Russ and I are just home from a great getaway to Toronto. We had many experiences that helped me remember what makes life good. As a result I feel more rested, more loved and more thankful. We took pictures, these ones I have included will help you know what I am talking about.
We flew out of Regina, a non stop flight to Toronto, it flew on time and our baggage arrived with us. That’s a triple pile up of good things. We got to have lunch with Jill before we flew. We are loving having her in a city where it is so easy to get together. This time with Jill meant we had a hat-trick hug day. A good-bye hug with Morgan in the morning, hello and goodbye hugs with Jill mid-day and “ohhhh it’s you” hugs with Gina on a dark Toronto street standing beside a Lyft driver. All our kids on the same day. A day to savor.
When sitting in the departure lounge in Regina we had one of those “I know you!” conversations, started by the lady beside us. It turns out I conducted her father’s burial and she is first cousin to our buddy Miles. We had a big visit. The world is small.
Our plane was full, we chose seats near the back. As far as we are concerned, bathroom proximity is important on a flight. It turns out we were in the party section. An extended multi generation family group was enroute to Pakistan. There were children, there was visiting, and happiness in the air…..there was life! I usually find flights quiet and depressing. All us humans packed in together and ignoring each other. This was a fun flight, I felt lucky.
We used Lyft and arrived at our Air bnb to find Gina waiting for us. We had a late visit, our Air bnb hosts supplied milk, eggs and bread so Gina got right into a mug of milk and the chocolate chip cookies Grandma Shirley sent for her. That was pretty precious cargo Air Canada successfully carried! (The cookies I mean.)
The next day found us heading west to meet family. How did we get to Etobicoke? Moe gave us a ride. Who is Moe? A taxi driver we absolutely needed to know, according to our friend Crystal, who is one of our people in Nova Scotia. “You will love him!” she said before regaling us with stories about their times with Moe driving them at the Toronto Royal Fair. She gave us his cell number. It was a great contact to have, Moe was good to us. We enjoyed our cab visits and the feeling that we were in very good hands, especially on that first morning when it meant so much to me to get where we were going on time and I knew so little about transit. Once Moe dropped us off at the restaurant I had that surreal feeling that comes from anticipating the arrival of people very loved and rarely seen. It was great when we all gor there and found ourselves gathered at a circular table in a very busy and loud restaurant. It meant alot that my Uncle Ted could meet Gina again, this time as an adult. Gina’s affection for him rose fast. He has that effect on people. My cousin Lori was one of my heroes when I was a little girl, she joined us from St. Catharines. She still has a way of blessing me with her attention. Not in these pictures, having left for an appointment, is Susan, Uncle Ted’s partner. I am thankful for her and the visit we got to have.
After lunch we got on the subway and headed to “The Dog Lounge” a pet supply store and dog daycare where Gina works part time. She sold us a portable water dish and introduced us to her co-workers. I like being able to picture the spaces where my kids are. We also met some adorable dogs.
In a short time in Toronto Gina has become so good with public transit. She had us on the busses and subway and made it seem easy. After seeing the Dog Lounge we headed downtown.
Our minister Susan checked in via text just as we headed into a Subway station, so we took a selfie to send back to her. Just as we got that picture a stranger walked by, she turned and asked, “am I in your picture?” We said “no, but do you want to be?” She pulled off her Covid mask and we got this picture. I think she is beautiful. After the picture she talked until the subway came and later when she left the subway car she caught our eye and waved goodbye. We all loved these moments.
We saw some classic Toronto sites and ate delicious ice cream before settling into a lively pub to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.
I made a mistake at this point. I ordered a green Caesar. It was terrible. Just nothing good going for it. I tried to get used to it. I switched to water and stole sips of Russell’s beer.
Gina had to work at her main job on Saturday so Russell and I took the day off. It was fabulous. We watched Seinfeld on Netflix, Russell cooked us bacon and eggs, we lingered, we rested….. I highly recommend hiding in an Air Bnb when you can. Gina was done work at 3 and joined us. We all got gussied up and headed out to see Gina’s roommate at work, (Evelyn is a friend from school in Victoria), then altogether we headed for the dinner show at Medieval Times.
Medieval Times is where Gina works, at this point about 3/4 time. It was great to see her in her element. Her role now is to care for the horses, she hopes to do more. She has worked there a month and is really really enjoying it.
Having been spotted in the crowd by her co-workers, Gina was crowned “Queen of Love and Beauty” at the end of the show. It was a super fun moment!
The whole experience was great, it was entertaining and the food was delicious! Russ, our family horse expert was impressed with the training, condition and disposition of the horses. Gina has grown to love them as if they are her own. She was proud to watch them doing their work and wooing the crowd. Following the show Gina got permission to show us around the stables. We were the first strangers to tour the barn since Covid. We met some of her co-workers and her boss. We got close to those beautiful horses. We felt really lucky. Again, I am appreciating picturing where Gina spends her days.
Sunday morning at 7 Gina was back at work and by 9:30 Russ and I were back on the couch and into Seinfeld. More rest. Our joy this trip came not from the tourist sights but the people and the rest. Gina came over after work and we headed to my friend Tanya’s for supper. Moe was on duty for the ride. It was his day off but he worked us into his personal schedule. We didn’t expect such service, we didn’t know his schedule until he told us he was dashing off to watch soccer with buddies after delivering us to Tanya’s.
Our visit at Tanya’s included our friend Sharon and Tanya’s family. It was fun. Special for me in a way that is deep. 32 years ago we spent a year together traveling with “Up With People.” Years have passed but the bond and the love is still there. Seeing the faces, feeling the hugs, hearing the voices….32 years vanished and I feel a little more whole. Tanya has an unforgettable sense of humor. One of my favorite moments of the night was when Tanya spoke of her menu planning. She casually said that she was considering making a turkey and cauliflower casserole with banana sauce. It took a moment for Russ to realize that she was mocking him out, her delivery was flawless, the man who cannot stand turkey, cauliflower or bananas was given the message, “I see you” and he loved it. The menu turned out to be many of my favorite things. We contributed a hillbilly 1/2 gallon jug of wine, one of our favorites bottled here in Saskatchewan at Minhas. I had packed it in bubble wrap before stowing it in my suitcase. Air Canada delivered those cookies AND the wine all in one piece. That was a relief!
When we couldn’t plan ahead to use Moe we used Lyft alot. We would have walked more but my darn knee problem seems complicated, and I had to limit walking. We had good conversations with most of our Lyft drivers. All of them were immigrants. I found the rides very interesting, at times sobering and sometimes really fun. One of our drivers told us life in Toronto is torture. Another shared very logically and aso vividly what he thinks when he sees “F*ck Trudeau” flags, (he is not on board, especially given what he knows from his home country about freedom and government). That same man was filled with joy and delighted us with his prediction of just how it will look when he walks down the streets of Toronto after his family joins him in Canada. They have been apart for four years. He could barely keep his hands on the wheel as he predicted how he would walk. It was awesome. Most of our drivers talked about the ridiculous cost of living in Toronto.
Monday we limited our Seinfeld episodes. My friend Patty had an opening in her busy life and met us for lunch. Patty is another person I traveled with in Up With People. My sense of connection to her arises from the years since we traveled, thanks to Facebook. Russell has a connection too. He watchd her on TV in a time in his life when he was struggling and had only the CBC channel on his television. Patty’s morning kid’s program brightened those days. He was happy to meet her. Time flew, it was a three hour lunch. Thinking back on our conversation, with our vastly different life circumstances, it was heartwarming to see how much we have in common. Another encounter that reminds me that I am not alone.
After lunch we hoped to take in a museum but my knee acted up. We decided Seinfeld was waiting for us.
Our last evening found us with my cousin Susan and part of her family. I am profoundly touched by what the bonds of family add to my life. Last night it was a deep seated feeling of contentment. A sense of wonder about my Grandma being Susan’s Grandma too. Delight in enjoying each other’s family. And a sense of awe at the ways that affection and genetics and loyalty bind us together and compel us. It all serves to make me feel more whole.
This morning our plans got a bit complicated at first. We hopped a bus with suitcases in hand when Lyft let us down enroute to breakfast (heading to a restaurant we then found closed). The bus trip created a thrilling moment for Russ, his first time on a “bendy bus.” Russ is proud that he stood in the bend the whole time. Later Moe picked us up for the trip to the airport and very quickly all felt right in the world. He left us both with a souvenir from Egypt.
How does a rancher leave behind his operation, all those creatures that depend on him? Partly by grabbing the right dates, when disruption is less, and mostly by leaving things in good hands. Ron and Morgan were the hands and feet on the job. Our good friend Sharon came and filled in much of what I do. We are blessed to have Morgan’s reliable attention to and passion for the ranch and Ron’s deep rooted ability and effort and Sharon’s generous and capable heart available to us. We are very very blessed.
As I wrap this up the lights of our place are almost in sight. We have turned onto our gravel road. We woke up in the midst of a city of millions. We will fall asleep with our pups and our son close by, under a big sky, sounds of coyotes are likely. We return to our normal. Our thoughts will be turning back to these vivid days of moments shared with special people. That was a really great trip.
A P.S…..added Thursday…. This post began noting a hat trick hug day. We had one on the way home too and made sure we got pictures. Many of them were posed but still the real deal.