Afternoon Tea

004006019D came for the weekend.

We were blessed with crisp sunny weather and even crisper Chardonnay. In short, a good time was had by all.

The high point was afternoon tea. It’s an opportunity to sit back, put your shopping down and eat, drink and be merry. Plus, it’s a known fact that any food served on a three-tiered cake stand is extra delicious.

Afternoon tea at the Empress is a luxurious experience.

The shabby chic tea lobby is the closest I’ll come to Downton Abbey and our attentive server was like our very own Canadian Mr. Carson. He explained everything (“curried chicken with mango chutney, smoked salmon pinwheel, egg salad…”) He even gave direction regarding the order of eating–start at the bottom with the sandwiches, move to the middle for the buttery scones and cream and finish on the top with the assortment of decadent sweets.

As if that wasn’t enough, Mr. Carson had a super special tea sense. Every time one of our cups reached the half full mark, he arrived to top it up from the big pot at our table. He even added milk and sugar to D’s. (I’m a purist who drinks my tea straight.)

We were like minor royalty, or at least aristocrats, and while I can’t speak for D, I could learn to live with this level of service. By the end of afternoon tea, I was beginning to believe I deserved to be waited on like Lady Mary. Boy was my sailor in for a surprise!

Turned out he did get quite a surprise. So did I.

This evening, the house got real cold. Cold enough that we could see our breath.

“I don’t understand what could be wrong,” said my sailor, fiddling with the thermostat. “I’ve turned it up, but the heat hasn’t come on.”

Uh oh–I forgot to order oil. No oil–no heat. Even I know that. A quick call to the Co-op yielded the following result: they can’t deliver until tomorrow so we are doing indoor winter camping tonight.

My sailor, who knows about such things, declares it’s not quite cold enough for us to die of hypothermia.

Mr. Carson, where are you? I need a top up!

Date Night

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Our annual date night has come and gone.

This year we went to the Magnolia Hotel, a beautiful property downtown that offered a Black Friday special when I booked it before Christmas. Our bottom of the line, budget room even included an ocean view–bonus! Double bonus–it was a clear enough that we could actually see said view from our window.

After dinner we engaged in the kind of reckless behaviour that can strain even the tightest relationships–we shared dessert. The chosen dessert was a silky, creamy wedge of key lime pie. Although it was a generous serving with a huge mound of softly whipped cream alongside, I know I could have eaten two or three pieces myself. As it was, I probably ate about three quarters. (My fork easily outpaced my sailor’s. He’s not much of a sweets guy.)

We were at crunch time–one final bite remaining on the plate. My sailor’s fork hovered above it. “Can I have the last bit?”

“Mmmphhh,” I mumbled, mouth filled with key lime pie.

Any idiot would have known that grunt meant, “Hands off! It’s mine!”

Sadly my sailor is not any idiot. He took my proprietary grunt as an invitation to finish dessert.

At times like this, I take a deep breath and remind myself that he has only recently returned from war and I’m lucky to have him. It also helps to consider how many minutes of jogging it would take to burn off that last delicious morsel of key lime pie.

Happy 2014!

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True confession–I fell asleep well before midnight on New Year’s Eve. As expected (I am nothing if not predictable) I was lounging in front of the TV. As unexpected (even I have the capacity to surprise–occasionally) I was watching a Walking Dead marathon and not a glitzy New Year’s Eve count down show.

Surprisingly my choice of programme was somewhat uplifting. It was a repeat of season two–the survivors were living a bucolic, somewhat safe post-apocalyptic life on Hershel’s farm. However, in some ways it was real downer because (spoiler alert) most of the characters will be dead and walking by mid-season four. (Shane–I know you had to go, but I still miss you!)

When I woke up and wiped the trickle of drool off my chin, it was already 2014. I still occasionally regress and write 2012 so the new year will add yet another layer of challenge to daily life.

Instead of resolutions, I’ve decided to focus on being grateful for all the blessings I have at the beginning of 2014, which is, I suppose, a resolution in itself.

Here are some things I am lucky to have:

1. My sailor came home–woo hoo! I’m still tickled every time I realize that he’s here, he’s safe and his deployment didn’t drag on until Easter as originally planned. When I mentioned my paralyzing worry about him every moment he was in Afghanistan, he replied, “I know you worry. That’s why I never mentioned the explosions…” Damn straight I didn’t need to know about explosions!

2. Family in general. After a lovely Christmas with family visiting from Ontario, Alberta and Vancouver, I’m extra grateful for extended family as well as my own tight-knit little family unit. We even got the extraordinary gift of new family members this year. No, there were no precious new babies. A distant cousin from Calgary who discovered us with her keen research skills came for Christmas with her daughter. While all his friends are bragging about new technology, my boy can say he got a couple of new cousins for Christmas. Nothing can beat that!

3. Friends are pretty special, too. I’m an introvert who is becoming more bookish and less social as the years pass, but I haven’t quite reached recluse status yet. I had the opportunity to visit with many friends this holiday–a few from high school, one from university and one from my newlywed days in Halifax. Not only is it great to catch up with these people, but we have a shared history of a time in our lives that’s long past.

If I was going to make a resolution (other than being more appreciative), I’d try to be more flexible and embrace change. Change has always been difficult and my sailor has become adept at talking me through major upheavals like moves or vacations. While change isn’t always good (watch the season two finale of The Walking Dead if you doubt this!) it is a constant in life. Happy, successful people go with the flow. I resolve to take a deep breath, dip my toe in the river of change and embrace the ride.

All the best in 2014!