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The holidays in Philadelphia

Over the holidays in December MJ and I decided to go back east to spend three weeks visiting with friends and family. We also decided, given the length of the trip, to see how bringing Caligula with us would go. MJ flew at first, and I followed the next morning with Caligula, and after a little nervous accident on the way to the airport, he was a model passenger as we took a daytime flight to Newark, where MJ picked us up.

Having him there with us was a real treat. The first few days he was a little nervous and uncertain about such a big place, compared to the condo, and all the stairs. We kept his litter box and food upstairs and he spent a lot of his time up there, making the guest room his own and enjoying the carpets upstairs. As the visit progressed he got comfortable with the whole townhouse and rekindled his love for fireplaces each evening with us, I even got him a blanket to sleep on in front of it. He also enjoyed the deck, even though it was pretty cold out throughout the trip.

The length and timing of our trip, partially influenced by coming in few days early to speak at an open source event, meant that we had to split our celebration of Hanukkah between coasts. The first night was spent in San Francisco before MJ flew out, and we spent the rest in Philadelphia. Splitting the nights like that certainly drew attention to the fact that our menorahs are accidentally identical.

Final night of Hanukkah, in Philadelphia

Going in a bit early also meant we had to change our plans for The Last Jedi. I had some great tickets at the Metreon in San Francisco, purchased when tickets were released, but I had to give them up and switch to a theater near the townhouse in Philadelphia. I would have liked to see it in a fancy IMAX, but seeing it at all on opening night was the bigger priority for me. The day after coming in MJ and I made our way over to Philadelphia Mills to see it. The movie didn’t disappoint!

Unfortunately, what did disappoint was my health. I’d had a cough that was troublesome for several weeks, but that allowed a sinus infection to creep in without me noticing. Even worse, it manifested in my eyes. After a particularly bad day and night with teary, gooey eyes, I had MJ bring me to the local urgent care, where they gave me some medicine and diagnosed the sinus infection. Thankfully I was still able to work, even if the sinus pain was incredibly unpleasant at times. The weather didn’t help though. It snowed enough to shovel in our neighborhood three times while we were there, and the whole northeast was hit by an incredible cold spell that plunged temperatures into the single digits. I got to use my waterproof winter boots and snow shovel for the first time, which was only novel for about five minutes into shoveling. Still, we didn’t have much that took us out during the worst of the snow, and I do actually enjoy the snow once I’m warned up and don’t have to drive in it.

While we were in town we decided to get some work done on the townhouse. We’d been meaning to add some final security features and get proper WiFi access points installed on each floor. This required several days of low-voltage work which cut into the ceiling on all three floors. There was drywall dust everywhere, and Caligula enjoyed rolling in it. The patch work was top-notch though and it was a real relief to finally have it all completed after Christmas. During this work we also re-ran some cabling behind the TV, which allowed for us to more properly install the PlayStation 4 that we picked up during our visit, thanks to holiday sales. A water softener was also installed while we were there. The shower door in the master bathroom was the most obvious sign of hard water day to day in the townhouse, so I cleaned it after the water softener was put in and was very happy when it stayed clear for the rest of our visit.

Not all was great with the townhouse on this trip though. Just before New Years I noticed a telltale moisture stain on the ceiling of the master bedroom. MJ immediately climbed up to the attic and discovered frost covering the ceiling. I won’t go into details here, but it’ll suffice to say some improperly completed work earlier in the year, exacerbated by the extremely cold weather, caused it. The holiday delayed response, but a restoration company was called in on January 2nd and Caligula and I had to stay longer to oversee the fleet of dryers and dehumidifiers brought in to dry it out. It was stressful, but the extra time in town did give me time to sync up with a couple friends, and see The Last Jedi again. I also got to pull out my model train for the final few days there and get it running smoothly with the root beer smelling smoke!

When it was finally time for us to leave several days later, the attic was dry and Caligula and I were delivered to the airport by a friend on Sunday evening. This time he wasn’t a great passenger. The poor critter vomited in his carrier at the gate, causing me to rush off to the restroom to clean up before the flight. He also meowed a lot during the flight itself. I think my mistake was taking an evening flight. He slept through most of our daytime flight in December, but the evening is when he likes to be awake. Being stuffed under the seat of a plane for five hours wasn’t to his liking. The flight was also pretty turbulent, which I’m sure didn’t help.

Still, we got across the country OK and MJ picked us up on the San Francisco side. Caligula immediately settled back into his familiar condo home, camping out on his Lion King blanket for the next couple of days. Our next trip back east will be sans cat, but I now expect it to be some time in late March. We have tickets to see City Hall station in New York City then, so I’m trying to figure out how to best schedule our visit.