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The Banshees, and Miep Gies: A Small Light

Today is the yahrzeit – the anniversary of the death – of my beloved Wayson Choy. He is very much with us still, me and my kids. How we loved him. And I’m pretty sure he felt the same. He was family, another crazy kindred spirit to join our crazy tribe. 

My friend the public health nurse says I’m a “bug magnet,” and it seems to be true. Great. But there’s hope; I’m feeling a bit more human today, actually went out for the first time in nearly a week, to the bank to pay my taxes and for much-needed groceries. The sun was shining – what a difference. I wore a mask everywhere, also tonight to a local meeting about bike lanes they’re considering for Cabbagetown. There’s a vital Leafs game tonight, and I expected a handful of people at the meeting; no, the room was packed. I started coughing, couldn’t stay, told the organizers what I think before leaving – in favour of anything that slows traffic and favours bicycles! I’m afraid my prissy nothing-must-ever-change neighbourhood will kill an idealistic initiative. They’ve done it before.

The other night, I watched The Banshees of Inisherin months after everyone else. I’d heard it was terrific, just didn’t want to watch someone cut off his fingers. And that part is indeed horrific, did my best not to see. But the evocation of Ireland decades ago is truly stunning – the beauty of countryside, water and homes, community and donkeys, the misfortune of vicious gossip and intolerance, an overbearing church, hidden abuse, closed-mindedness … the film captures it all. The acting is universally wonderful. Literally haunting – I keep thinking about it. A few flaws, but a superb film.

Yesterday, a Zoom interview from the Washington Post about a woman who’s been a hero of mine for many years: Miep Gies, Otto Frank’s secretary, who kept the Frank family alive in their attic all the months they were there, risking her own life and somehow finding enough food to smuggle in for eight hidden Jews. I’ve never forgotten her appearance once at the Oscars, when a doc about Anne was featured. An unassuming woman, now the subject of her own dramatic film: A Small Light. She once said, even a secretary can bring a small light to a dark room. And she certainly did, and so much more.

Tonight, Steve Paikin’s excellent The Agenda is about Ontario Place. There’s so much ghastly stuff coming from the Ontario government these days, it’s hard to keep track – moving the Science Centre, carving up Ontario Place for a big Austrian spa, and now, that police officers don’t need to be educated. So many terrific ideas, the head spins. As my friend Janet Somerville keeps saying, on Twitter – if you’ll pardon the expression – “so many motherfuckers!”

To put things here in perspective, though: a traffic jam on the Delhi-Jaipur expressway. And, friends, been there done that. When Bruce, Chris, and I were in India, we got caught in a jam just like this on our way to Jaipur, only with more camels. It lasted many hours. Luckily I – of course – had snacks in my purse to keep us alive.

Here, however, is someone who frankly does not give a damn.

Just looking at her helps keep the blood pressure in check.

I’ve got a stack of children’s books by my bed; am reading The Wind in the Willows first. Rat, Mole, Badger, Mr. Toad: sweet, funny, kind. Also keeps blood pressure in check. 



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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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