Family visits

Ottawa and Ontario, May 28-June 4, 2014

When I lived in Virginia, I was stunned that people hadn’t heard of Calgary , Alberta or in a few cases Canada!! One day at work I was speaking with a man – and he said he had been to 2 places in Canada….”Ottawa and Ontario”. Well, that is where I have just been! Ottawa and Ontario! And it was fabulous!

Bevan asked me to join him for the weekend as he would be there giving the RCPS exams. I headed out early and was picked up at the airport by my cousin Mark, and his wife Natalie (whom I have adopted as my cousin too). We had a lovely meal out in Manotick (Ontario) together and then enjoyed a walk around their beautiful neighbourhood in Greely (Ontario).

On Thursday, we drove into Ottawa and enjoyed a beautiful day walking around the Byward Market. It is a bustling and fun area of town with street jesters, restaurants, cafes, and all types of market stalls from jewelry, plants, veggies, and art. People watching can be lots of fun and a little scary at times.

Friday was a real treat. I was invited to go to a dance recital in Kemptville (Ontario)  – apparently this decade recitals are called   “Dance Show Case”.  My cousin’s daughter, Victoria, is a wonderful dancer and this was her last Show Case as she is graduating from high school. The dance troop was spectacular. To boot – some of the parents took lessons and performed as well. I haven’t seen my cousin Geoff for about 13 years – and then I see him on stage in his underwear dancing to the Full Monty.

Saturday morning, Mark and Natalie, woke at the crack of dawn to get me to my Dad’s house in Mallorytown (Ontario) early. When we were about 10 minutes from his house I receive an email from my sister saying that they wouldn’t be home until 11:30 or noon as they were at Kaeling’s soccer game. I thought Mark and Natalie were going to throw me out on the highway, but luckily they are sweet people and had had their caffeine. It turned out nicely though as Linda and Claire were at the house so we were able to visit with them before everyone arrived. Bevan also drove up from Ottawa and surprised people with a couple of hour visit.

It was awesome that my sister and 2 kids drove up from Burlington (Ontario). It was Linda’s birthday, so we all (except Bevan who had to return to Ottawa to work) enjoyed a beautiful supper in Gananoque (Ontario). Davis, now 7 years old, told us that he heard a really bad song at his friend’s house. He said, with his eyes as big as saucers, that “EVERY WORD WAS A BAD WORD”…but as an after thought said, “Well, not EVERY word, there was also ‘Mother'”.

The Ontario reunion continued Sunday evening with a visit from my friend Brad, who I met in the late 80’s in Windsor (Ontario). It was awesome catching up – seeing that although he now has 2 kids, a beautiful wife,  a successful business, a beautiful home, that he really hasn’t changed a bit!

After my Dad drove me back to Ottawa, I enjoyed a beautiful sunny day in our nation’s capital. Ottawa is such a beautiful city and I have the itch to move back to Ontario. The trip was topped off with Natalie and Mark meeting Bevan and I for supper at the Black Tomato.

I love Ottawa…and Ontario.


Me ‘photo bombing” the kids.







Enjoying the weather & cake!


Snuggles – Shanda & Davis


Crew out for Linda’s birthday celebration.

Categories: Family visits, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Birthday in Colomė (that rhymes by the way) January 2013

We just returned home from 3 weeks in Cafayate! We had a wonderful time and although the weather is “nice” in Calgary, we are missing the sun, warmth, and lifestyle available in a milder climate.

We were very excited to be meeting Tonya and Calvin (who are on their year long trip). Typically we only have a long weekend with them so it was a great opportunity to spend more time together. We met up with them in Salta on December 29th, overnighted, and headed to Cafayate on the 30th. We rung in New Years at the newest winery, Piattelli – which was spectacular. We were happy that about 12 other friends and neighbours were also there. The evening was a lot of fun. For about the equivalent of $40US, we had champagne, wine, festive New Years drinks, a beautiful meal (a beef tenderloin ROAST on everyone’s plate!), dessert, musicians, and a dance….and fireworks at midnight of course. Piattelli is up on the hill so we could see fireworks throughout the valley. It was a wonderful way to bring in the new year.

Cal, Me, Bevan

Cal, Me, Bevan

photo 1

Ton at Piattelli









On the 3rd we drove to Colomė.  The hotel at Colomé is only opened if you rent all 9 rooms, or a member of the owners family or organization is there. On my last trip to Cafayate I was lucky enough to meet the new manager and she told me of a couple of days that were available as someone from Switzerland would be there. We jumped at the opportunity and it was maybe serendipitous because it was my birthday. Colomé is one of the highest vineyards in the world and is a totally self-sustaining area. (in other words they have to grow all their food, make all their wine, etc as it is really in the boonies). We had explained to Tonya and Cal that it was a long and bumpy ride, but I think they thought we were exaggerating .  The path to  Colomé is a rocky washboard “road” which often is so curvy and narrow that you play Russian Roulette on the curvy corners. We were lucky in that we missed big trucks flying around the corner in our shared lane by about 3 seconds. Every bump along the way was worth it as the scenery is spectacular.   From Tonya’s blog…she described the road like this “while only 120 kms from Cafayate, it’s about a 3 hour drive on what was termed a ‘gravel road.’ I called it a donkey path, Calvin  called it a wagon trail.For the most part, it was little more than a single lane going through river beds and cliff edges?….”. Colomė was fabulous- the service, the food, the wine, the rooms and the art museum! There is the world’s largest collection of James Turrell art installations in the world. When the artist was told by Donald Hess that he was creating a museum in Argentina James Turrel said “Great, I love Buenos Aires”. When Donald Hess told him that it would be in Colomé and what it takes to get there, James replied, “Since I suffered in creating my work, it seems only natural that people should suffer to see the work.”

Tonya took a video of a drive through ” Las Flechas” which is on a GOOD part of the road. If you go to you tube and search for “Drive to Colomé” you will see Tonya’s video.

View from Colomé Room

View from our room


Hotel at Colomé








My birthday was wonderful….thanks to everyone who sent emails and cards!  In addition to my special trip I received some artsy gifts! Tonya sang me the birthday song in German (which was actually in English with a very strong German accent), Calvin’s alter ego, Norbert, made a video appearance for me, and Bevan wrote me a poem….which was so awesome it made me cry. I know he is a super talent in his field but he could quit and make a living writing for sure. I won’t share the poem as it will make all you gals jealous and make all you guys feel like inadequate schmucks.

We survived the bumpy trip back to Cafayate and spend the next couple of weeks just enjoying our home and the great weather. Thanks to Tonya and Cal – we ate at home several times. Bevan and Cal handled the parilla and Tonya and I prepared veggies and salads. The four of us played some  golf (Tonya’s first time – she did great!), went on the “El Paso” hike, and did some horseback riding (sin me!) It was Cal’s first time ever on a horse. Although I literally had to force him to go he absolutely loved it and found it exhilarating. I love that word! How often in life do we feel that??? Trying new things is great – makes us feel like a kid again and keeps us young. We made a visit to our favourite potter in San Carlos. Senior Mendoza LOVES Bevan’s Defender and has had his photo taken with it. He wants Bevan to drive him up into the hills to collect his special clay. Watch for future posts on that adventure!!! (the Defender LOOKS tough, but looks can be deceiving!)


El Paso Hike


photo 3 image










It was sad to say good bye to our wonderful house guests. The house seemed empty without them.

I have been asked several times to go to “Sewing Circle” in our neighbourhood. For those of you who know me, I take after my Mom not my Auntie Alice when it comes to sewing. If it weren’t for my husband’s “one hand surgical knots” and sewing abilities I would most likely throw out any blouse if a button came loose. I decided to go just so I would have the opportunity to say hello to some of my neighbours that I hadn’t seen. Jane was knitting a hat for her first grand-baby that is on the way. Deirdrie was making a sparkly bead. The other 6 women were just sitting at the table. ALL of us were drinking Pisco Sours!!! It was great! Who knew that I would like “sewing” so much!

On our way back to Calgary we spent a day in Buenos Aires so that we could have super with our friends Brent and Julieta. They are babysitting a little dog that is super cute – although he bite me in the face. Luckily the bad luck streak seemed to pass and although it took us 4 hours to get to the airport, check in, go through security and passport control, our flight did leave ?relatively on-time? (Argentine time) and we arrived home safely.

Categories: Argentina, Family visits | 2 Comments

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!

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