Thursday, August 28, 2008

Listeria outbreak

There's been a nasty outbreak of listeria in processed meats in Canada. Every few days more investigations into deaths are announced. So far, Listeriosis has killed at least 15 people.
Consumers have been told to avoid so many products, including the Kirkland Signature food platters at Costco warehouse (in Canada, at least. I'm not sure about the U.S.) What amazed me is the number of products recalled. It's practically a book.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

We're husband and husband now

As Luis and I were legally married on July 2, we are officially husband and husband. At least now there should be no confusion as to what we should call each other, and the term others should use.
But we were speaking to an immigration official. I said my husband needed to speak to him as well. So he asked me to put my "partner" on the line.
Well, Luis and I are not in business together.
OK, I may have used that awkward expression before. But I don't need to anymore.
If I call him my husband, he is my husband. It has happened a couple of times now.
I had e-mailed my former colleague and friend Carrie Mason-Draffen about this and felt a little better after reading her response.
She said when she got married in the early 1980s, she hyphenated her name, a source of constant confusion. One time when she said her name to an airline reservation agent, the agent asked her how many people she was referring to.
"Society does change," she wrote. "So take heart."
That's true.

Monday, August 25, 2008

A cautionary immigration tale

I just read a terrible story in a column by a lawyer at Mamann & Associates Immigration Lawyers. A guy planned to fly to Canada just two days before the expiration of his permanent residency Visa. But he got sick and had to stay in the hospital before leaving. By the time he arrived to Canada, his Visa was just one week old. Immigration officials unfortunately have no leeway and told him to start the process all over again, possibly taking another three years. And he would have to pay most of the fees again.
Luis and I flew from New York on June 30, and our Visa expired July 13. We are so lucky nothing happened to delay our arrival.

I'm going to post the column as soon as I get permission from the law office.

Monday, August 18, 2008

There's been an explosion

We had no idea that every night a cannon explodes at 9 p.m. in the marina right across from our apartment.
So our first night here, we heard this loud, and I mean LOUD, explosion. I figured it was thunder. But Luis said it had to be an explosion. Then we looked out at the marina, and we saw smoke rising.
Figuring I should be a good resident and report on the unusually loud explosion, I called 911. I said we heard a loud explosion and smoke must have risen but was no longer rising from the marina. The 911 operator asked a few questions, including my location. Then he said they would look into it and get back to me.
Then a friend told us about the cannons going off every night at 9 p.m. And it clicked. He said the 911 operator probably got off the phone and started laughing with his colleagues.

our neighborhood

We live in just such a beautiful location.
We're surrounded by a huge park, the skyline, the water and the Coast Mountains.
We took a nice walk along the marina on Saturday night, looking at the reflection of skyline on the water as the moon was rising over the cityscape. Then we made our way to Stanley Park.
The 1,000-acre park is stunning, with a seawall surrounding it. It has an aquarium, gardens, pool, totem poles and a cannon that goes off at 9 p.m. every night. (I'll do another post about my 911 call regarding a "loud explosion" the first time in went off. How was I to know?)

We were supernumeraries

Other news: We were extras on "The L Word" on Monday. Vancouver is called "Hollywood North," and the film/TV industry is always looking for extras. It was fun.
The scene was a gay men's party.
About 250 guys and a few women packed into a studio about a 20-minute drive from downtown Vancouver. The studio looked like a very high-end dance club, beautifully decorated with an Indian touch. We would dance, and then the music would stop so the characters could talk. But we would have to continue dancing in silence. It was very weird seeing a room full of 250 people dancing in silence.
We wrote to a local agency, who will be seeing us to discuss more gigs as extras.
The other day, Luis told me that we were "supernumeraries." I had no idea what he meant.
Well, his "word of the day" was supernumerary. (I guess they recycle the word of the day because that link shows it was from 9/23/03.
Anyway, it was fun being a supernumerary, and next time we'll bring a book. We sat around for two out of the nine hours. It's a good thing to do while we're job-hunting.

Back in the U.S. - soon

...unfortunately, nowhere near New York.
In order the export my car, which already is in Canada, I must return the car to the United States. Under U.S. law, it must remain in the United States for 72 business hours before I can bring it back into Canada. I must comply with this, otherwise I could be heavily fined or my car could be seized.
That means I have to drive to the Bellingham, Wash., airport and park my car. Once it has arrived in the U.S., I can apply to export it and the three-day waiting period begins.
Then I can take a bus back to Vancouver, wait the three days, and then take a bus back to the Bellingham Airport. Don't ask me to explain why it is done this way. I guess they want three days to make sure I haven't stolen the car. But if I'm already in Canada with the car, I don't see the purpose of having to bring the car back into the United States.
Anyway, I have to go the United States anyway because my desktop computer arrived last week and didn't work. Costco Canada won't fix it. They said they'll mail me an empty box to a United States address, and I can then ship it to them. Then they'll return it to a United States address. So I have to make the trip twice anyway.
Normally, Vancouverites go to Blaine, Wash., which is just minutes across the border, to accomplish their U.S.-related business. But they have no public transportation for me to return to Vancouver.
I can still drop by in Blaine on my way down to Bellingham, though. I just got a temporary address from a mailbox-type business in Blaine so I can get packages. ($5 for packages less than 20 lb, $10 over 20 lb.; half price with annual membership of $10.)
I thought of this as a great business idea but obviously many businesses beat me to the punch.
So Costco will mail the box there and I'll pick it up there. (What a pain!) That also means I have to deal with customs on both sides.
The good news on another front: I'll get a 40-percent discount on my car insurance for a good driving record. (They go back eight years.). Basic car insurance (liability) is issued by the province and purchased through private agents.
We had our first meeting regarding help with our job search. It was just filling out paperwork. Tomorrow through Thursday and then on Monday we'll get our actual training on Web sites to use, resume writing, etc.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Check out our Victoria Wedding photos

Last month we got an e-mail from our photographer saying he couldn't retrieve the photos from his memory card -- not his fault at all, some problem with the card. But experts at Lexar managed to retrieve the photos, fortunately.
Now we've finally posted them.
Check them out here. (By the way, when you see a photo with a border as if one photo is behind another, that's a photo album, as is the case below. Please click on it to see the entire album.)
There are seven people in the photos: Us, of course; Joyce & Peter, the owners of the B&B, who served as our witnesses; Laurie Smith, the marriage commissioner; and the string duo musicians. Unfortunately, you don't get to see our great photographer. We are so happy with how the photos turned out.
Rich and Luis' wedding. Victoria Canada. July 4th 2008

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


For my most loyal commenter, squirrelmama: Here's some squirrel info from a sign in Banff. It might look like a chipmunk or something, but it's a golden-mantled ground squirrel. We captured a pic of one during a hike.

Still here

Luis with our friend Ken (back right) and Ken's friend at Vancouver Gay Pride, Aug. 3, 2008.

Fireworks competition, Aug. 2, 2008

Sorry I haven't posted in such a long time. We arrived in Vancouver on Saturday afternoon. Our landlord arrived right at the appointed time and gave us the keys to our apartment.
Vancouver welcomed us with a fireworks display. :) We saw a bunch of people all heading the same direction, and it turned out there was a finale to several days of a fireworks competition. So we headed there with our camera and tripod, trying to have some fun catching fireworks pix, not a very easy task, especially among crowds. But we got some good shots.
We made a little gaffe, though, related to Canadian's politeness.
We were watching the fireworks and saw that a bunch of people were standing about three feet back from a fence. Maybe they were standing back a bit because the fence would have obstructed their view if they were any closer. Well, being New Yorkers, we saw an opening and took it. Then someone tapped me on my shoulder and politely said I was blocking his view. I thought it was a bit strange. "If you wanted to stand where I was standing, you should have stood there," I thought. But being new to the city, we were polite and moved.
Then I told this to a bunch of people at a party. When I began to say that I saw the open area, they knew I was going to say we moved there, and their jaws dropped. "You didn't, did you?" someone said.
He said that Canadians are so polite that there's even a joke.
Q. What does a Canadian say when you step on his foot?
A. I'm sorry.
But it's really not a joke. He said a Canadian would assume that they were in your way and apologize.
Sunday was Vancouver's gay pride parade. The city probably has it in August because the temps can reach as high as 80 degrees now. :) I keep joking with Luis that it's so nice that the city air-conditions the outside. When you're walking around, it's the perfect temperature, the temperature you would set your thermostat to.
We had a great time at Pride.
Monday was BC (British Columbia) Day, but we didn't realize it until we arrived at Costco and it was closed. We got some practical things done, like getting a shower curtain. It's weird being in a new country and city because we don't know the stores or anything. I used to love Walgreens but now I've discovered its equivalent, London Drugs, which carries everything at decent prices.
We won't have Internet access at our apartment until Friday. I can't wait!

Friday, August 1, 2008

On our way to Vancouver

We're going to leave in minutes to Vancouver, a day later than expected.
It's about a 12-hour ride, so we'll stay over somewhere tonight. We'll update you when we're back at our new apartment. It's been a great vacation. I hope you've enjoyed following it. The next chapter begins.