I should have mentioned our visit the prior afternoon to Story Book Land, to meet up with Andrea, a friend of Christine’s we haven’t seen in a few years, so we could meet their two-year-old, also. The three young ladies ran a couple of hours through the park, catching a mix of storybook characters, child-sized rides and a small waterpark. The focus was for an age group a bit younger than Rose (and there was at least one ride she was too tall for), but that was fine enough. Rose attended the two-year-old, and Aoife ran through a plethora of rides on her own (as I followed, although the rides safe enough that attendants don’t seem to be awaiting parental permissions to put kids through). There was even an assemblage of animals, including rabbits, and deer that screamed such screams as they must have stories told of them involving ghosts or demons (or both). Unsettling. But Aoife and I finally used that quarter we found at the Big Apple on DAY ONE of our big ridiculous trip to collect corn to hand-feed them.
the late Storyland park just outside of Ottawa, in Renfrew? It was similar to this place, except sans the rides or waterpark or train: simply (semi-creepy) fairy tale characters set in the woods that, after a number of years, had begun to erode. I think we went there as kids, and again, once Kate was small. It eroded completely not long after that.
Shakespeare, which I had no idea existed. Founded in 1832, it was renamed some twenty years later, after someone suggested renaming after the infamous playwright. We saw numerous cemeteries along the route as well, including a couple of cemeteries that had small square clusters of ancient white gravestones in a block, as though moved from some other site. Why are cemeteries, at least from out that way, moved at all? I would like an answer from someone on this.
is the last of my mother’s siblings, and the next in line from my mother’s
third-of-seven. Don was the minister we solicited to conduct our wedding, who
also conducted my sister’s, as well, and a number of family funerals over the
years. It was very good to see them without a funeral, and the weddings have
become sparse and scattered as the further generations spread apart (and the
first time they’d met Aoife, as well as the second time they’d seen Rose). The
last time we were in their house was their fiftieth anniversary a few years
ago, when I couldn’t get toddler Rose to stop running around (even though she
was relatively quiet, she would not sit still, happily exploring the room at
full speed). Apparently they considered her a delight! An equal, I suppose, to when
I brought toddler Kate to their elder son (my cousin) Kayle’s wedding in London
back in 1993 or so. And Pam even said we were staying in the same hotel! Which I
wouldn’t have remembered. And then over to London! To crash at the hotel.
London, Ontario! The land of Greg Curnoe (1936-1992) and Christopher Dewdney’s A Palaeozoic Geology of London, Ontario (Coach House, 1974) and The Nihilist Spasm Band! Jean McKay! The origins of Brick Books and Brick: A Literary Journal! Oh, London!
Woke, in London, Ontario. Everyone slept in except Christine, who had to be at her conference at 8am. The rest of our trio woke slowly, and lounged in our room. We lounged, went for lunch, and drove an hour to Norwich, to do some further visiting. We spent the whole afternoon as the young ladies met up with some pigs (they smell so bad! they said), ducks, chicken and even some newly-hatched quail. It was a good afternoon, before we headed back downtown to meet Christine and her conference for dinner at a local pub. I posted to BlueSky that we were there, and (semi-accidental) book blogger Sarah (literal_nobody) caught that we were in town, and asked if she could come get a book signed? Sure! And she spent the whole time delighting in our young ladies, and in deep conversation. The children wrote her poems and stories and Rose told a wealth of stories. Rose seemed very pleased to be involved in grown-up conversation.
We woke in London, slowly. What did we do? It all seems a blur, now. We made sure the children had breakfast before a quick visit to the hotel pool as I packed up the car, given our 11am check-out. They changed, and we headed off. On our way out of town we made a quick stop at the late London, Ontario artist Greg Curnoe’s infamous house at 38 Weston Street—the same plot of land he wrote about in his infamous Deeds/Abstracts: The History of a London Lot (Brick Books, 1995)—for a pilgrimage, catching a view of the Victoria Hospital (subject of more than a couple of his paintings) en route. Do folk make art pilgrimages to hospitals? I suppose, I did see a bpNichol/Barbara Caruso work while visiting my father in the Heart Institute a few years ago [see that post here]. Since my twenties, the contemporary works by such as Curnoe or Roy K. Kiyooka have always been the ones I checked out first at the National Gallery of Canada. Have you ever seen that mural he did for the Montreal airport? There’s a whole story there. I think George Bowering wrote about that, somewhere (he helped install the piece, originally).
And we drove through Milton! That’s where Jason Christie is from!
Andy Weaver (famous Burlington poet) and his family were watching a Blue Jays game simultaneously, so we had originally thought (a week earlier) that perhaps that might be a time and space to meet up (we were literally next door), but that didn’t quite work out either. Ah well. We wandered the aquarium and then to the gift shop as the children argued, wandered back through the aquarium to the play centre, which they didn’t like, and back to the gift shop where the children argued some more. Everyone is tired! All my bones from the waist below have begun to ache. What has become of us?
Monday, July 31, 2023: Leaving Toronto for
Picton, where we are most likely overnight and dropping our young ladies. Everything
moves slow. The theory is we drop the kids at father-in-law’s for the week as we
head back ourselves Tuesday morning, so Christine can return to work. Presuming
all works well with that plan, we’ll see them again come Saturday.