Standing in a Starbucks late this afternoon, not far from Betsy Ross's house, I was dunking my chai tea bag in a cup of hot water, listening in on the lilting conversation of some British tourists, "Wild Horses" was on the stereo system and Kev waiting on the stoop outside for me, I realized I was perfectly happy.
Today we rested. Kevin and his Dad watched a 007 marathon and I
sulked amused myself by drinking coffee, reading and playing Try to Get the Frisbee from the dog. The dog likes her new fabric frisbee and it is, in fact, the only toy she got for Christmas that is still intact.
Later in the afternoon we went to the hospital to visit Uncle Tom who had to have emergency surgery last week and spend Christmas there. They are a pretty neat family though. You'd think they'd be all doom and gloom under the circumstances but there they were entertaining us and making us laugh.
Then we hit Kohl's to return some stuff we'd received that didn't fit us. Among other things, I got a cute sweater that doesn't really look that good on me but I don't care because it is so cute, some very nice Levi 515s I'll be sad to let go when I shrink and some "goal pants" - a size smaller than my current size, and actually almost fit! They don't call it "Boxing Day" in the US like we do at home - but damn, those were some very fine Boxing Day sales.
Feeling a little homesick for a Canadian Christmas so I hereby present the condensed lyrics to Bob & Doug McKenzie's 12 Days of Christmas:
On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me
Eight comic books
Seven packs of smokes
Six packs of two-fours
Five golden toques
Four pounds of back bacon
Three french toasts
And a beer in a tree
I love how Bob and Doug skip days nine through twelve eh?
True to form, we did not get on the road until about 11:30. And that was even after we skipped getting an oil change.
Our trip was mostly uneventful. Chloe was a perfect model of canine behaviour. She sat demurely in the back seat watching the scenery pass by and did not try to crawl into the front seat with us once. We did not see anything that might be described as "traffic" until we crossed into New Jersey. Apparently Jersey is where everyone was.
When you cross the border you are not supposed to wrap gifts because customs officials can search whatever they want/need to or feel like. So whenever we come down here I always put our gifts in those stupid gift bags, which I hate. Yea, they are pretty but I just don't think the same satisfaction is had from taking tissue out of a bag as there is ripping the paper off a present. Since we have never had any problems going through customs in all the many times we've crossed the border (most of the time they barely even look at our passports) I wrapped all the gifts and today we were selected for a "random" car search. "Send 'em in," we heard over the radio and we had to pull the car into a garage and have a seat in a little waiting area. If only I had used those stupid gift bags.
Chloe barked and growled at the two guys but by the time we left she was their best friend. I'm sure she was just scared. I know I was - those two guys looked like they could snap my neck in an instant. The one guy asked us a bunch of questions about prescription drugs, if either of us were diabetic (so he would know about syringes) and what kind of stuff we were importing into the US. Kev said we had gifts and the guy wanted to know what kind of gifts. Kev hadn't done any of the Christmas shopping and, out of fright, I was drawing a complete blank as to what I had bought. Finally I mustered some stupid answer that seemed to satisfy him. They turned out to be pretty fine guys in the end, they just looked really, really intimidating. And they were nice enough not to unwrap any presents.
They searched everything including my purse which I later realized had a pair of underwear in it. Underwear! I'll be thinking about that for a while.
Not long after that we saw about six deer grazing by the side of the road and two minutes later, four more grazing on the opposite side. We tend to see a lot of deer dead on the road during the the long drive from Toronto to PA but never have we seen any just hanging out. It was quite something to suddenly see ten just standing there. Several hours later, just past Allentown, I chucked an apple core out the window and Kevin remarked, "Nice one Les. You just killed the deer that comes looking for that apple."
One year I dressed up as Santa Claus for the annual fall Fair parade in my hometown. My parent's idea was that I would pull a Christmas tree behind me in my wagon. I refused to kill a tree and instead I made my dad DIG THE TREE up and plant it in a pot. The wagon was so heavy someone had to walk behind me and push it for the whole parade. Knowing this, you can be pretty sure that when I'm lying on my deathbed I'll still be worrying about whether or not I killed a deer on Christmas Eve, 2005.
I took today off work since I had a lot of things to accomplish before our trip. I was imagining the house sparkling clean from top to bottom. I ended up having to go downtown for a follow-up appointment with my doctor, and so I'm settling for cleanliness on the main floor (as in, the floor my dad will be seeing when he comes to look after our cats).
The good news is, my uterus is perfectly normal (yay!), however, I appear to have a slightly hypoactive thyroid (booooo!). The doctor didn't really come right out and say that. She said, "I want to take more blood to be sure but it is something we want to keep an eye on." Well, I guess it sucks if I have that but family history suggested I might end up with it, so I'm not all that concerned. Ummm ... I guess? I'm not sure.
Kevin and I decided to open our gifts tonight instead of hope for the best when we are crossing back into Canada with a kazillion things his family has given us for Christmas. "No really Customs Guy! We bought this stuff in Canada, took it to the States, and now we are bringing it back! Serious!" Kev gave me some pretty cool stuff including a teapot shaped like an elephant that I had been really, really (irrationally) dying for. Earlier in the week he had tricked me into thinking that he wasn't going to buy anything off the list I gave him (which he asked for - I'm not that horrible). So since I had to go downtown for my appointment today and was near the store where the elephant was I went in for another look at it. I wasn't really going to buy it (honest) but the manager of the store had to go and say, "We ordered 700 of these and this is one of the last two in the store!" Well, let's just say I didn't feel I could take any chances. So if you're reading this from the future, and I've given you an elephant teapot for your birthday or some other occassion you should know that when I first saw it in November, I really did think it would be the perfect gift for a number of my other close friends and even my mom and also my grandma but I selfishly intended to keep it for myself. It was fate that gave me two and if you got the other, I truly did believe that an elephant teapot would be the very thing for you and I didn't give it to you just because I had two.
On the upside, I think he realized how much I really liked it. I think he liked the stuff I gave him as well. Now we're drinking tea out of the elephant teapot. It's a good little teapot. Not all beauty and no function like some. Kind of like us I guess.
A very HIGH and LOW kind of day. Knowing I was on vacation beginning tomorrow, I hauled ass to get a bunch of work off my desk. I am SO MOTIVATED the day before a vacation, it's ridiculous. If I could maintain even half that motivation for three or four days before I wouldn't feel the need to do the work of 10 people on the last day. What can I say, I have always been a procrastinator. I think I actually get some kind of sick satisfaction out of cranking it out at the bitter end.
I got some pretty heavy news over the lunch hour that tempered all the other joyful things that happened but I was glad to get it. Even though it makes me very sad (and I can't talk about it here in order to respect the privacy of others - which is certainly the downfall of keeping a personal blog over a paper journal), knowing means I can help a little, in whatever way I can, which for me is usually just listening because I never really know the right things to say to make somebody feel better.
But after lunch I heard from my banker, Andrew, with the news that our consolidation had gone through and all the funds had been dispersed. Basically this makes our life about a million times better. Again, he stressed that the bank should have done all this for us when we got our mortgage over a year ago but I don't feel like crying over spilled milk at this point. I'm just so happy that things will be easier from now on. I will be able to sleep soundly again. Home ownership will be something I think of with a smile instead of wanting to slash my wrists. In other words, I have gotten my mental health back. And after that my boss gave me a really lovely piece of art and a Pottery Barn gift certificate for Christmas. Right about now I feel like life is pretty much perfect. Stable finances, a great boss, fantastic friends and family - you can't really ask for much more.
Later we went for dinner at my parent's place, because they insisted I open a certain Christmas present before we go away. I felt a little weird about opening it because my dad was at work. He actually called from work to make sure that I really did open it. To make a long story short, they catapulted me squarely into the current century by getting me a pretty little digital camera and a 512 MB memory card which Kev estimates will hold about 500 pictures. (Gee, only 500 pictures? :) I think secretly they just wanted me to stop borrowing their camera. These are the first two pictures I took on my very own digital camera: