Monday, 9 September 2013

September 9th: Holiday's almost over - just the technical matter of getting home from Auckland Airport. Ottawa and Vancouver airports have unlimited free wi-fi; Auckland has allowed me to sign up for a free half-hour. Somehow I'm leaving here with lighter bags than when I arrived. I didn't eat much of the gift foodstuffs, honestly. I'm pretty sure I'm over the worst of the jet lag, and I'll be able to answer emails properly soon. By tomorrow it'll be almost as though I was never away, except that I have an awesome collection of good times with Ursula and Penelope to hold on to. And quite a lot of maple syrup. Post script: Oh, PC with big flat screen that I can read, and a keyboard that actually fits my fingers - I love you. I won't go away again (soon). Except for the weekend of the 21st when Sylvia and I go to Auckland to see 'Wicked'.
September 5th: Day 5, Vancouver Airport: battery about to run down, only enough money for 1 more donut, and I'm going off air for 3 days. I'll be at the Mensa NZ Annual Gathering in Auckland, talking, eating, talking, playing games, talking - until I drop from jet lag. See y'all back in Welly next week.
September 4th: Vancouver, Day 4: shopping. I know, I've already bought all the gifts, the shoes, the hat, and a forest of maple syrup products. But we went to the sewing shop. THE SEWING SHOP, people. The 5 heavy glass jars of Vegemite that are staying in Vancouver have been replaced by some essential quilting equipment that is WAY cheaper here. And another hat (with attached paws). And possibly an egg-shaped kitchen timer that hatches a chicken when the time is up. And some more maple syrup stuff because you can never have too much maple syrup, right? What we couldn't find today (and we tried really hard) was Beavers' Tails. Just not a Vancouver thing :( I have officially spent all my cash and quite a lot of my savings, as represented by next month's visa bill. I have just enough coins left to buy either a cup of tea or a maple-dipped donut at Tim Horton's when I go to the airport tomorrow. Since Air NZ will supply me with tea... Had dinner with all the home stay students tonight - French, Japanese and Brazilian - after their first day back at English Language School, so that was interesting. They're downstairs in my bedroom, otherwise known as the rumpus room, playing pool tonight. I might join them. Or I might read some more quilting books. I love being on holiday.
September 3rd: Vancouver, Day 3: a rest day. We had a quiet day at home, having a guided tour of Helen's quilts and looking at quilting books. If it seems like that wouldn't take all day, it didn't. I slept really late. Rodney's gone to Las Vegas for a conference, so it's just me and Helen at home, along with the tenant in the basement apartment and the three home stay students, all of whom I have now met. School starts again tomorrow, so they've all returned from their assorted holidays. Dinner at Elliot's (offspring number 2) tonight, and it was a lot of fun getting together with the boys again. Elliot is a musician/composer and a member of several bands and one of his musical associates was at dinner too. They're all incredibly smart and talented, with just the right kind of crazy sense of humour I enjoy. So now the only one I haven't caught up with is Meta, the oldest, because she has been at Burning Man and probably won't get back before I leave. Still no kittens, though I had the pleasure of watching them leaping around inside their mum today.
September 2nd: Day 2, Vancouver: went to the USA. Despite the fact that this is my Canadian holiday, Helen and I braved Homeland Security and crossed over to Washington. The wait in the room at Customs for a visa waiver (USD6) felt a bit like Kafka when everyone behind the counter pretty much got up and walked out at once, but it must have been a shift change, because they were replaced by another bunch of people who took over the job of doing nothing while we waited in line. It took about half an hour to get our passports back, and the Officer did make a wee joke, which was novel. We got lost after taking the wrong off-ramp and Helen finally agreed to let me use the GPS to navigate, having passed me a map book I'd never seen before and needed time to study, which was when we missed the correct off-ramp. Fortunately I enjoy taking the scenic route - my family's euphemism for not having a clue where we are. The nice lady's voice eventually directed us to a rural district outside Bellingham, and to the home of very talented haiku writer Seren Fargo, with whom I have been corresponding for several years, thanks to my fabulous job as Competition Secretary for the NZ Poetry Society. We all went out for sushi and talked heaps and got on really well and Seren and I are going to do some collaborative haiku next year while I am having a writing year, and she will hopefully have some housing issues sorted out. When we got back to Seren's house there were deer in her yard - awesome! It's a bit hard to see the last one leaving in the photo, but it's there. I didn't get much time to get the camera out and lined up before they took off. There were 3 out on the road already, and the last 2 passing through their regular trail in the yard. Back in Vancouver I had my first experience of smelling skunk. Not in the yard, but somewhere in the neighbourhood, and I was quite glad it wasn't any closer. It smelled like a bad musk aftershave that's been used to try and disguise the odour of an unwashed body after a week in the bush.
September 1st: Well, Air Canada has ripped me away from my lovely girls, and now I'm with the hospitable Helen (cuzzie) and Rodney in Vancouver. Not quite as hot here, but that might just be because of the lack of humidity. They've already worked out where I might be able to get my Beaver Tail fix. Tomorrow we're hoping to cross the border and visit a haiku penfriend in Bellingham, WA. Thanks for the lovely card, TeamUP - I just cried a little bit then watched a movie: 'Still Mine', with James Cromwell and Genevieve Bujold. It seems amazing to me that you can fly over a body of water for over an hour and it's just a lake! Lake Superior in fact, though I had to look it up. I knew them all many years ago (about Standard 4), but the knowledge has previously been of little use, so unreinforced.
August 31st: OMG I've changed my mind and I'm not going home. I'm going to stay here and live on Beaver Tails with Maple Butter for the rest of my life. It will be remarkably short on that diet, but totally worth it. In other news, when I got back to the flat there was a black squirrel on the grass outside. I stood perfectly still so he wouldn't see me and watched him bury a nut right in front of me. I know they're vermin, but they're also cute and fuzzy. Didn't have my camera! Time to leave my lovely girls :(