Comox, 1996

Ever since my parents moved out to BC, I visit them every year in December.

Fri December 20

Timothy drove me to Pearson Airport in Toronto, and I was able to check in quickly and get on the plane. I was tired and slept on and off during the flight to Vancouver, via Winnipeg. I changed seats at Winnipeg, the original one I had was right in the path of frigid air blasting in from the apron as they restocked the kitchens. The Rockies were beautiful as always, and there was a gorgeous view of Vancouver as we came in to land. I had a bit of a hassle with my bags since I'd brought my skis with me, but then I got some food and talked with a lovely old woman who came from Ottawa. It was a bit choppy on the way over to Vancouver Island, but I eventually got to my parent's house. I was very tired, but I still managed to get drawn into a discussion of genealogy with mum and dad. My brother Marc had shot up and was quite tall all of a sudden. We had a rematch at Trivial Pursuit and Dad managed to beat me this time. I went with Marc and Dad to get the Xmas tree from the tree farm. I tried to avoid the overly friendly dog there, Sam, since I was allergic to him. Marc took me out shopping and we managed to find a pair of ski goggles for Dad that would fit over his glasses.

Sat December 21

Dad shaved the back of my head for me, despite repeated "are you sure?"'s when he understood exactly how much I wanted done. We then dropped Mum off at the Superstore and he drove me to the army surplus store past Black Creek, passing an emu farm along the way. Apparently there's an ostrich farm further along the same road. We browsed through some antiques on display (some of which Dad had used at one point ;) ) and then through the sweaters. They were much cheaper there than in Toronto, and Dad bought me a black navy wool sweater despite urgings that I should get a blue air force one to honour his years of service. He's understanding like that. :) I picked up a Zippo, only noticing the engraving from a store on the back of it after I got home. I made too much spaghetti for myself and threw together a pizza for the rest of the gang. After I browsed through one of Mum's self help books on herbs and vitamins.

Sun December 22

Dad woke me at 8:40 and I sat shivering in a blanket until I talked to Sue on the phone (from Bristol, I think, where she spent the holidays with our aunt during the break from her exchange program in Dundee, Scotland) at 8:50. She assured me that she's taken lots of pictures, but then the phone cut out. I went back to bed to warm up and sleep some more since I'd also woken up when the emergency brake on the van had become stuck when Mum was leaving for work, and the ruckus under my window disturbed my rest. I got up for good when Dad went to pick her up from work. I showered, had breakfast and called Tim, who promised to pick me up from Pearson when I arrived home. I tend not to mind arriving on my own in Toronto, I know I'm home and can find my way to my house, but it's always a bit disorienting to not have anyone meet me in strange cities.

I dug into some of Marc's books, we share a taste in SF/Fantasy, reading Sunrunner's Fire by Melanie Rawn. He also recommeneded Cold Fire by C. S. Friedman, and I did eventually borrow his copies and enjoyed it immensely. I wrapped his present and cornered Dad, getting an agreement that we'd go skiing on Thursday or Friday. We had salmon for supper, something I tend to miss in Ontario. Mum and Dad went out bowling, and Marc to a movie, so I took the monster (aka Duke, the Lab/Newfie cross) for a walk. I watched some TV then turned in to finish the book I was reading, curled up in bed.

Mon December 23

I read The Time Machine by H. G. Wells and started the Friedman book. Mum, Dad and I went to the Comox Centre Mall just up from the marina on the inlet, with a good view of the mountains. I wasn't able to find any lighter fluid for my new Zippo though. I made a pizza with a spaghetti crust for my lunch, and Dad deigned to try some. I walked Duke to the video store and found out that the only comment people tend to make on him is how big he is. I rented Independence Day since I'd missed it in theatres, it was so-so. I made a stir fry for dinner, then disappeared afterwards to read and watch the Simpsons, then Intimate and Interactive with Annie Lennox - she's just a bit caustic. My throat started to get sore around then, Dad made an appointment for me with my childhood doctor, Dr. Horton.

Tue December 24

No one was around when I woke up, I made some lunch, and Dad appeared to take me to see the doctor around 2. The holiday must have contributed to a lack of patients, since I was able to get in to see him quickly. I didn't recognise him at all, though the last time I went to him was when I was less than 10 years old. I was diagnosed with the beginnings of strep throat, and got the prescription. Dad had taken off while I was in, wasn't back yet, so I waited for a while, then we filled the 'script and he got a Magic Bag for mum at the pharmacy. I popped into the supermarket to get some yoghurt to baby my throat with, and noticed anew that everyone was very friendly - the west is a different world than back east. I milked my illness for all it was worth, lazing about the rest of the day, and having clam chowder for an early supper. I caught Wallace and Gromit on TV and was very happy, though I managed to almost let the fire die, not being used to feeding it. I set up my old old record player so that Mum could listen to Nana Mouskouri while she decorated the tree, with me curled up and miserable in a chair. I braved the deck off of the dining area and saw the full moon and the stars shining brightly; the next full moon on Xmas will be sometime in the 2100's.

Wed December 25

I got some good loot in my stocking: epsom salts, a candy cane, 2 pairs of socks, chocolate balls, razors, nail hardener and polish, a spaghetti scoop and measurer, emery boards, bath beads and face cleanser. Sue had mailed over her presents to us, and I found that she'd given me a very delicate gold thistle necklace, the official flower of Scotland. Marc gave me a late birthday present, and Enya CD, and a turtle neck for xmas. The 'rents gave me a gift certificate for fabric land, a turtle neck (hey, I needed them), money for a comforter and casserole dish since they'd be too bulky for me to carry back on the plane, and best of all, a lift pass for Mount Washington. I also got some money from my godparents and Sue's and from another aunt and uncle.

Sue called and I got to talk to her for a bit. Dad, Duke and I went for a walk on Airport Beach, where I'd spent a lot of summer afternoons when we lived here. We walked almost to Kye Bay, and it was fairly clear, we could see Powell River on the mainland. Salt and snow marked the high tide line. We met two guys walking their Irish wolfhound puppy on the way back to the car - the dog was huge! We had a turkey dinner at home, then watched some TV and took a nice warm long bath, then to bed.

Thu December 26

Woke up at 7:45 to get ready to go to Campbell River for boxing day shopping. We left around 9, Marc wasn't in a very good mood. I took Mum looking for shoes, and she bought me a green turtle neck, saying she'd buy me it in any colour other than black. *sigh* I found a really cool black / silver shimmery long skirt that I bought myself. We went over to Tyee Plaza, named for a salmon that weighs 30lbs or more. Went to Mark's Work Wearhouse where I didn't find any jeans that fit properly. I popped out to find Marc, and got sucked into a book store where I bought a cook book. We drove back to Courtney and stopped at the White Spot for lunch. Home and read for a while until Dad took me out to Fabricland, Superstore, and the Chocolate Ranch where I wanted to get a present for Tim, but everything was closed. I forgot to call my friend from high school, Tami, who lives in Victoria now, since we tend to go skiing together whenever we get a chance. Dad popped back into White Spot and reclaimed the hat that he'd forgotten there at lunch. Had the first of the left over turkey for dinner. I waxed my skis and got ready for the next day. I used some of the epsom salts in a bath since I was breaking out in hives from the penicillin I was taking for the strep throat.

Fri December 27

I dreamt that I'd had my lift tickets stolen, and woke up in a panic to check them at 5:50am. Got up for real at 6:30 and Dad and I were on the road up the mountain by 7:50. They'd paved the road the whole way since the last time I'd been up, so it was a quick drive, with no need to stop at the bottom to put snow chains on the tires. We handed in our gift certificates and got lift tickets, but when I was putting mine on my jacket, an employee came by with wire cutters and snipped off all of my old ones and took them. I complained to Dad about it and he was able to get them back for me - I like to keep them as souveniers from my old trips, and had ones from White Face in Lake Placid, and Mt Tremblant on there.

The conditions were good, hard packed and groomed, but it was bloody cold. We stopped mid morning and afternoon and at lunch to warm up frozen fingers and toes. We ate our packed lunches to save mucho moula at the cafeteria. Dad ended up doing one more run than I did, I went to warm up the truck. We had a good view of the straight of Georgia on the higher lifts. A RIDE spot check half way down the mountain didn't pull us over, we were home by 5, had supper and crashed early.

Sat December 28

Mum wasn't having a good morning, she forgot the element covers on the stove when she turned on the burners, and then the van refused to shift into gear. I woke up then but went back to bed and didn't get up until Dad left to pick her up from work. I did a couple of loads of laundry, then drove myself to see Mars Attacks. A gaggle of French kids chattered all the way through it, and I didn't enjoy the movie as much as I could have since they gave too much away in the previews. The roads were slippery, and I slid a bit here and there as I drove over to the Chocolate Ranch to pick up some truffles. I threw them in the freezer so that they'd be good when I got home. Marc had some friends over and they played Trivial Pursuit. I made a crab and cauliflower quiche from the new cook book I bought and Dad had some. Read some more, and babied my sore shoulders from all the poling I did the day before.

Sun December 29

Packed. Read almost the whole day trying to finish Crown of Ice, but Marc agreed to let me take it home with me and mail it back to him.

Mon December 30

I was up early and was greeted with the sight of two feet of snow adorning the landscape. Dad drove me to the Comox airport and we got stuck briefly at Anderton and Ryan since the plows hadn't been out yet. I wanted to get home in time to rest up for the new year's parties the next day but it was not to be. We'd called the airport before leaving, but the line was busy, and we found out when we arrived that the flight was canceled. I waited for the next one on stand by while Dad went to pick up Mum. It got canceled also. I put myself on the stand by list for the 2pm flight to Vancouver and got the last seat. It was a bumpy flight over the straight. I tried to call Tim from the Vancouver airport to let him know I wasn't making it home that night, but the line was busy. My fingers were getting sore from carrying my ski bag all over the place, dodging the irate crowds. I booked a room at the Fraser Arms from the hotel desk in the airport, since I had to wait until the next day for a flight to Toronto. I finally got through to Tim's house but he was on the way to the airport. I hopped in the shuttle to the hotel, and got settled into my room. It was a bit noisy since it was above the restaurant and they had a band playing. Watched TV, read, took a bath then crashed out.

Tue December 31

I was woken by the front desk's wake up call, repacked and jumped the van back to the airport. I had about an hour layover in Winnipeg, and it was cold. I got in late to Toronto, and stood and talked with a lady as we waited for our bags - my skis always come through the oversized baggage door. I took a taxi home and called friends to ensure that plans were still set for the night. I changed into my new skirt and a bustier top and ended up freezing the whole night, and got a glass of red wine spilled down the front of the skirt. We ended up not waiting for the streetcar, but sharing a taxi with a woman since none of us wanted to freeze to death. I hit two parties that night, the first a relaxed cocktail type one, then the drunken IRC goth debauch after midnight rolled around. :)
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