Tag Archives: Daniel Gillies

tom and cooper dog

Toronto Visit

Toronto is like New York, as run by the Swiss.

—Peter Ustinov

“We’re just back from Tokelau.  Jack prepped with “Freddie” at Choate a hundred years ago. Anyway, Freddie’s the Royal Imperial Emperor now.  We told him not to make a fuss, but apparently he stayed some executions, closed the banks and schools, and put on this amusing little festival for us.  The kids enjoyed it.  And you, are you still out in the West somewhere?”

—Imaginary voice of a globetrotting Kenwood matron

 It is particularly difficult for me to write about travel, knowing the sophistication of the Hill and Lake Press readership.  That many of you do not make it to the back page is some solace, but it is still intimidating. I must adopt the proper world weary, bemused, detached tone of a seasoned travel writer.  Toronto was a gnarly, way cool, itchin’ time, and I cannot wait to chill there again as it is awesome to the max!!!

My son-in-law, Daniel Gillies, is working in Toronto for a few months on Saving Hope, a medical drama for NBC.  He brought the family’s yellow lab, Cooper, for company.  With a place to stay and “Coopie-Coopie” for a tour guide, we walked most of the city.  Having a large dog brands me as more likely a local, rather than an L.A. tourist.

We were pleased to learn that dogs are permitted on subways, trains, and city buses in off-peak hours.  In Toronto patio is a verb.  In the summer weather, people love to patio outside with a meal and drink.  Cooper enjoys a bowl of water just the other side of the railing.  The city feel is European right down to the smoking on the street.   Very few people fit my antiquated stereotype of square jawed mounties and blonde farmers’ daughters from Saskatoon.  Toronto is the largest city in Canada and fifth largest in North America.  One half of the population was not born in Canada.

Toronto is multicultural, racially diverse, and in a big hurry.  The downtown seems to stay up late.  Cooper and I saw hundreds of mostly 20 to 30-somethings out after midnight.  Seeing as how Toronto is a sophisticated and cosmopolitan cultural center, Cooper and I fit right in.  What you rarely see are law enforcement officers.  It appears to be a city that polices itself.  It does not hurt to have a 75 pound lab with you, but I never felt intimidated on any of our walks.

“The Beaches” is an Uptown-like neighborhood with shops, a boardwalk, swimming areas, and a well defined dog beach, all fronting Lake Ontario.  Like Target Field, the Blue Jays’ retractable roof stadium is great for baseball, and it is right downtown.  On Daniel’s day off the three of us went to Kensington, a hip neighborhood right next to Chinatown.  Toronto has a Minneapolis feel with parks and greenery everywhere.  The city is vibrant, almost despite local government officials.

Torontan’s seem to be amused rather than incensed by their own political scandal.  Mayor Rob Ford was once arrested for threatening his wife.  He famously warned the city that the Asians are taking over.  Currently he is in the news for trying to buy and annex city park land adjacent his home.   He is an obese man, well over 300 pounds, who looks like he could swallow Rush Limbaugh.  Months ago Ford vowed to lose at least 50 pounds.  Ballyhooed as a charity fund raiser, there was promise of twice-weekly weigh-ins at City Hall.  He appears to have gone AWOL and gained weight, not only abandoning the project, but ceasing to come into his office for any reason.

 Toronto, a doggone good city.

Tom H. Cook is back in the States plotting his next trip, a return to the Twin Cities in the fall.





Getting Ready for the Wedding

To:  Jean Deatrick/Jane Johnson

Editors Hill and Lake Press

My life is a pleasant blur and, given the rush of activity around me, I am unable to submit a column for this month.  I know that the graduation issue is much appreciated by the community and I am sorry to miss the opportunity to participate, but things could not be more hectic around here.  Our daughter Rachael is getting married in a few days and her fiancée Daniel’s parents just arrived from their home in New Zealand.  We all decided that a civilized first meeting would be a dinner at our house.  Cooking, cleaning, shopping, I do not know how JoAnne did it all.  You know I’m kidding. It was a team effort, except for the bathing of the dogs.

It is the morning after and we are still basking in the glow of a wonderful evening.  Daniel’s mother Heather is warm, friendly and gracious, and his father John is perhaps even sillier than I am.  The night was uproarious, momentous, and satisfying.  How does it happen that your children become friends, adults, and good dinner table company?  It seems so recent that we had to struggle to get both Rachael and Ben to eat with us without the distraction of the phone or the TV.  To have both of our kids, with their partners, and everyone laughing, talking, and eating together, was just not something I could have imagined.

Rather than get married in any of the numerous churches, parks, botanical gardens, halls, arboretums, community centers, beaches, sweat lodges, vacant lots, bowling alleys, or private homes in Los Angeles County, Rachael and Daniel are wisely ignoring my advice and having a destination wedding in Napa Valley.  The rationale, as I understand it, is to spread the inconvenience about and have the ceremony in a spot that no one can easily access.  The hope is that it becomes a vacation getaway for everyone.  Rather than have people adjourn to a moose hall with a cash bar and dance by jukebox (my suggestion) we will all be out in a vineyard hundreds of miles from home, bonding and eating grapes.

I am glad that Rachael and Daniel made up the guest list.  They attempted to balance New Zealanders with North Americans, relatives they have never seen with close friends, and still keep it under 75 guests.  The Kerry and Bush strategists would have understood the dilemma.  Can you invite one cousin and not another?  When the dominoes start falling you can end up with a total stranger (someone’s date) taking the spot of an uncle.  I think in the first draft guest list I was on the bubble.

If  you think that others have been through similar wedding preparation madness, use this as my column and I will provide an uncensored account of the festivities next month.