By the time September arrived, we had finished the renos on the kitchen, re-organized the laundry room and settled down to order the hot tub and complete the back patio and Leon’s fjord.  Luckily, I found patio stones on sale, so we were able to come in on budget.  School had resumed and I was busy getting re-adjusted to teaching my business and French classes.

Flowers from Berthe - glorious!
Flowers from Berthe – glorious!

By October, we decided it was finally time for an open house party.  About 30 of our friends, co-workers and former neighbours showed up for an evening of wine and cheese and lots of catching up on our activities in the past 2 years.  The highlight of my evening was a visit from my older brother Phil who had undergone hip surgery a couple of weeks earlier.  Leon’s former mother in law, Berthe, had also sent along some lovely flowers with instructions that he was to make sure the vase was refilled regularly.  How thoughtful!

War 1812 dinner - in period costume
War 1812 dinner – in period costume

Later that month, we attended a War of 1812 dinner at the Army Officers’ Mess.  In his characteristic fashion, Leon suggested we amp up the evening by dressing in period costume.  We had fun making up his outfit with a tuxedo shirt, a second hand vest and pants and a cravat made up of a table runner from our dining room.  Being the only 2 guests in costume that evening (other than 3 of the evening’s organizers), you can bet we drew plenty of attention!  It was comical to see people commenting on Leon’s outfit only to realize I was not in a typical evening gown but rather an elegant period dress.  I’m not sure about how I felt not being the center of attention.  You know how people usually comment on the lady’s gown, not the officer’s uniform.

We had so much fun with our former neighbours that we had another party to celebrate Christmas sometime in mid-December.  As we all sat late in the evening, having enjoyed hors d’oeuvres and wine a plenty, Ton called the ladies “the real housewives of Taché Way”, referring to the street we all used to live on at one time.  Most of us have moved away, having opted to upsize or downsize, but we still retain the bond we formed over all the hours watching our children as they played together out front.  It’s not surprising I keep moving within a few blocks on the same house each time.

Since we got back from Australia, we’ve join the Canadian League for Educational Exchange (CLEE) as a way of continuing our relationships with other former exchange teachers and current exchangees.  It’s a great new group of friends that organize regular opportunities to show off our city to international visitors and to share our memories of our year teaching abroad.  It’s sort of like perpetuating the magic of the exchange.  After all, no one understands better what it’s like to work and live abroad than another former exchangee.  I’ve taken on the role of newsletter editor as my contribution to the group.  Here’s a link to the latest issue in pdf format: march 2013 newsletter.  So with the intention of showcasing our Canadian Christmas tradition, we invited the outgoing Aussie exchangees and their families for an old-fashioned Christmas dinner, turkey, tourtiere and all.  The evening was a great success!  The weather cooperated sending delicious amounts of snow falling just in time for our southern hemisphere guests to enjoy a few more snowy moments.  I know, for most of us, we can’t wait for the snow to melt (especially Leon, who doesn’t mention it, but secretly wants the snow to be sensible, like in Vancouver, where it stays on the top of the mountains where it belongs).  And once again, Leon and I congratulated ourselves on choosing a great party house where everyone can congregate in the kitchen and we still have room to spare.

Christmas cheer with the Aussies!
Christmas cheer with the Aussies!
After another typical snowfall...
After another typical snowfall…