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in praise of Eleanor Wachtel

Sunday afternoon of a perfectly beautiful day.  Last Monday, at 10 a.m. it was winter, and by noon, it was summer.  That’s how it is in Toronto – one hour of temperate spring.  Suddenly you throw off your winter coat and scrabble in the closet for sandals to put on your pasty white feet. We’ve had such a heavenly week that Torontonians are desperate for something to complain about and have settled on a possible transit strike.  

This was a typical Sunday, more or less, though I didn’t go for my usual Sunday morning walk. It was my friend Gina Dineen’s 50th birthday last night, which she celebrated in her usual dynamic fashion – in a local community centre with pot luck food, a cash bar with profit going to an Afghani school, and a D.J.  My only New Year’s resolution this year was to dance more, and I kept my resolution admirably last night.  So, no walk. 
But my afternoon was like all other Sunday afternoons – tethered by CBC radio.  I listened to part of Tapestry, the excellent program about spirituality at 2, though phone calls and errands got in the way.  But at 3 every Sunday, my job is to find something boring to do with my hands – cooking, ironing, dishes – while I listen uninterrupted to Eleanor Wachtel interview writers from around the world, on her program “Writers and Company.”  Today she was in Mexico City talking to Mexican writers.  As usual, she was gracious, intelligent, informed, warm, humourous, thoughtful – and as usual, we her listeners entered another world and learned a great deal.  One writer had difficulty with  English and said, at one point, “We Mexicans are not bictims.  We are not billians.”  I myself might have had to suppress a chuckle, but not Eleanor; the interview proceeded with gravitas. 
The minute it was over my phone rang and I knew who it was – my mother, who called from Ottawa to talk about the interview.  “She’s marvellous!” she exclaimed, as she always does. “What a wonderful ambassador for this country.”  And as always, I agree.  Eleanor and I have been friends since the mid-seventies in Vancouver, when she was a theatre critic and I an actress. She is in person just as thoughtful, warm and wise as she sounds on the radio.  And fun, too.  
As I sit here drinking a glass of wine and watching this lovely day begin to fade, I celebrate a friend who has found the perfect job and does it perfectly.  

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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