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Compartment 14B

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I'm baa-aack!

2003-12-29 - 9:42 a.m.

Christmas went remarkably well for us in terms of timing this year. (It went well in pretty much all respects actually, except for the part where I was on migraine medication for a big chunk of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. But it would have been far worse had I not had the medication which kept the migraines at bay, even if they were making their presence known, like wolves growling and snapping in the dark just outside the ring of the comforting campfire glow, but I digress.)

Last year was the first Christmas J and I spent together and we ended up dashing hither and thither in order to distribute family time equitably with my Dadís crew, Jís family, and my Momís crew. It involved two cars and much to-ing and fro-ing. This year we spent Christmas Eve at my Momís and did the big dinner as soon as J could get there from work, spent the night, opened gifts and had breakfast in the morning, then packed leisurely and headed off to his parentsí place and a quick rendezvous with my Dad who picked up my sister from there. We opened gifts with my Outlaws and then headed to a restaurant for dinner, which was surprisingly good. Iíd gotten the impression that the holiday menu was all that would be available but it turned out to be in addition to the regular menu so I had a great salad topped with calamari, followed by grilled salmon with veggies and risotto, and finished off with Opera cake and coffee. I had always seen Opera with hazelnut meringue layers and Iím not a fan of hazelnuts, so I was happy to see that this offering had almond sponge cake instead. Anyway, not too traditional a Christmas dinner but Iíd done turkey and stuffing and potatoes and cranberry sauce and salad, as well as roasted vegetable pasta and spicy shrimp, followed by traditional English trifle the night before. (Can you tell that food is really big for us?)

Dinner at my dadís on Boxing Day was also excellent. We went out mid-afternoon after getting to sleep in our own bed Christmas night (a first) and had a relaxed afternoon of nibbling and catching up. My brothers pretty much remained in their domain - the lower reaches where all their electronic gizmos and gadgets are housed Ė but did emerge briefly to bolt down dinner and again to open gifts.

Dad brought up the possibility of embarking on another of our hiking adventures this summer and has proposed the Sierras in California. He seems quite keen so stay tuned for developments on that.

So some of you may be waiting for news of how my ornaments were received by J. He LOVED them and was completely taken by surprise. It turns out that heíd found the storeís website as well but the email address on the site isnít current so his email had bounced and heíd given up. Had he phoned like I did, I can only imagine what Irina would have done if sheíd gotten the same request from someone who was obviously my husband. Iím sure she wouldnít have wanted to give away the surprise but how to put him off and not send a second set? Maybe she would have said she was out of stock?

To sum up the last few days: good times, good company, good food, good loot both given and received. And Iíve made inroads into the latest Harry Potter book. I read the first four in French so Iíve been waiting for this one to be translated as well. So far so good. I should probably keep a French/English dictionary around when Iím reading but I canít be bothered to stop to look things up generally and I get most of the unfamiliar words by the context. What sometimes confounds me are things like animal names. I can figure out that an animal is being referred to but itís hard to figure out which animal purely from context. In a previous book I finally gave up and looked up ďfouineĒ because I couldnít figure out what the heck it was. It turns out that it means ďstone martenĒ which actually didnít help me all that much. Great, I thought, what the heckís a stone marten? I think itís similar to a weasel. Darn those British fauna!

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