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Ch-ch-ch-changes

The past year has been….challenging.

I can’t complain about the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on our lives. As I’ve said, we are safe in our home, getting along with each other and our cats and even enjoying the solitude on occasion.

But my health has suffered, not as much as if I’d contracted the disease, but age and arthritis had been slowly eroding my mobility and my general health. And it’s my fault. Before my self-isolation started in March 2020, I’d been quite active, going to the gym 3 times a week when I didn’t have temp assignments, walking a lot and just living my life out in the community. But that came to a screeching halt when COVID came to town.

The bad guy in the story

Of course no one suspected that we’d be doing this for so long. I started sitting around the house, imagining that I’d be back at the gym in a matter of weeks. Which stretched into months, then a year. And my arthritic hip got worse, atrophying as I deprived it of exercise. I tried walking around the neighbourhood but it just wasn’t enough. Plus it hurt like hell. Pain is quite the disincentive, I’ve found. People who worry about the pain of a shot may avoid going to the dentist for years. So knowing that my hip was going to ache like crazy (even if I loaded up on pain meds before heading out) meant I was disinclined to put myself through it. I started walking shorter routes, skipping several days in a row, then giving up in the rains of autumn. When my doctor told me I qualified for a hip replacement I just gave up altogether, figuring I’d get back in shape when the hip was fixed and exercise was pain-free.

We probably know someone whose life was completely changed by an accident or a chronic disease. Someone who enjoyed getting out and about suddenly losing the ability and the desire to leave their home. I was worried that I could be like that, turning into an old woman, restricting myself to the life of the invalid. That my health would disintegrate while we waited for the vaccine, and freedom. It was a sobering thought.

I saw the hip surgeon for a consultation on November 5, and he said the magic words to stir me into making the first change. He told me that it was up to me, and no pressure, but if I felt like it I could lose some weight. It would make the operation easier for the doctors and recovery easier for me. I needed no other inspiration. I went straight home and weighed myself, preparatory to starting a weight-loss regime.

Yikes! I thought I had put on some pounds but I had never been so heavy. I immediately downloaded an app and started counting calories. I knew I had at least 6 months before the operation and hoped to lose about 40 lbs to get down to a more reasonable size. Just as an aside, I knew I was fat. It didn’t bother me, I think a Nana should be cuddly, I don’t care much about fashion, and I knew that losing weight would not bring me youth and beauty. Seemed like a lot of bother for not a lot of pay off. But the impending operation gave me a reason to do it.

The weight started coming off slowly (as of yesterday, 30 lbs) and I actually enjoy weighing everything and logging it on the app. I stayed true to my “food budget” except for two cheat days — Christmas Eve and New Years Eve — when I indulged. So the resulting weight loss was rewarding.

I realized that I must do something about getting some exercise or my muscle tone would enter Jabba the Hutt territory. My daughter had acquired a stationary bicycle and was kind enough to let me use it. But she works from home in the same room as the bike, so I had to Tetris in my workout when she didn’t need to be on a Zoom call. And she is very busy. (We are still avoiding spending any time together indoors until we’re all vaccinated.)

I popped onto the Interwebs and discovered a YouTube channel perfect for my needs. It’s a certified trainer — and her 79-year-old mother — demonstrating simple exercises I can do in my limited space. If anyone had hinted a few months ago that I’d be looking forward every day to doing 50 minutes of exercise I would have questioned their sanity. Even when I was going to the gym it was something I made myself do. But these exercises are divided into short modules — warm up, cardio, strength training, cool down, etc.. I just combine them to fit my needs and I know that if I feel like a change I can just swap out one or more of the modules. It still causes hip pain, but somehow having a voice telling me what to do is distracting enough that I just work through it, ignoring the twinges.

My heroes

I know the phrase “it changed my life” tends to be overused. After all, every decision changes our lives in some way. But I’m very happy to have started these two projects. It’s hard to find satisfying activities during the pandemic that give us measurable results, so often we feel like we’re going backwards. I’m glad I have tangible outcomes I can celebrate.

2020 was not the worst year ever (for me)

For many, 2020 was truly an annus horribilis. Loss of livelihood, a terrible disease that robbed many of their health, even their life. COVID brought that and much more. It certainly wasn’t the best year.

But it wasn’t my WORST year, not by a long shot. One of the comforts of ageing is that you can look back on times in your life when you were truly struggling and say “whew!, I survived that and I never have to go through it again”. And THOSE memories have made me grateful for many things that 2020 brought me.

Grateful for my partner. We married for better or worse. but I’m sure no one realized that meant 24 hours a day for 10 months. We’ve had our ups and downs since we married nearly 20 years ago, but we’re real partners now, real friends, with the same ridiculous sense of humour. I’ve been in a bad marriage, and I know the daily hell people can put themselves through. But we’ve really meshed in the past year, we support and love each other and we show that to each other every day.

Grateful for my kids. We’re fairly close as a family, we live right across the yard from the daughter and her children (which she has half time). I’m used to babysitting at a moment’s notice, and having visitors just pop in to read Harry Potter and make rock cakes or feed our pet fish. Or going out to the burbs to spend some time with the littlest g-kid while her parents have a well-deserved date. But now they are all out and about, going skiing and swimming, off to school. Being cautious of course, but even cautious people are getting COVID (see below). So we don’t see them. And they understand and respect that. On Christmas Eve we all got together at the main house, sitting out on the back deck that daughter had recently put a snazzy roof on. Daughter and her kids and even her ex-husband. Son and his wife and daughter. We wore masks except when we were eating and drinking, gathered around the fire pit. Then we separated again.

Grateful for my relationship with my sister. We had planned a trip to Great Britain, but of course we had to cancel when COVID led to strict travel bans. It broke my heart when, despite her precautions and care she got COVID and I could do nothing to help her. We spoke by phone and video messenger, but it would have been a comfort to me and a help to her if I’d lived in the same place as her. But she knows I love her, and we will be making our travel plans again when we can.

Soooooo grateful for my home. Not just because it’s perfect for us, comfortable and cheerful, but also because I have a home to be grateful for. So many are living rough right now, out on the street and unable to protect themselves, so vulnerable.

I’m grateful that our health professionals are working to keep us safe. I’m grateful for the teachers who are putting themselves in harm’s way to keep our kids (and grandkids) educated. I’m grateful for the cleaners who are working so hard to keep hospitals and schools and long-term care centres and public offices sanitized.

And I’m very grateful for Dr. Bonnie Henry and the governments who are trying to keep us alive until we can all be vaccinated. Mistakes were probably made, but the time to determine a better course is after we’ve returned to “normal” and the whole big picture is clearer. Right now I’m happy our provincial and federal governments have been led by science.

Times have been tough. But I’m grateful for everything that has been given to me, and I will stay grateful until we are all vaccinated and life will continue in a different pace, a different direction.

Midsomer Fantasies

I had seen the occasional program of Midsomer Mysteries prior to the current lock down, but I never followed the series closely until I had seemingly endless afternoons to fill, and an Amazon Prime membership to use.

The Barnaby Boys

When one binge watches a series one notices nuances that you might not see if you have weeks between episodes. And what I have found by closely studying the mythical English shire of Midsomer is a place so anachronistic it should be called Potemkin Village Mysteries.

I’m not talking about the usual “quaint detective” tropes: finding parking right in front of your destination, having an extremely limited number of suspects, a murder rate roughly equivalent to Tijuana in a peaceful village (see Cabot Cove, Maine) .

Nope, Midsomer is the most un-English of all English counties. It’s England designed by people who have never been to England and have not seen English media in 60 years. The villages are all picturesque — and truly many English villages are picturesque. My second cousin lived in one, Knutsford, in a modern house in a subdivision within walking distance of the central core. None of the villages of Midsomer have such subdivisions, or even streets of modern houses. Not Badgers’ Drift, nor Midsomer Parva or Midsomer Wellow or Fletcher’s Cross or Lower Crosby or Midsomer Newton. Everyone lives in a modern villa, like the Barnabys, or a manor house or a thatched village from the 16th century. In truth more people live in houses like the Dursley’s than in those atypical homes.

Like this, minus owls.

There’s also the problem of who lives in those houses. I’m only on Season 12 (out of 21) but I haven’t seen a person of colour in any of the shows. Midsomer is ridiculously and relentlessly white. Cornershops are not owned and staffed by South Asians (a stereotype that holds true a lot of the time) but rather by cuddly, eccentric (and possibly homicidal) white people. You see no black batsmen on the local cricket team. There seem to be no immigrants at all, apart from the occasional American millionaire vilified for trying to drag a corner of Midsomer into the 21st century. But England is a remarkably diverse country, immigration from the former colonies has injected some interesting cultures into the mix and you are as likely to hear a Polish accent as any other.

Infrequently the Barnabys will step out for a meal to a pub or steak house. Even more infrequently they will go to an Italian bistro or a French boite. They never go out for a curry or thai food or sushi. No butter chicken, no jerk chicken no kung pao chicken. Again, this is unlike real life, where a cornucopia of delicious dishes await on any main street, and the frozen food aisle at Waitrose or Tesco is like the United Nations of chow.

In Midsomer there are no motorways (freeways) leading to concrete metropolises. Instead winding country lanes straining to include two lanes lead to villages designed by Thomas Kinkade.

In short, (too late!) I am saying that Midsomer Murders are like most television shows — completely untrue and unrelatable (I mean, how did Rachel and Monica come up for the rent on that apartment? And don’t get me started on the homes the ladies on Sex and the City could afford.) But I will watch it anyway. The stories are really well written, and the acting is good, calling upon the talents of some of Britain’s best thespians. It will be my guilty pleasure, at least for another 8 seasons.

We’re famous!

MONTECRISTO magazine’s online version featured a story on innovative laneway design, and our Grandview Laneway is mentioned!  Very good company, and very prestigious press.

Laneway_Grandview2

100 days of solitude

Well, this was….unexpected?

Whatever I was forecasting for 2020, this wasn’t it.  And I know it’s the same for you.  We just could not have imagined the changes we would be put through.

It’s like watching a movie showing the “future” of the 20th century.  No one imagined cell phones, or having instant access to information anywhere, anytime through the world wide web.  Carrying cameras, movie cameras, movie studios in our pockets. Drones affordable for average folk.  No one got streaming music and movies.  Or the gig economy. Or how inexpensive and extensive foreign travel would be.  Or how we wouldn’t get flying cars.

Who, in 1970, would have imagined people would STILL be marching against systemic racism?

For myself, I’ve been knocked out of the comfortable life I’d built for myself. For two years after I retired I had been looking after our youngest grandchild (la belle princesse) every Thursday.  We would go to a playgroup and hang out at the park and I really loved it.  But she started full time daycare and just like that I was not needed.  No more getting up at 5 am and going out to the suburbs; (quiet sob) my time was my own.

But it wasn’t.  I had signed up for Tourism Vancouver city host volunteering, and so once a week I would approach touristy-looking people near the cruise ships dock, and offer directions and maps and suggestions.  I loved it!  I wore a nice uniform.  The people I helped were grateful, my fellow volunteers were all well-travelled and well-informed about the rest of the world.  I had so much fun that I was soon doing it twice a week.  But the cruise season ends at the end of September, and thus so would the volunteering until Spring.

So I signed up to do some temporary office work.  I loved that, too!  Going to different industries, using my old skills.  And if I didn’t like the situation, I’d just ask not to be assigned there anymore.  I made money, which I put away for our planned trips to foreign climes.

But now….

I am staying two meters from the grandchildren, even when I get to see them.  Or, if I’m babysitting them while their Mom is out I wear a mask — no cuddles. No volunteering this year, all the cruises have been cancelled and the border has been closed with our nearest neighbour and biggest tourism customer.  And as for temp work, the few jobs that are available are going to younger, braver workers. A trip I had planned to Great Britain with my sister has been cancelled. Our usual hostelry in Penticton will not open this year, so we’ve cancelled that trip as well.

This is not an uncomfortable life, and I realize how privileged I am that I am able to live it. But I could never have guessed things would turn in these directions.

For us, some of these changes like delivery of pet food and specialty foods will be more or less permanent for the immediate future, we’ll have to forgo our trips to Granville Island or West Broadway on transit.   What other changes?  Who knows?  Maybe voting by mail-in ballots. More and more online shopping.

I had thought we’d be getting grocery delivery until the vaccine comes out but when I asked my husband if there was anything he wanted added to the list, he looked off into the distance and said “I’d like….to go to the store.” He knows I am still very apprehensive of going into any sort of crowd, but he said he’d take it on.  The heavy stuff we can still get delivered like liquids and canned things, but for produce, meats, bakery and deli items, he’s ready to head into the fray, masked and cautious. That’s great news because it’s difficult to get exactly what we need when ordering, you can never get unusual items like bavarian meat loaf or English bangers, and there’s so much waste from what we over order.  Add in the cost of the delivery and we’re throwing money away.

What changes can we all look forward to? Fewer brick and mortar stores?  Better take out and delivery meals from restaurants? Architectural changes so every home has a space for a home office to accommodate more people working from home?  Apparently electric bikes are selling like hotcakes as we all try to get outside without crowding each other (and we live in a very hilly part of the world, with the older crowd trying to get back on the bike after abandoning it).  Will our traffic patterns change? Will offices be redesigned to avoid face to face meetings?  Will people work longer hours but shorter weeks because they don’t have to commute hours each day? What about education?  Health care? Fashion?

Who can say what things may come?

OSWALD CABEL (RAYMOND MASSEY) STANDS AS RAYMOND PASSWORTHY (EDWARD CHAPMAN) LOOKS THOUGHTFUL AS HE LEANS ON HIS HAND AS CATHERINE CABEL (PEARL ARGYLE) AND MAURICE PASSWORTHY (KENNETH VILLIERS) SIT IN THE BACKGROUND

 

Oh Dad, Dear Dad

Of course I’ve been thinking a lot about my father lately.  It’s Father’s Day, after all, and Facebook keeps reminding me of all the times my father appeared in my Father’s Day Posts.  All the online and TV ads mention dear old Dad.  The media is all about the Dad.

But I would have been thinking about Dad without all this, because of the marches and the protests about police brutality and the knowledge that racism is part of our country and our heritage. 

My father would be 97 this July if he hadn’t passed in 2013; he grew up during the Depression, and that was a very racist time.  Black dogs were frequently named “Ni**er”.  The only screen actors of colour were forced to perform burlesques of white prejudice like Stepin FetchitAmos and Andy were white radio actors who perpetuated stereotypes of black indolence.  

But of course, there was no immigrant group or religion that could not be denigrated with a single word.  Kike. Chink. Mick. Dago. Wop. Bohunk. Frog. These were terms that were used every day by “nice people”. 

Yet somehow, Dad wasn’t racist.  He wasn’t prejudiced against “others”.  He didn’t seem to view people of other races and religions differently.  

He had a regular customer during his cab driving days in the late ‘40s who was gay.  He always asked for Dad because he knew Dad would treat him like a regular customer.  Wouldn’t beat him up or try to rob him.  Treated him like a human being which unfortunately was rare in those days.

The only time I saw my father angry at his mother (and my grandmother could be exasperating) was when she used the term “darkies” in front of me. He once caught some of us children taunting a local young lady of questionable virtue.  He told us that we must never mock people no matter who they were.  He taught me the phrase “Rather to be pitied than scorned.” Not everyone has the same choices and opportunities that we have.

I don’t know why Dad wasn’t prejudiced.  It’s not something we talked about.  I don’t know if he just mixed with a lot of people from different cultures and came to realize the value of each person.  If he did I don’t know how, pre-WW2 Vancouver wasn’t known for its cultural sensitivity and integration.  But Dad escaped that snare.  

What that meant for my sister and myself was that we never heard about “Chinese drivers” or “Jew bankers” or “Sneaky Japs”, or “Dirty Indians”; things other people said every day.  If you’d accused them of being racist they would have been aghast!  What about their (insert minority term here) friend?  Racism, like white privilege, was often invisible, only displayed behind closed doors.

Not that Dad liked everyone!  Far from it.  He once worked with a lad so incompetent that he referred to him as “Charlie Stupid.”  I don’t think I learned his real name, but it wasn’t Charlie.  All my friends liked Dad, he could stand about two of them.  As for the rest, he would just roll his eyes to the ceiling if I mentioned their names.  There are still people who tell me they felt my Dad was a good friend to them.  He tolerated them, but he was always polite to them.  

He avoided those people because they were unpleasant or humourless or hypocritical (the worst sin in Dad’s eyes).  Their nationalities or religion had nothing to do with how he felt.

So thanks, Dad!  I won’t say I’m not a racist — who among us can truly say that?  But I try to be the best person I can be.  And I think he would appreciate that.

 

Food delivery roulette

Anyone who knows me (or has seen me) knows that I love to eat and I love to cook, and both these activities are super important during our isolation. It’s very comforting to have a nice meal every day, just a little oasis of normalcy in these chaotic times.

We are relying on food pickup and deliveries these days, with the occasional trip to the grocery store

The first delivery I received at the end of March contained no eggs, and had substituted skipjack instead of albacore tuna (who can tell the difference?  DH) and of course there was no toilet paper.  So when our supplies ran out, and the next pick up scheduled for over a week away, I had to go to Superstore in person.

Fortunately, being old has its rewards and the store is open only to the elderly and disabled from 7 to 8 am.  DD said she would give me a ride so we set out at dawn for the store.  It was the first time I had left the house in a week.  I was overly excited, ridiculously so.

Give me my groceries!

And that’s how I found myself staring at a cooler full of meat and thinking “no bangers!  What is this?  Soviet Russia?”  There were dozens of types of sausages, but no bangers.  And the only ground beef was in big packages.  Definitely not as bad as the previous week, when DH went to a supermarket to find that the only meat available in the cooler was chicken gizzards and hearts.  But still, I had my heart set on some nice bangers and mash……

But I digress.  Because this isn’t about bangers and mash it’s about security of our food supply.

So far, so good.  In our home we did run out of some items but we’ve been really good about staying out of the stores. DH wanted to make hamburgers for dinner the other night and I made our own buns, and mayonnaise, and even baked onion rings.  Yes!  Just like the pioneers!

We are not crazy about supermarket coffee, because we drink decaf and there are very few mainstream coffee brands with good decaf.  But JJ Bean sent us some out of the goodness of their hearts because I ordered it online.

The only worm in the apple is that sometimes delivery orders are cancelled, seemingly capriciously.  And you never know if your order has been cancelled until the time it’s supposed to be delivered, so you can’t plan ahead.

And we know that there may be food shortages of some items in the future due to disruption in the supply chain.  And some have likened this to the shortages during the last war (WW11 I mean, not Afghanistan).  But that’s ridiculous.

For one thing, Canada supplied half the meat consumed in Britain during the war, and that led to shortages here and there, and eventual rationing in Canada.  In just one year, 1942, coffee, tea, and sugar were rationed here in Canada.  Imagine getting through a disaster with limited tea and coffee and no cookies! Butter was rationed, starting the widespread acceptance of margarine as a substitute. The loss of Japanese Canadian farms in the Fraser Valley meant some crops including strawberries were ruined.

More information can be found here.  Seriously, check it out, it’s very interesting. Because we were coming off the great Depression, and because the first of Canada’s Food Guides was published, even under rationing people could be eating better than they ever had.

Thanks to the people who are on the job making sure we are getting our food, from the pickers to the packers to the truckers to the cashiers, everyone is risking their health to make sure we can be fed.  And safe.

 

 

Wartime thinking

I was watching The Darkest Hour last night, and drinking scotch in solidarity with Winston Churchill.  I’m sure I’m not the first to think (and hear) that our experiences during the COVID 19 pandemic are similar to those of people during World War 11.

Well, yes.  But mostly no.

Yes, we have a common enemy.  And we all have a responsibility to our fellow citizens. And it’s going to be a sacrifice of one sort or another.

But things are a lot better today than they were then.  I realize that I’m supposed to look back on those times as being somehow nicer, kinder, when people were more cooperative and could count on their neighbours. But those nice, kind people stood back as thousands of their neighbours were rounded up and sent out of the city, and sometimes out of the province, to what amounted to concentration camps just for the crime of having Japanese ancestry.

Also polio.

My mother left the rural community of Aldergrove to work in Vancouver for the telegraph exchange in 1943 or 1944.  I sometimes wonder how her life was different than mine.

Clothes, for one.  I can go online and order anything I want and it will be brought to my house for my approval.  At the beginning of the war in Canada:

Everyone was given a book of 66 coupons to use to buy new clothes for one year. For example, a men’s shirt cost 16 coupons. This reduced to 48 coupons in 1942 and 36 in 1943.

By mid 1941- silk was no longer available since it was used as the material for parachutes. Therefore, women rushed to purchase all the silk stockings available.[1]

In fact, later in the war, Saba’s, a ritzy store that specialized in silk and other expensive fabrics, had a regular riot on their hands when 500 women stampeded the store to buy 300 pairs of nylon stockings (luckily, no one was hurt). Nylon was just as rare and special as silk.

So clothes had to last as long as they could.  They were darned, mended, rehemmed and remade until they were ready to fall apart, and then they were remade into something else.  None of this fast fashion of today.

And clothes were borrowed and shared.  In the boarding house where my mother lived girls would often exchange clothes to have a “new” look for a date.

So let’s do a little wartime thinking.

So let’s take this opportunity to think about how we mindlessly shop for clothes until we have closets and drawers overfilled with cheap, disposable outfits that we never wear.  Let’s start thinking about how much clothes really cost, think about buying fewer pieces and wearing them more often.

 

 

Plague journal

Apparently William Shakespeare and Isaac Newton wrote some of their best stuff while under quarantine for the plague.  I think I can do better than those two dilettantes, so here goes, my own Plague Journal.

I knew it would come, eventually, when I heard about the “flu-like disease” epidemic in China.  People compare this to the Spanish Flu, which travelled around the world in two years.  We all knew it would come to us somehow.  It was all a matter of time. Like smallpox  Or polio.  These bygone diseases would spread through a community, sometimes decimating it.  Our time would come.

When the first cases appeared in Vancouver, just 3 weeks ago, my son and daughter-in-law asked me to stay home and not accept any temp jobs.  I assured them that I would go to the hospital at the first sign of illness.  Of course there were no more temp jobs available.  No one was letting a stranger into their spaces. And the hospitals were already filling up.

Just 10 days ago I attended a choir recital “starring” my oldest grandchild.  I had half-heartedly considered not going, but ….. I rode a crowded bus, bought a coffee at the crowded Starbucks, and sat in a crowded church and listened to those adorable children’s harmony, and watched them perfect Os with their little mouths.

But I don’t do that anymore.  I stay home. And I have been for a week.

Our government closed borders to those from stricken countries, then to most countries, then to all countries. We were urged to avoid gatherings of more than 200 people, of more than 50 people, of more than 10 people.  To stay home. Our neighbours to the south…..not so much.

I thought it summed up the different approaches to the difference between how the pandemic is being managed in Canada and the US to see how the leaders handled press conferences on St. Patrick’s Day. Our PM standing alone in front of the house where he is in a self imposed isolation. The US president crowded by other people on a dais in a closed room in close proximity to the press.

For 12 weeks, their president said that it was a hoax, that it was not serious, that the US certainly had enough tests for the virus, enough ventilators, enough beds in privately-run hospitals.  All were safe.  We wondered why he was so blind to the situation, but of course, we were naive.  The government of the US was downplaying the pandemic to prop up the stock market for long enough for a privileged few to sell their stocks before the crash.  I have never heard of anything so disgusting.  Oh wait, there was that one store in Manhattan who was selling bottled water at a highly inflated price to rescuers on 9-11.

We may see worse before the end of this.

What is our situation now?  I can only speak for myself and my husband.

We are fine.  We are better than fine, luckier than most of our neighbours.  I am retired, and those checks will continue to pop into our bank account whether we leave our house or not. He works for himself, his clients may be in Richmond or in Denmark. He provides voice production, delivered online to his customers.  I bank online, shop online.  Tuesday I awoke to a box of cat food lying outside our door beside the daily newspaper.  Monday a delivery of groceries will appear to feed us through the week.  If I need to top up throughout the week I can go to a local store that is offering special early-morning shopping for seniors. We venture out across the street to the government liquor store as we need to, keeping our distance from our fellow shoppers and dousing ourselves in Purell before we wash our hands at home.

Coffee might be a problem.  We like Starbucks ground coffee, and the local outlets are likely to close in the next few weeks.  We may have to substitute grocery store coffee.  A small price.

We know how lucky we are. I am taking an online guitar course.  I download new books for my Kindle.  I may finally watch the Marvelous Mrs. Maizel.  Yesterday I was contacted about checking my CPAP machine and reviewing my needs.  I explained that I would not be dragging the machine to their office on the bus, and was told that all data could be delivered from my machine to them by BlueTooth!  Fantastic!

We’re not exactly the citizens of Eyam during the plague. But we’re doing our parts.

Home Again

Yes, we made it home again.

Our last morning in Paris (well, CDG) we got up at 6 to be out of our pod by the deadline of 7.  I had a so-so sleep.  I use a CPAP machine when I sleep, and apart from having no distilled water to use in the machine, there was no hard surface to put it on near the bed.  So I woke up several times.  This is one of the reasons why travel when one is younger is often easier.

We showered and headed out.  In the fluorescent-lit Yotel guest “lounge” (how can it look so depressingly grim?  Are fluorescent lights even still a thing?) we found a very sad cold breakfast (American cereal and cold toast) which was only available if one had a voucher, which thankfully we did not, because just a short walk down the terminal we found a nice little cafe with excellent coffee and real croissants.  We started back to the rail link we’d taken the night before to the Yotel and were intercepted by a polite lady who directed us to a security desk (for the time of day the people there were remarkably cheery, the gentleman who checked out our backpack was singing “Baby Shark”) and then onto a shuttle and back to Terminal 2A and the Air Canada wing.  I managed to fit some shopping into the morning, as I found many of the same souvenirs I had seen at the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe at the airport shop.

We had quite a wait, but we managed to survive by reading and watching our fellow travellers.  Then onto the plane to Montreal. We had good seats and enjoyed the flight.

We landed in Montreal around 1-ish in the afternoon and looked forward to about a 3-hour wait for our flight to YVR.  Not enough time to go into the city and have a meal, just enough to wander around Pierre Trudeau Airport.  We would have to feed ourselves for this leg of the trip, so decided to buy sandwiches from one of the outlets in the airport for a sky picnic once we were on the plane. We got the usual announcement that the flight was fairly full, so would someone like to check their bag for free?  I volunteered and got us bumped up from Zone 6 to Zone 3 when loading and also learned that the flight would be delayed for an hour.  We heard two stories, one was that there was a problem with the plane and it would have to be replaced;  and that the pilots were trapped in Ottawa with bad weather.  We had gone through something like this before, the pilots can only fly within a certain window and if the flight cannot take place within that window they need to find substitutes.  Which they did, only they had to come in from Toronto.  So we’d be taking off around 6 pm, about 1.75 hours after our original time.  Air Canada apologized about a hundred times and then gave us meal vouchers which was quite decent of them.

We’d already bought our picnic, but others were very happy to get the vouchers.  Airport food is expensive.

Speaking of which, when we were aloft (the pilots got there around 5:45 and we took off around 6 pm) we opened our lunches.  DH had bought a ham and cheese sandwich and some Doritos.  I had bought a sandwich where the ingredients listed included ham, bacon, cheese, chicken, hard-boiled egg, tomato, lettuce and gherkin.  There may have been more (possibly peanut butter and jelly).  I wondered if they just labeled all the sandwiches thus and one would get two or perhaps three of these ingredients.  Nope.  They were all in there.  And it tasted……weird.  But I would have eaten the armrest at this point so I soldiered on.  The potato chips were good, though.  Next time I’ll likely just buy something on the plane, we didn’t save much by buying in the airport.

We landed in Vancouver late but not horrendously so, breezed through customs (no line ups anywhere, not even the rest rooms) and got to baggage claim just as my suitcase rolled around.  Then we lined up for a cab.

The line-up was decently short, and they have a new system now where each section of the Lower Mainland is given its own fare, with maps posted along the line-up to explain how much you’d pay.  Naturally, our home being so far away from the airport, ours is $40.  But that’s fair, and we were happy to pay it, being somewhat pooped when we got here.

We loved our trip, we had a wonderful time in each of the places we visited, and of all that occurred only one incident was not great (Frankfurt Airport).

Customer service is so important when we can choose to go virtually anywhere on earth for our vacations.  For an example of how NOT to do it, DD has written of her less-than-stellar experiences (also in Germany……hmmmmm).

We are content, looking back on our travels, and looking forward to planning our next trip.

And looking at our souvenir.

The Eiffel Tower was the first thing we saw from our plane coming into Paris, the real kick-off to our vacation.

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