Stille Tag, Eating Ballots and Uncle Edgar

A Few Crea­tures Stir­ring, but Not Many
Yes­ter­day was a very qui­et day indeed. We took a walk along False Creek and saw a few dog-walk­ers, jog­gers and bicy­clists, but as we returned via Broad­way, the only places open were the Asian restau­rants, some of which were doing a brisk business.

Today, how­ev­er, is Box­ing Day (always the day after Christ­mas), a hol­i­day that I only got to cel­e­brate when I lived in Eng­land. Accord­ing to Wikipedia:

There is great dis­pute over the true ori­gins of Box­ing Day. The more com­mon sto­ries include:

  • Cen­turies ago, mer­chants would present their ser­vants food and fruits as a form of Yule­tide tip. Nat­u­ral­ly, the gifts of food and fruit were packed in box­es, hence the term “Box­ing Day”.
  • In feu­dal times, Christ­mas was a rea­son for a gath­er­ing of extend­ed fam­i­lies. All the serfs would gath­er their fam­i­lies in the manor of their lord, which makes it eas­i­er for the lord of the estate to hand out annu­al stipends to the serfs. After all the Christ­mas par­ties on Decem­ber 25, the lord of the estate would give prac­ti­cal goods such as cloth, grains, and tools to the serfs who lived on his land. Each fam­i­ly would get a box full of such goods the day after Christ­mas. Under this expla­na­tion, there was noth­ing vol­un­tary about this trans­ac­tion; the lord of the manor was oblig­at­ed to sup­ply these goods. Because of the box­es being giv­en out, the day was called Box­ing Day.
  • In Britain many years ago, it was com­mon prac­tice for the ser­vants to car­ry box­es to their employ­ers when they arrive for their day’s work on the day after Christ­mas (26 Decem­ber). Their employ­ers would then put coins in the box­es as spe­cial end-of-year gifts. This can be com­pared with the mod­ern day con­cept of Christ­mas bonus­es. The ser­vants car­ried box­es for the coins, hence the name Box­ing Day.
  • In church­es, it was tra­di­tion to open the church’s dona­tion box on Christ­mas day, and the mon­ey in the dona­tion box were to be dis­trib­uted to the poor­er or low­er class cit­i­zens on the next day. In this case, the “box” in “Box­ing Day” comes from that one gigan­tic lock­box in which the dona­tions were left.
  • In Britain because many ser­vants had to work for their employ­ers on Christ­mas day they would instead open their presents (ie. box­es) the next day, which there­fore became known as box­ing day.

In fact, the way I heard it, because it was the ser­vants’ day off, meals would be a ‘box lunch’ or some­thing like that. Many of these sto­ries fol­low the same basic idea of giv­ing the work­ing class­es a spe­cial hol­i­day of their own, which has since many on the Left to decry the hol­i­day as fur­ther per­pet­u­a­tion of the sep­a­ra­tion of the social class­es (some­one had to serve the Christ­mas feast, so the ser­vants could­n’t have that day off, there­fore they had their own hol­i­day while the rich folks slept in and ate left­overs). It was inter­est­ing to see that Granville Mar­ket was open Christ­mas Eve, but was closed both Christ­mas Day and Box­ing Day, which lent fur­ther cre­dence to the ‘give The Help a day off’ explanation.

In the Putting Your Bal­lot Where Your Mouth Is Department

Saw a strange sto­ry about Cal­gary in Boing­bo­ing about eat­ing elec­tion bal­lots. Sure enough, it’s a kind of protest by the right-wing peo­ple there that there aren’t any choic­es that they approve of in the elec­tion (I’m going to assume that Steven Harp­er is not Con­ser­v­a­tive enough for them, since the protest is by fol­low­ers of Stock­well Day, who lost his post to Harp­er in 2002).

Good-bye to Uncle Edgar

We just got a phone call that Edgar John­ston, Pam’s Uncle on her father’s side of the fam­i­ly, died at 1 AM this morn­ing. Uncle Edgar, along with Aunt Mary and Uncle Jim, became what the rest of the fam­i­ly referred to as ‘The Trav­el­ing Trio’, when we found out that they had set off from Long Island, New York to Quin­cy, Mass­a­chu­setts via train, fer­ry, anoth­er train and final­ly the sub­way, with­out telling any­one, so that they could go on an explorato­ry trip to Quin­cy, Mass, where Mary and Edgar had pre­vi­ous­ly lived before sell­ing their house and mov­ing in with Jim in Long Island. They had made plans for months, and we sus­pect that Jim went along with the whole expe­di­tion because he had lost his dri­ver’s license (after 4 acci­dents in the peri­od of a month or so) and thought that the State of Mass­a­chu­setts would give him a license if New York state would not. Their plan was to buy two small hous­es and ‘…live next door to each oth­er’. We found out about all of this lat­er but ini­tial­ly we got a call from a hos­pi­tal in Quin­cy, at about 4 AM. The three of them had been found, exhaust­ed and con­fused, in the Boston sub­way a few hours ear­li­er. It was a pret­ty remark­able inci­dent, and if one of them had­n’t had Pam’s broth­er’s busi­ness card in their wal­let, they might very well have dis­ap­peared into the unseen world of the home­less in Boston. We scram­bled to get them tak­en care of, and Pam and her broth­er became legal guardians of all of them, as they entered a Nurs­ing Home in Wey­mouth, a near­by town. Uncle Jim died in Jan­u­ary before we moved here, and now with Edgar’s death at the age of 93, the sole mem­ber of the three trav­el­ers is Mary, who is most­ly blind and no longer coherent.
When­ev­er we vis­it­ed Aunt Mary and Uncle Edgar in Quin­cy, she was the flam­boy­ant and styl­ish lady, and he was the absent-mind­ed pro­fes­sor. He was obsessed with his time spent in the army dur­ing World War II and as time passed he retreat­ed more and more into that peri­od. I tried to find out why these events in his life seemed to over­shad­ow every­thing that had come before or since, but he had no expla­na­tion oth­er than that was the way he felt. The last time we saw him, he had revert­ed to the state of an infant, per­ma­nent­ly reclined, with soft hands and a vacant stare. He had been this way for months before then and con­tin­ued liv­ing that way for a year, at least, until he sim­ply stopped eat­ing a few days ago. The phrase from Shake­speare’s As You Like It about “All the world’s a stage”, etc. came to my mind — the bit at the end: 

Last scene of all,
That ends this strange event­ful history,
Is sec­ond child­ish­ness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

I’m glad that Edgar final­ly made his exit, because he spent far too much time in that last scene.

The Blogger Meetup

Sun­rise, 8:05 AM, Sun­set 4:17 PM. The Win­ter Sol­stice has come and gone

Some of the Van­cou­ver blog­gers gath­ered togeth­er at Subeez, on Homer Street (I wish I could write that street name with­out hear­ing Marge Simp­son’s voice, or rather, Julie Kavn­er’s voice, to be pre­cise) for a lit­tle get-togeth­er before the hol­i­days. I got there a lit­tle ear­ly, feel­ing a lit­tle weak as I’m just still get­ting over a lit­tle cold and flu. (I sus­pect I got it because I’m not used to the par­tic­u­lar bac­te­r­i­al soup that is my new work­place. It’s not that the place is par­tic­u­lar­ly dirty — it’s not — it’s that I haven’t yet devel­oped resis­tance to the bugs that are there yet. This is pret­ty com­mon.) Rather than go for a brew, I had to set­tle for some Chamomile tea and hon­ey. It’s a bit of a relief when restau­rants can be under­stand­ing about these sorts of things. I felt bet­ter as peo­ple arrived.

It was a small crowd, but we all got com­fort­able and I think every­one was in a pret­ty good mood. Despite the lack of sun­light, we all seem to be cop­ing pret­ty well. The con­ver­sa­tions drift­ed from com­ing hol­i­day trips to the Van­cou­ver Coop­er­a­tive Auto Net­work (which I’ve writ­ten about before) — Susie Gard­ner and Travis Smith think it’s great, so I’m now more inclined to think more seri­ous­ly about it, hav­ing known no one up to this point who had actu­al­ly joined it, much less rec­om­mend­ed it.

For those who did­n’t make it to Subeez, the report from here on the venue is: A lit­tle loud on the music, but great, funky decor, much bet­ter food than Steam­works (and I’m prob­a­bly not the only one to say that), and a more var­ied menu with bet­ter prices. The ser­vice was excel­lent and they dealt quite adroit­ly with all of the com­pli­ca­tions of stag­gered orders and mul­ti­ple cheques. We’ll be back there in Jan­u­ary. I would­n’t give up on Cal­houn’s, though. That might be good to try in February.

Here are the blogs of the Meet­up attendees:

Wal­ter Selen­t’s Web Page
Buzz Mar­ket­ing wit­th Blogs
Mak­taaq (in 2 weeks)

I uploaded a few hol­i­day snap­shots of us around the table to The cam­era flash was pret­ty extreme, but there’s not much you can do in a dim­ly lit place. Besides, it was after all, the solstice.

Besides all of the hol­i­days and besides all of the dark­ness, it’s also that time of year when many of us (myself includ­ed) grin and say ‘See you next year!’ at the end of evenings. We aren’t being par­tic­u­lar­ly clever, but it’s fun to say it all the same.

A Sunny Saturday and Chilly Evening

Sun­rise, 8:02 AM, Sun­set 4:15 PM and count­ing (only 4 days until the Win­ter Sol­stice, the short­est day of the year).

I was a lit­tle tired from the week, which showed just how out of shape I am when it comes to work­ing. Only 4 of the 5 days and here I am wait­ing for the first week­end! Thank good­ness, when the week­end count­ed, the sun came out. And boy, was a it a beau­ti­ful day today. More about that in a bit. First, about last night: My com­pa­ny had a Christ­mas par­ty. I only found out about it the morn­ing before, and for­tu­nate­ly was dressed well enough to go there direct­ly from work. I did­n’t know that spous­es were allowed or I would have had Pam come as well, but only found out too late. I hope there will be a next time, and I’ll have a bit more notice (like a cou­ple months rather than hours!)

In Cana­da, work­ers (and boss­es) take their hol­i­day par­ties much more seri­ous­ly than they do in the US. In the States, I remem­ber some half-heart­ed attempts at a lit­tle par­ty, often for employ­ees only or a pot-luck for employ­ees, spous­es and chil­dren. This is after the cut­backs from the dot-com crash of the 90’s, and I think we just got used to that lev­el of aus­ter­i­ty. In Cana­da, I think it’s seen as an impor­tant perk of employ­ment. Even for the tiny com­pa­ny I’ve just joined, there was a huge spread at a local hotel, with prime rib, York­shire pud­ding, salmon, door prizes, games, and wine or beer (cash bar for oth­er drinks). I actu­al­ly won one of the (sev­er­al) draw­ings, and the prize was a gift cer­tifi­cate at the excel­lent Cana­di­an hi-tech chain, Futureshop. I was very impressed (and per­haps a lit­tle embar­rassed. After all, I had only been with the com­pa­ny for 3 days!)

Any­way, that brings us to today. This morn­ing, to be exact. Pam and I took a short trip to Main Street, which is indeed one of the main streets into Van­cou­ver, although it’s a good 2 kilo­me­ters or so from us (we took a Broad­way bus there to make the trip a bit faster).

Among our stops along Main, we went to the KEA food store, a very ‘crunchy’ organ­ic gro­cery, which has real­ly good raw peanuts in the shells (we roast them in the oven and the house smells won­der­ful from the peanut‑y aro­ma). We also vis­it­ed Urban Source, a fan­tas­tic resource for the cre­ative per­son hope­ful­ly lurk­ing in all of us. Urban Source is a sort of scav­enger of indus­tri­al waste — not the scary, poi­so­nous kind, but the more banal, and poten­tial­ly use­ful junk that comes from light man­u­fac­tur­ing and the like. Look­ing for some small dolls heads, card­board cones and cylin­ders, sil­ver mylar, glit­ter, foam­core scraps? This is the place for you! You don’t have to be even that handy or skilled. Some­times projects can be found-art from the com­bi­na­tions of the above items. On high shelves above much of the stuff (and there’s real­ly no bet­ter word to describe what they sell), are toy robots, the skele­ton of a wick­er bas­ket out­fit­ted so that it looks like an enor­mous house­fly, and oth­er assem­blages that look down like in a dare to all below: ‘See how cool I am? Bet you can’t make some­thing this neat!’ That may be true, but the oth­er cus­tomers (and there are tons of them) and I accept the chal­lenge. Pam did, too. Noth­ing involv­ing pow­er tools or weld­ing. A cou­ple of clay tiles and sil­ver mylar will do just fine, thank you.

After that we met Oana and Matt for a walk and even­tu­al­ly din­ner at the very unusu­al and fun restau­rant the Liliget Feast House, on Davie Street (not too far from the hotel where Pam and I had stayed a few times before mov­ing into our cur­rent place). We had­n’t planned going there, but both Matt and Pam had heard about this restau­rant that spe­cial­izes in First Nation cui­sine and had want­ed to try it out (and I was cer­tain­ly inter­est­ed as well). I had a very tasty Alder-Grilled Veni­son Chops mar­i­nat­ed in Maple Syrup and Vine­gar and served with Mashed Rus­set Pota­toes, Sea­son­al Veg­eta­bles, and Wild Blue­ber­ry Sauce (as the menu describes it). Pam had their Veg­e­tar­i­an Meal, which includ­ed Toast­ed Sea­weed (Kelp) on a Wild Rice Med­ley, Sweet Pota­to Pie, Spinach Quiche Pie, and the same veg­eta­bles. She liked it a lot, and I sam­pled some of those pies, which were real­ly charm­ing sin­gle-serv­ing size tarts. Oana and Matt went for the Lileget Feast Plat­ter for two, which includ­ed Alder Grilled Wild Salmon, Hal­ibut, Mus­sels, Veni­son Strips, Buf­fa­lo Smoky, Duck Breast, Sweet Pota­toes with Hazel­nuts, Liliget Wild Rice Med­ley, Veg­eta­bles and Wild Blue­ber­ry & Dill Sauces. It arrived in a very impres­sive ‘boat’ with First Nation dec­o­ra­tions at each end. I’m very intrigued by this kind of cook­ing and hope to get some recipes for these dish­es or ones sim­i­lar to them. In some ways, it was very much like the kind of cui­sine I used to love in Ver­mont, where you could real­ly enjoy and appre­ci­ate the spe­cial­ness of the local pro­duce. I’m not a mac­ro­bi­ot­ic zealot, but I can cer­tain­ly see the advan­tage in mak­ing the most of your local game, fish, fruits and veg­eta­bles, espe­cial­ly if there are lots of them year-round, as they are here in the BC area.

I should add that desert was par­tic­u­lar­ly mem­o­rable. It was a sort of syl­labub (whipped cream, no wine or sher­ry though) made with Sopalali berries. What do they taste like? Actu­al­ly quite bit­ter, like Angos­tu­ra Bit­ters, or tamarind. It was a sur­pris­ing­ly com­plex tast­ing fin­ish, and def­i­nite­ly not some­thing for the kids.

After din­ner we all took a chilly walk by the north shore of False Creek toward the Bur­rard Bridge. By chilly, I mean right at about freez­ing. The night was lit by a huge tree by the beach with Christ­mas lights all over it, as well as the the lights of the city and ships off­shore. I think Matt got some good night photos.

Update: Mat­t’s pic­tures came out pret­ty well, espe­cial­ly of the food at the restaurant.

Also, a very dra­mat­ic, if sub­tle pict of 3 of us in front of that tree:

Work Tomorrow

I got an email from my new boss that he thought it would be bet­ter for me to start work tomor­row (Tues­day), so I have one last day to pre­pare. No more sleep­ing till 8! Up and at ’em! It’s very appro­pri­ate that my first day of work is the 13th. For those who don’t know me, it’s my lucky num­ber, hav­ing been born on that date, same as my brother.

In the mean­time, I’m going to take the oppor­tu­ni­ty to iron all of my clothes, get some last tasks fin­ished in the home office, and write a few emails. I’ve fig­ured out that ‘Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me’, the NPR quiz show, takes up a sin­gle day’s com­mute (half of it, each way) on my my iPod. Hope­ful­ly, I’ll be able to keep from grin­ning like an idiot on the bus, but I had trou­ble doing that on the T in Boston. That takes care of the Mon­day ride. I think it will be fun to plan some of the ‘enter­tain­ment’ for the rest of the week.

It’s actu­al­ly remark­able how sim­i­lar my route from home to work will be to my last one (when I worked at Fideli­ty Invest­ments): It starts out with a bridge (the Granville Bridge here, the Longfel­low Bridge before), and then tra­vers­ing some of the down­town area to a train sta­tion (Water­front Sta­tion here, South Sta­tion before). It’s then a short walk from where I get off to work (Water Street here, Sum­mer Street before). As before, a cou­ple of flights of stairs up and I’m in the office. If I had worked at Fideli­ty’s Water Street office in Boston, it would have sound­ed even more sim­i­lar! The com­mute time is near­ly iden­ti­cal as well. It think this new one is maybe a few min­utes short­er, depend­ing on when the bus arrives and the speed of morn­ing rush hour traf­fic. It was a hap­py coin­ci­dence that Pam and I locat­ed our­selves (whether we real­ized it or not) in the same approx­i­mate rela­tion­ship to the city as our last place. 

I don’t think I’ll get a chance to set­tle in that much before the new year. After all, there’s this week (which will be a 4 day week for me now), next week, and then Christ­mas hits. The week after that has a hol­i­day on Mon­day (Box­ing Day, for the unini­ti­at­ed). I“m imag­in­ing that the week between Christ­mas and New Years will be fair­ly qui­et. A New Year’s vis­it with my broth­er and his fam­i­ly is also some­thing to look for­ward to. All in all, a very gen­tle eas­ing into the work­force. I think that will go a long way toward mak­ing me feel more of a part of the city.

When you don’t work, you are always see­ing things as a vis­i­tor, or an out­sider. I remem­ber how I felt the first time I was laid off. It was as if I was walk­ing around with a big ‘U’ (for Unem­ployed) on my chest. That feel­ing actu­al­ly dis­suad­ed me from walk­ing around town, at first. Over time I got used to it. Here, it’s eas­i­er still because I haven’t worked in this city yet.

Guns, Germs and Steel
Guns Germs And SteelLast night the His­to­ry Chan­nel ran a fas­ci­nat­ing doc­u­men­tary by Jared Dia­mond, the author of the recent ‘hot’ book, “Col­lapse: How Soci­eties Choose to Fail or Suc­ceed”. It was a drama­ti­za­tion of his ear­li­er book, “Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Soci­eties”, which won the Pulitzer Prize back in 1998. Dia­mond’s over­ar­ch­ing idea is that Geog­ra­phy was the largest sin­gle force in the rise of Euro­pean Civ­i­liza­tion. An ample sup­ply of food was pro­vid­ed by domes­ti­cat­ed ani­mals: the cow, horse, sheep, goat and pig, which were all native to Eura­sia. The very shape of the con­ti­nents and the ter­rain, which allowed peo­ple to move around in the same lon­gi­tude (and hence, the same cli­mate band) with­out huge moun­tains in their way, gave some groups of peo­ple a dis­tinct advan­tage over oth­ers. Because they had more free time when they weren’t look­ing for food, they devel­oped Tech­nol­o­gy, which even­tu­al­ly cre­at­ed armor, the train (steel) and guns. These items, along with resis­tance to dis­eases by liv­ing around domes­ti­cat­ed ani­mals (which the Africans of the same era lacked), and you had the stage set for the dom­i­na­tion of Africa by Europe that con­tin­ued to near­ly the present day. While the pro­gram was a bit slow-mov­ing, it illus­trat­ed clear­ly many of Dia­mond’s ideas. Crit­ics of Dia­mond claim that his the­o­ries are too pat, that it takes more than sim­ply Geog­ra­phy to lead to the ascen­dan­cy of one peo­ple or anoth­er, and that some of that ‘Tech­nol­o­gy’ was acquired from oth­ers (notably, Chi­na, who pro­vid­ed gun­pow­der). Oth­ers see this book as per­pet­u­at­ing the myth of Euro­pean supe­ri­or­i­ty (the way that Hern­stein and Mur­ray’s “The Bell Curve” of 1994 clothed poten­tial­ly racist con­clu­sions in sta­tis­ti­cal rep­re­sen­ta­tions). In any case, it’s sur­pris­ing that Anthro­po­log­i­cal His­to­ry can be such a grip­ping sub­ject, even if it all hap­pened thou­sands of years before we were born.

The ISS and American Thanksgiving

Today I went to a place that I had dis­cov­ered almost by acci­dent a few weeks ago, the ISS or Immi­grant Ser­vices Soci­ety of British Colum­bia. It was a small build­ing at the edge of Yale­town (which to the unini­ti­at­ed, is the rapid­ly grow­ing south­east­ern end of the city that looks remark­ably like parts of Man­hat­tan — no won­der they shoot so many movies that are sup­posed to be tak­ing place in New York City there). Accord­ing to the pam­phlet at the front desk:

The ISS is a non-gov­ern­men­tal orga­ni­za­tion that receives fund­ing from the gov­ern­ment to assist immi­grants and refugees in dif­fer­ent ways.

Our man­date at ISS’s Set­tle­ment office is to help you adjust to life in the Greater Van­cou­ver area. We under­stand that mov­ing to a new coun­try can be very stressful.

Our team of pro­fes­sion­als can guide you, in over 25 dif­fer­ent lan­guages, through the many chal­lenges and oppor­tu­ni­ties that Cana­da presents. Our ser­vices range from providing:

  • tem­po­rary housing
  • infor­ma­tion, ori­en­ta­tion, and
  • refer­ral assistance.

When you have a ques­tion, we will share with you dif­fer­ent options/ideas so that you feel con­fi­dent to make a deci­sion. If we can not help you direct­ly, we will do our best to ensure that you are linked to oth­er ser­vices and resources.

The refer­ral infor­ma­tion is just what I need­ed. I entered and told the recep­tion­ist that I was there to get some infor­ma­tion on health insur­ance, and she told me to take a seat in the wait­ing area. It was near­ly full, with peo­ple who looked like they were pre­dom­i­nant­ly from Africa and the Mid­dle East. I sat next to a guy with a Rasta­far­i­an hair­do under a cap. I doubt if any­one else in the room was a native Eng­lish speak­er. After a short wait (about 15 min­utes or so), I was met by a very help­ful and patient woman named Rita who I found out was from Ghana (via Sene­gal). In the coin­ci­dence depart­ment, I learned from her that pri­or to com­ing to Cana­da, she had spent about 6 months in Tako­ma Park, Mary­land in the ear­ly nineties. She pre­ferred Cana­da, she said, because it was far more ‘peace­ful’ here.

We also chat­ted about the talk­ing drums of her native land, as well as the usage of the word ‘part­ner’ here to denote one’s spouse or gay part­ner. Rita felt that it was a del­i­cate way of hid­ing whether one was gay or not, because in cer­tain parts of the coun­try one could be still be shunned, and the term ‘part­ner’ allowed some­one to hide their sex­u­al ori­en­ta­tion behind a gen­der-neu­tral des­ig­na­tion. After pro­vid­ing me with some help­ful refer­rals and phone num­bers, Rita wished me well and I offered the same to her.

I’d have to say that the whole expe­ri­ence was hum­bling. Pam and I are very lucky to come from a rich coun­try, with resources, fam­i­ly, and skills all work­ing in our favor. We have so few­er prob­lems than the peo­ple who were at the ISS, I sus­pect. In fact, I learned from Rita that there were peo­ple liv­ing in refugee camps for over a decade, wait­ing to get into Cana­da. Some had chil­dren while liv­ing in the camps. It made the few weeks I’ve been wait­ing for my work per­mit seem a lit­tle less impor­tant. Nev­er­the­less, we are immi­grants as well, and the folks at ISS made lit­tle dis­tinc­tion that I could dis­cern between me and any of the oth­ers who were sit­ting, mak­ing phone calls, read­ing the free news­pa­pers, and get­ting infor­ma­tion from the staff there.

I came home just as the rain was end­ing and the late after­noon sun­set made one of its fre­quent appear­ances. I had got­ten some extra gro­ceries for din­ner, includ­ing some frozen whole cran­ber­ries, which I lat­er made into cran­ber­ry sauce. Yes­ter­day at Granville Mar­ket we picked up two bread­ed turkey ‘breasts’ (real­ly cut­lets wrapped around stuff­ing) with sage and cran­ber­ry stuff­ing from the Turkey farm stand, as well as some sweet pota­toes. I baked the pota­toes and turkey, and made some peas with pearl onions (had those lying around from a cou­ple weeks or so ago for a beef stew).

Pam and I both called fam­i­ly din­ners in the East, where every­one was fin­ished with their Thanks­giv­ing meals. In a lit­tle while, we lit the fire (well, turned on the switch and the gas flames leapt up, right on cue). It was­n’t a huge feast, but it was tasty, nour­ish­ing, con­tain­ing turkey and cran­ber­ry sauce, and fine for just the two of us. Many past fam­i­ly gath­er­ings in dif­fer­ent com­bi­na­tions and loca­tions make me want to hang on to this Amer­i­can tra­di­tion more than some of the oth­ers. I hear that most Van­cou­verites observe the time-hon­oured rit­u­al of dri­ving down to the out­lets just south of the bor­der tomor­row, for the big sales that are the start­ing gun of the Hol­i­day Shop­ping Sea­son. It’s hard to get much of a Nor­man Rock­well glow from that, I guess.

At any rate, Hap­py Thanks­giv­ing, Amer­i­ca, from two immi­grants to Van­cou­ver, BC.