My new book “Midlife Solo” is now available.

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Lights in the darkness

Oh Zoom, how did we do without you all those years? What an amazing few days – first, the big event from the National Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, Mass., featuring the descendants of famous Yiddish writers: David Mazower the event producer from the Center, Itzik Gottesman from Austin, Texas, and me. It was wonderful. David and Itzik were interesting and vivid; Itzik lives his entire life, it seems, in and for Yiddish. It was a warm and moving encounter. David told me that over 400 people have so far watched so far, live and on the Center’s FB page.

Watching it afterwards I was horrified to see myself nodding and twitching my lips; there seems to be spotlight shining on my jowls, and my eyes are so squinty it looks like I’m blind. Otherwise, hunky dory.

During our talk I mentioned my father’s younger brother, Edgar Kaplan the world bridge champion. Itzik said he was most impressed by my connection not just to my great-grandfather, but to Edgar Kaplan. To those who play bridge, he’s legendary. It’s a story I must tell, what I know of this extraordinary and brilliant man, who became my best friend during the last decade of his life.  

So Saturday I opened the box in my office marked “Uncle Edgar” – stuff I brought back from NYC after his death. A ton of interesting mementoes including two little looseleaf notebooks his wife Betty kept of their favourite recipes, which includes Edgar’s cocktails recipes. He invented cocktails and gave them the names of friends, and Betty wrote it all down. What a gift for my son the cocktail maker! Shh, don’t tell him.

And then the Creative Nonfiction Collective’s Zoom reading of new books – five writers, hosted by Vancouver’s Betsy Warland – again, from around the country, a fascinating collection of diverse voices, reading about a schizophrenic artist brother, a father’s war connection with an Indigenous scout, a meditation on Lost Lagoon in Vancouver and on being a woman working in construction … terrific stuff. 

Phenomenal to sit in my kitchen communing with the world. 

Three more episodes of “The Crown.” Does life get better? Poor Prince Charles really does not come off well, though the implication is that the Queen, though well-meaning, was so formal and distant, her children are handicapped for life. 

Today, I got out the Xmas box and dove into the decorations – not ready for the tree yet but did get something up outside. People in this ‘hood believe strongly in celebratory lights; usually I just have some hanging from my eavestroughs but Bill who puts them up is MIA. (Though he looks like Methuselah, he just turned 65 and got a government pension which may be why he isn’t at my door asking for work. I hope it’s that.) Today I got out a structure that’s for climbing plants like clematis, wound my lights around it, and put it out. It’s perhaps hideous, but ingenious, no? I need a star or something for the top. Also, it is locked to my banister with a bike lock, because otherwise … things vanish. 

It may be dark and cold, but at old 308, there will be light. 



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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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