Category Archives: journal

There’s no substitute for experience.

It’s one thing to tell a pair of cats whining to be let outside that it’s wickedly, cat-freezingly cold outside, and that they probably wouldn’t like it if I did let them out.

It’s an entirely different thing to actually open the door and allow them to stick their heads outside, sniff the air, and then have them wheel around without setting a paw outside the door and head back to their respective heating ducts.

Full of beans

It’s 10:44 on Wednesday night, and Kate and I just got back from being taken out to dinner by our financial advisor. We went to the Home Hill Inn, possibly the swankest and definitely the Frenchest restaurant around. Delicious meal: salad with heirloom beets and goat cheese, then some awesome cassoulet which I’m still burping, now. Kate and I split an order of tart tatin, which was only okay — the apples didn’t have the real deep toasted caramel flavor I’m used to, but the cinnamon ice cream went with them very, very well.

It’s a brilliant full moon out, and with the snow on the ground to reflect it around, it’s bright enough outside to cast sharp shadows. Kate’s gone to bed in the next room; I’m waiting up a little longer to try to digest a bit before I go to sleep. Oh, and I’m working on our honeymoon pictures, which is fun. Flickr works well for this kind of sharing, although I keep finding comments on pictures which I feel like I should respond to, but then I don’t know whether to respond in a comment or email the person back.

Christmas feels both imminent and somewhat unreal. I’m not doing big presents this year, just some little things which made me think of various people when I saw them. Other than that, I’m gonna make a bunch of cookies and bring them to people, and make some donations to worthy causes, if I can figure out a way to do it that doesn’t seem totally sanctimonious and preachy. I like the idea of donating in people’s names, but presenting it to them is a little harder.


So Kate and I returned home to New Hampshire on Saturday afternoon, just in time to have some socializing with Ted and spend some portion of the weekend Out And About. (Saturday night, dinner with John and Mike and Ted, Sunday night dinner at Molly’s, same crew, after seeing Aeon Flux °.)

Last night Kate made one of our favorite standards for dinner, “noodly soup,” which consists of dashi and noodles and bok choi and wakame and whatever the hell else we feel like putting in it. Oh, and rooster sauce. Tonight I made ecologically sound shrimp scampi and salad, with some of our wedding wine, Hirsch Veltliner #1, still trying to keep the kitchen as clean as it was on our return. I give it a week, tops.

Jetlag on the way west really didn’t impair us much. We were a little tired in the evenings, but hey, we’re usually a little tired in the evenings, given our poor sleep habits. We woke up a little early, but that was something of a treat, and let us get the day started early. New Zealand’s only six hours off of US/Eastern, so once we’d made the big flight south, we adjusted pretty quick.

Returning, though, is turning out to be a bit of a struggle. In NZ the sun was going down around 9:10 p.m. — here it’s currently going down at 4:13 in the afternoon, which barely deserves to be called p.m., really. Last night I either woke up at 3-something drenched in sweat or had a very vivid dream about waking up at 3-something drenched in sweat. I’m not sure which would be better, really. Both of our jobs are requiring us to hit the ground running with our laces doubleknotted, and I’ve got some added worries as one of my good friend/coworkers has just given notice, which will leave the team shorthanded, come January.

Additionally, the rental house that my brother and step-brother and I manage back in Madison is requiring a fair amount of blood, sweat, and tears as we finish our relationship with the outgoing, supremely difficult tenant, and begin a relationship with the incoming family. I’d blithely assumed that I’d left things in a good state before leaving for NZ, and that most of the work would be complete by the time I got back, but no such luck. Bummer, but this is what comes with being a landlord and having someone else pay the mortgage, I guess.

Tomorrow I’ll head down to Boston, by way of an impromptu lunchtime mini-wake for my grandfather’s wife, Enid, who died over the weekend. She’d had difficulties moving around for as long as I’d known her, but she beamed at visitors while offering tea, always asked about how they were and what they were doing, laughed and tut-tutted and still had a very faint hint of the Scots accent she was born with. She played a wonderful counterpoint to my grandfather’s gruff reserve, and she’ll be missed.

This weekend I’ll get out our advent calendar and get us caught up on it, run down to the Nodas’ for a tree, start making cookies, and try to fan the faint ember of Christmas inside me which the shopping mall carols and window appliques have left cool, still.

° Aeon Flux
A pleasant surprise. Big Dumb Fun, to be sure, but the visuals were great, Charlize Theron looks better than ever, and the movie made the faintest modicum of sense, which was a heck of a lot more than I was expecting. The $4 ticket was worth it, even in the crappy Lebanon movie theater.

Update: Kate paid for my ticket and has just informed me that it was actually $8 per ticket, not $4. Oops.


Kate returned from dinner out and discovered Carlos lurking in the front bushes. On hearing this, I exhaled a breath I had inhaled when she told me he was still out, 3 hours ago. Like the relief one feels when an annoying, high-pitched whine suddenly … stops.

I wonder what this presages for my ability to allow any future children I may have to take risks.


It’s 7 p.m., and the work day’s been a blur of interruptions, crises, and hurried new definitions and clarifications for our new change control process, which I’m in charge of. I’ve got several pieces of audit information I’m late delivering; I’m hoping that my boss either accepts this tardiness or won’t notice until I’ve corrected it. I’ve got errands to run while down here in Boston, and I’m concerned that I won’t get out of work in time to get to the stores necessary. I’m waiting to hear whether some prospective new tenants for the house my brothers and I own are going to sign the lease for 12/1. Also, Kate just called me and let me know that Carlos, my favorite orange cat, has been out all day and hasn’t come home yet.

Coming as a capstone to the rest of the stressors in the preceding paragraph, I very nearly cried, hearing her tell me this. I’m trying to reassure myself that Lucy has pulled the same “stay out until we freak out” trick in the past, and that he’s both agile and very, very quick… but man, two days before leaving the country on a joyous honeymoon is a singularly craptastic time to be sitting and contemplating the various horrors a country forest in autumn holds for a house cat. Especially a forest two hours away that I can’t go out combing with a flashlight.

So instead I’ll offer a little prayer for all the orange mammals far from home right now, try to get some traction on some work, and then go run these errands while my stomach tries to unknot itself.