When I was in grade four I made a new friend, Deborah, who lived in the house next door; a lovely old house with big trees and a piano. We played hide-and-seek among those trees, and I listened reverently as she played Neil Diamond songs. We’re very different: she’s high energy, impulsive, glamorous – blonde and driving a red car one day, redheaded and hailing limousines the next. When she was eight months pregnant with her daughter Victoria she broke her leg, but neither her pregnancy nor her cast prevented her from directing a film shoot for which she had to climb a ladder and stride about on city rooftops. When my first book came out she arrived early at the launch and had the bellboys transform the place into a lamplit, gladiola-festooned gala with the curtains opened onto the sparkling city lights.
Today, day 16 in my year of resolving to do some new thing daily, I had some catching up to do: I went to Café El Mundo to get a couple of hours in writing my murder mystery because this daily project has meant that next week I have to meet the notary to write my will, and I also have to consult Mike, who is going to show me around the weight room at the Y. Today was sunny after a day of feathery snow, which meant that after the writing I wanted to go tobogganing on Mont Royal with Dear One and Juliette. Where was I going to find time today to do something I’d never done before?
Then came a call from Deborah’s daughter, Victoria, now 24 and newly arrived in Montreal. So tonight, for the first time, I invited her over for dinner without her mother. Here’s a photo of her with my daughters after our meal of quail eggs, roast beef, sweet potatoes with maple dressing, sesame beets, scalloped potatoes, and plum pudding soaked in licorice brandy and engulfed in flames.