My new book “Midlife Solo” will be published by Mosaic Press later this year. Stay tuned!

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“Shelter,” a brand new opera

A beautiful, solitary Sunday. Well, not completely solitary, there was a great Zumba class in the Cabbagetown Youth Centre gym at 11, the last until the fall, great fun, especially when the leader, a very young local woman, called a friend to come help her lead one number – a boy of six, flailing joyfully with long skinny arms and legs, not one shred of self-consciousness. If only we stayed like that.

Back home for the solitude of the day – reading, watering, hanging a load of laundry outside, picking and cooking rhubarb, picking lettuce for dinner, reading. Now listening to Randy Bachman before I go out in a bit.

Last night, I had a moving encounter with a man I fell in love with in 1970, when I was 19 and he about 25. I’ve been privileged all my life to have loved talented, brilliant, inspiring gay men, though in the early days, I didn’t always know they were gay. I didn’t know Keith Turnbull was gay, and no one else did either.  I worked as his assistant while he directed a show at the Neptune Theatre, and I loved him desperately, a man of ceaseless energy and insight and humour with amazing taste, a gourmet cook who knew everything about everything – including flowers, for God’s sake, later he did all the flower arrangements for our mutual friends Annie and Jim’s wedding. I’ve seen him rarely since then – have heard from mutual friends about his theatre directing career, his time at Banff and then his move into directing modern opera. We met briefly in Montreal a few years ago and I gave him my book about my great-grandfather – found out last night that he actually read it, though he said 2/3 of the way through, it got to be a bit of a slog. “So many productions!” he said. “Here we go again!” But he read it all.

He has been afflicted with something like MS but without an official diagnosis – he gets around in a power wheelchair and has extremely limited mobility in his lower body, though his upper body, and his extraordinarily nimble and ferocious brain, are untouched. He utterly disregards his disability and continues to direct in Wales, Sweden, all over Canada.

Last night, Annie, Jim and I went to see “Shelter,” a new opera by two women, produced by Tapestry, a company that specializes in modern opera. Not an easy piece, but a stunning production with glorious singers and lighting, fantastic sets and costumes by another great friend Sue LePage – and direction by Keith. We had a great reunion with him as he hovered over his production and then went out afterwards to a nearby restaurant he has sussed out – wheelchair accessible with very good food and an outdoor patio so he can smoke.

And there he was, the man I loved in 1970 – hilarious, knowledgeable, generous, thoughtful, fierce, wise – impossible as only a great artist can be. He told us about his tie collection – thousands of vintage ties. I KNEW he was a kindred spirit. Wondrous.

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

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

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I came to Paris in the 1990s. Decades later I’m still here. Come with me while I roam the city, the country, and beyond.

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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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A new book by Beth Kaplan, published by Mosaic Press – “Midlife Solo”

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