Friday, September 23, 2011

Down memory lane

Sorry about the delay -- been busier than a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest!

Wednesday, as mentioned, Louise had an 8:00 meeting -- not sure how she did it, but she was out the door long before we reached consciousness.  When Don opened our bedroom door, Ellie was very happy to still have company.  We had a lovely coffee- and dog-filled morning!

Then it was time for the trip down memory lane.  We started in the Starbucks -- which I'm pretty sure was not around when Don lived here!  But we needed lunch, and to map out the route to Don's old homes and schools.

I have to say, Calgary must have been designed to confuse tourists!

I'd always thought, when addressing letters to Calgary, that with all the numbered streets, it would be set up in a grid that was logical.

Not really.

The street numbers jump, or don't exist, or merge into each other, or are numbered and lettered: 13... 13A... 17.  And I have to say, sometimes their signage is just plain lousy.  Also, there are some neighbourhoods with actual street names, but they all begin with the same darned letter, so anyone unfamiliar with the language could be in big trouble.  Plus all the various versions of each street name (4th St. NW, 4th St. NE, 4th St. SW, 4th St. SE, 4th Ave. NW, 4th Ave. NE, 4th Ave. SW, 4th Ave. SE), and the confusing "take the exit for 45 East and go southwest" is enough to make your brain bleed!  I wonder how many lost children get reported here?

If I ruled the world...  Just sayin'  ;-)

Anyhow, we managed to find neighbourhood #1 (in the SE, should you be keeping track) -- not the first place Don lived in Calgary, but the first whose address he recalled.  There was his old school (which he, of course, thought looked much smaller than he remembered), his friends' houses, the stoplight where the bully used to wait for him on the way to school...

The scaffolding where his house used to be.

Aw, dang!  Looks like we really just missed it -- the old house had been torn down, and a monster home being built in its place.  Very disappointing.

We managed to find our way to neighbourhood #2 -- eventually.  This was in the northeast, in a neighbourhood where all the streets -- yes, ALL the streets -- begin with the letter "H".  Except for the numbered ones and the ones that aren't.  Oy!

This house was still intact, albeit painted in a different colour.  We ducked through the alley he used to use to walk to school, and found the old school -- now looking like a very multi-cultural perhaps private school, as all the kids were in uniform and playing out in the yard.  Must have been recess.  We checked out the other school, which also looked smaller than remembered, and meandered through the neighbourhood.  The place where he bought penny candy, the ravine he used to -- hey wait a second, it's now a 6-lane highway!

Don also commented on all the houses that didn't used to be there, "although they must have been, because they don't look that new".  That's when I reminded him that he left Calgary 47 years ago, and 45-year-old houses don't look terribly new. ;-)

Then it was off to the cemetery, to find his father's gravestone.  It's a huge cemetery -- kind of like Mount Pleasant in Toronto.  Fortunately, the administrative office was open and easy to find, and they were able to print out a map of how to find the site.  Section L looks like parkland, as all the markers there are flat, and some large willows have grown up between some of the older graves.  (Note to my survivors -- feeding a willow tree after I die would be a good thing, indeed.)  We had to do a bit of wandering along the appointed row, but there we found it, very close to one of the trees, but still out in the open sun.

A moment.  This was the first time Don had ever seen his father's gravestone.  Some words, some tears, some hugs.

A bit more of a neighbourhood crawl, and then we were navigating back to Louise's.  We're getting better at finding her house, although I still have to double-check the St./Ave. NW/SW every time...

Ellie, of course, was very happy to see us.  She and I spent some time on the back porch, hoping Marley (the cat, named after Bob) didn't kill any birds, and writing that day's blog.  Don practised inside.

The laptop battery was starting to falter, so I headed inside to recline on the divine divan and be serenaded by Don while I did my PR work.

Louise made it home early from work -- a planned fire drill meant if she didn't leave early, she'd have been stuck there for a couple of hours.  She got changed, went into the kitchen for five minutes, and -- presto!  She'd made an appetizer.  How the heck does she do that?

It was a 4-layer dip or spread.  Bottom layer was guacamole, second layer diced sweet onions, 3rd layer diced hard-boiled eggs in a bit of mayo, topped with caviar.  This was another of Don's gourmet discoveries, because he doesn't usually like the bottom two ingredients, and had never tried the top, but he was brave, and... liked it!  We managed to devour most of it, actually -- although we needed something to sop up the leftover half bottle of wine from the night before (yes, really, we had leftover wine!).

As her lousy house guests had not yet walked poor Ellie, Louise grabbed the halter and took her out for a romp, while I completed some more PR and felt guilty for not going with her and Don played guitar and felt guilty for not going with her.  We're really good at guilt. :-)

We had offered to take her (Louise, not Ellie) out for dinner as a thank-you, but this woman loves to cook!  So we enjoyed barbecued salmon, beets, potatoes and salad.  Don kept offering to help, but the way she cooks is pretty improvisatory, so there's not much for her to delegate -- other than opening a new bottle of wine. :-)

Another delightful meal, followed by another evening of delightful conversation.  Techno-geeks that we are, we did end up at the dinner table each with our own laptops -- Louise to share the videos she had of us all singing our group song at the haven, us to share photos, trading copies back and forth so we can keep even more memories alive.

It's been difficult (as it was in February) to jump straight from Haven bliss right back into tour mode.  All the backlog of stuff that has to be done, the packing-unpacking-packing... I'm always worried I'll forget the essence of what filled me there.  Of course, I don't -- although it does temporarily get shoved to the backburner until I get home.  But it's been so lovely to have this little oasis in the middle of tour chaos, to re-connect with Louise and all those feelings I was afraid I'd left on Gabriola.

You're not alone... Come on Home.

Whether it's on Gabriola or Calgary or in our '97 Toyota Camray.  Come on Home.  Whether we're sharing a meal or just sharing the memories, Come on Home.

The reverie was rudely interrupted at 10:30pm, when our contact at Thursday's venue e-mailed to tell us they did NOT have a P.A. or microphone stands, or any of the other things we'd e-mailed about A WEEK AGO.  And she'd waited until 18.5 hours before our arrival time to notify us?!?!?  Egads...  But they did have a mixer that their DJ uses, which feeds into the restaurant's speaker system so come in any time tomorrow to check it out.


Never fear, Louise said -- the D.I. has a music department, so we can borrow whatever we need from them!  We e-mail the head of the department to let them know what we need to borrow for sure, and say we may need even more, depending on the state of this mixer.

Panic averted.

Once again, though, we'd kept our poor host up until midnight -- and her internal alarm always goes off at 5:30am!  (Not sure how we ended up friends, really...)

Time for a nap!


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