A Travelogue

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Christmas

My Favourite Dotter offered to perform a service or do an unpleasant task for us for Christmas. A few years ago she painted our downstairs bathroom in pale grey and stencilled pretty little gold and silver squares that tumble down the walls, diminishing in size as they fall. I love it. And it's something I didn't want to do myself, so I'm especially grateful.

This year she again offered her services but we don't have anything that needs painting. But I do have a large empty space above the bed in the main spare room that needs a picture. The room is very Zen-like and tranquil, with a pale celadon quilt and soft green walls and carpet. It needs just the picture to complete it. I saw one in New York in July, but it was only about 15" long and I need something 6'6". And Favourite Dotter is going to do one for us for Christmas!

She is an extremely gifted artist.

Twelve years ago she did a rose and rosebud in pointilism using only black ink. It was a gift for her grandfather and it's exquisite. I kept a photocopy which I had professionally matted and framed and it still hangs on our wall. I love it.

Last night she emailed me a sketch of seven horses galloping, manes and tails flying. Some are only defined by a few lines and yet they leap off the page. She's going to do them in charcoal and ink, and I can't wait for Christmas.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Chicago!

I haven't blogged for awhile but then, this blog was intended as a vehicle to talk about our trips. We just returned this morning from an overnight stay in Edmonton. It's not very far away, but it qualifies as a trip, doesn't it? Mon Dieu! I am grasping at straws here. Who cares if it qualifies or not? It's my blog and I can blog if I want to. *sing it*!

So off we went yesterday morning, dropped off our leaky spa motor and checked into the Coast Edmonton Plaza downtown. Hans had business in the afternoon and then at 5:00 we were invited for drinks with the rest of the group. I expected this to take place in the hotel, after which we would walk one block to Characters for dinner.

Instead, a limo bus was waiting for us at the curb and we piled in. It was a party bus, with colourful blinking disco lights lazering across our shoulders and onto a screen at the back. Oddly, there was country music playing which seriously clashed with the frenzied light show.

We've never been in a party bus like this. It's set up with comfy leather couches along both sides and curving around the back, broken up by two bar units which held whatever our hosts had picked up for us to drink. Instead of milling about in a boring hotel room to sip cocktails, we were treated to a drive around downtown Edmonton by night. I sipped Kir Royale (champagne with Creme de Cassis) but everything was available: Shiraz, Chardonnay (yuck), hard stuff with mix, a variety of beer. You name it. It was such a fun way to have a pre-dinner drink - or even two or three - and not have to worry about driving or even walking in high heels. Loved it!

The party bus was ours for the evening. There were 17 of us and though the bus was supposed to seat 20, they must have had 20 Asians in mind 'cause we were a bit tight (literally in the beginning, and figuratively later). Our driver dropped us off at Characters where they had a long banquet table set up for with with name tags. That's very civilized.

We had a choice of 3 appetizers: ribs; crab cake; calamari. It was all very fancy with special sauces drizzled prettily around the plates and tiny little sprigs of fresh herbs garnishing the food.

The main courses were also a choice of 3: sea bass; tenderloin; brome duck breast. Earlier I had read the Characters specializes in several dishes and the brome (what is that?) duck breast was one of them so that was my choice. It was exquisitely presented and the visual appeal was matched by the taste. Everything was extremely delicious. The wine was flowing and since we had a bus to drive us around, we indulged lavishly.

Dessert was a Callebaut chocolate mousse with white coffee ice cream and a tiny chocolate cupcake. Mmm.

We were on a tight schedle because we had to be seated at the Jubilee by 8:00 to see the theatre production of Chicago. It was great! The singing and dancing was exquisite. This was slightly different from other big theatre productions in that there is no set. A small orchestra is set up on center stage, staggered up towards the back. The front and sides of the stage are available for the actors/ singers/ dancers who tell the story in song interspersed with a little dialog. There seemed to be more songs than in the movie, though it's possible I just don't remember them all from before.

After the play our bus picked us up at the front door of the Jubilee. That was so cool. I *love* not having to walk to and from the car! The Bailey's came out as we headed back to the hotel though I was started to nod off from the food, the heat in the Jubilee and bus, and the drinks, not to mention that it was far past my usual bedtime! Still, I soldiered on and joined the group at the bar in the hotel, but I had 7-Up and shortly after, I headed upstairs.

It was a fabulous day.