Monday, March 22, 2010

london, ontario ... and a little detroit

My sister Lenore, a new widow, is now responsible for the care of her mother-in-law, Ursula. She wanted to travel to Ontario, Canada, to ensure that all of the legal and medical issues were addressed right away so that the quality care for her mother-in-law would continue uninterrupted. She asked me to travel with her for moral support, which I was delighted to do.

Lenore lives in Hoboken, New Jersey. I live in Memphis, Tennessee. We looked at lots of cities near London, Ontario and finally settled on Detroit, Michigan.

We flew into Detroit early on Thursday morning, timing our arrivals from separate cities in hopes that we would arrive at approximately the same time. Happily, I stepped off the plane and found my sister waiting for me. We grabbed a rental car and set out for Canada. Well, we tried!!!!! We drove this way and that, this way and that, this way and that. Detroit apparently enjoys playing jokes on visitors who are trying to find the bridge to Canada!! We drove and drove and drove, laughing hysterically at our inability to find our way. It really was ridiculous!

We FINALLY found the correct exit off the highway. Then we drove through the most ungodly mess of construction to approach the actual bridge. The Ambassador Bridge is privately owned by a Canadian citizen who charges a toll to cross it. Currently there is a big controversy regarding the bridge. Detroit is planning to build a new bridge downriver from the Ambassador. The owner of the Ambassador is finally trying to sell. It might be too late! At the Canadian border, the agent asked a few standard questions. Where are you traveling to? Of which country are you a citizen? How long will you be in Canada? Then we were free to go! We drove about three hours to London, Ontario and arrived at the apartment that my sister and her husband have rented, which is across the street from the facility where Ursula lives. That first night, our dinner consisted of instant oatmeal that I had brought with me. I'm not sure why I brought it, but it was good! Then, Lenore settled in to the bedroom and I settled on the sofa from hell. Now to be fair to my sister, she did invite me to share the bed. But I am such a light sleeper that I knew I would not be able to sleep. I did sleep - some - on that short sofa.

The next morning, we set out to run errands. The first stop was the attorney's office. Throughout the city of London, there are houses made of a pale yellow brick. The lawyer's office was in one of these old homes. He told me that the house had a double layer of brick rather than just a brick facade. My photo really doesn't do it justice. It just looks like a house that is painted yellow. But that really is yellow brick, which I found out is the same type of clay used to make red brick. This clay simply has very little iron, so doesn't have that red color. With the business concluded, we set out for our next stop.

But before we left the attorney's yard, we enjoyed the sight of these flowers poking through the dirt. Spring was in the air!

And on his front porch, the attorney had some necessary tools for those long winters. Ugh. I do not ever want to shovel snow again!

There were several more stops that day. In the evening, we set out to find a Japanese restaurant. We didn't find it, but we found a different Japanese restaurant than the one we were looking for - on the same street! We had tempura and sushi and green tea. We spent the first half decade of our lives in Japan, so we are both comforted by Japanese food.

Saturday morning, we had one errand left to run. On the way there and back, we found some sights seen only in Canada and some seen only in London, Ontario:

The black squirrel is just a melanistic variety of the Grey Squirrel. But since I have not seen many of them, I was enchanted by the sight of one.

In downtown London, Ontario, there are a number of colorful metal trees. I think they are beautiful!

There are lots of different colors!

Let's talk about LaBatt's beer. On second thought, let's have some Labatt's beer!

Tim Hortons in Canada is like Dunkin Donuts in New Jersey. They make great donuts! Lenore and I bought some to have for breakfast on Sunday morning. They are also rumored to have good coffee, but I didn't have any of that, so I can not testify.

I'm sure my Canadian friends will think it's silly that I took a picture of this mail truck. But it was new to me, so I decided to capture it for posterity!

I liked the Canadian flag on this Greyhound bus.

This is the facility that Lenore's mother-in-law lives in. Notice the yellow brick! We saw that yellow brick everywhere! The folks who work at the facility are just wonderful. They were so sweet and loving to my sister, knowing that she had just lost her husband.

Dutch Elm disease arrived in Ontario in 1967 and wiped out about 80% of the trees existing at that time. Throughout Eastern Canada, you will find the trunks of Elm trees that have been left standing and have been carved into gorgeous pieces of art. You can see the carving in front of the facility in the picture above. This picture is a close-up of a portion of the carving. It looks like a little nuthatch to me. But I could be wrong.

Back at the apartment, Lenore brought out the snacks. Everything in this part of Canada has product labels in English and French. Perhaps it is like that throughout Canada. I don't know! But here are some noix d'acajou or cashew nuts.

I looked in the kitchen cabinet and found some Chaudree de Palourdes du Maine, also known as New England Clam Chowder.

But we saved the best for last. On our last night in London, we drove over to the same area we had been to the night before to look for a Thai restaurant. We found it, but decided we didn't like the looks of it. Then Lenore spotted the sign for the Japanese restaurant we had been looking for the night before. We decided to go there. I rarely find myself NOT interested in Japanese food. I had the tempura again:

Lenore had the oyako donburi:

Then we shared some ginger ice cream:

Sunday morning, we took Ursula to her church, where she was warmly greeted by members who had known her for years and years. During the service, there was a short memorial prayer for John. Then the rector invited Lenore and Ursula up to the front of the congregation. Church members draped their shoulders with prayer shawls and together they lit a remembrance candle for John. It was lovely. Afterwards we were joined by Shirley, a friend of Ursula's, for lunch at a nearby restaurant. It was a joyous gathering!

Some postscripts:

My sister did all of the driving on this trip. It was not easy for her, because she has not done a lot of driving in her lifetime. It was not easy for me, because I both LOVE to drive AND I had to give up control. But it was really good for her to have the time behind the wheel. And she did a great job!!!

My sister and I always end up having at least one disagreement when we are together. But in the end, I know she is in my corner and will never leave me. And she knows the same about me. That is the richest gift. I'm so glad that she let me go with her on this trip. I love you, Lenore!!!

When we crossed the border back into Canada, the border guard (is that the right term?) was about 50 times better at cross-examining us than the Canadian border guard had been. It was pretty impressive! He really peppered us with the questions!!!

1 comment:

jonesnori said...

That's right - I'm on your side and you're on mine! Thanks so much again for coming with me - you made everything much easier for me. I'd have probably spent the entire weekend in the apartment without you.