Sunday, May 20, 2018

the man with the bag of books

It's the middle of a long quiet Victoria Day weekend - drizzly yesterday, mild and sunny today. Just spent an hour pruning, then I'll do the soil, and then, today or tomorrow, planting. My new basement tenant, a young man from Quebec, moved in yesterday, and there were visitors. My doorbell rang; a big man, a stranger, was at the door. When I opened it, I saw he had a big bag of books. I assumed they were his and started thanking him.
"I'm a garbageman," he said, "an industrial garbageman, and I found these. I think it's criminal to throw books away, so I brought them to you."

I have renewed faith in humanity. Thanks to this kind man, the Little Free Library is full of nearly new books. Can you imagine the person who threw them away? It's just unthinkable. The activity at the library is ceaseless - including at least one person who, I suspect, regularly takes out every book., who knows why? But then it gradually - or quickly, as yesterday - fills again.

I was in an emotional wedding fog much of the day, reading news reports, pleased that the bride switched to a Stella McCartney gown in the evening. Because I spent the evening working on my next week's talk about her father, the McCartneys were on my mind. And then Jean-Marc and Richard came by for a glass of wine. Richard, a protocol expert who runs every special event at City Hall, is now famous for his CTV appearances any time there's a royal event; he'd had an exhausting weekend of nearly non-stop commentary. I'm always fascinated to know what he thinks. He is fiercely defensive of the royal family, some of whom he knows well, and the most savvy man I know politically, constantly attuned to his Twitter feed. He thought Minister Curry's speech was too long and rambling, and that it was not the young couple but Prince Charles who chose most of the music. And if Richard says it, it must - almost all the time - be true.

Today, planting, sitting, reading, cooking perhaps for Wayson, perhaps my son might drop by, perhaps not. Nothing, nothing on the agenda. The air is still because the city has stopped.

Love is all you need.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

okay, yes, I watched it

By complete chance, I woke at 6.45 a.m. and at 7.15 was in the kitchen drinking coffee. And I thought, oh well, I guess I'll find out about the wedding. I thought it would be over. So I checked the computer and THERE IT WAS, still going on. I came in just as Reverend Curry was finishing his sermon, and I thought, I'm in the wrong place, what is this?? It was amazing, shockingly direct and casual in such a formal place. And then after the vows, a black choir sang a beautiful rendition of Stand by Me, a black cellist played, and it was not at all what I - the world - was expecting.

I turned on the TV and watched till they drove out of sight in their landau, the horses freaking out at the noise, that gorgeous young woman with her bright natural smile that did not fade, that nice young man who looks not unlike another nice young reddish-haired man the same age and closely related to me. Despite my complete indifference to this occasion, I fell under the spell. They do these things well, the Brits, up to and including the weather, the perfect day. The absurd hats, the stuffy royals, and there, with tears in her eyes, was a divorced African-American woman of great dignity, the bride's mother. They all won me over.

The only negative, for me, was that the camera angle kept showing the bride's friends, foremost among them Ben Mulroney, son of an unfortunate Canadian prime minister. Otherwise, it was beautiful to watch, an absurd fairytale brought to theatrical life. Call me a sucker, but there was a tear or two, remembering my own wedding day. Which was in the Vancouver registry office two weeks after the birth of our daughter, attended by the sleeping baby in a borrowed christening robe along with my mother and a dear friend, and that's all. So - not quite the same. But the love and the hope were the same.

This morning, to the plant store on the corner, usually extremely crowded on the May 24 weekend - today, in the rain, empty. I bought basil, lettuce, cherry tomatoes, chives (mine died this winter), parsley, eggplant (trying again), cukes and more. TO LIFE!

'I'm ready for a drink now': What Harry said to Meghan (according to a lip reader). As the carriage pulled away from the crowds into the gated grounds of Windsor Castle, Ms Markle seemed to be in awe of the scenes, lifting her hand to her chest and saying "wow". Harry also seemed to need some help... according to lip reader Tina Lannin, he said to his bride: "I'm ready for a drink now."

My kind of guy.

"Dr. King was right. We must discover love. The redemptive power of love and when we do that, we will make of this old world a new world. My brother, my sister, god love you, god bless you, and may god hold us all in those almighty hands of love."

Friday, May 18, 2018

Now we are six

Often, to get to my daughter's across town, I cycle south to King Street, lock up the bike, and get the King streetcar. I did that this morning at 11.30, on my way to help her prepare for Eli's sixth birthday party. At 7.45 p.m., as I hauled my bones off the streetcar and unlocked my bike, I was about to moan about how tiring it is to go all that way. And then I thought of my friends Lynn and Denis, who recently were needed to babysit three of their grandchildren for a week, and to do so, they had to fly to Nairobi.

A long streetcar ride I can take.

Anna the event producer, as usual, whipped up a phenomenal extravaganza for a ridiculous number of children - maybe 15, ranging from about 9 to Ben at 2. She had huge plates of snacks ready, and, most importantly, buckets of water and sponges to wash the car, their favourite pastime, and chalk paint to paint the pavement and then each other. There was mud and so much noise, it was beyond deafening. Then they found Eli's extensive gun collection and there was war, racing about shooting, pew pew! And spying and rushing up and down the slide and jumping in the mud (Ben). There was teasing about Eli's "girlfriend" Stacey, who is lovely and who scolds him in a voice just like his mother's - "Elijah!" I thought, it's a good sign he's choosing so well, at just six. I heard another girl, when asked if she had a boyfriend, say, "It's not legal for me to have a boyfriend. I'm only eight."

Right on, sister.

At one point, one muddy savage with a huge green and red water gun rushed by shouting, "Let's kill the pig!" At least, I think that's what he said, and I thought, It's getting a little too Lord of the Flies out here. But no, the most amazingly good time was had by all. The downstairs neighbour appeared with superhero capes and ninja headbands he had made out of old t-shirts. After the snacks Thomas grilled piles of hot dogs and hamburgers, and then, best of all, CAKE. The only time they were still - five minutes of devouring cake. And then on their feet and all over the place.

In the midst of this, my daughter finds time to help a small person find something she's lost, help another choose something to eat when he doesn't like what he sees - I don't know how she keeps her calm, but she sails serenely through. The adults were provided with a crockpot of delicious pulled pork and a mere six salads.

I am in awe.


I abandoned ship and rode home, exhausted, on the streetcar, looking out at my city on a Friday night, marvelling at the cultures on display - people from every country on earth strolling the downtown streets. Especially thrilling, the mixed couples producing the cappucino babies who will save the world. Hurry!

On Wednesday, after teaching, I went to a neighbourhood party featuring oysters from the MW fish shop on Parliament Street. Mark the owner was there to shuck and give us much oyster lore. There was also lobster and other goodness from the sea. So, with 3 classes and beginning to get the garden underway, it's been a busy week. I'm bushed.

But at least it didn't require flying to Nairobi.

PS. Thank God, that @#$#@ wedding will soon be over. Let's talk about something else, for God's sake.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

horror in the news

Heartbreaking. Our planet is in flames. The vicious and unnecessary provocation going on in Jerusalem right now is appalling, and the result, the anger of the Palestinians and the violence of the Israeli forces, devastating. Every day, you think that Trump cannot sink any lower, that he has gone as low as he can go. But he keeps surprising. 55 dead at last count, 2500 wounded so far, thanks to his incendiary decision. Not a single Israeli hurt.

My daughter told me she's ashamed of her 1/4 Jewish blood, and I had to remind her, it's not Jews who are the enemy here, it's the state of Israel, more specifically, Israel's far right leaders; plenty of Jews are as affronted as we are. Later, I Skyped with an old friend whose sister-in-law is Palestinian; her parents were exiled and lost their home in 1948 when the Israelis arrived in their village and threw them out. And yes, they hate, not Israelis, but Jews. My friend said recently she was visiting during a festive event, and children were letting balloons loose into the sky. She asked where the balloons were going. The children had fanciful answers, and then one small child said, They're flying to Israel, to kill Jews.

How fundamental that hatred is on both sides, how intractable. In what universe did they think in 1948 that throwing an entire people off their land was a good idea? That there would not be repercussions for decades if not forever? Now, as a result of Trump's embassy, there will be fresh waves of terrorism and violence. To tell you the truth, I feel violent myself. I'd throw rocks if I were there. And get shot.

And all this is going on while spring is blossoming in the most beautiful way, so glorious, the fresh greenness of it all, the scent of life opening up - it's hard to be gloomy with such beauty. And yet it's also hard to be cheerful when so much is going so very wrong all around us.

However, one sight always cheers me up:
They came to visit today and we went to the farm. They love spring too. We saw lambs, kids, even 3 baby turkeys. Or gobblegobbles, as Ben calls them.

May some semblance of sanity return, please God. May the electorate learn the facts and begin to make informed decisions. May my grandsons grow up in a world where there is at least a shred of hope for peace.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

the superb "Sutra" - and mothers

My beautiful mum in early 1985, at 61: musical, generous, and soft, also manipulative, difficult, and demanding. Thank God for mothers, so writers always have something to write about.
Spent the day on the playground with my grandsons yesterday while their mother signed up her soccer team. Constant motion and activity, and with Ben, constant talking and questions. Glammglammaglammaglamma! He's obsessed with transit: busses, subways, trains, trucks, and best of all, streetcars. And also with his uncle Sam, who played foozball with his nephews at his restaurant last night, while we waited for a grand repast.
And then I dashed off, through the choked madness of downtown after a Blue Jays game, to see "Sutra," a dance event featuring 19 Buddhist monks flinging their bodies about on top of 16 huge rectangular boxes. Haunting images - the boxes like coffins, piled like Stonehenge, lined up like sentry boxes, stacked again like shelves for bodies, reminiscent of concentration camps - and the men, all phenomenal at kung fu as part of their religious practice, like Olympic gymnasts mixed with daring parcour kids, doing flips and leaps - amazing.

And now - happy day to all of you who are mothers and all who had mothers. The sun is shining. I'm going out for a bike ride.