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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Missing Ann

Last night I had a dream about my Canadian cousin, Ann, and today I am really missing her. The last time I saw Ann was in July 2003 at my dad's wake. Before that, I hadn't seen her since Cameron was a baby, maybe since 1994 or so. 

Ann is a little younger than I am, her birthday being February 2 (GROUNDHOG'S DAY) and mine being the previous October, and growing up we were extremely "close friends." Most Sundays when my mother would head to Cornwall, Ontario to visit Mémère, I would tag along to hang with Ann. We always had a great time together and got along very well for kids. I don't remember a silly fight or disagreement between us. We spent our Sundays together from the time we were little kids until we were teenagers and our lives began to diverge. Of course, as we got older our interests turned to boys, and I got to meet a lot of Ann's friends and a boyfriend or two.

Ann dated Pete (Pierre) for several years and they married quite young (I think she was 20 or 21), and had two daughters soon after. In fact, while my kids are in college, Ann is already a grandmother to a baby girl.

As I mentioned, I haven't heard from Ann in a long time. I'm not sure why that is. While we were always close, it seemed that I was always the one to reach out and reconnect. Maybe this is because right around the time Ann was planning her wedding her father, my mother's brother, left his long-time marriage for a relationship with his next wife. I think at that time my Moquin cousins started to distance themselves from the rest of the family, and we continued to communicate with Uncle Marcel, he being my mother's brother. I guess you could say the family began to choose sides, and Ann and I were no longer on the same side. I still enjoyed seeing her mom, our Aunt Eileen, from time to time when we would run into her at the mall in Cornwall, and she was always very kind to me. Aunt Eileen passed away just this past summer. 

There are ways I could contact Ann. Through the miracle (or curse) of social media I could send her daughters a Facebook message. Or, I could call my other cousin (Aunt Jackie's daughter) Brenda and ask her for Ann's phone number. I would sincerely like to see her again, but it feels a little weird to me, and I sort of feel like she's not really that interested in reconnecting with our family with all the hurt related to Uncle Marcel over the years. There was also some weirdness when he passed away that our family was not involved, with but involved our other Aunt (Jeannine) in Edmonton, where Marcel had lived during the last 20 years of his life. 

So, I think I'll let the universe take care of this one for now. If seeing Ann again is meant to be, it will happen. The only way it will happen for sure is if I reach out to her, which doesn't not feel comfortable after so much time has passed with me feeling like she doesn't really feel the same way. We shall see.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Back from the Island

Whew! Finally a chance to update the blog. I'm sure many of you checked first thing Monday to see how (if!) the trip to Puerto Rico went. Or maybe you didn't check. Anyway...

I did go to Puerto Rico, but it was a super quick trip, cut short by a hellish travel day on Thursday that went a little like this:

  • Flight out of Rochester cancelled due to a mechanical issue.
  • Waiting Waiting Waiting around the airport while Southwest tries to shuffle and reshuffle a plane full of passengers, most of which seemed, just like me, to be going to sunny destinations 
  • Finally, a taxi ride (courtesy of Southwest) to Buffalo to catch a 4:15 flight to Orlando to connect to a flight to San Juan. (Plus a $200 voucher for future travel up to a year. YES!)
  • Just one hitch: the flight to Orlando lands at the same time the San Juan flight departs. Hmmmm.
  • Luck was with me: We landed in Orlando, and three of us hustled over to the San Juan flight, which was just boarding.
  • Arrive in San Juan at 11:30pm, 10 hours after my originally scheduled arrival time. 

Did I mention I love to go places, but I don't always enjoy what it takes to get there? Well, I got there but lost quite a bit of beach time.  Waking up in the morning and opening the sliding door to the balcony though, made it TOTALLY WORTH THE TRAVEL HASSLE. Ahhh! The sound, the smell of the ocean.

One cool thing: we did a leadership activity where we traveled about an hour out of the city of San Juan to La Laguna Grande, site of one of three bio-luminescent (fancy language for "glows in the dark") bays in Puerto Rico. Back in November the bio-bays made the news when they suddenly went "dark," but luckily the condition didn't last long and they are back to being "glowy." It was a pretty neat experience, as we kayaked in pitch darkness through a mangrove canal to get to the bay. That was not my favorite part as I'm lazy by nature and it was super hard work. And I suck at kayaking. And we were going against the current all the way to the bay. And we kept running into the canal rocks along the bank. AND IT WAS PITCH BLACK AND YOU COULDN'T SEE ANYTHING except for the glow rings on the other kayaks - maybe...if they happened to be near you. There were tons of laughs and we had a good time, but what hard work. And we were kayaking in the pitch black dark. You get the picture. It was the stuff of nightmares.

But, the water was pretty cool. It sparkles when you wave your hands in it (the glowing is caused by friction), and it's wild. For more on what makes the water glow, read here. Here's another article that features the kayak trip to the bay. AND, the article mentions how arduous the trip is. I sure slept very well that night after a 1/2 hour shower to get the salt and muck off.

Even though I was tied up every minute for the two full days I was there, how wonderful it was to get a little break...just enough to get me through the next couple of months (I hope). Of course, if that doesn't do the trick there's always Groundhog's Day!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Tomorrow at this time...

Tomorrow, maybe.
Tomorrow at this time I will be on a plane to Baltimore to connect to my flight to San Juan. MAYBE. Tons of flights are cancelled in this hellish frozen wasteland, and as I write this, I am waiting for a jump from AAA because my car won't start.

I have to admit I'll miss having Annalisse and Nic along on the trip this year. It was tons of fun having them tag along last time. If I'm fortunate enough to be invited back to the board for another term (my term is up in April), maybe they can tag along next year. If I'm not able to rejoin the board, it sure has been a great ride!  Now, if AAA could only get here so I could get to work...because you know I'm so anxious to go outside...and have my lungs be paralyzed...and have my hair and hands freeze...

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Polar Vortex - Take Two

So, apparently we're supposed to experience another POLAR VOTEX (I'm sorry, I just can't help myself. I love that term. It's just begging to be the name of an indie rock band) this week, much like the one that caused plunging temperatures two weeks ago.

But that's okay, because on Thursday I head to Puerto Rico for NAGAP's January board meeting. Haters gotta hate! I suppose I should get packing.

(I hope the POLAR VORTEX doesn't interfere with flights like it did the last time or the joke might be on me.)

Monday, January 13, 2014

Birthday Celebration, Day 4

The Birthday Girl
I cannot believe I forgot to post an embarrassing picture for my sister Carol's 55th birthday (sorry Nic!), which was Friday. But, when you think about, it her birthday celebration has been going on for several days, so Day 4 seems like a fine time to make amends. Let's recap:

  • Friday, January 10 (Day 1) - Carol and Paul come to Rochester for a weekend of birthday celebrations, beginning with dinner at Donnelly's in Fairport on Friday night.
  • Saturday, January 11 (Day 2) - Prime rib dinner at our house (For which I made a homemade chocolate cake which, when executed correctly, can rival even the Wegman's Ultimate Chocolate Cake. Unfortunately, something went very, very wrong and the cake didn't rise. I pinch-hitted with Brownie sundaes at the last minute.)
  • Sunday, January 12 (Day 3) - Turkey dinner at Nic and Patrick's apartment
  • Monday, January 13 (Day 4) - Appropriately mortifying old  picture on the B@ker Blog 
That should help usher in a great year for my MUCH OLDER SISTER. Safe travels back to the North Country today!
And I found this gem along the way

Sunday, January 12, 2014

FAFSA Sunday

It just occurred to me that I have not posted at all this week, which is kind of unusual for me. I think it's probably indicative of the busy week I've had, mixed in with being tired from having to get back into the work routine and feeling "on the verge" of getting sick all week. That, luckily did not come to fruition (yet).

It's also been a busy couple of weeks wrapping up all the processing of paperwork and on-line forms Annalisse needed to have complete to apply to her transfer schools. One of the dreaded activities is to fill out the FAFSA (for student aid - of which we get none), which at this point is just estimated for 2014-2015 since we've not yet done our 2013 taxes. In addition to the FAFSA, Syracuse also required a financial profile that we needed to complete through the College Board website (and which costs an additional $25 - MONEY GRAB!). But, I set my mind to it and set aside time this morning to complete this dreaded task and I'M DONE! Hurray! Annalisse's apps should now be all set so we basically have to wait to hear, in addition to the visits we have planned for her March break.

I told Mark that I hoped he had low expectations for me today since my plan is to stay in sweatpants all day, lay on the couch, and watch "House of Cards." So, I'm headed there now.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Back to School - Spring 2014

Roomies
Today we took Annalisse back to school for her J(anuary)Term, which is a three-week session where she takes one course for four days a week/three hours a day. She is taking Western Literature, for which she had to purchase two huge volumes of Norton Anthology of Western Literature, and Macbeth. She is definitely not looking forward to it, but what can you do? At least it's just one course demanding her time, even though it will be ton of reading (and writing). I think she was excited to get back to see her "new" roommate, Brittany, a good friend who she had the opportunity to room with late last semester when Brittany's roommate moved out. She was very happy about that as they seem to have similar dispositions and lite sense of humor.

The kids had a great fall semester (Cam ended up with a 3.3 and Annalisse with a 3.125), so I'm hoping they can keep up the momentum for the spring semester which includes increasingly challenging courses for both.

Time at home for the holiday also included Annalisse applying for transfer to several colleges for the fall term. Regrettably, she has decided to transfer to a school which offers a nutrition major. With all the dietary issues she has had over the last several years she has become increasing interested in nutrition, and unfortunately Mercyhurst does not have the program. I'm disappointed because I really like the school, and while she does like it and has made some great friends I get the sense she feels it's too small. As a result, we visited Syracuse University over the break, and she also applied to SUNY Plattsburgh, Buffalo State College, and ironically, RIT. There are actually not a lot of upstate/central/western NY colleges that offer the major, and she didn't want to go toooooo far. We will have to see how it goes...I have some concerns about the academic rigor and attention she would receive (if needed) at such large schools. Just when we thought things were all settled, we are on the college search bandwagon again! We will visit Plattsburgh, Buff State and RIT during break if she is accepted to them.

So, we are as ready as we'll ever be to face the new year. It's back to work for me and Mark tomorrow after almost two weeks of no structure, and for me, sweatpants and hanging around. Cam is home for another two weeks or so then he will head back to train with the crew team before stating classes the last week in January. Luckily, he's got a research job for 20 hours a week that he can do from home until he goes back.

It's super hard to realize how fast this holiday went, and rather than lament having to jump back into the routine, I guess I'd better remember how lucky I am to have been able to take the time off (and get paid). Bring it, 2014!!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Resolutions 2014

It's that time again to look forward to the new year (CLEAN SLATE!) and the chance for a couple of "do overs" and the promise for a fresh new start. This year I decided to not make New Years resolutions that involve managing money and losing weight. Those issues are always issues so why bother? In the new year I would like to concentrate on:
  • Being a better listener - a constant struggle 
  • Thinking before a I speak - and being a more sensitive friend/colleague/confidant 
  • Practicing patience - also difficult in many instances 
  • Being less judgmental - and trying to see all sides before commenting on something 
Admittedly, turning 50 did make me question (more than a couple of times) "Is this all there is?", with my marriage, job, kids "being gone," and the grind of the day to day. The last year has felt very much like a mid-life crisis, and I find myself in a negative state of mind more than I'd like. The struggle continues, but I will try to find the good and focus on the blessings, which are many, many, many!

The beginning of a new year feels so wonderful, doesn't it? Let's hear it for second (or third or fourth) chances! May your 2014 be safe, healthy and happy!