Thursday, July 30, 2015



When the last friend disappeared into the evening along with the beer and wine and food, and all the ice had said to hell with it and become water in the heat, I decided Mary Downing's 80th birthday party was the best event ever in our backyard.
I've been working up to it for the 50 years since we bought our starter house and never got around to moving.
Why we even had our three sons there. That is quite an achievement, since Mark lives in China, John Henry in California, and Brett says he has a home two blocks away but seems to spend his time in Thailand, Abu Dhabi and whatever exotic destinations his wife can wangle a pass for.
John Henry did arrive late but Paul Corey was still there to represent the guests who had vanished like the blooming ice that kept drooling and melting like my firiends at the old press club bar.
Of course the prof was still busy sampling the wine. I leaned on him for a recommendation for my white wine (or so I thought.) Mary deserves champagne but some friends consume that bubbly like Diet Coke.
I bought a case of his suggestion, only to find out later that he really didn't know because he only drinks the red and not the 2014 California Chardonnay that is produced by Berringer under the Stone Cellars name.
Went well with the sandwiches from Sanelli's Cookery. All the smart people in our area, whether they're the NOBs from North of Bloor or the SOBs from South Of Bloor,  see Adriana on Dundas St. W. for their festive food.
(I hasten to add as a reputable journalist that these are not paid plugs for the wine and the delicious food, but if the LCBO and Adriana do want to make a deal, I would be happy to be compensated in product.)
Of course, the piece de resistance was the birthday cake. I don't want to ruin Brett's gruff image around the Ex where he is one of the longest-serving employees, or with the players in the hockey leagues where Brett plays goal twice weekly, but Brett makes the family birthday cakes.
And they are great. (And I do expect goodies.)
Four years ago, Mark started egging me into a special party for Mary for our 50th wedding anniversary.
It was along the lines that she had put up with my guff for five decades and the occasion should't be glossed over with just a few friends in for drinks. Of course he was right!
Unfortunately, two things happened to ruin that date. I then went to four hospitals for three months and had to learn how to stand and walk again. That certainly put a crimp in the planning.
 And one favoured locale, the Old Mill, was busy building on its greenery, ruins, parking lot and backyard, thus ruining the pleasant Humber setting that I've enjoyed since high school dances. Turned out that other locations, thanks to the licences and rules 'n' regs of bureaucracy, are no longer simple rentals.
So the special anniversary drifted by. I felt guilty because I remember how special the golden anniversary was to my relatives and in the neighbourhood when I was a boy.
 Having a marriage that lasted that long was considered a miracle. (There have been times in my marriage when I thought the same.)
But enough was enough in procrastination.  I couldn't blow another big occasion or the sons would mutter more darkly than they do now after a few beers.
Yet there are occasions when you feel you need a good computer (and someone who can actually get the damn thing to work without hiccups) to pick a party date after you factor in troop movements, holiday plans and work schedules of friends, relatives, neighbours and the weather man.
I figured being summer and with only two weeks warning, there would be quite a few who just wouldn't be able to make it. Then there were all my Kawartha cousins and cottage friends who wouldn't want to drive 200 km. into the maw of Toronto traffic on a summer Saturday. So we figured a barbecue later for them.
I figured if everyone did show up, and brought all the tads, we could move to the Sunnylea school yard. After all, it seems many of the local kids learn to drink in its parking lot
If it rained, we would just drink quicker and save on the mix.
It went well. I knew it was going well when at least one person who dropped in for a few minutes stayed for a few hours. None of the politicians (most of whom had run for mayor on occasion) had   been attacked recently by the media so they were in such a fine mood they never even debated this fall's election. And I think the prof may actually have tried the excellent white.
Since Mark played hooky from his job in China, John Henry flew across the continent just to do a walk-on, and Brett and family were loyal butlers, I decided that the family could do all this again, and not just talk about it.

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