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shelves of glory

Things are settling, I’m feeling more in control of my life and my home, and my cold is fading, so this morning, for the first time in months, I sat down to begin writing work. Then I
noticed the internet symbol on the computer was off. Twenty minutes of fussing and anxiety later – the computer refused to recognize my network – I’d fiddled and tried and checked Diagnostics, then 
finally turned the router off, and the internet eventually came back. By then I was off on another track entirely. 

It never ends, does
it? What was that glitch about? The computer saying, You think you’re going to get to work? I have news for you. Mwa ha ha!

Okay, let’s start again. I’m sitting in my east-facing bedroom because this is where the morning sun hits, and we’ve been hard pressed for sun this last while, except for yesterday which was sublime. The house around me is becoming recognizable again. The front hall is stacked high with empty boxes, because the books in those boxes are on shelves – and they’re organized. There are shelves for memoir and books about writing, shelves for poetry and theatre and plays, sections for subjects that interest me: Jews, Beatles, E.B. White, travel, and languages; shelves for my own published work and for the family photo albums and books from my childhood, like Little Women, and a special section for family treasures – my grandmother’s Shakespeare, my mother’s little book of Rupert Brooke poetry, Virgil’s Aeneid with marked inside “Gordin Kaplan, 1939” – what Dad was reading at 17. Barnaby Rudge with “Xmas 1907, Marion, from Father and Mother.” What my grandmother was reading at 17. 
And two other special sections: the little red record player Lani gave me with my old Beatle records stacked beside, and a shelf of toys and dolls: my teddy bear, my mother’s, my aunt Do’s, our dolls, the Sootie hand puppet that was mine in England in 1956. 
Immense satisfaction.
Outside in the hall, in the new bookshelf Jean-Marc created, two more categories: classics, and books by friends, and in the spare bedroom, current children’s books for when the boys come. Downstairs, stacked miles high, books I’ve yet to read. Luckily, Doug Ford has destroyed the magnificent and generous Ontario library system, so instead of getting out new books – I just counted 14 ordered, delivered, and read between November 2018 and March 2019 – I’ll have to read the ones I have. Gosh, thanks, Doug. 
My office is still a mess but much better. The closet is getting there. I went out in the garden yesterday and did a bit of pruning, though there are still days of work remaining. Shani the downstairs tenant came yesterday and we saw what has to be done: the baseboards need to be replaced after the flooding, Ed I hope is coming tomorrow to do that and other things, and I’m hoping to buy a new carpet today. The new sofa is arriving next week. Otherwise, she’s good to go. 
In the upstairs rental, again, more needs to be done – her toaster oven is ordered, also arriving soon, thank God for online shopping and delivery. We’ll get there.
Best of all, yesterday I went across town to visit Anna and Thomas and the boys. Thomas has created an even bigger fenced-in garden and a whole greenhouse of seedlings under gro-lights – amazing. Being with the boys fills my heart with so much joy that it hurts. The day before, a very rainy day, Anna had entertained and fed some of Thomas’s extended family, including six children plus her two. We had leftovers and I did storytime – Harry Potter, such a treat to read it again – and bathtime, because she was exhausted.

How to tell Anna lives here? Eli’s sign: “Queen Victoria PS against education cuts!”

Helping in the garden by flinging dirt. Nothing better.

And then the streetcar home to a house which is now, once more, after a long and difficult and expensive year, my home. 
Dear blogger friend Theresa Kishkan, 3 books by whom are in my hall, wrote yesterday that instead of saying I have incurred debt, I could say, I have made an investment. And it’s true, I have spent a year investing in the future of this house and my own future in it. I’m aware, however, that while I was busy renovating and fretting, arguing with Jean-Marc and choosing trim, Theresa was writing essays and books, with several published and others coming out soon. She made an investment of another kind – in her talent and her work. Which is what I must get back to too.
I settled down here this morning to begin writing work but the computer intervened, and now I’m writing to you, and then it will be time to get on with the practical side of the day, the hunting and gathering, before the predicted thunderstorms roll in. 
Stay tuned.



4 Responses to “shelves of glory”

  1. theresa says:

    Your shelves look beautiful! (And I may be writing away but the shelves in my study are such a mess I can't find what I'm looking for…)

  2. beth says:

    There you have it, the writer's dilemma. I always tell students, if a woman writer's nails are beautifully trimmed and cared for, or their kitchen shelves are beautifully organized, they're not writing! How to do and have it all? So – soon perhaps I will organize less, and maybe you'll take a break from your wondrous output and sort your shelves. Or maybe you won't, and it won't matter, because what matters, Theresa, is your beautiful writing.

  3. theresa says:

    My friend Edith Iglauer (who just died a couple of months ago, nearly 102…) had a long and productive writing life. She told me, when my children were young, that she always made sure that she used some of the money she made from writing to pay for household help. She had secretarial help and people who cleaned her house and even someone who helped her with dinner parties. I always admired that, even if I wasn't writing and certainly not making any money from it in those years.

  4. beth says:

    How wonderful that you knew Edith Iglauer – I was a huge fan and sent out her last piece in Geist to my students – published at 101! Inspiring. Secretarial help – it is to dream. But yes, let's get help with the boring stuff to free us for the rest.

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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.

Some Blogs I Follow

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


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


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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