b Papa Dog's Blog: Random Notes from Our Jaunt to Edmonton (no heavy drinking or casual sex described)

Papa Dog's Blog

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Sunday, January 01, 2006

Random Notes from Our Jaunt to Edmonton (no heavy drinking or casual sex described)

Thanks and kudos to Charles for his very entertaining run in the faversham this past week. It was great to have a vacation from the grind for a little while. I didn’t even really look at this page until Charles was three or so days in, and didn’t catch up reading it until we were back from Edmonton. It was very nice to not have that deadline hanging over my head every day.

For those of you who’ve grown accustomed to the presence of actual narrative herein, I’m afraid this instalment will disappoint. I’m feeling inspired by Charles’ serial to dredge up a few more stories from the bad old days, but I’m not ready to do them quite yet. For the moment, I’ll confine myself to a few recollections from my week away.

Traveling with Baby Dog was actually very easy. We got many compliments on her good behaviour from flight attendants, who should know whereof they speak. The first leg of the return trip was particularly easy; our departure happened to coincide with nap time. She fell asleep on takeoff and didn’t wake up until we landed in Salt Lake City an hour and a half later. On the other hand, when we arrived in Edmonton around midnight on Christmas night, she’d been sound asleep for quite some time and stayed that way through customs, baggage claim, and into my sister’s car. Unfortunately, getting her out of her coat and clothes and into her pyjamas for bed proved one disturbance too many. She woke up as I was putting her pyjama top on and seemed disinclined to fall back asleep. I figured I might as well take her upstairs to see all the people who’d been waiting up to meet her, and she put on a happy show of cherubic precocity for her grandparents and aunt and cousins. She seemed particularly taken with a little foam rubber chair belonging to her first cousin once removed; it was just her size and featured a picture of Winnie the Pooh. When we took her back downstairs to go to sleep, it was one in the morning and she was totally wired. That was the roughest night.

The biggest disappointment: as we were making our descent into Edmonton, I looked out the window and said, “Huh, that’s funny. I don’t see any snow.” I thought at first it might be because we were flying over well-ploughed industrial yards, but it turned out to be because there wasn’t any snow. There had been snow, but temperatures had risen in the week before and it had all melted. The temperature was stuck around a wussy zero Celsius the entire time we were there, and no snow came. So much for showing Baby Dog what winter looks like. No snow in Edmonton on Christmas day. Yeah, that global warming’s a myth.

Baby Dog charmed and astounded her relatives with her burgeoning grasp of language and her habit of pointing out (correctly) letters wherever she sees them. One morning at breakfast, Baby Dog pointed across her highchair tray and said something that sounded like “why.” I thought maybe she was saying “boy,” in reference to my great-nephew (her elder by a year), who was seated across the table. Then I thought maybe she was referring to fruit on the table, saying “berry,” which sometimes comes out of her sounding something like “boy.” Then she said, “double-you,” and I finally understood she was reading my niece’s t-shirt, which said “TWEETY.” “Tee,” she added by way of further clarification.

A highlight of the trip was a gathering at my nephew’s new house, with his parents (my sister and brother-in-law) and siblings. The house had wall-to-wall carpet, not something I’m usually too keen on but an irresistible novelty for Baby Dog. She rolled around and slid on her back and cackled and gambolled. It’s the closest she came all trip to making snow angels. The best thing about this particular gathering was that there was a large enough enclosed safe space for Baby Dog to play in and enough responsible adults around watching her that Mama Dog and I were able to carry on a conversation with my nephew and his wife without constantly checking on what the child was doing. If you don’t have or haven’t had a small child, that may not sound like such a big deal, but trust me, it’s huge.

Baby Dog will little note nor long remember this particular trip, but I know her aunts and uncle and grandparents and cousins will, and it included many memories that her parents will treasure on her behalf. We received an embarrassment of Christmas gifts (particularly considering all we sent was one Harry and David package per household), but hands-down the best and most thoughtful gift came from niece C. She gave us a scrapbook for Baby Dog, with each page devoted to a different element of our baby’s family. There was a page with pictures of Mama Dog and me, one with pictures of my parents, one with pictures of sister L’s family, one with sister A’s, and so on. There was even a page devoted to Doggy Dog, with snaps taken during niece C’s and niece T’s visits down here. Towards the end there was a page headed “First Canadian Christmas,” with pictures of Baby Dog and the extended family taken that very morning. The other day I showed Baby Dog the album and tried to get her to repeat the names she’d learned during her stay; Grandma, Grandpa, Auntie L, Auntie A, etc. All my suggestions brought blank stares, perhaps because most of the pictures were a little old and perhaps didn’t gibe exactly with her memories of those people. When I showed her the “First Canadian Christmas” page, I said, “Look, there’s M with Baby Dog! And there’s A!” Her face lit up with recognition and she pointed a little finger at the background of the picture. “Pooh bear chair!” she exclaimed. I guess we all have to decide for ourselves which memories are the important ones.


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