Well, okay, it wasn't really a con. All the discussions were purely impromptu (indeed, most of them weren't even HP-related, let alone D&L-related), and we spent most of our time playing with my kids, loafing about and/or taking turns on the computer. Really, the only organized thing were the meals. But still, we had a lot of fun and I hope we can do something like it again! Here's the rundown...
Tuesday night: Erica and Cally arrive in their rental car. Hugs and excited greetings exchanged. Simon's cuteness made much of (Nicholas is already asleep). Luggage carted in to my spare room -- and then the gifts start flying. Erica produces two wonderful Rosemary Wells storybooks for Nicholas, Max Cleans Up and Noisy Nora, as well as an equally charming board book called Olivia Counts for Simon. Cally, meanwhile, lugs in an enormous box, which turns out to contain a set of corrugated cardboard blocks for Nicholas. In return, I present E. and C. with souvenir bottles of locally made maple syrup. (What can I say, it's the Canadian Thing To Do.) Then Erica produces an unexpected present for me -- the Lego Chamber of Secrets "Duelling Club" set. I lose my head and make ridiculous squeeing noises over the little Snape with his arched eyebrow and sardonic sneer (not to mention his lovely glow-in-the-dark complexion), and the delightfully cheesy grin on Lockhart. (The set also comes with Harry and Draco, and I absent-mindedly try to scratch Lego Harry's scar off before I realize that it is not a misplaced flake of paint. I also note that Lego Draco's blond hair looks considerably more realistic than Tom Felton's.) Simon finally goes to sleep around 11:30 p.m., and so do we.
Wednesday: When he wakes up at 6:30 a.m., Nicholas seems to like his new gifts very well indeed. But when the givers emerge from the guest room a couple of hours later, the fun really begins. Fortunately, E. and C. are veterans when it comes to interacting with kids, so a good time is had by all. I begin to consider the potential benefits of stealing my guests' passports so that they have to stay with me forever. Ironically, just then Cally announces in a remarkably calm and cheerful manner that she can't find her purse anywhere in the house or the rental car, and fears she has left it (containing her passport, money, credit cards, and basically all other important articles she owns) at the Toronto Airport. I begin to feel guilty. Fortunately, Cally's second, more thorough search of the car discovers the purse wedged under the driver's seat. Drat -- I mean, yay. The rest of the morning is spent amusing Nicholas, which includes watching Thomas the Tank Engine on TV (Susan, forgive us).
In the afternoon, E. and C. head off to the Festival Theatre to see Christopher Plummer in Lear, and return three hours later looking favorably impressed. Then, in the evening, we leave the kids with Hubby and go out to meet assorted other Piffle members for dinner in the Edinburgh Room of the Queen's Inn (where most of the Pifflers are staying). Excellent food and much animated conversation ensues. I am particularly delighted to meet Elizabeth, who not only likes Sayers, Bujold and Rowling, but turns out to be a Mage and Zot! fan as well. She takes down the URL of my blog so she can read the D&L stories, because she is a particular fan of Snape. I really like her. :)
Thursday: Another day spent chatting and playing with the kids, at least until E. and C. head off to Toronto for another Pifflefest dinner. Mellie calls in around 7:00 and announces that she has just missed the shuttle to Stratford, so she'll be meeting E. and C. at the restaurant and coming back with them. They all trundle in at about 11:30, at which point I jump out of bed to hug Mellie and make more so-happy-to-finally-meet-you noises. As it turns out, Mellie has also brought gifts for the kids -- a white squooshy teddy with "I [Heart] NY" on its chest for Simon, and a NYC Fire Dept. t-shirt for Nicholas. I start to hum "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas".
Friday: And now the real D&L Fest 2002 begins! Mellie meets Simon, coos over him, and kisses him into near-insensibility. Nicholas is entranced by her cell phone and cool Apple laptop (though Cally's Palm proves to be equally fascinating, especially when she's playing Bejeweled). We all go out to a supermarket so Cally can laugh at the weird shapes of Canadian cheese, and come back with disposable cameras and two loaves of malt bread. Mellie shows us a bunch of super hi-res Chamber of Secrets pics, and the Eloise Midgen story she's writing (which is wonderful), and we discuss HP canonicity and the vagaries of fandom. Then we prattle on for some time with Teri and Alec in AIM chat. For dinner we have roasted chicken and gravy, mashed potatoes, glazed carrots and dilled peas, all of which I am pleased to say turn out perfectly. Dessert is the apple pie that Nicholas poked a hole in, and it also turns out fine, although I can't say I'm keen on making it again.
Saturday: After a quiet morning in, we jump in the car and drive to Harry Ten Shilling for Double Devon Cream Tea, which is every bit as yummy as it sounds. Mellie and I embarrass ourselves repeatedly with the tee puzzle on our table by being unable to finish with fewer than four pegs. Erica buys some loose-leaf tea with bubble gum in it. On the way back, we visit the Shakespearean Gardens, Callan Books and a fun local toy store called Family & Company, in which Mellie winds up on the other side of an interview for a change when a documentary camera crew stop her to ask where she's from and what she thinks of the store. We return home with assorted frivolous gifts for Nicholas and Simon, including a musical, light-up spinning top that plays "It's A Small World" very loudly (you can tell Mellie doesn't have kids), a soft teapot-shaped book that plays "I'm a Little Teapot" very quietly (you can tell Erica does), and what I had taken to be an unusually robust and handsome plastic cow, which Hubby informs me with some amusement is actually a bull. (Nicholas, after adamantly siding with me at first, eventually concedes that it might be a "daddy cow".) Dinner is lasagna and caesar salad with garlic bread, and carrot cake for dessert, all of which (mercifully) also seem to turn out OK. After Nicholas has gone to bed, we assemble the rest of the Lego "Duelling Club", and I spend a few happy moments flipping Lockhart into the air and yelling "Expelliarmus! Whee!" (Though Erica points out that Snape would probably not say "Whee", which I have to concede is true. But I would.)
Sunday: Hubby, Nicholas, Simon and I prepare for church, then sit down with E., C. and M. for breakfast. They plan to spend the morning looking around Stratford, before heading off to the airport for their respective flights back home. I can't believe it's over already. *sniff* Hugs and farewells are exchanged, and we head off to church. Returning home in the afternoon, I find the guest beds stripped and neatly moved back into their proper places, and a note beside the phone that says, in classic Mellie style, "Mwah!" followed by Cally, Mellie and Erica's signatures.
E., C. and M., you guys are great. We miss you already. Come back any time.