Wednesday, August 29, 2018

R.I.P. Ann Ireland

My boss at Ryerson for 20 years was Ann Ireland, a writer who handled her literary career and a big academic job with patience, grace, and humour, dealing with university administrators' bottom lines and complaining writers. Her latest book was launched this spring, and only a few weeks ago, she and I were corresponding about a Ryerson internet issue.

Three weeks ago, Ann was diagnosed with an incurable cancer. She died a few days ago. According to her best friend Sarah, she was at peace.

If there is ever a reminder for us all to live as if each week is our last, it's Ann's story. How grateful I am that it was thoughtful, efficient Ann who kept us all going at the Chang School for so long. My heart goes out to her family.

So - getting caught up. Lynn and I keep busy, and a certain amount of rosé is being drunk, as you can imagine. A certain amount of talking is going on. On Sunday evening we watched the finale of Sharp Objects - she hadn't seen any of it so it took me half an hour to prepare her - what a terrific series! Dark dark dark, a story about twisted, deeply damaged women. Very good television.

On Monday, a documentary, McQueen, about the British bad boy designer, Alexander McQueen, a doc recommended by my friend Nettie Wild, a prizewinning doc maker herself, so a recommendation to take seriously, though even so, I wondered if I'd enjoy a doc about a famous clothing designer. But it was very good, very moving, not what I expected - who cares about haute couture? But this is the story of the pudgy son of a British cab driver who adores fashion from childhood and ends up at far too young an age running Givenchy in Paris - having to come up with many shows a year and burning himself out - "a talent torched by its own incandescence," as says the New Yorker, about McQueen and his countrymate Amy Winehouse.

Lynn and I walked after along Millionaires Row - Bloor Street - Prada, Chanel etc. - and I saw it all through new eyes. Though truly, even after what I learned in the doc, it all just looks expensive and silly to me. Mind-blowingly, ridiculously expensive.

Yesterday's excitement: we went to an arriba dance class at the Y, the two of us trying to keep up with the flashing feet of a too-fast instructor. And then to the car rental place to meet Anna, who drove us to a palace of consumption: Costco. Believe it or not, my first visit there, and as everyone's does, my jaw dropped. A huge jar of Maille mustard for $5.50! Lynn pointed out this was far less than they pay in France, let alone at Loblaws. So much stuff, so very, very much stuff and free samples on every corner. Cheese, tons of cheese. Exciting and eventually, overwhelming.

Now we are about to prepare for a neighbourhood gathering - three of my Francophone neighbours coming for an aperitif with ma copine from Provence. And yes, again, a little bit of rosé will be consumed. It's very hot. Nothing like a cold drink to cool you down.
Denis, some random movie star, and Ken, on the Toronto Islands
Monsieur at work on the deck
Madame at work in the kitchen. Chopping. We do a lot of chopping. And eating, talking, drinking, walking, watching TV, and enjoying every single bit of the day. We've been really good at that since we were teenagers. Grateful to be alive, together, laughing.

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