20 June 2006

A Wedding in Toronto

I went to Toronto to go to Nikita and Lenore's wedding (friends from Berkeley who now live in Illinios).

So I make the plane to DC, with at least a few minutes to spare, and time to get food (just) it was yummy but messy. I slept the rest of the flight. When we arrived in DC and I got up, the rest of the my friends from SF on the plane were only three rows up (and on the other side of the plane. So we all trooped over to the gate on the other side of the airport, and got on the plane to Buffalo. And we took off, and got drinks, and then the plane turned around and flew back. We seem to not have had flaps, or rather we had flaps, but they would not extend to "landing mode", and the long runway in Buffalo was closed. And after the usual, "we'll let you know in half an hour", "and half an hour" and "half an hour". The flight was canceled. So some quick work by Morgan and all five us were rebooked straight through to Toronto. A flurry of phone calls got the friends that we were to meet in Buffalo and drive to Toronto with, to get our cars in Buffalo, so we had a way back to Buffalo. As this was going on, the BBQ got moved up an hour, just to insure we were late. :-)

So now we sit in the terminal. I managed to spastically spill coffee on my towel and sweatshirt hood, which I suppose is not as bad as some places it might have dropped and I managed to get most of the coffee out of everything.

At last we got on the 3.30 plane for Toronto and arrived in Canada with no further incident and took the bus and the subway to Ryerson University where we were staying. On the way the first person in Tornonto we talked to turned out to have friends in common with some of us and had spotted us a geeks. "Why?", I asked, "just because there are five us, wearing black, and all carrying laptops - to a wedding, what ever made you think that?"

Just as we arrived we ran into our friend Andrea who had also recently arrived and we managed to meet up with Peter - who had a car, and thus a quick way to the party, now in progress. This turned out to be a bit of a boondogle, as we had directions to the reception rather than the BBQ, so we wandered around quite bit out of our way until we noticed we were in the wrong part of town. Peter at this point was frazzled (and lost) and we had to outsource the task of getting the other half of our party (which did not fit in the car) to the BBQ.

It was like old home week at Shar's house, lots of my San Franciscan Urban Tribe regulars, old friends who had moved away, and the collection of Toronto people who I have gotten to know over the years. There was tonnes of food, and drink, and a hot tub had been rented for the week, and was very, very crowded by the time I go there, so I caught up with a lot of people I had not seen in years. Eventually the hot tub emptied and a hot water bucket brigade carried water from the kitchen to refill it. And we let it heat up for a while whilest we sat on the porch or living room and told jokes, and continued to catch up. Some where around 2 most people had left, and we had cleaned up some, and had eaten a lot of really good cookies, and decided the hot tub was hot enough and had another go at it. Shar fell asleep,and I was dozing off pretty badly, and sometime about 3.30 Kragen and Beatrice drove us back to the dorms.

The dorms I stayed at were really dorms, just like college. Actually slightly better than my college dorm. This was a bit much for two and a half of our suite mates who needed the clean floors of the other option and had already moved, but a third person needed a spot so Andrea and I stayed.

Day II
Having gotten in at 4.00 I woke up just a few minutes before the alarum went off at 11.00 the next day, and by 11.40 we had wireless but there was little time to use it. We zoomed off pretty quickly to meet a group a the other hotel who were trying to organize breakfast. After some negotiation we ended up having it there in the cafe, and we picked up a pretty large group by the time food arrived. A second group had organized to go to a greek restaurant about 2.00 and a few of us went hunting after them while the rest of the group went out in search of a castle we had seen in a guide book. After driving around to drop off some bags we found the greek restaurant, and met up with at least some of the main group and had second breakfast, actually it was more like twoses, having had elevenses instead of first and second breakfast. We had another adventure with the subway, and I bought too many subway tokens by being confused about how many people I thought I was buying them for. But then it was off to the CN tower which was the agreed upon 4.00 meeting place.

After wandering around the tower, finding all the various groups that had been independently running around on the quest for food most of us bought tickets up to the tower, and we had fun taking pictures and looking at the city and goofing off on the 100 story plus glass floor looking down on the ant sized people below. The city was a lot greener since I was up in the tower during the winter (at Ian's wedding weekend) - this seems like a tradition... the iPod ads had changed, and lots of the city was hidden by trees, and it was a warm howling wind that buffeted us on the outside deck, not the freezing breeze.

After the tower, we set off in mass for the Friday party at a pub about 15 blocks from the hotel. We collectively were of course late, but there were so many of us, that the party didn't really start until we were there. More people showed up (those who hadn't come in for the Thursday party.) And we had drinks and food and talked until about midnight, when the generally jetlagged (if they had just gotten in) or exhausted (from staying up the night before) people started wandering home. A group of us went off to a Karaoke bar not too far from the hotel, but a pretty good hike from the main party (it was a fun walk, but possibly we should have taken the subway). Some of the walking crew went home, Kragen and I continued to the bar. Most of the group sang at least one song, and we all sang one big group number. I had wanted to stay until about 1, but there was always just one more song, so we closed it down about 2. And walked home. We passed at least three women of negotiable virtue on the way home, which added a bit of local colour.

Once again, it was about 11 before we got even thinking about going, and no one else seemed to be up, so Peter, Andrea, and our other suite-mate Floyd set out on our own and ended up at a Thai restaurant and had a nice Thai brunch bar and then wandered around the city (as it was past 2 and we needed to leave for the wedding about 4). We went past the Hudson Bay Company store, founded 1640 and still going strong.

After getting ready, we met Peter and piled in the car and retraced our steps of two days before. The hall where the wedding was slightly well hidden and it took a couple of tries to find it, but we found it and were the first people there (due to paranoia about being late). After a while the wedding party arrived, Nikita walked me thorough the sound system (I was given the small task of pressing the play button at the right time during the ceremony) and we had more old home week with Bab-5.

The ceremony was great -Morgan did a wonderful job on some of the costumes (especially Ping's) and Kate was very cute as the flower girl (but didn't quite have the scattering rose pedals thing down. The vows were very nice, and though they both had a little trouble fighting through the emotion to say them, it was very moving. Though we think that Lenore may have taken Nikita as her lawfully wedded wife. Lenore's dress was really impressively good on her, and appropriately orange (and was a costume in one of our favourte TV shows Firefly. Because I had the laptop with the music, I was accused of blogging the wedding, I was much too nervous to do that. The laptop went to sleep during the ceremony, and it took all of the signing ceremony to get reconnected to the speakers and they came back online just in the nick of time.

Afterwards there was a reception before dinner, I talked to Nikita's parents, played with Kate (who had apparently recognized me in the crowd) and caught up with some of the east cost people who had just arrived on Saturday. The dinner was very nice, the centerpieces all had themes from Lenore or Nikita's life. There were Settlers of Katan cards at one table, we had a VW bug with 1000MPH license plates. The favours were Japanese tea mugs with various kinds of tea.

There were a lot of speeches, all had moving things to say and almost all of them were funny, Ian and Molly started them off and Michael G. invited them to the union of married and engaged couples. I'm not going to list them all, but they were all moving, or funny, or both.

As this is getting long I'll try and sum up...

After dinner, and Cake! Then there was dancing, and more dancing, Music by Kevin. Who knew all of our friends were professional dancers. Even Kate was bouncing around the floor. Rasputin seems to be getting longer and longer as time goes on. It was like we were transported back 3-4 years to Kevin and Nikita's place, at one of their better parties.

I can't remember having more fun in a long time. All cares and worries fled away. At least half of the people I would like to have in one place were there. About 1.30 we closed down the place and went home, and at least I crashed hard, some people, I heard later, stayed up, but I knew nothing about this at the time.

Day IV
I woke up slightly later than I would have liked, and nearly missed the gang going to Tim Horton's for breakfast. MMMMM donuts. We then said goodbye to those staying a bit longer in Toronto and tried to escape, mostly by driving in circles until we hit escape velocity. Then it was off to Niagara Falls. We took pictures, of the Falls, of each other at the Falls, then took the tour behind the Falls, which I had never done, having only been there in depth of winter. It was very cool watching all that water fall (20% of the world's fresh water) from close up and behind.

We at last tore ourselves away, drove across the Border without being grilled about how we Lenore or Nikita or how long we were going to stay etc. We had a last dinner together (at least until the next Urban Tribe gathering) at the sports bar in the airport.

I have carefully arranged to arrive at 10.30 so I could take BART back even if the plane was a little late. It was 1.20 late, so I had to pay for the post midnight extortion rate to get back to the East Bay - I will write that complaint letter this time...

What a great weekend.