Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Dad's 90th

My parents were delighted when we arrived at our preset time of 9am Monday morning to share breakfast together.  We were also quite delighted that we were able to stay awake long enough to eat and visit without falling fast asleep in their extremely warm apartment after our late night previously.  hohoho!

After a good visit we got dressed up in our warmest duds to brave the bitterly cold day and take Mom and Dad out for birthday lunch #1.  My husband located a great little restaurant in Marda Loop by the name of The Farmer's House!  O my the food was good!  It was a cut above as far as attention to detail on the simplest of meals.  Three of us had the deli sandwich special.  The filling of freshly smoked chicken, (and the smoker was sitting right there in the room with us smoking REAL farm chickens from an organic farm near the city), red peppers, proper medium cheddar, red onions, garlic aioli and mushrooms was packed onto a small freshly baked baguette.  We had our choice of a side of salad or rosemary roasted potatoes. Both were just delicious and the home made ketchup accompanying the potatoes had a nice bite to it but without being overly hot with herbs.  My  husband had baked brie on a freshly baked real bagel and packed into the cheese was a nice assortment of thinly sliced green apple, a few cranberries and a smattering of slivered almonds. The tea came in pretty antique china teapots and there was a good selection of teas to choose from.

The Farmer's House is an old residence built in 1912, owned for many decades by the Kelly family.  There are excellent reproductions of some of their family photos between the 1920's and 1940's being prepared for framing so they can hang on the walls.  All the original rooms are intact with a bit of kitchen and one bedroom reduced in size sufficiently to install a washroom.  The cooking kitchen is squeezed into one end of the living room. The original oak floors are still in tact, the huge pantry/china cupboard still takes up one full wall in the original kitchen room, all the sills and window frames are painted over oak and the owner of the house is considering a deal with the restaurateur to strip them down and refinish the wood if there aren't too many layers of old paint over them.  There are only a handful of patrons able to fit comfortably into a couple of the bedrooms, the original kitchen and the remaining living room area but none of the rooms have been changed, other than the addition of the washroom and so there are only 6 to 8 folk able to sit in each of the rooms. It certainly gives a better feeling of cozy privacy than most modern restaurants.  We had a delightful time.  Dad and Mom ordered a glass of white wine each for the celebration. Dad could only drink about 1/3 of his, since he isn't supposed to consume alcohol at all due to the meds he is taking, so Mom finished hers and his as well.  We have not seen my mother so giggly and happy in many a year! hahahahaha  We teased her unmercifully, but dragged her along with us on a shopping trip to London Drugs to get them a badly needed new phone system and some other personal items.  After we arrived home Mom and Dad BOTH had a long nap! hahaha

After our very filling lunch....and it was certainly more filling and satisfying than we thought it would be, looking at the small portion sizes, we weren't hungry for dinner before we had to leave for the Calgary airport...again....to meet our son's flight from Vancouver.  Yup....one of only 2 days we didn't have to fly anywhere ourselves and where were we?  Yup....at the airport once again.  My husband and I each had a small bran muffin from mom's freezer for dinner and headed out again. Of course the snow had let up many hours before then, the various Trails were cleared of snow and most of the ice, so we had a fairly smooth trip to the airport.  We were fortunate enough to be able to park in the Cell Phone Parking lot.  I love that new feature!  You get to park for free while you wait to pick up your arriving passenger.  As soon as the passenger texts or phones your cell that he or she has arrived, you drive out of the Cell Phone lot, up a ramp to arrivals and pull into the curb long enough to collect the person and luggage and away you go home again, just like a taxi.  It certainly was a time and money saving for us this trip.

Our son was delighted to be able to fly in for a day for his Umpa's birthday.  I wish I had a video of my dad's face when he answered the door back at their suite and saw his grandson standing there.  It was priceless, even though he knew the boy was coming. I don't think he quite believed it was going to happen. hahaha

After we picked him up our son confessed he hadn't had time for supper between leaving his university class and getting to the plane in Vancouver. So we stopped at Sunterra Market and picked up some bison meat loaf, some roast potatoes and a Greek Salad to take back to his grandparents' place.  What a jolly visit we had together around the table while he ate his meal. Dad stayed up later that night than he has in months....not such a good thing probably, but he was so hyper  he wouldn't have slept any sooner that night.  My husband had purchased a nice Argentinian red wine but hadn't realized my mother lost her corkscrew when they moved last year.  There was not one thing in that apt. with which to open the corked bottle, and believe me, we tore the place apart looking for something to open it with.  About the time our son decided he would take it outside to open it with his shoe, (for those who are not "in the know", it is a process whereby the bottle is put into the shoe, bottom first with the cork end sticking out, then the bottom of the bottle is whacked unceremoniously against a cement wall, protected by the shoe around it, until the cork slowly pulls its way out of the bottle), my husband had a better idea that would not involve the risk of waking up the elderly residents with banging on the building and scaring them half to death.  He took mom's screwdriver and disappeared.  A few minutes later he returned with the small piece of bunji style cord that had been holding the moveable cot bed and bedspring stand together in our guest suite and a pointed screw he had surreptitiously removed from the bannister railing in the stairwell where it screws into the wall.  He twisted the screw into the cork, wrapped the cord around it and pulled it out with the cork, just like a proper wine bottle opener would do.  Then he slipped back to the stairwell and replaced the screw into the bannister.  teehee  Thinking all the time, my husband is!!  I think we enjoyed that wine two or three times as much as we would have if it hadn't been such an adventure getting it open!! hahahaha

We all slept well that night!!!

The next day we breakfasted together in the suite once again, then had a good long visit with mom while  dad had a much needed nap and the guys installed the new phone system we purchased the day before.  

Before we knew it, it was time to take dad to his favourite restaurant, Extremes Restaurant and Catering, in the Bowness area of the city for birthday lunch #2.  Fortunately he made a reservation as it is a very small restaurant seating only 24 and as usual it was completely full other than our waiting table.  Another delightful meal ensued.  O my, their chef is wonderful.  He cooks perfect steaks and schnitzel, mashes his potatoes to creamy whiteness and the vegetables always arrive on the plate at that exact line between el dente and overcooked mush.  Dad had stew and it was a huge plateful!  There were more mashed potatoes on that plate than I could eat in 3 meals and my father, my picky, bird sized portion eating father, ate the entire plateful!!!  I don't know how he could stand up afterward, particularly after finishing off his meal with THREE small but utterly fatty and decadent desserts!!  Well, hey, it was his 90th, so if he wants 3 desserts he can have three desserts as far as I'm concerned, my treat!  Cholesterol, schmolersterol!!  Mom and I had our favourite creme brulee that the chef prepares so well there and my husband had a mud pie that looked so marvellous on the plate before he even got to enjoy the espresso coffee flavour, three other people in the place decided they wanted to have the same thing!  Even our non-dessert eating son had a bit of iced cream and chocolate sauce with fresh mint leaves and he so enjoyed the taste.  Along with our bill came 5 flavoured meringue cookies. One was orange, one chocolate mint, one coconut, one coffee and one creamy rum.  Beats the heck out of those blasted mints and other horrible but usual post meal billing "treats".

We didn't get home until after 3pm and poor Dad was so exhausted he could hardly function, but he refused to have much of a nap as he didn't want to miss one second of visiting with his grandson.  Our son and his grandmother looked at a small album of old family photos from her side of the family and he really enjoyed that.

Dad was pretty broken up when we had to leave around supper time to return to the airport. Our son had a WestJet flight leaving at 9:30pm and we had an Air Canada flight leaving at 11:30pm.  Dad and Mom were too tired to even eat any dinner, so as soon as the worst of the rush hour ended we said our teary goodbyes and headed out to the airport once again, only getting lost once along Metis Trail after our gasoline fill up for the rental car return.  It would be SO NICE CALGARY if you would mark the fact that some of your new roadways around that airport have not actually been completed and put up an occasional sign to mark the route people actually NEED to drive in order not to drive right past the place with not one side road to access it!!  Thankfully our son's phone mapping system is better than the one on my husband's phone and he got us going in the right direction eventually. Sigh....as he says, there is no way he could live in Calgary now with its lousy public transportation system and its ridiculous concepts of what good driving routes are supposed to be about.  'Twas very thus in that city, that is for sure.  Sigh......

We of course did arrive a few hours before any of us had to go through security, so we got the rental car returned without incident and had to settle for a light dinner pre-security at Montana's. Talk about a substandard meal.  One thing we have appreciated at home is that if we are forced to eat at a chain like Montana's the quality of the food has improved in recent years.  Not so at this airport location. Not only was the food quite dreadful the service was SO slow it ate up all our son's extra time pre-flight.  It was quite a race to get him down to the WestJet terminal and through security in time to get on his plane.  Sigh.... How could it be remotely possible to have to sit in a Montana's for over TWO hours for a couple of drinks, some tacos and a salad??

That left ourselves with a couple of hours before our own flight was to leave, so we had a good time touring about, getting our boarding passes printed off on paper just in case our electronics failed at first electronic boarding pass presentation, going through security early so we could access the stores still open in the boarding lounges and taking some time to read our books while awaiting our flight.  We tracked the progess of our son's flight on my husband's phone and were relieved that it was completely on time.  

There was only one plane out on the Calgary tarmac being de-iced all evening, so we felt that boded well for us.  AND everything started out very well indeed.  Our plane arrived from its destination of Fort MacMurray right on time, it was all cleaned out and we were boarded, right on time and the plane began backing out of the arrival area right on time. "Wow", my husband said, "this is too good to be true!!"  AND he was right!

As we began backing up, the captain came over the speaker system and told us we were all ready to go on time, but that he wished he could say that was what was going to happen.  As it turned out, we only backed up a few feet, just enough to allow room for an oversized cart of under the plane baggage to squeeze into the under plane loading area.  Then we had to sit and wait over ten minutes for the Air Canada baggage handlers to finish their enforced cold weather break between loading the various planes in the -25C temperatures.  After they arrived and got all the baggage on board we then had to continue crawling backward for another nearly ten minutes to access the de-icing terminal.  Yup...the danged plane had picked up enough ice on the route down from Fort MacMurray to be deemed unsafel for take off to Regina.  Thankfully Calgary is more than prepared for de-icing.  We had a huge tanker truck on each side of the plane and the entire aircraft was completely covered in de-icer in just under ten minutes.  However, by the time all these little "extra" events occured we were an hour late taking off for home........again....as usual.....like always....sigh..........

We were supposed to arrive just prior to 2am originally but by the time we got to Regina it was very close to 3am.  I don't remember the last time I was so pumped to see a line of taxis waiting at the airport.  We poured our exhausted selves into the nearest one and thankfully got home before 3:30am with no further problems.  By 5am we were unpacked, fed and watered and de-iced ourselves, ready for bed.

I woke up for breakfast at 10:15am...thank you diabetes for the sleep in after my rather late night/early morning mini-snack.  My husband didn't wake up until a colleague called him at 11:30am and he finally dragged himself off to work just before 2pm!!  Between being ill for so many work days before and after Christmas, then this pre-arranged trip for the elderly rels, I fear the Bishop is going to think my husband has secretly resigned and deaked out of the diocese!!

They are planning a staff retreat for the next 2 days to get the plans for this coming year into place.  I think it is out of town somewhere.......and I wouldn't actually mind if it was.  I need a couple of days to recover and not be concerned about meals, cleaning, juggling our one and only vehicle between us and vying for tv times.  I recorded a few shows I like but they are of no interest to him.  He did the same with some of his own programming and if I could get mine cleared off by Friday afternoon when he is back from retreat he could have the tv for the entire weekend!  AFTER work, yes, after work!

It is good to be home and neither of us cares if we never take another airplane flight.  Of course that will change the minute we get our next chance to do just that!

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