Wedding Wednesday: 136 days

Although I cannot share too much – photos etc. – I thought part of the blurb on the wedding website my daughter is using was a perfect way to introduce when she and her fiancé met 25 years ago. “A long time ago, on a beautiful island in British Columbia, a young man from the East Coast laid eyes on a young West Coast girl.” It is only fitting they are getting married onboard a boat.

Some recent updates: a pair of shoes I think will be suitable arrived at me door yesterday. Wow, this ordering online is great! As my second daughter pointed out the pumps are higher than a kitten heel, and lower than stilettos, yet look subtly elegant. The only bit That do not like is the little logo stud on the side of each shoe. Which means I will mull things over for s few days before making a final decision. Until they had arrived I was still unsure they would be suitable with my dress. So I am basically ready unless I return the pumps.

Colour hint of my already purchased dress.

As for the bride’s shoes…. actually she called me to have me add to my growing list a reminder she must have shoes before March 26 when she will have her first fitting. My only concern will be how high a heel she is considering. She has to climb stairs to the top deck where the ceremony will be held. As mentioned recently the fitting for the dress this will be done in two stages. The $30.00 hourly rate sounds astronomical although it really is not. Unstitching lace, moving everything up, and hand stitching back on while still maintaining the integrity of a dress is not easy. Fortunately I still think only the lower front half of the skirt will need work. Dresses should not be made for 6 foot women only!

Meanwhile, what were worries are now being nailed down and a calm period seems to have arrived. The guest list seems to be under control, and the deadline I have set to remind the bride and groom to hand deliver invitations that had to be held back while waiting for RSVPs is approaching. I suppose I should let them know when that is. The other worry was decor, what is the budget, what will work on a moving venue, what is or is not allowed, has the colour scheme been finally decided? Of course, once we had bought out a few stores to gather everything according the bride’s ‘look’ the colours and decor was decided. Adding to my reminder list will be for the glass receptacles to be purchased. Which reminds me, I now have a whiteboard and an erasable calendar.

Not having candles opened up more choices of what can used. Bottom heavy vases in the event of the boat rolling. (Hm, is this really a good idea? I get seasick. Fortunately, I have been on the vessel a couple of times) Rather than candles, not even LED, my daughter chose fairy lights, and they really are quite lovely. The colour scheme will enhance the look of an aquatic connection without appearing kitschy. I keep going back to subdued elegance. As I go over what seems to be included in decor for weddings I can see how the cost rises. The only pressing decisions now seem to be a runner for walking down the aisle and chair swags.

Then the topic of transportation came up. My fault, I mentioned that Harry and Meagan (I am not fixated – their nuptials just keep being in the news) will have a carriage for after their ceremony. I thought my daughter’s idea of a trolley to the wedding was far more fun, if not (we discovered) original. She then informed me she was looking into a carriage! Very Victoria. Perhaps both will be used. Or she could arrive on the back of her father’s motorcycle.

What is important is that, despite some early OMGs, the next 136 days are fun. After all, it will be a celebration of two wonderful people who want to share their special moment 25 years in the making.


Wedding Wednesday: counting the days

I am usually a stickler for details so it came as a surprise to register that the website my daughter is using for her wedding has a countdown – 143 days. No wonder she gets a little panicked at times. The topic of the most stressful items came up today. The budget came in third. Second is the guest list. First is the dress.

Of course, as time flies by these change. The dress stress has toned down somewhat now that the two women standing up with my daughter have dresses. Heck, they even have shoes. It came as a surprise when matching dresses were eventually chosen. Even more of a surprise was that it is the my younger daughter had already purchased and decided that even if she did not wear it for the wedding she was keeping it. This was a heavy burden lifted off my daughter the bride. All she wants now is a little bit of bling. I believe that means a flashy sash – belt? I am unsure what to call some accessories. Besides that only earrings will be necessary – thank goodness I do not have pierced ears.

There is still the wedding dress to be altered. This too was becoming quite stressful for the bride, particularly when she heard it could be expensive to have the lace lifted. I may already have mentioned that my idea of expensive is about $500 below her idea. The other issue was when should any other alterations needed be done? One savvy seamstress suggested splitting the work into two sessions. First the lace, a time consuming, very fussy piece of hand picking and hand stitching work that will take time and a good pair of eyes. All the pieces on the lower skirt, including the scallop hem, need to be removed, the underlay cut, the everything stitched back on. This is the only way to shorten a lace A-line dress with a long train. Fortunately that will not need to be touched!

I am four provinces away from where everything will be done which means if I want to help with anything I need lists. I have suggested dates on my calendar that I will bring up when necessary. Little reminders rather than throwing everything at the wedding party all at once seems the best idea. I know many brides make up a large calendar but so far my daughter has not mentioned she wants to do this. Perhaps it reminds her too much of university. Or work. Shift work is not great for planning a wedding. Although the three hour time difference is handy, I am more likely to be awake to discuss the various niggling problems in the early evening.

Which brings us to the second most stressful item a bride (less so the groom it seems) has to consider – the guest list. Yes, invitations were sent early, that was to give the many out of province guests ample time to organize time off and travel. As time is running down though it appears that in this modern age of technology that a wedding site is not always where people to to. Who knew that Facebook might be an acceptable venue to reach guests – I certainly would not have thought about it. However, although the idea was for RSVPs to be answered on the website, via phone or mail, it seems FB is a great reminder. It certainly has helped with determining the number of guests attending to date.

It also brought up the topic of what to do when someone declines. There are potential guests the groom and bride had not yet invited, as a few have declined more invitations are ready to be delivered. The groom has said there are people he wants to add, the bride also has more names. Now is the time to put together a list of these and most likely hand deliver the invitations. So I pencilled in a reminder. The stressful part is not knowing the final number, which is important when a chunk of money needs to be paid by a specific date. Fine, not my stress, but I feel my daughter’s stress as we discuss plans. I believe she is usually calmer when we say good night. Perhaps not stress free, but a clearer mind for the next action.

Which does bring in the third most stressful item when planning a wedding. The budget. I do know the figure the bride is trying to keep at, also her absolute maximum and it is fairly tight. To date I have not looked at the website with all of the behind the scenes information – to which I have access. I also know where the money will have to go and where cutting back a little will not create a less wonderful day. My job here is to help balance everything.

The most recent balancing act has been with centrepieces. By checking out Pinterest for what my daughter was hoping for I came up with a plan she is happy with. I scoured the island, and had her sister do some searching where she lives, to collect the necessary flowers and lights. It amazes me that certain colours are considered seasonal despite being so popular for weddings and graduation. We cleaned out three cities for what is needed. All on sale – another reason for buying now. Now my daughter just has to purchase the vases. At Dollarama. I simply do not understand why anyone would pay $7.00 for the same item at $2.50! Yes, this means doing the work ourselves, which to me is a wonderful way to share the day even more. Besides, the centrepieces are not that elaborate! I was quite proud of myself when I said each one should be about $15.00. I think my daughter nearly fell off her chair, she was rather quiet for a couple of seconds before saying that was a little more than she had planned. Hm. Seems the budget may now be the first stress.

Stay tuned.

Chemainus: the little town that did

What does a small town falling into wrack and ruin do when all of its resource jobs are rapidly disappearing? Pull out the paint and brushes! This little town understood the concept of “build it and they will come.” They did, into the millions, from around the world, since the early 1980s. Which is how I first heard about this out of the way little town.

Named for a local Cowichan First Nations band, “Tsa-mee’-nis” that had been living off the land and sea for thousands of years before the first Europeans arrived in 1791. By 1858 settlers were felling trees to clear the land, within four years the first sawmill was up and running and took advantage of the naturally deep port to move logs and board. Although iron ore was mined in the area and fishing was important, the forests provided the majority of jobs. Until everything fell apart with the downturn of the markets. As this was happening I was moving to Vancouver Island. By 1983 the last sawmill in Chemainus had shut down. Five murals had been painted in 1982 as part of a revitalization plan. With the closure of the mill plans were put in place to keep on painting. The theme was the history of the area – trains, logging, the working man, the immigrants, the festivals. Although the mill did re-open in 1985 the locals had discovered a new way to earn money. Tourism.

Street heading to the docks from the main park.

My first trip to Chemainus was probably some time between 1986 – 1989, the murals were so fresh it seemed that wet paint would be left on your hands if you dared to touch a wall. Wood walls, brick walls, rough and smooth walls, were painted with stunning, and not so great, murals. They were impressive, present and approachable. These were our people depicted in giant form. Over the years I would return a few times, my children encouraging me to hurry up and look. They were always interested – and each had a favourite. They also had an uncanny memory for where to find the best ice cream cones.

check out the upstairs windows! This is a candy shop. I wonder if my children could find the ice cream store now.

It has been probably 15+ years since my last visit. My mission was to drive to Nanaimo, north of Chemainus, to purchase some wedding centrepiece items – the store would not send to the either of the Victoria stores. That accomplished, two hours from home to store and back on the road, I felt we needed a little adventure. I chose Chemainus.

I cannot swear to this however I am quite sure this building was a new build in the ’80s

Today was out of season, many shops were still closed, or only open Tuesday to Saturday. This gave my daughter and I the freedom to just wander without jostling elbows, avoiding tour buses and cars. We checked out the Chemainus Theatre, I have heard their shows are high quality. I finally picked up a list and schedule of the plays for this coming year – with a goal to see one. I love trains, so was quite happy to find some murals of various trains. Of course there were others, 44 is the number I read. We did not make a full tour of them, perhaps when it is less chilly.

Mural showing iron ore being mined. I do not see the hardship in this one. Perhaps the artist did not want to upset tourists

One I liked, not of trains, was of float festival winners from 1939. This was a Japanese float, all I could think of was if any of the people who had been part of the float were forced to one of the Japanese interment camps in Canada during the Second World War. I looked it up. Despite being Canadian citizens, even second or third generation, perhaps 200 were displaced out of Chemainus. Many never returned, their homes, businesses, property had been seized.

where else but on the wall of the Post Office

I bought a rather yummy sausage roll, an apple turnover and a coffee (except I think it had a different name) at Utopia Bakery, hidden around a corner. The sausage rolls, including the meat, are house made, beef and pork with a little spice for a bite. Warmed just enough rather than piping hot like many places do. The coffee was bold, probably because we managed to get caught in the only rain during the five hours we were up Island! I ended up not eating the turnover until I was home, it was quite good. Not overly sweet, always a bonus, and flaky, yet sturdy, pastry. (I never appreciate having pastry crumbs flying about)

Many of the homes built over 100 years ago are still in use, or sadly, sitting empty and looking rather forlorn. I was rather intrigued by Castle B&B, so much so I suggested we might want to rent the small ‘castle’. The rent was reasonable, Chemainus perhaps not so much.

There are some problems with living in a tourist town, particularly one that operates seasonally- what to do when the tourists leave. Of course there are still some mills. Outdoor activities are thriving, still mainly during warmer weather. Which is a pretty decent window – usually March to October. However, I could not help but notice the once bright yellow footprints showing the way are fading, the paint is chipping on a few murals, several shops have closed permanently.

We came across this and a similar one in the garden of a house. Look closely to see the white orchid

Once a shop filled with a variety of items to entice tourists. Now it sits unloved, draperies pulled tight.

Spectacular mountain, ocean and forest views

We left home at 7:30AM and were home by 12:30PM. A five hour trip up island and return with a wonderful little break in ‘the little town that did’ where we were refreshed, walked and enjoyed the art. It is suggested visitors stay a little longer. Perhaps I will when the place comes out of hibernation, to be drawn into the full magic of Chemainus just as my children were over twenty years ago.

The Tale of Three Cities: Chapter 3 – Kitchener

Thirteen days in Ontario should have been easy for me; after all I spent nearly six months of winter there one year, as well as four other winters for a month each time. Then there were the two early summers. Surely I could manage less than to weeks. Let me just say that I did try. I even had fun, as noted in earlier posts. It was just so darn difficult this time. A dragged out cold left me wilted, and I am still not fully over it despite being home for six days. However, time, rest, the gym, glimpses of the sun and the west coast air will soon find me back in full swing. I am feeling well enough to finish up the tale of three cities.

I talk about Kingston a lot so writing about Toronto was fun and I was looking forward to visiting the Kitchener-Waterloo area where daughter 3 is studying. It is an interesting area, a lot of cross connections, including Waterloo University and Sir Wilfred Laurier University. My daughter goes to Waterloo. They have a Starbucks on campus – which was a huge issue and seems to be all on its own in what I believe is the Engineering Department. Waterloo has many Starbucks. It appears Kitchener has none. I like to keep track of such things for orienting where I am.

I did not find too much to enamour me with Kitchener-Waterloo. Perhaps it was just due to it being winter, cold, my being sick, and my daughter being robbed a week earlier. There is a definite factory town feel to the area. Not a lot was happening. The Tannery District, (as far as I could tell this is just one building rather than a true district – it was too cold to explore) as the name implies, was once an early 20th century mill that has been refurbished and now holds a number of businesses, eateries and, from I read, an event venue. The only place open was Balzac’s Coffee Roaster. For which I was grateful.

The day I decided I should just stay at the house, early 1900s, was only broken up when I finally ventured outside long enough to get the kinks out and to find a store. I came across one house, apparently into offices, and one austere Lutheran church worthy of photographing. Unfortunately I did not cross the street to be across from the Sun Life Financial head office property that appears to include a building dating back to 1912. It was not until the next day, when on a bus, that I saw there is a provincial plaque of its history – next time I visit I will check it out. However, further research seems to indicate the building was always in the hands of Sun Life, until 2014. (Now leased back to them)

Not my photo – no snow here!

Lutheran Church on King St.

I loved the brickwork and the tri-corner style is lovely. The area it is in not so much.

It was not until the day before I left for home that I would go on an adventure. This is when I ventured to the university with my daughter, had coffee at Starbucks and hid from the elements,while waiting for her to attend a class, for a couple of hours before we headed to the Mennonite village of St. Jacob’s. I was feeling a bit better and looking forward to something different. The village dates back the 1850s, with Mennonites settling in the the region in the 1840s. The population of St. Jacobs is around 2000 and swells during tourism season with visitors arriving on bus tours, heading to the market and checking out the many, many shops along the Main Street. As often happens in small places that depends on tourism, many stores were closed. However, we did manage to have some fun poking about what was open, discovering some treasures – a pity my phone battery died – enjoying lunch, then coffee, and a sense of a time warp. Interesting bit of history, St. Jacobs is the home office for Home Hardware

A real fire in the fireplace at Stone Crock Restaurant !

Former Anglican Church is now a pretty neat toy store. I had to force myself to not leave with a few fun items.

Talk about a time warp! I could not have caught a better sandwich photo of past, present and cold.

We discovered the maple syrup museum along with a small model train set up. We had hoped to visit the larger model train display across the street – it was closed. We did however walk through the old silo mill where there are a few stores. The only one actually open was the pottery store. Here they sell products made locally, or made in Canada. There is a Wedding store that uses an old freight car as a place to store dresses and a section of the silos as a boutique. It was probably just as well it too was closed. With so much closed for the season, including the huge market, I already know I will be returning in the summer when I visit. I will most likely be with 2-3 of my daughters, maybe even one SIL so it will be attended unattendedgrandma.

We made this discovery on a side street when searching for the old school house. Unable to discover if it was open until after we finally tore ourselves away, I was happy to just take pictures and marvel at the collection. Such fun!

look at what we found at the mini train model display! My daughter graciously took then shared this with me after my phone died. I am looking into taking both trains. The table settings and menus belonged to other trains. Too bad!

Slow Down, You’re Movin’ too Fast

Or: Woe Is Me

Sometimes I look in the mirror and wonder who that reflection is only to admit it is definitely me after attempting to outrun age and common sense. So, after having fun in TO, visiting my daughter, ‘SIL’ (they are the ones getting married) and my grandson in Kingston and finding a dress I slowed down a bit after arriving in Kitchener. Just a little though.

When I arrived my other SIL and 3rd daughter greeted me at the train station and I foolishly agreed a twenty minute walk would be fine. I am happy to say I survived that, the temperature had started to plummet. I seriously wonder why the whole population of anywhere beyond the south west coast of Canada does not head to a warmer climate during winter. I guess Canadians are just too polite to overtake another nation. Besides, what would we have to talk about if our weather woes were taken away?

By the next day it seemed to be warming up enough to venture out. We decided to check out The Museum, an interactive space that encourages visitors to actively experience the space. We were disappointed to discover half of the third floor, and all of the 4th were closed. No idea why for the 3rd floor section, but the 4th floor was being changed over for a new exhibit.

Although a bit dubious we would find much to engage us for a couple of hours we decided we would take a look. Indoor activities during winter can be a challenge so we were happy to discover a large self serve coat check. Divested of coats, hats, mittens and scarves makes it easier to explore.

The space for children under 4 looked inviting to my daughter, when she was encouraged to enter she tried out all of the big buttons that lit up various boards before heading to a low peek-a-boo window for little ones to wave at unsuspecting patrons. Of course my travel companions were by now quite excited. I had stuffed them into my pocket at the last minute when I worried they could get lost if sitting in the coatcheck.

My daughter and SIL had a marvellous time and, although I did try to get into the mood I would have enjoyed myself more if I had been feeling a little healthier. However, just look at the fun we had! The Museum is a great little gem. We did indeed visit for nearly two hours before hunger took over. I was taken to Crabby Joe’s where I ate half a chicken prosciutto sandwich (with only half the crusty bread) and a small Caesar salad. Dinner ended up being the other half. I had half expected to not be able to taste anything due to my cold but it was good. We took the bus home with minor plans for the following day.

A playroom like this would be fabulous.

A real bed of nails!

who hasn’t wanted to try out a bed of nails?

We had a little help from a visitor with small fingers to extract the bears.

Who would have thought my parents Commodore 64 might have become a museum exhibit! Most of the computers were in working order.

Àq1An extremely rare photo of me (I look as old as the dinosaur) with my somewhat worried travel companions.

The next day my SIL stayed home to cook while my daughter and I headed to City Hall Rotunda Gallery art exhibit with a stop for lunch at a place called Slices. I ordered a gyro breakfast that was enough to feed both of us – I convinced my daughter she was hungry. There is a small skating rink outside City Hall where happy looking families were enjoying a somewhat warmer day as they glided, spun and tumbled on the ice.

The title of the exhibit, The Face to Face Project, by Eva McCauley is 38 pieces, mixed media, with two common threads – people (understandable considering the title) and a turquoise hue in all of them. I have no idea if the colour was significant, my daughter read the information to me as I had left my glasses behind. A small number of the paintings were of the artists students while the majority were photographs of single or groupings of people from several decades ago that were then painted over to enhance, reveal, or possibly hide some aspects. It was an interesting view to the past.

I now want one of these coffee bean bins!

As we headed home we discovered a coffee shop in the Tannery, Balzac’s Coffee Roasters. So of course we had to go inside. My daughter was quite pleased to see they also had Turkish Delight – have I missed something – seems this delicacy is making a comeback. I had coffee, my daughter had hot chocolate made from Lindt chocolate – sinful! I ate a piece of the pistachio Turkish Delight, and we just relaxed.

We also saw an interesting wall mural along the way that at first we thought was a structure with a person standing on it. From another point of view it appeared to be 3D with several cut outs of people, it was not until we were across from it we realized it is a flat surface. It was colourful and fun on what was quickly becoming a chilly late afternoon.

Imagine how happy we were to arrive home to home cooked lasagna!

When morning arrived the next day plans to visit Waterloo University, where my daughter is a PhD student, were postponed when the guest speaker for a workshop had a flight cancelled somewhere out of the States. Coupled with more dipping temperatures plus wind it was a perfect day to stay inside and finally listen to everyone who had told me to SLOW DOWN!