June 29, 2011

Toronto trip

Here's a quick-and-dirty recap on our trip to Toronto.

Feathers B&B
We arrived Thursday night and after getting lost trying to find the intersection of Bloor and Bathurst from the airport, finally made it to Feathers B&B. I read about it online -- it's a lovely Victorian home with a gracious host. May keeps up the house beautifully and does lay a yummy cold breakfast spread. The house is a bit on the shabby side (after all, it's very old), the beds and pillows were soft, but everything was very clean.

We spent Friday buying Rik a new Tilley hat, visiting a friend from my days in Washington DC and relaxing a bit. Rik's parents showed up from Montreal around 6 PM and after changing clothes, we all went north to the Shabbat dinner hosted by friends of the bar mitzvah boy's family. Imagine big hellos all around, with me trying to remember who is who from the last time, four years ago. And of course everyone trying not to notice that my head is wrapped in a shmateh.

On Saturday morning we went to the synagogue early because Rik was honored with the Kohen aliyah (he did a great job). Services were at Chabad at Flamingo, a new, large Chabad congregation a few blocks from the family's home. I am not sure if the family belong to this shul or if they just attend services there. Things in Toronto seem more fluid in this respect than in Seattle, where almost no synagogues permit a celebration for non-members.

Mum and I sat upstairs in the women's balcony, on comfy chairs with very high headrests. Sad to say, not one woman wished me a good Shabbes or even said hello. The rabbi made his way upstairs with the Torah scroll and he was very pleasant, clearly recognizing who was not part of his regular attendees and welcoming us. He also spoke for more than five minutes before every one of the seven aliyot (oy!) and also gave a kind of rambling, twenty minute sermon. I enjoy services, have reasonably good Hebrew and go to our Conservative shul every week. This service was chaotic in the typical Chabad style and lasted from 9:15 AM to 12:50 PM. By the end, one lone man was trying to say the mourner's kaddish while around him, everyone else was taking off their tallit and talking loudly. I really did not enjoy the service. To his credit, the bar mitzvah boy read the entire kriah in excellent, clear Hebrew as well as the haftorah.

After lunch and a Shabbes nap, we went to visit Mum's girlfriend of 60-some years. Her daughter, son-in-law and grandson (and girlfriend) joined us for a marvelous sushi dinner, and our visit lasted several hours.

On Sunday morning we met other cousins of Rik's for breakfast, and then Mum, 'tB and I walked along the main drag on Bloor shopping and browsing, while Rik met up with his high school photography teacher, who had driven from Montreal just to see Rik for the first time in many decades. We all enjoyed the afternoon, came back to the B&B to nap, and then changed for the bar mitzvah party.

The party was very east coast and kind of over the top for what we experience in Seattle. In the lobby of the big Conservative synagogue they had rented, there were hors d'oeuvres, an open bar, a photo station (get your printed photos at the end of the evening), a trio if singers and LOTS of people. We arrived at 5:30 PM to be in a formal photo with the family and the doors to the main room didn't open until 7 PM.

Us at the party -- me in the wig
The room was decorated with a baseball theme, a large stage with an enormous video screen showing a special video of the boy plus highlights of major league baseball. (Did I mention that the dad is a photographer?) Twenty tables of ten each -- lots of kids -- plus a long table for the immediate family at the back of the room, facing the stage. A DJ, dancers, and piped music. A horah introducing the boy, with plenty of dancing. I tell you, it was hard not to get up and dance, but in addition to trying to keep myself from shaking hands, hugging and kissing all weekend, I'd been warned that the boy was running a fever of 103 degrees. I asked the gentleman sitting next to me, in what respect does this differ from a wedding? His answer: the decor is probably different.

We were served an appetizer of a crepe with mushrooms in sauce; then salad. Plenty of speeches. By 9 PM they were serving dinner (roast chicken AND roast beef, vegetables, potatoes). Around 9:30 we four gave up. The music was too loud for any of the adults to talk to one another, we had been there for four hours, and I'm not crazy for parve kosher desserts. (If it doesn't have real cream and butter, I really don't want it.) We left and learned that the family didn't go home until 12:30 AM. That includes both sets of grandparents, who must have been in their 80's.

Rik eats a smoked meat sandwich!
On Monday morning we joined the close family and out of town friends for brunch. The boy was still highly feverish, and so we left on the early side to ramble around the city before taking the 'rents to the train station. Rik and I napped and in the evening went to Pancer's deli for Montreal-style smoked meat sandwiches. So delicious, and not salty the way I remember the smoked meat from my last trip to Montreal. (The other choice would have meant taking yet another drive north to Thornhill, and Rik had already driven there twice a day, every day during our stay.) We crashed early and made our way to the airport at the crack of dawn on Tuesday. Everything again went smoothly on our trip back to Seattle, and we were happy to be in our own home, with Bobka the dog, again.


  1. More pictures!hahahaha Lovely couple and your wig looks amazing on you. :)

  2. Theresa12:01 PM

    I too thought the picture of you and Rik were wonderful. Both looked very happy.
    Glad you all had a good time.