Friday, September 8, 2017

gearing up for fall

Last night the police closed down the block outside my house and were patrolling the street with guns and dogs. There's a rumour of someone doing random shootings in Regent Park, and it's possible they thought he - presumably a he - was hiding on this block. Or something else. Anyway, it was pretty exciting and even scary for a bit. So much for tranquil little Cabbagetown.

Which this weekend hosts the Cabbagetown Festival - the streets flooded, not with hurricanes, but with garage sales, street food, shoppers and strollers. I will be shopping the street sales for a bike for Eli and Christmas presents. There's a curated artisanal sale outside Riverdale Farm, and the run on Sunday morning, the mini-marathon, one mile or so, that I never miss. Eating, running, shopping: I excel at two of these.

On Wednesday morning our Regent Park English conversation group started for the fall, and there were nine women, the most ever - almost all as usual from Bangladesh, sitting with us to chat about "What I did on my summer vacation." They mostly visited family in other cities, though one went camping - imagine a family of recent arrivals from Bangladesh in the Ontario woods. About half the women are veiled, though all wear traditional headscarves and draped long robes. But when they come in, they flip up the scarf and there are our friends. I don't understand the niqab, I don't like it, but I do like the women who wear it, at least the ones I've met.

That night was the Cabbagetown Short Film Festival, a fantastic event my neighbour Gina Dineen has curated and organized for 26 years. At the start it was in a pub; now it's held in swanky splendour of the Daniels Arts Centre on Dundas, about 16 films from 2 to 18 minutes long, from around the world - animated, documentaries, dramas, all fantastic, and some of the filmmakers and actors were there. Thrilling, hilarious, a tour of the world without leaving your seat.

Yesterday afternoon, Anna and the boys came to visit. Amazing what two very small people can do to rip the house apart in only a few hours.
The sofa: both fort and trampoline
As you can see - Ben is small for two and Eli is tall for five, but there's a fine brotherhood there.

Last night, as I hosted one of my oldest friends Margaret from Vancouver - we met when pregnant with our older children - we watched a NFB film called "Window Horses" on the movie channel. An odd title for a superb, truly gorgeous film, animated, about a young poet from Vancouver who goes to a poetry festival in Iran and finds herself and her past. Highly recommended; seek it out.

And finally, on the home front - sigh. Sigh. I received a no from the literary agent I wrote to about the memoir, which is just as well, as I also received another book report from a former student and very perceptive reader who nailed the problems - still there - with the first 40 pages or so. Once again, the France stuff is great, getting there not so much. I thought I was nearly done, but I'm not.

So, the autumn to do list:
1. finish the book.
2. find a way to get the book into the world, the worst part of the job as far as I'm concerned
3. teaching: Ryerson, U of T, home class
4. October: prepare a talk for the 20th anniversary of my son's high school Rosedale Heights about the parents' arts council which I helped found
5. prepare a talk with Powerpoint for the Fairfax, Virginia JCC about my great-grandfather book
6. November: the next So True - eight essays to find, edit, finalize, plus my own
7. December: the Babe in the Barn pageant Xmas Eve - meetings about finding babies and cast members etc.
8. End of October: my basement tenant moves out and a new one moves in, much cleaning to do
9. ditto with the attic - Carol is going back to Ecuador for six months and a young Frenchwoman is moving in
10. got to get to Ottawa to visit Do
11. online and in person meetings about the Canadian Creative Non-fiction conference next May that I'm on the conference committee for
Also: food clothing housing exercise health reading friends family and writing this blog.

Otherwise, nothing to do.

Did I mention finish the book? No question, the above list is one reason I've produced so few books. Not just that I was an actress for ten years and a stay at home mother for another ten, but that I get involved in so many things and can't imagine not getting involved. So - the output is slow, but the life is pretty damn interesting. Though it's true, last night I couldn't sleep, thinking of all I have to do. What I did on my summer vacation: worry.


  1. It sounds to me, Beth, that you're coming very close to having a book more than ready to publish. Being able to take comments and understand how to either use them to adjust and change your work or else to understand that they might be well-meaning but not necessarily accurate to your intentions -- well, I think you're doing a hard and amazing thing. Will look forward to this book because I know that it will be good.

  2. Theresa, I have a Venn diagram I show to students in class - one circle says "overwhelming narcissism" and the other, "crippling self-doubt," and where they overlap, a tiny oval in the centre, it says "Art." At the moment I'm veering from one to the other - this book is fabulous! This book needs way more work to even be readable! Thank you for your kind comments. I'm getting there. I look forward to reading your new book too. It'll be a little longer for you to read this one.