Comment I made on Um Naief's blog last month re Powell's endorsement of Obama:
It will show the world that America is more sophisticated and therefore worthy of credit, if it can differentiate between Muslims and terrorists to such an extent that someone with a name like Barack Hussein Obama can be elected to leadership in an era where we have deposed a Hussein and are fighting an Osama.
My cousins had CNN on nearly 24/7 and it was refreshing to see the kids both from NY and Canada, ranging in age from 10 to 17, passionately discussing the candidates' closing speeches with each other and their parents. I mostly sat and listened, still not believing that these intelligent and articulate teenagers were babes in arms not so long ago...I remember when their moms were pregnant. I feel old. But I love that my cousins have such smart children. Well, so it should be, I mean imagine if it were otherwise for my cousin and her husband who are on the NY Board of Education and a high school principal.
My cousins (Ryan and Andrea) and I landed just a few minutes before the London bunch (including my Mum) so we all waited and met up in the International Arrivals lounge. My cousin Pierre from Orangeville picked up the London bunch and I went with them to Orangeville, and the rest were taken to Kitchener by their brother Neil.
Much of the drive between Toronto, Kitchener, and Orangeville looks like this:
I've been visiting Canada since 1979 but never have I been so impatient with the mileage. Usually I just let the endless driving pass by but this time every trip felt a half hour longer than it used to. 1 hr 45 min to get anywhere proved too much so my London cousins and I started up with the "Are we theeeeere yet?" a couple of times!
Endless straight flat or undulating roads slice through farms, fields, forests, and provincial parklands. Roads with names like Blind Line (because you can't see round the corner), 15th Line or 168th Line (running NW to SE), Sideroad 12 or Sideroad 39 (running NE to SW), Hurontario Road (because that's where it is) or Forks of the Credit Road (because that's what it passes through). I've made these trips in the dark in driving snow, and I will never know how my cousins know where to turn.
It was lovely countryside but I couldn't capture as many images as I'd have liked, even when we drove through the Forks of the Credit River area, over the river, and into Belfountain (conservation hamlet from the 1840s). Also, the fall colors were mostly over but my cousin Elizabeth asked me if I thought the deep orange sunset bathing the tops of the sparsely yellow-leafed forest trees reminded me of Klimt. Love it when my family says random things like that.
Despite an early snow last week which had melted, the weather warmed up and for most of the trip remained mild, even reaching 20 C (60s F). My London cousins were excited because it felt like English summer!
Some of you may remember Jay-Jay, or Jayj as I call him. He wuvs me. He's Aunty Rita's boy. My mother helped her adopt him about three years ago after she was widowed and her previous dog was put to sleep, so Mum was actually his first mum since Aunty Rita didn't really want him, and he missed my Mum when she returned to Texas. They rebonded after Mum sold our house and moved in a couple of years ago. He still loves his Aunty Ruth. When she talks to him on the phone from London now, he goes to her old room looking for her! She's the only one who tells him off so he can't get anything past her and he knows it.
Family reunions always make me happy. I have 24 cousins and between them they have about 17 children. Add to that the aunts and uncles who can make it, plus anyone related by marriage and you always have a full house.
On Friday some of us did last minute shopping at Canada's favourite store Winners, especially me. Not knowing Neil's 50th would be at a hall and there would be evening wear, I took decent clothes expecting we'd all go to Fiona's house like we did for New Year's '04. I picked up a black and white piece much like the one I have at home which is reddish and teal, both intriguing 4-in-1 dresses by Lapis:
The softer lining is a contrasting color to the shiny crinkled exterior, but interestingly the pattern is created by attaching the inner lining to the outer layer and punching it through. This lends a comfortable weight to the fall of the material. Also, the elastic smocked top ensures a comfortable fit. Because it's crinkled it's reminiscent of the old Fortuny gowns of the early 20th century that came rolled up in a self-cloth bag, and these things pack very well for travelling.
I had left my wide belt at home, so I called my cousin hoping she'd have a substitute. She did, but it kept popping off because the buckle was defective - the prong too short and the D-ring too soft. I wanted to wear it like the model on the far right but had to settle with the style on the far left until I gave up rebuckling it and left it off. The night of the party was bitterly cold so I layered up a little bit more than I'd have liked and don't know how some women turned up in proper gowns. Even when I'm indoors, if it's icy outside I feel it under my skin. Do you?
Rather excitingly, my mother splurged on me a bit with a pair of wool Tahari trousers and this striking red TH bag:
My cousin Ryan insists it is not "red", it is "oxblood". I would have never come up with that word unless I'd read it somewhere.
Images from Neil's surprise 50th:
1) Neil knew he was having a party, he just didn't know so many people (close to 200) would come and from so far away.
3) Mandy's husband Cornel emceed in true high school principal style with all the right speeches. He called every table up one by one to the buffet and then stood and authoritatively surveyed the room with his hands folded in front of him before deciding he could put down the mic and go off duty!
1) There was a belly dancer who danced to Moroccan music and then Neil joined in.
2) Five of six aunts showed up (the one in the middle is my Mum).
3) Cousin Alyssa and her man Jon, who is originally from the North of England.
4) Cousin Ryan and me.
1) Cousin Alyssa and my goddaughter Jada.
2) Aunty Rita and cousin Mandy.
3) Aunts Eve and Roh.
4) Cousin Pierre and Aunty Rita.
No rest for the wicked. We drove home to O'ville, and had to drive back to Kitchener the next day for dinner at Fiona's to celebrate cousin Michelle's 42nd birthday. Mich rarely leaves the UK, hates flying and isn't that keen on North America, so it was special to have her here.
1) Gathering for the cake and candles.
2) The cousins with a couple of aunts in the way.
3, 4) Neil and Mich cafuffle over the cutting. At Guyanese birthdays people rarely cut the cake alone. At my mother's 21st she drew names from a hat. Some English guy got called up, which puzzles most people not in the know, leading them to ask, "Who's she marrying there?"
1) Some of the older cousins chatting at the breakfast table. (Neil owns patents and a factory in Kitchener. Elizabeth (my godmother) is a non-profit consortium director in London. Michelle (Liz's sister) is a stay at home mum of three boys. Fiona (Neil's sister) also owns a company and her husband works with both her and Neil.)
2) Four of my second cousins. The two on the outside (Krystle and Tiffany) are Neil's and the two in the middle (Karissa and Kristine) are Mandy's, even though the two at the front look like sisters. Incidentally, Krystle is becoming a model and Alyssa was one briefly a few years ago.
3) Jada, Alyssa, and Jon who is really really good with Jada (whose father passed away 2 yrs ago).
4) Lala and O-o.
1,2) Jada and Sasha (a cousin's cousin on the other side).
2) Princess Kayla (Fiona's daughter) with her guitar.
3) Cousins Andrea and Mandy.
The Orangeville lot drove back but Mum and I stayed in Kitchener. That night she went to bed early but the rest of us changed into pyjamas and made lots of tea, and that's when we had the political discussions I mentioned at the top of my post. I love my family and they almost make up for my having no brothers and sisters. No matter how old we are, aunties and cousins will sit together and "hug up" as we call it. I had my turns with Fiona and Mandy, both of whom have been advising and encouraging me since I was a teenager. However, they are shameless and once they start teasing me or being cheeky, that's another story!
The cul de sac where Fiona and her family live. When I woke up on Tuesday morning after the rain, I heard a woodpecker rapping away on a tree in the copse behind the development.
The houses are spacious enough but still there's, like, another whole house in the basement! I envy those Canadians and New Yorkers their 1.5 homes on one lot. Texas doesn't have basements due to the tornadoes and floods. These basements have living rooms, bathrooms, kitchens, utility rooms and endless closets. They rarely feel underground when they're not walk-out/garden level. I'd love to move in to my cousin Mandy's in Westchester - with the exercise room connecting the basement den and nanny's room to the separate apartment with its cute bathroom and front door letting out to the backyard. Man!
The End. This was long eh?