I spent most of yesterday puttering slowly around to all the groceries and in some cases buying frivolous things. One of my mentoring gig folks had mentioned a power granola called Holy Crap; I bought that in Urban Fare, for $12! For a cup! (Two tablespoons are supposed to be enough to fill you, but still.) It wasn’t terrible, and the tiny portion was reasonably filling. But a day later I’m at Calabria, having had my morning visit to the loo, and at the risk of TMI… I did not see our Lord and Savior just now while I was having my sit-down.
These are my standards. For $1.50 a serving I expect not only filling and nutritious but at least a preview of the second coming.
But Sechelt hippies need jobs too… if they can make a go of selling *legal* hemp products to the well-off peeps of the West End, more power to ’em.
The slow was because I’d needed caffeine to get through Italian and then was up past 11:00 a.m., so even buying food was a mental challenge.
I have to spend part of today reviewing Italian. Class ends next week and I’m going into part II; I feel as though I might have a fighting chance if I get the grammar under my belt. I just have to decide I’m gonna, and then rearrange my catastrophically confusing notes. And get over a few things: when I found out that the word(s) for it were the same words we sometimes use for a/an on Thursday, I did have a little internal temper tantrum. “Fuck you, Italia, with your la/lo/le/li!”
Ironically, this is all brushing up my English grammar considerably. “Here’s the transitive form,” says Amalia, and of course I have to think it through in English, and then sometimes in French, before I really get it.
I caught a real break with Italian I this latest time through: only three of us signed up, so there was lots of individual attention *and* they shortened the class by half an hour… which meant we were leaving at 9:00 p.m. instead of 9:30. As I am the girl whose day starts at five, that extra half hour was golden. When Italian II starts next month it’s gonna be a jolt.
Kelly and I spent Saturday night in Victoria last weekend; I had a meeting for the mentoring gig and rather than spend an entire day getting there and then back on the ferry, we decided to make an Occasion of it.
Before 2001 we used to visit the city periodically–check out Canada’s most magnificent bookstore, poke around, admire the waterfront, hit Craigdarroch Castle. Then when the parents moved to Parksville, all our Vancouver Island to-ing and fro-ing got subsumed into family visiting. We’d catch the ferry to Nanaimo, get a ride to their place, and hang out. They were great trips–I still miss doing that–but all we’ve seen of Victoria since then was a brief sail-by last year when the Alaska cruise we went on with my family happened to pause in Canada.
This wasn’t exactly leisurely either, but Kelly and I did manage to pack in some foodie tourism. We hit a lounge named Clive’s Classic Lounge, where they made interesting cocktails: their punch was incredible, and I had a thing called a rhubarb fizz that was very tasty. We also had insanely good Vietnamese food at a place called Kim’s on Johnson and a good brekkie at a hipstery joint, Mo:le.
Our big dinner at Il Terazzo was only just okay; the salads gave me high hopes, but the food–while nicely put together–was entirely lacking in special, or nuance. It is also a massive place, a pack ’em in cheek by jowl and let the noise mount venue. Nothing there was terrible, but the end result was, essentially, meh.
There were a couple big events happening in Victoria–a 90K bike race, and a boat festival of some kind. We were lucky to get a room at the Best Western. We were even luckier to get one on the fourth floor, directly across from a nesting seagull. Her egg began cracking as we were checking out of the hotel, and part of me wanted to stay until the thing not only hatched but grew to adulthood and started applying for colleges. It’s a good thing I didn’t–after kicking a hole in the roof, it crawled out of the bottom of the egg. Kelly and I saw some wriggling and one waving leg above the crown of the nest, but the miracle of bird birth didn’t yield any pictures more amazing than this blurry close-up of parent bird peering at the progress of its offspring as it busted out.
Kelly and I try to get out for at least one long walk each weekend, and Saturday we set out south. The thought was we’d go up to the high point on Clark Drive–where one of Vancouver’s best views can be had–then take the bike path east to Main Street. I don’t usually spend much time on Main, but the past few weekends I’ve been there a lot, and Saturday’s excuse was that I had a gift certificate from Front & Company. Also key to the whole scheme was a stop at the soon to be closed Re-entry Espresso for a last banana chocolate muffin.
We were on 29th & John when the first flakes started coming down, tiny barely visible bits of ice, so sparse you could count them. Here a flake, there a flake, not a threat of snow, barely a tease. The light had the uncompromising steely palette of a horror movie and it was quiet, but for the periodic caw of a crow.
We got to Reentry to find a wake in progress; all the neighborhood regulars were in for a last shot of decent espresso and to write up good wishes on brightly colored pieces of paper. The farewell notes got stuck to the window as patrons were leaving. We arrived just as someone vacated one of their mini-booths so I parked my butt, claiming the space…
…where I immediately attracted a bright-eyed four year old girl, who began petting the other seat–where K would eventually sit–covetously. She had the charming, hopeful gleam of a baby bird spotting a worm.
“You can sit for awhile,” I told her.
She slid in all the way to the wall. Introduced herself as Kimmy, shook my hand with enough vigor that I was afraid she’d smack my overworked, chronically sore paw into the table, and yanked up her skirt to show me her tights. They were very fine tights, pink, with both stripes and hearts. I told her I’d wear them.
She then cast those hopeful peepers on my hat.
It is quite the fab hat. Barb bought it for me a few Christmases ago, and it is colorful and reversible.
I told Kimmy she could try it on. She did, with great delight, and suddenly I had three kids in the bench across from me… another girl had joined us along with a slightly younger boy. They seemed into the hat but lacked Kimmy’s fashion initative. I flipped it inside out, turning it to a less intimidating black fleece objet, with pink brim. Nope. Kimmy was wild with delirium, but her sidekicks were content to stare.
(I figured hauling out the camera would change the chemistry or there would be pictures).
Then K turned and set our muffins on the table. Boychild snagged the plate, casual as anything. Like: thanks, lady! I had to move fast to rescue our pastries. He didn’t seem to take it personally.
The kids’ fathers–it was a very dad and tot crowd–retrieved them as soon as K was ready to sit. She heard one of of the guys say the cafe was the first place he’d taken his baby by himself. Awww!
So, Reentry, I barely knew ye, but I can see you are already missed.
Unconventional love of a cute couple:
Unless something truly photogenic comes my way in the next week, I am declaring this the official photo of my 22nd not legal wedding anniversary, which is actually this-coming Friday. (Kelly and I decided to celebrate yesterday because I have a concert on Saturday the 22nd, which would limit my partying options a bit.)
We’d decided to knock off early and meet at the Opus Hotel, and a lucky break in the clouds convinced me I ought to walk to Yaletown via False Creek. It was such a good decision. I had a fantastic kingfisher sighting. I saw it catch a fish! And thanks to my iPod Audobon bird-identifying app, I was able to go “Hey, that bird’s a girl!” These things excite me. I arrived at our date in an extremely happy state.
Our destination was the incandescent Lupo Restaurant, on Hamilton Street. This is a lovely heritage home that’s been converted to a restaurant: we ate in a room with a cozy gas fireplace, and they treated us like princesses. Kelly had the proscuitto pizzetta, I had a mushroom pasta (it’s not on the menu I’ve linked to, sadly, but oh! it was to weep!).
There was steak and seafood and two glasses of prosecco–being me, that means I was quite tipsy!–and a Grand Marnier creme brulee at the end.
Glorious, wonderful food. I cannot recommend this place enough.
We cabbed home, watched an hour of crime TV, and toddled off to bed at the usual early hour. I felt thoroughly spoiled.
As I write this, it is Saturday evening and I am parked by the fire, finishing up a few things while Kelly makes butternut squash ravioli from scratch; yes, I am a lucky woman indeed. Beyond my window, the first real storm of autumn has the trees lashing to and fro. Raindrops are clinking glassily against the windows and there’ve been a few loud skid noises from the busy road outside. No actual crashes, thankfully. This happens a lot at this time of year: not only are the roads wet, not only are we on a hill, but there are the piles of slick, slippery leaves in the mix.
The storm is a real shift from last weekend, when Barb and I caught this heron out in the mists of Burnaby Lake:
It’s even a change from this morning, which was nice enough out that we ambled along False Creek to the electronics store (I keep hearing the siren song of an iPad I don’t really need) and a grocery I’d picked as a good prospect to have fresh sage for the pasta. The walk takes you through the shiny new developments that were the Athlete’s Village during the Olympics, and that are now supremely expensive condos, waiting for upscale would-be owners with high credit ratings to save them from emptiness. We talked a bit about how they might have been developed differently, or for a different demographic of potential purchasers, even as we appreciated all the Hey, this is gonna be on TV, let’s make it look fantastico and then make a mint for it! amenity-rich design features of the green spaces.
I got in a good round of agonizing over the gadget without actually buying one. Then, at the grocery, sage was scored along with smoked salmon rolls and delicious, decadent figs. We ate them in the park and walked back along a slightly different route.
It was still quite mild out when we returned to East Van. As the skies darkened and the wind rose I fiddled with my web page some more, checked on the current UCLA class, roughed out a synopsis for my spring class, finished drafting an article that has been giving me fits, watched a TED talk, by Melinda French Gates, about what nonprofit aid organizations can learn from Coca Cola, peeked at Twitter and, any second now, I plan to make a salad.
All that and it’s not yet six. I foresee loafing and some television–Merlin, perhaps?–in what’s left of the day.