Friday, October 17, 2014


Last March I blogged about my sad experience of dining at one of my favourite restaurants, Grasslands, with friends, and realizing with horror part way through the meal that one of my beloved gold earrings was missing.  We did a really thorough search of the restaurant, the coat rack area, everywhere, but were unable to find it. I was really heartbroken.  I'd worn those earrings every day for nearly 30 years, since Ivaan had made them for me. They are as integral to me as my signature.

The following week, my friend Esmaeil made me a replacement for my lost earring.  I was thrilled to have it, but because it was new, it was less worn looking than its mate, and the clasp gripped my earlobe more tightly, meaning I needed to rotate my earrings several times a day.

Five months later, my nephew Angus and his beloved, Sara, were visiting, and we were mulling over options for dinner.  Sara mentioned that she was curious about Grasslands, as Angus, Ivor and I had dined there on New Year's Eve.  It was a brilliant suggestion.  I was telling them the tragic story of my lost earring as we drove over, and it felt creepy going in there, as I hadn't been back since that day in February.

I recognized the young woman who was maitre d' that evening, and she recognized me. She'd been our server back in February. She said, "I have something of yours."  I nearly fainted on the spot.  They'd found my earring during a thorough cleaning a few days after I'd lost it, she'd put it aside for me, but one by one, all the staff had moved on to other jobs or cities, and she was the last of the original staff, and the only one who knew me by sight. She was terrified I might come in while she was on vacation or off duty, and no one would know where my earring was stashed.

Let's just say there was a larger than usual tip left that night.  It's good to have a spare, but nothing feels as glorious as both my original earrings. I have always said I plan to be buried in Ivaan's old dressing gown, the most comfortable item of clothing on earth, but I'm inclined to think I'll sleep better if I have my earrings on as well.

Here they are. And, incidentally, Sara loved Grasslands as much as we thought she would.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


On September 13, 2010 I wrote a blog post about the first time Ivaan heard the Cecilia String Quartet perform.  The Quartet was in its infancy when we first heard them in early 2005.   We'd just experienced an unimaginable tragedy and felt so broken in spirit that I'm amazed we even came up with the idea of attending a series of informal concerts  at different locations around the University of Toronto campus.

We attended the concert, Ivaan was enraptured by the performance, and when he came home he knew he wanted to present the members of the Cecilia String Quartet with pieces of his jewellery.  He chose dragonfly brooches and asked me to deliver them to the Faculty of Music along with a note from him.

Today is the 10th anniversary of the first performance of the Cecilia String Quartet.  Over the years they have become world renowned, have won impressive awards and released recordings.  For reasons I'd love to know, however, they haven't aged in the slightest.  To mark their 10th birthday, they sent an email saying they were having an informal concert in the lobby of the Edward Johnson Building (Faculty of Music) at U of T at noon today. There was absolutely zero chance I would have missed this occasion.  The timing was perfect.

The Cecilias are quite well known for their approachable manner of engaging the audience.  They often explain interesting things about the pieces they are going to play, and it's more like having friendly banter with a good friend than being educated on the finer points of the piece of music you're about to hear. They are also very funny.

After the first couple of pieces on their program, violinist Sarah Nematallah stepped up to the microphone and told a little story about the very concert at the Faculty of Law which we'd attended in early 2005.  I was seated on a bench against a wall, with people standing in front of me, when I suddenly realized that she was speaking about our concert.  She said she'd thought it wasn't a successful concert and was surprised, a few days later, to receive a package from Scott St. John, who was the Quartet's earliest mentor, containing four of Ivaan's dragonflies and his note saying how much the concert meant to us.  As she spoke, I suddenly realized all four members of the Quartet were wearing their Ivaan dragonflies.

I was so touched, my eyes filled with tears and I had to swivel round and face the wall while I composed myself.  The concert was beautiful. I know Ivaan would have been delighted by Sarah's shout-out to him.  Today, October 15th, is the 10th anniversary of the Cecilia String Quartet's first performance.  A month from today is the 10th anniversary of the death of our beloved boy, the reason we had gone to hear them play in the beginning, and I just felt we had come full circle.

I didn't stay to thank Sarah, Min, Caitlin and Rachel in person, but I'm doing that now.  And Caitlin, your joke about the want ad in the classifieds - you had me laughing!

Friday, October 10, 2014


Here are three photographs taken of my 30-second video on the TTC.  At least now I know what time I can go onto a subway platform and see myself on the silver screen.

Did you notice that not one person on the platform is looking at the screen? Fame is fleeting. Ten days on the subway, and already I'm a has-been.

Thursday, October 9, 2014


Today is Ivaan's birthday. It's the start of a new decade for him.  I'll be celebrating the occasion with a dinner party in the store for a bunch of his favourite women.  I've been cooking like a fiend.  My only regret is that Ivor, our Vice President and right-hand man, will not be on hand to join in the festivities, but we'll take some photos of the fragrant Persian food I've been making, and the guests, and will send them along to him.

As usual, Ivaan's portrait will be on the wall, gazing down at us (and the food).  I know he's proud that he's left such an important legacy and that he and his art are still as much appreciated as ever, nearly six years after he departed the planet.

So, here's to you, beloved husband.  Many happy returns of the day. This photo, taken by our friend Slava in August 2008, captures Ivaan  to perfection. Happy Birthday, Ivaan.
Ivaan Kotulsky © 2008 Slava Lukashenkov