderful.

In the evening we met Heather, Chris & Augie for a tour of Van Dusen gardens with crowds of people, magical lights and synchronized music. Bundled up in winter gear we joined the throngs and enjoyed the Festival of Light.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Dec. 10-more wet walking

More wet walking today as we explored Granville and Seymour streets ending at the SFU store on Hastings Street. As we wandered through the diverse goods for sale John felt a tap on his shoulder. Turning around he was surprised to see our son-in-law who works in the tower above.

We joined him for lunch and then toured his workplace on the 24th floor overlooking Vancouver's harbour...watching the Seabus sail across to North Vancouver. Wow! What a great view!

On our return trip we sauntered through Pacific Centre to avoid more windy, wet weather. The Mall felt very claustrophobic with narrow walkways and low ceilings. A stop at the Art Gallery gift shop was beneficial as we discovered a couple of Xmas gifts for our grandson.

Back at the apartment we were happy to rest and start a big pot of tasty winter soup!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Dec. 9 - sun shining!

We wandered down Burrard Street today armed with my camera...looking up at reflections and into store windows to capture some shapes and colours.

A visit to the Marine Building brought us into a seasonal celebration
for the tenants of the building.

Entering through the original revolving doors,
we were greeted in the lobby with the aroma of mulled cider, trays of sweets 
and Christmas music preformed by a trio of local musicians.

The brass doored elevators in the lobby of this Vancouver treasure that was built in 1930.

There are images everywhere on the city streets.
The next time you are downtown...remember to look up!!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Dec. 7 - still raining

Yesterday was interesting. Not sure why we didn't just put our feet up in the apartment and let the hours drift by while the skies continued to pour outside. Because we had several things to deliver to my sister, we embarked on a "quick" trip to her home in Surrey at 1:30pm. Oblivious to the scheduled Santa Claus parade in downtown Vancouver, we ended up in a circuitous route that took us back to where we started... at the apartment...45 minutes later. After an additional 50 minutes of congested city driving we were at her door and dreading the thought of getting back into the traffic for our return trip!

Fortunately the parade had ended and the city had emptied. Back at the apartment we had time to rest for an hour before trekking for a mile to The Sylvia Hotel for our anniversary dinner. Seated at a table overlooking Beach Avenue we ordered a bottle of Malbec, savoured the flavour and relaxed. Three minutes later our dinner arrived. No time for reflection or sharing of those special moments that we had gathered over the past 35 years...the food was on the table after one sip of the wine!!

It was a delicious prime rib dinner served with a friendly attitude of "let's get these folks out of here as soon as possible so that we can go home"! The attitude of "server haste" replaced any notion of  a relaxed dinner date. The food must have been waiting on the plates before we arrived.

The walk home was wetter and windier than before. The uphill portion was challenging but we made it home in time to watch the salute to Frank Sinatra's 100th birthday celebration with a very strange assortment of vocalists performing his many tunes. What would he think if he were still alive? Fortunately we missed his daughter's performance!!

This morning we defied the "Rain God" and trudged over to BREKA Cafe for delicious scones and wonderful coffee. This place is better than all of the Starbucks, Waves and Blenz that line downtown streets. They have amazing breads, biscuits, muffins, pastries and cakes.

Along the way we noticed huge photo murals along a future construction site that included our current home.

The Martinique is the building near the bottom 
with the swimming pool on the roof.

Penthouse 2 is on this side of the building.

The Martinique was constructed in 1966. The two penthouses are actually on the 13th floor with a city view. The pool and terrace occupy the other "water view" side. It is a funky building with some longtime residents who share a love of Vancouver's West End.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Dec. 6 - 35th Anniversary

The sun is trying to shine on our 35th anniversary date...only 23 official years! It has been days of relentless rain but at noon today there was a slice of blue sky in the south.

We woke up to a wet floor in the bedroom under the window. Our bags were soggy on the bottom but no damage to any of the contents. It looks like the rain has entered between the outside wall and the window. Something always happens when we are living at other homes!!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Dec. 2nd - Discovery of Mole Hill

We enjoyed a great walk this morning along unexplored streets that took us to The Red Umbrella, a small cafe near the bottom of Davie Street. Fueled by a delicious omelet breakfast, we wandered back along Robson Street and into the area known as "Mole Hill". The following info was taken from their website:

The Mole Hill Community Housing Society provides and advocates for secure, affordable housing for low and middle income singles, seniors, and families within enviro-conscious, intact heritage housing, and streetscapes. MHCHS aims to foster a community that integrates partnerships and diverse service groups, and to create open public spaces for the enjoyment of tenants and the wider community.

There are 170 units on the Hill. There are both market and subsidy suites available, ranging in suite sizes from bachelor to 3 bedrooms. 10 units are dedicated to the wait list of the MacLaren Housing Society, which provides homes for persons living with AIDS. The St. Paul’s Heart Home, which provides housing for heart transplant patients and their families while recuperating from surgery, is directly across from St. Paul’s Hospital. Watson House, with a transition home run by the Coast Mental Health Foundation, provides rooms and support for 8 people learning to reintegrate with the community while managing mental health issues.
On the corner of Thurlow and Comox, the Dr. Peter Centre provides both in and out patient care for people living with AIDS, providing support, meals, and harm reduction services.

The houses are preserved with Heritage designation
Mole Hill was created with environmental sustainability and commitment in mind. All the homes are heated with geo-thermal technologies, which minimize the energy consumption necessary for heating by using the earth’s natural underground warmth through energy-efficient heat exchanging pumps. A focus on energy-efficient lighting and appliances also helps minimize energy use. The resources saved in effectively “recycling” the heritage homes was joined by a commitment to use other recycled materials in construction. As well, the gardens were constructed using recycled bricks and lumber. In the alley, there are four spots dedicated to the Vancouver Co-operative Auto Network, and a number of the residents are Co-op members.

The laneways have playgrounds for the children and lush community gardens.
On subsequent walks I hope to document the variety of architectural styles that have left their mark on the West End apartment buildings.