My new book “Midlife Solo” is now available.

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much better, thanks

Winter gloom, getting over a nasty cold … not much stirring in these here parts. Here are the highlights: my Friday French conversation group, who are so smart and have so much to teach – last Friday, about the place of China in the world and why the prospect of an all-powerful totalitarian China is frightening for us all – as opposed to the relatively benign democracy flourishing in India;

– “Downton Abbey” – so good on Sunday night, so utterly delicious and exciting, I would have paid a great deal of money to see the next episodes, rather than wait a WHOLE WEEK;
– two wonderful classes on Monday and one tonight;
– and especially, this morning, meeting my friend Ken at the AGO to see the Jack Chambers exhibition.

I’m ashamed that I knew very little about this unique Canadian artist, who so loved light, and whose style changed extraordinarily throughout his career. We kept bending to read his writings about art, intense and thoughtful. Here’s what the gallery says about him:

There were many sides to artist Jack Chambers. He was a passionate defender of artists’ rights, an experimental filmmaker with an international reputation, and a painter who continually reinvented his language of expression. Chambers initially created dreamlike surrealist paintings during an eight-year stay in Spain. Back home in London, Ontario, he developed a strikingly realistic style he called Perceptual Realism. He would focus his camera on his family, his home or on favourite places around the city, and then painstakingly recreate the photographs in paint.

Four recurring themes in Chambers’s work – light, place, spirit and time – are reflected in the layout of this exhibition. Collectively they open our eyes to new ways of seeing both his world and ours.

What a pleasure, to discover an artist in the company of a dear, dear friend. We then went to the Member’s Lounge for lunch and chat. I adore Ken, a man in his seventies with the bright open face of a small boy. He was wearing snazzy jeans and pea jacket, the provenance of which he explained thus: he received a notice on his computer saying there was a 30% off sale at Banana Republic, lasting three hours. He rushed down on his bike, picked out the jeans and coat, and was asked, at the cash, to produce the bar code of the ad on his computer. “I’m sorry but I don’t have a printer,” he explained to the kid.
“No problem – just download it to your phone,” he was told.
“Young man,” said Ken, “I’m a senior citizen without a printer – do you think I comprehend the technology of a cell phone?!” The manager was happy to give him the discount. And man, he looked good.
And on the way home, I saw Toronto and its light in a new way.
I have been reading a lot, as befits January. Two excellent books about writing: “Tell it Slant: Writing and Shaping Creative Non-Fiction,” by Brenda Miller and Suzanne Paolo, and “Keep it real: everything you need to know about researching and writing creative non-fiction” edited by Lee Gutkind. Inspiring, and, believe it or not, quite different. A quirky and highly entertaining book called “The Chairs are where the People go,” by Misha Glouberman interviewed by Sheila Heti, an interesting thoughtful man expounding on his views of the world, of group interaction and this city – and I promise, he looks at things in ways you won’t have thought of before. One chapter is entitled, “Making the City More Fun for You and Your Privileged Friends Isn’t a Super-Noble Political Goal.”
And “Making Toast,” by Roger Rosenblatt, an article in the “New Yorker” turned into a book – a masterpiece of heartbreaking restraint, about a grandfather who moves in to help look after his grandchildren after his daughter dies.
In only 3 weeks, my life will be turned upside down, with my house rented out to strangers. Right now, I’m finding unbearable the thought of Newt Gingrich winning a coin toss, let alone a state. I marvel that here is a man who actually, I think, is worse than Mike Harris and Stephen Harper. In my life, so far, I do not think that a more loathsome human has run for public office. Truly, he draws on the absolute worst of human nature. If he wins –
No, it’s bleak and January. That’s enough to cope with today.
P.S. Sudden thoughts of Richard Nixon, George Wallace, others. Newt does have competition. But not much.



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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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