Happy New Year, everyone. I hope you had relaxing holidays, that you ate and drank well, that you spent an entire day in your pj’s at least once. I was in Toronto over Christmas, and did exactly that, which meant that I didn’t see much more than my parents’ house and some close friends. I came down with a cold, but luckily (or not?) it was the kind that didn’t affect my appetite, so there was lots of baking too. Lesley gave me a copy of the Gourmet Cookie Book, and it’s full of interesting recipes – not one single chocolate chip cookie! – and I would like to bake my way through it. It’s an interesting read, too, since it picks one cookie recipe per year, so you can see the progression of cookies in America from 1941 onwards.
Andrew gave me a Kindle for Christmas, which means e-books are officially integrated into my every day life. I’m really impressed with the machine: thin, light, crazy long battery life (I’ve charged it once since I got it), a good screen, and I have the version that comes with with free 3G. The network was especially useful when I was in the U.S. – it’s slow, but good for when I don’t feel like spending insane iPhone roaming fees to look something up quickly online (i.e. “Where is the nearest Target in Buffalo?”). I spent Christmas Day tearing through Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad on it, and it’s one of my favourite novels I’ve read in awhile. Highly recommended, including the section written as a PowerPoint presentation, which sounds so gimmicky and annoying, but was actually beautiful.
We visited Niagara Falls, NY and Buffalo while we were in Ontario. Niagara Falls because it has the distinction of being one of the most depressing and gorgeous places in the world and Buffalo because it’s basically written into my marriage contract with Andrew. We drove through Elevator Alley, of course, and then stopped in a few stores in Allentown, including the Hero Design store (such friendly staff and great prints) and Rustbelt Books (who were inexplicably rude to us, but the store is charming.)
I spent New Year’s in Vermont where the weather was mild and made for a lovely, foggy drive home on New Year’s Day. We had dinner in Montpelier, an indulgent New Year’s Eve meal that included lobster, celery root soup with truffle oil, foie gras, chevre and a chocolate souffle (Thank you, NECI.). On the way back to our hotel we stopped at a gas station to fill up the tank. While we were there, Andrew peeked in to the car and said, “Hey, come outside,” and I did, and in the distance there were dozens and dozens of gigantic candlelit paper lanterns floating lazily into the sky, higher and higher until they eventually blew out. We had just been talking about how living in Montreal had kind of ruined fireworks for us. When we first moved to the city, we lived close to La Ronde where every year they host the international fireworks competition. In the summer, week after week, countries compete against each other to demonstrate how adept they are with pyrotechnics. Sometimes we’d watch from our balcony and sometimes we’d walk over to the Pont Jacques Cartier, which the city would block off so that people could watch up close (one of the millions of reasons I love Montreal, obv.) I love fireworks in general, but they’re just not as powerful as those Montreal summer fireworks. But then, on New Year’s Eve in Montpelier, those lanterns, they were so graceful and amazing. And the point of this story (there is one!) is that I was actually sad about ending 2010, an incredible fireworks-ish year, and I was worried about how 2011 could live up to it. It could only be a disappointment in comparison, I thought. (I swear I didn’t shed a tear about it at the dinner table after my first glass of wine.) But then, something about those slow and rising and luminous lanterns reminded me that a calmer year, a quieter one, can be just as memorable, just as good. So, I’m excited for 2011. I hope you are too.
Some quick notes:
- Sorry for the overload of heavily iPhone app-ed photos on the site, but my camera battery died and I haven’t replaced it yet. I’ll get back to clearer photos eventually. Or maybe not; it’s not like this is a photo blog or anything.
- Expect to read longer posts on this site in 2011 as I get back into the swing of long-form personal narrative. Or something.