The Great Locomotive Chase: Part One

How could I not use this title for my most recent trip? Unfortunately, the closest I managed to an epic trip was the two hour passenger ride from Toronto to Kingston return then an even shorter trip from TO to Kitchener. Our plans to take the train all the way to Vancouver fell through when we could not find a discounted fare – all the economy Plus fares, and plain old economy, were fully booked all the way into late August – and there did not appear to be any discounted berths. We did toy with the idea of stitching together stops to make a whole but that seemed too expensive. However, we did book a fun day on the weekend to visit the massive Farmers Market and a Great Train Robbery trip near St. Jacob’s.

Of course the most important reason for going east was for my eldest daughter’s wedding – it was a fantastic success! Having already written a short blog and including some of my photos (blog & photos not stellar quality) I am only including one here. I am in the burgundy two piece with silver shoes. Beside my SIL. I wanted a photo that showed off the lovely scalloped lace on the train of my daughter’s dress. Why mention the shoes – look at how I am angled. They were relatively comfortable but the wedges made me feel as though perilously lose to the edge of a cliff. I guess no one noticed, or thought I always stooped that much. So I am perpetually frozen in place looking like I am ten years older.

Impressive medals!

To relax and give my daughter, ‘new’ SIL and grandson some downtime my sister, another daughter, and I went to the nearby Holiday Country Manor B&B for two nights. We were exceedingly grateful they had the business sense to install AC several of their rooms just days prior to our arrival. Although they had previously informed guests they only had fans the sweltering heat would have most likely found guests either expiring or leaving in droves. (Not that there were droves) Just the wedding guests equalled five rooms booked. My group basically stayed in our rooms for most of the day after Canada Day and barely noticed the pop popping of fireworks around 10:00pm on Canada Day. We only ventured out long enough to have breakfast – buffet of basic fare, all tasty, good coffee and pleasant company. The B&B is not in the city so a vehicle is necessary.

The new owners. I believe only having purchased it three years ago, are slowly working on the much needed TLC of this 1840’s Georgian style design that has been used as a lodge, although it appears not consistently, since 1912. Even our first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald is said to have practised law out of its dining room. The tin ceilings, thick lime walls and imagined discoveries yet to be made from under or behind modernization, made this a pleasant respite.

Although I am not a fan of fish, fake or otherwise, on walls these green guys hearten back to when the Manor was a fishing lodge

All of a sudden it was Monday and time to leave Kingston. The plan was to show my sister a little bit of TO; CN Tower was at the top of her must see list, and I added the CBC building because we are staunch CBC listeners. We ended up lugging our, thank goodness, wheeled carry-on bags and smaller bags with us as there is nowhere to store luggage at Union Station. I suppose that sadly makes sense in this day and age. The heat was searingly hot so the prospect of getting inside an AC building was enticing. Except we discovered we would have about an hour long wait just to get through security at the Tower – before buying tickets. POI – ordering tickets ahead of time generally means going through a faster security line. Next time. We decided against waiting and headed to CBC where we checked out the lobby and little museum on the lower level before seeking lunch.

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Of course Grump (seriously, that was an autocorrect) Trump was in the news.

We walked about three blocks, getting left behind by my daughter she did not realize we had stopped for more photos – my sister this time. Using her phone to search for eateries my D found Canteen in the Entertainment District (she also found a Starbucks to stop at after lunch; she barely escaped a horde of students (minimum 20+ and more pouring in as we headed away) that followed her in – supposedly in search of water although it seemed they were leaving with various caffeinated drinks) Back to Canteen, I would certainly return given the opportunity. My sister chose short rib Mac & cheese – people in ON eat some strange combinations, it is not a westcoast dish. It was declared delicious. We were so hungry by this time that I neglected to take photos. My D had the Squash Pad Thai and I chose calamari tacos. Really, something for everyone, including GF/DF/V & Vegan! Impressive.

After dropping my sister off to catch the UP to the airport we bought tickets for the train, Via rather than GO, to Kitchener-Waterloo. I just love the acronyms and expect to take GO on the back as it is significantly cheaper. By the time we arrived we were very tired little teddy bears.

Temporarily crowned with the new engagement ring (a big secret until photos – no wonder my SIL is so good at his job – I only heard about it after the ‘reveal’ photos. Seems everyone there was in tears) and wedding band plus one flower from the bouquet.

Wedding Wednesday: the aftermath

I had intended to write something the last Wednesday leading up to the big day; seems the final countdown means all sorts of last minute running around and the day ran away from me! It was not until the next day someone in the family mentioned they had not seen a post. (Nice to note some of them read my posts) However, now that the momentous day has come and gone I am free to include photos!

Big however here, I only took the first two of the following photos although they were taken on my phone. Why did I not take many? The mother of the bride should not be hiding behind a camera or iPhone. There were so many people with phones I knew I would not have to worry. I am waiting for some to be sent to me as I write – which tells the tale I started this before Wednesday. Just in case I am overwhelmed with exhaustion. Ensconced in my room, with AC and a fan going full blast I hope I can capture some of the magic of the day and chaos leading up to it.

My eldest, the bride, and two of her sisters

I had only managed two paragraphs before I started to doze off. Perhaps becoming a wedding coordinator is not in my future. Although I am quite sure I could teach the person in charge of the venue a few things about appropriate attitude when working with a bride. Fortunately nearly everything went smoothly. The worse incident was with a special glass pumpkin my daughter bought with their names and the date of the wedding engraved on plaques, As she said, “Seems wheels and boats don’t mix.” Funny considering we were on a paddle wheel.

My daughter, her soon to be husband (photos done before ceremony) and me

The bride was beautiful. The groom was handsome. The ladies and men were perfect. The venue was as ready as it would ever be. Guests arrived, listened to the piper (yes, there was a Piper), had a photo taken at a ship’s wheel and boarded. To add some humour water came running, taplike, from the roof above us just as the bride and her father were to walk down the aisle, right in the middle.

A wonderful gift of Scottish piping from the mother of the groom

The set up was lovely, once my daughter and a friend of her sister, stepped in to assist. We had fishbowls, minus the fish, (my grandson suggested goldfish crackers) with orchids and fairy lights flanking small, white bouquets in mason jars (these are actually great as decorative vases and found in nearly any cupboard). I never did understand if it was a fishbowl or a mason jar that was broken during the set up. The blue table runners and chair sashes were carefully laid and tied. Try ironing 100 sashes and 20 table runners, the. Keep the, from becoming creased before the big day!

just a bit of chaos before everything was boxed for the ride to the venue

We partied like there was no tomorrow. Anyone with slippers was happy to have remembered them – that includes me. The bride and groom serenaded the guests for the last song/dance. She lost her voice. Four days later she is still hoarse! Perhaps it was just as well the bridal table did not have any wine served to them during toasts – many drinks were being bought for them. That is said in jest, fortunately the bride snagged a bottle from the parents table – I had one short glass of red wine that I promptly gave to my youngest at the table across from me after the first toast. The rest of the toasts I had to use my water glass. Oops.

It is difficult to convey in words how wonderful everything was and even photographs will only provide a glimpse of how to do a wedding right. With lots of family, love, laughter and dancing to the hours. I hope everyone enjoys the photos I have been able to gather.

Wasn’t that a party?!

Wedding Wednesday: final fittings, purchases, final touches

This is it, only one more Wednesday left before the big day! I fly out of a Victoria with my roommate daughter tomorrow, arrive in Kingston from TO via Via Rail and go immediately to two wedding meetings. We will check out the dorms at Queen’s University where many members of the family will be staying – including the bride & groom. I think the main plan is to figure out who gets which room. Then we will dash off to meet with the wedding coordinator for the boat.

She was supposed to call me today, suggested tomorrow afternoon. So I sent her nine items to go over and have answers for our Friday meeting. I explained the bride will not be available before then. The dress has been picked up but can go back if I notice any problems. I hope not. I am taking a spool of white thread and another of blue for any emergency repairs. Blue is the colour the women are wearing and I already know I have to sew a belt onto one dress.

My youngest daughter bought s pair of shoes the other day for her dress despite swearing up and down she is broke and threatening she will not attend. I will not go into her reasoning. Suffice to say if she shows up, great. If not, her loss. Her sister’s and I are finished with the antics. All I want is to have her out of my apartment when I get home. Oh, and to leave it in decent shape. I believe my feeling sick has nothing to do with the wedding.

We are all packed. My usually carried on bag will be checked in because I am not letting all those orchids, glass stones and fairly lights out of my sight! The bag is s bit heavy but not over the allowable carry on. We must leave home at 2:30 to take three buses to get to the airport to arrive before 5:00. So just getting to the airport is half the time our flight will be! Except we also have a three hour layover in Calgary. Perhaps I will actually sleep by Friday night.

The bride told me today that her step-mother started a list for the BBQ the following day – Canada Day. I kind of like the idea of stepping back. Hard to believe that 89 years ago my grandparents were also married on June 30th and had a picnic on July 1st for family and friends!

Wedding Wednesday: the final countdown

The final countdown! The bride returned from a holiday in Florida a week or so ago, I hope she is well rested. We set a day to discuss everything that still needs to be dealt with, changed, confirmed, cancelled. Since then we have had at least three lengthy conversations!

While she was away her sister and I struggled with the wedding budget. It is not that we have to pull off some magic to make the dollars stretch – that is for the bride to deal with – we were working on a spreadsheet. I still do not understand how it works. The one we settled on has four columns for money. Estimated cost, actual cost, monies paid, balance owing. Simple, right? Except it was not and we still had to pull out pencil and paper. All I know is that the bride will go over budget. She already knew that. Like I said, not anything I need to deal with. When I was growing up we used to say count your buttons – no recollection where it came from, perhaps Paddington?

I share a place with a daughter which means when shopping needs to be done we usually go together. I was clever and bought my dress in January. She however ordered some items online, nixed some, then discovered a flaw in one, before deciding to start all over. We took a few trips to town to search for something different. Which basically means thinking beyond her usual go to colour – black. This time she looked at shoes first with a plan to build from there. It worked! What colour did she choose to go with the shoes? Black. Thank goodness the shoes have colour. I will keep that a secret for now. Too bad they are two sizes too big for me. I found them and one of the other items she chose. It is always nice when your 32 year old still takes your choices into consideration. Even more so when they are perfect. (a rarity)

Lately I have been dreaming about the wedding. I thought the bride did that. I have visions of orchids, hydrangeas, canapés, or are they H’ordeuvres, high heels and country music swimming through my head, fitting I suppose – the venue is a paddle boat after all and, apparently, the band is more on the country spectrum than rock. The most recent dream had the venue in the far reaches of Mongolia! Perhaps I am subconsciously thinking about escaping to parts unknown….to me. I would love to have one of my daughters wear one of these traditional wedding outfits. Only two more left.

Look up some of the fabulous traditional outfits for Mongolia – the headdresses are amazing!

I was quite happy to erase March, April, and May from my calendar as well as wiping off nearly everything from my whiteboard. I like seeing lists vanquished. Of course a master list is still necessary – I take no chances, on paper and my iPad. My daughter keeps wondering how it is that the lists are not getting smaller. Of course they are, items are just being moved from TTD (things to do) to things done.

Some notes on the frustrating bits or organizing a wedding. Organizers in different provinces – in Canada that is 4620km, a three hour time difference, minimum 5 hour flight non-stop. Factor in a job that has 12 hour shifts, my daughter is an RN, there is not a lot of useable time. I will arrive nine days before the big day. Jumping right into the fray with a meeting to go over everything for the venue the day I arrive. We might also be checking in with the seamstress one last time if the bride has any concerns. I do sew and did make some suggestions, I just was not willing to do any of the alterations.

Food. The wedding is in the evening, so no need for a full course meal. The main problem is trying to not order too much but also to ensure no running out. (Planning way ahead I did some footwork when in Kingston last summer to wuss out where we could take leftovers – seems nowhere on a Saturday and certainly not a holiday) A bit of a balancing act when trying to figure out three passes – in normal terms that means servers offering various delights on two levels but not at the same time. Speaking of which, there will be poutine and pizza after midnight!

As for the cake I am all for the continued trend of cupcakes! There will also be a small cake, purely for show though. My sister is the keeper of the now 89 year old sugar dove that was on my paternal grandparents cake whose wedding was on June 30th, 1929! (My father was born six years later on June 30th) We have no idea if there were two doves although assume there must have been. Perhaps I should ask my aunt if she knows of any photos from that long ago day. I will place it on the cake, let photos be taken then quickly remove it again for safekeeping. Perhaps it will last long enough for when my grandson gets married. I would have said ‘if’ if he had not told his mother several years he plans to marry and still live at home – the innocence of children.

slowly, slowly shrinking my lists despite adding to them. Today my daughter asked why I keep adding to it.

Wedding Wednesday: 45 Days

I have not written about the ups and downs about the planning for some time now. Not that the event has ground to a halt, just me having a bit of writer’s block. Which is rather silly when writing an update.

A week ago my daughter told me how excited my grandson is about the wedding. I thought that was very sweet. He even asked if his girlfriend can go. There will be a few of his friends with their dates. Rather an upside down wedding. Also rather fitting. His mother was not quite one when her father and I married ; of course she was included in the wedding party. Come to think of it I probably have some photos of her that I can give her. We are anything but conventional.

My grandson hanging out on a country road fence

Another interesting development is rings. Her dear fiancé does not want a ring – I wonder if it is more accepted for younger grooms to wear them. The bride had the brilliant idea to use the ring her father gave to me when we married. As she so perfectly said it was important to us at the time. Over the years she wore it as wedding band, often when her fiancé was away at sea. Being the kind person she is she asked how I felt about it – I had given the ring to her when she was a teenager. I said of course! That settled she went search of it while we discussed various items to cross off or add to our lists over the phone. That was a couple of days ago. Sad to say she has not found the ring yet. The groom may have to do some quick planning as a ring is one convention my daughter does want.

We recently had a very long phone conversation to go over everything! High on our list was the budget. It is always sobering when the numbers are crunched and do not fit into an allotted amount. The question of where to shave a few loonies and twoonies can become overwhelming. This week the largest deposit for venue will be paid. Perhaps my daughter should take a paper bag with her.

In addition to the deposit she is going to have a dress fitting the same day. The lace has been raised, now it is all the other work. I forgot to ask if raising the lace means the dress has been shortened. I assume it does. At first the fitting was not supposed to be until the beginning of June which means some trepidation on the part of the bride. She has a positive outlook, at least it will be done. Now all she needs to know is how much for the alterations so far. She thought maybe I should call if an estimate is not ready. I do know how to ask in Chinese, or could have her sister call. Not that either of us can ask too much about dressmaking in Mandarin.

多少钱?

Everything is falling into place – nearly. The band still has to call back to set up a time to meet again to discuss the music, playlist and anything else. Lengthy lapses to return calls (or these days texts and emails) tend to make brides nervous. It is also difficult to maintain control when questions go unanswered. In my opinion no more than three business days should go by if a client has questions when a contract has been signed and money handed over. Even if just to acknowledge the message has been received.

Of course there are vendors who have to remind customers payments are due. We had to go over our paid out list to check if the cake lady was already paid a second deposit. She was not. It may have been around this time my daughter asked if it was too late to elope. Or move everything to their front yard. I can see it now, a little sign on the dock informing guests they are to head to the country instead. Hm, I wonder if it is too late to rent an event tent.