Category: personal reflection


Canadian teeth are perfect. Sometimes they are so perfect that they look like a mouth full of chiclets. Each one identical, gleaming white and even.

Our dentist here said that Canadian dentists are concerned with the whole lifetime of the teeth. The aim is that your teeth remain in good health and outlast you. And that the dentist, orthodontist and hygienist get to drive a nice car and holiday in Maui.

Ok – maybe I will give them credit for caring for the state of my teeth. But having had our youngest just graduate from braces, we are somewhat cynical about the whole thing. His teeth are lovely of course. But he has had years of misery.

Several times we have been into the orthodontist to discuss progress and see if we could get the braces off early. Each time he warned us of all the terrible consequences of not completing the treatment. Most of these consequences are a long way off – especially if you are a teenager looking for a date! 

Actually they are a long way off for anyone. Your teeth will wear out if they’re not aligned properly. So each time we caved and continued paying our monthly fee (nearly $200) and wondered if our son would ever smile.

British teeth have a bad rep here. “Teeth like tumbled down tombstones.” Perhaps that’s why Hollywood casts British actors as the bad guys – their teeth look scary.

Now that Greg has his braces off, his teeth do look nice. And we see more of them as he is smiling at last. And we too are smiling as we’ve paid for the treatment. Putting him through university will be a snap after this.

Bunnies and empty nests

This weekend we took our youngest daughter – known as Alice in her diaries here – to Victoria where she is starting university. It was a lovely weekend, if rather emotional.

Actually, the emotion was somewhat lopsided. Sue and I were sad to see her go, but Alice was more excited than sad. For her this was the start of a new adventure. If she was at all nervous, she hid this well. It probably helped that two of her closest friends from high school were also going to UVic,  and judging by how often we heard shouts of “hey Alice”, there were a lot of others from her old high school.

We took her to the university book shop first of all. It was packed with other students, clutching their lists and scouring the shelves for the text books they needed. We were impressed with the efficiency of the whole operation. The line up was long, but it moved quickly and the checkout staff were very friendly and cheerful under the assault.

bunnies on campus
bunnies on campus

One thing you cannot fail to notice at UVic is the rabbits. There are bunnies everywhere. White, black, grey and everything in between. They are ignored by new students who want to look cool – but their parents are often seen taking pictures or even trying to pet one – very uncool.

When you are driving around the campus, you have to be especially careful. Not only are there the usual hazards of Canadian pedestrians, but there’s the self-destructive bunnies to watch out for.

Alice is staying on campus in one of the residences. These range from nearly new condos, to the ones built in the early 60’s. Alice is in one of the oldest ones. She is sharing a room and had not met her roomie until the Sunday. As it turned out, she too was from Vancouver and they were able to communicate well. No doubt there will be a period of adjustment but for now they look like they will get on ok.

Sue and I were a bit worried when we first got to the residences because we saw how much other parents were bringing. I kid you not, there parents with trailer loads of stuff to make sure their beloved had as many comforts as possible. We saw fridges, shredders, printers, chairs, bikes and laptops being unloaded. OK. We must be bad parents, but honestly there just isn’t room for half that stuff in Alice’s room.

We also figured that Alice would be back – with her dirty laundry and a shopping list of essentials. For now we are happy that she has friends around, a good room mate and a place in a great university. She should have the time of her life.

Labouring under a delusion

My mother, who was Canadian, had a saying that you could not wear white after Labour Day. Of course this made no sense to me whatsoever as a kid in England. We didn’t even have Labour Day!

Here in Canada it makes a little more sense when you see how this public holiday is used to mark the end of summer. Schools go back immediately after Labour Day. People are on their way back from their vacations, stocking up on school supplies and shopping at all the back to school sales.

I don’t know if rules about what you wear were stricter in my mother’s day, but I doubt that the social faux pas of wearing white in September would have made much sense even in those days!

For my part I intend wearing shorts and summer shirts for as long as the weather allows. I might even go into full Canadian gear and don a fleece, big boots and keep the shorts. My socks may be white, but the rest of my stylish outfit will be season appropriate.

Besieged by blackberries

Canadians love a bargain, whether it’s discount coupons, scratch and save at the Bay or a BOGOF deal (buy one, get one free). But what better bargain than free food. Blackberries are in season (just) and everyone’s out there picking them. Probably they’re also congratulating themselves on saving $4 or so that it would have cost them in the supermarket.

Walking the dog this week, we have got used to passing people deep in the tangle of blackberry bushes off the side of the trail. The best and juiciest blackberries always seem to be just out of reach – or are too low down, considering it is a trail favoured by dog walkers.

One high traffic area that offers easier picking, but at the risk of more than a scratch, seems to be the side of the highway. We have even seen cars pulled over on the off ramps, with the drivers picking up tonight’s dessert.


Summer driving, summer living

This week I have been doing a lot of driving across to Kitsilano as I have a client looking in that area. Driving along by the beach is always a reminder of how lovely Vancouver is in the summer.

The pedestrians I see crossing in front of me are dressed for the beach. Flip flops, swim suits, wraps, big hats, rolled up mats under their arms.

In the afternoon, I see the kids waiting with their skim boards and damp towels at the bus stops. Tired parents with their toddlers too.

And at this time of the year, with the long evenings, I get out too. Perhaps not on my skim board, but taking the dog for a walk along the seawall. Admiring the cruise ships leaving in the setting sun. Imagining the cocktails being served. Hmmm, that’s an idea

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