My new book “Midlife Solo” is now available.

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What do the rest of us think?

What I’m wondering, on this very fine if chilly morning, is what the rest of the country has made of all the G20 protest hooha. Because in this fairly liberal bubble of downtown Toronto, it’s easy to forget the voters of Truro, Riviere du Loup, Moose Jaw, Cowichan Bay, and especially anywhere in Alberta. I wonder if they agree with many of the citizens of this great city, that it was strange how freely and for how long the hoodlums were allowed to roam and destroy; how conveniently the police cars appeared, ready to burn. All of them, ready for their close-ups.

I would think that those far-flung citizens do not.

My concern is that they saw the cars burning, that shot of the masked guy trying to smash a window which played over and over and over, and were glad that our Prime Minister spent more than a billion dollars protecting us from such people.
They don’t know what really happened in Toronto, that our city was turned into an armed camp, that thousands lost their livelihoods for days or weeks – including my own son, whose restaurant on the island was closed down since no one could get there – because of Harper’s decision to hold the event in the heart of the city, instead of somewhere which could have been protected more easily. They don’t know about the hundreds illegally, unfairly detained, including the bystanders boxed in in the pouring rain on Sunday, for hours, without water, information or release.
They just see the photo ops of Harper smiling with Obama – do you detect, incidentally, the slightest true warmth emanating from our P.M., despite the smile he has finally learned to slide across his face? Not one iota, because the eyes still give him away – and not what it cost this city and its people.
And for what? So that Harper could push his conservative financial agenda on world leaders, including, unbelievably, Obama. Who, of course, is perfectly free to agree to something and then forget all about it. So what, what, what was the point?
I’m playing a game these days and I urge you to do so also: let’s spend the billion some other way! Wheeeee! Yesterday, I waited 15 minutes for the Carlton streetcar at rush hour, had to shove my way on, it was so crowded, hot, antiquated. Hmmm – a billion would have done a lot for transit. Or how about for our hospitals and health care, or day care, or the arts, or to help people laid off by “austerity” measures aimed at the poor? Imagine, even – dare I? – a billion for schools. I think if I could spend the billion, it would be for our children’s schools – the arts, sports, books, gym equipment and pools, teaching assistants.
What would you spend your billion on?
Sigh.
Okay, enough. I keep saying that, but it’s not going away. Not for those of us who live here.
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I am reading a book called “Insectopedia” by Hugh Raffles, in an attempt to rid myself of a lifelong curse: a phobia of insects. I’m way better than I used to be in childhood – don’t scream out loud any more, usually, unless it’s a big insect. I speak nicely to the small spiders that live in my house; I admire webs. But big ones … terror. I dislike that about myself, that the phobia affects travel decisions, and want to get rid of it.
This book is “a stunningly original exploration of the ties that bind us to the beautiful, ancient, astoundingly accomplished, largely unknown, and unfathomably different species with whom we share the world.” I hope by the end to be able to look at bugs and see their extraordinary uniqueness, not to recoil in fear.
An early chapter is about Cornelia, a woman who goes to sites exposed to nuclear waste, like Chernobyl, to collect and paint the malformed insects she finds there. She keeps a journal of her encounters with insects, people, places. “The books are beautiful objects, and the journal is relaxed and personal, full of anecdotes, reflections and asides,” writes Raffles. “She recalls how in Moscow, Idaho, two teenage girls in town for a football game entered her room, examined her microscope and collecting equipment, one of them asking if she were a witch, taking her hands, and sensing an intense vibration, a vibration that Cornelia sensed also.

Cornelia wrote: “The girl asked me what she had to do to become a person like me. I told her that she has to always listen to her heart and never worship a human being. If she wanted to find solace, she had to turn to an animal or a tree for help.”
Those of you who follow this blog know that for solace, I cannot turn to the crabby cat with whom I live, who’d rather slash and hiss than provide comfort. I am always calmed by the animals at Riverdale Farm, the goats and sheep, pigs and horses. But in my garden, in my neighbourhood and my city, are many old trees. Still feeling the aftermath of the weekend’s assault, today I’m going to go out and hug a few.

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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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