broadsideblog

Posts Tagged ‘New Zealand’

Three kinds of English, to start with

In behavior, culture, immigration, life, travel, US on May 24, 2012 at 12:45 am

Anyone who’s changed countries, even those speaking the same language on paper, find a whole new vocabulary awaits them. I grew up in Canada, lived in England ages two to five, then moved to the U.S. at the of 30.  One of my prized possessions is a navy blue T-shirt with a list of Canadian words, used here as an illustration. (In fact, the correct spelling is tuque…anyone know what that is?)

How many of you non-Canucks know the meaning of loonie, toonie, screech, deke or GST?

I know a few Americans now get poutine — gross! — which is cheese curds with gravy, for some reason trendy in hipster American neighborhoods. The round bacon which Americans call Canadian bacon is actually called back bacon in Canada.

We also read the Financial Times and the Guardian and see deliciously English words like nous, prat and naff(ness), none of which my well-read American husband knew the meaning of.

Since I moved to the States, (which only non-Americans call what Americans call America [as if there were no distinction between North, South and Central America. Hello, there are three Americas!]) I’ve learned phrases new to me, like:

– a do-over. You blew it: a date, a job interview, a first meeting. Ask for a do-over, a chance to get it right the next time.

a hail-Mary. A last-ditch and/or surprise attempt to salvage a bad situation. (Comes from football, a great throw that can save the game.)

-- step up to the plate. Take responsibility for something. (Comes from baseball, where the batter must step up to home plate in order to hit the ball.)

– hit it out of the park. A huge success. (Baseball, when the ball is struck so hard it leaves the stadium.)

— a full-court press. To apply every possible sort of pressure to a situation. (Basketball term.)

– hit a single/double/triple. To achieve at varying levels of success, from lowest to highest. (Meaning you got to first, second or third base.)

You can see that if you don’t play, or watch or listen to sports in the States, you’re toast! (The kind you make in toaster and eat hot, not left cold in a toast rack, like the British do.)

Then there are regionalisms, where some Americans say pop instead of soda for a soft drink or a cabinet instead of a milkshake or frappe. Here’s a funny blog post about this…

In my travels to Ireland, Scotland, New Zealand and Australia, I’ve heard some other odd ones like chilly bin for what we would call a cooler. (Yet a cooler here can also mean a sugary, low-alcohol beverage.)

Electoral divisions in Canada are called ridings; in the U.S., simply districts. A Canadian MP is a Member of Parliament; here, a Military Policeman.

One American woman recently told Bloomberg Businessweek magazine how she’d totally embarrassed herself when interviewed on British television by referring endlessly to how her product, Spanx, made one’s fanny so much more alluring. Turns out (who knew?!) that fanny  there means vagina, while for Americans it’s a polite word for ass (the Brits would say bum and we’d say butt…)

What distinctive English words or phrases are used where you live?

The inner hippie emerges!

In behavior, cities, culture, life, travel, US on April 11, 2012 at 12:11 am
The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, CA.

The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, CA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Have you ever found yourself in a landscape that transforms you?

I recently returned from one amazing day spent driving through Marin County, which is across the Golden Gate bridge, north of San Francisco. I went with a friend and her tiny daughter, who turns 3 in June. It was so lovely I’m counting the minutes until I can get back on the plane for the six hour ride from my home in New York.

Marin is bathed in golden light, its velvety hills a mix of Ireland, Scotland and Vermont, dotted with black cows and brown horses. Thick groves of redwoods. A winding road that led us through Dogtown, pop. 30. (The official sign later hand-lettered, amended to 31, 32, 33…)

I felt like a chorus in a Joni Mitchell song.

We stopped in Point Reyes and bought ice cream. Four men asked me to take their photo outside the Western Saloon, which looks exactly as it sounds.

I posed them in the narrow doorway of the saloon. “You look like a rock band,” I told them, and they laughed. Until they looked at the photo on their Iphone.

“We do! Great photo!” one said, delighted.

Thick afternoon light coated the red bricks and the emerald-green California I highway sign.

The last place that had so profound an effect on me was Taos, New Mexico. Like Marin, it’s a favorite of some big name celebrities — Julia Roberts lives there, at least part-time. Taos is tiny and filled with eccentric details. (Yet, like many of these idyllic rural areas, almost a quarter of its 4,700 residents live in poverty.)

Here’s a recent essay about Taos from The New York Times:

I had come to this far-flung desert town to write a memoir about searching for traces of one of the heroes of my English adolescence, D. H. Lawrence. Taos was the only place where Lawrence had ever actually owned a house, and I suppose, as a visitor, I was hoping some of the inspiration he had drawn from the land and people might rub off on me. I had imagined the landscape would all be bare desert and mountains. The last thing I had expected was to find it reminding me of England.

But all around town there were grassy fields, tussocky, mostly flat, with patches of shorter grass where horses and cattle had grazed. They were no different from the fields back home where I had grown up, playing soccer with friends, walking the dogs, rambling, sleeping out in summer. This one near my apartment was no exception.

An unexpected sense of intense familiarity with a foreign place has been felt by other travelers in other lands, but I was surprised by how completely at home I felt in this field: the long grass, the faint scent of hay, the trees hissing softly in gusts of breeze. Of all strange things, this meadow in Taos had exactly the same rough grass stalks, feathery at their tips, as the field next door to my childhood home in the Cherwell Valley north of Oxford. And the path, beaten smooth as hide, was just like the path that ran through that field, too. And the tremendous ribbed trunks of the cottonwoods that ringed it were like the boles of old English willows.

The day we arrived in Taos I ran out and bought a tie-dyed tank top, astonishing Jose, then my boyfriend of only three months, (now my husband, 12 years later.) In New York, he’d been dating a woman who appeared buttoned-up and conservative, a WASP — me — who showed up on dates wearing turtlenecks.

Who, suddenly, was this hippie chick?

Blame it on coming of age in the 1970s, but I’m often deeply happiest in a place where I can ride horses, pick up fossils from ancient riverbeds and let my eyes roam across empty miles. Where the air smells of dry earth, old stone and sagebrush and eucalyptus. Where the light is so exquisite I’m torn between my camera, sketchbook — and simply letting it soak into memory.

I found the same qualities of Taos and Marin — of light, rugged landscape and timelessness — in Corsica. I wept when I left, in June 1996, and dream of returning to explore it much more.

How about you?

Have you been somewhere that so moves and touches you?

Where In The World Have You Been?

In behavior, cities, life, travel on November 21, 2011 at 1:36 am
North America - Satellite image - PlanetObserver

And yet, despite my loathing of turbulence, I live to travel.

This calendar year, so far, I’ve been to Victoria, Vancouver and Kamloops, B.C., Banff, Alberta, Toronto, D.C., Minneapolis, Peterborough (Ontario) and Chicago. In January I’ll be in Tucson and thereabouts for two weeks (while my husband teaches a photo workshop there), then go to New Orleans on the 25th to speak at a retailers’ conference.

Spoiled by years of international — i.e. off the North American continent — travel, I still have a huge jones to go somewhere, soon, they don’t speak English as a first language.

I’ve been, so far, to 37 countries, from Fiji to Turkey, Thailand to New Zealand. In 1982, I won an eight-month journalism fellowship that required (heaven!) funded solo travel on 10-day reporting trips all over Europe. I went to Denmark, England and Sicily and did an eight-day trip in a truck from Perpignan to Istanbul with a French trucker who spoke not a word of English.

Some favorites, so far, include:

the Coromandel coast of New Zealand

Melbourne

Paris

Corsica (nice piece in a recent New York Times travel section; here’s my fun piece about it from The Wall Street Journal)

Mexico — Oaxaca, Cuernavaca, Patzcuaro, Acapulco, Taxco, Merida, Queretaro

Ko Phi Phi and Mae Hong Son, Thailand

Galway

Savannah, Georgia

The Banff Springs Hotel in Banff, Alberta.

High on the list of places I’m eager to visit:

Argentina, Morocco, Laos, Berlin, northern Brazil, the Hebrides, Jordan, Lebanon, Mongolia. And repeat visits to Paris, London, Italy, Corsica and many others…

Where are you dying to go, and why?

What have been your favorite trips, and why?

Here’s a gorgeous blog written by a woman as enamored of world travel (and a fellow New Yorker) as I.

The Perfect Wedding Dress

In behavior, culture, design, domestic life, family, Fashion, Style, women on June 4, 2011 at 12:55 pm
Cover of "Royal Wedding"

Cover of Royal Wedding

So…did you love the dress?

Anyone of us willing to ‘fess up to watching the recent Royal Wedding (hello, Grace Kelly!), knows that all eyes were on the prize — not the Prince, the dress.

As brides everywhere gear up for their spring and summer weddings, you can almost hear a chorus of shrieks and sighs over the color, style, fit, price and comfort level of that most iconic of garments, the wedding dress.

I was married May 31, 1992 in a gorgeous 1833 chapel on the Hudson River, in a day of record rainfall, wearing a dress made in about 1905, beige and white and black cotton, with a crisp cotton petticoat underneath. I loved my dress, which cost a big $300, as it was charming, comfortable, flattering and distinctive.

The marriage? Not so much. He was gone by our second anniversary and re-married within the year to a woman who attended the ceremony. Ouch!

There are few garments a woman will ever wear so subject to incredible public scrutiny and judgment, let alone meant to to carry her gracefully through such a  momentous transition.

I loved this true story about a wedding dress that traveled the world, from Florida to Massachusetts to New Zealand and back twice.

And this collection of moving personal essays , published in 2007 in Canada, about women and their dresses.

My next trip up the aisle, which I’ll get to eventually (after 11 years with the sweetie), I have no idea what to wear.

What did you wear on your wedding day?

Did you love it?

Gentlemen, what did your wife wear?

Tell Me A Little About Yourself…

In antiques, behavior, blogging, domestic life, family, life, women on May 22, 2011 at 12:02 pm
Canoeing on the Pettawawa River in Algonquin P...

Canoeing the Petawawa in Algonquin, a satisfyingly Canadian thing to do! Image via Wikipedia

Since I’m the hostess — and Broadside now has (yay!!) 462 subscribers, from British Columbia to England to New Zealand — I’m increasingly curious to know more about you, oh lovely and faithful readers.

So, to start,

Here are ten random things about me…

– I was born in Vancouver to a Canadian Dad and American Mom who met in the south of France, and I moved to London ages 2-5, then lived to the age of 30 in Toronto.

– I’m passionate about antiques and am happiest around objects with serious history and patina to them: I use coin silver teaspoons,  painted, rush-seated chairs about 200 years old and often wear vintage shawls and scarves.

– I’m most excited when I have a bunch of trips lined up: next week, Toronto; July; upstate NY; August, I’m speaking at a retail conference in Minneapolis.

– I’ve developed a bit of “white coat syndrome” when I have to see a doctor, after having to see five specialists in a few months in 2010 for my arthritic left hip, which needs replacing.

– I usually have fresh flowers in our apartment; this week, peony and stock and three yellow spider mums. My favorites include parrot tulips, lilac, hyacinth, delphinium and anemones.

— I have three half-siblings, 5, 10 and 23 years younger. We all have different mothers and I’ve never met the woman who is my half-sister. Yes, it’s complicated!

— I love to play competitive sports. I was a nati0nally ranked saber fencer in my 30s, with a two-time Olympian as my coach, and have been playing co-ed softball for eight years.

– I live to travel. Some of my favorite places (so far) include Corsica, Thailand, Paris, Algonquin Park, Ireland, Maine.

– My favorite cocktails are Tanqueray gin and tonic, a spicy bloody Mary, a gin martini with olives or Lillet on the rocks.

– I attend an Episcopal church while my sweetie is a devout Tibetan Buddhist — a man of Mexican heritage whose own Dad was a Baptist minister. He’s taking me (shriek!) on a 10-day silent Buddhist retreat this July.

Please tell me some things about you!

I’m curious to know about y’all, and have you “meet” one another as well.

For example….I’d love to know what sort of work you do, or where you live and why you chose that place, or what sort of music you love.

Do you play an instrument? Have a hobby or passion?

Have you lived in different places? Which did you like best (and/or least) and why?

Our 9/11: Two Journalists, Two Cities

In behavior, business, cities, Crime, education, History, Media, parenting, photography, politics, religion, work, world on September 11, 2010 at 12:37 pm
The Twin Towers in New York City viewed from below
Image via Wikipedia

I was in Maryland, attending a journalism fellowship, excited to be a in room filled with smart, talented peers. Within minutes of the attacks, three of them left immediately, heading to New York to cover the biggest story imaginable. A Canadian newspaper I was stringing for regularly had already called my home in New York: “Get down there!” I stayed in Maryland; others would do it better, faster.

I didn’t want to do that story.  I know my limits.

That was the day my sweetie, a photo editor for a major New York newspaper, was to move into my apartment, 25 miles north of his home in Brooklyn. Everything he owned was packed, ready to go. The movers pulled up at 9:00. “We can’t go. All the bridges and tunnels are closed.” He packed a shirt, a bottle of water, fruit and ran to the Brooklyn Bridge, ready to start walking to work in Manhattan.

Overhead, he saw and heard a lone F-15 Eagle, a fighter jet, its roar so loud that the ground shook beneath his feet. “We’re at war,” he thought. He’d traveled with the military. This was a sound he knew. Afterburners are loud, frighteningly so.

Lots of traffic noise. At the bridge, a sea of vehicles awaited, every radio tuned to the same station. A wave of people staggered across the bridge, some running, some walking, every single one covered in gray dust, the pulverized concrete of the towers’ collapse.

He backed up, bumped into someone, apologized — and recognized a shooter’s vest, the sort with a dozen pockets, and three camera bodies. One of his female colleagues. He took off her glasses and cleaned them with his bottle of water. “How much film have you shot? How much digital? Give me your film.”

He ran to the nearest mom-and-pop photo store — he didn’t know where it was, had never used them, just recalled there was one nearby. “I work for (a NYC daily). I have three or four rolls of film. I need them processed right away.” An hour later, he had the negatives, and back at his apartment unpacked everything he would need: film scanner, computer, telephone and a television — a newsroom recreated in his otherwise empty Brooklyn apartment. Prior moves had taught him not to cut off the power until he’d moved into the next space.

The coffee table became his desk, the floor his chair. He called his editor in midtown: I have (the shooter’s) photos. I have her film. I’ll be transmitting as soon as possible. If anyone else is in the area, tell them they can come to my apartment.” The editor was calm. “Thanks.”

He had a light table, and might have used it to read the negatives, or maybe the window. He doesn’t remember. Within three hours, he had transmitted about a dozen images to his editors in midtown. The shooter headed out from his basement apartment, took more pictures, came back with digital images he transmitted.

By the end of the day, at sunset, the two of them returned to the bridge together — the sunset, with all the smoke and city lights — would make a good picture. “We joined a cast of thousands.” In silence. “People were whispering, so quietly you could hear helicopters overhead, landing in Manhattan on the docks.” A few had hand-held radios.

The two of them walked home to their individual apartments. Stores and restaurants were closed. Pieces of singed paper — “like a snowstorm” — floated through the air, office memos carried across the East River from the towers. They blanketed the grass of his backyard, their company letterheads still legible.

I called him many times that day. I didn’t have a cellphone and he had no number to reach me. But the phones didn’t work and I could not reach him. I knew he was supposed to be near the Towers at 9:00 that morning and had no idea if he was alive, injured or dead. Fellow journalists, with me in Maryland, were kind: “Your boyfriend is missing? Are you OK?” I wasn’t, but had to be. By 4:00 p.m. I finally got through.

I drove north three days after 9/11, knowing the exact spot on I-95 where I would be able to see the city’s southern tip, terrified. At 65 mph on a crowded expressway, I cried so hard I could barely see. It was like seeing someone you love punched black and blue.

A Paris agency wanted a story, right away, on DNA testing of bodies and body parts. The country, the city, was still focused on finding survivors, when these editors, overeas already knew there were likely to be none. Editors in London, Paris and New Zealand, who bought three different versions of my story were ahead of the game. They knew, and wanted details.

I knew no one in authority near New York or D.C. would make the time to speak to me. How could I report the world’s biggest story, one that every reporter in the world was working on at the same time?

What was the most analogous story to this one, a story none of us could even grasp emotionally, even as we were living it? A San Francisco earthquake and the Oklahoma bombing. I interviewed scientists and crime scene experts in San Francisco (using the three-hour lag between CA and NY to my advantage) and in Toronto, my hometown, where I had great sources and a decent reputation even 20 years after leaving.

I researched and wrote 2,500 words between 9:00 a.m. and midnight — 6:00 a.m. Paris time. My editors there needed the copy asap to offer to their clients. Versions of my piece ran in the London Sunday Telegraph, the French weekly VSD and the New Zealand Herald.

I found and interviewed a corrections officer doing volunteer work at the site for Glamour asking what she’d seen. I still have those notes.

Then I made the mistake of calling an acquaintance to tell her, needing to offload the horror. She is not a journalist and called me back, weeping, hysterical, raging. “Why did you tell me this?” We have barely spoken since.  I finished the interview and cried for 30 minutes, shaking with the intimate, hideous details of what had happened there, details I still have never read elsewhere.

There are things that journalists hear and see and know — as photographers and their editors do as well — that are beyond nightmares. You, the reader/viewer, are spared. These are things that sear and stain our souls.

Today, if you pray for the victims and their families, please remember with gratitude the very real bravery of the men and women, the journalists and photographers and video cameramen who covered this terrible story.

We, too, were witnesses.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Quadriplegic Atlantic Ocean Sailor Relies On His Young Female Caregiver

In sports, women on December 10, 2009 at 9:59 am
Approaching The Canary Island Archipelago

His starting point, the Canary Islands.Image by Secret Tenerife via Flickr

It sounds unlikely, maybe impossible — but a quadriplegic Briton, Geoffrey Holt, left the Canary Islands this morning to sail across the Atlantic. A former professional sailor in the 1980s, before becoming paralyzed after a Caribbean diving accident, Holt knows the ocean, the winds and the challenge ahead.

His 60-foot yacht is wheelchair accessible, on loan from an association called Sporting Activities for The Disabled. His sponsors include the high-end yachting gear firm Henri Lloyd and Pol Roger champagne.

I’ve driven a 60-footer and it’s not simple, even with hydraulic everything; he’ll need all his strength and knowledge to stay safe.

Key to his voyage is a young New Zealand woman, Susana, his caregiver. Without her strength and skill, he can’t even get out of bed, let alone cross an ocean. It strikes me as strange that a woman upon whom he is so reliant to complete his dream doesn’t get the public recognition of her full name.

Best of luck to them both.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 11,435 other followers