Despite her initial confusion over why only ladies were invited, Reid very much enjoyed the ladies weekend in Toronto. A girl who is 5-and-a-half gets some perks when she hangs out with ladies who are old enough to have stopped keeping track of their age in fractions. Reid and I got a late start, thanks to her teachers scheduling the Valentine’s party for the afternoon. The others didn’t wait as long as they might have, though, thanks to killer traffic between Kitchener-Waterloo and the hotel. Not that I’m glad they were stuck in traffic. We finally rolled in around 10 pm, Reid asleep and me happily listening to a book-on-cd and found Aunt Karin waiting out front for us. Aunt Karin carried Reid in and I parked the car. By the time I got to our hotel room, Reid was snuggled onto the bed with Aunt Karin and Auntie M. Hooray! Except that she was watching the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics and was most determinedly not falling back to sleep. Reid managed to stay awake until the Canadian team entered the stadium. I didn’t look at the clock. I didn’t want to know in case Ken asked me.
On Saturday morning we went to King Tut: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs at the Art Gallery of Ontario. LeeLee (aka Kailee) met us there, once we’d established that the Royal Ontario Museum was not the right location. It would have made for a much longer trip from her apartment if she’d gone to the ROM first. Thanks to my having bought a membership, we got to go to the shorter admission line. I *love* being a member of museums for this sort of perk. We had tickets for 10:00, which was the second time slot available. It was exceedingly crowded, even at that early hour. We basically shuffled along in a great line from artifact to artifact. The people who’d rented the audio guides acted as speed bumps even at the slow pace we were moving since they had a set piece of text to hear and were impervious to the pressure to shuffle along like the rest of us. We saw many beautiful things, including a coffin for a cat and a commode with a stone seat but, from Reid’s perspective, the free admission reflected what should have been charged. There were too many people and it was too difficult to see the artifacts, have a discussion and move on to the next. I suspect that the others who didn’t have a small one in tow enjoyed it more. I did like what I saw and was glad that Reid is an experienced museum-goer who behaved well in the crowd but she was definitely eager to move through rather quickly. Being the first of group to finish had the benefit of giving Reid and me lots of time in the gift shop to try on a variety of Egyptian headress – done in cloth and sequins and another line in cardboard. For some reason, one of the clerks said we weren’t allowed to use the flash on the camera. It struck me as beyond silly but since we were playing with stock with no intention of purchasing anything, we complied. After a brief interlude of colouring with Brianna, Reid and I headed downstairs to “Off the Wall”, the kids’ activity area while the others took in a gallery or two. They never mentioned any paintings or other works of art, though, so maybe they all went out for coffee. Reid and I played and I remembered why I like “Off the Wall” so much. The activities are engaging but you don’t end up bringing anything with you, which is always a pleasure when you have enough crafty treasures in your life already.
We had lunch at Jack Astors and then most of the big girls went shopping while Reid, Aunt Karin and I went back to the hotel for a swim and to get my car. Reid would have been content to spend the whole day at the hotel pool. She is like that. We met back up with everyone in time to walk to Reid’s and my favourite Ethiopian restaurant, whose name I don’t know, to eat foods from the sampler-type vegetarian platter, whose names I also don’t know. Reid was over the moon in love with some green lentil stew and my taste buds were all around happy. One day we’ll have to try one of the Ethiopian restaurants in Ottawa. Reid and I returned to the hotel right after supper, with an expensive detour on the 407 when I took the exit before ours. There’s nothing quite like knowing you’re making a $20 mistake but not being able to stop what you’ve set in motion.
On Sunday morning we ate our breakfast (I love the Holiday Inn Express breakfasts, by the way) and then Reid and I went swimming again, with Aunt Karin along for moral support. Reid demonstrated her sideways way of entering the water – a skill she is learning for swimming the session, though I don’t know what good it will do her – and Aunt Karin tossed her into the water a couple times and then encouraged her to jump in and do cannon balls to splash me all by herself.
We went to the Free Times Café for their amazing Bella Did Ya Eat breakfast buffet. The blintzes and salmon and lox and all the rest are so yummy that one doesn’t notice the lack of bacon, ham, etc. There was a Yiddish folk singer in the back room where we were sitting – where you should always try to sit – and Reid even got to participate in one of the songs. The singer explained her songs in English and the fact none of us speaks Yiddish was no barrier in the least. The rhythm and spirit of the songs transcended language. We shopped a bit on Bloor Street and then went to see LeeLee’s new apartment, with a stop at Wanda’s Pie in the Sky shop along the way. Red Lobster sang it’s siren song and so we went there for an early supper before getting on our respective roads home. Reid can eat an amazing quantity of shrimp! It’s probably a good idea, from my wallet’s point of view, that I take her out for this type of food only when we’re on vacation. Not that Reid doesn’t point out the Red Lobster we see in Ottawa.
Reid cried for nearly 10 minutes when we left the other ladies. She was tired and sad, an awful mix. We made good time on our way back to Ottawa and the drive reminded me why I like to meet mid-way between Ottawa and Windsor.