Archive for January 2009
Not just Monday, not just tired.
I’m wearing my navy adidas warm-up pants that are beyond D’s understanding. I don’t even remember how they came into my possession, but I do believe they could be worn by any woman size 6 to 26. Why yes, this makes them very flattering. Because they are so stretchy, they can also be worn over any other clothing item I own – so they double as bike pants on especially cold commute days. They are also warm, which is why I find myself in them tonight.
Hmm… soup for dinner and in my might-as-well-be sweatpants by 7 p.m., yep, my dear boyfriend is out of town. Boo.
At least I’m Monday tired. Book and bed? Indeed.
Happy End of January! Is summer around the corner yet?! I am trying to look on the bright side and to think of advantages on a cold winter afternoon:
- I did just take a toasty nap on the couch
- Curling up with a good book sounds just fine
That’ll have to do for now but I’d happily trade my jacket(s) for a sun dress at the drop of a hat. Ooh, and sandals!
Things have been pretty good coming back from the holidays. I felt a definite relief coming back to our apartment, which is a sign that a place has become home, even if we know we aren’t going to be home here forever. D and I have much to figure out this year regarding just this. The local branch of the company we work for would like us to continue here after our contract is over in May. If we continued, we would have an open contract, meaning we could decide when we wanted to return to N. America (which would most likely be either to Florida or Montreal). Negotiations are on-going. Of course we are trying to figure out what is the smartest move, what would make us happiest long term, and what we can handle in the short term. Figuring out what we should do, just like everyone else. Work hasn’t been crazy yet this year, though I do think crazy will be coming around March, for a bit.
In other news, we celebrated my birthday yesterday with dinner out. Around 7 p.m. we walked to the Greek place we like and ordered the calamari, followed by lamb fillet – was awesome as always. Then we had cake:
And I received some beautiful jewelry – a matching necklace, bracelet and earrings in a silver-bar theme. So pretty!
Entertainment wise, we have been watching old seasons of How I met your mother. I recommend it. It reminds both of us of Friends but different. There are 5 friends, not 6, and they hang out at a bar instead of a cafe. Anyway, it’s pretty good. We’ve also been watching the new episodes of 24 and Lost. Lost continues to be as wacky as ever, though at least now it feels like most of the “island’s big secrets” are somewhat out of the bag. 24 seems like every other season of 24 – which isn’t a bad thing, but definitely isn’t “completely different” this year as it was advertised at the end of last season.
I have some photos to organize and post – I guess these are good things to do on a winter afternoon too, so there.
After leaving sunny Florida we had a long stop in Detroit International. We ate food at something that resembled a restaurant near our gate and were half forced, by proximity, to listen to a large family that were heading out for a ski trip. “Powder man! Fresh!” Egh.
St-Ephreme de Beauce, Canada
D’s parents’ threw a party for the whole family.
We set it up in the conference room and attached kitchen at one of the offices. This room got arranged and re-arranged 5 different ways before everyone, including the caterer, decided we’d all fit. After the dinner and dessert came cards, the games being Hearts and SkipBo. John and I were unbeatable at the SkipBo. We got a ride later to D’s aunt and uncle’s to stay the night; they own a milk farm in the same town, and had an extra bedroom for D and me.
The winter wind whistled loudly around the farmhouse as we fell asleep but the next morning came with a real farm breakfast. We had eggs, toast, coffee complete with fresh bacon and fresh milk – both from the farm! We finished picking up the office before heading back to Quebec.
We met up on Tuesday afternoon with some of D’s friends to play wallyball. wall + volleyball = wallyball What keeps people from blast serves is that the ball cannot touch the back wall or it’s considered out of bounds. Same thing for the ceiling. I’m not very good. D’s height did give him some advantage, especially in the spiking aspect of the game.
After the sports, we all met up for dinner at Jame and Cindy’s new apartment/duplex for dinner. It was fondue!
After we ate dinner we got to see James on a French-Canadian game show called the Pyramid. French-Canadian television is bizarre – there’s a whole post to be written on this topic but it was cool to see him compete.
On New Year’s Eve we did our second gift giving session, this time with D’s family.
Later, D and I exchanged our own gifts. Here’s one photo of our combined loot: an iPod nano (with an armband for jogging), a mini Linux pc, a USB Hub in a gingerbread man form, and 250 gig harddrive for my laptop (I filled up my original HD very fast).
The whole family had dinner at Le Oiso, per tradition, on D’s mother’s side of the family. After we went to his grandfather’s for more cards and visiting.
We all attended the Cirque Eloize, here’s a youtube video link. The physical control of the performers was awesome. The storyline… It was in French so I was really hoping when we got out that D could explain to me why there were men in tutus in a couple parts, and what the story was with the sad, crippled guy, but alas, he was as perplexed as me.
We walked around downtown Quebec City with Guillaume, Jean-Rene, and Isabelle. It was super windy and frigid, but we mustered through.
Dan woke up sick. Sick with the sickness. Flights were cancelled and rebooked, and we got another few days to hang out in Quebec.
A little summary of our Christmas break. It’s gotten long so I’m dividing the trip in half. If nothing else it provides a historic reference. Hah!
We flew 9.5 hrs to Chicago. Somehow in Dusseldorf we lost my second boarding ticket so we had to scramble to figure out where to go withing Chicago airport. When you have a connecting flight and something goes wrong, doesn’t it feel like your life suddenly turned into an episode of the Amazing Race? Turns out it was United ticketing we needed, even though we booked through Lufthansa. Our flight from Chicago to Tampa was over-booked and United was offering free flights but we didn’t go for it – there was an ice storm about to hit the area and we had a rental car and a hotel waiting for us in Tampa.
We arrived to a balmy (humid) Tampa around 9 p.m. and picked up a G6 midsize car from Alamo, which is a little tradition for D and me. For the last 3 years we have used this rental agency and always go for the G6 if it is available. Our G6 had satellite radio this year though, which was a bit of a bummer because we just wanted to listen to the local Tampa radio. hah.
After we got checked into the Chase Hotel,
which turns out to be a pretty nice suite hotel with a workable kitchen,
we walked across the parking lot to the Bahama Breeze just next door. We split the Calypso shrimp – it’s so GOOD there. Basically it’s shrimp and linguine in a spicy cream sauce. MMMmm. It was late, maybe just after 10 p.m. when we arrived. Once again, we were amazed at the difference between European and America dining experiences. The whole meal took a total of a about 20 minutes.
St. Petersburg, FL
Friday we slept in until around 9, got breakfast at the hotel, and headed to St. Petersburg, to my grandmother’s house. We arrived while she was still at the church, where she volunteers on Friday mornings, so we let ourselves in. We immediately met my grandmother’s new Yorkshire terrier, Annie:
She’s a ball of energy but sweet. We dropped our stuff in the guest room and I checked out the packages I had shipped there. Shortly after, my grandmother arrived and we decided that D and I would go to the bank to take care of that errand and then we’d all go for lunch at Gulfport beach, my grandmother’s stomping grounds. We ate at a place called O’Maddys. Surprisingly it’s not Irish. We had sandwiches at an outdoor table to enjoy the sun. Florida in December is really a-w-e-s-o-m-e. To think, I spent my whole childhood not realizing this fact.
Later, around 5, we all visited my grandmother’s dog park, also in Gulfport. This was D and my first dog park experience. This dog park is basically two fenced in areas, one for the big dogs and one for the small-medium sized dogs. To enter, there is square, fenced-in area, with a double gate, so the dogs inside can’t get out while new dog-and-dog owner’s enter. We were there for about 1.5 hours, and the peak, which was around 6 p.m., there were ~20 dogs. Wowsa.
Everyone on my dad’s side got together at my grandmother’s around 1 p.m. for the official pre-Christmas shindig. We had ham, salad, corn casserole (which has become the traditional side dish for this family), green beans, baked beans, rolls, etc… I brought out some German desserts that were well received also. We saw my cousin’s son, Jackson, who was born earlier this year, and he is a wide blue-eyed cutie. D always finds my grandmother’s yard a wonderland – since within it resides a key lime, tangerine, AND pink grapefruit trees. The key limes either ripened earlier in the year or never came, but there were beaucoup de tangerines and big fat grapefruits galore.
After the party, D and I drove to Tampa to drop the rental car and continued to Inverness, Florida where we’d spend the week at my mother’s house.
My aunt and uncle arrived from Georgia, they were staying the week at my mother’s house with us too. They have bought property about 20 minutes from my mom and my maternal grandmother, and want to build on it eventually. We all admired my mother’s newly remodeled kitchen
and living room, then went shopping for food for the week.
On Monday, D, my sister Liz, and I went to the nearest mall, about 35 minutes away in Ocala. We didn’t get an early start and then our stop at Olive Garden for lunch took quite a while. Waiting for lunch at Olive Garden? Yes, it happens. There was so much traffic though, that we deemed the wait reasonable. Later, after my sister Amanda got off work, we all went to see the movie Twilight. Twilight was okay. It was a little intense in a strange way. I think someone watching it that had not read the book would think it disjunct. By far, the most annoying thing to me was Jacob’s bad wig job, right?!?! They really thought they sold that look? Meh.
After some back and forth about when we should go to Orlando to see my sister’s place, we decided to go on Tuesday but just for the day. Her aparment and the complex is nice and centrally located. It was a blue sunshiny day, and though it was a bit chilly, the mulitple pools and the hot tub looked refreshing. We also toured the on-site restaurant next to the pool, the community gym, and the indoor sports courts. After lunch at BJ’s,
we dropped D at the apartment’s basketball court, for which he was thrilled, while us girls went for another round of last-minute shopping.
I’d rather play basketball than shop on a normal day but spending time with my sisters was fun.
Once the shopping was accomplished we picked up D and headed downtown to Total Wine. Think a giant store of just wine. We bought 4 bottles: three reds and one Chardonnay, and again I saw the wine glasses without stems. This is the new trendy thing?
Wednesday 24th Christmas Eve
D and I made baked salmon for the family Christmas Eve dinner. Publix generally has good quality fresh salmon by the way. We were expecting 9 for dinner so we bought 3 lbs of salmon, to go with farfalle (bowtie pasta) and pesto, and a salad. My sister Liz made this spinach artichoke dip recipe for an appetizer. If you like cheese, you will love this. We ended up having 6 for dinner because my mom’s friend couldn’t attend, my grandmother was tired, and my sister Amanda had to work, but we still managed to finish ALL the salmon. Hah.
Thursday 25th Christmas
We proceeded to open presents once all were awake.
Everyone got cool stuff. Discussing the gifts would take too long but everything was well-received, yay! Then we commenced with cooking a turkey and all the sides. I wanted to try the upside down baking method I’d read about at Simply Recipes. Success! Even flipping the turkey for the last 20 minutes went off without a hitch.
Crystal River, FL
Friday was our last full day in Florida. Liz, Amanda, D and I drove West, in search of manatees. Instead, we found a closed manatee refuge (just closed for the holidays I think). We drove West again, to the marina where I know you can rent boats by the hour but we were turned away again. The rental shop said the tide was too low for renting boats and that we’d probably run aground unless were were headed directly at the spring head for diving, which wasn’t our mission for the day. Sigh. So instead, we drove even further West to the beach in Crystal River. D had the foresight to bring along his swim shorts so he went swimming while the rest of us just waded.
It was hot outside and there were hundreds of seagulls in the air.
Ended up borrowing an extra small suitcase from my mother, to make it a total of 4, to carry all this stuff! Then we drove to Tampa International to depart for Canada! Continued in Christmas 2008 Part II.
Wow, Christmas mega-vacation is about over. Maybe.
Turns out D has, just this morning, contacted the stomach flu his mother had at the end of last week. The same sickness his cousin had a few days before that. Unfortunately, we were supposed to get on a little ol’ airplane today and fly back to Germany.
Murphy’s law of sickness? I called the company’s travel department in Germany this morning (afternoon there) and explained the situation – right now it’s looking like there aren’t any flights available until next Tuesday. Yep, a week from now. The only good thing about it being so far from now is that if, by chance, I catch the sickness too, we’ll both be recovered by then. Hmm.
Right now the poor guy is covered in blankets and asleep on the couch.
About time for a post mayhaps?
First off, Happy New Year to everyone. I hope everyone had a good Christmas and enjoyed having a least a couple of days off. With this economy I know everyone is a little nervous. I’m hopeful that 2009 will be a better year for everyone.
By the way, we’re still busy doing family stuff on our side. Trying to fit a year’s worth of visiting into 3 weeks isn’t easy. Nor is eating all the delicious food… okay, maybe they are both nice. Heh. Family visits, especially extended visits, can be trying. Of course, after a thought like that you want to hug everyone and tell them how much you love them. Haha.
I have started a couple posts but realized they were going to take more time than I had, or that I don’t have the appropriate photos to include, so instead, I’ll just mention the interesting books I saw gifted or received this Christmas.
- Serena: A Novel by Ron Rash
- The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski
- The Historian by
- Mario Hewardt and Daniel Pravat (which D received and looks really promising)
While I was out doing last minute shopping with my sisters on the Tuesday before Christmas, one of my dear sisters saved ALL of her shopping until the week of Christmas, I saw a few others that I’d like to read too, like Outliers and The Hunger Games. Both are hardback right now though, and since D and I are going to be moving (again) in 6 months (maybe), I’m holding off. I am going to love living again in a place where I can utilize a library.