My new book “Midlife Solo” is now available.

Beth Kaplan logo

51% Jewish

There was a sale at in December – imagine, a sale on your DNA information! – so I decided to do it. I thought maybe long lost family might emerge, or even an interesting secret, though I was pretty sure of my ancestry – 50% Ashkenazi Jew, 50% British peasant. The results came in: “51% European Jewish, 45% England, Wales and Northwest Europe, and 4% Germanic Europe.”

Interesting that the Jewish genes predominate. No surprise there. No long lost relatives – 1000+ distant cousins I’ve never heard of, but “no starred matches.” I met someone who found her birth mother through this process. But I knew my birth mother quite well.

Spent lots of time at Roy Thomson Hall this weekend, thanks to Robin, my upstairs tenant, and the marvellous tickets he gave me: the Dvorak cello concerto on Saturday night and “Beethoven Lives Upstairs” with Eli and his friend Inaya on Sunday afternoon. The Dvorak – played by the TSO’s principal cellist Joe Johnson, a sandy-haired guy who looks like a baseball player and played in shirtsleeves – was sublime, just glorious. Dvorak wrote about it, “I have also written a cello concerto, but am sorry to this day that I did so, and I never intend to write another.” Sometimes artists are so very wrong.

The energetic conductor Aziz Shokhakimov is from Uzbekistan. What a wonderful world. They also played Smetana and Mendelssohn, so a 19th century romantic program. Jean-Marc and I did not fall in love, however.

How hard to try to help young kids understand classical music. The Beethoven show is an attempt – the story of a boy whose mother rents an upstairs room to Ludwig, and how the boy comes to know and understand the crazy deaf composer, who has the legs cut off his pianos so he can feel the vibrations through his body. Throughout, as actors play the boy and his uncle, the orchestra plays Beethoven’s greatest hits. And I could listen to those forever.

As we sat before the concert in the magnificent room, I was explaining what a concert hall is, how it has sound baffles to make sure we hear all the notes. Inaya looked around and said, “Are there any code violations?” She’s 7. Going to be a lawyer or city planner, I guess. The kids were engaged, though not overly. But I do feel one of my Glamma jobs is underway.

A grandson story: during the Florida trip, Holly said to Ben, “We’re going to Miami.” He thought she said, “We’re going to my ami.” He still says, “We went to Holly’s ami.” CUTENESS.

Sunday night, before the 3-hour feast of PBS, I watched an interview on 60 Minutes with John Green, the author of The Fault in Our Stars, a hugely successful writer, married with 2 kids, who has suffered all his life from acute anxiety and OCD, has been on meds for years. He is forthright about his condition, wants to show the world it’s possible to live a happy, successful life with mental illness. Hooray for him! Writers rule.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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.


Juliet in Paris, Spain and Beyond
Juliet is a Canadian who’s lived for decades in Paris and writes about her travels and the many things that interest her.