I finally managed a trip to the Toronto area. I just got back from a visit which began in the last minutes of the passing year.
I had been trying for at least a month to arrange for a visit with my friend Lynne and my sister, Penny, during Christmas and New Year. I was frustrated with being unable to make arrangements to do so. The biggest problem was arranging for the care of Heidi while I was away. I originally wanted to be in Mississauga by December 19. That did not work out. Then I tried for Christmas Eve. No luck. There were a couple of more abortive efforts when I finally gave up and agreed to look after a neighbour's dog while he went South to spend the holiday with his daughter and new grandchild. At the last opportunity another member of the neighbour's household showed up and took over the dog sitting duties. I had heard that my son would care for Heidi but he would not be back from his visit South until the New Year. Finally, I took a chance and asked my neighbour to take care of Heidi and feed my cats until my son could come and get her. Such a plan worried me but I really wanted to visit South not only for some of the seasonal festivities but also to be present for my sister's 70th birthday.
After a neighbour drove me to Sturgeon Falls I caught the bus South. It would turn out to be an 11 hour trip which should have taken only 7. This got difficult when there was a layover of an hour in North Bay followed by the heaters on the bus failing making it difficult for the driver to keep his front windows clear. Luckily it was not very cold outside. I got off the bus in north Toronto and took the subway south to the Union Station where I could catch the GO (Government of Ontario) train to Mississauga. I just missed my connection as I sought to purchase a ticket only to find out rides were free this New Year's Eve. After waiting an hour I was on the next and last train out of Toronto. I finally made it to Lynne's place in Mississauga with less than an hour before welcoming in the New Year. It had been over 11 hours since I left my house.
I was finally in the warmth of Lynne'spresence and home with the welcome I lloked forward to expressed in the belated Christmas card below:
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Lynne had a lovely book to accompany the card. It is one I had expressed an interest in. ( I had mentioned it in a previous posting).
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This is Lesley Hazleton's lucid explanation of the historic schism within Islam that began after the death of the Prophet. This is the division of Shia and Sunni Islam. It is a fascinating read made very understandable by the clear writing style of the author. I spend time during my visit to read it and and managed to finish it on the train ride home a week later.
I had a lovely visit with Lynne which began with watching on TV some of the festivities on the streets of Toronto (Nathan Phillips Square) and in Time Square New York welcoming in the New Year. It was a relaxed week with Lynne. There were several lovely meals, a visit from her daughter and granddaughter, some movies on TV and some games of Scrabble. We each won a game and have yet to play the rubber match. Lynne is quite competitive so I expect we will play it the next time we meet. We had an opportunity to go to the NHL hockey game in Toronto and for some reason I was reluctant to go, so we took a pass. Shame on me! (I am not the fan I once was. How un-Canadian of me.) Another day we were planning to go to the Theatre and use Lynne's subscription tickets when her daughter was not able to go. I happened to mention the World Junior Hockey final was being played the same evening in Buffalo. Immediately, the theatre was out. Lynne is a enthusiastic hockey fan and we just had to watch on TV the Canada/Russia game for the gold medal. In Canada hockey is a "religion". Canada lost to the Russians , in a dramatic third period way, which made the game a national tragedy. We will get over it. At least we did not lose to the Americans. :)
January 4 was my sister's 70th birthday. Lynne and I went to share in a family party. Penny and David's four grown children were there along with their grandson. Elizabeth, her daughter, was home from London where she works and Scott, her eldest son, came in from Montreal, which he calls home. There were some friends also present. Good conversation, delicious food and reminisences were the activities of the evening. It was a lovely time and I am glad I made the effort to be there.
The next day, Penny came to Lynne's house and shared her thoughts and photos on her pilgrimage trek along the Camino de Santiago in Spain. Last year she did part of it with her youngest son. This past year she did the rest of it, part with her husband, David; the rest alone. She did have a short visit from Elizabeth during her trek. It was interesting to hear her impressions of the pilgrimage and the significance the whole experience was for her. This historic route was travelled prior to the Christian era by the ancient Celts who believed they were travelling to the edge of the World. It turns out it passes by the recent archeological finds of the oldest human ramains in Europe. Christians used this route as a pilgrimage route to celebrate the Life and influence of St James (Camino de Santiago or Way of Saint James
) whose relics (bones) are thought to be buried at the Cathedral of Compostela. Saint James is the patron saint of Spain. I think Penny was most moved by the ideal of travelling the Way that so many pilgrims had travelled before for centuries. There are many historic sites and symbols along the way. She completed the whole trail and earned the designation of "Pilgrim". It was an admirable feat for someone her age and I am happy she found it so meaningful.
This year Penny will be travelling again. She and David are going to Australia to visit a neice there. She also is going to London for the Royal Wedding. She has plans to sleep on the street overnight (weather permitting) in order to share the experience with the common folk gathering for the day of celebration) to wait for the wedding party to pass by. She is even more of a Royalist than I am. I would like to be there myself although I could not convince Lynne to consider it. My mother was always very interested in the Royal Family and in its own way being there on this occasion would be a tribute to her. I shall be glued to the TV for sure as will so many millions around the World.
Finally, the day came to come home. I had called my son's home to arrange with him to drive me home from Sturgeon Falls. I was so relieved when my youngest grandson, Travis, volunteered the information that Heidi was very good while there. I worried about her all the time I was away. I came home by train, my prefered way of travel. It takes about 5 hours to North Bay and then a half hour bus ride to Sturgeon Falls. Unfortunately, there is a two hour wait in North Bay to make the connection. I managed to finish the last few chapters of my book in this time so it passed quickly.
It was good to get home although the heat had been off in my house while I was away so it took a while to get it up to temperature. It would be a day before the walls, furniture and the like warmed up. I slept in my own bed with all my clothes on as the mattress was very cold. It was good to be home with Heidi who now was warming the other side of the bed. It was a lovely trip with no regrets.