Jude:  Dad, can a guy's Dad be his best friend?
JoyBoy:  Yes, Honey.  The Dad might not always be the guy's best friend, but that's OK too.
Jude:  Dad, you're my best friend.
 
 
We leave for a little break tonight!  Since our plane leaves at about 6 in the morning, that means we'll be up well before the crack of dawn in order to make it to the airport on time.  Picture that and combine it with four sleepy kids (not to mention their parents).  I wish I could just snap my fingers and find myself lying on the beach!  Ah well; there's no question that it's well worth it.  I hope that each of you have an uncommonly beautiful Christmas.  I thank God for each of you in my life.  Thanks for all that you bring.  If you need to contact me, the phone is decidedly out.  Evidently, phone calls out of the country are off-the-charts expensive.  I will, however, be checking email regularly.  Bless you all.  Until we meet again, here are some snaps of the infinity pool and the view from our condo:
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One of my most precious possessions; my husband's bathtub from his infancy!
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Christmas scenes from around our home.
 
 
The JoyFam lives in a part of the world where snow - that elusive, magical elixer - rarely sees the light of day.  Our winter days reek of grey and wet.  And damp.  Oh the incessant damp.   Sometimes it makes my bones  feel tired.  However, every rare now and then, the weather Powers-That-Be tell us that snow makes its merry way down to us.  We are all agog when it first makes its grand entrance, drifting down tentatively from the sky. 

We can't believe our luck.  We run - frenzied - to the garage, hoping against hope that therein may lurk snow boots that accomodate much-bigger-by-now feet.  I, the Mother, the-One-who-is-supposed-to-be-in-charge-of-such-things, berate myself, knowing that by now the snowboot shelves in the stores are staunchly bereft.  All the really organized mothers have snatched them all up by  now.  Their kids are at the top of the crazy-carpet hill right now as the rest of us stare gawping at the snow-speckled sky.  But of these uber-tobogganers we will say no  more.  

My kids run merrily, if somewhat less tastefully, outside.  Joy characterizes everything.  No one feels inclined to fight with their younger sister and not a tattle is heard in all the land.  Their snow suits don't match and sometimes the boots feel tight, but oh!  the exhileration of it all.  The dollar-store crazy carpets are dragged out from underneath a dusty workbench in the garage and bursts even of song can be heard as they make their way to the nearby hill.  Their childish footprints stagger to and fro as they follow their - by now - shared fancies and as I watch them with a cup of hot coffee thawing my chilled hands, the scene seems to capture and consequently mean far more than the ordinary trudging of four little kids to the biggest hill they can find.  I think I'm perhaps the luckiest woman there ever was.  All this snow.
 
 
You may have noticed from the beginnings of my booklist that there is a sort of pattern emerging.  I'm one of those rare (and some may say odd) birds who relishes reading about swoons, lazy, impossibly fancy ladies lounging on the sofa all the day long and smelling salts.  I like parlour maids, evenings full of games of whist (what is that anyway?), and scenes depicting men retiring to the library for port and cigars.  I love the antiquated feel of it all.  I love the dusty images these books bring to mind and I love the slight disorientation of bringing the reading session to a close and re-emerging into the 21st century.  Though I don't wish to emulate it for my own life and house and regularly-showered body, I love reading about the lavish ornamentation and the myriad textures covering both the heavy, formal furniture and the rarely bathed, but heavily powdered bodies of the ladies adorning the dance floors during formal balls.  Jane Austin is my best friend.
 
 
To really know me, it helps terrifically to know my sisters.  There are three of us and we are of the corny 'name-each-of-your-offspring-beginning-with-the-same-letter-of-the-alphabet' genre.  When I'm with them - which sadly isn't all that often anymore - it feels like a comfortable slipping on of one's favorite slippers.  The ones that are worn to a perfect, familiar softness.  Their lives and characters are molded inimitably to my own, even though we live in separate provinces and lay actual eyes on one another very seldom.  We  talk often about favorite things and then delight in discovering that the others have the very same favorite, despite the fact that we've never known it about one another.  For example, I don't even have to ask to know that both of them love Willy Wonka candy and hotsauce and guacamole and capers.   It goes without saying that they will.  I know, too, that they'll both add more lime to their respective guacamoles than anyone else would ever consider doing.   I know they love antique enamelware and eclectic decor that doesn't cookie-cutter anyone else's tastes.   I knew before her visit that J would love the hall of  mirrors I'm in the process of creating.  And my neophyte collection of antique linen.  We're perpetually exclaiming, "Same-ers!" in our emails to one another as some new revelation or other surfaces.  I'm relieved to never have to explain myself in clarification of some misunderstanding or another with my sisters.  They understand what I'm saying even before all the words make their way out of my mouth.  They instinctively 'get' my motivations and my foundational beliefs about life and people.  They look at the world in the same way that I do.  They are free to laugh at me when I'm being ridiculous and their good-natured and accepting way of doing so spares my dignity and shows me that I sometimes value my dignity a little too highly.  These slippers are warm.