My new book “Midlife Solo” is now available.

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The Outfit, and the roses

One of those blessed mornings — yesterday dawned cool, as it has been for days, then turned very hot, and then last night it rained. This morning the air is fresh and sweet. What’s most beautiful about the roses is the span of their time on earth: the small tight buds filled with promise; the new blooms, dark peach, frilly perfection; the middle-aged ones, wide open, paler; the old ones, nearly white, drooping, still lovely near the end. Hmmm. As the New Yorker would say, Kill That Metaphor.

Busy times continue. A friend called last minute to invite me to her cottage for the weekend — how I’d love to go, but not possible. Janet from Ottawa is staying here, Doug the handyman comes tomorrow, and my list of Things To Do is long. Cottage time will have to wait.

The great news is that the other day I went onto the Toronto Public Library site to check my holds and took a look at my own books while there. Midlife Solo is available at 9 local libraries, though it can’t be taken out of the Toronto Reference Library. But of the 8 remaining, the book is out on loan at 7 of them! And at the 8th it’s missing — possibly stolen? In any case, people are reading. I am thrilled.

Of course, I immediately checked a friend whose book appeared at nearly the same time and has had far greater visibility and better marketing than mine; her book is out at 6 libraries and there are 14 people waiting for it. Oh well.

On Monday to the fabulous Reference Library, one of the most beautiful and useful buildings in Toronto, to hear Eleanor Wachtel interview Keiron Pim about his bio of Joseph Roth, a fascinating, tortured Jewish writer. Pim reminded me of the hard work involved in exploring a long-gone overseas life, as I did with my great-grandfather. It was a scintillating conversation, as always with Eleanor.

On Wednesday a wonderful celebration. You know how important my Wednesday class at the Y is to me and the others, taught for the past 35 years by the lithe, indomitable Carole. She has been feeling overworked and under-appreciated as a volunteer at the Y, and I’m concerned; she has almost quit before. Our class is a lifesaver for so many of us, the Runfit Bunch, friends for decades. We’d be devastated to lose the class but are running out of volunteer teachers and dependent on Carole.

Tuesday was her birthday, and a few days before I emailed class members about it, copying the manager of the Y. On Wednesday I brought a card and sat in the lobby getting participants to sign. Margot had offered to bring flowers. At the end of class, I interrupted Carole to make a little speech and give her the card, Margot appeared with a gorgeous bouquet, and a team of Y staffers arrived with a big platter of cupcakes. Carole was overwhelmed.

It takes so little, sometimes, just a bit of effort to make worthy people feel noticed and appreciated and good. But I helped arrange this out of the purest selfishness: I want my dear teacher to keep teaching. I’ll be there next Wednesday, complaining about how hard it is, appreciating the hell out of it. And her.

Yesterday afternoon, Janet offered to drive me around to do errands. What a gift. My Mac repair shop used to be an easy bike ride away, so of course they recently moved to the Beach. She drove me all that way, where they figured out the problem in half an hour and handed it back without asking for payment — what a relief. We went to the LCBO for me to stock up on heavy bottles of wine, to St. John’s Bakery for $60 worth of bread, lemon cake, and coffee, and then she dropped me at my hairdresser’s, who suggested a short pixie cut because he’s going home to Greece for two months, so I’ll be hairy by the time he gets back.

Celebrating what a relative called the Kaplan Brackets, those deep grooves from nose to chin. Celebrating the pale drooping rose who’s not good at selfies.

Last night, Janet and I watched a fantastic film: The Outfit, recommended by Chris, starring the best actor in the world, Mark Rylance. Superb everything — writing, acting, directing. Tight, suspenseful, full of twists and turns — riveting.

I just did my patrol of the garden, checking slug damage and the growth of the veg, pruning. Sat for a minute near the feeder; I’ve taken down the big feeder for the summer but left the small one filled with nijer seed. A house finch, bright red head and breast, arrived to breakfast — just the two of us in silence, on a fresh summer morning, enjoying the day.

As our world explodes in ever more terrifying ways, I do my best to relish tiny moments of peace and beauty. They will have to do.

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One response to “The Outfit, and the roses”

  1. Theresa says:

    Yes, yes, yes to the roses metaphor. And how they live in our memory too.

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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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