My new book “Midlife Solo” is now available.

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Robert Macfarlane wins, and Doug Ford loses

The changing seasons are work. I took out my sweaters and washed the comforter and put them all in the sun – 21 degrees all week in the afternoon, chilly morning and evening. Glorious days. Though preparing for what’s next.

I quit the choir, with regret, after one session. It was terrific and I’d love to continue, but there’s just too much going on right now for another commitment. The book marketing and launch, editing work — at the moment, many hours editing a 65,000 word manuscript for a student writer — teaching upcoming, plus getting the house, garden, and myself ready for the season that’s looming = work. And anyway, I’m already taking piano lessons, though I hardly have time to practice.

Had a great idea the other day. It was time to cut down and cook what’s in the garden, including Swiss chard and a great deal of basil, before frost arrives, but just could not get to it. But then I invited my son to come over and help me. He loves cooking, and I love him, so today we worked together making a pork roast, applesauce, chard and leeks in a gruyère sauce, and a vat of pesto. He took home half; I had fun with a young man I love, and a delicious dinner to boot. Win/win.

Selfie Man and the Biddy. Band name. Still to come: finding something edible with kale, plus tomatoes and cukes. Gazpacho?

Speaking of winning, Doug Ford has capitulated on carving up the Green Belt and donating it to his rich developer buddies. Hooray — democracy and citizen activism for the win! Can Ontario Place be far behind? Let’s keep it up, people of Ontario!

On Monday, a great event. The Westons have sponsored not only a nonfiction award for Canadian writers, but now an international one as well. The inaugural award went to Robert Macfarlane, an extremely accomplished writer of many books about the natural world and his adventures exploring it. The event was at the Royal Ontario Museum – six hundred people there to hear a nonfiction writer! And what a charming, articulate, and hilarious writer he is. He began by telling us we’d undoubtedly be disappointed to hear him, quoting Dorothy Parker: “If you like the paté, don’t meet the duck — and I’m the duck,” he laughed. He also quoted Descartes, Victor Hugo, Barry Lopez, Ursula LeGuin, and more. He spoke of “the rights of nature,” of his own recent 9 day canoe trip down the Muteshekau Shipu river in Quebec, the first river to be deemed a legal entity, like a person, with rights. When asked, at the end, how to inspire young people raised on social media, he said, “I just get on and do the best I can.”

His best is quite something.

An aside: I found a seat next to a woman in a mask and told her I was looking forward to hearing him. She said, “Excuse me, are you a writing teacher?” I told her I was. “Are you Beth Kaplan?” Yes. “I took your class twenty years ago,” she said.

After teaching for nearly 30 years, it’s not surprising I keep running into people who’ve taken the class. I was glad to learn she makes a living helping people write grant applications — in essence, helping them tell their stories. Like me. Speaking of which, I heard from a former student, an immigrant from the Middle East:

You are a source of positive energy for people around you, and I feel lucky to get to know you few years ago. Sometimes I judge books or movies by “efficiency” and by that I mean how much of the book or the movie was really useful to me or I enjoyed it. In books, your “True to Life” book and one technical book related to my work won the 100% efficiency judgement! 😊 In other words I used and learned from every single word of your book. The book shows its writer is not only a great writer, but also an amazing teacher. Thanks again for all you thought me and looking forward to learning more and more from you.

Thank you, Ali. I am not the brilliant, successful, award-winning, and very published Robert Macfarlane. But I too just get on and do the best I can.

Including care for my William Morris roses, the last ones this year. Sigh.



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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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