Monday, May 5, 2014

Aaaaand.....We're Back In The Land of Brown

We arrived home yesterday, back to the mud and cold and grey skies of a late spring on the prairies, after a perfect week of sun and rain, warm temperatures, wonderful humidity and marvellous culture and food.

We said goodbye to The Son on Saturday evening after a great little meal at Dunlevy Snack Bar in Chinatown on the lower east side.  Theo is the owner and he is a very interesting fellow indeed.  The chef produces wonderful snacks and the drinks from the bar are delicious, worth the cost for sure.  My son and husband enjoyed Korean spiced chicken buns and I was thrilled with my steak tostada.  On top of the 2 good sized corn tostadas was a little schmear of garlic and herb spread topped with paper thin strips of steak and a jumble of chickweed, burdock and shaved jicama.  O my goodness what a delicious snack.  The complimentary still or carbonated water choice there and at most of the restaurants we visited is really lovely....something else I wish we had out here.

It was there that we said farewell to our son.  As we were enjoying our food a good friend of his arrived, Car to Go at the ready, and the 2 of them headed out to a graduation event at the art college my son once attended.  It was the perfect way for us to say goodbye....often we are at our son's apt. when we leave, no other people about, so I get teary and maudlin and so does he.  This time it was a joy to see him heading off to have some fun in the midst of his very stressful school preparation, big hugs all around and my husband and I still had the last evening to ourselves to enjoy a final walk around the area where we were staying.  We ended our walk with a late dinner back at Taki's Taverna...some chicken and lamb souvlaki with a bit of roast potato and rice, hummus and pita, the usual fare and also as usual, so tasty at this restaurant.  It was a great way to end my week of too much sodium, fat, carbs and all the cheating I indulged in while I was in an area where I could walk over 4 km every day to keep those blood sugars in check.  (AND I am happy to report that I only gained 4 pounds during the week.  Losing the sodium again will get rid of those rather quickly.)

The next morning we were up at 4:45am to get ready to leave for the airport.  It was pouring rain, teeming water everywhere so the roads were clear of other vehicles when we drove off at 6am from the hotel.  We returned the rental car to Enterprise out in Richmond near the airport, gas tank full from the only station we found open at that time on a Sunday morning all the way there from our hotel.  We had excellent service from Enterprise and wouldn't hesitate to rent from them again....thank you Doug for the heads up about who to go to for car rentals.  The shuttle driver dropped us right at the front door of the main terminal rather than at the usual spot that would have seen us and our luggage dripping wet after the walk outside from there to departures...and yes I did tip him a little extra.  

As we flew home we talked about what good service we also experienced at Sunset Inn and Suites.  If anything the housekeeping was even better than last summer when we first visited there.  The staff is consistently cheery and helpful and I look forward to our next stay.

Another uneventful flight and as we descended through thick cloud before landing, we caught our first sight of the ground below and everything, EVERYTHING we could see was brown....the fields, the water, the fencing, the gravel and dirt roads, the highways, even the new houses surrounding the airport were sided with various shades of brown plastic siding.  Depression hit me like a brick in the side of the head.  My husband looked around and said that it was like waking up from a dream and discovering he was in the middle of a nightmare.  For some reason we hadn't once thought about home all week and weren't preparing ourselves for the shock of the difference in the prairie landscape.  I admit to feeling intensely crabby for the first hour of our nearly 5 hour drive home. Seeing all those brown fields with nary a farmer in them due to the cold temperatures and still frozen ground didn't improve my mood.

Having to stop at a buffet for lunch before we began the drive exacerbated my frustration. There was nothing wrong with the food, it just wasn't the kind of food I enjoy. It was typical prairie brunch fare and I felt ripped off and disappointed after the week of excellent culinary treats I had just experienced.  The fact that it was a dollar more per person than the Banana Leaf in Vancouver and contained few foods that I as a diabetic could actually ingest did nothing to help me accept the reality of being back. The place has no other menu during buffet times so, as it was the only open establishment on the edge of the city and it had been nearly 7 hours since my breakfast, I felt forced to eat there and had to pay the exorbitant price for enough food to fit in the palms of both my very tiny hands.  haha Talk about week in Vancouver does it to me every time, every year. You would think I would be used to it by now and arrive home more prepared to resume my real life.

By the time we arrived at the next city a couple of hours away, to visit a parishioner in hospital there, I had calmed down considerably.  We had a great visit with a lady who has suffered tremendously, will continue to suffer and doesn't have a very positive prognosis.  Her cheery attitude smacked my depression right in the face and made me wonder what I was whining about, feeling sorry for myself because I had to eat eggs and toast and a bit of sausage when I wanted to have Malaysian food instead.  She was unknowingly giving me my comeuppance for being such a spoiled brat.  Bless you Karen...I needed that!!

To placate me further, my husband agreed to a long walk around the area so we could get some exercise, even though it was very cold outside. Then we drove another hour along the highway to a nearly hidden gem of Indian food that we discovered not long ago.  There I could start the trek back to food I can and should be eating.  Other than a bit more sodium than I need, it was delicious with many many vegetables.

By the time we finally got home,  8 hours after our plane landed and 15 hours after we had awakened for our early start, I was much more adjusted to having to be at home again and so was my husband.  We have always been like that...coming home, to any home we have ever had anywhere in the country, always depresses us. Today we felt like 2 limp dishrags because we were up most of the night talking and enjoying our trip to the west coast all over again.  We were up for just short of 24 hours so paid the price today.  

Tomorrow we will take all our cans and bottles into the recycling depot and start hauling bags of gently used clothing and other items we are downsizing over to the local Salvation Armani.  The next job will be cleaning out the garage, a project that started in the spring but was called to a halt due to the sheer busyness of my husband's work schedule.  It won't happen on our days off next week though because we are getting company from Alberta for a couple of days...good friends from seminary days.  It is great to have that to look forward to!!  I just purchased 2 paintings from the husband and he is bringing them with him.  YIPPEE! Nothing perks me up  like new art of some kind or other.

So we have church on Friday night this week and our guitarists will be doing the music...always enjoyable and possibly a couple new to the church will be there to play with them as well. Saturday night is the annual spaghetti dinner and my husband loves making his batch of sauce for that. It is a great day of camaraderie with the ACW gals the day before as they all get together to create sauces and salads in the church kitchen.  Sunday we will then have only the one service at our other church, which means we can stay to visit and have coffee with those parishioners before heading home to await our company.

We may be back in The Land of Brown, but it has many bright spots this week to make it enjoyable. 

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