Wednesday, 27 January 2010

January's Busy Blahs

If you look back at previous January blog entries, they are thin and not particularly interesting. January for me is anti-climactic after weeks of Christmas and Canada anticipation. It's grey, grey, grey, and damp, damp, damp. My hair is at its' flattest, and my skin it's driest - blech. In short, I'm not a fan of January. This year it's even been a challenge to run which usually cures me of any mental malaise. It's icy underfoot and did I mention the damp, damp, damp part?

To be honest, I am not really a big fan of winter. There I said it. Living in Geneva has cured me of most of winter's charms (skiing is really the only charm left). Here, it mostly only snows in the mountains where snow belongs. We open our doors and leave them open as early as March and often begin a 7-8 month season of eating outdoors shortly after. Spring flowers poke their first heads out of the ground in February and my roses usually bloom until November.

January is also the month when all of the insurance bills arrive en masse, and the Christmas present-laden VISA bills. My to-do list gets carried over from the previous January with almost all items still intact (booking a colonscopy has been on my list through 3 Januarys now). It all just makes me want to pull the covers over my head and go back to bed. Can't do that though, because life restarts frantically after the December lull. Book group, writing group (now if only I could get writing again), my feeble attempt at blogging and all of the weekly to'ing and fro'ing for J: speech therapy, English school, piano lessons, football, judo, french school homework, english school homework, piano practice, blah blah blah.

In spite of my January blahs, the optimist in me is slowly percolating up to the surface. Skiing started this month and has been great. Our annual ski holiday is less than a month away (minus the Millers this year, blah!), I am deep into planning our Easter (Venice), Spring (London) and summer (South of France and Levanto) holidays. Sheila is coming for a long weekend in 5 weeks, and my mum arrives for her 3-month long stay with us in 6 weeks. Several Canadian friends are also travelling to see us this year. There are lots of aperos and dinners with friends and neighbours on our agenda.

We're all healthy, J is doing fantastic in school, we're speaking french more fluidly than ever, and there is a delicious aroma of Boeuf Bourgignon coming from my kitchen; can't eat that in July! It's January 27, only 3 more days and it's February. Time to perk up and banish the blahs.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Another Year Over

We returned a few days ago from our 3 week Christmas break to Canada. Thankfully unlike last year, our journeys on both ends were uneventful. Well, uneventful except for the fact that my fear of flying phobia which had pretty much resolved about 12 years ago is back with a vengeance.

I'm chalking it up to our 'turn-around from nearly landing in Victoria last year and hightailing back to Calgary before we run out of fuel' flight last year. Stupid really, I am generally a glass half-full kind of person but in the case of air travel, not so much. You know how some people like to live their lives on the edge by parachuting or climbing frozen icefalls? I literally feel like that getting on an airplane, sigh....a necessary means to an end.

The Tawtel women and our famous Crantinis

Anyway, on to the good stuff. We were all healthy and arrived in Victoria via Vancouver via Frankfurt, 9 hours jet lagged and a mere 2 hours late but otherwise in great form. The next 2 weeks passed in a blur of wonderful family meals, lots of games (Au Mille and Balderdash being our favorites), movies, girls nights, boys nights, swimming, beach walking and generally revelling in the mild west coast island air and each other.

One particular highlight was a family hike we did through an old growth forest on Mount Douglas. We were a little ways up the trail when a friendly Golden Retriever assaulted us with affection. His owner arrived shortly thereafter, whereupon I coolly sputtered, gasped, fell over my words, and finally spat out memorably "I know you, you're Silken Laumann". OK, well you have to be an Olympics fanatic and a proud Canadian to understand the significance of the moment but trust me, it was significant!

You also have to be a pretty tight family to live 9 people in a house (a pretty big house but still....9 people!), still love each other 14 days later, and cry upon bidding our farewells. J became particularly attached to the clan this year and was loathe to leave. He kept begging us to stay a little longer "but I'm not going to see my cousins for suuuuuuch a long time" he moaned. This is one kid who really gets the value of family and good friends, and who blossoms under the attention and love of his teenage cousins.

We flew on to Calgary to spend the weekend with our great friends Jen and Jeff and their 2 kids. J and Nate have been pals since birth. We spent a quintessential Alberta weekend; tobagganing under the brilliant blue western sky, dining on Alberta beef, driving on notoriously icy Calgary roads but most importantly - reconnecting with dear friends.

Some good old Canadian tobagganing

Hanging with Jeff and Jen

C2 flew back to Geneva at the end of the weekend and J and I drove our rental car to my mum's apartment to spend the remainder of the week with her and my clutch of Calgary girlfriends. J and their boys have been friends since they were babies. We spent several intense days together and then it was done. The night prior to returning home, J was inconsolable about leaving his Grandma, his 'fabily', his friends, and Tim Horton's (in that order). I love his loyalty and the breadth of his love; really he is such a unique individual for a 6-year old.

The guys have been friends since they were babies

...and us almost as long

A foot of snow greeted us upon arrival in Geneva which thrilled J. It's great returning to Canada as often as we do but it's good to come home too. We have many things to look forward to this year. J starting piano lessons, my wonderful bi-monthly writers group 'The Birks', spending time with the really terrific band of international wanderers we are honoured to call friends, and "profitez'ing" from every chance to explore this place we are blessed to call home.