The last morning was truly mad. I shipped Ken off early in the morning on Thursday but knew that I had to get a lot done between his departure and my own. There was still a lot of cleaning to do. There was the final packing. And somewhere in there would be supper.
It seems so much shorter a list when you type it.
Nonetheless that short list kept me going until 1 am.
Early in the morning I finished up the last of the packing and rushed to my cab. Although the trip out to Heathrow Airport was fairly quiet it marked the beginning of my trip and a large amount of time that would be devoted to the boring and confining process known as travel. I've frequently said to people that I like being in new places I just hate what it takes to get there.
Heathrow - surely the basis for a Spinal Tap type rock anthem.
It seems that it's getting better though. The first couple of times I travelled through Heathrow were not fun, not efficient, not in any way the sort of experience that humans should have. Since the bomb threat of last summer, they've become improved the handling of people and I'd almost be willing to say that I'd let people go through the place. It actually took less time to get through security than ever before. One oddity: The UK now has the strictest restrictions on passenger carry-on baggage. A single piece of carry-on per person. Period. Although that seems to have sped things up I have to wonder, how is a second piece of carry-on connected at all to the possibility of making a binary explosive liquid bomb in the bathroom? (Not to mention the fact that the plot was pretty ludicrous to begin with. Does anyone really think that it could have worked?)
A 7-odd hour flight later and I was in Ottawa. Just before you descend through them, the clouds look remarkably like a snow covered field. Shortly after breaking the cloud barrier the view from the window looks unchanged. An on going pattern over the last dozen years is that I land in Ottawa to falling snow. Probably half of the accumulated snow this winter fell earlier that day. My sister picked me up from the airport, not wanting my Dad to drive in the storm. Keep in mind that Dad put in several years doing patrols in an RCMP car, but the second he's retired everyone thinks he drives like he's in that episode of South Park.
A week isn't always really enough to catch up with everyone. Saturday was family day. Most importantly, it was catching up with my niece. She has been recovering well since the astrocytoma thingie (nice mix of technical and non technical in that expression, eh?). Mum points out that her walking has regressed a bit lately and her enthusiasm for physiotherapy has waned a bit.
Sunday, 4 March.
Caught up with friend DEG. Aside from a few bits and pieces of personal news and a high that continues from going to TAM 5 and the success of of his paper we got out to Pan's Labyrinth. Go see it. One of the best movies of the last year. Possibly the best. It's lyrical and haunting. Top drawer stuff. We also discovered that the Chapters at the Gloucester Centre closes down at 8 pm on a Sunday (wusses) and thanks to Casey's for selling me a coffee and him a beer.
Tuesday 6 Mar.
Got the sis and niece back in to the 'rents house. It's probably the last time I'll see them for a couple of years. It'll be interesting to see the changes in the niece as she goes through physio and so forth. Her recovery should go well if she keeps at it and shows the same determination that she has so far. She's a trooper.
Wed 7 Mar
Caught up with the old judo crowd. Nice to get down to Zak's and have a burger but also good to see the old crowd. One's getting married; one's contemplating it. We're all in our mid to late 30's now and it's that time when you start seeing those life changes that would have happened before we were 16 in our grandparents generation. Times change and that's probably a whole post in itself.
Friday 9 Mar
Caught the early early flight to Vancouver. Flying Air Canada is soul-destroying. It really is. Not just because long haul flights are boring, tedious and all that, but because there's a special form of ennui that Canadian airlines and airports can impact into you. There's the lottery scratch card fun of trying to recharge anything at all in Vancouver Airport's new wing; if they ever connect power wires to any of the sockets I'll be disappointed.
They do have a nice feature in Vancouver - free wireless. I'd like to see that in other airports.
Saturday 10 Mar
Thirteen years later I arrive in Japan. The Kansai airport is nice except that everyone at the Crew window is trying to pawn me off and send me to the regular lines. At least one person is trying to pretend that my Japanese isn't up to scratch. Or that they don't speak the language.
Anyway, got into the country got to the new home and discovered how high the hill up to the house is. Edmund Hillary is still only two-thirds of the way up. It is picturesque though, with hills and forest right behind us and inoshishi (boars) running around in the run off waterway.
-- From: The Eternal Gaijin Lost Somewhere in Kobe, Japan "Words Cannot Describe What I Am About To Tell You."