Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A Visit With Our Boy

Last week, we took advantage of what might be our last opportunity to see our older son, Jeffrey before sometime in August. He finished his second of four years of academics, and is now awaiting the information which will tell him where he'll be spending most of his summer in training. Recent course changes have left his plans to be at the Canadian Forces Base in Gagetown, New Brunswick up in the air for now. As soon as he knows, he may find himself on his way there, to nearby Trenton, Ontario or to somewhere in Alberta. If it weren't for the fact that the course in Trenton would be teaching him how to jump out of planes, I'd be hoping for the nearby location. But that choice is not mine.

About a month ago, Jeffrey began telling his Dad and me about the upcoming Sunset Ceremony at RMC (Royal Military College), suggesting that we take the time to come visit for the day. Don and I decided to take him up on it, and drove there together on Wednesday. We left after the morning rush hour and arrived in Kingston shortly after one o'clock. We picked up our hungry and tired son, who greeted us in uniform, and headed into town to share a lunch at Morrison's where we knew we could order a classic all-day breakfast.

The restaurant was as I remembered it from previous visits to this university town - an old-fashioned diner-style setting where they care about their customers and the food they're serving. If you're ever in Kingston, you won't regret giving them a try.

Once our appetites were sated, we spent some time wandering around the campus. RMC is situated on Point Frederick peninsula at the point where The St. Lawrence River begins its journey from Lake Ontario to the Atlantic Ocean.

The centerpiece of the entire campus is the Mackenzie building with its clock tower which overlooks the parade square. Built in 1878, it's one of the many historic buildings on the peninsula.

This is one of four Martello towers built in Kingston. The one you see here, is contained in Fort Frederick, a fort made mostly of earth mounds and a stone wall. It's situated on the point of the peninsula and now serves as a museum.

This view is looking toward the Martello tower through the doorway of the stone wall.

Small sets of steps like these can be found all around the earth walls. That's my boy at the top of them.

You'll also find cannons strategically spaced along the earthen mound. This little sparrow was perched at the end of one of them.

Meet Brucie. He represents the cadets with their motto "Truth, Duty, Valour."

The folks at RMC have a casual approach when it comes to Brucie. He can often be found dressed up for various occasions. During the last hockey playoff series, he was sporting a Montreal Canadien's uniform.

Jeffrey was very tired when we arrived. He had been out celebrating the end of the academic school year with friends, since he was free of obligations for the next day's Sunset Ceremony. That was a rare treat for us, as we usually sit through these events while trying to keep an eye peeled for a glimpse of our son, dressed identically to hundreds of others. This time Jeffrey would be able to spend the full time with Don and me. The only problem was this growing fatigue he felt from an inadequate night's sleep. Knowing he'd feel better after a short nap, Jeffrey sent us into town for a while so that he could catch up on some missed sleep. Don and I wandered along the harbour and through the city streets, stopping for a coffee and waiting for the "I'm awake" phone call from our son.

It was a hazy, drizzly day, but that didn't keep people from enjoying the waterfront. Kids fed and chased seagulls, and groups strolled along the walkway.

As we continued toward the city streets, this curious site caught my eye. The mismatched footwear seemed to be abandoned in just this manner, nowhere near any of the many people who dotted the pathways and grassy area. There was no apparent reason for these "sole mates" to be there, except to be photographed - so I did. Don commented that he'd be willing to bet that there's another pair just like it somewhere...

This locomotive was built in 1913 for the Canadian Pacific Railway on the exact spot where it stands today, in front of what used to be the train station, now serving as a tourist office. The city of Kingston has plans to restore it by the time it reaches its 100th birthday in 2013.

We soon got the phone call from a much refreshed Jeffrey, who had worked up an appetite and was ready for dinner. While we ate, we made our plans to be back at the parade square with about 45 minutes to spare before show time. The sky was getting grayer and the rain we had been promised all day looked as if it was planning to put in an appearance just about.. now. We grabbed an umbrella, ground sheets to cover our laps, and towels upon which to sit, and settled in for the show.

I'll post some photos from the Sunset Ceremony in a few days.


Amy said...

Great pics....as always!
You must be so proud of Jeffrey!

the Bag Lady said...

Hilary - loved this post! Great photos of all the history available for you to see in Ontario. Nothing much like that way out here in Alberta. This part of the country is so much younger..... :)

Daryl said...

It looks as if there's been rain ... but it adds to the overall feeling ... slow and lazy ... I had to LOL at Don's remark because its one Husband would have made ...


Pat - Arkansas said...

A very interesting narrative and wonderful photos, Hilary. I look forward to seeing the rest.

Frank Baron said...

Hil dear, no need to worry about the jumping-out-of-planes thing. Seriously. Pretty sure the lads get parachutes.

Nifty pics of one of my favourite cities. :)

Jo said...

What a wonderful day! And a treat for all of you to get in a full day. The photos were marvelous...I love the Martello towers! The shoes were pretty funny--so bizarre.

Whenever you refer to Jeffrey as "my boy" it's so particular--so much love & pride, Hil, it makes me smile.

Hilary said...

• Thanks, Amy. You bet I am! :)

• That's true Baggie. You're practically my Canadian baby sister. ;) We do have quite a rich history throughout Ontario and Quebec in particular. I'm glad you enjoyed it. There'll be more in a few days. :)

• Thanks for stopping by, Daryl. Trust me, there was rain.. and more rain and a bit more. Glad you got a laugh out of it. :)

• Thanks, Pat. I'm glad you stopped by. :)

• Gee thanks, Frank.. you're such a sensitive guy! :P

• Ah, Jo. You always say something that makes ME smile. Thanks for your sweet words. :)

Tamie said...

That Martello Tower reminds me of a turtle with a tall and narrow shell :)

Interesting stuff.

Sweet and Salty said...

Awesome pics; makes me want to get on a plane and go there.

You have a big man for a son! I can't even imagine my kids going away like that.

moo said...

Wow, fantastic photos! You must be SO PROUD of him.

And ps ... I totally thought the story would end differently ... that he would take a nap and fail to wake up in time for the ceremony. Silly moo.

Tink said...

I love the shoes! Oh the stories I could make up about them. Maybe the other two ran off with each other on holiday. ;)

Shammickite said...

Kingston is such a neat city isn't it? Great places to eat, and such a lot of history. And wandering along the lake front is so interesting.
Congratulations to Jeffrey on his graduation. Trenton would be quite close to home, but I agree with the "jumping aout of planes" worries, however, as Frank says, they do have parachutes. I've been to many air shows at Trenton CAF base.
I'm looking forward to the Sunset Ceremony pics!
And it's rather intriguing about the mismatched shoes.... I wonder what happened???

Clowncar said...

That Martello tower is indeed cool. And I love the juxtaposition of the sparrow sitting on the cannon.

And what your husband said about the mismatched shoes is the exact thing I had in my head when I saw the picture.

Shammickite said...

Your comment on my blog was that you hope Tessa comes back soon.... please... not TOO soon, after 5 days of looking after the naughtiest puppy in the whole world, I'm exhausted! :-)

Dianne said...

I see we both had extra proud moments this week. I'm happy that you got to spend all that time with Jeffrey. My son is a Jeffrey too, I've always loved that name :)

The "sole mates" photo is wonderful.

All the photos are great. Thank You for sharing so much.

Hilary said...

• Cool observation TKWI, it kind of does. :) Thanks for stopping by.

• Thanks, Pavel. It happens in a heartbeat.. :/

• Thank so much, Moo. You bet I am. He's pretty disciplined, being a military guy and all, so sleeping in wouldn't be too likely, but you never know. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Tink, I thought of you when I saw those shoes.. no kidding! Of course I also thought about Jo.. I could hear both of you telling me to snap that pic. ;)

• Thanks for stopping by, Ex-S and yes, I love Kingston too, and not just because it's where my son is living for four years. He won't be graduating for two years still. I think Jeffrey will have to be trained in jumping at some point anyway, so I'll just have to accept it.

As for Tessa.. I hope she comes back as soon as you're ready for her again. ;) But I think the naughtiest puppy award goes to Benny.. just ask Frank about dead fish!

• Thanks Clowncar. I'll make sure to let my ex know that he wasn't alone in that thought. ;)

• Thank you, Dianne. We sure did! I think it's cool that our sons have the same name.. tis a good one. :) Thanks so much for your kind words

Leah J. Utas said...

I was so sure I commented here a while ago . . .
I love the history pics and I love how you wove the family touch in it.

Kappa no He said...

My father was in the Airforce and I was raised on varius bases across the states so everytime I hear about Jeffrey I get all nostalgic.

I'm thinking Benny when it comes to those missing shoes...you might think he wasn't there...but he's a pup and I'm just sayin. They've got powers.

Reb said...

Hilary, great photos and the way you weave them all together is so brilliant. I love the sparrow on the cannon and the shoes!

Chica, Cienna, and Cali said...

beautiful place ........and a beautiful day :)

david mcmahon said...

So much to admire, so many views beautifully and creatively captured.

And because so many people asked whether I won my wager in church, I have to admit that the answer is no, I lost the bet!!

Jo said...

Wow! I have never been to Kingston. It looks beautiful!

You must be very proud of your son. But you don't look old enough to have a son that age!

Loved the photo of the shoes! I wonder what the back story is???

Anonymous said...

I always love your photo tours of places I haven't been to--I get to feel like I've taken an excursion and an invigorating walk and seen all kinds of great sights without my butt ever leaving my desk chair.

Really looking forward to the Sunset ceremony.

Hilary said...

• Leah, Blogger must have had another one of its many belches. Thanks for your observation and kind comment. :)

• Kappa, I'm glad that my Jeffrey stories evoke those nostalgic feelings in you. No doubt there will be more tales, so stay tuned. Speaking of tales/tails, I suspect you may be right about Benny. Frank, check around for that other mismatched pair, willya? ;)

• Thanks so much, Reb. Those shoes sure seem to be the eye-catcher, and I have Jeffrey to thank for pointing the bird out. :)

• It absolutely is/was, Moi. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Thank you, David. That always means a lot to me, coming from you. And at least you got your money's worth of entertainment on that bet. ;)

• Thanks for the kind words, Josie. I know you said a lot in your comment, but all I seem to remember is that I don't look old enough! ;)

• Thanks muchly, Crabby. I'm glad you enjoy the posts. I'd better get working on those pics then, eh? :)

Russell said...

Wonderful post. I love the picture of the two shoes.

Your son looks like a great young man. I was glad he could be comfortable enough with you to just tell you he needed to take a nap! Good for him and good for you! To visit for a while, then take a bit of a break, and then visit some more is a nice way to do it.

I was reminded of an old adage as I read your post this morning. To a parent, her child is always young. To a child, his parent was never young. (Or something like that.)

It is hard to see kids grow up, but I guess that is good. We like to see them mature and become their own persons - though I confess, it is hard for me to look through photograph albums yet...

Take care.

Russell said...

Oh, one more short comment....

I agree with Josie's comment. You most certainly do NOT look old enough to have a child in college!!

You have a most youthful appearance...

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

The shoes were just waiting for you to come along and make them famous . . . and you did!

steviewren said...

What a beautiful Martello tower. I had never heard of that term before. Your son's posture is so perfect. You can tell he is in the military. I can tell you are a proud mama.

photowannabe said...

How nice that you could spend time with your son. That's always a treasured time.
I do love your mismatched pair photo. Makes one wonder what the story is.

Anonymous said...

Wow! What a nice outing for you with Jeffrey. The sights looking very interesting. Thanks for sharing!
See ya,
The Bach

Chi said...


My son is preping to leave in the next couple of months. All of our friends joke that my wife will go to peices over Jake leaving for college and being so far away (600 mi). I join in on the badgering, but she and I both know, it is me who is dreading that departure.

*crack* See? There goes a peice of me now!

Hilary said...

• Thank you, Russel. You're right about my son. I'm incredibly proud of the man that he's become. It seems he was born mature, and yet he'll always be my baby. And yes, as difficult as it is to separate from him, I'm happy about his being so independent.. but love it that he enjoys being mothered from time to time (home-cooked meals!).

And thank you for your kind compliment. Frank insists that he's partly responsible for my "youthful appearance" since he took the photograph. It must have been a once in a lifetime shot where the light ricocheted off of my wrinkles in such a way that they looked non-existent! ;)

• Jenn.. so I'm a shoelebrity? ;) Thanks for dropping by.

• Thanks, Steviewren. You're very observant. Jeffrey sure has adopted a military posture and stride. And I sure have all of the "proud mama" pride (and weird ability to rhyme when I least intend it). :)

• Thanks, Photowannabe. Those shoes sure are of big interest which has given me an idea for a possible future blog post.. maybe. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Thanks, Bach. I'm glad you came along for the virtual visit. :)

• Ouch, Christopha! My heart just cracked along with yours in unison.
You sure do dispel the notion that Moms always take it harder than Dads.

I became accustomed to Jeffrey's departure in bits. He was in the Reserves for a while before going to RMC, so he was away for almost full summers on courses. It does get easier, but never feels "right." And I'm dreading the day, two or three years from now when he tells me he's been deployed. *SUPERCRACK*! That will be my mind right along with my heart.

Maggie May said...

Wonderful day! Wonderful pictures. Especially the bird on the canon!

Colleen said...

Hilary- These are some fantastic shots. I Particuarly like the one of the cannon and the little bird. =)

Frank Baron said...

Hilary said:

"Frank insists that he's partly responsible for my "youthful appearance" since he took the photograph."

"Partly" is correct. Part of it was me assessing the light, softening the focus and applying your Miracle Concealing Blush.

But the rest was just Photoshop. ;)


I am, of course, probably kidding. :)

CC said...

Mmmmmmm, classic breakfast. Make mine 2 eggs sunny side up and bacon instead of sausage. Thanks.

CC said...

My second oldest daughter really wants to become a pilot. We're trying to encourage her to think about joining the military so she can receive the best training for free.

My uncle was career military in the 82nd Airborne Division. He basically jumped out of planes for a living. He's 54 now and still loves to jump out of planes even when his back disagrees.

CC said...

Good luck to Jeffrey!!!!

Hilary said...

• Thanks for the kind words, Maggie May. Much appreciated. :)

• Thanks so much, Colleen. I'm glad you liked it. :)

• Frank.. Miracle Concealing Brush? You've been holding out on me.. gimmie! Now I understand why you look so much older in real life... :PPPP

I too am, of course, probably kidding. :)

• EWBL.. bacon very crisp? Jeffrey originally hoped to become a pilot all through his high school years and his time with the Reserves. It was his first choice when he joined RMC. He changed his mind after testing for training placement. He discovered that he was not as enthralled with flying as he was with infantry.. so that's what he trains for now. Good luck to your daughter. A military education, if anything like here in Canada, is an excellent one. And, like you said, free. In fact he gets paid for it. Thanks for your kind wishes. :)

Cath said...

What a wonderful post written by a very proud mum, who is obviously so missing her son!

The place Jeffrey is at is full of history. Thank you for sharing it all with us and the photos are wonderful.

Being a pilot was my son's dream too - from the age of about 14 or 15. He has changed course now and still has moments I think where he wonders "What if?" as do I. As long as he is happy, I am. I feel in your post that you are the same.

Thanks for visiting mine. I'm doing ok now (calmed down!)

Hilary said...

Thanks for stopping by Cath. I'm glad things have calmed some for you.

You're right about the feeling of pride for sure... and about being happy as long as my kidlets are.

Thanks for your kind words.. much appreciated as always. :)