This afternoon, called my dear friend Margaret in Vancouver to wish her a belated Happy Birthday, and at the end of our catch-up chat, she said, “I’d like you to do me a small favour.”
“Of course,” I said. “What would you like?”
“Take a few deep breaths please,” she said, to my surprise. “I can hear in your voice how stressed you are, how much is weighing on you. So take a few breaths and give yourself some time. Why don’t you hop on a plane and come out and visit?”
Now that’s a friend. I didn’t realize I was sounding tense, especially as today was my first real day off in some time. The terrible strain of dealing with my aunt’s death and then the aftermath is ending, though not done yet. Teaching ended Thursday, and Friday I sent the 735th draft of the memoir to an editor to take a look. The renovation is underway and, yes, very stressful with a ton to be done this coming week, and incredible disruption to come, but at the same time, I have a great team. And it will all be worth it, no? Let’s hope so.
Thank you, Margaret. I’ll try to breathe.
Thursday my home group held our annual holiday potluck before the class. They were as always generous, the food was wonderful, and the company even more so. Here’s not quite the whole group, but some, before the feast:
And then they read one glorious story after another. I love my job.
On Friday late afternoon, Eli arrived for a sleepover with Glamma, perhaps the last in awhile because the house is going to be ripped apart. He’d had a full day of school and then after-school soccer and still was bouncing off the walls. But the best thing – we read lots more of “Charlotte’s Web.” He and his mother have already read the first two Harry Potters, so I was afraid we were too late for Charlotte, but no. It gives me joy to share with my grandson the wry, wise voice of E. B. White disguised as a rather snippy spider.
I woke at 4 a.m. to the sound of wailing – he missed his mother. I got into bed with him for a bit, till he settled and went back to sleep, and then at 7.30, he got into bed with me for a bit, until the day called, and we were off. We did his favourite dinosaur puzzle competitively this time, he set up a system whereby when you put in a piece you got a mark, and the most marks win. He won. He also won at Snakes and Ladders, twice. And let me tell you, I did my best.
We went in the rain to the Cabbagetown Christmas Fest, where the wonderful Childrens’ Book Bank was giving away books and there were cookies and hot chocolate and (almost) sleigh rides.
But we had to hustle off; it was a gloomy afternoon and we were going to see “Ralph Breaks the Internet.” Which turned out to be funny and clever, perhaps a bit too much for my friend, who had an earache and wanted to go home before the end. So we did. He was happy to see his parents and his brother, who is the most enthusiastic small person. An old mattress is Ben’s “bouncie” – Anna just leaves it on the living-room floor and he leaps onto it from the sofa or the chairs, face first, somersaults, jumping … A trampoline is definitely in the future, and a gold medal in gymnastics.
From there downtown to see my friend Stella Walker’s one-woman show “Stellavision.” What a brave soul she is – she wrote and produced it, wrote and sang the songs in her operatic voice and made us howl with laughter – a very talented and eccentric artist, a very enjoyable experience. My actual brilliant friend.
Tonight, the huge Sunday night treat of TV. “The Durrells in Corfu” is over and much missed, but now there’s “My Brilliant Friend,” one of the best television productions ever, and before it TVO’s fantastic show, “The Life-sized City,” a host who goes around the world showing what different cities are doing to create community. This time he was in Milan, which I found especially interesting as my dear Bruce and I are talking about meeting in Italy next year, possibly in Milan and Bologna. I am immersed in 1950’s Italian culture after watching “Friend.”
The basement part of the reno is nearly done; that was the easy part. Now I have a week to pack away my entire life and get ready for the main onslaught; wall smashing and floor ripping begin Dec. 4. Only one word to say: YIKES.