My new book “Midlife Solo” is now available.

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Packing, Potter, pussycats

It’s always like this the week before departure on an extended trip — frantic. The guest room bed is covered with possible clothing choices.

All is complicated because the suitcase is VERY SMALL and the weather report from Paris says rain all next week,

so suddenly I’m looking at shoes and coats differently. Should I pack a raincoat that’s heavy but will keep me relatively dry? Or the down coat that’s warm and very light but useless in the rain? And shoes, always the worst issue for my big-footed self – comfortable but stylish but waterproof – anyone?

Talk about first world problems.

I’m working through the lists – got my taxes to John, took in some jeans to be hemmed, got the key to Alanna who’s moving in mid-April, got my hair cut not my neighbour but by an actual hairdresser, Annie came for dinner yesterday to say goodbye … The audiobook will not be finished, Patrick is having computer problems, so it’ll wait.

Dear friend and neighbour Mary came over the other day for a glass or two of wine; our five children, who now have six children of their own, grew up together, so there’s always lots of catching up to do. But mostly, Mary came to pick up ten – count them, ten! – copies of Midlife Solo for her bookclub meeting in May, which I’ll attend to answer questions and chat. Heaven.

Speaking of heaven, last night, we nearly finished the Harry Potter we’re reading, #3, Ben asking intense questions about the complex plot. Again, I marvel – JK had to have it all plotted out, all seven books, before she started, and the convolutions of plot and character are mind-boggling. I am enjoying revisiting the book as much as the boys, and it gives Anna a break at bedtime. We will all miss it while I’m tramping around Europe.

I thought about my cat last night – about any pet, totally in the moment, no worrying about the future. A good way to live. British writer Muriel Spark once said, “If you want to concentrate deeply on some problem, and especially some piece of writing or paper-work, you should acquire a cat. Alone with the cat in the room where you work, the cat will invariably get up on your desk and settle placidly under the desk lamp. The light from a lamp gives a cat great satisfaction. The cat will settle down and be serene, with a serenity that passes all understanding. And the tranquility of the cat will gradually come to affect you, sitting there at your desk, so that all the excitable qualities that impede your concentration compose themselves and give your mind back the self-command it has lost. You need not watch the cat all the time. Its presence alone is enough. The effect of a cat on your concentration is remarkable, very mysterious.”

And it is so.

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2 Responses to “Packing, Potter, pussycats”

  1. Sharon Ledderhof says:

    I listen to the HP series on a regular basis. I’ve lost count of how many times, but #3 is probably my favourite. Now it’s like visiting friends, going to a place I know well (I also do Hogwarts gameplay walkthroughs) and I love the nuggets of life wisdom and well as so many things I can relate to.
    And cats…my cat Daisy is truly one of the most important entities in my life and a most wonderful companion. I’ve had feline companions for most of my life and they definitely give a layer of peace, mystery, warmth and delight that might not be there otherwise.

    • Beth Kaplan says:

      Sharon, thanks for letting me know – #3 is the one we just finished, so we’re moving on to #4 when I get home. Yes, there’s lots of wisdom in the books – and I totally agree about cats!

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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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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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