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a cottage swim, and Nora E. redux

I went to a friend’s cottage today, had a very refreshing swim in the little lake, wandered in the woods, and then we had lunch by the water. And the great thing was – I got there by subway.

In fact, my friend lives downtown in Forest Hill, at St. Clair and Spadina. This is her unique and beautiful garden oasis. Hard to believe you’re in the heart of the city. Now I’m looking at my own turf and thinking, could I squeeze a little lake in there somewhere?

Excitement this morning – up at 6.30, I opened my email to find a note from an editor at the London Evening Standard. Could I write 100-200 words on Nora Ephron for a special page they were preparing about her? I Googled to check – he was real, must have happened upon that brief mention in yesterday’s post. Stopping only to make a necessary cup of coffee, I got to work immediately and sent it off half an hour later. Only after banging it out did I stop to calculate. He needed the copy by 10 a.m. London time. 7 a.m. Toronto time is noon London time. So much for my brief moment in the London Evening Standard.

Here’s what I wrote, a quick riff on what I’d already written in the blog:

Only Nora Ephron could turn our universal irritation
about the aging process – the growing list of things we can no longer be, do or
remember – into not one best-selling book, but two. Reading her latest acerbic
pieces, and listening to her rant with comedic fury in interviews, I wondered
if she was truly that angry about something as inevitable as getting old, or if
her snit about aging was a highly successful schtick
she was using to keep us entertained. Her mother urged her to view
everything in life as potential comic material, and she did.

Though Ephron wrote with bitter and fluid wit about
many important things, it’s her rueful take on aging, the fuss about bad hair
and drooping neck, that’s being quoted in obituaries. And yet, despite her
public complaints about wattles and wrinkles, Nora Ephron remained strikingly beautiful. A woman who got enormous comic mileage out of the pains of aging was herself a
geless, until the end.

There’s a great outpouring about her, as there should be. I myself can’t add much, because I was not the huge fan that many women writers are. Absolutely, I admired her courage and phenomenal energy and had many great laughs, thanks to her wit. I admired how she got the perfect revenge on a bad husband, skewering him in both a book and a film. Apparently she was generous and kind. But I disliked what I thought was the shallow, sloppy sentimentality of “Love, Loss and What I Wore,” and I really thought she should shut up about her neck. She said the good thing about dying was that you don’t have to wash your hair any more. And I thought, Nora, get a wig. Get a buzz cut. Let it go. What a lot of time you must have wasted in salons. 
Though God knows, she produced more in a week than I have in a lifetime, so I should shut up too. And I will. The best line is a tweet from Denis Leary: “Nora Ephron died. Christopher Hitchens is about to find out just how bleeping funny women really are.” 



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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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