Thursday, August 9, 2012

on the ground

Whoa, I've missed the whole month of July! I'm sorry -- for any of you still out there.

I do have reasons: I was in Canada and the United States, as mentioned in my last posting, until July 10th, visiting family and friends. Upon returning, since mid-July, my job has been engulfed by the 2012 London Olympics, as played out here in Cardiff. The hotel in which I work has been host to several football teams. Beyond that, I am sworn to secrecy. Let's just say that when the Games end in a few days it will be good to get back to normal.

I was able to visit with lots of friends and family on my trip home and it was so good to see them. I spent about a day and a half in Mississauga with Judy. Our moms had been best friends in Windsor and after they died and we found both of ourselves in the Toronto area, we hooked up and have become good friends ourselves. It means a lot to have someone with that connection. We spent a whole day at the YMCA where Judy volunteers and it was just what the doctor ordered after the long flight the day before.

From Mississauga I took city transit to head into the heart of Toronto to stay with good friends Cathy and Glenn, from LaSalle Rowing Club days. The people from the LRC are my tribe. We are scattered far and wide but the connection is deep and true. Cathy and Glenn were in the T.O. area the seven years (ouch!) I was there and have an amazing new place on a quiet street in the heart of the city, where they put me up over the long holiday weekend. They, like I did, have found themselves on the edge of the 'gaybourhood' -- though most of central Toronto is pretty well the gaybourhood. This proved fortuitous as the Pride Parade was on July 1st, Canada Day and the preparatory route went down their street, giving us front row porch seats to the parade. You can't beat that. The only previous time I ventured out to watch the parade I stood for four hours in blistering heat.

Sailor boys in Toronto's Pride Parade on July 1st, Canada Day

The Trojen Men (and women)

Footloose and proud

While in Toronto I was also very fortunate to meet up with two of my three lady friends from Ryerson journalism school, whom, before I came here to Wales, I used to join every few months for a lunch/dinner date. Lunch with the ladies Em and Sharon, missing Angela who was up at the cottage. So, so, so good to see them and catch up in person instead of just by email and the Internet. Though thank God for email and the world-wide web, without which I would never have ventured to this side of the pond.

Last and certainly not least, time with my brothers and sisters-in-laws and my nieces and nephews in the Windsor and Detroit areas. On the Canadian side I was able to catch up with Deb, another LRC alumna, and Maureen, who has been my friend since we were 10 years of age, as well as having the opportunity to meet up with the all-grown-up brother of my best friend RoseAnne in high school who is now hockey coach to my 9-yr-old nephew (the brother is coach, not RoseAnne). At my brother Kelly's birthday/July 4th bash held on the 7th this year, I was able, finally, to see my stepmom Flo up from Florida and family from her side I hadn't seen in the two years since I came to Wales, as well as a host of other family and friends who annually make it to the lake party. Good, good times.

It was difficult leaving the hot 87 degree F. sunshine of home and landing in Amsterdam to a chilly 57 degrees and pouring rain. And we weren't even in the U.K. yet! Unbelievably the weather was warmer and sunny in Wales upon reaching Cardiff, but it's been back to dressing in layers and carrying my umbrella with me at all times, and basking in the sun whenever the clouds let it through.

The day after returning I went and got my hair cut and styled -- long overdue. The next week, knowing the Olympian month we were facing at work, I booked a four-day visit to Paris in October. Well, it is really Saturday and Sunday in Paris sandwiched between two days of a coach ride -- but, it is PARIS -- with a possible side trip to Versailles.

Tres magnifique!