Mumble, mumble...

Well, that's the holidays for you I guess. Let's rewind...

We went to Montreal for American Thanksgiving, which I celebrated with an asthma attack. Of course, since I have them so rarely and since I've never had one up north, I hadn't even packed my inhaler. After about twelve hours, I finally got some help (narrowly avoiding a trip to the ER). That was an adventure I wouldn't care to repeat any time soon.

We returned to Montreal a few weeks later for our BIG family Christmas. Adam's Uncle Chris drove up and both my Mom and Dad flew up and joined us, so it was a full house and very nice to have everyone in the same place for a change. You may have seen reports of the crazy snowfall that hit the northeast between Christmas and the New Year... we got a healthy dose of that. Flights cancelled, roads a mess, aging parents flopping around in snow banks like turtles on their backs. Winter wonderland I tell you. In the end though, everyone made it home safe and sound and uninjured. Happy New Year!

Of course, I returned to work after two weeks away and immediately had to dive into some serious insanity. Our office hosted seven events in the first two weeks of January alone. My sleep schedule is only now recovering from that trauma, but I SURVIVED. Moving along now...

At the end of January, we headed BACK to Montreal (yes, again) for a wedding. It was great fun! The bride and groom were so obviously happy, grinning like mad and having a blast. We got to visit with old friends who we don't run into very often anymore and I got to meet some of the Mr.'s friends from "before my time" that I've never met despite having heard countless stories over the years.

At the end of this month, we will return to Montreal once again for a 20 year memorial of the death of the Mr.'s father. With family and friends traveling from all over the world to celebrate his life, it promises to be quite an event. Sometimes it's hard to wrap my head around the fact that he died only a couple of years before I met his son, who is now (and has been for nearly 18 years) my other half. I know so many small details about this man, and yet I know nothing because I never actually met him.

I think that will be enough travel to hold us for a little while. Other adventures await closer to home.


Cat House

You gotta love neighbors. One of ours is very particular about his property. VERY particular. I'm being diplomatic here, so work with me. Our neighborhood is transitional. It was once quite nice, and then quite scary, and now is seeing a very welcome resurgence due to some significant investment on the part of the nearby University and the inherent charm of the era in which the neighborhood was built... think gumwood trim and leaded glass and beautiful hardwood floors. This particular neighbor and his wife have lived next door for forty years or more, are older (about retirement age) and they are very alert to all things going on in the vicinity. Are you getting the picture?

There are quite a few stray cats around here, and while the Mr. and I don't feed them, we are happy to have them take refuge in our yard. We've never had a mouse in the house and that's saying something up here! Our neighbors all around seem to feel differently. Some even set traps and take the captives out to the country to get them away from the neighborhood. Now... over the last couple of months, we have come to realize that someone in the house next door has taken to putting out plates of food for a litter of kittens that cropped up over the summer. This behavior is definitively out of character and really kind of sweet.

Imagine my surprise when I looked out of my bedroom window last week and see this sitting in my neighbor's driveway:

Less "Build it and they will come" and more "If you keep feeding them, they'll never go away so you might as well build them a tiny house for the winter." What you are looking at there is a kitten house, custom constructed in the same yellow vinyl siding and black shingles as the house and the garage and the storage shed. It has since been moved to the side of the garage where it sits like a proper little addition. I wonder if they got planning permission for that?


Other People's Nightmares

Obviously, the big news from the last week was Hurricane Sandy, eclipsing even the election insanity. Having lived in Florida, and having a number of close friends who lived through Katrina, I will admit that I thought the lead-up to Sandy's landfall was over-hyped. It most certainly was as far as OUR city is concerned (though we did have some potentially serious situations resulting from power/phone outages, all seems to have resolved quickly and smoothly). Clearly, the coast is another story. 

In spite of the severity of the situation, our friends in the NYC/NJ area appear to have been fairly lucky. As often as I think of them while they begin putting things back in order, I'm thinking of my friends who lived through Katrina and the aftermath in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. What has it been like for them to watch this unfold?  

In the midst of all this, one of my coworkers' husband is dying. She is older than me, but too young for this. I have only seen her twice since he went into hospital, but both times I was struck by how lost she looked. Have you ever noticed how hard it is to NOT hug someone who is crying? I can't help but think how I would feel in her shoes and I find it hard to fathom the depth of that loss, or perhaps I simply don't want to. 


My Father, Fearless Wanderer

Occasionally we find cause to stop and think about the important people in our lives in a way we don't do every day. Like suddenly seeing the forest rather than just the trees. I don't remember what prompted it, but some time ago, I had one of those moments when thinking about my Dad. And the realization I had was that one of things I admire most about my Dad is his sense of adventure, and that adventure needn't mean bungee jumping or trekking in the Andes, but can be as simple as getting out of your comfort zone. Some of the ways he has mastered this include:

  • wandering Dallas or any other place he happens to land in "just to see"
  • traveling the state, the country and the world
  • making new friends in a breath
  • immersing himself fearlessly in new technologies (even if they bite him in the ass)
  • trying new restaurants or just new menu items at frequent haunts
  • taking pictures, endlessly taking pictures

I, on the other hand, am solidly planted in my personal comfort zone. I barely leave the house, to say nothing of leaving town. I can count on one hand the number of true friends I've made since leaving school (largely because I find socializing to be excruciatingly exhausting), the only time I ever try out a new technology is when the Mr. presents it to me ready to use and I generally do my best to avoid photo-ops out of instinct.

I have decided that I need to work harder to emulate some of of my Dad's sense of adventure. Making new friends is tricky, but I could certainly do better at keeping up with the ones I already have, which means actually setting a date on the calendar when a friend says "We should get together!" instead of just agreeing vaguely. I also should be buying tickets when I see an event I want to attend instead of just thinking about how fun it might be (the cemetery tour was my first effort here). One of my projects for this year was to get at least one photo of myself and the Mr. every month. So far, so good... we'll try to get a slideshow up for you after the New Year.


I Ain't Afraid of No Ghost

We've had quite the weekend, the highlight being that the Mr. and I went for a torchlight tour of the Mt. Hope Cemetery (something I've been wanting to do for years now).

The cemetery tour was really quite fun... and surprisingly well attended. The trees are turning here and with the last couple of fronts that came through, many of the leaves have already dropped, so that there was a persistent rustling as the group made our way between the tombstones and monuments by the light of strategically placed torches. The weather was perfect... just cold enough that we were glad of our long johns and jackets, a crescent moon peeking through patchy clouds and the predicted rain notable only by its absence. Our tour guide was an older gentleman who I deemed a "local history geek", full of 150 year old gossip and scandal. Incest, adultery, murder, suicide, politics, activism and so on. Some day we should really go back during daylight hours, but I'm glad we got to experience it this way.