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the deep water test

Before everything, the best news: Ben wanted to take the deep water test, almost exclusively for older kids, at the public open air pool where they swim. That’s 50 metres of uninterrupted swimming. Ben is small for his age which, until tomorrow, is four. He passed. They are forces of nature, both of them. Bravo, young man.

Showing their pool armbands, with a mouth full of Goldfish. Would you want to take on this level of tough determination? Good thing their mother is tougher.

A blessedly gloomy day with sprinklings of rain, just what the doctor ordered. The air smells of everything good in the cool damp. Gratitude.

On Tuesday, I Zoom taught the group of last term’s U of T students who’ve continued to meet and want my feedback. And then to the farmer’s market at Riverdale Farm, opening for the first time this summer with new rules: line up to enter, walk only one way, wear masks, squirt hands. Lots of lovely stuff including a middle Eastern couple selling hummus and spicy flatbreads. Very glad to be there again.

Two huge treats on Wednesday – first, out to the Beach, carrying my bike on the TTC, to visit my beloved Annie and her husband Jim, who’ve just moved to a rental house near the boardwalk. It’s the perfect place for them, a charming house with tons of light and a huge deck filled already with Annie’s plantings. She and I rode our bikes to Ashbridge’s Bay, to the secret beach she knows of there, for a swim in the cool waters of Lake Ontario, and then back to the house for lunch on the deck. A dear friend happily settled; a lovely time together. A swim.

Home again on the TTC, where almost everyone is in a mask but there are a few die-hards without, including a marginalized women shouting about a grave injustice from 1974. She should write a memoir, I thought, as I moved far away.

And then Jason came at 5 for both a personal and a professional visit. Anyone who’s been to my reading series So True knows Jason, the cheerful M.C. He was my student more than a decade ago and has been a dear friend ever since, and now, I’ve hired him as my media/tech/future projects consultant, to help guide me through the social media/online maze. Jason is in his early forties, so the ideal in-between age – not as old as I so savvy about these things, but not as young as my previous assistants, in their twenties, who couldn’t understand why I didn’t understand. Jason didn’t grow up with social media but he’s comfortable with it, so he’s half way between me and the kids. Ideal.

But yesterday, there was also something horrible. I got embroiled against my better judgement in a battle on FB, once more writing in support of J.K. Rowling, and was slapped in the face by the way issues are handled there. I realized finally – I’m out of my league. I am not used to ranting battles taking place publicly and with such unbridled vitriol. Devastating. I withdrew and deleted what I’d said, which was me trying to be reasonable, urging people to look at both sides – that’s not how things are done there. I felt physically assaulted. Never again.

But yes, Juliet, I am still on FB. It’s an addiction, like cocaine, and I love it. I can follow the lives of many of my friends in real time, read various newspapers, follow many writers’ websites, learn stuff I didn’t know. It’s just important not to engage with the mob of woke banshees. I hardly ever post my own stuff, though I repost a lot. But I love to read.

Today’s interest was a FaceTime consultation with Arlene who runs the Backyard Urban Farm Co. I held my phone up in the veg garden to show her the squash and the raspberries. She suggested cutting back the many big leaves of the squash so the pollinators can find their way in and improving my soil all round. Compost! Micro-organisms! I felt like a schoolgirl faced with her expertise – but then, in the garden, I am.

And then John arrived with a screen. There’s a door in my office that for decades has had to be kept closed because it doesn’t have a screen and I don’t want birds and bugs flying in. I asked John about a solution, and a day later there he was with a Bugs-Out screen with a magnetized opening that he stapled to the door frame. A $50 solution, giving me much more air and light. Hooray!

May you all be safe, wherever you are. May you be well and find air and light. May a good friend come over to help you figure out where you are now and where you want to go. May you have a cool refreshing swim and even, best of all, may you pass the deep water test.



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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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