Saturday, January 29, 2011

In the Swing of Things

A nice way to spend a lovely Friday afternoon

This is a statement I would never have uttered until this year.  Up to this point in my life golf was something I neither had time, energy, talent, equipment or patience for.  This fall we joined the golf club in our neighborhood, a first in our married life...belonging to a golf club.  I figured I would use the athletic facilities, ie the yoga classes, and TJ would golf and therefore be otherwise occupied on the weekends.  Good plan.  But as they say....the best laid plans of mice and men...

Last fall, on a few particularly lovely afternoons, I agreed to golf with TJ.  We shared his clubs and to my surprise, I did not suck.  (yeah, I hate that word too but it seems to fit here) Must be my new bionic left forearm that has changed my game.  The other advantage of playing golf on a Friday afternoon is that after golf we get to go to the clubhouse and eat dinner, because "honey, I'm just too tired to cook tonight."  Hey, I am starting to like golf  more now. 

My relationship with golf has several facets.  First, it was what my Dad did every weekend he could when we were kids.  That is just what Dads did, we were kids, we didn't care.  Then when I got married and had kids of my own, it was something my husband wanted to do and I hated it because it meant he was gone for 6 hours and I was stuck with the kids to fend for myself for yet another day in the week.  I resented golf, that frivolous hobby that took my husband away on the weekend.  Occasionally I would be invited to participate in a game of golf back then, usually in Nova Scotia ..for the games.  No golf once a year, we really need your score.  Sure, I will find an unsuspecting teenager to watch my kids for what will seem like an eternity while I go and curse my way around 18 holes of golf for what definitely seemed like an eternity. All the while wishing I were back at the beach sitting in a chair watching my  kids play, or cleaning a bathroom or getting a root canal!  Needless to say, golf did not win my heart back then. 

As life would have it, I now find myself with the time to play golf and a place to play.  I have no kids at home who need a babysitter.  No weekend softball games to dutifully watch anymore.  The bathrooms don't get that dirty these days. The weather has moderated for a while so I can't even complain about it being too hot to play.  And, as of Christmas I even have....
My very own golf clubs!

Means, motive, opportunity and....weapon.  I now have everything needed to commit the crime of golf.  I even find myself enjoying the game.  Shocking!  I really can't decide if this is a good thing or a sad thing in my life.  It is a bit distressing that I am now at a point in my life where I have all this leisure time to fill.  A sad state of affairs or a real blessing?  I still feel a bit guilty out there and think I really should be doing something productive.  I guess I'll get over it!

A friend told me about a t-shirt she saw that explains it pretty well.  The shirt says, "I hate golf, I hate golf, I hate golf, Nice Shot!, I love golf."  Pretty much sums it all up!  Mine might say something like, "C#*p, nice shot, S*#t, oh, nice shot...."  inconsistent is my game. 

where did it go?

right in the middle of the fairway....not bad, maybe I do like this game

Sunday, January 23, 2011

It Was That Kind of Night

Almost 2 years ago, to the day, I wrote this bit about pubs.  I was reminded of the post last night as TJ and I sat in McGonigels Mucky Duck and listened to some awesome live music.  Must be something about the third weekend in January that draws us to the pub.  Don't you just love it when you decide to do something at the spur of the moment and it turns out to be even more fun than you had hoped ?  Some things happen for a reason! That was last night.

Since we had yet another open weekend, and since it is January, listening to live music at a pub sounded like a great idea to both of us.  A little pub food, some good beer and a little wine, a small intimate venue and the music of Circa Paleo  (whom we had not heard of before last night) proved to be one perfect, nostalgic night for me. If you enjoy Celtic folk music then give them a listen, they are that and much more. Their sound reminded me of some of the Canadian folk groups we love, sort of  Texas Renaissance Festival meets Cape Breton Island (which was the inspiration for one of their songs). 

I had a smile on my face the entire night and I could not stop tapping my foot or hand or some body part to the music all night long.  As if that were not enough...when the band came back for their second set they announced that they were going to give away one of their hoodies.  No, I did not win the hoodie. They called a girl to the stage and then they told her, much to her dismay, that she was not going to win a a guy she immediately recognized, walked up onto the stage and knelt down in front of her and.... proposed!!!....she was going to get engaged!  Yeah, I cried.  It was soo sweet!  She said "yes" and got the guy instead of a hoodie.  It was just that kind of night.

We sat at the same table as the girl doing the sound board. Excellent table! We visited with her a bit and found out that she is in a band as well.  Another Irish Celtic sounding band complete with a bagpiper.  I was  just looking for something to do when my sister comes to visit next month and because "it was that kind of night", she told me they are playing at the Mucky Duck the night my sister is here.  Yup, it was that kind of night.  Looks like we will be back next month.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Just January

January in Toronto

What does January mean for you?  I decided January was the northern August when we lived in Toronto...  a long month with crappy weather!  Now that we are in Houston it is just January.  For most people January is the month of resolutions, paying Christmas bills, and the inevitable post Christmas let-down.  January is the month we moved one of our three times to Houston and the month we moved to Toronto.  So I sometimes associate the month with transitions, lonliness, unpacking and trying to get into the swing of things.  Even though we did not move this year the month still has a few transitions and I am trying to get into the swing of things.  I'll fill you in on the swing of things next week!

Have you noticed all the people at the gym lately?  What?  You haven't been to the gym? TJ says there are lots of new people (aka resolutionists) going to the 6a.m. spin class he attends. ( that is not him on the left in the picture)  My only response to that is....WHY??  There are so many things wrong with that, beginning with 6 a.m.!  I like to excercise as much or more than anyone, but as you may have guessed....I am not a morning person!  Apparently there are many people out there who think torturing yourself by waking up at some ridiculous hour in the morning and riding a stationary bike and sweating up a storm is the way to a healthier new year.  For me it would be the way to a grouchier sleep deprived new year. Each to his own.  I'll find a different way to lose those Christmas cookie rolls around my waist.

The post Christmas let-down happens to me just about every year.  Something about a new year and having a clean slate and a year full of hope and possibilities cries out, "do something!".  The holidays are over, the decorations are all put away, except for that bin at the bottom of the stairs that has not managed to sprout legs and take itself to the attic yet.  The kids are back to their own homes and living their lives while we are in the once again quiet house, adjusting to the silence.  The good news about this January is that we prolonged the holiday season at least a week, maybe two, with our trip to New Orleans and then Kelly's late return to school.  The off season did not start until this week!  Yeah!  Only 2 weeks of January left. 

Last weekend we had a rainy, dreary Sunday and found ourselves with nothing to do for the first time in about 2 months, so we sat down together with our blank calendars and mapped out the year.  Where are we going and when?  The early bird gets the worm or in this case the low air fares, if there is such a thing anymore, so it is time to start planning.   These "meetings" do not always go smoothly.  TJ is more impulsive and ready to click that "purchase" button quickly and I need to mull it over, weigh my options, research, think about it, do a little more research and think a little more before I can commit.  This can be frustrating for both parties.  We did somehow come to a few agreements and are now busy until after Labor Day, when we will be wishing for a slow day in January again.  All because of one rainy day!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler!

St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans

We spent the weekend in New Orleans, the Big Easy, NOLA, the Crescent City, or Paris of the South to name a few of it's nicknames.  It has been over 10 years since I had been to New Orleans.  Growing up in Baton Rouge meant that I visited the city many times a year all through high school, college and early marriage.  I never really appreciated it back then, it was just New Orleans, a place for Mardi Gras and a good time and good food.  Having visited a few other cities since those days I now appreciate NOLA for the awesome city it is.  Post Katrina it seems to be doing well and we really enjoyed our visit.

Our friends Bob and Donna met us there and they had never been before.  How fun it is to share a city with friends.  We were greeted with amazingly perfect weather for the first two days. 

Note the cloudless sky and brilliant sunshine!  Nice architecture too.

We were not greeted by beautiful accomodations.  I was a bit skeptical of our time share exchange from the start.  For 2 couples, we could only manage a one bedroom, one bath suite so one of us would be sleeping on a sofa bed, well... we are all good friends right?  When our bell dude, Nate, showed us our suite, and I use that word loosly, there was no mistaking my disappointment.  Nate picked right up on the shock and horror that I was sending his way and told me discreetly that he had another unit to show me if I was interested.  I practically ran out of the room and flew down the 6 floors to option B.  Option B was only 4 times larger then option A.  Hmmmm, let me think, how fast can you bring our bags down here Nate?  Bigger does not mean awesome, still only one bedroom and one bath but the sofa bed was a queen not a double and the bathroom had a swimming pool size round sunken tub and private dressing area so we dealt with the lack of privacy.  We thanked Nate with a handsome tip and were his good friends for the rest of the weekend.  Welcome to the Crescent City!

TJ and Donna preparing our happy, because we are not staying in Option A, hour treats!

Our weekend adventures included a lovely dinner at Herbsaint on Friday night, which happened to be walking distance from our hotel.  Heck, almost everything was walking distance from the hotel, a bonus.  We all left with happy faces and went back to our room and watched LSU beat Texas A & M in the Cotton Bowl.  Not a bad night if you are from Louisiana!

We began our Saturday with a perfect breakfast!  Here!
Cafe du Monde in the French Market

Beignets and Cafe au Lait, breakfast of champions!  Nom!

The rest of our day was spent soaking in the "flavor" of the Big Easy.  We walked the French Quarter and enjoyed the sights and sounds of the city.  There were many street performers that day, one of our favorites was a group that reminded us all of O Brother Where Art Thou.  The Saints were playing football that afternoon in a playoff game and the city was full of anticipation.  Check out this balcony.
Ready for the game!

We had the pleasure of watching the first half of the game in a local brew pub and it was standing room only.  The place erupted when the Saints did anything good.  We were there watching a football game when what to my surprise should walk by outside than a group of bagpipers and an Irish dancer!  I had to leave the game and run out to listen!  I am a sucker for bagpipes!
Gotta love a man in a kilt!
Everyone cheered when they came into the bar and played When The Saints Go Marching In.  My day would have been complete if the Saints had won the game but they lost.  Oh, well....

Our evening was an adventure.  We took the streetcar down St. Charles street almost to the end of the line.  When we got onto the streetcar it was packed full of all different types of people.  Donna says she sat next to Sammy Davis Jr.  There were other groups of visitors going out for dinner just like us.  There were students, families, loners, bums, and our driver was a real character...imagine that!  We found a wine bar where a friend's son works and were treated to several plates of delicious food and had some great wine.  On our ride back to town we ran into two groups of people who rode down with us...everyone wanted to know how dinner was!  People are so friendly in NOLA!  It was a great night!  Several people thanked us for coming to New Orleans too, they are just so happy to have tourists again.

Sunday was a different story.  It stormed all we stayed in and played cards.  That is what friends are for.  We did venture out to dinner and I finally had the quintessential Louisiana dinner.  I can't believe I ate the whole thing and that is what I repeated all night long while my stomach rebelled.  To add to the joy, we had to wake up at 4:30 a.m. for our 6:30 a.m. flight.  Guess who made those travel arrangements?  Not me!

Not wanting to end this post on a sour note I have a little tour of New Orleans to end this post. Enjoy it...we sure did!

Peeking through a wrought iron gate at a fountain
One way to keep the riff raff out of your yard

The river boat Natchez on the Mississippi River

Royal Street
Just making a living.  He gets the creative use of instruments award for the day.

So, as they say in New Orleans....
Laissez les bon temps rouler! 
We sure did!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Paper or Plastic?

Todays front page had an article about Brownsville, TX being the first city in the state to ban single-use "urban tumbleweeds".  We are soooo behind the times here when it comes to this!  It will be years before the movement makes it to a major city, one small step. I love their tag "urban tumble-weeds", we saw tens of these bags stuck on barb wired fences driving from Baton Rouge to Houston, they were my wind gauges!  The town is giving away reusable bags and so are many businesses, the trick will be getting people to actually use them.  It is going to take a lot of training to get Texans to use reusable bags!  I do occasionally see shoppers bring their own bags into the grocery store now.  I am usually the weird one, the crunchy granola girl, making the baggers learn how to load a reusable bag.  I will admit that having many "urban tumbleweeds" over the holidays came in handy for disposing of stinky diapers.  No diaper genie here!

So that is my public service announcement regarding Canada and the U.S., just to stay true to the title of the blog.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Beautiful Exhaustion

Happy New Year everyone!

If the true judge of whether a holiday was a success is your total lack of energy at the end of the holiday, I can say that the Mahoney Christmas holidays were a huge success.  I think every family member is going to crawl up and collapse tomorrow in a state of beautiful exhaustion!

When I think back a couple of weeks, I realize how much we have done!  No wonder we are tired.  We were doing just fine until Christmas day and then it all went a bit haywire.  Kelly got the stomach flu that hit hard and fast and kept her up all night long.  No one was safe from that moment on, in quick succession the flu hit TJ and me and then sister Katie, only Michael and Jehnna were spared.  Rachel's family had the bug the week before Christmas and we all thought it was dead and such luck. That flu took the wind out of all of us, we were a crew of hurting cowboys, cowboys who had to saddle up and ride to Baton Rouge to visit all of our family there.  We bring you tidings of comfort and joy....oh and a nasty stomach bug.  Merry Christmas!  Still hoping the beast does not rare it's ugly head to any of our family there, so far so good.

Katie and Kelly, pre-flu happiness

Still feeling good, reading to Christopher and Daniel

Our major source of beauty and exhaustion are sitting in Kelly's lap here.  Daniel and Christopher, our grandsons, are in perpetual motion when they are awake.... and they wake up early!  Is it just me or is 5:30 a little early to start your day?  I guess when you go to bed at 7 or 8 p.m., 5:30 or 6 a.m. isn't an unreasonable time.  I never got to bed before midnight and that meant morning came early, I admit, I was not on the wee hours of the morning shift but I did listen to the chaos outside my room for a while and then roll over for another hour before I entered life for another day.

Daniel at Christmas dinner wearing his crown and playing with his treasures from the popper
Michael and Jehnna enjoying the Christmas dinner festivities

More crowned Christmas dinner guests

Christmas dinner was a lot of fun.  The food was delicious, we had a few Lithuanian traditional dishes compliments of brother-in-law Andrius, popped the fun English poppers and wore our crowns and read our cheesy jokes.   We were all smiling and festive....then it hit.  Man down!  The next two and a half days were spent getting the flu, having the flu, or getting over the flu.  O Tidings of Comfort and Joy! 

These two did not get the flu...they continued to find interesting places to play, like the pantry!  Here Grampy is hearding them to safer grounds.

Christopher on safer grounds!

On Wednesday after Christmas we decided to brave it and continue with our plan to infect, I mean visit, Baton Rouge.  Most of our family there have never met "Christopher of the beautiful blue eyes" so a trip was needed. We loaded up two vehicles with almost everything in our house and eight of us drove five hours in the constant pouring rain to Baton Rouge.  Can I just say one word about the weather?  Ick! The first stop was dinner at Aunt Meg's house where Nan met her great grandsons for the first time!

Nan meeting Christopher for the first time.  I just love Rachel and Dave's expressions in the background, priceless.

The next day, we needed a plan.  How can we entertain the boys while sticking to their eating, sleeping, playing schedule, visit five different families, eat some great Cajun food, include as many people as possible in our plans and be home for dinner at six ....and still be sane?  No problem....

All you need is a Tiger! 

Daniel and I up close and personal with Mike the Tiger at LSU!

At first sight Daniel said, "I want to go in there with him!"

Rachel and Daniel

We managed to see all the sights, visit all the relatives AND get home in time for dinner! There might have been a point during the course of the day that we either cried (Daniel and Christopher) or wanted to cry (Rachel and I, out of sheer exhaustion) but hey, no one is perfect.  It was beautiful exhaustion! 

On Friday the holiday visiting was over and it was time to say goodbye.  Our ten days of family togetherness came to an end.  I venture to say that we all had a great time together and we are all glad to be in our own homes once again. 

A few more pictures, because they are just so darn cute!

Who knew the dog bed would provide such entertainment?!

Toy construction, it takes a village!
Daniel reading The Night Before Christmas to Sadie....too cute!

Being "still" for the camera!

Matt checks out his new book and Sadie's head got very heavy

Hey Mommy, my Happy Meal came with a hat!

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