This entry covers two very busy days.
Alex met me right on time at the Greyhound after an uneventful trip. The bus I was on was en route to Chicago eventually! I don't recall this from the past.
As always it was a warm welcome, and Alex and I had been chatting for a couple of hours when Mary B got back from a card night - so the conversation continued into the wee small hours.
About 1.30 we headed off to bed- Alex had to be up about 5.30!
After a leisurely breakfast with Mary B, I rang Discount car rentals to confirm my pick up at 1000 as arranged. No problem sir, there at 10.
No car at 10 or 1005 or1010... Or even 1020. Called again . There in 10, snowed under, understaffed due to illness, so sorry ..
1035 pick up arrived, profusely apologetic. Very short trip to the depot. More apologies from manager. Discount given. All smooth. My GPS working a treat. quiet trip back to Rembrandt place.
Next objective, contact cousin Joe at Catholic Schools Board. We met at Angel's Diner for an early lunch- I had poutine. Great to chat with Joe - so much of our agenda is the same in Catholic education. Caught up on family news- Megan is studying at York in the UK for a year.
After lunch I went into downtown London. I have to say it has become one of the saddest places I know, with blank, empty shopfronts blinking at the tide of down on their luck passers by sucking on cigarettes and washing them down with coffee as if their lives depended on them. Another pillar of London history, Kingsmills has gone, but at least the space will be occupied by Fanshawe College- a community college trying desperately to breathe some life into the city core.
Then to visit Uncle Charlie and Aunt Imelda. An uneventful driver over and Charlie was just back from therapy,still recovering from his stroke of 2012. Both his speech and mobility are significantly impaired, and he tired quickly, but he has retained something of his sense of mischief. We were joined by Vince and Joe so it was quite a gathering.
Back to Rembrandt Place and an evening of conversation followed, with bed at a more respectable hour!
Thursday was set for a visit to Ron and Rita at the farm. The drive over was fantastic, with green fields contrasting with the autumn leaves of the wood lots - of which I was to see plenty, although I don't know it at the time!
I drove down the Christie farm lane, with new trees in a blaze of crimson glory on he right and the dying old ones on the left, waiting to be replaced. I had no sooner stepped out of the car than Ron swept me off to see If I could get a ride on the combine- harvest of the bumper corn crop was in full swing. Too late- all the carts were filled, so the combine was off to the next farm until tonight - by which time Ron will have emptied all 10 carts into the drier so their posture can be reduced to 15% or less. I recalled with affection our 1984 stay when I helped with the harvest at just this time of year. Then followed the mandatory farm tour with Ron making up for all his hours of solitude with a non stop torrent of homespun wisdom and current farm affairs, at volume and with speed!
After I lunch and a chat with Rita I had what Ron promised would be a once in a lifetime experience. All these farm blocks have wood lots, which in the old days provided both firewood and timber for heating and building. With no more wood fires, Ron needs to thin the lots out periodically, and they do this by selling the timber to wood mills. The process is that someone comes out and marks all the trees to be cut, keeping a tally, then puts the quantity and type out to bids from the sawyers. My once in a lifetime was to be the tally man for Murray Hall who used a giant caliber to measure diameter and an eagle eye to estimate height. Are we with these two numbers and the species of tree, I consulted a matrix which gave me the number of feet of sawn timber this would produce. We spent about ; hours walking the whole block doing this. Every tree for cutting is marked on 4 sides with a big yellow dot. Murray is 72, and while absolutely expert with threes is passionate out restoring old cars. Before we had even got to the wood lot he had shared his pictures, before and after- with Ron and I. There was a touch of the Dorian grey about the pictures. His pride and joy - a make of which I had never heard was the fruit of decades of restoration. There was a young Murray next to a rusty old relic and a rusty old Murray (he is 72) next to a shiny restored car - subsequently sold for $135000 to an Australian!
It was a race with the sun to get the trees all checked, but we made it about 6.15 or so.
Back in time for one of Rita's usual fine meals, with a brief appearance from Ron,a quiet chat and a Skype to Anne before an early evening to catch up on emails and the blog. I'll load up a few more pics once I get them transferred to the iPad.