March 2011

The downtown area limits for our walk

The challenge: two friends visiting Vancouver, one in June, one in August.  One staying two nights with me in Yaletown. One here for a conference and staying at the Vancouver Marriott Pinnacle downtown hotel on West Hastings Street.

Both wanted to get a feel for what downtown living is like in Vancouver. Both had two days to experience the city. And I wanted to show them that Vancouver  has some of the best dining, anywhere. What to do?

The possibilities were so many I had to set some parameters for myself, taking into account their special interests. Both were into fitness and yoga; one into the fine arts, one more of a foodie. The focus was to be on places that we could walk to, but I also wanted to to show them the new Canada Line underground, and take a ride across to Granville Island on one of the two ferry services, the rainbow coloured Aquabus ferries, and the dark blue False Creek Ferries,  that ply the waters of False Creek.

During my London 2010 theatre week, just prior to the British Isles Dance Cruise, I was excited to be able to take a Backstage Tour at the National Theatre in London.Location of the National Theatre on South Bank of the Thames

Except for one visit to the Globe Theatre to see Antony and Cleopatra, my previous theatre-going visits to London had focused on West End theatre. But this time I was determined to visit the National Theatre  complex on the South Bank and see at least one play there.

When I checked out their web site to book on line, I saw that they offered a Backstage Tour.

I booked for  The Habit of Art on Sunday at 3 pm at the Lyttelton Theatre in the  National Theatre complex, and at the same time I booked the Backstage Tour,  an approximately hour-long tour that is conducted three times a day.

Early morning on the sea wall with my Activator Urban PolePerhaps its because I come from a scientific background , or perhaps its just my naturally obsessive nature but I have this compulsive need to document my progress. Way back when, my friend Michael, then Executive Director at the Fraser Institute, made a point during one of our heated debates  - 'If it matters, measure it". The sentiment struck a chord with both the scientific and obsessive parts of me. Since my progression back to being strong and fit enough for serious dancing matters a lot to me - I am trying like mad to "measure it." 

So since the only "get fit" type of exercise I can do for now is walking, how can I measure my progression to fitness?

It seems to me there are few options. There is "duration of walk" - that's easy using the stopwatch function on my IPhone. My criterion for distance is how long I can walk before I feel my posture flagging - and remembering that however far I go I have to walk the same distance back. 

Munchkin me - on the 6th post-op dayPosing with my eldest son on the New Year Dance CruiseActually the post title is misleading because I have just completed week three post-surgery and  in reality I am still more in the recuperation phase than rehabilitation. Maybe this would be better titled "from Munchkin to Dancing Queen."

The picture of the left shows me all lopsided and scrunched up but still trying hard to stand with good posture 6 days after surgery. The picture on the right is to remind me that if I am patient, I will be back enjoying my dance cruises ... and even last out another 7 minute samba.

I like to think about my daily recuperative activity as a job.  The surgeons (and the anesthetist - GBH) did their jobs fantastically-  they stopped the pain and removed the cause, hopefully forever. Now I have to do my job which is keeping mobile and doing what I can to promote healthy healing without doing any activity that is potentially harmful to perfect healing.

The Chateau Frontenac dominates the skylineAfter leaving Halifax we had a full day at sea en route to Quebec.  The dance workshops and dance lessons that filled the sea days can be read about in Dance  Boot camps at Sea. 

While we danced on cruise day 5, the Queen Mary 2 sailed North-East from Halifax till she rounded Cape Breton and entered the Cabot Strait which marks the entrance to the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Entering the St. Lawrence River we berthed at the port of Quebec.

Le Lapin Sauté
52, rue du Petit-Champlain
Quebec, QC
Ph: (418) 692-5325

With only one opportunity to enjoy a lunch in the Petit Champlain district we chose a tiny neighbourhood bistro that featured charcuterie. The restaurant is small accommodating only 32 diners but serves up a variety of foods apart from rabbit. They also feature duck, lamb and salmon for fish lovers, with thick slices of bread topped with local cheese that has been browned in the oven and maple crème brûlée for dessert.

chilling out with a glass of roseI was attracted by the name - I am a sucker for puns. Le Lapin Sauté I think translates as the jumping rabbit but of course sauteeing is also the cooking technique. Anyway I looked at the menu and was hooked.

I was feeling really sad after my visit to the Maritime Museum. It was awful enough to think about the devastation that nature in the form of an errant iceberg could cause - but that was not something that  could have been controlled. On the other hand to read about those government officials who deliberately sent human beings back to a place where they would be sent to concentration camps and slaughtered.  It was sickening.

 I needed to process what I had seen, and was not up for company so I decided to go and have a quiet solitary lunch in the Britannia restaurant.

A lot of people were ashore and the restaurant was relatively quiet. The obliging maitre d' sat me at a table by myself.  I chose the appetizer of Spanish serrano ham served with a parmesan brioche and fig and mango chutney.

the trans-Canada Highway - we missed the most eastern sectionHalifax has a special importance for me as it was our entry point to Canada almost 40 years ago when we immigrated with our three young children from South Africa. Our original intent had been to land as far east as we could and then take a couple of weeks and drive the trans-Canada highway to Vancouver. This cross-Canada journey had been an adventure that my husband had wanted to do as a boy. Where  this idea came from I have no idea but at last here was the opportunity for him to do it.

From a practical perspective, when we found out that there was no direct flight to St. Johns, Newfoundland but there was one to Halifax, it was a no-brainer to decide that Halifax would have to do and we would have to complete the Nova Scotia- eastwards part of the highway travel at a later date. So it was Halifax we flew into and there that we officially became landed immigrants to our new country. We spent a few days there, drove out to Peggy's Cove; bought a VW Camper to drive cross country. Got to Fredericton and the engine packed up. Not good. We spent several days - unplanned - in Fredericton waiting for parts.

walking a litle bit further every day - day Today I achieved yet another small step on my way to recovery from my recent back surgery. I managed to get my sock onto my  right foot.  It may not sound like much  but it was the absolutely last thing I needed to be able to do, in order to say that I could completely take care of myself, at last as far as getting dressed is concerned.

Actually I should not be too hard on myself. It is now day 15 after spine surgery and I am feeling good. The surgery pains frankly were trivial in comparison to the agony I have been in over the past 5 months - in fact for the first few days post-op the ABSENCE of pain was almost tangible and more significant to me than the discomfort from the wound.

Even though I was only taking one little blue pill 3 times a day - instead of the recommended dose of 2 every 4 hours as needed I decided the heavy duty painkillers were making me crazy and needed to be stopped.  So I stopped, had one bad night of insomnia  but feel a hundred times more myself now and more tuned in to what is actually happening with my body.

Itai Erdal tells How To Disappear Completely

How To Disappear Completely
Starring Itai Erdal
Written by Itai Erdal in collaboration with James Long, Anita Rochon & Emelia Symington Fedy
Directed by James Long
At the Wosk 2nd Stage, JCCGV
February 17 - 27, 2011

Guest review by Sean Cummings

Vancover, BC:

To say How To Disappear Completely is theatre is correct.  It is definitely theatrical.  But the narrator is not a character in a play. Rather he spends his time telling the audience an intensely personal story about his journey back home to his native Israel to be with his mother for the final months of her life. 

What could have been a self-centered spiral into the depths of grief turned out to be a well executed story whose artistic achievement is to seemingly place the audience smack dab in the middle of the narrator's experience. 

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