Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Christmas of the Swedish Licorice

Christmas is over, and it was much closer to the relaxed Christmas of my imagination than most.   Christmas day, The Boy and I opened presents with Miss Mags in the morning, then headed to Mum's to get ready for the family - and in The Boy's case, set up Mum's wireless network and iPad (she's hip to the technology, people!)

I could talk about how once again I was spoiled, about how delightfully (?) odd my family is when you get them all in one big room.  About how we missed Kerry and Tui at the table, but enjoyed the extra elbow room.  Actually, scratch that re Tui - she made her presence known through a box of xmas goodies sent to us from Edinburgh.  Lovely home made ornaments, soaps, all seemed so uncharacteristically NICE.

dip dabs and flakes - oh my!    

And then her genetic link to the family was revealed through a bag of Swedish Licorice she picked up in a recent trip to Stockholm.  So kind of her.  Her uncle appreciated it - as did I.
We enjoyed the challenge of the salty outer shell of the licorice, leading to the sweet inner chewiness.  We are not put off by the UNBELIEVABLE, fragrant nose of cat-pee that wafts to the back of the palate and cleans out the sinuses with each chew.   We are not afraid of the cat-pee Tui, your evil game DID NOT take us down.

It did, however, take down Grandmere and The Boy

A closer look perhaps?

Such kindness from afar, Tui.  Such kindness.

Monday, December 12, 2011

It's Tree Time again....

Yes, that's right.

The Boy and I headed down to my favorite tree lot (ok, a parking lot with trees stacked in it) to pick out another example of the beauty of uncultured trees.  It was, of course, the first one we picked up that we ended up stuffing into the car on top of a camo-pattern tarp that made the whole mission feel a lot more military and precise than it actually was.

I do look forward to decorating.  It is something I started on year two of life in the Bunkle, and this will be year two of having the Boy assist with carefully placing felt birds on the branches, for which I am grateful.  I love the charlie brown tree, the little decorations, the sparkly white lights, the string of pudding carrying cats that make it all feel like Christmas.  It will also be the second year Thomas won't be around to hide under the tree or decapitate unsuspecting wooden reindeer - maybe I shouldn't be surprised at how much I still miss him, but I really do.  And though he had been missing from the celebrations at home for a few years now, this will be the first real year without Dad.  And without Tui - who is too busy frolicking around Europe to bother with her family *sniff*  (There is no thinly veiled jealousy here.  None.)

The holiday season is always a weird ying/yang of happy and sad, relaxation and stress, calm and frustration.  This year I've decided to try and take a little bit of time off after the holidays, instead of before - which I have come to realize never ends up being relaxing time off, it ends up being thinly veiled chaos.  And this year, time off after Christmas will be dedicated to starting the process of transforming the basement in preparation for the Boy's impending addition as a household fixture in the Spring - this will include the creation of a man-cave for his man-stuff, and more useable storage space for the mass of stuff we have both collected.  Hopefully I will have the energy to track some of that process on the blog for those that are interested.

In the interim, I will continue to try and keep Christmas what it should be this year.  Or rather, what I want it to be.

And I will leave one tiny decapitated reindeer at the bottom of the tree, just in case the ghost of christmas past drops by.

Monday, November 28, 2011

cat heads!

 Tui is once again complaining about my lack of blogging.

She requested a picture of Maggie - so here is a picture of her in the bath (?...), followed by the results of Grand-mรจre's attack on a dark chocolate cat.

And that, Miss T, is all you're getting tonight.

But I will try and do better next time!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Tui's complaining....

...that I'm not blogging.  So here is something brief.

Here are some photos from my weekend with Tui in London.  If you are having troubles identifying which of these photos is of her - she is the one with the wide-set eyes and expensive handbag.

We had a great weekend, despite the Shining Hotel Experience (the problems continued but I'm not going to go into it here - serenity now!)  The weather was awesome, we did a ton of walking and poking around, meandering up through Regents Park and Marylebone.  I fell in love with a cheese shop - not unusual for me really.  And with Cath Kidston bags - this one came home with me and I love it.  For those that are interested, a more detailed account of the weekend can be found on Tui's blog if you poke around and look for it.

It was great to see Tui and to know that things are going well for her in Edinburgh.  Time goes so quickly, she will be back before we know it.  Hoping I have one more work trip to go bug her before her time there is done.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Down to London...and a Thistle with a few thorns

I'm in London for a few days on business, topped off by a quick visit with Miss Tui. I'm a bit groggy, but I do love this city. But I'm not going to blog about that, I'm going to blog about the joys of my hotel experience, at the Thistle Marble Arch. Now, the hotel overall is fine - it is huge (and reminds me a bit of the Shining), a bit dated but clean and with decent rooms. That being said, here's a lowdown on yesterday's check in:

1 - I check in, and am given a key to room 777. I drag my luggage the quarter mile to room 777 (yes, quarter mile), open the door, and SOMEONE ELSE IS ALREADY IN THE ROOM. I quietly retreat.

2 - I walk a quarter mile back to the reception desk - now, the issue at reception is that their booking systems are down and everything is being done manually - they apologize, and give me a new room, on the 8th floor, that is an even longer walk away. I *think* I hear someone trying to get into my room, but think Naah, can't be.

3 - I unpack, relax. Go for a walk. Go to my room. Decide to go back to reception to get a wireless voucher. A tour bus has arrived so there is a lineup of about 20 people. I decide to bail and go back to my room. Which I do, except MY KEY DOESN'T WORK this time.

4 - I go back to reception. Stand with the other 20 people, get to reception, voice my concern about the security in the hotel and have them check that my room hasn't been allocated to someone else. They apologize and assure me that isn't the case.

5 - I go back to my room. A letter is pushed under my door - a fax with my room number on it. But not my name. Result: angry phonecall to the front desk, followed by a sheepish hotel employee at the door who caught my growing concern about the security of my room.

6 - Phone call from the consierge who was "just verifying' my last name (now THAT instills confidence!)

7 - 9pm, I'm half asleep in bed, and there is someone desperately trying to open my door. I go bellowing like a bear with a sore head to open the door, in my PJs, to be greeted by a terrified looking woman holding an apology letter and fruit tray. Yes, they even messed up the apology.

Ahhh the joys. Really, the hotel is just fine. Just. Fine.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Things at the zoo

 A quick lazy post - I've been meaning to for days, but the truth is I'm completely shattered when I get home from work these days.  So - tonight, just to get back at it, a quick post focused on pictures of animals.  All but one are in the Edinburgh Zoo - which remarkably is a really interesting, non-depressing, vast, clean place - one of the leading conservation zoos out there apparently.  The Amur Leopard took my heart, that's for sure.

I wish I had a bit more energy as I have a lot to say about the trip.  I will start with the fact I want to go back there, I want to see the rest of Scotland.  And I love the fact that when I look at Tui's blog, I can picture where she is and what is around her.   I've been thinking about what this experience might mean to her later in life - it is pointless to say old people things to her like pay attention to every second, as this is going to be one of the best times of your life.  Those are things you realize only when your life gets cluttered with all the things that it does as you get older.  But I do know she will have an amazing time, and part of me wants to bonk her on the head and take her place.  And the other part of me just wants to bonk her on the head.

 Maybe I'm feeling a bit wistful as I watch friends go through what we all go through as we and those around us get older.   I am so grateful I get to go on trips like this with members of my crazy family.   We joke about our family dysfunctions,  but I know deep down how very lucky I am.

And I also know how very very much I will enjoy bonking Tui on the head when I see her again in October :)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Last day, just about...AKA goodbye Hammerhead Junior

Didn't bother blogging yesterday as I didn't take photos. It was a shopping day, with all the thrills and chills that shopping days involve. Somehow all the womenfolk ended up with new purses; Pete couldn't find one that would work with his new Camper shoes so he passed. We stopped at Henderson's Salad Table for lunch (gluten free items marked on the menu!) -very good Lots of walking, as usual.

Today we moved Tui into her new student apartment. It is new to her, but it's not a new building - so what that means is no elevator, and Pete having to drag Tui's suitcase - which must have weighed 40 kg at least - up the100 steps to her 5th floor room. His enjoyment was obvious.

Tui has lucked out with her room - it's large, with a gorgeous view over the old town and Calton Hill. Her roommates hadn't arrived yet (there will be two), but there are lots of activities scheduled for the coming week, and classes don't start until the 19th. I'm sure her social circle will be fully developed by then.

We went for lunch atPink Olive, pictured below. Lunch was really nice - and all the tables seemed to be filled with university students and their parents. Pete and I have been observing the local hammerheads ( wide eyes, overbite ) - Mum and Tui practiced their hammerhead faces at lunch, though Tui has a natural head start on the local look.


We've said goodbye to Tui now, and it is strange not to have her sitting on the other end of the couch. Something tells me that she will have a far easier time without us than we will have without her.

Tonight's events? A very brief sleep, cab to airport at 4am...good times!

Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Not quite the Parthenon, but close enough

And if I'd taken a photo of it with my iPad you would be looking at it now.

Today started out grey and rainy but turned into another lovely sunny day. We walked from the condo through the Grassmarket, along the Royal Mile, and up to Calton Hill - Scotland's answer to the Acropolis, topped by a truly Scottish version of the Parthenon, the Scottish National Monument (it all started out well, until they ran out of money after 12 columns...)

These photos are from Grassmarket and the Royal Mile.

The last one is where I start to snap. The full hysterical breakdown didn't happen til after pack-horsing groceries and other sundries along the busiest street in town, catching a cab home where my brother and I started bartering over what photos of each other we would delete. Removed from the history books my "Eggman" photo of Pete, and his Jaba the Hutt "Look, she's feeding" photo of me, which I might add made me laugh so hard I was weeping and close to losing control of other bodily functions. Oh, traveling with family.

Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:W Approach Rd,Edinburgh,United Kingdom

An addendum to yesterday's post....

We went to First Coast for dinner - really great food, lovely cozy place and nice service (foodie pals at home take note!). Pete and Mum had a wild mushroom and barley dish, Tui had lamb, and I had sea bass, with starters of roast eggplant with goat cheese and other lovely stuff. It helped Pete deal with his Scottish food concerns. Methinks the best place for Pete to stay if he comes to visit Tui is the Zoo, with the chimps, as their diet is closer to that found in his natural habitat (95% fruit veg and grains - including porridge - 5% animal protein). He would also be the oldest male in the group by 2 years, which I think would give him first dibs on the porridge, which is really the most important thing.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Edinburgh - where Tui isn't the only monkey

Zoo day for the special traveling family today. We caught the bus (I was sitting behind Pete as you can tell) to the Edinburgh Zoo, which is apparently a significant conservation zoo, and it really was pretty impressive - more impressive than these photos show, because all my good photos are on my real camera. I have included some highlights below, including the bathroom that won the "Best Loo in Scotland" award in 2005 - it is a 'family' washroom with side by side toilets. I tried to get Pete to go in with Mum but he refused.


What you aren't seeing photos of are the various apes - they have 21 chimpanzees and a variety of others as well. Tui was disturbed by the chimps. I have theories as to why that might be that I think it best not to share. I also have photos of them that might disturb the squeamish. I will be kind and not post those - yet.

They have some amazing large cats, including the critically endangered Amur Leopard (there are 35 left in the wild) - so very beautiful. Zebras, warty pigs (not wart hogs - warty pigs), rhinos, and an amazing array of penguins and lots of other amazing things. I can't remember the last time I went to a zoo, and this one was really pretty impressive. And hilly. And windy as hell.

Too tired to post anything clever, so I will stop for now!

Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Gilmore Park,Edinburgh,United Kingdom

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Art and wind

...and not just Pete's. Though there was that too.

The weather today was supposed to be terrible - but it really wasn't all that bad. There has been plenty of sun, mixed with a lot of wind and the occasional rain shower. We walked to a local art/craft gallery first thing, then continued our walk and went through the Grassmarket (seen in the snaps) to poke into more stores and stop for gluten free pizza for lunch. Pete has been paying for the pizza cheese for the rest of the day, but he seems to be recovering.

We continued to the National Gallery of Scotland, wandered around admiring the Bouchers and Rubens and Rembrandts (oh my!) before wandering back into the crazy wind and hitting M&S and Topshop before catching a cab home. Another busy fun day.

The elder abuse continued as you might have spotted, as did the Jan abuse, but that was really caused by my overly heavy purse (I can't figure out why the thing is so f-ing heavy but my shoulders are ready to fall off at this point). The only other annoyance today was that my camera battery died as soon as we left - so my photo taking was limited to the iPad, which is better than nothing...which was good as Pete forgot his camera today as well.

There are some great local artists here, and the attendants at all the stores and galleries have been really lovely. Even the guy at Tesco Express that laughed at us yesterday was nice - and I couldn't blame him. We are pretty amusing.

Monday, September 05, 2011

A wee castle...

Another spectacular weather day in Edinburgh. We got up a bit earlier this morning (well some of us) and walked to Edinburgh Castle. I have much better photos than this, but the blog is limited to those taken with the iPad I'm afraid.

The view from the castle was amazing, as was the war memorial and various other buildings/dog cemeteries/chapels. The castle food was also pretty darned good - Pete has been a bit distressed by the Scottish diet/seeming lack of vegetables, so he was pretty happy to find a variety of salads to go with his goat cheese tart. Health panic level was brought down to yellow alert. He may be able to sleep tonight.


Pete is responsible for this photo of me. You may have to search on the page for it, as I don't think I can line photos and text up well with this app. Anyway, I think I look slightly insane, but Pete says "you look slim - it should go on your blog." OH nothing like the back handed compliment. Siblings. You can't kill them, at least not legally.

Tui took us to the University registrar's office - the University looks pretty cool, the buildings scattered about much like U of T's are.

And finally, some elder abuse. There has been a fair bit of it on this trip.

I really wish I could post some better photos of the castle; maybe when I get home and can download properly from my computer I will post a few more.

Pete abuse blog now officially over.

Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:W Approach Rd,Edinburgh,United Kingdom