Monday, January 29, 2007

The Holidays (Part 2)

David and Emily arrived Saturday evening, December 30, about 4-5 hours later than we'd planned owing to weather difficulties somewhere along the way.

By that time we figured it made sense to go somewhere for dinner rather than try to cook. Our first choice, the new Cheesecake Factory at Walden Galleria, was totally packed, with a two-hour wait! (Only in Buffalo do you get incredibly long lines for "new!" chain restaurants; last time I checked it was just about as bad at Panera Bread, of all places.) We ended up at Smokey Bones, yet another chain, but one that serves pretty decent BBQ. Didn't hurt that they have about 20 flat panel television monitors, all with sporting events. So we watched UGA pound Virginia Tech in the Peach Bowl, which was kinda fun (considering we NEVER watch football.)

Sunday evening we had a little New Year's Eve get together at our house; D & E were, as usual, pressed into temporary duty as housebots -- they're so good at it and remarkably uncomplaining! The "do" was very simple, just us and the kids, plus our across the street neighbors (Matt and Anita), one of Naoyuki's colleagues and her husband (Shaneli and Scott), and our in-town friend, Jim. In addition to munching cheese and crackers and nachos and chips and, all washed down with some late harvest Vidal from Konzelmann's in Niagara-on-the-Lake, we played team Trivial Pursuit, until we couldn't take it any more. Shaneli and Scott had to leave early so we all trotted over to Matt's and Anita's house where Anita's mom, Kathy, was watching the kids (Hannah, Erin, and Brennan), and we made LOTS of noise when the big ball finally dropped in Times Square.

Monday we staggered out of bed in time to drive up to Toronto (it takes about 2 hours or a little more, depending on traffic) to see one of the last performances of the Blue Man Group at the Panasonic Theatre on Yonge Street. It was and wasn't what I expected (the percussion, yes, the "fun with paint and twinkies," no) but we enjoyed it, regardless. We got to town early enough to have a quick bite of lunch across the street at Zyng, an Asian noodlery (one of about 20 in about a 4-block stretch of Yonge), which was quite yummy. We'd tentatively planned to stay after for dinner but the show wasn't really that long (about 90 minutes) and when it was over we decided just to head home instead.

What else?

We rented all kinds of movies, most of which I didn't watch. David and Emily and I went to see The Good Shepherd (Matt Damon, Angelina Jolie, and many other big names), which I quite liked even though it was somewhat depressing. All four of us went to see Children of Men, which Naoyuki was thinking would be something like The Producers -- guess what? It isn't! Not remotely! Another great movie but even more depressing than The Good Shepherd. Sort of odd movies to be coming out at that time of the year, if you ask me, but no one does, of course!


Another evening (Wednesday? Thursday? I forget now) we had ALL the Weppners over again, this time for spaghetti, hanging out with the kids, etc. Brennan and I watched Finding Nemo (he's seen it about 3000 times, which is pretty good since he's celebrating his 4th birthday tomorrow!) while Hannah and Erin were completely fascinated by our travel photos. :-)

Soon enough it was time to take 'em back to the airport. Not sure when the next visits will be; David has spring break in March, Emily has spring break in early April, and then I'll be down in Atlanta for her high school graduation Memorial Day weekend.

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Monday, January 08, 2007

Holiday Happenings (Part 1)

For Christmas weekend Naoyuki and I went to Niagara Falls, Ontario, mostly figuring most things in Buffalo would be closed and, well, why not?

Naoyuki found (as usual) an enormously good deal on a hotel room, this time at the Sheraton on the Falls, which has a stunning view of the American Falls and the Rainbow Bridge, plus it is attached to several attractions, including Casino Niagara and the Fallsview Indoor Waterpark, which is a scarily gigantic six-story dome-covered attraction built, believe it or not, on top of a parking deck!

Not that we did anything that exciting. Our activities included an exquisite Saturday afternoon lunch at Peller Estates in Niagara-on-the-Lake; jam shopping at another NOTL favorite, Kurtz Orchards; a quick trip up to Burlington, ON to check out IKEA for the first time in a long, long time; a peek at the Royal Botanical Gardens, also in Burlington, where we found a couple of deeply-discounted framed prints of (all things!) palm trees; and dinner at Yukiguni, reputedly the best sushi restaurant in Niagara Falls and certainly the best we've found this side of Toronto. We also spent some time dithering around Fallsview Casino, including Christmas Eve dinner at Asian Pearl (I regret to report that they were horribly understaffed and even if the food had been more than just so-so I still would have had a hissy-tanty. As it was, I walked out telling the people lined up to get in, "you don't want to eat here!") Quite dismaying, really.

Christmas Day we headed back to Buffalo, where we had some lunch at the home of our friends Matt and Anita and their three young children (Hannah, Erin, and Brennan.) Then home to touch base with the kids and their mom and various grandparents (more about THAT another time...)

Unfortunately, I came down with a cold the very next day, nothing really icky but tiring, nonetheless. I worked at GCC on Friday, December 29th, even though I was still feeling a bit under the weather. My guess was that it would be about the slowest day of the year -- and I was right!

David and Emily arrived the next day. (See Part II)

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