Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Grandma on duty

Monday evening, after about 24 hours of travelling, I arrived in Vancouver and finally got to hold my gorgeous grandson in my arms. Alejandro is quite beautiful and easily the most handsome baby boy in the whole universe. (I have to acquiesce a bit to those friends who have had baby girls within the same week as Alejandro was born. Congratulations to Kim & Albert and to Laurie & Tim, who had twin girls!)
Being a grandmother is quite wonderful and I am so happy to be able to be here to help my daughter as she recovers from her C-section. Marah and Dan have recently moved into a cozy little ground floor apartment that is just perfect for a young family. I hope to be able to help a little bit in getting some things organized and some curtains up, but mostly I just want to make these first two weeks at home as easy as possible for Marah.
It’s nice to be in Canada, where there are lines on the roads, labels are in English and fast food places abound. Because I have never lived in Vancouver, though, it is still a place I visit, so there isn’t the same sense of ‘re-entry’ as there might be if I were spending this time in Toronto. The sad thing about Vancouver is they have no Second Cup, only Starbucks but the wonderful thing is that we can see mountains from the living room window of the apartment! There are also lots of Chinese and oriental food places, but the prices are astronomical in Moldovan terms. The reality of being in a country where there is no uncertainty in terms of language, no unfamiliarity with the culture and no stress in regards to what might or might not happen at the border or with police officers, is quite refreshing. Other than trying to coax a baby to sleep at night,
the most stressful thing this week was that my luggage didn’t arrive when I did. But even that was actually expected, given my flight schedule, and the nice people at Air Canada delivered my suitcase to the door the next day. How great is that! I am so thankful to the friends that made it possible to come on this trip, by donating air miles for the journey. You know who you are and may God bless you richly for your abounding kindness and generosity to me and my family!
My son Josh and son-in-law Daniel met me with flowers at the airport. Josh is pretty excited about being an uncle and Daniel is calmly delighting in the role of Daddy to this sweet child. Yesterday we had a visit with my sister-in-law Jan, who took us to the doctor’s office for baby’s one-week appointment. He is healthy and doing well, according to the doctor – but we knew that. Jan and my niece Jen are hosting a baby shower for Marah this Saturday, so that will be a fun event and chance to see again some of the friends who have been so supportive of Marah here in Vancouver. God is good – and how blessed I am to be a grandmother and a mother!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Grand so soon!

It's been busy at work over the last few weeks - hence too tired to write on my blog.. but now a noteworthy event has taken place. On October 10 a little boy named Alejandro Isaac Perez came into the world - my first grandchild!
He is gorgeous and my daughter is recovering well and both are healthy. Praise God! So- I want to say congratulations to Dan and Marah on their beautiful son, and I want to congratulate Alejandro on his fine choice of parents!
And here is a grandmother in Moldova. Waiting to go to Canada to see her grandson.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Here's to Uncle Nick!

The Cemetery
After seeing Gypsy Hill we went to visit the local graveyard. (OK, so this wasn’t the regular 4-star tour). The cemetery, in fact, was a most interesting experience. Although it was fairly quiet – surprise, surprise – for me it was an educational time. Almost every grave had a little fence around it and within the fenced area, as well as the grave, there was a table and a bench. Apparently on memorial days, or on the anniversary of someone’s death, the whole family would go and have a meal together at the table in the cemetery. Whenever a drink is poured, a bit is dumped on the ground for “Uncle Nick”(Nicolae) or whoever. Whenever food is eaten, a portion might be dropped on the grave, just so the dear departed don’t feel left out of the family gathering. Our host couple told of their experience of having walked through the cemetery and having been invited to share food with a family on their day of remembrance. One doesn’t say no to such hospitality, and in Moldova hospitality generally includes plenty of wine so best that Uncle Nick enjoys more than his fair share…

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Saturday in Soroca

The Fortress
In his book, ‘Playing the Moldovans at Tennis’, Tony Hawks recounts the story of his visit to the home of the gypsy king in Soroca. Today, I went with a group of people to the town of Soroca, which is in the north of Moldova, above the Transnistria district, and across the river from Ukraine. (The border there looked much easier to cross than the one I had crossed into Ukraine earlier this year. All one had to do was swim the river or jump on the small car ferry that was plying back and forth) Soroca is famous for its fortress, built in the 1500’s and having defended the borders of Bessarabia from invading Turks, Russians, Ukrainians, and Poles.

Gypsy Hill
Not only did we see the fortress there, but we also went up Gypsy Hill and saw the home of the gypsy “king” or "baron"! And as we gawked outside the gate, the nephew of the said ‘king’ came out and greeted us. I didn’t think fast enough to get my photo taken with him, but I did think fast enough to get a photo of him! Unlike Tony Hawks, though, I was not invited in for tea or a gift exchange or any such thing. (That could be because I was with a group of fifteen and hadn't brought a gift in any case…)
The home was one of a whole neighbourhood of ostentatious, mostly half-built houses high on a hill overlooking the town of Soroca, and the hill is known as ‘Gypsy Hill’. Apparently these are the richest gypsies in all of Europe! The houses seem to have been erected to declare in no uncertain terms, “I’m the king of the castle, and you’re the dirty rascal!” I can’t begin to tell you how interesting it was to wander the roads of this community and see the variety of buildings and houses.

Apple Pie & Single Guys

Friday evening I had a group of team members over for supper. Well, actually, I had all the single guys over for supper. Rough life, eh? They were all dropping hints about wanting a meal, so what could I say? I made apple pie - an unknown in Moldova. They seemed to like it and in fact this morning Vlad(in the red hat) was telling someone else on our team about the pie. This began another series of broad hints for an invitation to supper. I guess I better bring more Crisco back from Canada when I return from Vancouver.