Christmas back home was wonderful, though we experienced a few setbacks. Originally, my plan was to only take half a day off work, leaving (and arriving) on Christmas Eve. Then I thought that that would be cutting it close, and that it would be better to leave on the 23rd, just in case there were any delays. B2, who was in Europe, was also supposed to arrive that same evening at roughly the same time I would, but in Montreal, so he'd arrive two hours later by bus.

My flights went as planned, with no delays, and I was in Ottawa by half past six.

B2, however... landed in Montreal at 2:30 p.m. on Christmas day. Originally, he was supposed to fly from Berlin to Munich, then from there to Montreal. As you may have heard, much of Europe has been thrown into chaos by the weather, which my brother said in most places was a joke (but it seems that Paris can't handle half an inch of snow), and his first flight was delayed, but he did manage to get to Munich, which was good because since he was officially in transit, the airline had to feed him and put him up in hotels.

So here's what happened to him:

He got to Munich late, but might have made his connection, except a security agent searched his carry-on bag three times, in the process damaging his gift for our mother. By the time he made it to the gate, they had already closed the doors. So he went and stood in a long line of people who had also missed their flights, waited for hours, and was finally told that he could get a flight to Zurich, and from there to Chicago the next day, and from there they'd get him to Montreal. They put him up in an airport hotel, and the next morning, he went back to the terminal and stood in line some more.

He made it to Zurich, then waited... and waited... and waited... and finally was on a plane to Chicago. By now it was late on the 24th. He'd been keeping us updated via phone and email, and called from Chicago on Christmas Eve to tell us that *fingers crossed* he'd be in Montreal the next day.

He finally got the airline to give him a hotel room in Chicago, and he also got a $45 meal voucher, but he said the cheapest thing on the dinner menu still came up to almost $30, once you added tax and tip. And the cheapest thing on the breakfast menu was $17, so he couldn't even have breakfast before plodding back to the airport, early on Christmas morning. We were at Dorval to greet him (with a sign, even: Baron von LatefĂĽrchristmas) and then rushed home to open our presents, with a pit stop at what was supposed to be Tim Horton's, but ended up being Harvey's because Tim Horton's was closed. On Christmas Day! Can you believe it?!

My gifts included books (very thoughtfully chosen by both my brothers, though one is a hundred-pound thing that I have to lug back to Japan with me -- thanks, B1! XD;;;), money, a pair of lovely peridot earrings (real gold and everything, which means I now own actual jewellery!), and the usual stocking stuffers, though my mother got me tights instead of socks this year! I got the lucky gratteux (lottery ticket where you scratch off numbers/pictures) this year, though I only won $3; I'm pretty sure that ever since my mother started the tradition of giving each of us kids one of those in our stocking, twenty years ago, it's only happened once or twice that either none of us won anything, or more than one of us won something. Without fail, there's one lucky ticket, though none of us has ever won more than $20.

Since arriving, I've gotten to know the two new family cats, Merlin (a.k.a. Merlin le malin, Merlichon) and Beulah (a.k.a. Madame, Toutounnette), both lovely black cats with yellowish-green eyes. They're not related, but strangely enough, neither of them can meow properly. My parents got Merlin when he was a kitten, so he's presumably always been like that, but they adopted Beulah when she was about two years old, and think she might have been abused and so lost her meow at some point. Instead of meowing, she creaks, and Merlin makes this weird noise that sounds almost like a pigeon cooing.

I've been checking the forecast and so far, there doesn't seem to be much hope for a snowfall before I leave. Bloh! Oh well, at least there's snow on the ground.

A last thing I'd like to note is that I'm sitting here typing in nothing but a t-shirt, track pants and socks, and it's no doubt at least -10 outside, and the heater in this room isn't even on. And it's kind of surprising that when I turn on the cold water tap, the water that comes out is ice cold.
In all probability, as soon as my recital is over, I'll fall into a coma of the cold/flu/exhaustion variety. I can taste it already...

Here are today's memes, in the interest of staying abreast of things.

Japanese fashion trends )

Another moment )
This is it, my last night in Canada for... I have no idea for how long, really. As long as I can take trips with my family every once in a while, and my friends come out and visit me, I don't really have a reason to come back, do I?

I spent this evening with my family, and it was happy and sad. Happy because we celebrated my birthday (I got my traditional feast of shepherd's pie and fresh berries) and had a game of Scrabble, and sad because we buried Stanley and Fluffy in the back yard. Fluffy's ashes had been sitting in their little urn in the living room since 2005, and Stanley's in a small wooden box since last December.

The moment was sort of interrupted when my brothers, who were digging the grave, had one of their typical arguments with my father about how to go about it. My father didn't want to bury the urn and the box, just the ashes, but then B1 couldn't get Fluffy's ashes out of the urn (they were in a plastic bag), so there was discussion about how to get them out. "I'll get another bag and we can rip this one open and transfer them." "What's the point in that? Just dump them in the ground!" Finally, B2 ended up smashing the urn open with his shovel, and we got on with the solemn business at hand.

Incidentally, this reminded me of a sort of similar (and hilarious) scene in Michel Marc Bouchard's play Les grandes chaleurs, which has been made into a movie. I hope I can find a download of it somewhere someday!

Oh, I also had my little bonfire. Did you know that pictures burn in the most satisfying way? :D There weren't as many cards and letters as I thought there would be, but now I remember that I gave a whole pile of them back to G at one point, saying that since he'd written them, he could do as he liked with them. >:3

I'll leave you with that, as I have to finish packing. I'll be picking up timbits tomorrow morning, so Eda, if you still want some, you'll have to come meet me at Kichijouji on Sunday evening! ^_^

...

Nov. 11th, 2008 08:20 am
Two nights ago, as I lay down to go to sleep with Tabitha settled between my knees, I suddenly thought back to when my family and I took Fluffy to the vet for the last time, of how all of us stood around her, stroking her until the end, and how wide and glassy her eyes became. I hadn't really thought about it like that in a while, and it hit me hard enough that I started crying.

Twenty minutes ago, I turned on my computer to check my emails before leaving for work, and there was a message from my mother telling me that they'd taken Stanley to the vet yesterday. When the vet described to them the state of his kidneys, and how any treatment could give him two weeks more at best, they decided they didn't want him to suffer any longer. Both my brothers happened to be there, so I was the only one missing; I'm glad he had everyone around him in the end.

So here's to you, Stanley, our pear-shaped cat, handsomest of puskies, our once Acro-cat, gros plouk gourmand adoré de ta famille. Sois gentil envers ta soeur au paradis des minous.


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R.I.P. Stanley
May 1990 - 10th of November 2008


This afternoon I went back to the Embassy apartment for the last time to sort out what I wanted to keep here, what I wanted to toss, and what I wanted to have put in storage in Canada.

I also said farewell to Buji and Bujiong, because I don't suppose I'll ever be seeing them again, as much as it hurts to think like that. But if I manage to never see G again, then, that's the price I have to pay. I'll always have my Mr. Sillypants and my Ms. Jiong in my heart, after all, and I know they'll be happy and furry no matter where they are. As sort of compensation, I brought Basil* with me, as well as a few other objects that are totally useless but that make me happy, like Christmas lights, my tiny collection of glass, and my tinier collection of Terry Pratchett books.

It's still really painful, to think that I thought G and I would spend our lives together, only to have it end like this. We had to go get our phones sorted out (to cancel the family plan and transfer the contract over to my name and all that jazz) and sitting there side by side at Softbank, having said nothing at all but the necessary to each other for nearly half an hour made me want to scream. I settled for sniffling and wiping a few tears away instead, and wondered what the sales girl thought of my shocking display of emotion at the simple signing of a new phone plan.

On the bright side of things, my thighs are sore from riding a mechanical bull on Sunday, I might be going to Korea and Australia for my Christmas holidays, and I get to splash around in the pool at work with the kids for the next two weeks!

Tabitha is tearing through the apartment as though the hounds of hell were after her, pausing every now and then to sniff at a suspicious piece of paper. She just vaulted up into my closet, scrabbled around in the back, leapt out again, ran to the window, and is now pawing at the screen in the (always) vain hope that I'll let her out so she can see the world.

* Possibly the world's first gay Carebear, i.e. the pink one with the rainbow who was quite obviously, to my three-year-old mind, totally masculine and a BOY!
My father is in Japan for two weeks, taking up space in my apartment. So while he's napping on my bed, I get to thinking, "What's missing? What does the internet need?" And then it hits me.

What the internet needs is MORE CAT PICTURES! I mean, duh! And since I don't think my cats have ever been formally introduced to you all, allow me to rectify the situation.

Furballs ahead! )

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