Summer 2023

Canada Day garden

The Canada Day 2023 holiday weather was warm and not too humid! The world is mostly back to normal, with parks and playgrounds seeing friends and neighbours back together in person. Andrea and I attended our first post-pandemic play at the Shaw Festival (Gypsy) in August. It felt great to be back among groups of people and enjoying ourselves doing things we like in places we enjoy again.

This year’s near-perfect weather has meant little use of either air conditioning or the lawn sprinklers. The garden needed little help to blossom to perfection.

Dinner with the Speakers

Former Speaker Dave Levac, former Deputy Speaker Paul Miller and their respective spouses, Rosemarie and Carole came for dinner at the house on the August long weekend. For a welcome change, the weather that normally rains on our outdoor dinners cooperated with us.

Two of my favourite colleagues from my MPP days came for dinner with their spouses on the Friday of the August long weekend: former Legislative Speaker Dave Levac (L, Brant) and his wife Rosemarie, and former Deputy Speaker Paul Miller (NDP, Hamilton East Stoney Creek) and his wife Carole. Paul also played defense in front of me on the Ontario Legiskaters hockey team and cleared the space between me and the shooters. Andrea and I laid on our best culinary spread that evening, and we enjoyed the summer dinner outside in the patio’s ‘outdoor dining room.’ Our dinner invitations are very often interrupted by rain, no matter what the forecast may be. Andrea and I have got good at moving the entire event to the ‘indoor dining room’ within five minutes. On this occasion, however, we got perfect warm and dry weather. It’s an ‘in-joke’ at the house that if we run into a summer dry spell, all we have to do is start inviting people over for dinner outside. We can almost promise rain on that day.

About the cats

For those who always ask, our cat, Merlin, the last of our iconic cats who came with me on so many public events as an MPP, passed away in mid-January of 2023. My beloved feline old boy was within just two weeks of his 20th birthday, roughly equal to 100 in human years. Merlin’s story is also on this web site. I miss Merlin very much. He was ‘my boy,’ and I will remember him every day for a long time.

In March, Ninth Life Cat Rescue offered us a rescue cat, whom we got to name. She is Kayla, the anglicized spelling of a Gaelic word (Cadhla) which means ‘graceful.’ Kayla came from a troubled home, and has slowly been letting go of her sharpness and reluctance to trust people. Kayla is especially devoted to Andrea, filling a void left by the loss to cancer of our last female, Bebe, at the outset of the pandemic in late March of 2020. Kayla has made our back yard very much her personal territory. The squirrels who literally tore up our screens on the back door in early spring now very much respect Kayla’s oversight of her domain. Kayla has not harmed any animal or bird, but insists that the squirrels know who is now boss in the back yard. For that alone, we are very grateful.