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Happy Victoria Day

I feel sorry for those poor people with cottages. All that work, schlepping stuff to and fro, endless driving, dealing with boat houses and docks and all that confronting of overgrown nature, bugs, lakes – well, lakes are nice, yes, but still, the problem is that cottage people never get to experience the city on holiday weekends. Without them in it, the city is a whole new place, tranquil, still, empty, and those of us lucky folks without cottages get to enjoy it.

Just had the first barbeque of the year. Not an easy thing to arrange, after my daughter took my old barbie last month. Had to find a new one, much checking of Consumer Reports and sales flyers. Find one on sale at Sears, go to Sears, am persuaded to get a Sears Mastercard which I will never use again in order to get a further 10% discount. It is delivered to the store a week later. Go to Sears loading dock, locate the thing, call a van cab which takes me home. My son is there to unload the giant box.
Next step – find someone to assemble it. A week later, handyman Dan arrives, the uncle of a friend of my daughter’s whom I met over many beers at her birthday party. It takes him nearly an hour to assemble it, and then he drives me to the hardware store to pick up a propane tank – getting propane is hard without a car – and does lots of other useful things around the house.
So today, Sunday of a holiday weekend – time to get the deck furniture out of the shed. The furniture was given to me by my friend Suzette, who has a spiffy deck. My deck is not spiffy so her old furniture is perfect here, with a few artful throws over the recently disintegrating bits. Get it out, get the hose, hose it down, wipe it off, let it dry, get out the cushions and let them air in the sun. One of them unfortunately is covered with raccoon poo. I am tempted to throw it out, but no. So, an unpleasant encounter, some disinfectant, soap, scrubbing. Haul all the furniture to the deck.
The hibiscus which came outside a few days ago after a winter inside is being damaged by the intense sun, the leaves turning white, and it’s too heavy to move myself, so get out the big sun umbrella, drag it to the deck, drag the base, set it up to protect the hibiscus. And then, must get groceries – tomorrow is a holiday. The liquor store is packed, NoFrills also. Forgot tomatoes, go back, and swing into Shopper’s to buy massive quantities of Lindt chocolate and sunblock, both on sale. Buy a “New Yorker” because my subscription hasn’t started yet. Fill the bird feeder. Do some weeding. Do some watering. Pick the last of the rhubarb and make a rhubarb something or other while listening to Eleanor Wachtel interview Seamus Heaney, the Nobel Prize winning poet. He sounds lovely but what he says is so dense sometimes I can barely understand what he is talking about. More watering and weeding. And then – turn on the barbeque for the first time. It works! It’s huge, like driving a cabin cruiser. Barbeque vegetables and a burger, lifting the heavy lid up and down. Stop doing stuff; sit on the deck with dinner, a glass of wine and the “New Yorker.”
It took a bit of effort to get here, but at last – bliss.
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Last night – the opera. Peg, a former writing student, is in the opera chorus, and whenever there are cheap tickets, she emails her friends, including moi. Last night, for $20, I had a box seat for Donizetti’s “Maria Stuarda.” Glorious.
And the night before, even better – a student’s book launch at the Four Seasons Hotel, my first “semi-formal book launch.” There are always amazing people in my classes, but Mercy was truly extraordinary, a former nun from India who left the convent to marry the man she’d fallen in love with when she was twelve years old and who’d come to the convent to seek her out. She arrived in my class, despite a full-time teaching job and a great deal of family caregiving, to write the story of her life and their love – eventually hired my friend Margaret as an editor and Terry as a copy-editor, finished the manuscript and self-published a book called “Vows.” At the launch, surrounded by her children and grandchildren, she spoke of her love for Earl, and he spoke of his love for her, and then people wiped the tears away and bought the book. Mercy introduced me as her writing teacher, and as always happens at events like that, people came to tell me their stories, hoping, I guess, that I’d say, that is an incredible story, you must write that down. And that is what I said.
It’s dusk; the birds chatter, I can hear a neighbour in deep discussion, and otherwise, nothing. Despite all this holiday restfulness, there’s sadness on Sackville Street today. Across the street and down a few houses was a family – a former CBC music host, his much younger wife and their daughter, who’s 12. Carolyn was one of the neighbourhood angels, an ever-cheery soul who greeted everyone. African-Canadian, she moved slowly, always calm. This morning, she was out watering her front garden and dropped dead. A police car happened to be going by, and the cops saw her and got her into an ambulance, but it was too late. She was fifty.
There’s a new hole in the world, right on this street. She was fifty, and her daughter is twelve. My heart aches.

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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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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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