It's almost midnight, everyone is finally asleep. Tara's been having terrible allergy attacks - so I took the kids swimming tonight so she could have some rest. We had lots of fun swimming in a warm pool, but ELIE missed their Mommy! If she had been there with us, she could have helped Jerm with his whirlpool project. Or she could have watched Levi and Isaac swim without their life jackets! Hopefully she'll rest well tonight and tomorrow will be much better. Maybe she was just allergic to Kitchener?
After sleeping in this morning, we eventually made it down to breakfast a bit before 10am. The lady who prepped everything for the buffet at the hotel was very gracious and friendly. Everyone packed up within the hour, and we headed down King Street towards downtown. On the way we stopped by Aunt Nancy's home - she had a box of books for us to peruse. Nancy also had a very old scrapbook of Grandma Beulah that she was eager to show us. The book was from 1924, though the pics in it of foods, flowers, instructions for sewing, cooking, cleaning - and images of kids and parents might have been from a year or two later. Shirley surmised that it was a project from classes Beulah took as a teen while in school, a kind of advanced homemaking course. We enjoyed leafing through it, seeing a bit of Beulah's world so many years later. Jerm found a book of old poems; it included the full version of one that Mum would quote endlessly: "Into each life some rain must fall...". I found a liturgy book for youth services - in it included writings of some great Christians in ages past: Elizabeth Fry, John Huss, Walter Rauschenbusch, George Fox, and others.
When we pulled up to Nancy's home, we met one of her neighbors going for a walk - Maria. Through her thick German accent she pointed out her home just down the street, and she shared how she helped care for Nancy now that her own husband died a few years ago. What a kind and sweet neighbor! The night before Barry had shared how he really appreciated his good neighbors in the past thirty five years. Maria must be one of them!
We pulled away from the neighborhood, waving goodbye to Nancy, and set off down King Street, which took us through downtown Kitchener and Waterloo. It led us to Conestoga Mall where we shopped for some more Canada t-shirts. Then it was off to Port Elgin! The drive took us through familiar towns with odd names: Wallenstein, Dorking, Molesworth, Wingham, Lucknow, Kincardine, Tiverton - too name a few. The biggest change in the landscape was dozens and dozens and dozens of wind-turbines placed all along highway 21. The boys liked looking at them. The final miles from Tiverton through Underwood to North Bruce and onto Port Elgin was a neat experience. It's been so long since we've been back there - and this time Maria gets to join Jerm, Tara and I, along with all our kids. It'll be fun later in the week to go back to North Bruce and check out how the area is different.
After checking into our hotel (they let me use the laundry cart since they didn't have a luggage cart!) we scheduled dinner for Pizza Delight. Shirley Mandigo met us at the hotel to greet us, and she stuck around, helping my folks move in, and then they got chatting! Mum called to make sure that Debbie Vanderkleyn was going to join us for dinner. My van and Jerm's took off early to drive around a bit - we took the kids by our old school, Saugeen Central School. The neighborhood hasn't changed too much, just looks older, not as well kept up in some places - and lots of new houses on the other side of the school. The downtown area doesn't look like it's gotten much TLC lately. But it was still neat to be back. We parked at the restaurant and let the kids play in the playground out behind while we waited for Dad's van to show up.
The feast at Pizza Delight was...well... delightful! And the kids ate free! When the fun was paid for, Shirley took us by the cottage where she is staying with her son Jamie and his family. He came out to greet us - it's been since Ben's funeral that we'd seen him. It was great to see him again. His seven month daughter Lily was inside sleeping, and his wife Nate was down at the beach with the other two boys. We made plans to meet up with Jamie and his family the next day, and then we headed down to the beach to check out the restaurant. It used to be called First Base, and it used to have Garbage Can ice cream. Sadly, it has a dumb name now, and it has not the ice cream I crave. Boo! Oh well, we froliced on the wind-pounded beach, freezing and laughing anyway. Away in the distance we saw a lady with two boys playing in the sand. And then the lady started walking towards us. I walked over to her, guessing maybe it was Jamie's wife, Nate. Which it was! I'd never met her, so it was neat to greet her and introduce her to Jerm, to Tara, to Maria, to Emma, to my Mum and others. It'll be neat to hang out with her and Jamie tomorrow.