5 min read
23 Jul

Dee, her two girlfriends, Lorna and Nancy, both of whom I’ve known almost as long as Dee has which is 30+ years, came for wine and nibbles at my condo on Wednesday evening.  Lorna and I couldn’t remember when we last saw each other – butI had seen Nancy recently.  We settled down with our wine and jumped right into conversation as though I’d always been part of the group.  This acceptance made me feel really good!

The weather was gorgeous so about 7:30 we decided not to order in, but to walk to Byward Market and choose one of the many patios there for a leisurely dinner.  Deciding on just which one was not an easy choice.  We read many posted menus and discovered to our delight that a number of them offer ½ price wine of your choice on Wednesday evenings.  Bonus!  

We finally settled on the restaurant, Back to Brooklyn, in the heart of the market. Ordering very nice wines (that we possibly may not have if we had to pay full price), we then grappled with the big decision – what to eat.   Fortunately for me they offered gluten free choices and, after discussions with our very helpful waitress, we placed our orders.   Enjoying the wine, we settled back into more lively conversations and laughter, which continued without a break while we ate.   

Meanwhile, two 20-year old, very pretty, young women sat down at the table behind us.   We hadn’t noticed them but we soon found out that they were intrigued by our obvious enjoyment of each others company.  We were a little startled when they interrupted our conversation to ask,  “How long have you been friends?” 

This began a rare interaction of young women who wanted input from the experiences of older women.  They said they were best friends who wanted to develop a long relationship with each other.  They had been watching us and were keen to learn what secret we might have that they could use to attain their goal. They were disarmingly serious and their questions honest and direct.   They listened intently to our answers. This continued for some time. 

To a question on how to sustain long-term friendships.   Lorna explained to them, “friendships can be remarkable – they can transcend years, geographic distances, life changes, and you can pick up as if it were yesterday.”  Later, Lorna noted, “They thought we were in our 40’s and 60’s.  We must be aging well – gotta love 20-year olds!!” 

As we paid our bills and got up to leave, they seemed eager to keep talking to us. The young woman I spoke to at the end said that she wanted to find a man she could marry but any she knew seemed so immature. I told her that in my experience girls matured emotionally before boys of the same age.  I said my advice would be not to be in a rush, she had a lot of time before her to meet, date, get to know young men and to get to know herself and what she really needed in a lifetime companion.  Once she identified that, she would find someone who fit the bill.  (Wish I’d had that advice when I was her age!) 

In an e-mail to me the next morning, Nancy remarked, “That conversation with those young ladies really made an impression on me.  I feel the youth of today are more open, eager to understand and take note of the views of mature women.  No longer are older women brushed aside and unheard.  I think they saw us as examples of what they want in womanhood – true friendship, deep conversations, and the desire to be comfortable in their own skin.” 

Nancy’s comments were exactly what we each experienced from that unusual encounter.  We older people have advice and experience that can be relevant to young people who are seeking answers to life's questions – we aren’t just “old fogies” after all!  

Ryan, Michelle and Maddie arrived Friday night to stay at Dee’s.  I was to spend Saturday with them but Ryan wasn’t feeling well and had a slight fever.  Maddie had been sick during the week, so no point in putting myself in harm’s way until Ryan felt better.    

It was an absolutely beautiful day so I packed up my Portuguese cork backpack (a gift from Di & Colin that I hadn't used before) with a book, cheese and crackers and my water bottle full of wine and set off for Major’s Hill Park for a leisurely picnic with my book as my companion.  

Well, best laid plans – instead, I ended up walking for 3 hours.  When I found myself on the Bridge to Gatineau, Quebec, I looked across the roadway and could see the entire length of the National Art Gallery with nothing in the way to hide its magnificence.  I was in awe!  It is huge, modern, made of glass and marble - simply breathtaking!   And it’s only one of numerous spectacular buildings around Ottawa, housing museums and galleries of various kinds, including, of course, the outstandingly beautiful Parliament Buildings and the Chateau Laurier that face each other on opposite banks of the canal.

For fun, I’ve copied a synopsis of… 

Ottawa’s seven national museums 

National Gallery of Canada The beautiful modern building houses the most comprehensive collection of Canadian art, including a large number by the Group of Seven and strong collections of Indigenous, Asian, and International works. 

Canadian Museum of History Home to the world’s largest indoor collection of totem poles, the largest exhibition about Canadian history, it highlights the achievements of Indigenous Peoples in the First Peoples Hall. The gorgeous undulated building also houses the Canadian Children’s Museum, where kids can travel the world and explore other cultures through interactive elements, including a variety of toys and games Canada Science and Technology Museum Combines interactive and hands-on elements with cutting-edge technologies like augmented reality. Explore old favourites like the giant locomotives and Crazy Kitchen as well as new state-of-the-art exhibits.

 Canada Aviation and Space Museum The expansive, hangar-like building is home to the most extensive aviation collection in the country and covers everything from the humble beginnings of flight to the sophisticated aerospace industry we know today, plus Canada’s role in outer space. Try flight simulators, sit in cockpits, or take a real flight in a helicopter or vintage biplane! 

Canada Agriculture and Food Museum Ottawa has a working farm in the city that you can visit to learn about Canada’s unique agricultural heritage.  Meet farm animals like horses, alpacas, goats and rabbits. Visit the cows in the dairy barn and learn how milk is collected. Learn how different breeds of sheep are sources of wool, milk and meat. And see daily demonstrations of butter churning, ice cream making and other fun activities. 

Canadian Museum of Nature The castle-esque edifice is not only a cool-looking historic building, but inside you’ll find dinosaur replicas, whale skeletons, an Arctic gallery, mammals, minerals, birds, insects and flora. Some events and activities even feature live animals! 

Canadian War Museum Tanks, jet fighters, artillery and art are just some of the impressive items that represent Canada’s war history. The building’s architecture includes energy-efficient features like a green roof, and symbolism like the morse code windows that spell out “Lest We Forget”. At exactly 11:00 a.m. on November 11 each year, a beam of sunlight shines through a single window into Memorial Hall to perfectly frame the headstone from the grave of Canada’s Unknown Soldier. 

It seemed that everywhere I went today I was filled with amazement at the history held in this city of one million souls.  For instance, alongside the Canal, almost hidden by trees, I discovered a small concrete monument.  I stopped to read the engraving on the bottom.  It was a memorial to 1000 workers who perished from malaria or accident during the waterway’s construction from 1826 to 1832 and were buried along its picturesque banks.  

The canal –with its 45 locks along its length of 202 kilometres (126 miles) from Kingston to Ottawa - was originally built as a reaction to the infamous War of 1812.   It was the hope at the time, that the canal would keep vulnerable British supply ships away from the American New York border but by the time it was finished that was no longer a need. The United States was now a neighbour and friend of Canada not an enemy.   

Today the canal is used by pleasure boats during the summer months and is a miles-long skating rink when it freezes over in the cold winter.   

In 2007, the canal was accorded the honour of being a World Heritage Site.   According to UNESCO, the Rideau Canal represents a “masterpiece of creative genius”.  It is “the best-preserved example of a slackwater canal in North America, UNESCO says.  It is also the only canal dating back to the nineteenth century “North American canal-building era” to remain operational with most of its original structures intact. 

Although I sat down four times during the three hours to rest my legs, I only opened my backpack to pull out my iPhone to take a few pictures.  I didn’t drink the wine or eat the snacks until I hauled myself through the door of my condo and wilted on my lounge. There’s always another time for a picnic in a park.  Had my energy not been starting to flag when I spotted a ticket booth  for a canal boat ride, I was tempted to hop onto a boat, but an hour-and-a-half cruise could also wait for another day.

It's now Sunday morning and as I was about to publish this blog, Dee phoned to say Ryan is feeling much better this morning, thank goodness.  It's another gorgeous summer day, so I'm packing my bathing suit and towel, and looking forward to spending the day around Dee's pool with my family (with maybe a quick peek at the British Open Golf Tournament).  

"Hasta luega" (English translation "until later") - see you again next week for another adventure in my life as a nomad!

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