Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Victoria Daze

A lot of things in my life have pivoted around Victoria Day, or thereabouts. I moved out on my own in May; thirteen years later to the day, Bonnie died. I took possession of the place I'm living in now in May. Drove a car by myself alone for the first time in May (long ago!). Did... something else... for the first time in May. :) Ahem. (Again, long ago.)

Last night as I sat up there watching local folks send up fireworks all over the neighbourhood, I wondered if maybe I might be watching the next set from a different home. I suppose it's up to me. If I want to make that happen, I'm pretty sure I can. The primary obstacles seem to be lethargy on my part and unrealistic expectations. If I accept what I can do, and then push the first domino over, it'll happen.

So we've just come through another Victoria Day weekend, which is the unofficial "official" start to summer in Canada. It was a pretty busy one for me.

Saturday P-Doug had these tickets to an unusual sort of outing... a gathering of urban food trucks... y'know, chip wagons... on the Peller Estates winery in Niagara Region. So it it was this odd conjunction of sampling some of Ontario's prize-winning Niagara wines along with trucks that were selling wood-fired pizza and fish and chips. P-Doug and I had a few samples of white wines interspersed with trying a rubbed chicken sandwich and chicken tikka masala over chips (first curry I ever had, about 15 years ago now, was over chips). We were there about two hours. Parking was across the road and just about a kilometer away. The walk there and back, decorated with flurries of dandelion fluffy, did us good, P-Doug said.

I should point out the the first stop, however, was a huge book warehouse we've been to before. It used to be a yard for repairing steam locomotives, I'm told. I picked up a couple of puzzle books for my dad, and for myself, an excellent book about B&W digital photography (tricks on wringing great monochrome shots out of colour images), and autobiographies of William Shatner and Michael Moore. From there, it was off to Peller Estates and the ring of chip wagons. :)

After that we drifted north up the Niagara Parkway along the river toward Fort Erie. Eventually we passed the Falls... funny, there was a time that would have locked my attention but this time it was just a few casual glances. Well, it's not the same passing it in a car with it 100' away and 300 people blocking the view as it is getting up and there and barely having the nerve to step up the the retaining wall.

We got to Fort Erie and drove down a street even I remembered, with a Chinese restaurant on it that we've frequented a few times over the years. He and I didn't go there this time; he was looking for a corner store to get something to drink. A bottled water and a couple of small ice cream cones later we were back on the road. Toronto saw us having the baked wings and carrot sticks at the Three Monkeys. Nice capper.

Sunday it was my turn to go pick him up. I got him about 12:15 and we headed west to Dig's place for a BBQ. Bolt asked if I could pick him up on my way through Oakville. The traffic on the Queen Elizabeth Way that had been so clear on Saturday was a mess on Sunday; sheer volume of traffic, no accidents. We left the highway at Winston Churchill Blvd. and took Upper Middle Road across Oakville, but there was no avoiding getting back on the QEW to head to Dig's. It was slow going but it was moving as we crossed Burlington. I took the exit to the 403 for a couple of reasons. One was that I wanted to drop in on my folks for a couple of minutes to drop off the books for my dad. The other was that with the traffic still grinding on the QEW, it looked like the fastest way to get to Dig's was to take the expressways up the Mountain and back down to Stony Creek. And that's what we did. We arrived at about 2:30, which was over two hours after I got rolling.

Everybody who was invited eventually showed up. It was Dig and his missus, and me and P-Doug and Bolt, and eventually Larry dropped in. Burgers and sausages. Lots of conversation over five hours or so. Did everyone some good, I think.

After that we stopped in at Bolt's "new" place and hot tubbed in the back yard for a couple of hours. It's nice when the warm weather has finally gotten rolling but it was still chattering teeth time getting out around quarter after ten. Drove back to Toronto, dropped P-Doug off, went home, hit the hay.

Yesterday, Victoria Day, I'd promised to come back and help Bolt move some of the last of the significant furniture from his parents' place, which sold in April. We threw some stuff out in the bin in the driveway, but mostly moved and/or disassembled wardrobes and bureaus he wanted to keep. The wardrobe was the biggest hoot, oh yeah. Taking the doors and the back off it, getting it up out of the basement, getting it into the back of his pickup... all the while his sister was there, distracting him about who should keep what little nick-knack. For once, instead of standing around like a lump, I was proactive and kept moving whatever I could manage on my own, without being asked to... just using my head. I'm kind of proud of that; it's kind of a new feature in my character in recent years and I'm trying to cultivate it. Anyway, the fun started when we got it back to his new place. He wanted it upstairs. But the stairs, and their walls and ceilings, all got together on the first landing and said "nope.". Getting it to the point it got stuck wasn't too hard... but getting it unstuck, well... that was a different story. Eventually he had to get a screwdriver and loosen one of the sides just so we could get it back down off the stairs. He was pretty disheartened and on the verge of taking it back to dump it in the bin and just keeping the mirrored doors as wall decorations, but I reminded him of its stated sentimental value and he took my advice and we just put it aside in the back yard till he could get his new place in order and figure out what, if anything, he wanted to do with it. In pretty short order he was making plans for using it to store the robes he wants to get for his hot tubbing guests.

A couple more trips back and forth saw us move another bureau and a bookshelf his father had inherited from the U of T where he was an engineering professor. The wood was stamped T. Eaton and Co., which means it was manufactured by Eaton's, a long time ago. These days, that alone marks it as a piece of Canadian history.

Though it wasn't my intention, I came out of it a little ahead, too. First of all, Bolt paid for lunch, which was chicken shawarma at a place he frequents for lunch. I also got a rake and a spade he was throwing out with an eye to our recent project of improving P-Doug's back yard. And I got the queen size bed support rails he was about to get rid of (he only wanted the Mennonite-carved headboard), to replace the ones I threw out about a year ago. Having a bed that's not on the floor like a hippie flophouse, I think, will slightly improve how my place shows when I get around to putting it on the market.

After that we went to Philthy McNasty's for supper, which was fajitas but with a new twist I got to introduce Bolt to. Bolt was diagnosed with diabetes last fall and I have to say he's taken it seriously. He's lost something like 20-30 pounds since then, and he's pretty scrupulous about watching his sugars. I can't remember where it was now... ah, yes, now I can; The Occasions Restaurant in the Beaches, I think... where they serve something like fajitas but instead of using tortillas, they bring you half a head of lettuce and you just wrap everything in the leaves. It's a nice, crunchy change and since there's not much to lettuce, it was a good replacement for the flour in tortillas. We talked the restaurant into cutting a head of lettuce in two for us and ate the chicken fajitas on that instead. Bolt was pleased and he's armed with a new idea for enjoying something he likes without the down side.

I got home about 9 and dumped the bed rails beside the bed. I'll have to see about assembling them sometime this week. I'll see if I can get Larry's help with that. But anyway, that was the weekend that was. Busy busy busy. Which kind of kept my mind off the fact that it's been two weeks now since Bonnie died; two weeks since I was just planning to get her stitches out on Tuesday and had to make that long-dreaded decision on Monday instead. It kind of reminds me of Linus's observation to Charlie Brown at the end of A Boy Named Charlie Brown after he's narrowly lost a national spelling bee competition: "But did you notice something, Charlie Brown? The world didn't come to an end." Well, I guess it did for Bonnie. But I, and the rest of the world, are still here, and we have to keep chugging, at least for a while yet, and this weekend past, I did.

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