Tuesday, January 2, 2018

great gifts for the new year

Just heard from my longtime friend Suzette, who read a draft of the new memoir. She has given me a great gift: she loved it. It’s absolutely lovely writing, wise and full of heart and heartbreak and, ultimately, hard-won victories of insight and love and, in the end, happiness and fulfillment. An amazing journey of the self, full of insight and humour. beautiful, heartbreaking, heartmending story.

Does it get better than that? She has some critical comments, suggestions for possible changes - but I wrote to her, I'm drinking your words like fine wine. This bizarre business, as we slog alone for months and years, and then send our fragile vessels out into the world to see if they float. I must remember that this reader is a dear friend, on my side, and the editors who'll read the ms., or who won't, are not. Still. A great gift, much needed during these cold dark days.

And another gift: Since my upstairs tenant is moving out in May, I've been trying to decide what to do with my four-story house - which really means, where shall I grow old? As are many of my friends in this neighbourhood of tall, impractical Victorian homes. I was contemplating a huge reno to transform half the house into a separate apartment, completely lost heart when I considered the enormous disruption and cost in money and, more importantly, time - and now am back on track. My old friend Jessica, an artist who has that kind of mind - she can visualize, cost, see where the supporting walls are and what can come down - came today to take a look. We paced and she began to sketch - and voila, something possible. Yes, extremely disruptive and expensive, but at the end, two separate living spaces. I think I can stand it. It will force me to get rid of a ton of stuff, which I need to do anyway, and it will make me continue to be a landlady. But if I find the right tenant - like the one now in the basement suite, quiet, reliable, and often away - it's a great way to support this old bag into retirement.

So I think it's gonna happen. In the fall, maybe. We'll see. My bank manager has said no problem for the dough. The front part of the current living room would be my bedroom, the back part would turn into a library because I'd lose my bookshelf space upstairs, the current dining room would become the TV/living room, a spiral staircase would push through the ceiling at the back - oh it's big. Always interesting, life.

In the meantime, the New York trip is also getting more exciting. I discovered that the best actor in the world, Mark Rylance, is appearing in a show in NYC at that time, and now I have my ticket. I would travel a great distance to see Mark Rylance, whether I'm speaking at an event or not.

We are under siege here, the weather record-breaking cold. It's huddling weather. Thank you powers that be for a functioning furnace and roof. And lots of possibilities, and space to make changes, and generous, wise, supportive friends who have ideas. Onward into the brand new adventure of 2018. It sure has started well.

Here is the always-wise E.B. White on New Year's Eve celebrations. Had to look up orectic. What a valuable word! orectic - of or concerning desire or appetite. 


  1. What good news about your memoir. It takes someone with the right reading skills, I think, and the right sense of what you intended, what you achieved. And wow, an opportunity to see Mark Rylance. I sometimes wish I'd never seen Wolf Hall just so I could see it for the first time. What a beautiful performance. Tried to get tickets to Farinelli and the King the last time we were in London (I know it was written by his wife Claire van Kampen but I think he was in it too?) but alas, sold out. So you'll give a full report, I hope?

  2. Theresa, well, I hope it's "the right reading skills", though it may also be a loving friend who sees only the good ... We'll see if anyone else out there agrees with her. Fingers crossed... And she did make suggestions for improvements.

    I first saw Mark in "Jerusalem" in London, the best performance imaginable, searing, blistering, overwhelming. I've gone out of my way ever since to see his work, including yet again going to NYC to see him in two Shakespeare plays with men only - he played Olivia in "Twelfth Night" with delicacy and power. It's "Farinelli" in NYC - so I will certainly give a report. Cheers, Theresa.

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