Monday, December 10, 2007

Overwhelmed and yet content

Both Maggy and I have been pretty busy of late - kind of overwhelmed by all that's going on to be honest - and yet we're both feeling very happy and settling into our new life.

We've had an instant winter and Maggy's thrilled to see so much snow so soon and on the ground for so long - about two weeks now. She loves to roll and burrow and dig and run and chase and, of course eat as much as she can. She's also a great fan of the cold - so this all suits her quite fine.

I had forgotten just how bone-chilling cold it could be during an Ontario winter. And apparently it hasn't been this cold and snowy since 1985-86 - the last time we lived here - go figure! I'm still working on finding the ultimate walking-with-Maggy and walking-to-work thermal, ankle-length coat as that seems to be the fashion. I also just scored my still in-storage long underwear and wool sweaters from my parents place on the weekend, so am not feeling quite as vulnerable.

Weather aside, it's been a wonderful few months of getting to know our new neighbourhood - including incredibly friendly neighbours, Maggy's new friend and walker Nisha, and for me new friends and co-workers at TPL. Plus, as busy and populated as the city is, I'm finding encounters with strangers to be amazingly uplifting. People on the street, in the subway, in shops are incredibly friendly. And good thing as they counteract the drivers!

All of our boxes are unpacked, there's a plan to find the last of the needed pieces of furniture and the Christmas decorations have been pulled out of boxes after their voyage east.

Maggy's doing well - thriving on her new naturopathic diet and supplements. She's as energetic, playful and strong-minded as always which is great to see!

We're looking forward to heading back to Oshawa on the 21st for a Christmas break and time with family. And to celebrating a year of much change, connection and growth for us both.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Dancing with the Stars

How on earth did I become hooked?

I blame it on my Mom as while I was still staying at my parents' she introduced me to this, the last of the reality shows to which I ever would have gravitated on my own. And yet for the past 10 weeks I have watched and been truly impressed with the show. The individual dramas, successes and challenges. And mostly with the ability of the participants to dance. At times wonderful, sexy and impressive. At other times disappointing and even embarassing. All through, demonstrating the guts and determination to get out there and perform beyond the comfort zone.

Marie Osmond and Jane Seymour representing 'experienced' women, did incredibly well and both boasted an impressive enough fan base to keep them alive well into the competition. Added to that, both went through tragedies: the death of Seymour's Mom and then Marie's Dad during the run of the show. Mostly, it was really great to see them rise to the occasion and surpass expectations. In the case of Seymour in her mid 50s (!) she was fulfilling a life-long dream to return to dance. Osmond in her late 40s went to #3 based on entertainment savyness shown over and over again.

And now, with the finale in progress, the two finalists Mel B. (Scary Spice) and Helio (Racing Champion) could both take it away. While both deserve it, Melanie should win as she has consistently outscored everyone and has been described as a true dancer.

Both though, with their very talented partners, have demonstrated great humour, determination, skill and personal growth. And as the judges would say, they have both unleashed tremendous enough sex appeal to take the breath away from most, if not all observers! And that is precisely the allure of this well-constructed (if not concisely packaged) extravaganza. Plus it's fun. :) Ok, gotta go watch!

Photos: Maksim Chmerkovskiy, Melanie Brown; Julianne Hough, Helio Castroneves, ABC/Carol Kaelson

Sunday, November 25, 2007

CBC's Influence

I've been enjoying a sunny Sunday morning at home with coffee, getting things done and listening to CBC Radio. I often find this to be a wonderful way to recharge my batteries - both physically and mentally. Actually spiritually too.

The combination of Sunday Morning, Stuart McLean's Vinyl Cafe, Tapestry, Eleanor Wachtel's Writers and Company and Cross Country Checkup with Rex Murphy provides an insightful snapshot of life in Canada. While at times it can seem Toronto-centric, for the mostpart these shows, as well as weekday installments of The Current, This Country Canada and others really do cover the spectrum of locations, issues and cultures in Canada and beyond. And though I've lived in Ottawa, Vancouver and Toronto, I've always loved the fact I can tune in and connect with familiar voices and people.

Two different shows this morning resulted in an epiphany for me. One featured a comedian who did impersonations of prime ministers. When mimicking Stephen Harper he commented on how difficult it was as he has a fairly indistinctive voice. That said, he did succeed in sounding like Harper's 'new' way of speaking. As many of us have observed, Harper's voice changed significantly prior to his first election race for PM. No longer was he sounding cranky, impatient and mean, but had transitioned to a more (for him) upbeat cadence, ending sentences on up tones, I think in an effort to seem more open-minded, warm and statesman-like.

Later in the morning, I heard the Vinyl Cafe. That's when it hit me - Stephen Harper had changed his voice to emulate Stuart McLean! If you listen to McLean's delivery - it's quite amazing how similiar it is. Positive, smiling - in story-telling mode. He's a renowned Canadian personality welcomed to any and every community across the country. There to meet and share experiences with Canadians from all walks of life. Warm, engaging, creative, astute. Perfect! Harper's image/pr consultants surely must have seen the benefits of personifying this well-loved CBCer as Harper's personality on its own was not electable. Too bad this new one isn't the real deal.

Photo: Stuart McLean, CBC

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Life lines

It seems to me that there's a thread that winds its way through life's everyday moments. It's a solid, unbreakable and yet ephemeral connection to the truly meaningful. While the day-to-day deadlines and dramas often occupy much of our time and attention, we're reminded of what is really important when we get a glimpse of, or tug on, this connective 'life line'.

I've mentioned this before and I'm still amazed at how many times I've felt this now that I'm so much closer to my original home, family and friends. It's stunning how wonderful life is and yet there's such a dichotomy between the beauty and the sorrow that comes with rich relationships and adventures. To be in touch with this core of life is to appreciate everything and take nothing for granted. And to remember this amid the chaos is the true test.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Reaching for something...

Today was a 'found' day as I was supposed to go to an all-day meeting and then begged off to try to get on top of things in my office. And while I got a lot accomplished, a portion of my time was spent listening to colleagues' feelings of unrest, uneasyness and a sense of something not quite falling into place.

My challenge in these circumstances is to lend an ear, share some shared experience or insight and then NOT take on the negative energy. Gradually I progressed from feeling quite upbeat and blessed with time, to sensing that things were not quite right. And then I remembered that over time I've realized that my nature is to absorb the moods of others and that more constructively I need to empathize, but with some detachment. Too late for today, but lesson learned once again!

So, this vague, unsettling sense that 'something' is off in the distance, just out of reach for now- not sure if that's me or someone else's intuition at play. I'll see how I feel tomorrow.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Maggy and the Naturopath

Thanks everyone for your words and thoughts of encouragement.

So far Maggy's great, except for not liking the poking and prodding of late. On Saturday we headed north of TO to Newmarket to a naturopathic veterinarian for advice and treatment if appropriate. She was fantastic and Maggy, who shakes and protests visiting any vet, was content to relax and hang out there for over two hours of investigation and discussion. She definitely seemed to pick up a very different vibe from the doctor (her name is Autumn) as well as the clinic itself.

We came away with several courses of action including switching to a completely home-prepared, antioxidant-rich diet, nutritional supplements and some tumour-fighting concoctions. We're gung ho to give it a try as long as no adverse reactions ensue - and so far so good. Of course, Maggy always enjoys tasting new things, so she's definitely game!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Maggy's not feeling well...

... actually, she seems to be feeling just fine with lots of energy, drive to get to the park, desire to find those coveted wayward tennis balls, good appetite, shining eyes.

Unfortunately, her vet has found some not so good signs that inside she's not so well. It appears that she has lung cancer that has begun to spread, which is shocking news. I know that her many friends and fans will send positive vibes her way and fyi, I'm not planning to tell her about it. That way, her wonderful, happy-go-lucky approach to life will continue on and on and on.

We'll continue to keep you posted.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Vancouver visitors

This week I'm excited that I get to see two friends from the wet coast as their business travels are bringing them to Toronto. I'm really looking forward to catching up in person versus through email, blogs and facebook entries! One of the great things about living and working in various cities is the chance to meet lots of different friends that you can connect with despite no longer living in the same place.

Thank goodness for e-communication as time and schedule differences make phone calls pretty challenging. And most especially, thank god we sometimes get to meet the old fashioned way - face-to-face!

Looking forward to seeing you Jacqueline and Mika!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Full circle moments

Yesterday I got a phone call from Vancouver regarding a potential job opportunity. As it turns out, it was one that I was interested in a few years ago at the Royal BC Museum. Though I competed for it, once on the short short list, I pulled out as it involved a move to Victoria. From time to time I've wondered if that was the 'right' decision. And though I believe it would have been wonderful to work at the Museum, I'm very happy with the experience I gained by staying where I was and with the way life has unfolded over the past year.

I'm loving working at the Library and am fortunate to have landed here. I'm close to family and have reconnected with them and with old friends on a day-to-day basis. I'm also making new friends and truly enjoying living in Toronto - yes seriously! :)

It was quite nice to get the call though and to, for a moment, consider the opportunity - no, not seriously! ;)

For now, I'm quite content to stay put (and know that Maggy would put all feet down if I even suggested yet another move!).

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Everything is new again

Maggy and I encountered a puppy on our walk last night - a puggle (part pug, part beagle) who was full of life and curiosity. Everything was so very interesting and exciting to him. That can also be said for Maggy, except that with years of experience she has learned to prioritize - food first, people second, other dogs third, puppies never! Too much 'in-her-face' energy and very immature for her taste. So off we wandered, not paying attention to the puppy (well I did, she didn't).

In Maggy's defence though, she too is finding that everything is new again. Home, neighbourhood, friend to walk her at lunch time, family visitors (including that two-year old Matthew), vet, food, smells, climate, water. It's all different.

I know how she feels and yet, at least, I had a say in all this change. It does give me pause though as I realize that she and I have completely reinvented our lives over the past 9 months. Wow.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Acclimatization lows and highs

Another quick posting as I'm not yet hooked up at home and work is so hectic that I barely get the chance to check work email before rushing off to yet another meeting! (Fun, yet frenetic too and so much like my previous life at Tourism BC - an interesting occurrence).

Maggy is settling in well, though with an upset stomach that required a quick visit to the vet on Saturday. She's doing ok, but I think moving isn't her favourite pasttime. This am she woke me up at 6 as she wanted to go outside IMMEDIATELY and so off we went without pausing to brush hair or remove nightguard (mine that is). I figured there would be no one in the halls of the condo at that time of morning... Not only was there someone in the elevator - it was a friend of mine from years ago when we both lived in Ottawa who lives in the building! So while this was an incredibly pleasant surprise, I'm looking forward to speaking again sans night guard in mouth and bed head!

Maggy thought it was cool too - especially that we were out and about that early in the am - a rarity in our world for sure!

Friday, October 5, 2007

A quick hello

Just running from work to pack and head back to the burbs for a family Thanksgiving weekend. The move to Toronto went really well over the past weekend and I'm just getting settled in. It's wonderful to live so close to work now - just a quick subway ride away. Haven't had time to explore too much yet, but am loving it so far.

Maggy is coming to see her new home for the first time on Monday - hope she likes it! Actually, I think she'll love having her own routine and territory again after all this time. And it's a very dog-friendly neighbourhood which will be great.

Hope all's well in your world and best wishes for a fabulous Thanksgiving weekend!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Amazing weather, awful commute

The amazing fall light, beautiful warm weather and changing leaves all make the drive to and from Toronto quite aesthetically appealing. Especially as I can opt to take smaller roads through rural areas for part of the morning trip. And even the Don Valley Parkway looks out across the surprisingly green ravine system that runs through the city. All that said, though, the daily travesty that takes place on Greater Toronto Area highways is alarming.

Cars and way too many tractor trailors crawl along, sometimes idling or moving as slow as 5 kms/hour for miles and miles. A one-way journey that should take up to 1 hour, regularly takes 2. And I, along with hundreds and hundreds of other drone-like commuters, are sitting alone in our cars, spewing ridiculous amounts of carbon dioxide into the air. Constantly, day in and day out.

I have one week left to commute and readily admit it would never be my choice of how to live. Whether driving or travelling by public transit, the infrastructure here doesn't support the fast, efficient and convenient transport of the ever-expanding population outside of the city of Toronto (or inside for that matter). I have also travelled by Ontario's GO train and found that it did not save me time, money, nor was it a pleasant way to go. It's extremely crowded (after just its first few suburban stops) and is ergonomically deficient. Passengers are stuffed into cramped spaces, face each other bumping knees and elbows, have no where to place belongings such as coats, umbrellas, briefcases, or cups of coffee and can barely open a tabloid (forget a broadsheet) if they choose to try to read the newspaper. It's definitely a more green way to commute and if I found myself living in the burbs long term, that would become a necessary way of life. Many do and will continue to do so in order to own homes in residential areas that are affordable and ideal for raising families.

With the upcoming Ontario election, I'll be paying close attention to the partys' transportation plans. A few ideas:
- expand and improve the GO experience to the east, west and north of Toronto in order to move more people via public transit (it has to be affordable and/or convenient and/or somewhat pleasant to get people out of their cars)
- improve the overall GO and TTC transit infrastructure as they are not scaled to handle the population growth as well as increasing demand for green solutions
- disallow tractor trailers to travel during rush hour as they take up a lot of space, are spewing that much more emissions and are dangerous when trying to brake in stop and go traffic (and can be terribly aggressive as well)
- stagger business operating hours in order to spread out the rush hour periods in the morning and evening

In the meantime, I'll take GO at least twice next week to try to offset some of my environmental transgressions, as well as my guilt.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Moving Time Again...

While I'm extremely excited about having a place in Toronto, it's now time to pull off yet another move. This time, I have to figure out what was shipped from Vancouver and is in storage, if it will fit and the logistics of transporting the stuff in storage, the stuff at my parents and the remaining essentials that I need to get right away. Plus assess the clothing situation (e.g. can I continue to wear summer clothing for another two weeks and then unpack the winter things or not?)...

This is of course while I'm still learning the ropes at my new job and commuting from Oshawa (12 hour days). The solution - be organized, get enough sleep and take it one day at a time. And continue to be thankful that all is going so very, very well. :)

Sunday, September 9, 2007


More to come, but had to say that Maggy and I are on our way. We have a new home starting September 29th!

It's perfect and in a great neighbourhood. Lots of dogs and parks for Mags, close to work and shops and restaurants for me. As of October I'll be able to walk to work which is fabulous - and 180 degrees from commuting from the 'burbs.

It's very exciting to see the next piece fall into place. :)

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Carpe Diem

I've been reminded once again of the importance of seizing the day. Of not putting off to tomorrow what can be accomplished, with enthusiasm, today. Of really being clear on my priorities and the important relationships in my life.

It's interesting as I really feel I'm on the right path. And yet, these lessons continue to arise, almost more intensely now.

Since returning to Ontario, there have been many rich moments, both wonderful and challenging. It's as though moving has been validated over and over again in quite intense ways. With the stuff that makes life real and meaningful and scary and fulfilling. While eye-opening and invigorating, these events can be numbing as well.

All this to say that I am looking forward to tomorrow and to being as present and connected as possible. To reaching out and to giving and to being a part of a much larger whole, one encounter and one moment at a time.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Yonge and Bloor

More than a year ago, I was staying at a hotel in the heart of Toronto at Yonge and Bloor. I was still living in Vancouver and was visiting on business. During those few days in the city I looked around closely, then closed my eyes and listened inwardly for the answer to the question "could I live here?" I received resounding intuitive confirmation that "yes I could live here, happily!".

During that visit I began letting my close friends and family know that Maggy and I would indeed be moving back to Ontario, to Toronto, to be close to them and to build a new life there - within the next year.

That was in May 2006. In December 2006 Maggy and I made our journey home. In August 2007, I found myself wandering those exact streets as I headed to my new job at - you guessed it Yonge and Bloor!

This weekend I stayed at the same hotel, this time exploring the nearby neighbourhoods to see where I would feel most comfortable living - at least for the next year or two until Maggy and I have found our feet.

Again, I felt the need to connect with the environment - to actually feel and live and breathe it - before I could start my official search for a place to live. I found myself excited and invigorated as there is so much energy here. The ROM and University of Toronto are just down Bloor, Queen's Park is nearby, Yorkville is right there, the Village is several blocks south, restaurants and theatres and interesting shops are everywhere. I even discovered a natural health store where the aromatherapy scents smelled oh so much like Vancouver! And believe it or not there are wonderful residential enclaves all around.

It was clarifying for me as now when I look at a map, the locations have meaning. Although I still have a lot to explore, I am ready to move forward with the next step of finding that new downtown home. Wish us luck!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Taking the long way...

Just saw the movie "Shut up and sing" about the Dixie Chicks. Loved it. I'm always impressed by indomitable spirit demonstrated through a challenging time. Also when people stick together and support each other. Plus I can't deny I wholeheartedly agree with their stance on George Bush and the war in Iraq.

I actually watched it last weekend just before starting my new job. The reason - it was something I had planned to do the night I resigned from my old job and then it didn't happen. It felt like a full-circle moment - the last piece of transition from there to here.

Yesterday, I bought the CD "Taking the long way" that was featured in the movie. I was completely enjoying playing it full volume as I drove around town in my new car - especially the kick-ass "Not ready to make nice." I'm now looking forward to the commute to TO tomorrow when I can listen to it again and get all fired up to start week 2!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Grace under fire

My sister-in-law Dawn, and my brother Bret, have endured a tremendously challenging summer. In the midst of dealing with her own health challenges, including surgery, Dawn received the news that her father was succumbing to cancer.

Thankfully, Dawn and her dad, Dave, were able to spend much time together over the past months and nothing was left unsaid before he passed away in mid-July.

Dawn is one of those people who is able and determined to say what needs to be said, ask questions that others won't ask and to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to share their feelings. She's an excellent communicator - with the combination of intelligence, empathy and even in the most trying circumstances, wit. It seems that her sense of humour, as well as her bond with her Dad, unwavering devotion to Ben and Matthew, and support from Bret, family and friends, have provided the strength and perspective to get through it all.

While it will take some time for Dawn to heal, she is doing remarkably well and is an inspiration.

Photo: Dave and Dawn, Father's Day weekend.


... is such a lonely word." Can't remember the rest of the words, but know it's Billy Joel. A haunting song that hails back many years. Not sure why it has come to mind except that now, in a much different time, I recognize that while that song resonated then, I now understand that to be fully honest is not such an easy task. To understand and honour one's own truth; to be fully open to others; to be true to what we know despite temptations to take the easy way. It's all quite a challenge as life becomes so much more complex.

Standing at this crossroads, I feel such a blend of the old and new. Past perceptions are converging with new versions of old relationships. New relationships are appearing or reappearing and confounding old paradigms. To have brought all of this together in one place, in the present has been an important journey. And yet, the uncertainty that lies ahead is both exciting and daunting.

Living in the moment, in the present, is a huge insight realized living in Vancouver. It's time for me to integrate all I have learned into what is now. And what is to come. Time to let go, move forward and embrace everything. In true, honest, unbridled openness to all that life offers.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Exhausted and happy

Things went very well today - I was able to drive into TO rather than commute by the GO train and subway and that took at least an hour off the trip. Plus I drove my beautiful new Toyota Matrix which was fun. Music on, sunroof open. No chattering, no sleeping people, no crammed quarters. For now, this is the preferable way to go, til I move closer to the city in a month or two.

Work is great. I'm already getting immersed in several interesting projects and am meeting really talented and devoted colleagues. Still getting used to getting lost in the building and trying to figure out if I've met everyone yet (not even close!). It's definitely the beginning of a new adventure.

All that to say, I'm exhausted after 3 days back at it and must call it a night!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Day One

So, after 8 months of 'getting reacquainted' with Ontario, I've returned to work. Bit the bullet and am again wearing business attire (including footwear), arising at 6 am (yuck), and commuting downtown to the Toronto Public Library (!).

My first day was great - met lots of very nice people, had lunch with colleagues on a rooftop restaurant in the sun, and got the initial 'lay of the land' intro to our team, the organization and the inevitable politics that go along with any job (I've learned the hard way that it doesn't matter where you work, politics will be there...).

I'm really excited about the opportunity to join a community-oriented, socially responsible organization that provides amazing programs and resources to absolutely everyone. Children, youth, newcomers to Canada, seniors. Book clubs, literacy and ESL programs, universal access to info and knowledge and ideas, a tremendous collection, and extensive online services, for example.

Walking into the atrium today, I felt elated and somewhat in awe of this new opportunity. I'm excited and yet also feel it is meant to be. I couldn't have landed in a more perfect place and feel very grateful that I'm here.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Maggy Milestone

Last Saturday, Maggy turned 13 - that's 91 in human years! She's doing really well, despite being bathed and groomed today (NOT her favourite pastime). Since moving here, she absolutely loves all the attention and company although not so much that 2-year-old critter, Matthew, who is just too unpredictable and rambunctious.

That said, she can be unpredictable and rambunctious herself, as she 'escaped' through the backyard hedge a few weeks ago requiring me to give chase! I found myself running full steam despite wearing just my bathing suit and no shoes through the hedge, tall grass, pine needles and heading toward a creek. Thankfully she stopped before we both had to leap into the water (not sure I was up for that). We've since plugged the gaps with fencing and she's lost her off-leash privileges for now... even 91 year olds sometimes have to have time outs.

And funny enough I've heard that living with a dog is like living with a perpetual 2-year-old child. So, Maggy has more in common with Matthew than she thinks...

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Good things gro ow ow in Ontario

Over the past while we've seen some 'retro' advertising as old television spots are reprised to appeal to those of us who remember them. For example: the 'two scoops of raisins' lumberjack, the 'gouda' ad with the young boy who forgets what cheese he was sent to buy, or the Chef Boyardee ad featuring kids running through the town square while church bells ring. Most of us remember these ads from childhood and now that we're feeding other generations, they appeal to our sense of nostalgia and harken back to what we remember as a simpler time... and apparently they work.

A similar approach is being used with a new version of the old jingle "Good things grow ow ow, in Ontario" that ran in the seventies and eighties. Today's ad features a farmer singing the song (not so well) over the loudspeaker in a grocery store. It's an ok ad, but again it's the fact that we remember the jingle that makes it so effective. And once you hear the song, of course, you can't get it out of your head for days! It's a campaign by the Ontario government to promote buying Ontario's fresh food products, wines and beers. It's timely as it reinforces the 'buy local' message that is now gaining in popularity.

And speaking of good things that grow, Bret, Jill, Claire, Aleah and I went blueberry picking last week. It was spectacular as the weather was great and the berries were perfect. It was my first time, and it turned out to be quite enjoyable. The best part is we now have enough personally picked and transported fresh blueberries in the freezer to last through til next year. You can't get much more local than that.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Thunder & lightning

Maggy's afraid of it! One of the known drawbacks of moving back to southern Ontario was the summer storms. We've had thunder just about every day for the past few weeks. She can hear it long before we can, and sometimes when we can't, and she begins to pace, pant, drool and whimper. If it wasn't scary for her, it would be funny as she really does get into her drama-queen routine!

Good news is she won't be terrorized this summer by Vancouver's fireworks extravaganza

Saturday, July 14, 2007

facebook phenomenon

A friend sent an invite to a while ago. After some delay, I finally checked it out and signed up last Sunday. A few days passed and then as friends were added, it has taken off into a budding addiction!

My family's concerned as they see me regularly dash to the computer to see who has written, who has joined, who has sent an invite to join their friends. They're already talking intervention and it hasn't been a week!

The amazing thing is you really can find long-lost friends that you often think about, but can't find a trace of. For example, Sheila, my university roommate for 3 years and MC at my long-ago wedding. We've reconnected this week after many years living in different cities and now that we're both in the TO area, we'll be able to get together soon and catch up. Very cool.

As well, having just moved here from Vancouver, it's great to be able to keep an eye on the activities of everyone back there in one spot - and not simply by trying to remember to email or call, or by surfing everyone's blogs.

I simply love facebook so far! Personally and professionally as it's an interesting study in communication, social networking and the continuing power of the web. According to Marketing magazine, facebook has 24 million users worldwide, with almost 5% growth per week in Canada - "in under a year facebook has become Canada's hottest online social network."

Now the challenge will be prioritizing between blogging and facebooking... thankfully I no longer have a crackberry...

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Twice the joy!

My dear friend, Debrah, just celebrated the birth of her twin girls Ava and Marlowe on July 3.

They're her first children and an amazing gift as she and her fiance begin their new family together.

It was exciting and heart-warming to hear the news and to imagine their new life full of love, joy, fun and adventure.


Things have been quite unsettled over the past few weeks.

Astrologically: Mercury has been in retrograde from June 15 - July 9 causing emotional and communication disconnects, contractual and financial delays, and transportation and mechanical breakdowns.

Environmentally: We've seen unseasonably cool temps, extreme heat and humidity, thunderstorms, hail, tornadoes.

Personally: I've experienced delays in planning anything at all! Interviews moving to different days, trips cancelled or postponed, loved ones with ongoing health issues, and miscommunication and/or misunderstandings all around.

I'm optimistically trusting that all of this is about to change - for the better. At least that's what my horoscope says...

Friday, July 6, 2007

Great Escape

Great Wolf Lodge turned out to be a perfect family-friendly time away. From the moment of arrival, the entire experience is designed to amuse and engage kids. A talking moose, bear and racoon plus a pack of howling wolves greet everyone and they also entertain during an interactive story time at 8 pm every evening. And as cheesey as it may have seemed, it was all really well done.

I loved story time as there were about 40 young kids surrounded by just as many adults gathered together to watch, listen and participate.

The water park is about the size of 4 football fields and about 6 storeys high and full of water slides, wave pools, huge buckets to dump on innocents below, hot tubs and mercifully lots
of coffee and corona.

While the environment is overwhelming at first, the various 'rides' down huge water slides were really pretty fun. Picture yourself in a raft hurtling down a water-filled pipe that descends and ascends 6 storeys, roller coaster-like, so that your screams are punctuated with gulps of water. One slide called the Vortex begins as you fly really fast through a pitch black pipe before being thrown into a huge ring that you encircle several times before plummetting again into the waiting water below. (I didn't like that one.)

Everyone - kids ranging in age from 2 to 12, as well as their parents and aunt had a blast!

The accommodation and amenities were well thought out as part of the overall experience. A wristband provides access to rooms and other activities throughout the resort and with it you can charge additional costs to your account. Restaurants, the Trading Post store, Aveda spa were all right there so visitors can truly spend all their time (and money) without leaving the premises.

The guys went golfing for a day, while my sisters and I went to Niagara-on-the-Lake the following afternoon for a wonderful lunch and some shopping and exploring. I hadn't been there in about 20 years and I definitely want to go back for wine touring another time. (We think we were dining across from James Woods as well - very exciting.)

On the way home, I took the scenic drive along the Niagara Parkway, before hitting the highway. Along the way (I drove by myself to ensure I'd have some 'me' time following so much togetherness), I admired the scenery, stopped for freshly picked cherries and raspberries, and happily sang along to the radio. Turned out to be a wonderful escape afterall.

Photos: Story Time; Ben, Bret, Michael, Mitchell, Claire, Liam and Aleah at Story Time; Matthew and Dawn at the Water Park; John and Ben give thumbs up

Monday, July 2, 2007

Heading to Niagara

Tomorrow I'm heading to Great Wolf Lodge with the gang. My sisters, brothers-in-law and their two kids each, my brother, sister-in-law and their two kids and my sister's sister-in-law and her two kids. 8 adults and 8 kids in a giant water park/resort for three days and two nights.

Hmm... there are rumours that some of us may venture off periodically to the spa, the golf course or for a wine tour. (Sounds like a Tourism BC summer escape - except the water park part!) Will report back. :)

Friday, June 29, 2007

Cheers - Part 2

Now that summer's here - last day of school was yesterday! - the excitement of time off and lazy hazy adventures has arrived. You can feel it in the air, especially as we start off with the Canada Day long weekend. I was supposed to be heading to Ottawa to celebrate with friends, but unfortunately we've had to reschedule for another time.

So I find myself with a whole 3 1/2 days of 'found time' - which is perfect! Lying in the hammock and cracking open a new novel, hanging out with Maggy, celebrating Matthew's 2nd birthday, family barbeque and swimming, checking out the new movies Evening and/or A Mighty Heart - where to start? I'm looking forward to every moment. Here's to summer vacations and wishing everyone a wonderful Canada Day Weekend!

Photo: Ben and friend at last year's Canada Day festivities

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

An Examined Life

It has been a while since my last postings and I'm getting a lot of questions and comments!

Recently a dear friend of mine observed that while some introspection in blogs is good, perhaps I could lighten it up a bit. That a return to some humour and lighter subject matter might be in order. This gave me pause as I thought she said something about "an examined life is not worth living," though when I searched famous quotations, it's actually "the unexamined life is not worth living" by Socrates! So I suppose that's validation to keep on blogging despite sometimes going a bit deeper.

As well, a lot has been going on over the past few weeks - some positive, some not. On the positive side:

I've spent some time in Toronto and Ottawa having fun, hanging out and exploring. Have also been reminded of the importance of making new friends as well as staying in touch with the old who are near and far.

Things are progressing on the job hunt - with three processes in place right now. Will keep everyone posted on the results.

The heat has been intense over the past few days (40 degrees with humidity). Luckily we have air conditioning as well as a pool so I have nothing to complain about. And I get to hang out with the kids while swimming every day, which is a bonus!

Once again there are birthdays galore - this week Happy Birthday to Stephen and Matthew, next week Chris.

On the "not" side, there are a lot of health issues arising all around. While I get that this is a part of life, especially as we get older, it still seems there are an inordinate number of people dealing with disease and death. It seems drastic and unfair. While it makes us appreciate life and living in the moment, it also makes me angry to see so many occurrences of cancer, in particular.

As well, Ginger (my parent's 15-year old dog) passed away on Friday which was very sad. She lived a long and happy life, however it's always a challenge to say goodbye to such a longtime member of the family.

So, as much as I was hoping to contribute some uplifting thoughts, I think I'll reserve that for upcoming postings.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


It's 30 degrees and sunny - so you either wilt or go swimming!

This afternoon Matthew, his brother Ben, and their mom and dad came over to play in the sandbox and take a dip. There's no better way than this to enjoy summertime and let your cares fade away...

Monday, June 4, 2007


I love the idea that there is a universal network into which we are all connected. I first heard about this years ago and explored the idea through various writers, teachers and philosophers as well as by practicing yoga and meditation and attending Unity Church in Vancouver. At that time, I vowed to myself that I would not mentally 'study' this concept, but instead connect with it through heart and body. For a Gemini (air sign) this is a challenge; however I've been successful in doing so thus far.

This approach has helped me become more grounded and 'within my body' versus always analyzing everything and searching for control. That said, it can be difficult to let go of attachment and ego-driven goals. My move east is a large-scale example of ultimately letting go of a life that was sufficient, but no longer feeding my soul.

I have recently met a kindred spirit who has gone through a very similar journey. She packed up her life and moved from Canada's north to return to family and roots in Toronto at just about the same time that Maggy and I did. We've both landed in a new, yet familiar setting and are just getting acclimatized to new daily routines. We're both so glad to be back and to be much closer to lifelong friends and family. And alas, we're both looking for that new vocation that will be in keeping with the path that we've laid out for ourselves. It truly feels as though we were meant to move to this new chapter together. It absolutely feels like synchronicity to me!

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Paradoxical Life

I've been thinking about how life in balance means that with sadness comes joy, with uncertainty comes clarity, with closing doors come new beginnings. And vice versa. It's remarkable how this works, and with age and experience we finally come to see that this is what makes life so precious. Pain, though difficult, is a gift as it can bring into focus what is most important and is so often fleeting.

I saw Deepak Chopra speak last Monday and he described this paradox by saying that without the darkness, we couldn't appreciate the light. He of course said many other things, but this really stuck with me.

My life is full of rich and meaningful relationships that continue to emerge, grow and evolve. Some of the people I love are now experiencing difficult times and my heart goes out to them with wishes of much strength, peace, laughter and joy as they negotiate through these challenges. Love is truly the essence of life and while sometimes it takes a painful experience for us to recognize this, love's power is ultimately what will get us through.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat - by Aleah

My sister Claire and I were in a concert at school with our new music teacher, Mrs. Powell. During the concert, Claire sang a whole song by herself called "Meanwhile back in Canaan" and I sang many songs in the chorus. I liked "Pharaoh's Dreams" best. I get really nervous in front of an audience, so it was a bit scary. I had fun, but I wouldn't want to be in Claire's part. Gillian also sang and she gets nervous too. Claire does a bit, but not too much.
The first night was amazing because it had Cast 1 with the older kids and Joseph was played by a girl, Amanda. She was really good and she acts in the Little Theatre. She's going to be in the Annie sequel as the nanny. My mom and dad came to both concerts and my Aunt Brenda and Aunt Dawn came to the last one. And then we had a bit of a party to celebrate after. Now I'm going to make my own blog called Earth to Aleah.
Photo: Gillian, Claire and me on closing night

Saturday, May 19, 2007


My four-year old nephew Ben is a going concern. Smart, articulate, intense, energetic. He knows what he wants, what he likes and he is acutely focused on achieving both as much as he possibly can. As a four-year old, he doesn't yet grasp that his needs and those of others have to be factored into that equation as well. While his parents or other adults may be considering these needs - to Ben they are simply not providing what he wants and likes, at that moment.

He is well aware of the word "patience" and knows its definition. And especially since the arrival of younger brother Matthew almost two years ago, he has learned to practice it - somewhat. I love his response when you ask him to have patience - the sigh, the roll of the eyes, the exasperated "I know." Who doesn't know what that feels like - even if you're decades beyond the age of four?!

Patience is a virtue that allows us to more fully appreciate that which we want and like and even need, but must await. It's an opportunity to live in the moment, mindful of more than just ourselves and our own priorities.

And how wonderful it is when we can fully enjoy ourselves once the patient part is over. Right Ben?!

Thursday, May 17, 2007


Life is good.

Though I have to stop getting the inspiration to contribute these postings at midnight!

That said, here's to life! Nature's in full bloom, friends & family are always there, and love is in the air. What more can we ask for?

Monday, May 14, 2007


It took me many years to grasp the concept that relationships - all relationships - are ever-changing. I remember being hit by an image one day when I saw what this actually looked like in black & white form. The vision was startlingly clear and consisted of an actual, linear grid - very odd for an intuitive type (INFP in Myers Briggs language) - as I tend to think in organic, grey form.

Conceptually the realization went something like:

Relationships change from moment to moment, from year to year. When people interact with one another, a resulting sense of rapport is determined by a wide variety of factors including the nature or type of the relationship, the stage of the relationship, and internal and external influences. Joko a Japanese zen writer used the metaphor that you can only enter the same river once, as its flow and environment and the person entering the river will never be exactly the same again. So regardless of what has happened before, each encounter with someone is fresh, new and dependent on our ability to experience it in the moment.

This notion was an epiphany to me for two reasons.

One: Regardless of the fact we may share the same experiences, we are all applying our different lenses and filters resulting in unique images and understanding.

Two: Relationships are subject to constant evolution. We cannot take any one for granted. We can be heartened that although a relationship is experiencing difficulties at a given time there are many factors which can influence a positive outcome. And we must also realize that any positive relationship can be lost under the influence of these same factors. Relationships are not fixed. Nor are they guaranteed to last, to be good or bad, healthy or dysfunctional, inspiring or deflating. They simply are.

This was an important lesson at the time as I was coming to terms with the fact that you cannot trust everyone. As much as we would all love to be surrounded by loving, compassionate and harmonious interactions, that is not the world we live in. So, I came to understand that:

- All relationships are different and should be considered independently - even when they are part of larger groups

- The nature of relationship is fluid – no one will remain exactly the same over time as long as we open our minds, hearts and eyes to what is in the present

- Ideally, they are guided by our inner wisdom and balance, personal boundaries, mutual respect, and compassion

- Authentic engagement is based in truth, integrity and driven by a personal value system

- Neither person in an authentic relationship should be externally driven, reactionary nor accommodating at the expense of their own needs and values and shouldn't expect that of the other

These thoughts have been on my mind, as I focus on re-connection, and new connections as consciously as I can. It is amazing to see what were established childhood relationships in a whole new light. It's always enlightening to experience the deepening of friendships that last through difficulties, separation or geographic distance. And it's exciting to anticipate the next stage in all relationships whether foundational or brand new!

Party Girls

This past Saturday, my two sisters and I hosted a celebration of our sister-in-law Dawn's 40th. It was a chance for 10 "girls" to get away from kids and partners for a few hours of laughter, good food, chocolate and drinks. Plus the two canine gals - Maggy and Ginger of course. It was a lot of fun and especially so as many there really needed it. Life has a way of throwing challenges at us - and it helps to have our female friends to help us through. Therapy with a hangover.

It's especially enlightening to join this group - many of whom have known each other for many years. I'm more an honorary member as I'm older (a bit) than the others and haven't lived here since leaving for university. My shared experiences since then have consisted of brief holiday appearances, hellos and updates from family. Now that I can play a different, more consistent role, it feels good.

For Maggy too - as the party was a success for her as well. She happily hung around everyone enjoying the attention, lying in the grass, then calmly, surreptitiously nabbing a snack from one of the trays, barely making a sound or motion. We were all surprised and impressed at the same time - until she tried it again and we shut her down. Once was a party trick, twice was uncouth!

Overall, all the girls appeared to have a good night.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007


Life has settled down somewhat and I can now really focus on my career game plan - you know establishing objectives, targets, milestones in a very left-brain way.

Trouble is I've been enjoying the social, fun, creative right-brain approach to life for the past few months and it's kind of a drag to have to do this. Don't get me wrong, time and project management are what I actually do for a living so it's not too much of a stretch. That said, the sunshine and Maggy are calling so off we go outside for now. It's supposed to rain tomorrow...

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Bon Voyage!

Less than 24 hours from now my parents will depart for a 15-day cruise. It has been a long time coming and is more than well-deserved. They've just finalized the sale of my dad's company of 25 years and are heading off to relax. And celebrate!!

Thank goodness - for them, for family who've lived this impending sale for the past year and a half and for me and the pooches who are looking forward to some relaxation too! One of the benefits of having moved here is that I could assist with this process over the past few months. That said, there have been some tense times as the negotiations and legal and accounting details were being hammered out.

Thankfully, we can all now move on. While Dad will continue to work with the new owners, he's free of the administration and other tedious stuff that interfered with the real fun of meeting with his clients/friends and golfing. Now that's what he can focus on til he decides full retirement is the way to go. A very nice transition and he gets to see his "baby" live on and flourish as well. And my mom's retirement can now be focused on family, friends and fun as she lets go of her role in the company as well.

So, after a wonderful time away, they'll return rejuvenated to (hopefully) warm and sunny weather, flowers abloom, backyard pool open, a long-weekend party AND there'll be no looking back.

Seems like 2007 truly is shaping up to be the year of change, evolution and new beginnings. Happy sailing Mom & Dad!

Monday, April 16, 2007

"What have you been up to?"

This is a commonly asked question as we slowly but surely catch up with friends far and near. Maggy and I have been BUSY settling into our new environment.

There was Christmas, New Year's & Easter with family in Oshawa, visiting friends in Toronto and Ottawa, 5 birthdays - with 3 more fast approaching, babysitting, seeing movies, going to
hockey games, visiting the zoo, helping family renovate, and for Maggy - making peace with Ginger, her new companion and competitor. (They have actually become an interesting balancing act and tag team. What Ginger doesn't like to eat, Maggy does. When Maggy goes outside, they both get a treat; when Ginger goes out they both get a treat, and so it goes. You'll note that the entire universe for both now revolves around food.)

My friend Debrah recently observed that this has been the honeymoon period following our move. We've been able to hang out and get re-acquainted with everyone. Life has been rich, full and fun. Very social, little stress - joyful, really. What a wonderful way to transition... and a great new beginning, indeed.

I know what you're thinking - yes, but what about a job? As much as this hiatus has been enjoyable, reality is now dictating the need to work once more. An employment search is now in full swing with lots of networking, applying and interviewing taking place. I'm very lucky to have the family support that is allowing my search for the right fit. And while summer and my parent's backyard pool are beginning to beckon, it looks like I'll soon be heading back into the trenches once more. Will definitely keep ya posted.

Photo: Nieces and nephew Aleah, Liam & Claire celebrating something!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Canadian Icons

Sadly we are hearing today, that Canada has lost a wonderful woman, citizen, journalist, activist and role model - June Callwood at the age of 82.

Watching the tributes, I find myself both inspired and troubled. Fired up to see how one individual with conviction, confidence and commitment can impact the world. There is no doubt about what June Callwood stood for and that she did not accept non-action in anyone capable of doing something.

My unrest comes from the fact I have not personally done everything I can do to get involved. That is certainly one of the reasons I moved back to my roots, in order to truly commit to my community in an active, long-term way.

This day, while sad, is a poignant reminder that, to paraphrase Callwood, we all get this one life and it's our responsibility to live it to its fullest and to do our best. Moreover: "Great consideration for one another... that's what's going to save the world." While our country is poorer for her loss, it is so much richer for having had the generous spirit and tireless contributions of her life.

Callwood is one of several Canadian leaders that have been an inspiration to so many. In March we lost Doris Anderson, another iconic activist and journalist at the age of 85. And 15 years ago, Barbara Frum, renowned journalist died at the age of 55.

To me, all three have been stirring examples of active excellence, humanity and compassion and will continue to be an inspiration always.

Photos: June Callwood - Saturday Night Magazine, Chris Nicolls; Doris Anderson - Laurel McCubbin; Barbara Frum - National Archives of Canada

Friday, January 5, 2007

Notes from the road - in retrospect

So it began. December 19, 2006 the departure date; 9 am the etd. We had rented and fully loaded a minivan to travel the 2,787 miles from Vancouver, BC to Oshawa, Ontario. This was the beginning of a new chapter for both Maggy and me.

In the previous 48 hours I had shipped my stuff, left my job, sold my car, moved, said "see you soon" (not goodbye) to good friends and colleagues, and loaded my most precious cargo for the ride eastward.

Maggy had also said so long to her very many fans.

After much last-minute assistance from friends and family - thank you Katie, Jim, Mika, Tom, Debrah, Don & Mom - into the van we both climbed. Next stop: 2 miles away to pick up our travelling companion, Tom, aka Road Warrior. Time we officially hit the road: 2 pm. Not quite to plan, but not bad, considering the magnitude of this move.

As we headed out of BC and into Washington State (we had decided to take the US route) it was grey and raining and the entire area was still recovering from wicked fall conditions (extreme rain, flooding, drinking water alerts, heavy snowfall and wild windstorms) that had left power outages and uprooted trees throughout much of the province for weeks. Washington had also experienced this wacky weather and as we drove, dedicated BC Hydro crews were also heading southward to help restore power across the border. When we pulled into our first of many McDonald's a few hours later, it and all other businesses nearby were closed and completely in darkness. Very unnerving - and, we were hoping, not a sign of things to come.

In order to make up for lost time, we drove til 10 pm and crashed for the night in Spokane. All in all, the drive had gone well, we had made pretty good time and we hadn't hit the tricky mountain passes that awaited, just yet.

Three things I hadn't counted on: Maggy was panting like a locomotive, drooling incessantly and despite us devoting a significant part of the van to her "resting area" she was opting to stand so far. We were hoping though that as she got used to the rhythm, she'd relax and lie down. Maybe tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 20

We considered this the real Day 1 of our trip, given the late start the day before. We had checked out and grabbed a quick breakfast by 9 am, and achieved "wheels up" by 10. We resolved to improve on this the next day as the plan was to be driving by 8:30 each morning... So much for starting the holiday just yet!

Maggy was reluctant to get back into the van, but not wanting to be left behind, she hopped in. Unfortunately, she still had no intention of lying down - it was looking as though she planned to stand with her head peering between the two of us. While panting and drooling away.

It was a sunny, crisp day, just below 0 celsius. The roads were clear - perfect driving weather. As we left Spokane the scenery was stunning - very Christmasy with mountainsides full of rich evergreens powdered with snow.

That rapidly changed as we headed into the dryer landscapes of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming - all to the backdrop of achey breaky tunes on local radio stations. It was hard to believe it was the week before Christmas with sunny, dry land and very little snow or cold. Plus Tom forbade the playing of Christmas carols in addition to any of the music that Maggy and I had brought along...

All was well as we kept heading eastward. I was feeling great about this chance to transition from one life to another - over 5 days versus a 4 hour flight. Time to reflect and reminisce while moving forward. Tom was feeling less and less comfortable, as we left his beloved west coast behind - but as always he was up for an adventure. We drove about 10 hours and landed in Sheriden, Wyoming where we glady called it a night.

Thursday, December 21

Tom is truly a trip leader extraordinaire. He reviewed maps, watched the weather, carried bags, gave special treats to Maggy, allowed me to shoot with his camera, and ensured we had dinner and cold Buds at the end of each day.

Although I had been quite excited at the prospect of this trip and this move, Tom made it incredibly easy and enjoyable. Plus we both were really enjoying the chance to vent about work and life, while munching on carbs and watching the miles wile away.

I had been told that as Tom's forte is leading media trips throughout BC, he revels in knowing "something" about "everything" along the way. He did not disappoint me as he pointed out flora and fauna, birthplaces of presidents, historic battlefields, Devil's Tower (known for its role in Close Encounters of the Third Kind), airforce training bases and the locations of infamous wild west bandits. All very eclectic and whirlwind as we zoomed by at 100 mph!

We got into a rhythm of driving for 4 hours then stopping at truck stops along I-90. Maggy would have a drink, snacks, pit stop, and quick run, and Tom and I took turns running in for our own pit stops and snacks, before heading off again.

This is when we'd have encounters with the locals which proved quite interesting. I learned that a slow "un huh" was the greeting, "can I help you", "thank you" and "goodbye" of choice in South Dakota. While kibbitzing there with a woman and her son they admired Maggy and said they had a dog at home that chased and ate rabbits all day - Maggy and I both smiled and were glad to get our urban butts back into the van.

We travelled through Wyoming, South Dakota and into Iowa. Wyoming was really beautiful with red sandy bluffs and wide open spaces. South Dakota started to become flatter and more agricultural and included some snow as we were blasted with the last vestiges of a horrible storm that had hit Denver the day before. Aside from a dusting of snow on the highway and the sight of several overturned vehicles, we again managed to avoid the worst of winter and kept sailing along.

At about 9 pm Tom and I were willing to keep going as we were wide awake, feeling content with our progress and felt we could wait a bit to eat dinner. Unfortunately, we realized we were running out of gas, rain was beginning to fall, there were a huge number of tractor trailers on the road and to our dismay the gas station we were targeting was closed when we arrived. Suddenly contentedness turned to concern as we concluded we had to settle for a small town we had already passed called Council Bluffs, Iowa for the night. And if we were lucky we'd just make it back there on fumes.

The fun began however, after we arrived at the town, filled up the tank and asked for directions to the Holiday Inn. Three very strange encounters with locals later we were finally able to get enough info to find the hotel.

This was the "Bates Hotel" of our trip as the front desk attendant was a bit "off", the hotel itself ok, but Tom's room was overlooking an adjacent parking lot full of idling trucks. Although he asked for another option, he was told the hotel was full to which he asked, "really, did everyone walk here,?" as the hotel parking lot was empty. This all didn't matter too much though as we were projecting that we could still make it to the Canadian border the following day.

It took Maggy about 3 minutes to fall into a very deep sleep.

Friday, December 22

Although we still had a day and a half to go, we were getting close and we could feel it. The rolling hills and farmland of Iowa turned into Illinois as we headed toward Chicago. Our aim was to circumvent the city prior to rush hour, begin heading north again to Detroit and then across the border to Windsor where we'd stay for the night.

The weather was turning colder, including the wind (which at our backs was helping us along our way). Each time we stopped for a break, we were surprised at how cold and windy it was.

After so many miles of empty highways, diverse natural landscape and intermittent farmland and towns, we were now nearing bigger cities and the energy was definitely different. Traffic was getting heavier and turnoffs more frequent until we hit the outskirts of Chicago in mid afternoon. Although we found ourselves in multi-lane congestion for half an hour, it was quite tolerable and actually a welcome change.

We passed by notable sites Peoria, Illinois; a Mack Truck location (Tom?); and Notre Dame. I spent too much time shooting cloud formations, farmhouses and lone trees all day as I had become a bit too attached to Tom's camera!

We whipped through Detroit as dusk descended into darkness. From the highway we could see plant after factory after plant, however we could also see what appeared to be a nicer residential area. The one drawback of this trip was definitely the fact we didn't have the time to venture from the Interstates to get a sense of some of the more historic and important US destinations. Just enough to whet my appetite for a more in depth road trip in the future!

Once we departed Detroit, the Ambassador Bridge to Canada appeared on the horizon - now well illuminated in the night sky. We were both excited to see this important milestone as we were about to re-enter the welcoming security of our own country. Tom snapped a shot of the border guard, we answered her questions and off across the bridge we drove.

It was only 8 pm, so we relaxed, Budweisers in hand. We chatted about how far we'd come and that the end of the journey was almost here. Maggy wasn't feeling quite so sentimental as she'd had enough of her cross-country adventure!

Saturday, December 23

We were able to sleep in as it's only about a four-hour drive to Oshawa from Windsor. The weather was nippy and grey - not exactly welcoming, but not exactly winter either! We kept counting our lucky stars as our journey was really quite smooth considering the time of year we were travelling.

Highway 401 was not unlike the last leg of the US trip with lots of farmland and fields and greenbelt along the way. Of course, Tom was still rhyming off notable facts about the small communities along the way - e.g. Leamington is the Canadian home to Heinz ketchup.

Aside from the insane number of OPP cars that were chasing down pre-holiday speeders, the remainder of the ride was pretty uneventful. We were all definitely ready to reach Oshawa and get out of the van as it was getting a bit claustrophobic and smelly.

Luckily we took the new toll highway 407 which was virtually empty. It turned out to be a highlight for Tom as it's a massive, well constructed roadway bordered by lots of new businesses - by now I had realized this is just one of Tom's many areas of interest - the efficient organization and transport of modern industry. We had spent much time discussing how America works with its resource, manufacturing and distribution networks. It was nice to see that something of Toronto had impressed him!

Finally, we reached Oshawa (about 45 minutes east of Toronto) and headed to my parent's home. We turned onto their street and there they were waiting outside as we pulled up. They gave us all a warm welcome, handed Tom and I some cold Alexander Keiths and helped us unload the van.

The house was beautifully decorated for Christmas, some snacks (including treats for Maggy) awaited us and we were able to have a nice visit with my mom, dad, brother, brother-in-law, and two nieces.

And Maggy checked out her new-found competition for food and attention - Ginger, the 15-year old, 9-pound lhasa apso/poodle with attitude to spare!.

Tom seemed glad to meet everyone and genuinely pleased that this was where he'd be leaving Maggy and me after our adventure. We eventually headed back into Toronto to return the van and drop Tom off at his hotel so he would make his Christmas eve flight the next am. It seemed strange to be saying goodbye after so many days on the road, and yet all was right with the world as he was on his way west and we started back "home" to Oshawa.

For Road Warrior's slightly different take see:

Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 13 - Tom; 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12 - Me; 13 - Mom