Sarah + Tim

a canadian, american and calico living in perfect harmony

Coke Commercial for the 2010 Olympics February 14, 2010

During the Vancouver 2010 Olympics Opening Ceremonies, they aired this fantastic Coke Commercial.

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Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremonies February 13, 2010

Vancouver Olympics 2010 - Opening Ceremonies photo c/o vancouver2010.com

Wow.  Did you catch the Opening Ceremonies for the 2010 Winter Olympics?  They were absolutely stunning.

I thought nothing could top China’s opening ceremonies. Never occurred to me that a simple celebration of humanity would. – @kristysf

The ceremony had a lot of heart.  Despite the tragic loss of Georgian luge athlete Nodar Kumaritashvili during a warm-up, the Georgia National Team decided to go ahead and participate in the Games and dedicate their performance to him.

Parade of Nations: Team Georgia photo c/o vancouver2010.com

The Opening Ceremonies were a complete visual masterpiece.  Every person in BC Place Stadium had a white sheath that they wore over their clothes, enabling them to become part of a huge canvas and become a part of the artistry of the evening.

Mountain rendering with skiiers and snowboarders harnessed and tumbling through the air. Photo c/o vancouver2010.com

simply put the Vancouver ceremony = technical masterpiece. Canada is amazing – @maxkay777

Canadian stagecraft is BLOWING MY MIND. @Weave

John Furlong, the CEO of the organizing Vancouver Olympic planning committee, had some very touching things to say in his speech in the Opening Ceremonies.  Excerpts from his moving speech are below:

With Jack Poole and Nodar Kumaritashvili in our hearts – and standing on the shoulders of every Canadian – I commit that the men and women of Vancouver 2010 — our partners and our friends — are ready to deliver the performance of a life time.

You compete with such bravery, conviction and pride. At these Games you now have the added burden to shine and be united around your fallen colleague Nodar. May you carry his Olympic dream on your shoulders and compete with his spirit in your hearts.

Many thousands have made tonight and the days ahead possible — But the spirit and soul of all 33 million Canadians has been sewn into the fabric of these Winter Olympic Games.

The Olympic flame has touched many millions and prompted spontaneous, peaceful celebration –

Reminding us all that those values that unite and inspire the best in us — we must never abandon.

As the Olympic Cauldron is lit – the unique magic of the Olympic Games will be released upon us.

Magic so rare that it cannot be controlled by borders –

The kind of magic that invades the human heart touching people of all cultures and beliefs –

Magic that calls for the best that human beings have to offer –

Magic that causes the athletes of the world to soar — and the rest of us to dream.

From whatever continent you have come we welcome you to Canada — a country with a Generous Heart.

We love that you are here. You are among good friends.

Through our example tonight and over the 16 days to come our children will begin to dream and believe in what is possible.

Lives of great significance begin with a spark – a nudge – a gesture.

Together let us touch as many as we can — while we can.

As the 21st Olympic Winter Games – Canada’s Games begins — it is with Glowing Hearts – Des Plus Brilliants Exploits…..That we wish you all the Time of your Lives.

The Olympic Torch. Photo c/o vancouver2010.com

After traveling over 32,000 miles across Canada, the Olympic torch was lit in a non-traditional way with not just one, but four prolific Olympic athletes lighting the torch together, including “The Great One”, legendary hockey player and four-time Stanley Cup Winner, Wayne Gretzsky. What a unique display of Canadian teamsmanship.

What was the most memorable part of the Opening Ceremonies for you?

 

In Flanders Fields November 11, 2009

Remembrance Day at the Vancouver Cenotaph, 11/11/07. Photo by Rob ShaerIn Canada, November 11 is known as Remembrance Day and marks a pivotal day in history when World War I ended.  On the eleventh day of the eleventh month on the eleventh hour, Canadians all over remember the price of freedom and the blood that was spilt on their behalf.

Remembrance Day always evokes memories of singing in the cold, dressed in black, for the cenotaph in Downtown Vancouver.  Hundreds would gather at similar cenotaphs nationwide with citizens dressed in black with red poppies.  As members of the Vancouver Bach Youth Choir, we would sing old war songs, Abide With Me and In Flanders Field.

In Flanders Field is a stirring poem written Lieutenant Colonel John McRae (1872 – 1918) who served in the Canadian Army.  He wrote it in the midst of administering to the wounded soldiers and mourning the loss of one of his friends.  It almost wasn’t published, but someone saw him discard it and recovered the poem, which was published shortly thereafter.

Original Copy of In Flanders Field

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If we break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

May we always remember and never forget their great sacrifice.

 

Batman by Mark Wilburn… Like You’ve Never Heard it Before… August 23, 2009

This totally takes me back to a past life.  Allow me to introduce Mark Wilburn, my previous co-worker at Tom Lee Music in Vancouver, a music store on the west coast of Canada.  We worked for several years side by side utilizing these Clavinova Yamaha digital pianos to the max.  You have GOT to see Mark’s rendition of Danny Elfman’s Batman theme.  You will NOT be disappointed, but you may want to purchase a Clavinova when it’s done. 🙂

Isn’t that UNBELIEVABLE?!  You should hear his rendition of Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Harry Potter.  Unreal.  Go Mark Willyburn!!!

 

Learning the art of flamenco dancing by Lia Grainger July 24, 2009

One of my favorite passions is flamenco dancing.  Here is a phenomenal article by a gal I danced with in Vancouver, Lia Grainger, published in the National Post, a major Canadian newspaper.

Post reporter Lia Grainger participates in a summer intensive flamenco dance class. Photo by the National Post

Post reporter Lia Grainger participates in a summer intensive flamenco dance class. Photo by the National Post

Lia Grainger, National Post Published: Saturday, July 18, 2009

The first thing you will notice will be her eyes, black beneath furrowed brows, staring intently as she barks orders in Spanish. Next you will see her arms, lean and tan, cutting circles in the air with quick, fluid movements. Last will be her feet, pounding the grey mylar floor — ticka ticka ticka ta!–as she shouts without missing a beat, ” Hacer los pasos no es bailando -neccesitas sentirlo!” Doing the steps is not dancing — you must feel it.

Ursula Lopez has travelled from Seville, Spain, to this basement studio in downtown Toronto, where for the next week she’ll be teaching a small group of Canadian women the art of flamenco.

For the uninitiated, the word flamenco conjures images of flowing ruffled skirts, stomping feet, clicking castanets and the strum of a Spanish guitar. The art form does have its origins deep in Andalusia, and for those intent on learning to dance, sing or play flamenco, nothing compares with spending a month or two in a small Spanish town, hanging out in the caves of Granada or the bars and cafes of Jerez with the descendants of the Amaya or Farruco families, flamenco’s living legends.

But for those who don’t have the time or money for an annual jaunt to the south of Spain, each summer, many of the Spanish flamenco masters travel to Canada to share their gifts with unlikely northern flamenco junkies like me.

Today’s class has six participants, all advanced students that have been studying for years. At 28 and with six years of flamenco under my belt, I am probably one of the youngest and least experienced dancers here, for unlike ballet, flamenco does not exclude based on age or body type. Instead, as a dancer grows older, her style evolves to match her maturing physique. I’ve been in classes with women in their seventies, and some of the most respected purveyors of the art form are portly grandmothers, or, as my Vancouver teacher Oscar Nieto calls them, “flamenco mamas.”

“It’s easy to become a flamenco junkie because you can’t get enough: You feel so good when you’re doing or watching it,” says Esmeralda Enrique, the director of the Esmeralda Enrique Academy of Spanish Dance where this one-week workshop with its Spanish guest teacher is taking place.

Maria Litman, one of my fellow students, is one of these flamenco addicts: “I didn’t think that it would really affect my life, but once I started I couldn’t take just one class –it just feels good. It’s the interaction between my body and my mind that really makes me feel alive.”

I moved to Spain in search of that feeling. It had taken less than a year for flamenco to completely consume me. School, relationships and jobs all seemed bland and irrelevant when compared with the raw vitality of flamenco music and dancing. I dropped everything and bought a flight to Granada, where for six months I studied dance in a small, whitewashed cave buried in the hillside of the small city in southern Spain. In places the room was so small that I couldn’t raise my arms above my head. Each day for five hours 11 students and I would cram into the tiny, sweaty space and perform drills and choreographies as my teacher banged the 12-beat rhythm out with a long wooden cane, shouting unintelligibly in Spanish. It was heaven.

And now, for this one week with Ms. Lopez, I feel like I’m back in that cave, with nothing to think about or know but flamenco.

She begins the class, running through some simple arm exercises and making corrections to our individual technique. “Siempre delantero,” she says to me, reaching up to pull my raised arms forward.

Ms. Lopez speaks no English, and though most of us understand little to no Spanish, her instructions rarely need translation. “There are always foreigners in my classes in Seville,” she later explains in Spanish. “If they speak even a little, it’s no problem. Everyone understands.”

She moves into a footwork exercise and I am quickly breathless. “Levante los pieds!” Lift your feet. My calves are burning and the beads of sweat roll down my forehead and cheeks, collecting in droplets at the tip of my chin and nose. I shake them off and feel my wet ponytail slap against my neck as my feet continue to pound the floor in a steady, rolling rhythm. I glance up and Ms. Lopez is looking back at me, smiling. “La alta,” she says. The tall one.

As a 6′ 1” ex-basketball player, I am an unlikely flamenco dancer: The best are generally small and compact. But seven years ago in a Vancouver restaurant called the Kino Cafe, I saw my first performance. The dancer’s name was Kasandra, and she silenced the boisterous audience with a choreography that left several jaws, including mine, on the floor. Kasandra pounded the shaking stage as though she wanted to break through it, a look of pure rage on her face, only to burst into an exuberant smile as she passed the fitful climax of the her performance.

The emotional abandon I witnessed that night is an essential characteristic of flamenco, and something Ms. Lopez constantly halted our five-day workshop in Toronto to discuss.

Though she meticulously led us through a carefully planned choreography, she always emphasized that the steps don’t matter; it is the feeling, the emotion of the performance that will connect the dancer with the musicians and the audience. “Los pasos no son importantes.” The steps are not important.

Of course in the beginning the steps are important — a dancer needs to have at least a basic understanding of the movements before she can perform with any real force.

It was during my first year that I learned about the basic elements of flamenco — song, guitar, dance and palmas (hand clapping) — and the essential interplay between these parts that creates that rare moment when everything harmonizes, a moment the Spanish call duende.

I also observed a tightly woven and fiercely loyal community of women and men bound together by their love of the “arte” of flamenco.

“This is my students’ second home,” says Ms. Enrique of her studio. “They feel comfortable here, and they have friends, lifelong friends … There are so many people that will go to anything flamenco.”

Many who go to Spain to study dance or guitar never come back. I did, and now that I’m here in Toronto, I depend on teachers like Ms. Enrique to bring the masters like Ursula Lopez to me. And Ms. Lopez depends on us, on the strength of small tight-knit communities like this one, full of women and men who covet her skills and passion enough to bring her halfway around the world to spend a week with them, dancing.

lgrainger@nationalpost.com

Flamenco stirs something in us all.  If this article has made you graviate towards flamenco, here are a few how-to’s for your benefit from the National Post:

flamenco-how-to

 

Officially a Permanent Resident! July 12, 2009

Filed under: Canada,love — Sarah @ 7:31 pm
Tags: , ,

The Proposal MovieAfter seeing The Proposal on Friday afternoon (Kellene and I played hooky in the middle of the work day to catch it — how cool is that!) I have to admit I had a moment of panic.  After watching Sandra Bullock play a Canadian woman who is about to be deported, I thought about my current pending immigration status and got a terrible feeling in the pit of my stomach.

What if they rejected my application to be a permanent resident??  What if they made me leave my husband and go back to Canada solo???

Needless to say, I started to worry.  Considering after being summoned twice for my biometrics (a fancy, scary word for fingerprints) they both were rejected by the FBI.  And what’s more, the evidence we had presented to them was not adequate to prove our situation.  So we were asked to send in nothing less than the following:

  • Notarized witness affidavits from people who have known Tim and I since before we were married, describing our state of marital bliss
  • All the records possible (bank, car, credit cards, life insurance, health insurance, car insurance, phone records)
  • A written statement in my own words about how we met, courted, etc.  Who was at our wedding.  Photos.  Wedding invitations.  (You’ll be happy to know I sent them a lovely little scrapbook with photos from our courtship and wedding. Be careful what you ask for, Department of Homeland Security…)

    The picture from our wedding announcement, taken by Stephanie

    The picture from our wedding announcement, taken by Stephanie

Then Friday evening I got the letter from the Department of Homeland Security.

You are deemed to be a lawful permanent resident of the United States.

At long last!  No strings attached!  Conditions removed!  No deportation!  It’s been a long haul, baby.  Phew!

Are you living in the country you were born in?  Did you marry someone from another country?  Have you jumped through the fiery hoops of immigration?  Did you walk away unscathed?  Do tell!

 

Happy Canada Day! June 30, 2009

Filed under: Canada,humor — Sarah @ 6:54 pm
Tags: , , ,

Canada is my country.  This is my flag.  I bleed red, baby!

Photo Credit: Brian Bahr/Getty Images

Photo Credit: Brian Bahr/Getty Images

Happy Canada Day!  Hug a Canadian July 1st!

And while we’re on the topic, just to clear up any confusion…