With all the sitting and eating we did yesterday, first on the agenda for Tara and I this morning was a visit in the fitness center. It was very kind of Tara to let me sleep in while she exercised first. The kids were up a little earlier than normal, which meant some Sunday morning cartoons - though not in French!
Roseville United Brethren in Christ Church - it was Family Day! The little church where Dad and Mum were married thirty-nine years ago was packed. Instead of a sermon from Pastor Randy Magnus, a ventriloquist entertained the children and families. They had all the kids sit up front, so when a volunteer with a big smily face was need, Eva got chosen to go up on stage and help out with one of the puppets songs! It was fun to watch Dad and Shirley surprise old friends with our arrival. It was great to see Great-Aunt Meryl again!
Don and Beth Poth hosted us for a delicious lunch in their stunningly beautiful home and gardens. Their backyard is a breathtaking arrangement of trees and flowers, birdhouses and a fountain, old fences and a large lattice dome over the patio! We wandered around for awhile, taking in the lovingly crafted landscape. Willy and Annie joined us - neighbors to Uncle Russell and Aunt Eva. They also brought a tasty cake from their 60th wedding anniversary. I asked them what their secret was... they said it was a secret! When I asked them for stories about Aunt Eva and Aunt Olive, Willy shared how Eva was so thoughtful - bringing hot cups of coffee out during cold harvest times, and drippy ice cream during the hot hay season.
The weather was muggy (I wore clothes better suited for cold weather...), rain seemed threateningly close, and then the sun came blazing out! Our response was to let the kids (and Aunt Maria) play in the cool pool. Tara, Jerm and I sat around with our feet in the water - very relaxing, until someone urged a reluctant Maria to do a cannonball in my direction. Her incomplete backflip also got me soaked!
It was wonderful relaxing with Don and Beth, getting to know our northern family better. I know my folks were really enjoying the visit. Too soon, though, it was time to dry off, pack up and head to our next hotel so that we could spend the evening with Aunt Barry and Uncle Nancy. Though our next destination wasn't that far away, we traveled many unexpected streets in search of our hotel. Dad even got out of the van to ask different people for directions! We were that lost in his hometown. Somebody had moved landmarks...
The last time I had been to Barry and Nancy's home was with Ben in 1994. We had come up to Kitchener for a big Becker family reunion. We camped out with them in their third floor apartment. One of my best memories in that last year with Ben was the four of us upstairs, hanging out. Somehow we got singing silly Raffi songs. Well, Matt and Ben were doing most of the singing. Probably mostly Ben. At this point he was kind of blind, but still had a wonderful attitude about everything. He was plopped on the floor singing in the most ridiculous voice, booming and smiling and making us roar with laughter.
This time around we hung out in the backyard till the rain drove us indoors. We had fun out there catching up with Barry - he was sharing about some of his dangerous experiences hauling chemicals in his long-haul trucks. He's got the scarred knuckles to back up his story! Christy's husband had his own tales to tell of hauling from B.C. to Nova Scotia, all the way down to Louisiana. We also got caught up on the superiority of Tim Horton's coffee over Starbucks. Some tense moments, but we got past it! :)
When it finally came time for dinner, Nancy served up this amazing broccoli salad. It was THE BEST! Maybe it was the onions and bacon, or the sauce. Whatever it was, mmmmmmm good! And the ice cream for desert - I don't know if I've ever had better vanilla ice cream. Ever. A wonderful surprise, especially when topped with strawberries picked from where Grandpa Hallman's old farm used to be. We'll be going out to the farm tomorrow to show the kids where my dad grew up, and other sites in the area. Today we saw the high school my dad attended - three miles from his house (three miles that he walked!). More of that kind of stuff in the morning. Should be fun!