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.

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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.

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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?

The Original Fonz

….remember the TV show Happy Days?

Back in the 70s and 80s one of my favourite TV sitcoms was Happy Days with the Cunningham family. The show revolved around the teenage son, Richie (Ron Howard) and his friends. He had a father named Howard and his stay at home mom was Marion and he had a younger sister named Joanie. Richie’s friends often called Marion Cunningham ‘Mrs. C.’ when they greeted her. When I started teaching in 1976 my students often called me Mrs. C..

One of Richie’s best friends, especially later in the series was Arthur Fonzarelli,  better known as the Fonz or Fonzie. The part was played by Henry Winkler. I mention this because my father’s name is Heinz Winkler but when he first emigrated to Canada in 1954 his colleagues at work couldn’t pronounce his first name so they called him Henry instead. Consequently it wasn’t unusual for us to get phone calls asking for Henry Winkler.

When the show Happy Days became popular in the mid 70s my sisters and I were still living at home ( for me it was mostly in the summers when I wasn’t at university). Back then the telephone book was still widely used to find phone numbers and my father was listed as H. Winkler. Can you see where this story is going?

My father was close to 50 when the show aired for the first time and I don’t remember him being a big fan. My sisters, however, were very familiar with it and they loved to tease our father about his connection to the Fonz (in name only). They often picked up phone calls that were clearly from young girls looking to speak to the Henry Winkler from the TV show. They would play along and call my dad to the phone and tell him that someone wanted to talk to him. There were always lots of giggles at our end when this would happen.

The Fonz and my Dad did, however, have some similarities. Fonzie considered himself a lady’s man and in his younger days so did my father. Fonzie rode a motorcycle and back in Germany my father did as well. Last weekend I was looking through one of the old family photo albums and I came across this photo taken in 1952. The Original Fonz….whose cooler?

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Share Your World – Week 10

…..great questions Cee! I had to think about the second one.

Describe yourself in a word that starts with the first letter of your name.

This sounds like a getting to know you game I play at the beginning of the school year. We go around in a circle and everyone has to attach an adjective to the beginning of their name that is positive and starts with the first letter of their name. I often participate and seeing that my first and last name both start with C I can use the same words regardless of which name I choose to share with the kids.

Words that describe me are: caring, creative, curious, compassionate, and sometimes a little crazy. IMG_0342

If 100 people your age were chosen at random, how many do you think you’d find leading a more satisfying life than yours?

I think that I lead a very satisfying life. I only wish that at my age I didn’t have any debt but in less than 3 years the house will be paid for, I made the last payment on the car last month and one credit card is paid off. So putting that aside I would say that there would only be 10 people out of a 100 that would be leading a more satisfying life than me.

If you were a tree, would you become a book or furniture? Please describe.

I think I would be a piece of fine furniture. A book can be shared but a piece of furniture can be shared by several people at the same time and evoke life long memories i.e. family dinners around the dining room table. If taken care of furniture can be used for a very long time where a book needs special handling and won’t wear as well or as long unless it’s locked away.P1000798

You are trapped in an elevator, who would you want to be trapped with?

I would want to be trapped with my husband. We really do like each other’s company and we always find things to talk about. If I were trapped with a stranger, even a famous one, I’m not so sure that I would see the best side of this person. They could be claustrophobic or anxious or down right miserable. I’d rather meet them in more pleasant surroundings.P1000819

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

My Dad called me last week, thinking I was leaving for my holiday the next day. Other than being a little forgetful, I’m grateful that he is so healthy, physically and mentally. My good friend is going through a rough patch with her parents who are a little older than my Dad and she’s making some very difficult choices as I write this post. P1040061

This week I’m looking forward to my trip to Calgary. I leave on Wednesday with my middle sister. It’s been over 20 years since I’ve been there but it’s not the city that I’m excited to see. I have friends who’ve lived there most of their married life and my baby sister has been there for over 30 years. It’s time spent with friends and family that I’m looking forward to.

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One Last Meeting Before Heading Home

….and then I was down for the count with a head cold

The day after the wedding the sisters and their families got together for one last meal before heading back to Toronto, Oshawa, Calgary, Vancouver and for two lucky people, Hawaii.

There was some discussion by the more practical in the group that meeting for brunch didn’t seem to be a very economic thing to do when the hotel provided a ‘perfectly good breakfast’. After some debate, it was agreed that it wasn’t about the food but rather a chance to get together one more time before heading off in separate directions.

At around 11:00 we all met at the local pancake house allowing the early risers to take advantage of the ‘free’ breakfast back at the hotel. Everyone, including the early risers ordered brunch. I don’t know where they found room to eat again and some of us were being served lunch on the train a few hours later. Anyway it was nice getting together one last time and making final plans for dropping off the rental car and deciding what to do for one hour before heading out to the train station.

Now living in Chatham has a few downsides. One of them is that the car rental place isn’t open on Sundays so there was no one to drive us to the train station after we dropped off the car. My brother-in-law agreed to follow me to the rental office, drop off the keys in the drop off box and then drive me back to the station where the luggage and my family would be waiting.

The other downside, however, was that the train station didn’t open it’s doors until 30 minutes before the train arrived. That meant that the luggage and my sister who had to give up her seat in the car for me and all my family had to wait outside in the freezing temperatures while I returned the car.

That brings me to the final downside and that is the weather in Chatham. It is considerably colder than Toronto or at least it tends to get the bad weather first as it blows through southern Ontario towards the big city. There’s not much one can do about the weather and it’s been a brutal winter all over Ontario this year but it was just one more ‘uncomfortable’ aspect of our return trip.

We said our good-byes and my baby sister and her family and then they drove off to Windsor to catch a flight to Toronto, where they would individually make connecting flights to Vancouver and Calgary. My sister and her husband had slightly different plans. They would be staying overnight at the airport hotel in Toronto and then catching a flight to Hawaii the next day where they would celebrate their wedding anniversary for two weeks. Nice!

The train trip back was most enjoyable for my father. We had the seats with the large table between us and our seat mates were very friendly and talkative. They quickly learned all about my father’s past, starting with the war, his emigration to Canada, getting his first job at the Royal York Hotel, my mother’s death and how he met his current wife. The four trip went by very quickly.

Once we were at Union Station, my daughters and I regrouped and we made sure that my Dad got to the Go Train waiting room and bought his ticket to return to Oshawa. He phoned me later that night to let me know that he returned ‘safe and sound’ and that his car was still in the parking lot where he left it, three days earlier.

My daughter and I shared a cab and we went back to her place where my husband picked me up. It was nice to be home and back in my own bed. The next day, however, I felt a cold coming on. Isn’t that always the way. I’m not surprised though; my brother-in-law was complaining about his cold all weekend and I did hug him several times.

I had plans to attend the show Les Mis on Thursday with two of my good friends and L’s mom and we were a bit worried about me passing on my cold to M. After three days of suffering at school I decided to take the day off on Thursday and just rest before going to the show. I have to say that it did wonders for me and I didn’t cough once at the show. The show by the way was fantastic. It was the first time I’ve seen it and apparently this show has been getting rave reviews.

Les Mis in Toronto

So there’s my ‘Away and Down for the Count’ post done over three days. Thanks for your patience. I know that if you started reading mid way it was a bit confusing.

Cheers!