Tuesday, December 6, 2016

O Canada

This morning's walk:
 The spot Aunt Do was standing two days ago
Trees - so beautiful
playground
 beach
another abandoned home

Back to my not-so-abandoned home tonight. How I wish my aunt lived closer, so that we could visit on a regular basis. These intense trips have to do for us both. But she is well looked after, with her Scrabble friends, my brother who comes when he can, and especially Pat who phones her every morning, as my mother used to do, and comes at least once a week to help her shop and get around. She has a driver's exam coming up - yes, at 96. It may be that this one, she will not pass, as she has all the others, and probably should not. She's a menace on the roads because she drives so slowly.

This woman was there when my mother was born, when my parents met, when they both died. Stubborn as she is, with a fridge full of rotting food she doesn't want me to throw out, she is a treasure.

And now I'm off to take her, very slowly, very carefully, through the snow to lunch at our favourite restaurant, the Village Café. She will eat an amazing amount for one so small. I will try to do a last pass through the fridge, and get it stocked before I go. And then go.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Fantastic Beasts in the snow

Why oh why does anyone come to this godforsaken town? Why?! I checked the weather before I left, but all looked okay and it was so mild in Toronto, so very mild. I wore my leather boots, not my snow boots. As I was walking out of the house, a tiny voice said, Maybe you should change boots, and I said to myself, Oh for God's sake it's not going to snow.

Last night, continuing most of today - at least six inches.

So much for today's walk in the woods. My leather boots were soaked and freezing in no time just getting around, because I had jobs to do, including my usual trip to Ikea. I never get there in Toronto because it's miles and I have no car. Here I have a car and it's five minutes away, so I always go and drool over the gorgeous file boxes and everything else that won't fit in my carry-on suitcase. I bought the usual - candles,  napkins, stuff for the kids, a fake poinsettia for my aunt, and gazed in wonder at everything else, like the perfect stand-up desk I'd like for Christmas. Ate an incredibly cheap breakfast and went back out into the frozen wilderness. Brought lunch to Do and then persuaded her, the two of us prisoners in her apartment, that we should see a film. So I chose what I thought was the most suitable that was showing earliest - Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the J. K. Rowling film.

Oh my. Poor Auntie Do had absolutely no idea what was going on in this tale of magic and mayhem and menace. As she said afterwards, "I am the least magical person possible. Reality is my forte." So trying to explain to her about muggles or no-maj's, as they're called in America, and why that guy turned into a black hurricane of vicious destruction and why the rain made them all forget, and so much more, was not easy. But still, even understanding nothing, she was glad to get out, glad she'd seen it. What a good sport she is.

I am so happy to spend time with her, and I also can't wait to get out of here, especially now there's snow everywhere. But Do saved the day. She had actually bought a new pair of snow boots, and though her feet are smaller than mine, still, miraculously, they fitted. She wore her old ones and I wore the new ones for the rest of the day, so grateful for warm, dry feet. New rule: never come to this preposterous town, even in July, without snow boots.

We called my cousin, Do's niece, Barbara in Washington D.C., who is of course in shock about Trump. Here's a final word for today, sent by my friend Patsy, which I've just forwarded to Barbara too:

When I despair, I remember that all through history, the way of truth and love has always won. There have been murderers and tyrants, and for a time they can seem invincible. But in the end they always fall. Think of it, always. 
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948)

Sunday, December 4, 2016

our nation's capital

First, several friends have written about my last post on the pipeline issue. I do understand the world has to drastically change its use of energy. But at the same time, I am defending Trudeau's practical political decision. As he said, "No country in the world would leave billions of barrels of oil in the ground." We know he is on the right side, but he is also running a vast complex country. Anyway, I am a left wing person coming to his defense. This time, at least. Perhaps, selfishly, because the pipeline is not running close to MY home.

I am in Ottawa to visit my extraordinary aunt Do who, as I've said many times, is still living alone at 96. I stay in a room in an airbnb house not far from her, and once again, as always, I am profoundly grateful that my mother and her sister chose to settle in Britannia, on the far west side of Ottawa, right on a beautiful park and the Ottawa River. Walking in the park has saved my sanity many times. I went this morning - it was cold but sunny, gorgeous - and later persuade Do to take a little meander.
Bilingualism, Ottawa style.
An abandoned home

Ninety-six! She used to be my height - about 5' 81/2". Now she's about 5'3".

We solved the thorny longstanding curtain problem with a jaunt to Westgate Mall and its subterranean curtain store Cozzy (sic) Coverings. Yes! And then had a coffee in this rather desolate mall and watched the passers-by, including several homeless people there to get warm, who were escorted out - a crack addict in flip-flops whose feet were blue. Ottawa is no place to be homeless. NO place is no place to be homeless, but especially a place with winters like the ones here.

Last night we had dinner with a friend of Do's and watched an episode of "The Crown." So so good.
Now my aunt is off to play Scrabble, and I'm going for dinner with my brother and his son Jake. My only Canadian family, besides my kids and grandkids, these three. Ottawa is full of ghosts. But some nice warm bodies too.

P.S. Listened to some of Cross-Country Check-up on CBC as I was driving to dinner. It was about the pipeline decision. It's possible I will change my tune. Okay, yes, occasionally, very occasionally, I am wrong.

Friday, December 2, 2016

letter to Santa

So - the new normal, going through the day, busy, coping, but every so often seeing something in the news, hearing the radio, a glimpse on TV of some hideous political travesty south of the border - digesting it, trying not to feel sick, sick, sick. Then moving on, because there's no choice.

And intolerance cuts both ways. Dear friends have been posting scathing things about Trudeau on FB because of his recent pro-pipeline decision - one, a cartoon of Stephen Harper removing a Trudeau mask and crying, "Surprise!" Come on, people - he has done 100 fine things and this, which has made the huge province of Alberta very happy. He is tending his base on all sides; he's a politician, that's his job. That doesn't mean he in any way resembles Harper. GET A GRIP.

Instead of bemoaning - too much bemoaning, these days! - I would like to share some major cuteness with you. This is Elijah's first big letter to Santa. May I remind you, he is a mere 4 1/2. Be still my beating heart.
And this, a quote of his from Anna's FB page:
"Mum, when I was in your belly I made a book shelf for when Ben was in there. I left books, but I don't remember which ones cause I was just a baby. Also, I left kinder eggs with toys for him. But I ate all the kinder chocolate. I love kinder chocolate."

Love. It's genetic, the love of bookshelves! And chocolate.

Off to Ottawa soon to visit Auntie Do. It's cold here now - yes, it's here, though far from full blast yet - and will be colder there. Sam will be tending the home fires and eating everything in the fridge. The good news is that now, amazingly, thanks to a gift from Rogers, I have Netflix on my computer.  I will be able to watch "The Crown" from my tiny airbnb room. Yay. Welcome to 2016, slowpoke. Maybe I'll never read a book again.

And now, more wine. Cheers, my friends. Have you written YOUR letter to Santa yet?

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Karl Ove and Gratitude, yay, Cafe Society boo

MMMM. Here is one of the world's most attractive men, Norwegian Karl Ove Knausgaard, talking about his writing. I could listen to him all day. Be still my beating heart.
http://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2016/11/17/karl-ove-knausgaard-world/

And speaking of attractive men, here are two more. Only one of them closely related to me, but both of whom I've watched grow up.
Still incredibly mild. A gift from the gods, this beautiful autumn. John came over to help in the garden today, built a cage to contain my toppling goldenglow for next year and another to stake my raspberries; we spent hours outside on Nov. 30, without gloves or hat or even coat. A marvel.

I got Gratitude by Jenny Diski from the library today, a memoir from columns written as she was dying of cancer, aged only 68 - a whirlwind of words, am enjoying it. Did not enjoy last night's offering - the latest Woody Allen, Café Society, which Sam, who was visiting, and I ordered from Rogers On Demand. What a terrible movie, though stunningly beautiful to look at, gorgeous lighting, sets, costumes. I'm sick of Woody's absurd, even nauseating fantasies of young twiglet women in love with much older men. His writing here is lazy and weak; subplots and characters are there and then vanish, Jews, of course, take over for a bit and then disappear; lots of the actors are miscast. It's a mess. What happened to the powerhouse auteur of before? Woody, you shouldn't make a film a year, just make a film when you have a really good script and something to say. And maybe, I suggest politely, someone should edit you.

Who edits Woody Allen? That's a big part of the problem.

Not a big part of my problem. Tomorrow the latest edit of the memoir comes from Colin Thomas in Vancouver. There’s so much that’s really lovely in this draft, Beth. At this point, it’s almost all about figuring out what you have to do and how you can do it in Act 1. 

Music to my ears "really lovely,", except that, of course, he's also saying, there's stuff that works and stuff that doesn't that you have to fix. Which I knew already.

Sigh.

Oh well. It's really lovely out there, that's what counts right now.