|A merry month of July||8/4/2016
|July rang wedding bells with the unique reception put together by the bride and groom--friends and trombonists Tim and Jeanne. Tim is a great horn player and has played on my CD's, as well as in my solo concerts. Talented Jeanne has also played with me. It was a fun wedding, with music provided by a 20-piece orchestra. Tim asked me to sing "At Last", and I happily obliged. But the real bonus was the bride and groom in duet, playing their horns, accompanied by the orchestra! Ed and I had a great time.
On Independence Day, we were invited to a fantastic barbecue by our dear friends, Roz and Bob. I met Olympic Silver Medalist, Rosalind Sumners, when she skated to "After All These Years" in her final year with Stars On Ice, and the chemistry was instant; we are very fond of her husband too. Two other couples who have also become good friends of ours, joined the party. Outside, the rain was insistent, but couldn’t put a damper on enjoying each other’s company. By the way, the wet stuff held intermission--just long enough for the fabulous fireworks display!
My monthly Bunko session took place two days later and was hosted by close friend, Kristy, at Tomaydo Tomaahdo, a yummy restaurant which specializes in salads, soups and sandwiches. The dinner was tasty and fun. I didn't win anything, but it's always a good excuse to catch up with the gals.
The following Sunday, I joined Abe and his eight-member band as the closing show for Brook Park's annual city celebration. The place was packed and a lot of fun. Finding the exit to the parking lot closed off after my performance, I was unable to to get out before the fireworks started. It was just as well: I enjoyed my “punishment”, watching from my almost gas-empty car. It was the longest display that I've ever seen, lasting 45 minutes!
Monday the 18th was the first day of the Republican National Convention, hosted by our fine city of Cleveland, which was shining its brightest! Jim and I performed at an event hosted by The Cuyahoga County Republican Party. John Trones joined us. I always enjoy singing with him and our trio was a hit!
The next night, Ed and I met Roz and Bob again, this time for dinner at a fabulous restaurant called “Fire”, located at Shaker Square. We had a wonderful meal and a fun time. We don’t know when we’ll see them again, with all of their traveling and busy lives, and we were glad to tuck in two dates with them.
The next day, my sister Wendy’s son, his wife, their darling two-and-one-half-year-old daughter and adorable almost two-month-old son arrived for a three-week visit. That evening we all attended the weekly outdoor concert at bucolic Wade Oval, across from The Cleveland Art Museum. The weather was gorgeous, the lush, organically-grown grass and the majestic trees provided a beautiful setting for our picnic on a blanket…and a great band drove us all to our feet. Apart from the little ones, I also got to enjoy my beautiful niece and nephew, of whom I can’t get enough.
On the 22nd, my sister Judy flew in from France, for 10 days. When I picked her up from the airport, no one could miss that beaming smile waiting curbside. I was so happy to have my dear sister home. I was fortunate to have seen Judy and her family last April, when Ed and I visited Paris. The rest of my family hadn’t seen her since the funeral for my brother a year and a half ago. Judy made a special trip to console and grieve with our Wendy, who lost her husband and best friend three months ago, but was she also a comfort to us all. I was so lucky to have her stay with me. When my sisters and I get together, there’s nothing like it. We laugh, we cry, we share…
The next day, after a little shopping and sisterly fashion advice on my outfit a singing engagement with Abe, I had to step away for the gig, but I was able to meet up with them at Wendy’s house, after the show.
During that oh-so-hot first week, one high point was walking to our neighborhood rapid transit stop, riding the train (RTA) downtown to Public Square and watching our little niece play in the splash-pool fountains, while we sipped on slow-poured coffee.
From there, we strolled down to the newly-renovated West Bank in the Flats on the Cuyahoga River, had lunch at “Punch Bowl”, then rode The Waterfront train home. Later that same day, we gathered again for another Wednesday night concert at Wade Oval and picnicked on the lawn. It was once more a gorgeous night, this time with zydeco music by a hot New Orleans band.
Otherwise, we enjoyed a string of luscious family dinners at home, lunches out, visits to Mom, a smattering of shopping dates, an outing to Chagrin Falls, and a restorative yoga class reserved just for Wendy and we sisters, care of my good friend Joni, who owns and runs a beautiful yoga studio there.
I also squeezed in a Facebook chat with Jim Brickman and our 2016 Holiday Tour guest, 2008 American Idol Winner Kris Allen. Kris is a lovely man with a truly beautiful voice and a great sense of humor. We missed having Tracy Silverman for our chat, but we look forward to having him on the tour, starting in November! It’s going to be a great one, I can feel it in my bones!
Next to arrive was my brother, Chris, his wife and their youngest son for this growing family reunion. They drove eight hours from Charlotte, NC to stay with us for the last three days of Judy’s visit.
What a whirlwind weekend it was! Friday, the night they arrived, we all walked up to the neighborhood shopping plaza, where the parking lot was transformed into an event modeled after a German beer garden. Great food, live music and games, along with face painting and balloon sculptures for the kids were on hand, the last two being special hits with our little niece! This is a bi-monthly, family-friendly event complete with picnic tables, an array of top-notch food trucks and artisanal beer stations. It was fun running into friends there and touring a real fire truck on display for the evening.
We also took in a trip to the wonderful Cleveland Zoo, where an octopus put on a fascinating, “tentacular" show just for us, gliding side-to-side across the glass wall of his aquarium. Much better than looking him in the face, I guarantee it!
The weekend ended with a send-off brunch of homemade blueberry pancakes, prepared and cooked to perfection on all four burners of my stove by my darling brother, Chris. He and his family were the first to leave, for their long drive home. Later that day, my sister, Wendy, and I drove Judy to Hopkins airport. We spent an hour and a half winding things up before we walked her through security to bid her goodbye. There were tears flowing and new memories to cherish. It’s always so hard to see her off.
After dropping off Wendy, I got home and started cooking dinner, when a call came in from Judy, whose flight to Newark was delayed three hours (thunderstorms up and down the east coast were causing multiple flight delays and cancellations. There was no way she could make her connection home to Paris that night, so she was re-scheduled for the following morning. I was elated! And she was relieved not to experience storm-dodging and scary turbulence and she certainly didn’t want to be stuck in Newark all night. After driving back to the airport to pick her up, we met Ed for a yummy Indian dinner and stopped at Wendy’s house for a bonus night of just being together.
The next morning we arrived at CLE Hopkins at around 8:30 am. I went into the not-too-busy terminal with her, thinking that I could park temporarily without snagging a ticket. But, as she checked her bag, minutes later, I looked out the window and could see an out-of-nowhere attendant writing up a ticket. I raced off like a nut, parked in a lot a bit of distance away and ran all the way back. She never expected to see me again. A good ten minutes had gone by, but I caught her in the TSA line and we spent our last few minutes walking it together. I would have been crushed if we hadn’t been able to properly say goodbye. The $12 ticket was worth every penny! I miss not having my sister closer, but will treasure every phone call and email, until we meet again.