Tuesday, 15 August 2017

July Flew By

Our July started off with a weekend of parties. First a neighbourhood party at my parents' place to celebrate Canada 150 followed by a family party to celebrate our son's 21st birthday.

We have gone to my parents' neighbourhood Canada Day party for the past two years. It is so much fun, we were happy to join in again.  

Last year's meal centred around a pig roast. This year's potluck featured beef brisket cooked to perfection in a smoker. An assortment of delicious salads, fries, snacks and sweet treats were made to accompany the brisket. All the food was amazing and delicious as always.

I loved the look of these Canada Day cupcakes made by one of the neighbours... so festive and colourful.
Everybody is encouraged to wear red for the occasion.
My parents' driveway is perfect for setting up tables for the party. Tents kept everything dry during a brief rain shower. Luckily the weather cleared and everybody had a fabulous time gathering about eating, drinking, chatting and laughing. 
Thanks to my parents and their neighbours for including us in their Canada Day celebrations again this year. It was fabulous as always.
Our son's birthday is July 2nd - the day after Canada Day. He turned 21 this year. As usual, we celebrated with a family dinner. I wrote more about it here if you missed it.
After our weekend of parties, July was set to be relatively quiet. Instead we received the best surprise ever when Jorge (pronounced Hor-hay) from Spain joined our family for the rest of the month. I wrote more about our change of plans here

Jorge's week days were filled with morning classes, afternoon activities and one full-day excursion per week. Our time with him was limited to evenings and weekends. In the evenings, Jorge would talk to us about his day, he liked my cooking and enjoyed walking with Sadie and and me. 

Jorge also liked watching movies, especially scary movies. On weekends, we watched the "Hannibal" movies with him - Silence of the Lambs, Red Dragon and Hannibal Rising - all good. On week nights we watched season one of 13 Reasons Why including Beyond the Reasons. Jorge had watched this series in Spain with his Mom and recommended it. This show provides a good opportunity for families to discuss bullying, suicide and depression. It is well done and worth watching. We're looking forward to season two although it won't be the same without Jorge here. 

Jorge was good company. We loved spending time with him.
This year my birthday fell on the same day as a barbecue we hosted for my husband's work, so we kept quiet and celebrated after everybody left. We invited my parents for leftover tacos and cake too of course. 
 
I loved these red roses Jorge bought for my birthday .. so sweet.
Jorge's second excursion was to Niagara Falls. He sent me a few photos.
 
Since Jorge loved pancakes and it's not something normally eaten in Spain, I prepared a special pancake breakfast every weekend including berries, maple syrup and bacon ... very Canadian.  

On our second weekend together, we visited Stratford where we walked through the park and downtown taking photos along the way.
One of the main attractions in Stratford is the Festival Theatre. We toured the gardens and posed with some cool looking statues.
We also toured Art in the Park and chatted with this friendly soap stone carver who gave us some 'scraps'. We plan to polish these treasures.
Some of our meals were photo-worthy. Jorge liked this one featuring barbecued ribs.
Jorge sent me this photo from his trip to St. Mary's Quarry, Canada's largest outdoor freshwater swimming pool. He enjoyed swimming there assuring me it wasn't too cold.
Jorge and I walked with Sadie (our poodle) to the Sifton Bog a few times. Jorge took this photo of a duck with her babies. It was so peaceful watching the baby ducks snooze while listening to frogs sing as the sun was setting. I went back with my camera a couple weeks later after Jorge left to take a better photo. Unfortunately the ducks had moved on. 
Every night after dinner Jorge would make his lunch for the next day. He also made his bed every morning. Finally on the last day, I asked if he made his bed every morning at home. His response - "Yes, of course". Except sometimes, if he has to get up and leave early, he makes his bed when he gets home. A kid who makes his bed every day ... amazing!
On Jorge's third weekend, we visited the Western Fair Farmer's Market and Wisdom Cafe on Saturday. We love Wisdom Cafe's extensive selection of very reasonably priced loose teas.

Saturday night we were invited out to dinner at friends. Tracy and Jim served appetizers (shrimp and rolled cheese burek), barbecue steak and lobster tail with baked potatoes and salad. The food was delicious.
We thoroughly enjoyed our evening with friends. Us three ladies went to school together grade 6 through high school ... so many happy memories.
Jorge asked to invite a couple of his friends to our house for pizza and a movie while we were out. My Mom brought a book and chaperoned. When we got home, Jorge told us all about the scary movie "Hush". The girls had been scared, so appreciated my Mom offering to turn on the lights.

On Sunday, we went to Port Stanley for the afternoon. My husband's cousin and his wife have a sail boat docked in Port Stanley, but we had never figured out exactly where. We decided to explore along the river and literally bumped into them within 5 minutes. They gave us a tour of their boat ... very cool.
My Mom's birthday was also on Sunday. To celebrate we took them to Thaifoon. We love Thai food and thought Jorge might too ... he did. 
After dinner, we returned to my parents' house for cake and gifts. Happy Birthday to my Mom ... 72 years young and looking fabulous.
A couple days later we enjoyed another photo-worthy meal ... pickerel bought in Port Stanley. Jorge liked this fresh water fish.
My parents invited us for dinner another night for smoked salmon linguine and salad... very tasty. Earlier in July we were invited to dinner at Lee's parents' house. With eleven of us around the table chatting and laughing, we forgot to take a picture.
Sadie (our poodle) loved spending time with Jorge too.
Jorge enjoyed his trip to the Pinery. I didn't get pictures, but he told us they went kayaking, canoeing and biking - all fun activities. 

Jorge's final and most exciting trip was Canada's Wonderland ... exciting because of the rides. Again, I didn't get pictures, but Jorge told us he went on everything except The Bat because the queue was too long.

On the final Friday night, the school held a dance at Huron College for the students. They dressed up and had a great time ... alas no photos. 

On the last Saturday night, another family hosted a party for the group serving hamburgers and hot dogs for dinner. The kids roasted marshmallows in the fire pit and lit sparklers after dark. Jorge shared a couple photos from that party.
On our last Sunday together, we decided to take Jorge to Point Pelee the southernmost point of mainland Canada.

First we stopped at Colasanti's Tropical Gardens in Leamington to explore the gardens and visit the petting zoo where we fed the deer and goats. We didn't feed the silver foxes, but did get a good look at them lounging in the shade trying to stay cool. It was a hot day.
Next we stopped at a nearby friend's house to see their little puppy ... adorable. We couldn't stay long as we wanted to see everything at Point Pelee and make it back to London for dinner.
Finally, we made it to Point Pelee where we fought off biting stable flies swarming along the trail to the beach at the Tip of Canada. 
Jorge signed the guest book ... not a lot of visitors from Spain.

Next we toured the Point Pelee Marsh Boardwalk ... such a pretty spot. Thankfully there were no stable flies there.
We made it back to London in time for dinner with my friend and Gonzalo (her Spanish 'son'). After dinner the boys invited Blanca, another Spanish student staying nearby, for a final swim ... such a perfect way to end their stay. We will miss these kids.
The next day I made one last pancake breakfast for Jorge while he packed and got ready to go. We sent him home with plenty of maple syrup so he can make pancakes to remind him of his stay in Canada.

Back to the school we went to wait for the bus. I signed Jorge's Canadian flag and took a few photos trying not to cry. All too soon it was time to say "Good Bye". 
Jorge gave us this card to express his thanks. I love what he wrote.
Our July Flew By. We thoroughly enjoyed our time with our Summer Son from Spain and look forward to keeping in touch. Spain is definitely on our list of places to visit when we retire in four years. Thanks Jorge for making this July so special.

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