Monthly Archives: November 2013

A Surprise within a Surprise, within a Surprise. Toronto Oct. 17-21, 2013

For months Shanda and I were planning that we would surprise my Dad by me showing up for his birthday weekend in Toronto! In the meantime, my sister was being honoured with a kick-ass award from her profession a day before – and I was surprising her by being there. Dad was surprising her by being there. Dad did not know that I was coming. And I am surprised I didn’t blow any of the surprises!!! Also, we were surprising my niece and nephew with a surprise visit. Surprises are so fun but exhausting!!!

First things first. I am so proud of my sister. She is awesome at everything and does her best at everything. (She has beauty, brains and ambition – fair enough – she was born first and got first dibs.) Her profession gave her an award honouring her for all of  her efforts and strides she has made in her field, along with her extreme professionalism, and her tireless (??can you say that if someone works until 3 in the morning and feels tired but does it all the same??) devotion she has for her profession. It was so touching to be there at her awards ceremony and I feel that my Mom was there too, in spirit. It was wonderful to see her hard work appreciated by so many.

The next day, my Dad and I spent time together toddling around Toronto – namely the distillery district which is very cool. It was a fantastic day – it isn’t often that we have time together just the two of us. Later that evening, we had his birthday celebration dinner at a restaurant named George. (Fitting as my Dad’s father’s name is George, his middle name is George, his boxer was named George….despite being a girl……) It was a great find by my sister. Also, very cool – there was a big sign “Biscuit” hanging near our table! (which I wanted to bring home in a doggy bag…but was turned down!)


The next next day we had breakfast, did some shopping, then went to the “I Love Lucy” play, which was a lot of fun. We said our goodbyes afterwards, and Dad headed home on the train, and Shanda and I headed to her home in Burlington.

Claire was at the garage door to scream “Boo” to Shanda when we pulled in. It was quite the surprise to see the surprised face being her aunt’s instead! Davis and Claire gave me a very exuberant greeting! Such awesome kids.

One more surprise – a late Thanks Giving Supper together.Yves woke up early, shopped for the ingredients and then headed down to the lake to wind surf…..Surprise – guess who made the supper??? Claire, Shanda and I (we all hate naked birds) had quite the time trying to clean the bird and get it stuffed. Too bad it wasn’t on film. Let’s just say that the bird kicked us and there was a lot of screaming, a turkey sliding across the counter like a bobsledder at the Olympics and lots of paper towels…and laughter.


It was a great visit!

Categories: Family visits | 1 Comment

AG w/ Shannon Nov.10-22..actually 23rd! (2013)

Somehow, Bevan and I convinced his brother, Shannon, to come to Cafayate and do some handyman work on our house. An all expense paid trip may be considered a treat to some, but truly this was a sacrifice for Shannon. One – he would be taking time off work to fly halfway across the world – to work! Two, he would be away from his kids for longer than he had ever been before (thus creating more work for his wife and Mom). Three – he would be stuck with me for 12 days!!! It was touch and go for a while but his strong desire to help us out (or probably more likely the things he read about Argentine BEEF!)  persuaded him  to come.


Beef sized Beef!!! Parilla (BBQ) at Grace Hotel

I booked our flights in Economy Plus (or Business Minus depending if you are a glass half full or half empty kinda person)  – but despite me phoning United 3 times to confirm his seat assignment next to me and having the agent write on his file not to move him out of the “Gold Member” area, Shannon was shuffled somewhere off  to the rear of the plane. Once we were up and flying I started my journey back into the hollows of the plane to find Shannon. Who knew planes were so long?? Poor Shannon was literally wedged between a big man who had his entire office set up on his meal tray and lap and  another large creature that I assume was human but really seemed to be a cross between Sasquatch and a big bear. Shannon looked so tiny! I totally can picture what he looked like as a baby. I was comfy in my super-sized seat and enjoyed a lovely conversation with an Argentine man who is the head of the Catholic church (?priest, ?Pope? God? I didn’t want to be nosey and ask for too many details) This man has travelled the world meeting with other church heads (I was picturing the gargoyles on Notre Dame in Paris) and the UN. I will probably go to hell for thinking things like this. If not, I sure I will go for suggesting he watch “The Heat” because it is a “really funny and cute movie.” Watching it for a second time, with a man who is potentially the Pope, I found it more difficult to find the humour and cuteness between all of the swear words. ( a lot starting with ‘F’ if you know what I mean?)

Shannon was a good sport, and despite not having any sleep on the plane, was in good spirits when we arrived to Salta. We had a nice supper and then headed back to my Salta home: Legado Mitico.

After a morning of shopping for home supplies and having lunch at  Diane’s home, we made the 3 hour drive to Cafayate. As we drove into the property, we saw a meter long snake at “Creature Corner”. I named a certain bend in the road this as I always have animal sightings there (baby foxes playing, doves, armadillo on demand when Lorrie wanted to search one out!, rabbits, donkeys, etc). The sighting was quite rare, I am sure, as I was assured that there were no snakes in Cafayate when we were purchasing the land.

I thought I had entered the wrong house as the lights were on, the water was on, the gas was on, and the AIR CON was on!!!!! Hallelujah!! Hallelujah!!


Shannon worked on sealing up our windows and trouble shooting and consulting with another contractor that we highly trust. He worked hard during the day, I tried to help, but mainly just ensured that he was fed and that he had time to go to places where he could buy gifts for Crystal and the kids. We had some fabulous meals out and went to the Grand Opening Party at the Grace Hotel. I even managed to get Shannon to try the local wines. I may have turned him into an AG wine aficionado!!!


Party at Grace Hotel Grand Opening before it got crazy.


Gauchos at La Estancia.


We spent a day in BA on our return and had a fantastic time with our friend Brent and Julieta. On the 22nd, we arrived at the airport early to ensure Shannon was sitting with me this time, which he was, and then enjoyed a couple of hours in the Business class lounge. Shannon really appreciated the size and comfort of our seats – well… – at least for 4 hours on the tarmac –  at which time we were told to disembark due to mechanical issues and the flight was being cancelled. (Felt like “Ground Hogs Day” – same thing happened to Bevan and I in June!) Shannon and I had the taxi ride from hell – travelling in an old crap car without seat belts at speeds of up to 150km/hr while the driver kept doing something (?texting) on his phone. We were both sure we would be in a horrific accident and were both somewhat surprised when we made it to our destination.  It was almost 4am when we got out of the cab and kissed the sidewalk in front of the apartment. I had an email from back home with some very worrisome information – which made me feel like I needed to get back to Canada even quicker.

Unfortunately, the next day at 5pm, a mere 2 hours before our planned departure to the airport, we found out again that the flight was cancelled!!! Luckily, I had a very helpful and empathetic agent who booked us on American Airlines despite it not being a partner with United. We were very lucky.

The last 48 hours seemed like hell and I was very worried that I scared the travel bug right out of my brother-in-law. However, with seeing and hearing our families and a good night sleep in our own beds, the positive memories are outshining the negative.

Things I learned on this trip:

1) My brother-in-law is a fabulous travel companion.

2) Cafayate has scorpions.

3) Armadillos scurry around in the daytime. (we saw one out for an afternoon toddle)

4) When with an English only speaker that it is important to translate BOTH sides of a Spanish conversation. I found that I would translate what other people were saying to Shannon but figured when I was speaking Spanish that he should understand what I was saying.

5) Things can actually get fixed in Argentina.

6) It is window CAULK, NOT  window C**K. Who knew ? And why wasn’t I informed earlier?

7) It is possible to get a photo radar ticket even when you are NOT in the country.


Jacaranda trees make BA a lovely purple colour! BA is gorgeous in summer!

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