Zentangling

After my initial plunge into Zentangle TropicalJourney01about a year or two ago, I lost interest.

One of my co-workers is quite talented at this style of drawing, and seeing her work rekindled interest.

TropicalJourney02

Her enthusiasm and excitement is infectious, and I have been enjoying putting pen to paper and watching magic happen. I’ve wanted to try filling an entire page with Zentangle patterns, and I finally achieved my goal. I like the movement and flow of the  piece.

I’m thinking about titling this one Tropical Journey

It’s been a long week today

As exciting as my new job is, and as incredible as my new co-workers – many of whom are becoming good friends – are, I miss my buddies from my former company.

I think about what they’re doing, and I wonder about the progress they’ve made in their personal and professional lives. I’m curious about what their current challenges are and I wish I could celebrate with them their successes. I miss their words of encouragement and even their admonitions, both their praise and their cautions helped me learn and grow.

Change happens, and even when it’s a good change there are losses. I miss the closeness, camaraderie, and antics of my buddies, who all played a large part in my former life.

Take care, my friends. I miss you terribly and I wish you the best of everything.

Riding on the metro

Subway travel may be a ubiquitous form of a daily commute for some, but for me it is an unusual occurrence. Was I looking around the metro station with wide-eyed wonder and grinning like a loon, every indication that I’m a tourist broadcasting to any thief open to receiving such signals? Pretty much, yeah. But instead of getting mugged, many people stopped me to say that I have a beautiful smile. I was thinking about moving there just for the compliments alone. That is until I realized that when it snows it’s measured in yards instead of inches. Yeah, yeah, I know – they measure in meters, but the sentence just didn’t have the same punch using meters and centimeters as it does using yards and inches.

I derailed myself on that subwayBuilding1 of thought. Where was I? Oh, yeah, now I remember. We were on the metro traveling to Vieux-Montréal.

Old Montréal is a major tourist attraction, with some of its buildings dating to the 17th century; it is one of the oldest urban areas in North America.

The day was warm, and there was a cooling breeze that kept us from overheating. There were all sorts of people milling the streets and shops, a kaleidoscope of colors and styles blended with conversations spoken in many different languages. There were sidewalk musicians and 7 (count ’em: 7!) booths to have your caricature drawn. Yet somehow it didn’t feel like a tourist trap.

Building2I might not be able to tell the difference between a Doric, Ionic, or Corinthian style column, but I do take pleasure in looking at beautiful buildings. Old Montréal has many lovely building to admire, from Gothic to Neo Classic, and beyond. Wandering around old cities admiring the architecture and exploring quaint shops is thirsty work. When we spied a Chinese tea shop, we couldn’t resist its lure. The aromas that greeted us were welcoming, and the ambiance embraced us like old friends.

TeaShop1Ming Tao Xuan Tea House was not only visually and aromatically tempting; it was appealing for its education in teas, as well. The menu translates the tea’s name from Chinese to English and details the region in which it’s grown. The menu further TeaShop2describes how the tea is brewed, the flavors steeping produces, and the tea’s medicinal properties. Should I find myself in Montréal again, I will return to Ming Tao Xuan. I enjoyed myself here immeasurably.

For dinner, we selected Jardin Nelson. While it’s known for its beautiful garden rooms, and the plant-scaping was magical, I preferred to sit on the patio where I could people watch. The food was good, and from the dishes that we ordered the calamari and rabbit crêpes were my favorite.

The day was enjoyable, the company witty and charming. The metro ride back was quieter than the morning’s trip, a companionable silence settling between us.

Take off to the great white north

I woke before the butt-crack of dawn after spending a restless night. You know how it is right before travel, all the anticipation and worry about silly things, like forgetting to set your alarm or fear that you’ll turn off the alarm when you meant to hit snooze. Anyway, I was glad that 4 am finally rolled around so that I could begin my adventure.

My younger two wanted to go along when my hubby took me to the airport. Of course, my hubby cannot go from bed to any activity without coffee. Fortunately, hubby knew of a Starbucks that’s not only open 24 hours, but on the way to the airport. Score!

They dropped me off at the curb and we hugged and kiss goodbye. I stood in the long check-in line, something about needing to see my passport before issuing me a boarding pass. Then off to an even longer TSA line that, despite its length, moved faster than the line at the ticket counter. The TSA agent who checked my passport was nice if a little off his game. Instead of placing check marks next to my name on the boarding pass, he marked my passport. We both got a good chuckle over it.

I arrived at 5, boarded the plane by 6, and we took off just a tad past 6:30 as one of the crew members was running late. I’m guessing he had to wait in the Peet’s Coffee line, which was twice as long as the security line. Go figure.

I changed planes in Chicago. One of the UA staff members was engaged in conversation with a cute girl of about 3 or 4, telling her she is beautiful and asking her age; you know, the usual stuff adults do with kids. Once she was finished chatting up the child and her parents, she glanced at me. I asked her “are you going to tell me that I am beautiful and ask my age?” We had a good laugh over that. Still chuckling, I boarded the plane.

The kitty has landed
The landing was smooth, and the walk to customs was sprinkled with greetings of “bonjour” from airport personnel. I’m not sure what I expected when it came to going through customs. I suppose I imagined long lines, and tables cluttered with the luggage of angry passengers whose belonging were being riffled through by cold, dispassionate agents. Perhaps there might have been a room like that where people of interest were directed. My experience was much more enjoyable than the one I imagined. The short line moved quickly, and I flirted and bantered with the customs agent who laughed at my antics, and then kindly directed me to the baggage claim area.

My bag was conveniently waiting for me on the conveyor belt. With bags in tow, I marched off toward the taxi queue. Forty minutes later, I was directed to a cab. Don’t cry for me, my oldest daughter picked the perfect time to call, and we chatted amicably while I slowly progressed through the line.

About that driver
The driver was talkative, and entertained me while we drove to downtown. Quintessentially French idioms peppered the driver’s stories, which centered on the topic of, you guess it, love. He really was quite charming, and the story of his one cab fare who became the love of his life for over 5 years was touching. When we arrived at the high rise building where I’d rented a flat for the week, he wrestled my luggage, hugged me farewell, and made sure I got into the building safely.

As far as travel days go, this one was filled with many pleasant surprises.

Back to school

It’s that time again: School supply shopping. Every year more expensive items are added to the lists. This year it’s a TI Scientific Calculator. Really? Well I guess. I was browsing the selection at Target – can we say sticker shock? $50 – $150 for a calculator? Geesh! I went home and located a perfectly serviceable one on Amazon for less than $15.

Then it’s off to the backpack section. Finding the right color and pocket configuration is of paramount importance. I mean, the iPod and phone must be easily accessible. One must have their priorities in order, after all.

Soon, it will be time to shop for uniform pants, shorts, and skirts. My son refuses to wear skirts. I can’t say I blame him, so I’ll make sure to only purchase skirts for my oldest daughter. Then there’s the uniform polo shirts, black shoes, hoodies, sweatshirts, and specialized planners.

Honestly, if it weren’t for my fashionista, this would be easy. But, no. I hear whining:

  • It doesn’t fit right.
  • I don’t like my pants to flair at my ankle.
  • These make me look like I don’t have a butt!

Okay, to be honest, I wish I had that last problem.

Stardate, T-71

I’m among my people here.

People who geek out over the same things I do. I no longer need to take pilgrimages to cities unknown to connect with people who are as enamored and passionate about this rather esoteric concept as I am.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not utopia. There are clashes of perspectives and personalities just as one would find anywhere. Even so, at the end of the day it feels good to be contributing to a team who appreciates what I bring to the table.