23 April 2010

Real Life Vancouver

So here we are in Vancouver, staying in temp accomm in a share house. Which is actually quite good. It's really cheap and we can stay here as short or as long as we like. The other people who live here are never in the house and when they are they stay in their rooms (we must stink!) and no one cooks except for us so the kitchen is ours ours ours! It has fast wireless internet connection and it's perfect for interim accommodation.

We wanted to move in to our own place eventually, and after only a day looking in the area we want, we found a place we liked. The actual apartment is pretty ghetto, (faux wooden cupboards in the kitchen and a lavender colored toilet) but there is a balcony off the lounge room which has views of both the whole city of Vancouver as well as the surrounding mountains.

Not the actual view from our apartment, we haven't moved in yet. but it's close enough minus the water. City & mountains...pretty!

So we put in an application and as we don't have jobs yet, they accepted, but on the condition we pay 2 months rent + security upfront. We really wanted this place so we said yes, even though this absolutely wipes us out money wise and means we have to get jobs asap. The pressure is on. Oh and the other thing, it's unfurnished, so somehow, with no money, we have to make the house livable. All apartments here come with a fridge and a laundry room with washer & dryer, so thank god for that. We will eventually land jobs, we are sure of it, but we accepted the fact that all our initial furniture would have to come from the Salvation Army (Salvos in aussie speak) and that we will have to live like mini squatters in our own house. We are quite looking forward to living like squatters. I love me some novelty home livin.

So in preparation for the squat house we have been frequenting the local Salvos to pick up some cheap stuff for our new place, as unemployed people we really have nothing much else to do and this is the highlight of our day. We have vowed that until we get jobs we won't buy anything expensive and will make do with what we find. This is a good idea in theory but have you ever been to a Salvos? There is so much cool shit there that isn't always what you "need" per se. Also B and I have never really been known as being the most sensible people in the world, nor have we been known for always spending our money "wisely". So this is a list of all of the items we now own for our new house. Keep in mind that we arrived with only suitcases filled with clothes and snowboard gear.

1. A foam mattress. A little bit moldy (given to us by B's friend)

A few things we bought when we thought we'd get jobs in 1 day and before we realized we were very poor.

2. sheets
3. quilt
4. quilt cover
5. pillows
6. 2 towels
7. 2 forks
(no one said you can't use a fork as a spoon)

Sensible you say, yes we are quite sensible. Read on.

8. expensive chef's knife*

*B loves to cook, if there is one thing that makes him furious it's cooking with blunt knives. We are poor, and B convinces me that we need to buy a chef's knife in order to survive. I am easily convinced, I too hate cooking with blunt knives. So we buy a chef's knife. Japanese made, Damascus steel. It's amazing. "It's our last luxury purchase!" we say, sensible from now on. Seconds after using the knife for the first time, probably because he has been used to using blunt knives, B slices his finger open, I swear, literally the first cut of the blade was the carrot the second was his flesh, there was blood, it's was a deep cut from a good knife, we turn the share house upside down looking for bandages/anticeptic cream/band aids, there is nothing. We then have to wrap the finger up and walk to the late night pharmacy and spend money that we don't have, on bandaids and cream. $15. We could have bought cups with that! Damn knife!

Then we started going to the salvos. These are our newly acquired possessions.

9. retro orange plastic measuring cup
10. cool square measuring cup
11. cool retro blender

Yes that's right, not one but 2 measuring cups, and the retro blender also has measurements on it's side, so in fact we have 3 recepticals that can measure quantity.

12. Small enamel saucepan made in romania, and I mean small, it's one of those cute mini ones you use for boiling milk or making sauces and has the little spout on the side.

13. Wooden wine rack we cannot afford wine yet

14. Ice skates with purple glittery blade protectors. What? They fit like Cinderella's glass slipper! They were hardly worn! I have ALWAYS wanted my own pair of ice skates! No more daggy blue rental skates like at the Blacktown Ice Rink for this gal, my very own shiny WHITE ones!

15. Pink & Purple checkered Italian suit jacket  Seriously, B bought this when I wasn't with him. "It's cool!" he said, "It's Italian" 

Wish me luck that job luck comes to me soon... we've gotta stop going to the Salvos.

21 April 2010

Rockin Rockies

Starting in Calgary, the plan was to enjoy a bit of the end of ski season and teach me how to snowboard. B is a pretty good snowboarder and has worked in a couple of different Canadian resorts teaching snowboarding for 4 of the past 5 winters. In preparation he bought me a rockin new Burton snowboard which is so damn pretty but at which I curse expletives as I tumble down many a small hill. I want to know how to snowboard, but I want to already know how to snowboard, learning is so damn tough. I've hit my head (the new helmet has already paid for itself, brain damage no thanks) numerous times, sometimes questioning if I was unconscious but then reaslising if I was I probably wouldn't question that. I'd just be saying, What? Where am I? Who are you? Why do I have this strange board strapped to my feet? Why aren't I at the beach? I've slid across snow on my ass and on my knees. I've fallen flat on my back. I've fallen on my arm. I've fallen where my body is somehow alongside my snowboard and my knee twisted in an alarmingly un-natural position. And this is supposed to be "fun" and I am supposed to be on "holidays".
B pretending to be a human bobsled on the track at Calgary Olympic Park home of the 1988 Winter Olympics.

Ben has been a very patient teacher and I have been a very patient learner. You can see why couples would blow up on the slopes.

Boy says to girl. "Lets have a "holiday" in the snow, I'll teach you, it will be "fun". 

Girls says, "Will there be daiquiris and a chance to tan?"

"No" says the boy "but give it a go".

Then girl is hitting her head on something that looks like marshmallow but feels like concrete not once, not twice, but oh about 50 times per day, and flailing about like a newborn calf. There is no energy even for daiquiris at the end of the day and the only tan you get is between your cheeks and your chin. But I am determined, I will learn this god dammit, and I will enjoy it, and I will look cool on the slopes and I will drink schnapps in the lodge after and smile and say "It's nice out eh". Not yet. But I will. It's only going to take a bit more practice and possible serious injury. That's all.
Next stop was Golden, staying at a friend of B's new log cabin. It was absolutely amazing, made entirely of giant logs from Saskatchewan, it has giant windows and overlooks the rockies and is surrounded by big beautiful trees. It's a short drive to Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, where we continued operation steasy* snowboarder. Unfortunately "operation steasy" lasted not even 1 run.

The first run of the day was pretty average, you get up off your ass (which isn't as easy as it looks btw) you start to pendulum (beginner speak) down the slopes, your boyfriend screams "head up!" "hands over the board!" "GET THAT ASS FORWARD" fun holiday time for all, then you stack it.

It's so funny when beginners fall. (hilarious). We just lay there, on our backs, in star position, arms and legs flayed out, just laying there. Not sure why, not sure what we're waiting for, sometimes this can be for a couple of minutes, waiting for a sign maybe, some sort of sign to continue, waiting for the dizziness to subside or the sharp pain running through the coccyx to go away. Anyway, this is our time, we need this for reflection and to gather our thoughts, to get the will to get up and start again.

The rocky mountains, how can you be so pretty yet so evil at the same time?

The mountain, no problem, the mountain can do what it wants to me, but the chairlift, oh how I hate the chairlift. The enemy of every beginner. Why is this part so hard? Essentially it's just like getting up off a chair, except the chair moves, and the chair pushes you, whether you are ready or balanced or not, it pushes you down a short but icey slope, right into the path of 1. people with sharp poles 2. a fence or 3. a wall of snow. It seems to create the kind of chaos only seen at a wedding dress sale and you are more likely than not to fall dramatically into an un-natural and painful position. And to top all that off, you must get up and get away quickly or you will suffer the wrath of the impatient liftie or worse, be crashed into by other angry, frustrated beginners. It's a recipe for disaster I tell you. And it's not funny. (unless you are watching other people do it safely in the distance.) So this is what happened to me, on the second run of the day, I exited the chairlift, lost my balance, fell over, I did a ninja roll, my board did not. I felt my knee twist, I screamed* (*B said I squealed like a pig about to be slaughtered) and lay there, then I said ow ow ow about 5000 times. I crab walked to to side to get out of the way, the liftie got me a blanket and called ski patrol. I was to go back down on the mountain, not looking steasy, but on a ski patrol toboggan. For years, when I saw a ski patrol go past, with the toboggan behind them, with a body in a bag, I used to think someone had died on the mountain and they were bringing their body back down. It looks so creepy. But they strapped my leg up to a wooden board, put me in the little boat, tied me up, all I could see was the sky out of my goggles and the feeling that we were going very very fast. It was so much fun! A definate plus to a fucked up knee! B told me the story of a friend who fell while skiing and she broke 7 ribs, she was picked up by ski patrol who started to take her down the mountain and during the trip something went awry (all signs point to dodgy ski patrol guy) and her toboggan flipped 5 times! And she had broken ribs! Ouch! Luckily this story was told to me afterwards! So my knee was looked at, just a sprain, no more snowboarding for me for a couple of weeks… Kinda happy to give my lil lo body a break.

Very wet ass, from falling so much at the beginning in Calgary on the bunny hill. I heart snowboarding, yeah, like totally.

Next stop Vancouver, where real life begins. Jobs, apartment etc. Looking forward to discovering my new city!

18 April 2010

Oh Canada! Oh Saskatoon!

On arrival at Saskatoon airport it was clear we "weren't from around here". Coming from 35 deg and sunny in Sydney, after a 16 hour flight via Vancouver, we were in T Shirts and comfy floppy pants, as everyone prepared to leave the plane, out came some pretty hardcore looking coats/hats/scarves which made Ben and I look at each other and say, um, "Do you think it's cold out there?" We were in T Shirts for god sake! It was minus 10 degrees outside! Holy crap it was cold! We were met at the airport  by my friends Kristie Anne and Lia, both Saskatoonians and both suitably dressed, I was in ballet flats and on exiting the airport I shrieked when snow got inside them. There was snow everywhere! So pretty! Snow in people's front yards! Snow on the side of the road! Snow on the lake! As soon as I got in the car, Kristie Anne told me to flick the switch along side of the automatic window switch to activate the bum warmer! WTF! In seconds my ass was toasty warm! I love this place! So we stayed with my friends Kristie Anne (who I studied spanish with in Sevilla in 2003) and her husband Terri at their giant house. Gotta love having friends that have their shit together and let me stay in their comfy digs!

After much consideration as to what typical Canadian things they would introduce us to we first went to a local ice hockey game, I took some red wine in a "to go" cup to keep warm (excuse) and we saw teenage Canadians slam each other into walls and try to trip each other over with their hockey sticks, fun times.

Terri is from a small town outside S'Town called Wakaw and his parents, who still live there, have the keys to the local curling rink. I'd never even heard of curling before the last winter olympics and I unfairly exclaimed that it was the most ridiculous sport I'd ever seen. So when the opportunity came to play it, when you can normally only get a game if you're affiliated with a curling club, I had to take it up. It was damn fun! But so freakingly bizarre, kinda like bowls, on ice, with a giant marble stone thing* to toss down, and you have to do it while sliding on the ice on one knee. The weirdest part however is that people on your team, run in front of the giant marble stone thing as it slides down the ice and can heat the ice in front of the marble stone thing by scratching these broom type things in front of it to make the marble stone thing slide faster. You also have to wear special things on your shoes. One thing called a slider and the other a griper. Obviously one makes your feet slide and the other grip to assist in a weird type of walking on the ice. I am sure you'd get used to it but I was all over that ice like a newborn calf.

*marble stone thing - correct professional description   

After curling, Terri's Mum made us chicken soup and there was a knock at the door, it seems Terri's parents had spread word out that there were some aussie's in town and Ed was here to take us skidooing on the lake! Ed was wearing a lumberjack jacket and had his skidoo on a trailer and was ready to rock, so were we, we drove out to a frozen lake, which he assured us was still 40 inches thick, he dressed us in some ridiculous skidoo suits. Ben looked like a beekeeper and I looked like I was about to be shot out of a canon, I do love that helmet though, pretty cool. We were let loose on the ice alone, we rode together and Ben got the skidoo up to 95kms/h and we were flying across the lake, at one point being chased by a pointy toothed dog! When it was my turn to drive I got it up to a crazy pills 20kms/h! It felt fast! After we couldn't feel our faces from the cold it was time to head home and Ed offered us some whiskey from his hip flask he kept in his jacket pocket, that shit sure warms you up as promised, as it burns down your throat. yum yum.

above: Ha! B looks like he is a beekeeper. I laugh everytime I look at this photo. 

In Saskatoon we also spent a night drinking spiced rum (note to self, 2L between 3 people is too much) with a snowboarding buddy of Ben's called Mark over in the ghettos of Saskatoon, we ate, we drank spiced rum and we played rock bank where I was reminded that I should never be in a band, virtual or otherwise as I have no musical skills. what.so.ever. The next day we went to Mark's Mum's house in the country for lunch where there was more food and some dirt biking (why don't these people want to stay inside??) and after discussing our plans to travel on a Greyhound bus later that evening to Calgary, they all told us about an incident where a schitzo guy was traveling on a greyhound bus and chopped another passengers head off. Seriously, that happened. In the same province, and not too long ago. Great.

Anyhoozle, said bus trip has been completed and we are alive. Loving Canada, it's freakishly friendly people, the bum warmers and the crazy amount of sugary lollies at convenience stores.

Right: I look like I am about to be shot out of a canon. I love this helmut!