My new book “Midlife Solo” is now available.

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Rebecca Belmore and Anthropocene at the AGO

I have just rediscovered how blessedly kind and thoughtful my friends are. Emails have been flowing in with condolences and words of wisdom, several saying they felt they’d met Auntie Do because she appeared so often in this blog. Today I got a letter from dear Nick Rice telling me he has made a donation to the Ottawa Food Bank in her name.

It is a tremendous comfort, at times of stress and grief, to feel the warm strong arms of friends around you.

My brother and I have been able to laugh. He was at her apartment looking for the tax returns we need for information for the estate, and I asked him if he’d found her used Kleenex collection. “It’s in the second drawer of her dresser,” I said. “It’s extensive.” We’ve done this before; my mother had extensive collections, including recipes and knee-high stockings. Both sisters stockpiled hundreds of clean yogurt tubs. But only Auntie Do collected plastic bags, all carefully folded and wrapped in bundles with rubber bands. A lifetime’s worth.

It’s good to have a chuckle.

And today I especially need one. This morning I went to the Art Gallery of Ontario. Friends had said not to miss the Rebecca Belmore exhibit which is over on Sunday, and I’m glad I didn’t. She’s an Anishinaabekwe performance and visual artist who makes amazing installations and films. In the last room is a powerful waterfall constantly flowing that she uses as a screen, on which is projected from behind a film of her flailing in the water, then rising with a bucket and walking toward us. And then, seemingly from behind the screen of water, she flings what’s in her bucket right out at us, and the water turns blood red. It’s as if all of us standing there, we nice folk at the art gallery, are drenched in blood. And in a way, we are.

So with that cheery message, I went down to see the exhibition Anthropocene, which made me want to slit my wrists. Anthropocene is a word meaning the era of the human, when humanity is affecting the fate of the earth, and the show is a series of vast photographs that Edward Burtynsky and his team made around the world of the various ways we are decimating the planet – mining, overpopulation, farming practices, polluting the oceans, even the hunting of ivory. The artists say they don’t want to judge, just to inform, but by the end of a series of magnificent photographs of human-caused devastation to the natural world, I wanted to cry. Did cry. Was glad there were lots of school kids going through, though one group spent the time I was there gathered around the spot where you charge cell phones.

A worker trudging through a literal mountain of plastic and other garbage in India; it’s a film and we follow him for miles.

Cars damaged by a hurricane, left in a field in Texas to be fixed or junked.  I am sparing you the worst.

Read an article in the Washington Post this morning about how the appalling far-right racist the Brazilians are electing will probably destroy what’s left of the rain forest. So the planet, our children and grandchildren are doomed. It’s chilly and grey. The good news is that it’s 4.15, which means that in only three-quarters of an hour, I can have a glass of wine. Or maybe right now.

So – another laugh, thanks to my friend Chris.

My ex and I were madly in love when we first went to Ikea, and by the time we got out of there, we were nearly divorced. So this made me laugh and I just sent it to him, and he sent back a sweet note about the loss of my aunt. “Her energy knew no bounds and she mattered to a big bunch of us,” he wrote.

Thank you all. Maybe we’re not doomed, after all.

And now, wine.

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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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