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still chill

Great was the excitement in the condo living-room last night. Yes, the Westminster Dog Show was on TV – both ladies here are lifelong dog lovers, so there was much delighted oohing about the various breeds, the Puli like a curly black floor-mop, the Lhasa Apso like a floaty white floor-mop. Then I insisted on tuning to the Rachel Maddow Show since we don’t get this smart, funny, left-wing TV pundit in Canada. And a treat it was, although she was announcing the bad news that a moderate Democrat will not seek re-election, decrying Washington’s partisan politics. Maddow’s perspective, that he was shafting his own party and also his country in its hour of need, was good to hear.

And the Olympics were on part of the time, though I can’t bear to watch a lot of it – I can’t take the tension of the figure skating, or the endless repetition of the same moves on the ski hills, the excited American commentators pointing out their countrymen among the competitors. But also because things keep going wrong and it makes me writhe. How can the ICE go wrong, for God’s sake? Surely ice is something we Canucks know quite well. But it did, yesterday.
But no, the greatest excitement yesterday was because Do started to do the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle and was actually filling in a few, and then we all joined in and were plowing through, and I was thinking, either this has dumbed down a hell of a lot or we have all gained 20 I.Q. points overnight. We’d almost finished it when I noticed that it wasn’t THE NYT crossword but one sponsored by a drug company. The NYT crossword was at the back as usual and was, as usual, nearly impenetrable. So much for our new I.Q. points.
News for you birders: yesterday I talked to Jim who lives across the way and by whose pool we saw a great blue heron and an egret, waiting side by side. He told me they’ve been coming for years, the former called Big Foot and the latter, Slim. Jim feeds them cocktail sausages. Slim, apparently, is so bold that he taps with his beak on Jim’s screen door and several times, when the door was open, he walked into the house in search of dinner.
We have been seeing herons and egrets in the strangest places – the other day, at a small outdoor shopping mall, there was an egret outside the shops, stalking up and down. I wonder if habitat destruction has driven them inland? Like these two elderly sisters with whom I’ve been living this week, they’re dignified and beautiful, frail but determined. In fact, I could call my mother Big Foot and her sister Slim without any stretch of the imagination (my mother takes Size 13 shoes and both women are slender.) I don’t think they enjoy cocktail sausages, though, and are not good standing on one foot, or even, sometimes these days, on two.
We went to see An Education on a cold, rainy afternoon, like seeing Stuart MacLean, the perfect thing to do with my dear companions, who were also sixteen-year old British schoolgirls at one point, some time ago. We all liked the film enormously – superb actors and direction, an extraordinarily deft adaptation of a non-fiction essay. I now must redouble my memoir work, in the hopes that Nick Hornby will adapt one of the stories of my life as he adapted Lynn Barber’s. I wonder if the stunning Carey Mulligan … Nah, that would be too much to ask. Anyway, I was never that cute.
Peter Sarsgaard was perfect in a difficult role, odd, charming and warm, even sexily vulnerable, and yet creepy. What a tightrope. What a grey, boring time in England, just waiting for the Beatles to burst into song.
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Several Floridians have said that these last weeks have been the coldest they ever remember here. The fruit and vegetables may be seriously affected. As we go about in our jackets and hoods, we are constantly aware of the lunatic right of American politics. A huge truck driving in front of us yesterday had a bumper sticker, a mockery of the one that reads I Heart Manatees – the big, blobby sea mammals that need protection here. His sticker read I Propeller Manatees. The Times has a major article today on the all-white Tea Party people, who think that their greatest enemy is the government.
And yet I also marvel at the relaxed friendliness of strangers, the bright politeness of servers in restaurants and shops. “Y’all have a great day now,” they say with unforced cheer, as if they really mean it.
I’ll be happy to be home soon in freezing egret- and manatee-less but not cheerless Toronto.

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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.

Some Blogs I Follow

Chris Walks
This blog evolves. It once was about travels. Now it’s a reason to be at the keyboard that I value.

Theresa Kishkan
Theresa Kishkan is a writer living on the Sechelt Peninsula on the west coast of Canada.

I walk on. With my feet, and in my mind as well.

Carrie Snyder
Wherever you’ve come from, wherever you’re going, consider this space a place for reflection and pause.

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