[Insert Christmas Carol Title Here]

Today is day one of ~1.5 weeks’ vacation. We’re not traveling to Nova Scotia this year, though, choosing instead to stay here in Toronto and be cozy. Good thing, too — today would have been our likely travel day, and it’s a brutal winter storm out there.

So, we’ll stay put. We’ll catch up on TV shows (we just finished season one of Yellowjackets (imdb) and an old British miniseries called Secret State (imdb), and I have plenty more lined up). We’ll delve into the wine collection. We might finish Pandemic: Legacy. I’ll watch the World Juniors and write up my year-end lists & summary. We’ll try to tackle the mountain of sweets our parents sent to our home. We’ll snuggle with Kramer. We’ll watch Die Hard and Four Christmases.

We’ll miss visiting family, but it’s going to be a fun end of the year.

The unwanted comeback

Welp, I have COVID-19 again. I had a bunch of social events this week — a meeting downtown, a two-day offsite with my whole team, a dinner out — and then, a few days later, I tested positive.

So far (I’m on day three of the symptoms) it hasn’t been as bad as when I had Delta, pre-vaccinations. It just feels like a bad cold. No lung stuff. No body aches. Yesterday was pretty brutal. and I slept for nearly all of it, but so far today doesn’t seem as bad, touch wood.

To be honest, I’m mostly pissed at myself for not booking the second (biovalent) booster sooner. We dilly-dallied on it; if we hadn’t, I might have been vaxxed all the way up before this week. So let that be a lesson to you, kids.

Reunion

On Thursday I got to go to the eighth installment of an annual ceremony celebrating winners of a digital art prize, sponsored by my old company, which Lindsay created in a past life. It was great to see many of my old colleagues again, and just to…get out. Post-vaccination, as in-person things have returned again, I find we’ve struggled to mobilize on getting out as much. So, for one night, it was nice to put on decent clothes, to head downtown (traffic notwithstanding), to take in art, and to talk and laugh with people again.

By the way, if you’re in Toronto and you can make it, the exhibition of the five finalists’ work is at 401 Richmond until October 1st.

Grill

I’ve never really been a guy who grills. I was the youngest kid growing up, so I was way back in line to man the barbeque. Later, when I was married and we had a place that could support a bbq, my ex-wife liked to grill (and was really good at it) so I always deferred. After the divorce I moved to a loft with no outside space.

Then, when we bought the house a couple years ago, the previous owners left their old grill. But it was old. Like, old old. I didn’t feel great about using it, and the igniter was broken anyway, so a little while ago we finally got around to replacing it.

We fired up our new Weber E-325S last night to grill some sausages and corn on the cob. It was delicious, and I’m annoyed at myself for waiting so long to buy this thing.

Slipped in the clippings

Many years ago, while living in Ottawa for a summer work term, brother #1 and I each bought electric hair clippers. We both shaved our heads at the time, and thought we could save money by doing it ourselves. (And checking the back of each others’ heads.)

I kept it up for probably a few years after graduating, but eventually starting going to proper barbershops. (I’ve always kept my hair short.) The clippers just got stuck in a drawer, but followed me around through each move.

When the pandemic hit and everything closed, I dug the clippers out of whatever drawer they were in. They still worked, and thank goodness, because they were the only thing that’s kept my hair reasonably tame since.

Yesterday, for the first time in over two years, I had an appointment with a barber. It’s just up the street (my old place was across the street from St. Lawrence Market, which was convenient when I lived around there, or still went to the market for groceries every other week, but not so much anymore), it was a very chill vibe, and I accepted the up-sell of a hot towel + face/head/neck/shoulder massage. This is NOT something I’d normally go for, but goddamn…I just about fell asleep in the chair. Now I don’t think I can go back to shaving my own head.

After, I picked up sandwiches, some sourdough, and a peach & pistachio tart from the nearby Petite Thuet (so that’s gonna become a regular thing too, I think) and managed to get home just before a violent thunderstorm blasted through.

DriveTime

Since I’ve been driving to work a few times a week, I’ve managed to resume some podcast-listening, which used to be my TTC commute activity. Some favourites of late:

  • Scamfluencers, in which Scaachi Koul and Sarah Hagi tell stores of true (mostly white-collar) crime carried out by people with some combination of gumption and psychopathy.
  • The new season of Against The Rules by Michael Lewis.
  • Will Be Wild, about the Jan 6 US Capitol riot.
  • I’m just about to start a podcast about Nova Scotian winery Avondale Sky. Their site says “If you love wine, business and the thrill of new ventures. Then Avondale Sky Winery Podcast is the show for you.” and I was like…yup.

Two years

Yesterday, March 18, marked exactly two years since my last day at the office (at my previous company), and, for all intents and purposes, the start of the lockdown for Lindsay and I.

No point rehashing the last two years, but it does feel like we’re now — for better or worse, and perhaps only temporarily — tentatively re-entering the world, at least in Toronto. Last Friday we went to see a (very excellent) Jacqueline Novak comedy show; last night I met up with some old Delano colleagues, one of whom I hadn’t seen in 21 years, at Craft Beer Market, which was pretty much full. On Monday, I start working in the office again, a few days a week.

I hope we can keep things under control. I hope we can restart our social lives in some way without endangering the most vulnerable. Even I, Captain Introvert, crave interaction and dinners out and travel experiences. But not at all costs, so…fingers crossed for safe re-entry.

That only took 46 years

For the first time in my life I’ve bought a car. I managed without one for a very long time — always living downtown, usually near wherever I worked, taking transit and ubers and using autoshare and otherwise walking everywhere. But now I have a job that will take me to Mississauga (!) a couple times a week starting in January, and to the Niagara Peninsula every so often, so it was time.

I settled on a BMW X3 plug-in hybrid, and I’m picking it up today. We did test-drive it, and it barely fits in the garage, so parking could be a pain. I guess I should get used to parking generally being a pain from here on out.

It was a valiant effort, I guess.

Happy 3rd gotcha day anniversary, Kramer

Three years ago, give or take, we adopted Kramer. Year by year we’ve seen him progress in terms of how much he trusts us, and how affectionate he becomes. This is how I described his progress last year:

In the past year, and especially in the five months since COVID hit here, he’s continued to warm up to us. He now lets us pet him all the time, and in fact demands it. He half-meows outside our bedroom in the morning until we come play with him. He sleeps near us most of the time. He purrs, occasionally. He’s even jumped up on the bed or couch with us, if we lure him with treats.

It’s hard to even imagine, given what he was like two years ago.

If we thought that was hard to imagine, his progress since moving into the house ten months ago has blown us away. He routinely demands pets, scratches, and now belly rubs, to the point where he’s become a bit insatiable. Each morning when we get up he runs to greet us and flops at our feet to get scratches, or rubs against our legs. He sleeps on the stairs between floors to maximize the amount of affection he gets per day. He even slept on the bed all night with us a few times in the winter, when it was colder. He still gets freaked out easily and scratches us sometimes, but then is right back looking for more love.

But really, it’s the belly rubs that are the most significant development. It’s a sign of trust, of vulnerability, for a cat to expose his belly like that. Guess he loves us. And he’s soooooooooooo soft.

Cover photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Second pandy birthday

Yesterday was my birthday. I celebrated by having a pretty good day at work, doing a tiny bit of travel planning, watching some Bad Batch, playing a game of Exploding Kittens with Lindsay, drinking a bottle of Armand de Brignac (!) Champagne, opening a couple of very thoughtful gifts, and going out to dinner — for the first time in a year — to Gare de L’est.

Dinner was simple, but also felt wonderful. We sat on the patio and listened to live jazz like the world was normal again. We had oysters, steak tartare, duck (me) and mussels (Linds), wine, and more champagne. They rushed us out before we could get dessert but we went full dirty and got a McCain deep n’ delicious chocolate cake from the convenience store that Lindsay jammed a few candles in, and watched trash TV until we got sleepy.

Not the most glamorous birthday I’ve ever had, but I’ll take it.

.:.

Cover photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash