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Reno-land report and Roma

A moment of peace – 8 a.m. Thursday, a light dusting of snow outside, the ground shining white, but there’s lots of green still. An exceptionally easy winter, so far. But we have miles to go…

And so do we here, in Reno-land, but our way is considerably lighter too. Yesterday, the city inspector came to check out our work. I’d been worried about it, because of course, this being my renovation, nothing was being done strictly according to the book. But he was open, thorough, fair. He asked for another beam here and there, more support up there and also there; he checked the sites for plumbing, poked into drywall, saw it all, and said, Fine.

Fine. Full steam ahead. We’re on the move. Incalculable relief.

Friday the electrician comes for the huge job of re-wiring four floors, new smoke detectors throughout, a heater or two. Then the drywall starts to go up, and soon, this house will start to look like a home again.

Speaking of home: On Tuesday I went across town to my son’s apartment. When the movers came from Ottawa in December, they left 3 suitcases full of Do’s things at Sam’s, and this is the first opportunity I’ve had to see what was in them. I packed most myself in a blur after Do’s memorial, but Pat, her caregiver, had repacked and added stuff. It gave me joy to see Sam’s place – Do’s Danish teak sofa, coffee tables, chairs and lamps, her dishes. He has my dad’s U.S. army picture on display, lots of other family stuff. And he took the silver – trays, tea pots and creamers and all the rest of Do’s silver that no one else wants. It’s a wonderful thing to have a son as sentimental about all that old stuff as his mama is.

Then we went to Anna’s, where his adoring nephews tumbled about him like puppies

and we all ate dinner on Do’s dining-room table. She lives on in Toronto, appreciated and remembered.

I unpacked my own treasures when I got home. Here – a ridiculously delicate glass, carefully wrapped and labeled as was everything of Do’s – “1 WINE GLASS – SPIRALLED STEM. G. GRANDMOTHER’S?” I imagine my great-great-grandmother in Northampton, sipping sherry from this glass. Another impractical thing I’ll be stuck with and cherish for the rest of my life.


In my kitchen, and across town with my kids, the welcome weight of the past. Upstairs, on the second floor about to be rebuilt, the promise of the future.

Last night, feeling queasy perhaps after the tension of the last few months, I watched the movie Roma on Netflix. It’s had major buzz and I’ve been meaning to go to TIFF to see it, but there it was, on my lap. It’s so beautifully shot, it should be seen on the big screen, but on a cold night, with a heaving stomach, it was sheer joy to watch on my own personal screen. I understand the critics – the main character is a cipher without agency – and yet, based on the director’s own childhood memories, it’s a wondrous film, gloriously filmed, moving and intensely real. Autobiography and memoir rule!



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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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