My new book “Midlife Solo” is now available.

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last night reflections

This is definitely the smallest room in the Sylvia Hotel, but it has everything I need: wifi, bed, window that opens. I’ve just had dinner downstairs with my dear friend Margaret, who’s living a nightmare right now; her beloved husband of many years, afflicted with Alzheimer’s, is now in hospital and not understanding why he is there. Many decisions to be made, and she with her own health issues. Luckily their sons live close by and help. She showed me phone video of her granddaughter, who’s just learned to walk. “It was worth it, having kids, wasn’t it?” I cried, and we both laughed. She and I were pregnant with our first together, lumbering around downtown trying to imagine what it would be like to be a mother, to have an actual child. Not to mention two. 

And yet, we did it, and now they are – sometimes – there for us.

It was pouring so hard today, it was hard to see a few feet in front at times. Shari went for a swim in the heated outdoor pool at the lodge, so I took up the challenge and went too – a few minutes in the pouring rain, in the pool and hot tub. But getting wet both in body and on head was too much wet for me.

We listened to nonfiction readers read on Zoom this morning, and this afternoon went to an in person workshop by kind, warm Darrel McLeod, a Cree teacher and writer from northern Alberta. Again, nothing he said was new to me – in fact, some of the exercises he gave are ones I give my own students – and yet hearing it all from his lips made it new again.

As we left, I was given the envelope with critiques of my memoir from the initial reader and the two finalist judges, which I read to Shari as we sped down the mountain in the downpour. The first reader got it, totally; I love what s/he said. The other two had praise and some legitimate concerns which is why, I guess, it didn’t win. 

Also that I’m sure dog sledding in the north, on the frontier, is more exciting than eating cheese in Provence. 

I don’t care. It’s been a powerful journey for me, here; despite the bad weather of the last few days, I’m so very glad I came. I will be so very glad to walk in my front door and drop my bag and get into my own bed. And for the first time in many days, make my own coffee in the morning. Shari has a special method to make her fabulous coffee. But time for me to make my own. 

One of the most transcendent memories of the trip for me was sitting on Chris’s deck in the sun, watching on my computer a video made by Lynn’s children to commemorate her and Denis’s 50th wedding anniversary. One daughter lives with her family in Mauritius, another in Australia, another in Marseille. One appeared at their door as a surprise with her 3 children, and their son participated in the Zoom call secretly from Heathrow, on his way to join them as well – all of them there on the screen, telling stories. Fifty years. I was there at the start, at the wedding. Hard to imagine we’re that old. But we are. 

I don’t feel old tonight though, I feel rejuvenated – by trees, air, water, mountains, book talk, and most of all, the joy of friendships begun long ago. 

Thank God I bought waterproof hiking boots and a down vest in Whistler; kept me alive here. Here’s upcoming Toronto weather. I am so ready.

Mainly sunny
Mainly sunny



3 Responses to “last night reflections”

  1. theresa says:

    That seems a bit…harsh? To shortlist your book for a prize and then, after, to provide comments or critiques? I've never heard of such a thing!

  2. beth says:

    No no, it's good. The first reader who selects the long or short list had many insightful and positive things to say. The two judges wrote what they liked but also, yes, what they found at fault. I appreciated it.

  3. theresa says:

    It's good that you're ok with it, then. (When I've judged prizes, we're sometimes asked to provide a comment for each shortlisted title, as though it's the winning one. But never asked to comment on weaknesses.)

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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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