Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Where there's smoke, there's fire

Picture sent by Suzette in Santa Monica - the view from her balcony of the smoke from the fires. She says there are people now homeless staying with friends in her building. Very frightening.
And here in Toronto - snow predicted.

More clearing out today. I am lucky to live where I do - things put on the sidewalk vanish instantly. Today, an Ikea shelving unit, a chest of drawers, a bag of workout clothing - gone in minutes. A great blessing to share my abundant excess, the result of decades as a Goodwill junkie, with my neighbours.

On Friday - to Ottawa, where it's minus 7 with snow on the ground - of course. Whatever the Toronto weather is, the weather in Ottawa is always way worse. I'm going to do more packing up and host my aunt Do's memorial event, at her apartment, with my kids who are also coming from Toronto.

This may be my very last trip to Ottawa ever in my life. I certainly hope so.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

clearing up, clearing out

Should keep this an orange blowhole free zone, but ... people are making such funny, clever things!

We always celebrate the last class of term with a party, but this term, at both universities, we're celebrating during the second last class because a few students can't make the following week. Last night, I arrived at Ryerson to the most amazing sight - a table covered with food: samosas, sushi, dumplings, dips, cheeses and breads, six desserts and wine, plus every desk with a little candle burning. That was a rollicking class, I can tell you.

The reno is getting serious. Jean-Marc laid it on the line yesterday - so very, very much has to be packed up and stored somewhere. We're starting on Monday by ripping apart the basement, my storage room, which was jam-packed and had to be cleared out. This is what, by some miracle and a lot of hauling, my friend Nicole, my homeless helper Bill, and I achieved today.
But this is what my kitchen looked like. There's a ton of stuff out on the sidewalk, including a futon from upstairs. Please, take it away!
It's going to be crazy around here for some months. But this is my chance to get rid of junk. Or at least to store it more effectively. Here's the kind of problem I face, tho' - artwork and a poem about walking with my father - "Memorys Shining Bright" - that Anna made in Grade 3. Love is! What to do with treasures like this?

Here, a writer explores this very problem in the latest New Yorker: 

Monday, November 12, 2018

"Sally4ever": YUCK!

In case it seems to you that I'm always in raptures about shows I see, something completely different: saw a TV show yesterday that has had rave reviews and that I absolutely hated, "Sally4ever," from Britain, about passive, nearly brain dead young Sally with a horrible job, an appalling partner - one of the most abject, repellant specimens I’ve ever seen on television - and ghastly parents, who is sprung from her hideously lame life by a passionate lesbian relationship that is shown in graphic detail, including her lover pulling Sally's tampon out with her teeth and spitting it onto a frothy white dress Sally was supposed to wear to her wedding. And incidentally, the female lover is also a lunatic (played, incidentally, by the writer.) 

Every single person was loathsome in some way or other, obviously meant to be satirical ha ha, but to me it was just black-hearted. I thought of E.B. White who said once that with his writing, all he hoped to show was that he loved the world. This writer hopes to show that she hates the world because it’s full of disgusting human beings. What's the point?

Maybe I missed something? Maybe I'm just too old.

However - "the Durrells in Corfu" is getting better and better, sheer joy, the most wonderful characters, writing, acting, and of course the set, a bustling small town in sunny Greece. And then John Oliver, lighting the way through the morass, as usual. 

Early in the day, a wonderful gathering: the Word Sisters, a group of women who all work in publishing in one way or another - editors, publicists, agents, lawyers, and one lowly writer - have been meeting regularly for 8 or 9 years now, and met again yesterday at the home of our founder, Marilyn Biderman, who lives in a sophisticated, sleek loft on the west side. It was pot luck, everything was delicious, the company was fascinating ... so, that's my usual tone of happy satisfaction, no?

It's getting really cold, and I'm dreaming of anywhere warm that is not in the United States - Mexico, Cuba, Barbados ... Any ideas out there for a nice place a pleasant, occasionally crabby writer can go to cogitate a few weeks of winter away? 

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Ain't Too Proud: the Temptations

Last weep of the day, I hope: watching moving footage of Macron and Merkel in France, commemorating the end of WW1. The presidents of France and Germany hug. Some things in our lunatic world are better.

It's cold! Suddenly there is serious cold out there, time to get out the long johns, the hats, gloves, and scarves, and focus on survival. We are Canadians, an enormous privilege that comes with a price. And for the next six months, rest assured, we will pay it.

Bill Maher had his usual brilliant flash of inspiration in the show Friday. He said, when we greet friends, instead of How are you I'm fine, we should all just smack our foreheads in disbelief - because none of us can believe what's going on on the world stage, thanks to a man with less self-control and self-awareness than my six-year old grandson.

Who was over on Friday with his mother and brother - he wasn't feeling well and a visit with Glamma beat a day at home. I am always overjoyed to see them arrive and secretly overjoyed when they leave, with my house in pieces behind me. High point: reading "The Magic Hockey Skates" to Eli. A most Canadian story that brought tears to my eyes.

As I've said before, I am barely keeping up with my life, but that's okay. First world problems. Today, much pleasure - first the Antiquarian Book Fair at the AGO, not to buy, but to find places which might be interested in what I have to sell. For example, three copies of Les Temps Modernes, a literary magazine edited by Jean-Paul Sartre in the early fifties and bought by my father during trips to Paris. A collection of Nazi postcards viciously mocking the British, given to aunt Do during the war. And much more. Who buys Nazi postcards? Possibly an antiquarian bookseller or two, I found out today.

And from there down to King St. for the matinee of "Ain't Too Proud," a musical about the Temptations, directed by Des McAnuff, who must do this stuff with his eyes closed after directing "The Jersey Boys" about the Four Seasons. Same basic story - poor boys struggle to make good and survive fame in the tinsel world of pop music, this one of course with a racial twist - poor young men of colour make good in segregated America. In both, life on the road, fame, drink, and drugs destroy much of the group, but one stalwart keeps it all together. The story was not that interesting, to tell you the truth. What was heaven, on a bleak Saturday afternoon, was fabulous singing and dancing, the incredible harmonies, the rich rhythm and blues that black America has so generously given us. I sat in an audience of mostly old white people, feeling myself different because as the music boomed out, no heads were bobbing, no feet seemed to be tapping except mine. Perhaps at night it's different. Anyway, it was a treat.

And yes, deny it though I may, I'm as old and white as anyone.

Had the unusual treat of checking my email at the intermission and finding a message from my best friend Lynn in France, a picture of her with her literary hero, the American uber short story writer Lydia Davis. Lynn, a linguist, has been parsing Lydia Davis's spare, enigmatic stories and at a conference got to meet her. Ironically, I had been thinking of my dear friend all day - at the book fair and especially at the show, because when we met in 1967, I was plugged into British bands and knew nothing about the American scene. Lynn introduced me to fabulous Motown, to Tammi Terrell and Marvin Gaye and the others. And for that, as well as much else, I will always be grateful. I was wishing she were there with me to see this finger-snapping show. And then there she was on my phone.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

the bee's knees

I couldn't watch, it was too nerve-wracking. Casablanca was on, so Wayson and I watched bits of that, turning back to PBS and ABC coverage of the midterms, then back to wonderful actors and story. The hoped-for massive blue wave didn't happen, which I find devastating, Beto and Stacy out by such a slim margin, WTF! But yes, lots of good news - the House, women etc. Still, it's incomprehensible, the percentage who vote for ...

Oh stop. It's gloomy and damp out, I contracted a cold at 9.45 last night as I watched Republicans win, and the world just looks dark. Let the idealistic faces of those newly elected women cheer me up. And this: my cousin and her husband, who worked to elect this candidate in Virginia - and she won, defeating a Republican by a small margin, thanks to Barbara and others like her. This is what democracy looks like:
Today Carole's runfit class was the last place on earth I wanted to be, and yet, as always, it cheered me up. Art, another of the more elderly runners in class, asked me, "Do you still have your original knees?" He made me laugh, telling me that in the men's change room, everyone is full of bits and pieces of plastic. When I told Gord, another ancient runner, what Art had asked, he said," Why, does he want to buy yours?"

We need to laugh today.