Tuesday, January 19, 2016

A weekend of reflecting on love and marriage...

Well hello to you all, and I'm happy to be with you again after a long weekend! I was blissfully away on my little anniversary getaway with Mike for a few nights, and we were terribly sad to come back, though happy to be reunited with the kids. I unfortunately developed some sort of nasty cold right before we got back, so I'm typing my happy recollection post over here with an unfortunate fever rash. :( (Gross! Sorry, I know). The perils of having very fair skin, I'm afraid.

At any rate, I have LOTS to tell you all, but we'll get to all of that over the course of this week. Today I wanted to focus on my trip and some quick thoughts on wedding anniversaries. Got your beverage? I've just about sucked down my entire giant travel mug of coffee, but that's just the way things roll on the first day back to work after a long and glorious weekend.

Let's circle back to Friday. Mike and I dropped the kids with their grandparents and headed north to beautiful and quaint Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario. We went last year as well, to commemorate our milestone 10th wedding anniversary. This year is not a milestone, but we figured "why not? life is short" and booked our reservations back in the fall.

In a fortuitous difference as compared to last year, the weather was beautifully seasonal and not Sear The Skin Off Your Face cold. I mean, as I described in last year's post, we're all about the winter weather, but the cold front that came through 12 months ago really knocked our socks off. The wind chill was dangerously frigid, and people were RUNNING from shop to shop to avoid having even the smallest bits of uncovered skin exposed to the elements. It was wild. This year we were like:

"Oh look, the lake! Let's go take a walk down by it."

Last year was:

"There's a lake here?!"

And when the lake in question is LAKE ONTARIO, one would think you would spot it pretty easily. But it was just all hazy with blowing and drifting snow last year, and you couldn't get *near* the water. This year, while cold and snowy, was very manageable and winter wonderland-like.

So we checked into the idyllic inn that we usually stay at, and headed to afternoon tea. If you've never been to Traditional Afternoon Tea at the historic Prince of Wales hotel, this is something you *must* check out should you ever be in the area. We settled into a cozy table and happily ordered our tea. It was sublime:

Adorable, right?? The tea was good too. ;-)
We lingered and chit chatted to our hearts' content before heading out to some of our favorite shops. Unsurprisingly, given my sweet tooth, my very favorite is the quaint fudge shop, where I procured multiple bricks of fudge for the kids and I. And herein we encountered something distinctly foreign (but good) to our American sensibilities: the mechanism for paying by credit card outside of the U.S. I've never traveled anywhere internationally aside from Canada, but I believe this applies pretty much everywhere. :) We're very behind the times when it comes to protecting against credit card fraud, to be sure. So in Canada, when you pay by credit card, they bring over this handheld credit card device, even right to your table in restaurants (where you can put the calculated tip in and everything, very convenient). And if you have a card with a chip in it (and not all Americans do; Mike and I have brand new cards that have a chip as of only a few months ago) there is apparently a separate slot for you to put it in, rather than swiping it. I did not know this. ;-) So when I went to pay for the fudge, the nice fudge lady brought that machine out, and I tried to look like I knew what I was doing, because the machine was different from the mounted ones I'm used to in stores. I carefully swiped, then accidentally switched the language to French when prompted, because, you know, I'm CLUELESS. And so I was staring at it innocently, hoping for an instruction to pop up that I could discern and discreetly maneuver my way back to my native tongue, when the fudge lady looked down at what I was doing and raised a knowing eyebrow:

"Are you from the U.S.?"

I wonder what tipped her off? :0

"Yes." *sheepish*

"Your card has a chip, so you have to put it in here, with the chip facing up. But I don't think you all have PIN's yet in the same way that we do, so it won't ask you for that. Then you just follow the directions, and it will tell you when to remove the card."

Whew. After that I could pretend a lot easier than I was adept at using those machines, I just had one further accidental switch to French in the liquor store. ;-)

With our fudge secured, we enjoyed a lovely walk up and down the main street, and some quiet time before dinner:

I'm not usually so pushy, but I asked our waiter to take a photo of us. It was a special occasion. :)

OK, SO! Highly amusing anecdote surrounding dinner. Mike and I are all blissful, contentedly eating our meals and sipping cocktails, when I notice something. Back story: last year on our anniversary trip, we were sitting in this very same restaurant, and during the course of our dinner, we spotted our neighbors from a few doors down sitting at the bar. That didn't seem particularly odd, as Niagara-on-the-Lake is not a long drive from where we live, and January is Ice Wine Festival season there. A bit of a coincidence, certainly, but nothing crazy. A number of people drive in to attend ice wine events and tastings, which are very well regarded in the Niagara wine region. They were chatting with another couple, so we didn't interrupt them to go say hello. Plus, it's not like we really *know* them anyway. We always greet each other politely if we encounter each other out on Halloween or at the annual Block Party, but that's about the extent of it. So, flash forward again to this past Friday night. Now, bear in mind, while still January, we're at Niagara-on-the-Lake on a totally different weekend than we were last year, due to having to switch our trip for Mike's grandma's funeral. I'm lifting a wedge of cheddar cheese to my mouth and nearly drop it back onto my plate:


Mike is taking a sip of his drink and lifts an eyebrow at me in acknowledgement.

"I think that's one of our neighbors at the bar, the wife."

Mike turns and quietly chokes on his Manhattan.

"Well, that's definitely the husband next to her, so it has to be them."

"It's a different weekend, so I didn't think...what are the chances?!"

Different weekend, but yet we're in the exact same spot as them at the exact same time on a now annual basis? That's really uncanny.

"Do you think they're here for the ice wine festival?"

"I don't know, but now I'm dying to find out. Do you think we should go say hello?"

"That seems awkward, since they're with friends. But if we wait to mention this coincidence until the next time we happen to bump into them back at home... that seems even *weirder,* don't you think?! We'll look like stalkers."

Can you imagine the potential future encounter?

"Oh hey, how are you? Nice day we're having, yes. Say, we had occasion to notice that you like to travel to Niagara-on-the-Lake every January, two years running, and dine at the Prince of Wales lounge. Are you ice wine fans?"

It's like a scene out of a Hitchcock film.

It was a quandary, to be sure. In the end, like the introverts that we truly are, we left without saying anything to them. And then the next time we run into them in our neighborhood we'll totally freak them out by mentioning all of this, just you wait. That'll definitely be a bloggable moment. :0

Back in our room, we settled into our bliss:

See my crocheting resting on the arm of the chair by the fire? Complete heaven, right there.
I LOVED our room. (aside from the loud trio of groomsmen attending a local wedding situated across the hall from us). It had two wing back chairs by the gas fireplace, in addition to lots of other cute and homey built-ins and furnishings. As I mentioned above, Mike and I are both introverts, and we were VERY content to have what I call Parallel Solitude: me in one chair crocheting, he reading in the other. No TV, no music, just silence and an occasional noise from the fire. It was comforting knowing the other person was there, and we'd exchange thoughts every now and then as we sipped our wine. But the quiet time was just...so wonderful. When you have small kids, you come to really appreciate quiet moments. And Mike and I, in particular, are people who love quiet. And to be alone. I treasure having a partner who knows and understands that. Don't get me wrong, we enjoy our together time as well. We certainly had lots of occasion for that on this trip. ;-) But we can both comfortably rest in our own thoughts and recharge without the other feeling left out or lonely. Bliss, I tell you, the best of both worlds:

"I need a picture for my blog!" He's such a good sport, is it any wonder why I adore him so much?
We had just a fantastic time. Oh! And we went to the vigil Mass on Saturday night, absolutely divine. On Sunday morning before we left, we took another walk down by the lake and spotted some adorable water fowl:

Lots of Canada geese and Mallards, to be sure. But I also spotted what looked to be some sort of Tern, and Bufflehead. We enjoyed watching and listening to them for a spell.

To be honest, it was so idyllic I felt a bit melancholy coming back. It was a really wonderful weekend. And I'll get sappy for a moment. I've always loved and appreciated my husband. But this weekend made me reflect on that even further. We've been married for 11 years, together for 13 years counting dating and engagement. And after that time, I can honestly say that I am still VERY much in love with my husband. Very much. No marriage is perfect, nor any human person, and we're no exception to that. But 11 years ago, when I chose him, I chose well. I chose a sweet and loving partner who suits me well. Who makes me laugh every single day. Who I find irresistibly attractive. And I am very grateful to God for helping us to find each other.

How was your weekend, dear reader? Tomorrow is going to be a Catholic Book Club review day for Raising the Barre, looking forward to discussing it with you!


  1. This is so great! My parents are going to be celebrating their 25th anniversary this August. They keep going back and forth on what they want to do. Originally, they thought about taking a whole family trip down to Florida, but that's a lot of people and too expensive. Now they are pricing out a trip to Mackinac Island and Niagara. ;)
    The only thing my mom is worried about now is who is going to watch my niece, who will be about 4 months old by then, while we are all at work.

  2. Whar an awesome post! Happy anniversary and as for milestones, I think EVERY anniversary is a milestone. BTW, my husband snd I have been married for 36 years - I know what I'm talking about! 😉

  3. Hi Samantha! Congratulations to your parents, what a lovely milestone! I'm glad that they are thinking about a trip to celebrate. :-) My parents did at 25 years too, and gosh, they're now coming up on 50 years! This year will be 47 years. We're going to have to get party planning soon! :0

  4. Hi Beth, thanks so much for writing in! I completely agree, each year should be special, right? We never know how many years we'll have on this earth, and each one should be celebrated. :)

  5. Sounds like a wonderful weekend, happy anniversary! I just discovered your blog a couple weeks ago and really enjoy it, especially the videos. Super-nerdy, but I've even been going back through the archives and reading the older posts...what can I say, I'm a librarian, too. :) I'm not Catholic (well, I sort of am, but that's another story...) but I love learning about the saints and prayers you talk about.

  6. Hi ANNE! So happy to have you here! And I'm thrilled that you're reading through the Life of a Catholic Librarian archives. ;-)Too bad we can't chat irl over a cup of coffee or glass of wine, but I hope that you'll comment regularly so that we can at least chat in this format!

  7. Best Anniversary Wishes to you and Mike! Your trip sounds perfect! I agree- celebrate each and every anniversary!


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