November 30, 2014

I Know What We Did Last Summer Pt. 2

Part two of our summer trip to Ottawa.
Like locusts the Rising Family continues to devour everything in our path as we enter the second week of vacation at home in the nation’s capital. Our most excellent host is the Lobster King, a.k.a. my dad, and my wife and kids repeatedly indulge in the buttery seafood treat prepared by this crustacean cooking meister from the Maritimes.
Alas, for a few days, the rain dampens our appetite for outside activity, but we adapt. The solution: visit the local IKEA store. I was not surprised to find that the kids’ play area at IKEA in Ottawa is nearly identical to the one we regularly frequent in Yokohama. The difference, though, is spatial: kids are crammed into the play space in Japan while the one in Ottawa “is full” with visibly fewer children bobbing about. More likely, it is due to the perceptual differences governing personal space. Armchair sociologists eat your meatballs and analyze that. The store seemed just slightly grimier, too.

The vacation frenzy continues unabated with a jaunt to Kingston for a Chuck E. Cheese fiesta. I recall our fateful first foray to Chuck’s kingdom in Guam a few years ago. Little did I know that one day I would be willingly drawn all the way from Ottawa to Kingston to once again drop offensive amounts of cash to play video games and taste Chuck’s rubbery wares. Yet the girls had a wonderful romp ‘em stomp ‘em time. Literally hundreds of game tickets filled my pockets, soon exchanged for stickers and sugary treats which fueled further eruptions of chaos.
It never ceases to amaze me how the phrase “OK, only 15 more minutes” can produce such shrieks and cries of pint-sized anguish. One unpleasant memory was my anticipation of a nice visit to Kingston being squelched by the half-hour of high-decibel wailing from the backseat, for reasons long since forgotten, which caused us to cauterize the trip to downtown K–town and head home. No vacation is perfect, but this was a metaphoric roundhouse kick to my groin.

Beyond the day trips, family. They are the real reason, after all, for going home.
You do the best you can with the scarcest resource you have—time. We had some terrific visits with my cousins and their growing families, and with uncles and aunts, all of whom made time for us. My uncle P. hosted us for a wonderful day: Burton’s Eggs & brunch, kids running amok in his backyard, all capped with a visit to Saunder’s Farm. A taste of the country life.
And there were old friends. I got a few nights away. I am aware it’s not wise to describe any ensuing antics on social media platforms. Think of your own. One good thing about getting older is the supposed wisdom that comes with the years. Another is that you get access to more toys. My buds have great toys! Example: we were invited for a terrific pool party. It was outstanding to meet J&S at L&W’s pool and Jacuzzi. Clearly, our young’uns were enjoying la dolce vita. I even got to motorvate around Leif’s neighborhood on his motorcycle.
As our visit with my dad neared its inevitable end, Naomi, Lady E., “M” and I wanted to visit Andy Hayden Park more: chasing geese, enjoying the sunsets and the seagulls. We all appreciate the sheer space, something that is in short supply in cramped Tokyo/Yokohama. The freedom of not worrying about traffic jams and rushing the bird flocks just for the hell of it is an Ottawa activity we savor each time. So three cheers for the Andy Hayden and Britannia Beach parks. And to being able to play catch, even for a short while, with my high school buds. That can’t be purchased anywhere.
Payback #1
In the first “I Know What We Did…” installment, I noted the flight over wasn’t optimal. Well, at least it wasn’t as bad as our first Hell Airlines flight back with Elena in 2008. Still, the girls stayed awake until about two hours’ before our touchdown back in Japan.

Due to extended feasting, I have been spending my autumn trying to work off the tire. (Sigh.)

Epilogue: [Cheese alert] Heading into the cold of winter, as I look back and write these recollections, it leaves me with a warm and fuzzy feeling. [Groan.] The fact is the Rising Family had a great time due to the kind efforts of family (especially Dad) and friends. Thank you all very, very much.