Happy Birthday, Dad – 91 Years Young

….birthdays are a big deal for my Dad

It’s Saturday morning, October 7th, and we’re sitting around waiting for friends and family to call Dad and send him birthday wishes. These phone calls mean the world to him as do birthday cards. He was so disappointed yesterday that no cards came in the mail. My sister in Calgary never forgets but this year she was away, moving her son to B.C. and it completely slipped her mind. I’m sure more cards will arrive after the long weekend.

This afternoon we’re going to take his iPad over to Apple and see if we can get it fixed, otherwise, he’ll be buying himself a new one for his birthday. For dinner he requested that we go to Mamma Martino’s for his birthday dinner so he can order spaghetti and meatballs. Kevin and I always call that restaurant one of our ‘cheap and cheerful’ places to go.

Well I think we’ve waited long enough for phone calls. I’m sure more will come in this afternoon. So far he’s received seven calls. Three from old friends and four from family.

His one request for his birthday was for a German plum cake with streusel. I’ve got the plums. I just need to find the time to make it now. Wish me luck!

 

My Dad’s Love

…..even at 90 Dad gets excited about my birthday

Days before my birthday, Dad went shopping and picked up two dozen red roses that he kept hidden in his apartment. On the morning of my birthday he got up early and brought up the roses, a box of chocolates and a birthday card and set them on the kitchen table. When I woke up an hour later I was greeted with this lovely gift.

IMG_2948

Later in the evening my husband, Dad and I went out for dinner at a new restaurant in the neighbourhood. Actually the restaurant has been there for ten years but it was our first visit. We had a lovely meal together.

fullsizeoutput_75ac

I’m truly blessed that Dad is still so vibrant and healthy. He really has a zest for life.

New Baby, an Anniversary, a Book Launch and a Pedicure with Dad

….what an exciting week

My middle sister became a grandmother for the first time. Her daughter had a little baby boy on August 15th. Mom, Dad and Baby Jale (pronounce Jah-lay) are all doing well. Hopefully in the next couple of weeks we’ll make the four hour drive to the farm to welcome the new little guy into our family.

On the 16th my husband and I celebrated our 42nd anniversary. We opted to celebrate with a special lunch. Being on a Wednesday we didn’t think that we’d need reservations but when we got to our first choice we couldn’t even find a place to park. We quickly decided to go to our second pick which was closer to home and luckily it wasn’t busy. We love this restaurant, Pulcinella, and the only reason it wasn’t our first choice was because we wanted something other than Italian food. In the end we decided that it was the perfect choice. We had wonderful service and the food was amazing.

The next day, quite by accident I discovered that a friend from long ago had written a book about the CNE and she was having a book launch in a bar just up the street from where I live. I was walking the dog at the time so I couldn’t go inside but I went home, dropped off the dog, grabbed my wallet and walked back up the street to support Lee. It was nice meeting some people that I had lost contact with and meeting some new people. One of the people that I met was a former editor of Canadian Living magazine. I knew of her and where she lived which surprised her. In the end we exchanged phone numbers and addresses and I should be getting a call in November to help with make-up for the Lakeshore Santa Claus parade. I guess this is how it starts. When people know you’re retired they quickly recruit you to do volunteer work.

Earlier that day Dad and I went to my favourite salon for nails and we both had pedicures done. It’s very interesting sitting next to your ninety year old father while having your feet worked on.  The owner of the salon worked on Dad and she was wonderful with him but we couldn’t convince him to paint his nails purple. Of course we were only teasing him. He laughed but firmly said no to colour.

High Park Kaffee Klatch

….after taking Dad to his doctor’s appointment we looked around for a place to have coffee

There have to be hundreds, if not thousands of places to enjoy a cup of coffee in Toronto. Even in the neighbourhood where the doctor’s office was there had to be at least a dozen places to choose from. My father, however, had other ideas and he remembered enjoying coffee at the restaurant that is situated in the middle of High Park. Luckily High Park was on the way home and not too far from where we were parked.

In the middle of the week the roads leading into the park are not too busy. The difficulty had to be staying within the speed limit which is 20 km/hour. Other than that everything else was positive. The parking in the park is free and the Grenadier Cafe has a beautiful new deck with shade trees and umbrellas over many of the tables. My father was very excited about treating me to coffee and pie. In the picture below you can see him using his serving skills that he learned as a young man when he apprenticed to be a waiter. Nothing makes Dad happier than enjoying a kaffee klatch in the middle of the afternoon.

Where to Take Out of Town Guests?

…..why Niagara Falls, of course

Last week my son and daughter-in-law were visiting from London, England. It was a crazy busy week and the nine days that they were here flew by in a flash. Last Saturday we drove them back to the airport.

The first four days, Brendan and Azadeh stayed at our oldest daughter’s place and for the last five days they came to our house. Tuesday turned out to be one the nicest days we had in terms of weather. For most of the day it was warm and sunny and was the perfect day to drive to Niagara Falls. From our place in Toronto it is about an hour and a half drive.

On our way down we ran into a slow down in traffic because of construction. I made a decision and made a detour that took us through some wine country. Bonus! I wasn’t exactly sure where my decision was going to take us but when we arrived in the town of Jordon and right in front of the Cave Spring Wine outlet I knew I had made the right choice. We got out of the car and sampled a little bit of wine (it was just 12:00 noon) and bought a couple of bottles. Everyone enjoyed our little detour.

My Dad joined us for this outing. He’s seen Niagara Falls numerous times so he was more interested in going to the casino. Once we got back on the highway we had avoided the construction and quickly arrived in downtown Niagara Falls. We went straight to the casino, parked the car and dropped Dad off at Casino Niagara. From there Brendan, Azadeh and I walked over to Clifton Hill and down to the Falls.

Clifton Hill has a carnival like atmosphere. We took a few photos but didn’t go into any of the attractions. Here are a few photos of our walk down to the Falls.

The falls of course did not disappoint. Going in the middle of the week is not a bad idea if you can get away because it’s not as busy as it is on weekends. The line-ups for the boats that go right up to the Horseshoe Falls, however, were very long. Needless to say we gave this attraction a pass, especially since we had to be back at the casino to meet Dad in a couple of hours.

When we got to the top of the Canadian Falls we decided to go into the Table Rock refreshment building for a drink and a light bite to eat.

When we were done we only had 10 minutes to get back to the casino to meet Dad. We knew that it would be impossible to walk back in such a short space of time so we hailed a cab and drove back. Sure enough Dad was already waiting for us, right on time. We went back into the casino and let Dad show us his favourite machines. We all played for a little while. I was the only one who lost money.

When we got outside the skies had darkened considerably and we knew we were in for a big storm. I picked up the car and drove back to the casino entrance where everyone was waiting for me. We wanted to go to Niagara-on-the-Lake for dinner so we headed out on the Niagara Parkway. This is normally a beautiful and scenic drive but today we drove through a torrential downpour. Luckily when we got to the historic town of Niagara-on-the-Lake the skies had cleared. We went to the Old Angel Inn for dinner (apparently the oldest inn in Upper Canada). I’ve been there many times so I was pretty sure that the food would be good. It was. When we were done we decided to head back to Toronto so I don’t have any photos of this part of the trip. On the drive out of town we stopped at one more winery but it was just after 6:00 the place was already closed. Oh well, another time perhaps!

If you’ve never been to Niagara Falls you need to visit when you’re in southern Ontario. It is, after all, one of the world’s natural wonders.

Stealing the Show

…..how toddlers and 90 year olds become the centre of attention

One of my fondest memories of my retirement party will be how my father hugged all the women and held court for much of  the evening and when he wasn’t the centre of attention my granddaughter took over by running throughout the restaurant with my retirement balloons flying behind her.

I’m glad that the evening had a very casual atmosphere. During the speeches my father came up behind some of the presenters and asked me, in his loud booming voice, if they were singing a song for me (they were actually reading from a story book). During one of the more serious moments Winnie made everyone laugh as she flew by with her balloons.

IMG_2174IMG_2223IMG_2225IMG_2230IMG_2247IMG_2255IMG_2256IMG_2258

The Perfect Gift

…..besides being with family over tshe holidays

I know that in a previous post I declared that presents weren’t important to me and that family was everything. Despite that sincere sentiment I did have some very thoughtful and welcome gifts given to me this year.

Anything to do with art is always most appreciated. This Christmas my secret Santa gifted me a five drawer rolling organizer and a desktop marker organizer. Hopefully this will help me get my supplies neatly organized and free up my work table so that I can actually create some art. She also gave me a new set of Pigma pens and artist’s hand soap. My son in London sent me paper and a beautiful set of pencil crayons.

p1020163

Last year my husband gave me a very nice camera, a Panasonic Lumix, DMC-GF7 and for my birthday he gave me a macro lens to go with it. Unfortunately the camera has so many features that I frequently get lost trying to use it. My brother-in-law who  is very proficient with all types of cameras, confirmed that I had a very fine camera. When he was here in October he gave me a quick lesson on how to use some of the features. As soon as he left the camera malfunctioned. No one seemed to know what was wrong with the camera. When my brother-in-law returned in November he brought me one of his old zoom lenses that he no longer uses and that fit my camera. The problem with the camera, however, had not been resolved at that point so we couldn’t try it out.

Eventually we found someone who knew how to solve the problem. It turned out to be a quick fix.  Now I have a working camera with two amazing lenses and I still don’t know how to use them. Voila….the perfect present arrived. My husband enrolled me in two camera classes. The first class takes place in January and I will learn all about the ins and outs of my camera and the second class in February will teach me how to get the most out of my camera and how to use the camera in some creative ways. I can’t wait.

Since my husband and I are foodies the other gifts that are always most appreciated are items of food. This year I received homemade tomato sauce, chill sauce, relishes, jams and a variety of condiments and spices. Of course chocolates are always present in our stockings and under the tree. I love dark chocolate and anything filled with marzipan.p1020167

The last gift that was very special was a beautiful Pandora leather bracelet with a silver charm with our granddaughter’s initial. This was also from my husband.img_0793

As nice as all these things were I still find time with my loved ones the most precious gift of all. Today we travelled as a family to visit my father in Oshawa. Eleven of us went to his new apartment in the retirement home. His wife is very ill at the moment so he showed off his new place quickly and then gave us a tour of the facility. Everything is very new and beautifully decorated for the holidays. We ended up visiting in the library on the main floor. We were the only ones in there. It was the perfect spot where our granddaughter could run around, look at the fish tank and play with the soft decorations and remote controls. For the adults there were comfy chairs and a fire place where we could visit and talk. After opening a few gifts we headed over to the restaurant where we enjoyed a family meal together.

After describing all the fantastic gifts I received this Christmas I’d have to say that having  my granddaughter wiggle out of her mother’s arms to run over and hug me today was my most ‘perfect’ gift.

Did you have a perfect gift or a special moment to share this holiday season?