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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Olympic Waterforms

What a Games! There really have been some amazing, amazing moments. Though Olympic fervour is definitely with the Northern Hemisphere, there are some diehards from Down Under (like myself), who are thoroughly relishing the Winter Olympics and the cool visual contrast it brings to our summer heat...

Everytime I think about Joannie Rochette and her gutsy performance on the ice yesterday, it brings a little juice to the eye. What an incredible woman! As for Team Canada making it to another battle with the USA in the Mens' Hockey - that surely has to be the sort of cliffhanger cum dream conclusion to these Games!!!

We've not seen anything really in the way of Olympic paraphernalia down at the bottom of the world, but we did receive a wonderful parcel with some of those cute mascots from Olympic City! Very cool indeed.

And though we haven't won many medals in the Summery South, the media has reported that these Games have reputedly been the most successful Winter Olympics for Australia. Lydia Lassila (womens' aerials) won Australia's 2nd gold the other day. And Torah Bright (our Opening Ceremony flagbearer) enraptured the hearts of fellow Australians when she won gold in the Halfpipe. And of course, there have been many others who are rising young stars who have done this country proud.

Not bad for a country which normally deals with 'watersports' of a less frozen nature!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Hockey is our Game!

This is what the freeway looked like as I drove home last night at 5pm. How did I make it home in just 20 minutes, instead of a possible 40?
The answer is simple: Olympic hockey! Everyone was busy watching the women's Canada-US game.
I'm really loving these Winter Games!
While I'm thinking about games, medals, and awesome traffic, though, my students are focused on the really important things: the mascots! This well-loved Quatchi was sitting on a desk today.

I'm blown away by our Canadian athletes. The medals just keep coming in, and there were more today. But the big event was the men's hockey game against Slovakia. Just when we thought Canada had it in the bag, the Slovaks poured it on and started scoring. We had just a one point lead at the end, and I think everyone was biting their nails. What a fight to the finish it was! We did win, though, and will play the US on Sunday for gold. I don't know if I can take the suspense!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Friendly Nations - Updated

Woo hoo!
The Canadian women just took their gold medals in hockey against the intrepid Americans. What a game!
I noticed very few smiles from the US women as they accepted their silver medals; I guess it's understandable, as they had just suffered a painful loss. Hopefully, they'll be proud to take that silver medal home with them.
The Canadian -American relationship has always been an interesting one. Living in the shadow of a larger, stronger, and louder nation can make Canadians a little insecure regarding our identity. Who are we? Well, I know who we are, but Americans often have a hard time even knowing where Canada is!
Here's a video that NBC aired at the beginning of the Winter Games to give Americans a heads up.
And now, I'm going to watch women's figure skating.
Go, Joannie!
9:07 pm update
Just watched Joannie receive her bronze medal; wow! What an emotional rollercoaster she's been on this week after the sudden death of her mother. Little Yu-Na Kim certainly deserved her gold with what the commentators called one of the greatest freeskates ever, but I think all of Canada was cheering for Joannie tonight.
How will I ever be able to concentrate on writing my report cards?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

More Excitement

The Canadian men's hockey team is still in the running! We cheered this evening as they beat Russia 7-3. Yay! Another knucklebiting game tomorrow.
Canada's sweetheart skater, Joanie Rochette, whose mother passed away unexpectedly on Sunday, will skate again tomorrow after an amazing performance last night. It was heartbreaking to watch her break down in tears at the end.
Our wonderful ice dancers, Virtue and Moir, had us all captured with their beauty and grace on Monday. They've been skating together since they were only seven and nine years old! !
I'm normally not a huge sports fan, but there's something about the Olympics that gets me watching. I love the emotion, the personal stories, the athletes who overcome huge obstacles, and the teamwork. And it really doesn't matter that we're nowhere near the US medal count. It's all good!
I had wondered if the best was over, but it just keeps getting better!
Except for the weather...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Party Continues

I swore I'd stay away.
And then I said I'd only go on a weeknight. Never on the weekend.
So, where did I go on Saturday night?
Back downtown!
It's an amazing thing. So many of us said that we'd avoid everything Olympic and just watch the Games on TV. We worried about the traffic. We griped about the coming crowds. Some people booked a vacation far from Vancouver.
But somehow, we've been seduced by the excitement. We just can't stay away!
Every conversation starts with, "So, have you been downtown? Have you gone to see the Olympic events?" And almost everyone can say yes.
On Saturday, it seemed as though everyone in Metro Vancouver was downtown, and they all took public transit. The weather was perfect (unless you're looking for snow!). Crowds filled the streets, and everywhere we went, we could hear whooping and hollering. We've never seen anything like it, here in reserved Canada!
How long can we sustain this never-ending street party? Especially with our lower-than-expected medal count? We've still got six days to go!
I suppose the coming rain will send us all back home.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Olympics Again

Big Bear and I headed downtown after school on Wednesday to see some Olympic sights.We prowled around the provincial pavilions. Not much to write about; they seemed like places to hear some music and eat overpriced food. Having said that, we only saw a few...
Walking down the street, we happened upon a crowd watching the medal ceremony on a street corner screen; they were just giving the gold to our snowboarder, Maelle Ricker. As the flag went up and the national anthem was played, everyone in the street was cheering and singing along.
Inside the Bell "Ice Cube" (just another corporate sponsored pavilion), we saw Naturally 7, an amazing acapella group. The crowd went wild over them!
I LOVE that the normally reserved Canadians are excited over these games. People fill the streets and yell and cheer. Flags are everywhere - worn as capes, on hats, waved around, whatever people can think of. I've never seen my country this way, and I really like it!
At Robson Square, the skating rink was full and people screamed past on the zipline overhead. So cool!
We headed home after that, bone tired.
On Thursday after school, I went to the O Zone in Richmond with a group of Holland-o-philes. That must be a word.... The weather, again was spectacular. At least, if we must have warm temperatures, it's not raining!
Holland House is the place to be if you're Dutch - or if you just like to have fun! We bypassed the 3-hour lineup because Elsy was able to show that she was born in the Netherlands - and Ellen and Mary could speak Dutch!
The men's hockey game between Switzerland and Canada was being shown on the three huge screens. The Heineken flowed like water, people wore outlandish orange outfits, and the crowd was partying hard! Such excitement when Canada finally won in a shootout!
We left Holland House and went out onto the field to see the huge screen there (people were milling around, waiting for the Our Lady Peace concert). We were just in time to catch another Canadian gold medal ceremony - everyone sang O Canada, but there wasn't as much enthusiasm as there was downtown. Or in Holland House!
And then we caught Canada's Patrick Chan in the men's figure skating long program. Everyone cheered.
I'm liking these Olympics.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Weather worries


What a well deserved tribute to Alexandre Bilodeau for winning the Mens’ Moguls… he is a sportsperson that the Nation has every reason to be very proud of – caring, humble, and charming in the nicest possible way. Isn’t it nice to have an inspiring sportsman who is also a ‘decent’ person?! I have wondered why we sometimes bestow the mantle of inspiration to certain sportspeople, when WHO they actually ARE, is so opposite to WHAT we should be upholding as an inspiration to society! And what a contrast to the ‘other’ gold medal contender! I watched a number of separate video interviews with Bilodeau and Beggs-Smith. I think Beggs-Smith needs to enlist the help of a good public relations trainer in the first instance! It is SO difficult to warm to someone who is so outta touch with their emotions that they can profess to not to having any emotion (and what pride is there in that I ask you?!), and yet who show such obvious emotion on the podium. Disappointment is an emotion...isn’t it?! Get real dude! I am one Antipodean who was absolutely THRILLED that Bilodeau got GOLD. And now Canada has TWO golds! Hurray!

I hear that there are a few weather woes over yonder however. Small consolation, I know, but we’ve got them too! Yesterday, the storm clouds rolled in very quickly.


With temps well over 30degs C and the humidity sitting at 92%, we were sweating it out by mid morning! I’m sure everyone who had access to airconditioning was sitting under the aircon! By lunchtime, the heavens had opened.



121 ml of rain fell in the short space of a few hours. There were flash floods EVERYWHERE across the state. At the boys’ school, the soccer fields and athletics oval became a huge lake as a rushing river tore through the middle of the school. Solid picnic tables & unchained bicycles were swept away as the river rose over a bridge that links the primary school to the secondary school. Water even rose as high as the floorboards of the music suite, and a class of students were stranded there until the floodwaters subsided a little! Elsewhere, cars were abandoned and buildings were under water. So much excitement! So much mud!

Normally, this is the outlook we enjoy from our backyard -


This was what our backyard looked like, not that long after the deluge!


We may not get as much constant rain as in the Great White North, but when we get it, we GET IT! Having said that, in this sunscorched land, the water doesn’t ever hang around for long. Last week, we also woke up to the wonderful sound of rain on the roof. These were some of the sights we saw -

Carindale flooding 070210_051


Carindale flooding 070210_025a

Carindale flooding 070210_037  

Carindale flooding 070210_057

By the next morning, this was what we saw -








Incredible huh?!

Oh, and I nearly forgot. Here is a photo from about the same time, taken especially for Big Bear…..since he LOVES flowers….

Carindale flooding 070210_001

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Gold for Canada!

Every good story has a villain, and yesterday, we met the guy everyone loves to hate.
It was the men's freestyle moguls, and Dale Begg-Smith was the favourite to win. I had never heard of this poor vilified athlete, but a few comments on the newscast led me to do a little internet research.
It seems that this Canadian boy got miffed with the ski program at home and took off for Australia at age 16. The issue? He wanted to spend more time working on his internet business.
Those Australians. (Haven't I said that before?)
As I read more, I discovered nasty little rumours about malware and spyware. And then, I saw clips of a chilly young Dale, who refuses Canadian interviews. NBC has dubbed him "The most mysterious man of the Winter Olympics. Hmmmm...
Anyway, after a very exciting event, Dale came in second to a young skier from Quebec, Alexandre Bilodeau. The crowd erupted! This was the first Canadian Olympic gold ever on home soil!
(Alex is in the middle, with Dale on the left and the
American bronze winner on the right)
We were charmed by Alex's humble attitude and the way he gave credit for his success to his brother, his biggest supporter, who is disabled with cerebral palsy. What a guy!
I don't know much about the technicalities of freestyle moguls, but I was pretty surprised when I saw in the news today that the Australian coach was claiming Bilodeau shouldn't have won. He's just not good enough to have the gold. He says...
Those Australians!
Such excitement! Such intrigue!
This is our Olympic bulletin board at school. We are tracking the medals of a few countries that we highlighted before the games began. And Canada, of course!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Olympic Fever

What a day Friday was!
We started in the gym with the whole school, where we had a chance to see a REAL Olympic torch, courtesy of a parent who took part in the relay! Some of the teachers were more than happy to pose for photos with it.
We all walked to the torch relay route, where we vied for vantage spots with what seemed like billions of other excited school children, teachers, and community members.
We had to wait a very long time, due to major disruptions by protesters downtown. Still, there was a party atmosphere and everyone was completely pumped!
Soon, the mayor of Vancouver, Gregor Robertson, showed up.
At long last, just as raindrops began to gently spit, the long procession of party trucks, official vehicles, and police on various modes of transportation rolled by and the security gang appeared with a young torch bearer. He uncooperatively looked the other way as he passed by and then disappeared into another area for the changeover with the next runner. So this was my best view.
After a long, wet walk back to school, we had our Valentines cards, after which some 40 parents arrived for reading presentations in my classroom. I had to stand at the front and wing it.
Oh, what a busy day it was, and what a relief to drive away at the end.
In the evening, we all went to Tim and Lea's to watch the opening ceremonies. I really did cheer for those Aussies and their boxing kangaroo! And so many countries had just one athlete entered. The Indians had their uniforms, thanks to local help. The Georgian team came in very soberly, with black armbands after their teammate was killed on the luge track that morning. Such a horrible tragedy.... They got a standing ovation from the crowd. Lea, of course, cheered for Denmark. And the last team to enter was Canada. It was so exciting to see our athletes; the whole stadium was cheering and I think we all felt rather emotional. (Such a funny thing....) There were amazing performances by First Nations dancers, Sarah McLaughlin, KD Lang, Bryan Adams and Nellie Furtada, and others. And FYI, John Furlong of the IOC should stick to English in the future and not mess with French.
We were waiting to see who would light the Olympic cauldron and were not at all surprised that Wayne Gretsky (the Great One) had been chosen.
Lea and I posed with our flags. Lea is a very patriotic Dane, but is more than happy to cheer for Canada!
Such a day!
I'm wondering how these Olympic games will unfold, especially after the luge death and fingers being pointed at Canada. A couple of months ago, I was quite apprehensive about the whole thing and how our lives would be disrupted with traffic and crowds, not to mention the huge costs of hosting them. Now, I'm completely drawn into the excitement of having the world here. I might even go downtown again!
Wish you were here, Southern Ange!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Up Way too Late and Blogging Instead of Going to Bed

Here's some Olympic trivia for you.
India has a team in Vancouver for the Winter Games. Really!
There are only three team members: an alpine skier, a cross-country skier, and a luger. And they have NO UNIFORMS!
Can you believe it?
The local Indian community is appalled and is launching a fundraiser to help support these penniless athletes, and a business owner is frantically working on uniforms for the big opening. Tonight.
I'll be watching for those winter athletes from hot climes. My personal list of teams to cheer for has just grown to three!
Can you imagine riding a luge on an icy track in.... India?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

More Patriotism

Last night during the Superbowl (all five minutes of it that I watched) I saw the CTV ad featuring a fifteen-year-old singer, Nikki Yanofsky, belting out the Olympic anthem for these winter games. So well done, it brought a tear to my eye! You can watch it here. It may be enough to make you change your citizenship. Be Canadian!
And those Australians... they have stuck to their guns and will not need to take down the boxing 'roo flag. Yay! I will definitely be rooting for Australia!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Gearing up for the Games

The Winter Games are drawing near with the opening ceremonies this Friday. We decided to go downtown yesterday with Tim and Lea to see the city all dressed up, before the crowds really hit.
I always love to go downtown, but this was really great.
The Hotel Georgia was wrapped in a giant Canadian flag and the Bay was one huge Olympic advertisement. (There were a number of other buildings all decked out, mostly in advertising) This was not surprising, as the Bay won the contract to dress the Canadian athletes, and we were actually on a mission to purchase a family set of Olympic sweatshirts.
We were unprepared for the frenzy.
Inside the store, hundreds of like-minded customers prowled ruthlessly, all hunting for Olympic shirts. Tourists gathered official Games clothing by the armload; people pushed and shoved (in a polite, Canadian kind of way) looking for what they wanted.
Alas, I came away empty handed due to a lack of reasonable sizes. Should have bought it months ago. Hopefully, my local Bay store will renew their stock in time for the Opening Ceremonies, for I must dress appropriately!
We continued our journey in Stanley Park, where we oohed and aahed over the Olympic rings in Coal Harbour, together with a multitude of other admirers armed with cameras and tripods.
And then we were off to the Burrard Bridge to see the light show.
It was a most satisfying day.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Those Australians!

One week until the opening ceremonies, and the International Olympic Committee has met its match. Finally!
Since Vancouver was confirmed as the host city for the 2010 games, the IOC has been "cleaning house". Businesses and restaurants have been forced to abandon any Olympic symbols and slogans, even if they were part of the original business name for years. Greek restaurants were the worst hit. Non-sponsoring businesses are prohibited from using words like gold medal, Vancouver 2010, and Olympic Games.
And now, the Australian Olympic team has hung a huge flag from their Olympic Village condo. Gasp!
The IOC has requested that it be removed, as it's a registered trademark. The Aussies, of course, say a resounding NO! It's THEIR trademark! At least, until they get an official letter.
I have a feeling that most Vancouverites, who are sick and tired of all the rules, are most pleased with the whole display.
Go Australia!
You can see an interview here.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Friday at last!

Don’t you love Fridays? I do.


Friday is Pie day.


Garlic beef in red wine, with spinach, tomatoes, & mushroom.



Roll on the weekend.

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