Quality of life

I often muse about what makes life good. I am now a senior, some would say old, however, I feel like a young woman, well maybe not young especially when I am exhausted after a round of 18 hole golf, or start to feel little aches and pains. I have had a partial knee replacement, but it still hurts when I overuse it. I love my Pilates sessions with Alisa when I stretch out my muscles, and I adore swimming laps of breast and side strokes in the pool, nothing strenuous, but very satisfying as I get my mind in a zen state and just enjoy.

Now it seems that many of my colleagues, peers, and friends are sick or dying. We are of that age. We are also of the age that many dinner conversations revolve around sickness, pills, viruses like Covid and Noro, replacements, cancer treatment, death, dementia and the list goes on. So what really gives my life focus and pleasure is our wonderful grandchildren, family and friends, fun parties and celebrations, sports, and what I consider the whipped cream on top of all that; culture and the arts.

For me there is nothing as exciting as a live performance in a theatre. Happily, since the Covid restrictions are lifted, we can partake once again, and I love it. So I am going to tell you about some of the highlights of the past summer, fall and now, that have given me much joy. Some of those were just celebrations of holidays, themed events, evenings of laughter with friends, and some particularly stellar evenings in the theatre.

One concert that will always stand out in my memory was by the brilliant, young pianist, Yuja Wang. I had heard her play a few years before Covid, it is amazing how we measure time by Covid, but this performance will always be imprinted on my memory. First of all Steinmetz Hall in Orlando is superb. Lots of wood and excellent acoustics. Most guest artists perform one concerto and the orchestra fills the program with other works. Ms. Wang played two Rachmaninoff concertos; one in each half of the concert. Recently she played four Rachmaninoff concertos in New York with the Philadelphia Orchestra to massive acclaim. And after those pieces, she plays many encores. Obviously she loves playing and entertaining. She is absolutely gorgeous, petite, and still gets enormous sound from the piano, and then she plays so lyrically and softly. She is a marvel at 35. Back to her looks. She arrived in the first half with a mini mini cocktail dress and 6 inch platform spike heels that she used vigorously on the pedals. Our seats were too close in the front row. What was I thinking? So the first half we watched her stunning legs mostly, and her thigh high dress. Charles loved it. The second half I found two unoccupied seats where we could watch her face and hands. Much better. We were exhilarated after the concert and floated home.

Fabulous Yuja Wang

Another highlight was the Stratford Festival production of Chicago. I must tell you that I am prejudiced because we co- sponsored the production. We would support anything that Donna Feore directs for the Festival, and have been involved with 7 of her shows. What a talent! Alas she is not directing at Stratford this coming season. She will be missed and I hope she returns in the future. But back to the show. It was effervescent. Brilliant choreography as only Donna can design, fabulous performers like Jennifer Ryder- Shaw and Dan Chameroy, sets, costumes, great everything and much joy and happiness. I saw it four or five times and sat once beside a man who was on his 18th performance. Hmm.

Gorgeous stars of Chicago

one great dance number after another

what a show

Richard 111 was a knockout and Colm Feore was brilliant. In fact he was Richard complete with his deformed body. Everyone in the cast was committed and realistic and the show was in the Tom Patterson Theatre which is splendid. We had seen Death and the King’s Horseman there earlier in the season and were mesmerized by that show. (picture below)

Colm Feore the incredible Richard 3

One very spiritual occurence took place. We were part of a group who supported the building of the Tom Patterson Theatre. One of the things we did was endow a seat in my daughter’s memory. When we were in the theatre watching Horseman, I wondered where her seat was and asked the ever helpful development officer, Rachel, for the seat number. We returned to the theatre for the Richard performance, but hadn’t yet received the seat number. I settled into my seat and looked down at my arm rest and there was the little plaque for Carrie. I was thrilled and couldn’t believe the chance of that. I also was probably the only one taking a picture of an armrest. It was a good good moment and made me feel that my Carrie was close by.

One other visit to the Festival included a celebration for my sister’s birthday. We had postponed this because of Covid and decided to treat her and her man to a matinee performance of Chicago and a sumptuous dinner afterward at The Bruce Hotel. They kindly made a special menu and sealed it with wax. Everything was delicious especially the halibut crudo and the steel head trout terrine. Then Malcolm, my sister’s man, organized a party for her at her farm with the theme Keep on Truckin’. We all arrived in truckin’ outfits, well sort of. I was dressed as a trucker’s babe. It was a beautiful day, and the farm looked splendid. The food truck was open in the back and it turned out to be a tailgate event. Lots of goodies, sliders, fish and chips, and an ice cream man for dessert, well not the man, but his goods. Yummy. Lots of laughs and glee. There was music too. All good!

special menu for Carol at The Bruce and inside…

and the Keep on Truckin’ party at the farm celebrating that special Carol Birthday

guest of honour and her host

trucker’s doll laughing and enjoying

getting ice cream with her nephew in the t-shirt

nesting birds at the party too

My golf club in Toronto is really into events and we members benefit. Last summer was the kick off fo Islington Golf Club’s 100th anniversary. One of the first parties was called Le Diner en Blanc..or dinner in white, and everyone was supposed to dress in all white. The dinner was white. Things like pizza with ricotta, goat cheese and endive salad, wild mushroom agnolotti, halibut, and a white chocolate lime panna cotta. You get the picture. Jennifer, our manager, does the most exquisite floral arrangements and the ones on this particular evening were stellar and huge. Then there was a tribute to the Queen’s Plate Race Day. Many wore hats and ate lobster rolls with chips. All nice times with camaraderie.

all in white and the beauty of the course at sunset

and at Queen’s Plate event

Before Christmas dinner in April

And speaking of camaraderie, we have spent much time partying with our close friends Liz and Wouter who live down the street. We have eaten in their garden/yard/ bistro area with them and other friends , and they have joined us at our place for dinners. Even celebrated Christmas in April when we returned from Florida. Always jolly evenings, and we continue our Zoom dinners now that we are in Florida. Most Saturday nights they are perched on our dining table, well our computer with their happy faces on it. It is a great way to keep up to date.

There was one very special evening in the summer. Our neighbours had a young Ukrainian refugee living with them and we got to know this very smart, well spoken young woman, Sasha. Well spoken in English which is amazing, and she had already found a job when she arrived. We invited her for dinner with our friends, the Ouzounians, and another friend and colleague who we ran into at a local restaurant. We ate outside and I had somehow miscounted our numbers and prepared for only 6 guests. We were seven. We quickly re- arranged the table and cut our duck confit in half and divided everything else. Charles and I would share. Now our guest, Che, is a fine pianist. She had been a professor at the Faculty of Music, but was now retired. There was lively conversation and after dinner we went into the living room and Che sat down at the piano and started to play It’s a Wonderful World and we all gathered round and sang. Little Oscar loved it, and jumped up on the piano bench bedside Che and started to play. It was hilarious. If you don’t know, Oscar is our dog and loves the piano. He wasn’t great, but he added laughs to the evening. At a later date, I invited our neighbours, Evan and Christine, and Sasha’s boyfriend, Roman, to Rosh Hashanah dinner. Lots of honey for the New Year and all was well.

at the piano

Rosh Hashanah table

Finally, our dear sovereign, Queen Elizabeth 2, died in September. It was a momentous, tear filled occasion. I remember her coronation, and dearly loved her as our Monarch. I woke early to see the funeral, and fondly recalled when I had the honour of meeting her. I hosted a Royal Constitutional Gala at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa when Canada became independent, or brought home its constitution. It was an exciting occasion, and fun to practice my curtsey and to meet her. She was gracious and beautiful with creamy skin, and looked straight into my eyes. A thrill I will never forget.

I hope you have lots of community to share your life.

They say that old age is enhanced and extended, not only by good diet and exercise, but by social activities. Just a walk down the street and greeting neighbours, or shopping, will keep us lively and content. Be with others if you can.

As always,