Christmas Day with my family at Jeff and Carol's, and as always they lay on a fabulous spread and make us feel warm and welcome. Some of us are far away, in England, Alberta and USA. But, at one moment, we've got Ontario, Edmonton and Washington all in one room, bringing us as together as we can be. In a moment like this, you can't say one bad thing about technology.
(Obviously, as I'm in the photo, I can't take credit for this "photo of the day" – the credit would go to my daughter Carly for having the sense to capture a moment.)
Lingering in St. Catharines the day after our our big Thanksgiving dinner, we decide to take a walk along the lake to Port Dalhousie. I probably don't have to say that a day like this, having some time with a family that likes each other so well, is among the greatest gifts. I don't need to be reminded to be grateful for what I have. But I'm sure glad we have a day that reminds us to say it out loud.
Rooftop picnic with my girls and Ceri. The season is changing and one of the ways I can tell is that I'm getting nesty. Summer remains in all its August loveliness, and yet I'm starting to think about making things like soup, and ways to preserve this bounty. But nothing can preserve what it's like to eat fresh Ontario tomatoes, peppers and corn outdoors on a clear summer evening. August – I'm hanging on to you for all I'm worth.
After last night's show, I would have easily slept until ten; however I am up early to get on the GO train to hook up with Cathy and Elaine for a road trip to Michigan to celebrate cousin Michael's wedding. It's a beautiful day for a car ride and the good company and cups of coffee make me forget the short night, and we're excited to spend some time with lots of our family.
We arrive in town a little too late to stop at Janet and Mike's to change; we can't risk making the sister of the groom late. Instead, we stop at a McDonalds and change into dresses and powder our noses in the restroom. Then we immediately get lost looking for a church which is not the one we have known since we were kids. There is a comical moment when we arrive just as everyone is exiting the church and we lurk around the corner so as not to be caught in our tardiness.
Eventually we own up and everyone is happy to see us. We have a celebratory drink at a downtown pub, catching up with Dad and Julie, Uncle Rod and Aunt Joyce, Aunt Sharon and Uncle Lloyd and all the cousins. Later we move on to the reception where there is a large buffet, lots of kids running around, dancing and and picture taking.
This visit, we stay with cousin Andy and his family, and it's really great to see their home and get to know Sherry and the kids. The kids swim, we talk and sip margaritas, and at midnight we're treated to the most luscious and welcome BLT sandwiches. Next morning, Chef Andy gives Elaine a lesson on making a canteloupe crysanthemum, a beautiful cookbook, a chef's hat and some cooking tools. Lainey is chuffed and inspired. We have a gorgeous brunch and more visiting with everybody at Aunt Sharon's in the morning. It's hard to leave.
Whenever we visit our Michigan cousins we come away planning for more and longer visits. We just want to have a little more time. When I was a kid, the weeks we had in summer and Christmas celebrations together were highlights of my year. We're all middle aged now and nothing's changed; the familial love has never faded or diminished even though our times together are fewer and more fleeting. On the way home Cathy and I talk about how remarkable it feels to be on the receiving end of that kind of love, and what a perfect cap to the summer this has been.
When I was a kid, the highlight of every summer was getting together with my Michigan cousins. Now we're all middle-aged and we're as happy to see one another as we ever were. Big smiles all night long. Feeling thankful for my family, and events like weddings that bring us together.
First day of vacation today. Most of it devoted to being ready for the rest of the vacation.
In the afternoon I ride downtown to do a couple of quick things at the office, go to the gym, and shop for a few items. When six o'clock rolls around I'm famished, and stop at Fran's for that big salad. I can't get a seat on the patio, but that's okay. All those shmucks that did get seats on the patio won't get to be sitting on the deck of the cottage on the Manitoulin Island next week.
Before getting on my bike to head home, I find this sculpture of a little family in Berczy Park. I think it's an appropriate shot in celebration of my upcoming holiday with my family.
Today I have a dinner party in honour of Pati, who is leaving the city to move home to Kingston in a week. When I came to the city, Pati was one of two cousins who live here. Having family available makes adjusting to a new city so much easier. Regular time with family makes all the difference in the world in how you manage in a big, bad city like this one.
It's three for three in the long weekend weather department – we get another summery day and are able to have the dinner party on my condo's rooftop. Sherrill brings cheese dip. I've made ahead asparagus-barley "risotto" and quinoa salad. And serve crusty bread with butter, mustards and cold cuts. Everybody approves, much wine is consumed and the celebration is great fun.
Bon voyage on this next great adventure Pati. As I told you, I am a big supporter of adventures and fresh starts. But we're really going to miss you.