I’m in sunny Calgary – arrived last night by bus from Banff (October 2008). I’m travelling with my Dad and we spent a few days in Banff after travelling on the Rocky Mountaineer from Vancouver, BC. We’re staying with a very good friend of mine, Francine. We went to Annandale highschool together when I was in Grade 9, we played on the basketball team, worked together on my parent’s farm and remained friends through college/university days. In 1978 we took a wild and crazy trip to the westcoast driving her brother Henry’s car to Calgary where he had gotten a job on the oil rigs. We haven’t seen each other but once in all those years. We’ve been having fun re-telling the stories from that trip across the country. We did some crazy things, but nothing that I regret. I just wish I had some grandchildren to tell. I guess I’ll have to write that book. Anyway, we’re still not finished reminiscing, there are more stories to piece together over the next couple of days. Tomorrow is Francine’s birthday so we are going to have a girl’s afternoon out – maybe lunch, some shopping or to an art gallery. Then we will cook a birthday dinner where I’ll be making my signature dish – chicken paprikash. My family background is Hungarian and my mom Helen was a fabulous cook. I owe my culinary skills to her. Everyone loves this dish with the home made pasta called nookedli (that’s the phonetic spelling). I’ll get a chance to meet Francine’s two kids and her partner’s two kids. I didn’t know it was going to be her birthday, but luckily I just happened to bring along some BC sparkling wine. A toast to Francine, my dear, dear friend. We had so much fun together in those younger days! And remembering those times has had us in stitches. We also share in the memory of my favourite cousin Ron who died tragically young. He was a year or two older than I. Francine dated Ron for many years but they went their separate ways some time before the dreadful car accident. Ron and I were very close — I remember that he taught me how to tie my shoe laces when I was 4 or 5 years old and if he had a cold and I was anywhere near him, I was sure to catch a cold too. Ron and I even went to the same schooly for my first year at the University of Waterloo. I remember many a Saturday night party at his apartment. Ron had the kindest heart and the biggest smile. I will love him forever.