Green Card

Cross posted from Facebook.

I have a green card.

We left Canada in 2008, and have called three different countries “home” during that time. But, today is the first day in nearly 12 years where my right to live in a place is not directly tied to my employment.

It’s hard to put a name to it, but there’s a feeling you get when you know that no matter how long you stay, it’s always as a temporary guest. That feeling is gone.

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Cooked Tuna Sushi


When we lived in Sydney, one of Xavier’s favorite snacks was sushi. Specifically, cooked tuna hand rolls. 

The hand roll part may be unfamiliar to folks; this is when the chef rolls a full maki style roll, and then cuts it in half instead of 6-10 pieces. It’s something I haven’t seen done often, but it’s a really convenient way to eat on the go. 

The cooked tuna thing should be familiar, but maybe not in Sushi. By cooked tuna, I mean tinned tuna, usually mixed with a bit of mayo. For whatever reason this turns out to be something you can get only in Australia. I don’t know why – it’s delicious. You all are missing out. 

Since emigrating, X keeps asking for sushi but all we can offer is kappa maki rolls instead. He’s let us know that America is letting him down, and I can’t say I blame him. 

After some long and hard searching we have finally found a place that will fill the gap. There is a conveyor belt sushi restaurant, Blue C Sushi, in Kirkland that is a fun place to visit AND will custom roll cooked tuna hand rolls for X. They also have tasty cupcakes on the conveyor belt. 🍰

I’m hoping that if we take him once a fortnight that he’ll take “one way ticket to Sydney Harbour” off of his Christmas list.

Making fun of Canadians

This happened pretty close to Canada Day; I thought it might be more appropriate to hold onto it a bit longer though.

Me: A Canadian guy I know was complaining that americans were making fun of him.
Guy: How do you make fun of a Canadian?
Me: You know, the accent, size of country, etc. The same way Aussies make fun of Kiwis, or the English make fun of the Scottish, Welsh and Irish.
Guy: Wait, so do you have sex with sheep too?
Other guy: They use a moose.

Related – here are a few Cartoons about making fun of Canadians.

Two Days in Canada

Following a week of madness in San Francisco, I’m grateful to be spending a couple of days in Vancouver with friends and family. This weekend is much less whirlwind than my last stopover; which is for the best.

Saturday morning I left my hotel in San Fran for some US airport craziness, and touched down just after ten am in Vancouver. My mom and aunt cheered me down the customs line (pretending not to know someone isn’t very effective when they keep shouting your name and looking at you) and we headed out to a farmers market in steveston for cucumbers, raspberries, and an entire sockeye salmon. After loading up, the rest of the afternoon was split between bar-b-q-ing, drinking coffee, and chatting on the patio. We capped the day off with a late showing of Brave, and hit the hay early.

Day two felt too short by comparison. We followed up a breakfast of fresh baked hippy bread with a brunch of bar-b-q salmon and new potatoes. After the morning rain cleared up we took a little trip downtown to the gardens at queen e park. I knew that they had gardens up that way, but I didn’t realize how nice they were. Also, I’m considering taking up lawn bowling after I get back to Oz.

We hit a Dairy Queen on the way to the airport, and met up with my inlaws at the YVR whitespot. It’s been more than eight years since my mom and sarah’s folks have been able to connect in person. Part of the trip that didn’t happen this year was to have some extended family time. I had basically given up all hope after we cancelled the birthday cruise excursion, but with some scheduling luck and a little flexibility we managed to pull it off.

I shook some hands and said good bye to everyone at the airport, which is always a little sad. I totally underestimated how much I’d miss the fam when we moved down under, and seeing them up close always reminds me just how far away we are.

But, I had one more stop to make, so I checked in early – scoring a lucky upgrade to Business Class (!) – checked my bag in short term storage and hopped the Skytrain into the city for a slater meetup.

We met up downtown and walked out to The Wallflower for a nibble. Feeling pretty stuff from the breakfast, brunch, lunch and snack I wasn’t sure about lunch, but Chris pointed out the Poutine, and how could I say no to that on Canada day?

I’m now on my way back to the airport for my late night flight. I’d hoped to connect with a few more people, but it wasn’t in the cards. Next time. Maybe next time will be soon; or maybe not. Or maybe it will be for a much longer time. We’ll see.

Updates from Sunny Sydney

It’s been two months since I last wrote anything – and it seems that so much has happened in that time. I may try to capture a few of the events in more detail, but to start, here’s a very light roundup of what’s been going on, and some quick updates from down under.

First was leaving France. It was a whirlwind for both of us. There was a lot to do, and then a baby on top of that. Overall, the move was swift and relatively well executed (not that we had much to do with that). Over the span of three days we managed to go from having an apartment, to being totally packed and living in a B&B, to travelling 25 hours by plane with 8 suitcases, a baby and a cat, to landing in Nevada. 

We had a very nice Christmas break with our Family. Winter in Reno is interesting. It’s a desert that’s high in the mountains. So, it’s very dry (no snow), but still very cold. It can change in temperature by about 20 degrees between midnight and lunch time.
The view from my inlaw’s backyard
We spent a lot of the holidays eating, and drinking, and shopping. Overall, very therapeutic.

We also managed to fit in a short trip to Vancouver where we got to catch up with some friends, and a lot of family. I even got to say good bye to a few colleagues in person when we were near the old Vancouver office for a drink.

Being able to spend Baby’s First Christmas with family was amazing. I’m so glad we got as much time as we did between jobs (three weeks total) to chill with friends and family before travelling out this way. France felt far away; Australia is much further.
This was a lucky shot – most of the time he was chewing on the boxes

As for Sydney – so far, things are going pretty well. The weather down here is lovely – high 20s and sunny most days. Much of the city is a little on the urban ugly side, but the downtown core, the parks, and the waterfront are all great.  I haven’t learned to surf yet, but it’s still on the agenda. At the moment, we are staying in the center of the city, which looks a lot different than Paris. 

We have a nice view of Darling Harbour from our hotel window
Oddly enough, I’ve been hearing a lot of French when I’m walking around the city. It’s nice to hear it. I realized in the first week we were away that I’d actually forgotten a lot of English. The first time we went into a Starbucks in Reno I ordered “Un Cafe de la semaine s’il vous plait.” The lady just looked at me for a while, until I realized what I’d done. So I instead said “Oh, sorry, I’ll have a cafe de la semaine, please.” It took me another week before I was ordering just ‘coffee’ again.

One downside though is that the cost of living is fairly high. To go out is comparable in cost (maybe a little less when you factor wage into the picture). But things at home are higher priced. Beer, for example, is about 7 or 8 dollars in most bars (which is fine), and 3.50 a bottle in the grocery store (about 3x more than I’m used to). Most things are running about a 20% markup, but some items like liquor, makeup or imported large objects (cars, furniture, etc) may be up to 150% more expensive. That said, there are way more options for things than in France, or even Canada. It’s definitely more free market than any other place I’ve been, including the US.

So, there’s the roundup. X isn’t leaving a lot of time for updates at this point, but I’m going to try to schedule a little bit of time on the weekend for a quick update while he naps. 

Border Crossings

We got back to Canada last Friday. America was really strange, it was almost like being in a different country. Things are a little more corporate, Too much Bush, and not enough trees. Gas was cheaper, and more complicated to pump. You could buy liquor in Costco. Denny’s replaced Tim Horton’s , and there was a roadside Taco Stand at every exit.

One huge plus that we found was in the state of Washington. For some reason, the State Government felt threatened by Starbucks and has decided to compete with the coffee giant by offering free cookies and coffee at every rest area.

We popped over the border at around 6:00 pm. This time, unlike last, we only brought about $100 of purchased goods with us. Our most exciting purchase was a 60 of Cuervo Gold for $25 USD. Seeing as it would cost over a hundred here in Canada we consider it a financial investment, rather than a detriment to our livers.

Miles of Meat and no wife to be seen

Today we hit the Best in the West Rib Cookoff. Populated largely by fat people, Bikers, Texans and the occasional Fat, Biker Texan. The kind that ride harleys, shoot at hippies, and swear by an Atkins (Read: All Cow, all the time) diet.

The ribs were fantastic. Really, they changed my life.
Also, today I found that my wife loves my Banana more than her husband.

While walking from the frozen Banana Booth to approximately 7 metres away, we somehow managed to lose each other. There I stayed until Sarah thought “Boy, I’d sure like some more of that frozen, chocolate banana … where is Dave anyways?”

A few minutes later she wandered back and stole the last bite.

If it wasn’t for my tasty banana, I would probably still be standing downtown, in between a lamp post and the Sweet Pigs on a Stick rib hut.

In Oregon we do it for you.

Gas.

America has lots of it… but just try and get some when you need it. Sure, when travelling down the I5 there’s a gas station every 5 minutes, but when you run out things just never seem to go your way.

Our first fill happened just south of Aldergrove. We found a Safeway that sold gas, and hopped out of the car. In Canada, you simply find a pump, grab the nozzle, put it into the hole, and fire until the tank is full (The ready – aim – fire technique). In America, you have to find a pump, grab the nozzle, flip a switch, select a payment method, apply for optional corporate discounts, put the nozzle in the hole, and fire until your money runs out. (This is the ready, flip, pay, reduce, aim, fire, repeat as necessary technique.) Being the dumb Canadian that I am, I actually had to ask for instructions. Twice. From a guy who kept calling me “Wonderful Man.”

Our second stop was a little more engaged. Having almost run out of gas just into Oregon, we pulled over at the nearest station. The first gas station was full serve. We are too cheap to pay the extra five cents, so we went to the next station over, where again some gas jockey tried to pump for us. Moving on we tried a third place. This time when the fellow came up to the car, he kindly informed us that “In Oregon we do it for you, Ma’am.” Weird Oregon-ites.

Our last adventure happened on the highway between California and Reno. My father-in-law gave us fantastic diretions, but neglected to warn us that there was a bit of a distance between Gas Stations. 300 miles. At 130 miles, we ran out of gas. Yippee. Now this road wasn’t quite the i5. At this point we had gotten onto a Mountain highway. Think of the malahat. There wasn’t a soul around for miles. Fortunately, just as the vehicle was sputtering out of gas a road crew pulled up and asked if we needed any assistance. The fellow was kind enough to offer us a free gallon of gas which got us to the next station at Susanville (just east Johnsville, and slightly before Kensville, and Janeville). Think Duncan.

This is when we locked our keys in the car.
A nice fellow named Sunny, stayed 40 minutes past closing to help us fish open the lock of the car using a MacGayver-esque rig which combined a flyswatter, a key ring, a hair elastic, a bobby pin and a potato chip rack. It didn’t help that we attracted a crowd of locals, who were now cheering or offering helpful advice from their former lives of larceny.

Eventually we rolled into the desert around 1:00, hit a large green stinky thing at 1:20, and found home at 2:00.