Carrie's Adventures

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Canucks ~ Round 2, Game 5

The playoffs came to Vancouver ~ albeit briefly ~ they were in fact here. The first round went very handily to the Canucks, sweeping in 4. Round 2 was not so friendly.

As the city was going a bit crazy with Canuck-mania, and office dress policies were relaxed to accommodate the 'hockey jersey' as being office casual, folks would pile out of the office at early hours to catch the game. Game 5 was slated, the series tied at 2, Akis and I decided to visit a former haunt to watch the game.

A few blocks from home is a pub ~ the Kingshead. It is a typical University pub where the pints flow freely (or not so much when you get the bill) and the wear and tear on the place is evident. It had been a number of years since I had been, and I do recall making the trek with Ali to watch other Gold Medal games as she was indoctrinated into Canada's sport. I do recall however the time of day was significantly different when Ali and I went ~ cracking a beer at the ripe ol' hour of 11:30am does somehow seem against the rules, but hey, you gotta pull for the home team. What was even more ironic about this trip, was the table Akis and I were perched at was the same table Ali and I sat at years ago.

As you can see, it is your typical dark pub. I'm not sure if this is because they don't want to waste the cash on lighting up the joint, or perhaps in the brighter light things seem a bit more run down... Either way, it was all about atmosphere. And Beer.

Yes that is the quality table which has been carved up and not replaced ~ may as well be in the high school cafeteria for all the graffiti on here.
Our view included that of the ancient chandelier.
And while the chandelier was a bit annoying in some aspects, you will note that during Coaches corner, it did put dear ol' Ron in a better light than his friend Mr. Cherry. Gotta love the suit.

As it turned out, Game 5 was not a spectacular game for the Canucks. Their quest for the cup ended 2 days later in Chicago. Oh well ~ guess that means we now need to spend our time out on the Corona Patios. Geez, life is tough.

Some more party planning

So you would think that after planning a wedding, getting Akis' residency all sorted out, moving back to land, life should be slowing down to a nice reasonable pace. The decision to have our wedding in Greece meant that we would be looking to have a party back in Canada to celebrate with all of those folks who were not able to make it over to Greece with us.

While the thought of planning another event does at times seem a bit overwhelming, there is something much more relaxed that comes out of having done this last year in a foreign country. I guess I look at it now, and really understand that while you want everyone to like what you have presented, it is more about having everyone there and having a good time. The fact that I am/will be doing most of the planning is also a bit easier as I don't have to keep pushing Akis to get things done for me as I don't speak the language.

That said, we started early this time. Looked to book locations/people and get the word out. The invites were done and mailed out to folks. Securing the location of 'Jim's yard' will be spectacular, and I'm hoping that the weather will cooperate with us. The person for the food has been booked and the menu is in the process of being decided. So aside from food, location and securing some beer/wine, and even someone to record the goings on, things appear to be in order.

Hopefully folks will be able to make it up in August to celebrate with us.

A BC Driver's license

I love my husband. He is a great man. But one of the great things about him is his incredible ability to procrastinate. I used to think I was good at this ~ as evidenced by the long lapses in postings, but my husband truly takes the cake when it comes to putting things off to the very last minute.

As a new resident to the country, Akis was given 90 days from the time he landed to obtain a valid BC license. During these 90 days, Akis needed to get his Greek license translated, write the written test, and take/pass the road test. After landing, we had stopped in at one of the offices which is located in the Metrotown mall and picked up a book of signs for Akis to be able to write his test.

With many things on the go, time passed and it wasn't until the end of March that Akis had his license translated. (By none other than my Greek Teacher ~ turns out he is the only recognized translator in all of Western Canada, go figure.) With the days creeping up and only 6 weeks left where he could legally drive without me in the car, Akis kept saying to me 'endtaxi mori (OK honey), I'll get to it...' (Funny, I seem to hear that a lot.)

The days continued to tick and it was only when we were down to 2 weeks left that Akis agreed that he needed to go. Deciding that this was becoming a priority, Akis spent all day Thursday reading the book and doing the online tests, and we headed to the Driver's Office with the translated license in hand on a Friday afternoon. The office was full and Akis couldn't believe that there would be so many people there needing to do something with their license. He was shocked that all of the people actually had to take tests, complete documentation and were not privy to the 'greek' method of obtaining a license which involves merely providing some financial compensation for someone. Guess in Greece everything has a price. Knowing that we wouldn't be able to start the written test after 3:30, we squeeked in at 3:28pm. This is when the fun began.

The lady who handed out the numbers to everyone asked to see Akis' license and his translated copy. She then asked us which office translated it. We gave her the name and she proceeded to look on the list. After scanning for a few moments, she looked at us and told us that she didn't think this was a valid translation. She said she wasn't able to find the translator on the list of recognized translation companies that ICBC dealt with. She asked us for his name again and scanned the paper a second time. After an unsuccessful review, she handed us the paper and asked if we saw his name on there. What I found quite surprising and would have been comical if it had happened to someone else, was the list of 'accredited' translators was nothing more than a photocopy of the Yellow Pages with circles around the companies they dealt with. Are you kidding me? A provincial organization doesn't have a formal list of accredited translators and must rely on a circled list from the Yellow Pages???

As we 'discussed' ~ and I use the term loosely ~ the fact that the person we dealt with is the only translater west of the Red River and referenced to us by the Greek Consulate, his license was passed from employee to employee. It was only after calling Mr. Stavrides that they were able to track down where he was registered and that there is in fact a 'formal' list, and not the photocopied crack pot version they insisted was gospel.

By this point, we had now been in the office for 25 minutes and were instructed to take a seat and wait. We watched as teenagers queued up to take their test, as new transit employees sat waiting for their results and drivers who did not speak any English round up their 8 yr old son to translate their questions to the people at the desk. By the time Akis was called to take the test it was well after 4pm. We completed the paperwork, got his picture taken and paid our $15. He was told that there was no time limit and that he could work through the test at his own pace. 28 minutes later, with the office vacant of everyone but myself and the guy who issued the eye test, Akis passed. Requiring 40 correct answers, he answered 47 questions out of a possible 50 which means he now has a learners. Next step is the Road Test, however there was a wait period of about 5 to 6 weeks for this depending on where the test was to be taken. We were luck and able to book a test on May 26th in North Vancouver. Here's hoping he remembers to keep both hands on the wheel and to check those blind spots!

Spring Preparations

In honour of spring and given that we have a pretty great outdoor space considering we live in an apartment building, Akis and I decided that we were going to go about planting some 'life' outdoors. Recalling the great balcony garden my friend Molly had when she and her husband lived in Edmonton, I was determined that we too could have a contained veggie garden. Recognizing that our biggest constraint was space, I started to do some research to find out what options I might have. After hours on the internet, I came to discover that paying 19.95 + shipping and handling for one 'topsy turvy' planter was perhaps a bit excessive, we started looking at some DIY options.

Having planted some seeds, I purchased a wire basket with a coconut liner and the first semblence of what may be in our garden started to take shape. The plant was pretty tiny, but this gives you an idea of where we started. (and yes, that is a hummingbird feeder in the background)

I also opted to plant some lettuce, spinach and rocket. Akis monitored the boxes daily for a week until the first signs of live emerged. He has been diligently watering and the are doing much better here than they did when I had my old apartment. Guess it must be the full afternoon of sunlight!

The previous tenents left us some wire caging which we have held onto, just in case we can find a use for it. I know, I know, how very 'Jim' of me.

So excited about expanding our wee garden, armed with the knowledge that for $42.97 we could purchase a planter box, Akis and I balked at the price. Once again, turning to our now very handy resource, we 'googled' making planter boxes. Having seen Dad create various items for the house, the creation of a simple box didn't seem as though it would be too difficult, and so with measurements in hand, we headed off to Home Depot.

One thing I must say is that Akis enjoys Home Depot. It would seem that there isn't anything like it in Greece, and having all of those tools and supplies in one building makes him rather excited ~ he isn't quite sure where to go first. As it was on this trip, we needed to pick up many things, including wood and a saw!

Armed with our required materials, we stopped at the Garden section which for us seems to be a dangerous spot to go. With a couple bags of dirt, some more flower seeds, Akis becomes attached to a new iron planter for his flowers. So in the cart it goes. $98 and change later, the savings from building and not buying the $43 planter seems to be a bit lost on us. Also lost on us is the fact that whatever we purchase needs to be transported home in a Miata. Yeah, 6' pieces of lumber, 2 bags of soil a wrought iron planter and some seeds may not fit that well in a Miata that well. All I can say is it was a good thing it was sunny!

So back at the ranch, after unloading out supplies, Akis very quickly moved to his top priority, which was mounting the planter on the wall and getting his new seeds planted.

The second part of the task proved to be a bit more time consuming than either Akis or I thought. The inability to run to the workshop to cut the wood into the desired lengths meant that Akis and I were left with the 'manual' alternative. We were required to 'improvise' on some of the tools, like a square, that I have previously taken for granted from 'Jim's workshop'. The resulting efforts were somewhat lengthy and slightly noisier, but in the end, the box did come together ~ it only took us about 9 hours of labour. All told, I think that puts our time at about $1.19/hr, and we were somewhat a bit more 'rustic' than the finished product at Home Depot, but at least you can say it was made with love...

A Sunday Afternoon in April

A week before Easter, Akis and I decided that we were going to head out for a Sunday afternoon. Having come to BC, I did feel a bit guilty that I never took Akis to the snow during the course of the winter. Now granted, the snow did come to us so perhaps I don't need to feel quite that bad, but none-the-less, we didn't get a pair of skis or a snowboard strapped to Akis' feet to see just how good his balance was.

So despite not getting up the mountain to ski, I decided that we would head up there so Akis could see what was in our back yard. The drive up Mount Seymour was quite uneventful ~ clear roads and the only snow present was on the mountain. As we climbed further up, Akis was amazed at how much snow was still around ~ here is what we saw.

After admiring the snow and the talents of the new skiers/snowboarders, we headed back down the mountain to Sea Level. Akis was a bit startled that I felt it was a 'top down' type of day and disagreed that we should be letting the wind blow through, but eventually I prevailed and with the top down and heater blasting, we were off to Deep Cove. Situated at the east end of North Vancouver, it is a quiet little place where many people will go to hang out and spend some time. There isn't much parking, there are a handful of shops, but for only being a few minutes out of the city, you feel like you have stepped away. The Kayak business down on the water is the place where years ago I took Kayaking lessons with the group from Class. Looking at the area now, not much has changed other than the water level and it makes you wonder if Global warming is happening and the levels of the oceans are rising, why do the levels seem so low here? I guess you could say it was low tide, but even with low tide, it was pretty remarkable how much was exposed in the bay.

A place we'll need to come back to this summer.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Greek Classes

In efforts to try and keep my promise to Akis, I started round 2 of my Greek Lessons. Believe it or not, there aren't many people out there wanting to learn the language so trying to find someone/somewhere to take a class has proven to be a bit challenging.

I started in January up at the University and for 9 weeks, every Saturday morning made my way at 10am to my class. The class was filled people wishing to learn for various reasons and all told there were 9 or 10 of us between Level 1 and Level 2. A handful of us (3 total) are wives of Greek men, another couple (Tony and Shelia) were there as they are hoping to one day move back to Paros. Tony who has previously lived there for 11 years does not, amazingly enough, speak any Greek. One woman Laura had decided that she wanted to learn a seond language and of all of the possible ones to select, she picked Greek! Go figure.

I was able to 'skip' Level 1 based on all the great words my husband has taught me, but I do seem to struggle with the basic conjugation of verbs. It has been so long since I studied French, I have forgotten just how much of this is pure memorization. Somehow I keep hoping that it will all sink in.

3 of us, Laura, Ioana and myself have continued on with our studies every Thursday Night. We head over to our instructor's house and gather around the kitchen table. Akis seems to think I am making progress, which should be enough for me. And the fact that when Aunt Tula calls, I can now understand some basic questions and give her some answers should go to show I am getting the hang of it. I do become a bit frustrated that I'm not picking it up as fast as Ioana, but then again, I guess that means I should be doing some of my homework.

I have another 5 classes to go in this level and we'll have to see if we are able to make it any further. Our instructor has had other students that within a year are reading some simple novels and discussing ideas. Could you imagine? OPA, here I come!