Thursday, July 30, 2009

Table For Six, Garçon...

We've spent quite a bit of time with Nanny at Heritage Manor over the two summer visits, but other than snacks, had yet to sit down for a formal dinner in the main dining hall. It was the night before we were leaving, so it only right to spend an extended evening at Nanny's place to cap the week.

As for the current state of retirement home food--well, I'm reminded of the old joke from Woody Allen's "Annie Hall", in which one guy warns: "Boy, the food at this place is really terrible." The other one says, "Yeah, I know--and such small portions!".

Actually, the porcupine meatballs entree I sampled was fine enough...reminding me a bit of the cold meatball plate at Ikea, and people get up at the crack of dawn for that one!

Carter and Nathaniel turned on the charm and made several people's night and were really quite well-behaved for the entirety of the supper hour. The one thing about twins...they always seem to attract other twins, or parents of twins...guess it's not such a rarity of nature after all...

We then moved out into the courtyard to wind down the eventful day and enjoy the early evening breeze...


...even if the tableau of pigeons along the rooftop gave the otherwise tranquil moment a Hitchcockian spin...then again, they could've been there for the meatballs, too...

They really weren't bad...

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

On The Waterfront

Somewhere in an old yearbook, there's a photo of me as a Grade 8 student hauling a piece of wood from The Ottawa River. I wasn't on any kind of prison work detail, nor did I volunteer for the task--my entire class at Pembroke Senior Public School was conscripted into a day-long "cleanup" of the filthy, polluted waters of what would eventually become the site of Pembroke's scenic Marina. Because I stuck with organic materials, I was in comparatively little risk of developing tetanus or dengue fever like some of my more ambitious classmates, who fearlessly waded into waist-high bilge to dislodge rusty machine parts and other man-made perils.

Three decades later, the Pembroke Marina remains a relaxing venue and is arguably the only "go-to" place left downtown now that the theatres have closed and the main street is the domain of banks and pawn shops. There's nightly entertainment over the summer, a playground for the kids, and a nice, long path for bikes and pedestrians that runs alongside the Ottawa River from downtown to Riverside Park (almost as far as Nanny's home).

We didn't have time for a stroll there on our last visit, but with the weather so inviting we didn't pass up the chance to take the boys for a tour, making sure to inspect Nanny's memorial plaque for the entire family (number 1342) and finding a spare bench to take in the view.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Reunions




I haven’t seen my cousin Jennifer since the 1990s, when the economy was recovering from the first President Bush to screw it up, and a 28.8 dial-up modem was a technological marvel. Regrettably, I missed her wedding in Kingston (where she spent most of her life, having been born in Pembroke but relocating there with her parents as a child)—I traveled a lot at my previous job and was out of the country (which I think qualifies as a pretty sound excuse!).

Jennifer and her family have returned to Canada for a few brief visits since, but we’ve never connected, save for a brief phone chat some years back while I was visiting Nanny, which ended with the promise to eventually “catch up” (it never happened, of course—life gets in the way and these commitments tend to dissipate to nobody’s fault).
We got reacquainted earlier this summer on Facebook, and in a rare case of sublime synchronicity, found out we were both scheduled to be in Pembroke with our respective beaus and broods the exact same week! Jennifer, along with husband Joe and sons Benjamin and Daniel, planned to spend a day with Nanny before embarking on the three hour drive to visit her father in Kingston, and then fly off to Vancouver to investigate career and housing opportunities for a planned return to Canadian shores.

Monday, a few hours after we arrived from our day-long drive, Jennifer and her family pulled into the driveway with Nanny and we all enjoyed a compressed, but lively, round of catch-up, chased down with a pizza dinner and some frenzied frolic with Benjamin and Daniel in the yard.


Too brief a reunion, certainly--but long overdue, and who knows? The next one could well have us taking a Griswoldian family trip to the west coast (and I hear there's tons of film work there)...

Road Warriors

Our last trip to Pembroke was such a success (ie: we made it there safe and still sane) that we decided it was time to do it again sooner than later. With the weather cooperating and Daddy-O having a lot of unused vacation time to burn up, we once again left Maggie and Minnie in the care of VIP Housesitters and embarked on another 5-day escape to Grandma and Grandpa’s house…

So, over the hills and through the woods...and along several hours of endless kilometres of winding, unchanging Canadian Shield country that would induce sleep were it not for the blaring music and fear of speed traps...

The route worked well enough last time—offering a lot of stops in case of an emergency—so we stuck with the 37/7/41 route. As with the last trip, by the time we entered Tweed, the boys were getting hungry and anxious to get out of their seats for a bit. Tim Horton’s …..
Save for an impromptu stop in Eganville, just as we were nearing the home stretch…

Once we arrived, it didn’t take long for the word to get around the Carter and Nathaniel were back in town. Nanny came over, followed by Kayla, and then, as if the day wasn’t eventful enough, we were joined by some very special visitors….

Monday, July 20, 2009

Afternoon Exercises

"...97, 98, 99...100 push ups!" (not marine-style)

"Strong To The Finitch"...some other time...



Spinach--that is spinacia oleracea, the edible iron and calcium rich plant of the Amaranthaceae family aka, the vegetable equivalent of Kryptonite--was introduced to Carter and Nathaniel's expanding solid food diet this week, with the expected results. Although truth be told, Nathaniel seemed to warm up to the vile green leaf, as long as I kept up the goofy sounds....

Saturday Night At The Fights...




Chow's On!




....and now, the screaming starts...

Young Revolutionaries


...and shortly after this photo a man passing by on Tecumseth tipped his hat to the boys and exclaimed"Good day, cuties"...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

What Seven-And-A-Half-Months Looks Like...


Super Friends

Working on answers to all of the important questions, like "how does Spider-Man stick to walls if he has gloves on?", "how come Lois Lane can't tell Clark Kent is Superman?", "what would happen if The Flash tripped when he's running?", "how come Batman wears his shorts on the outside of his costume?"...

Relax boys--your old man has got the answers...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Clash Of The Titans

A gazillion toys around them and already, they're fighting over the same one. The future has never been so clear....

Monday, July 13, 2009

Sweet Ride

After months of debate, research, and tire-kicking, we finally decided on a proper stroller for the dynamic duo, now that they're starting to grow frustrated with the confines of their car seats and the limited view of the Double Snap N' Go, and the overall pathetic upkeep of the mean streets of Toronto increasingly demanding something a bit more sturdy, durable, and if need be, combat-ready.

Our first destination was "Moms To Be And More" on Bayview (guess we now qualify for the "And More" part, and yes, I am aware I've used this joke more than once), since they stock a varied selection of multiples-friendly items in their oh-so-trendy digs, and an additional discount for families with twins. Lidia had seen a particular model online that we couldn't locate. We perused the double-offerings available, and found them either 1) insanely expensive (if I'm going to pay a grand for a stroller, it had better come with nuclear batteries, an iPod dock, and an LCD TV) 2) ridiculously massive and unwieldy (I doubted most of them would fit through a standard door, and what's with the cow catcher?).


We were able to unearth from staff that the stroller we'd sought was moved to their secondary location--a nearby outlet variant, essentially--because this particular model "wasn't selling".


Thankfully, the outlet wasn't a far drive. And as promised, there it was: the "Valco Lattitude", available in several colours. Why it wasn't selling, I'm not sure, since it was a mighty fine unit. It might have had something to do with the fact that it was a few hundred bucks cheaper than the all-terrain vehicles they were trying to push on us at the original location, including a new Valco model--hence, its convenient, sudden disappearance.

Once the deed was done, it packed away neatly in the trunk, even with the Double Snap N' Go already there.

Assembly was quick and painless. The lightweight unit (only 28 pounds) folded up neatly for easy storage and offered secure fittings for the boys, sturdy wheels, and some additional (removable) coverage for the cold months. All that was left was to take it for a test run around our wretched mess of downtown core.
The Valco was a hit--with the boys, and us. It absorbed the Third World quality sidewalk craters and bumpy streetcar tracks as we'd hoped, and afforded the boys an up front view of the Magic Hour comings-and-goings of the Fashion District (and of course, a clearer view of our nattily-attired twin wonders from admiring passers-by).

We took a break for an early dinner at The Foggy Dew, and found that the Valco slid between its main doors with a minimum of fuss. Some of the wait staff who hadn't yet seen the boys got their chance to ooh-and-awe, too.

The next day, I took Carter and Nathaniel for a solo spin around Trinity Bellwoods and the 'hood. Hardly the equivalent of a boys' day out that the ol' fishin' hole, but a start. Oddly, the trash sitaution was largely bearable on the main drag but most of the sidestreets proved to be perilous dumps that I chose not to put the stroller's wheels through, in case they were to dissolve from the reeking, toxic sludge.
Doubt that's covered in the warranty...