Summer In the City Part Two

When I first started writing Suddenly 70, I promised I would touch on many topics. You have shared my adventures around the world, and that will continue, but I will also talk about being a grand parent, facing old age, sickness, death and the big M- memory.

This past summer in Toronto the weather was not great. It rained at least one day every week, usually a golf day, but I still had a wonderful 6 months there. Not so wonderful was the fact that I lost a few dear friends, or friends lost their husbands. It seems to be that time of our lives. The strange thing is that one of my oldest music buddies/mentors, Stuart Hamilton and I would meet only twice yearly for elegant dinners in a fancy restaurant called Scaramouche and get caught up. We would email, he always called me Riki Soprano, but now that he is gone it saddens me just knowing he isn’t there, if that makes sense. It was similar with Juliette Cavazzi, a bigger than life personality, and former Canadian singing star. She lived in Vancouver and I would make a point of lunching with her when I was in her town, usually at Le Crocodile, one of her favorites, but mostly I called her every few months, and I miss the sound of her voice saying, ‘Hello, dear’, and knowing that she was there. The toughest thing is taking both their names off my Christmas greeting list.

Stuart and Juliette now gone but never forgotten

One of my oldest friends, Kathleen, lost her brilliant husband, John, and although in recent years I only visited a few times as they lived a distance out of Toronto, I know she will have a big hole in her life, and I can only keep in touch, and hope that she has the strength to forge a new existence after so many years with her dear John. Not easy. Another friend, Liz, lost her husband to a rapidly progressing cancer, and she is trying to come to grips with her new status. The nights will be long. The holidays will be poignant. And so it goes. Perhaps as challenging, is our friend, David, who has dementia and is rapidly changing from the man he once was to a new reality. This is heart breaking for his wife, Cathy and his children, and to my Charles, a longtime friend, and to myself. Every day we hear of friends with diseases and life challenges.

I worry about the big M, and read every article that talks about memory trying to discover what to do to prevent one of the many diseases of the aging brain. I exercise, eat well, and keep involved socially. I will spend hours trying to remember a friend’s name, one who I haven’t seen in years, and feel really delighted when I do. I make lists and have little pads in the kitchen, bathroom and den, and I find dozens of old lists in my purses and pockets. Of course, then I have to remember to actually read the list when I am shopping. I will get home and suddenly know that I forgot something, and find it scribbled on a scrap of paper. Of course my handwriting could be improved as even I have troubling deciphering it.

So many of my friends are dealing with elderly parents who are facing a big change in their lives moving to a care facility. They are watching parents whom they looked up to become children who they are looking after. I lost my parents when I was a teen, and my daughter when she was a teen; see, if you haven’t read my story, as my experience is different. My husband and I are just about finished putting the final touches on our wills. It is very important to have things organized. It is something that is so easy to put off, who wants to think about their mortality? But it is absolutely necessary to do now.

On the other side are the thrilling times with our grand children. The newborns are truly incredible, and my sister is watching daily the changes in her littlest grand son, the flicker of an eye, the slight smile, the beautiful smooth skin, tiny perfect hands and feet. This is glorious. I get a thrill when my Facetime lights up on my phone, and it is my West coast daughter-in law, Kate, calling, and I know little Sway who is a year will be cooing and moving around on my tiny screen. My Quebec grand daughters Rose and June now 9 and 11 are not only verbal, but great readers, and I get much pleasure when they say, ‘I love you, Nana.’ What a way to start or finish a day.


Grandpa fascinates baby Sway






Scary girls with great makeup

So yes, the chapters in my life are moving along, sometimes at too rapid a pace, but the joyous times, the glass half full rather than half empty times make it an exciting journey. Which brings me back to my summer in the city. I have already told you about my 30th anniversary, our trip to Ottawa, and our grand daughters’ visit to see us in Toronto: all that took place early in the summer. Then Charles and I went to France:,,

download weill

cover of CD showing lots of leg ah-youth

When we returned to Toronto we continued enjoying the culture that the city offers. The highlights during the summer that have been etched in my memory: The Toronto Symphony orchestra presented one of my favorite works, Kurt Weill’s Seven Deadly Sins. I had performed it many times, once even at Stratford Summer Music. It is a hauntingly beautiful and eerie work written for a singer and a dancer who embody the same character, Anna. Wallis Giunta, mezzo-soprano, and Jennifer McNichols, dancer along with a quartet of male singers who also danced, were incredible. The direction/choreography also by Nichols as well as the extraordinary singing were riveting. During intermission before this work, there was a brief lecture by Kim Kowalke, who heads up The Kurt Weill Foundation, giving some background information about the work. After he spoke I introduced myself to him and he said he had my Kurt Weill CD on his shelf and loved it. That gave me real pleasure, especially as it was released 31 years ago; back to being a senior.


scenes from brilliant Seven Deadly Sins with Jennifer Mc Nichols and Wallis Giunta- Toronto Symphony



Guys and Dolls dance with the athletic male cast- Stratford


Romeo and Juliet – Stratford


Riki and her fave director Donna Feore backstage at Stratford in lace

As usual I visited the wonderful theatre town, Stratford, and saw Guys and Dolls more than once, which I loved, directed by incredible Donna Feore, and Romeo and Juliet, a production that was young and vibrant directed by Scott Wentworth, and a truly delightful and entertaining The Mad Woman of Chaillot, although not everyone agreed with me on that one.

I also took part in a fun two day golf tournament, the Ryder Cup, where we compete on one of two teams, and I chaired another tournament called The Past Captains /Past Presidents which is held mostly as a thank you to those of us who have volunteered over the years to help run the women’s section activities at Islington Golf Club. It is a club full of camaraderie and we have the best chef, William Tucker, who is creative and contemporary. And speaking of food, aside from our local fave, Azarias which we can walk to from our house, and which serves small delicious meals of a variety of foods in a noisy electric atmosphere, we found a new delightful sushi place called Skippa about a 20 minute drive downtown. The hyperlink gives a good description of the offerings which are limited, but excellent. Ian, the chef/ owner trained with Kaji who is the chef of a special restaurant, special in that it serves amazing Japanese Kaseki food and worth the price every once in a while. It is very near us, about a 7 minute drive. And if you have been following my blogs you will know how much food means to me.

Charles  with Chef Tucker and some of his offerings at Islington Golf Club 
Ian of Skippa restaurant and above some of his offerings
Views of the Royal Ontario Museum and the ART Gallery of Ontario-Toronto

So after I enjoy the culture of the city, the food, some shopping at Sherway Gardens ,we always make a trip to the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Royal Ontario Museum usually travelling to midtown by subway, about a 20 minute journey with no traffic or parking headaches. I try to swim three times a week at the indoor, ancient public pool, Gus Ryder, and walk many times a day with Oscar, our doggie. We visit with friends, Charles goes gliding, although the weather was not welcoming for this activity, and we entertain. We try to see all our friends in Toronto and keep abreast of what is going on to make up for our six months away. We also try to keep as active mentally and physically as we can, and as as they say, ‘Do not go gently’.

In September we headed off for three short trips which I will tell you about in my next posting. I hope you will join me.




5 thoughts on “Summer In the City Part Two

  1. This is a very nice blog. And thank you for mentioning David in such a kind and loving way. xo me >


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