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back to the garden

A day of extreme vileness – freezing rain, sleet, pouring onto the snow already heaped about the city streets. The TTC more than useless. Kevin was called in once more to snowplow duty, leaving Ed working alone for the day. It was very quiet here for once. Ed covered the new floors upstairs with paper and cardboard and began mudding the walls. There is a lot of mudding to do. I’m learning so much.

Truly, this has been one of the strangest winters of my long, strange trip of a life. Even as I go through the trauma of the reno, the fraught anxiety about money and the myriad decisions and arguments with various partners in the project, I am getting more work done than I have in ages. Normally, I am blithely unencumbered with lots of time to work, and yet manage to fritter time away. But now, with chaos on all sides, I sit here and write. Or revise, which is the secret – I can’t start new writing, that would be too challenging. But I’ve pulled up old essays and realized there’s a ton of work nearly done. Two essays have been worked on and sent out, and one put aside for now to ripen. The other day, I realized it was time to write about my uncle Edgar Kaplan, who for years was one of the most famous bridge players in the world. I started opening my old Documents files – and discovered I’d already written a more than 10,000 word essay about him. And it wasn’t half bad. IMHO.

Yesterday, Kevin and Ed were working elsewhere, there were no electricians or floor guys, just an hour-long meeting with JM. I still was feeling low. So I spent the entire day sitting here working on my uncle, hardly moved except to eat, with a bit of TV – a fave, Doc Martin, at 8. At 11, I had to force myself to stop fiddling and go to bed. I am madly in love with this piece, as happens when you’re in the middle and it’s coming together. The beginning and the end are hard. The middle, so hopeful, is fun. I am enjoying every minute, can’t wait to introduce you to my fascinating and marvellous uncle. It helps that I’m not teaching much this term.

In the midst of my pleasure, there is sadness in the lives of my friends. My dear Carole, leader of the Wednesday class at the Y, lost her husband Brian on Friday night. He was considerably older than she and had for a few years been suffering from increasing memory loss, but his death was unexpected. There’s a memorial event for him next Tuesday at the Y, in the same room where we celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary not long ago.

And yet – the definition of a trouper – there she was to teach her RunFit class at noon today. She looked tired and battered, but she was there, and so were many of us, to support and hug her.

And a friend in Vancouver, Cathy McKeehan, an arts administrator and producer, suffered a brain aneurysm while visiting her son recently in Spain. My friend Chris was deeply wounded by her loss; when he lived in Vancouver, he and Cathy often had coffee and gossiped.

“We are fragile. We are older.” Sung to the tune of “We are stardust, we are golden, and we’ve got to get ourselves, back to the garden,” by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. Who ain’t no spring chickens either.

Please take care, friends. It’s slippery out there, in more ways than one.



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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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