Tonight Emile and I attended an underground dinner party. As you’ll recall, the one we signed up for was a social one, meaning nobody there (aside from if you signed up with a friend) knew each other. There were nine attendees in total:
- Emile & I
- Amanda, a Yoga instructor who used to own a fashion boutique and use also be in film
- Daniela, One of the co-owners of “We are Local“
- Stephanie, a federal government employee who moved here after falling in love with Vancouver working on the Olympics
- Chance, her husband and working for Health Canada who told many stories of their travel adventures
- Daniel, a young and quiet man from Columbia who could not decide his favorite Canadian city between Montreal and Vancouver
- Dusank (misspelled I think), a mechanic on multi million dollar yachts who had a varied stories from broken bones to bear hunting
- Eddie, a former mormon, current interior designer, from Argentina
All people from varied and different backgrounds that shared a common goal – to meet new people and experience something a little different.
A couple days before the event, we were emailed the location details – which until then were just known as “Gastown”. It was held in an apartment featuring art from local artists and where the host lived.
Dinner was fantastic – pulled pork & guacamole appies and then followed by corn & bacon chowder, lemongrass chicken, roasted cauliflower with whipped goat cheese, smashed potatoes, walnut sweet beet salad, and ribboned spicy carrots. I think I covered everything. Dessert was sweet buttermilk cream with rhubarb strawberry topping. It was family style so it really felt like a group of friends together for a meal. Everyone brought wine to have with dinner.
Kristen, the host, was quietly in the background taking care of all the details, cooking in her personal kitchen, and serving us. Helping the conversation roll when there was quiet moments – though there were very few.
What I liked about the evening is how I felt – inside the pulse of Vancouver, trying something different. Someone who knows the hip spots, the places to the be.
So try it, you’ll be happy you did.
May 17th, 2013 Extra-Ordinary: In the heart of it all, in Vancouver.
We were invited to dinner at very old friend’s tonight. I’ll admit, I was a bit nervous – not that it was a stressful thing, but I have some hang-ups, and dinner parties are one of them. I planned 2 days in advance what to wear, racked my brains for tidbits of information about their lives and children, and generally spent more time thinking about it than a normal person would.
That’s okay – I have hang ups, and I have learned to deal with them. But when I am asked what type of wines I prefer so the courses can be properly matched to spirits, I start to worry that my mother’s etiquette training didn’t stick.
Dinner was lovely (I used the correct forks)- and when I say old friends, I mean old. Because one of them used to babysit me, and I attended their wedding – 30 years ago when I was 9. So, it’s weird and it must be to strange for them to me all grown up – close enough in age now that we could be friends.
The conversation ran from wine, Aspberger’s syndrome, cabinet making, veganism, weddings, dentistry, lay-outs of emergency rooms, travel, law and many other things. And driving home I found myself realizing that I could hold intelligent conversations – with personal experiences – on a host of topics.
The food was great, the wines matches perfectly and dessert was a cheese tray.
February 10th, 2013 Extra-Ordinary: 20 years ago there were no fine lines around my eyes, but perhaps there is something to this “age and wisdom” thing.
I have many things to be thankful for this weekend and among the foremost are my generous and kind friends Colin and Alison who let us stay at their house for a month until we could get ourselves settled in our own place. They and their delightful children welcomed us with open arms sharing their rooms, food and attention with us.
After a full day shopping, visiting, buying, cooking and eating on Saturday, our truck arrived on Sunday and we then spent a whole day moving and unpacking. Today was also spent moving and unpacking, but fortunately with a lovely afternoon with margaritas in the backyard also.
Over this weekend we:
- purchased mattresses
- searched for beds and other furniture
- Had a house-warming party with Colin and Alison and kids enjoying fire roasted pizza at Incendio in Gastown
- helped to cook a turkey dinner (and ate said turkey dinner)
- moved all of our stuff into a storage unit or condo
- unpacked the kitchen
- unpacked the living room
- transported all of our things from Colin and Alison’s
- made up our bed (I write while sitting on a foamy leaning against the wall)
- unpacked all of our clothes (a difficult feat considering we have no dressers or bookcases)
- took my grandpa for Thanksgiving pizza lunch at Me & Ed’s
- Didn’t write the Daily EO daily (they would have gone something like this. Moved and unpac. . . . zzzzzz.)
Here are some other things I am thankful for:
- My husband Emile is the brave and supportive and he made this move happen.
- Our truck with our possessions arrived on time and under budget and tax-deductible and so far unbroken.
- I discovered that Benalyn is more effective than Safeway knock-off Nyquil.
- Thanksgiving Dinner was a delight of new and different sides than I usually do. Yum.
- Sushi restaurants serve non raw fish options so we can go as much as Emile wants
- Whoever the guy was that decided to have the lit sails of Canada Place change colour during the night.
- My in-laws are so close by telephone and supported this move whole heartedly (despite a few tears on both sides)
- That I never reduced my credit limit from $15,000 despite certainty that I would never ever break a 5 figure balance.
- I am climbing in the call rotation from my grandpa – I can now help when he needs something.
- That my weird habit of sticking kleenex up my nose when I am sick is tolerated by my husband as long as we are in the house alone.
- My family is close by – comparatively so.
- That pottery can go in the dishwasher.
- I have a job. In my field.
- I no longer live in the house with a huge bag of Jelly Bellys so I can now lose the bean weight added.
I could go on and on and on as I realize what I have. I only have to travel a few blocks east to see the crushing poverty and addiction that some struggle with. I miss the rural life in Huntsville of course – but neither of us regret the decision to come to here and make a different kind of life.
Thanksgiving Weekend 2012 Extra-Ordinary: I live in Vancouver. Family lives here. Friends live here. We are going to make a home here.
Sometimes being uninvited is just what you need. At least that is what I think. This has happened twice recently.
First time was before I left Ontario when I was following up with a girlfriend about dinner invite – one of our going away nights. She didn’t want to come. But she hemmed and she hawed and them said “I’ll be there.” I could tell she didn’t want to be there – I think I know her pretty well nowadays. So, on the way home, I dropped by her place and told her she was uninvited – she was not longer welcome to come.
Sunday, same thing happened – we were going to have a picnic in our new place with our friends and their kids. We were all looking forward to it earlier in the week, but soon Sunday arrived and four of us are sick, one is satisfyingly working at a project he’s wanted to get to for a long time and the three kids were just happy to be hanging out on a non-school day. The last thing I felt like doing was dragging my snotty, coughing, aching ass downtown to sit on a hard floor with no furniture eating picnic food. I figured if I felt that way, perhaps the rest of us did to. So I uninvited everyone – please do not come to a picnic that was promised to you. Yes, you too children. Do not come. Shoo. Shoo.
Harsh it sounds I guess, but both time the responses were positive. My friend was exhausted and had so much going on that a dinner out was not a pleasure, it was a burden to her. We had already seen lots of each other recently, and said our goodbyes (such a lovely card she gave me), so another night? It wasn’t needed and it wasn’t easy on her to make it. What is the point of that? It was supposed to be good. It was supposed to be fun. We had a good hug and said goodbye – and she kept the grip on her sanity.
And Sunday? We ordered pizza, spent time together, kept the project going, and had a pretty good night.
September 30th, 2012 Extra-Ordinary: Sometimes the plan just has to be chucked out. There will be other picnics.
For days, I have wanted to get going already. Let’s get in the car and head west, what are we doing hanging around here? And this morning I realized why – I was avoiding the tearful goodbyes. It’s not that I don’t want to be here, it’s that I need to be somewhere else too. But the end date makes things so much more poignant. Over the last four days we are having to say goodbye to everyone we love in Ontario – knowing that visits and calls will not be as immediate as before.
At my wedding after the ceremony Toni (my mother-in-law) grabbed me by the hips and said to me “You two are right for each other. Be good to each other. Take care of each other.” It was the first time she had ever grabbed me by the hips – and I knew she was telling me something that meant a lot to her. This morning, when she did it again, I had to blink several times to hold back the tears – and I wasn’t entirely successful. “You’re doing this together. And that makes it right.” She said. My father-in-law hugged us both a little longer than usual.
We left them standing in the drive-way waving goodbye, looking a bit sadder than usual. They gave us a card to read on the way. Emile was driving so he asked me to read it aloud. And he knew I couldn’t do it for some time. Instead we sat quietly with our thoughts as we left St. Catharines behind us – both regretful of the moments we know we will miss but still certain of our decision to move to Vancouver together.
And then that evening a dinner with our friends in Huntsville to say our last goodbye to good friends there. And the night before with friends in St. Catharines. Friday night – Toronto friends. My heart tears a little with each hug, card and well wish. I want to stay, I want to go.
Tomorrow we start out, tomorrow we begin a long trip to a new start, but we still look backward. Muskoka is where we married, each found our career path and became part of a community as a couple.
September 4th, 2012 Extra-Ordinary: The selfless well wishes from family and friends who sadly know this is the right thing.
We have a gang here in Huntsville. There are 6 of us. We have been trying to recruit more members, but our initiation procedures must be too daunting for the invitees. Most beg off. It’s too bad, because once you are in, you’re in. You get our undying loyalty. We’ll never leave you alone. If someone needs to be told off sternly, we’ve got your back. We’ll agree with you when you’re wrong.
Here are the tasks for completion if you want in:
1. You must finish all of the food left on the dinner table so it doesn’t have to be put away. “Finish it Up!”
2. An interpretive dance representing your feelings about The Gang must be performed under a full moon at the side of a bonfire. Props are greatly encouraged. (Full moon is optional if you decide to complete your dance naked).
3. You must eat so much dessert once that you either have to lay on the couch clutching your belly or be taken to the hospital. (you can drive yourself as well, but you must leave a note).
4. A foreign country must be visited with us – you can pick which one.
5. Perform one barter. If you have no skills, then barter other gang members’ skills.
6. A period of six months of unemployment or underemployment must be served. (Your spouse can serve the time for you).
Beware! Punishment may come for arbitrary infractions. You will not know when it is coming – it could when you least expect it that someone will leap up behind you, put you in a choke hold and punch you in side of the head. But not too hard.
It is so worth it.
August 18th, 2012 Extra-Ordinary: Partying . . . ahem. . . sitting by a bonfire with my gang until the police came “due shots fired according to the neighbours”. Um, wha?! No guns, officer, how would I hold my Bailey’s or bananatini and pull a trigger?