Wednesday, April 21, 2021

justice, blessed relief, and snow

Anna and the boys were over yesterday; we were about to go to the playground when she checked her phone and said, "The verdict's coming in soon!" TV went on; the boys swirled around us while we held our breath and watched - and eventually wept. We had to try to explain to two small boys why a police officer had been convicted of murder. It was not easy.

Thank god, a moment of justice in an unjust land. It's hard to imagine, given the cellphone footage, that the verdict could have gone any other way, as countless other verdicts have in the past. The blessing of cellphone cameras and the courage of witnesses. 

Like Harvey Weinstein and others trapped by the march of time and social change, Chauvin launched his career in a certain system, where white policemen could do whatever they wanted, including murder, and get away with it; he's the first to publicly find himself in another. It will not be easy for him in prison, where I assume he may be surrounded by men he helped put away.

Eli had brought homework, so while he did it, Ben did some careful, laborious writing of his own. He asked for the spelling of NO CHICKENS, followed by NO ROOSTERS. Not sure why, but definite rules have now been made which I'll do my best to obey. I'm blessed to be able to spend time with my grandsons and give thanks that this pandemic, unlike polio, spares children almost entirely. One of the greatest blessings of all. 

I sent this picture to Ben's grandfather in Washington, and he replied, Always nice to have clear rules of engagement, especially concerning poultry. 

Snow! Very pretty. It won't last, in fact, it's melting already. Just a reminder of where we've been. 

Monday, April 19, 2021

Couples Therapy - if you're a couple, a must see

Oh this is such a strange time, these long solitary days, everything closed, the air full of fear. Online petitions for Doug Ford to resign. Somehow time vanishes, swallowed up, another day gone.

Today would have been my penpal Barbara's 71st birthday had she not died after a heart operation in 1966 at the age of 16. It was that plus other stuff, one of those @#$@ days; I badly needed a walk so went to the Necropolis to commune with the Cabbagetown dead. But it's spring, hard to be mopey for long.

My house, hidden by forsythia. What a colour!
The magnificent magnolia outside the Necropolis

Sunday night is TV night - 60 Minutes along with The Eighties (flipping back and forth during commercials), The Simpsons, Us - which shows us the fabulous European cities - Paris, Amsterdam, Venice - we might never see again; a new Netflix series, Mare of Easttown starring Kate Winslet as an exhausted, angry cop, which was so relentlessly depressing, I stopped after half an hour - the small town underbelly of America, hopelessly dysfunctional people who eat absolute garbage throughout - the ghastly food a subplot, along with poverty and murder. 

And then, a standout: Couples Therapy on Crave, fascinating, reality TV, real couples seeing a very wise, patient therapist. You watch them in their entrenched positions, not listening, feeding their resentment, and her attempts to pry them loose and open them up. Fascinating. 

Today the long list came out for the Stephen Leacock Award for humour writing; I'd entered with the faintest hope, and sure enough, Loose Woman was not on the list. All but one on the long list are men. Writing competitions these days are predominantly women, by far, except for humour. Does this mean we don't have a sense of humour? No, but it does mean - I know this from my classes and from my men friends - that for men, humour is a powerful defence mechanism which allows them to tell their stories without seeming vulnerable or weak. And more power to them, God knows, we need to laugh now more than ever. Bring it on. Please.

On the other hand, here's another fan of the book, a student from at least a decade ago: I finished reading Loose Woman last night and had to write to tell you how much I enjoyed it. Such a riveting read, and the sentences so well-crafted, just leapt off the page. I felt like I really got a peek into that young woman's mind and heart. I have recommended it to others, some of whom, like me, are former students of yours who I've kept in touch with over the years.

I needed that today. Thank you!

Oh, and I finished a longish article and sent it to a magazine. It's not funny enough either, but luckily, that's not what these people are looking for. Stay tuned.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

in the doghouse, but busy

From my old friend Susan Mendelson, founder of the Lazy Gourmet in Vancouver: I really enjoyed Loose Woman! It was a wonderful read and I couldn’t put it down. Also took me on a trip down memory lane. Have told everyone I know to get it!

Thank you, Susan, and thank you for many meals through the years, not just from the LG, but from your famous cookbook. The pork chops with red peppers in a sauce of white wine and ketchup - as you say in the book, it sounds terrible but it tastes divine.

And this from my new fourth cousin Lesley: I loved Loose Woman on several different levels. First, as a very honest, plain-speaking autobiography. Second, the description of your summer in France and work at L’Arche, and how it transformed your life. The book also evoked my own memories of the roller-coaster emotions of being a twenty-something in the 1970s, searching for love and security, but often finding only disappointment, humiliation and despair. 

Thank you, Lesley, and for the fascinating genealogical info you sent: there's a line in Loose Woman where I mention a vocal exercise we did at theatre school to loosen the lips: "Billy Bunter bought a broken buttered biscuit." According to Lesley, the actor, Gerald Campion, who grew famous playing Billy Bunter on television is a relative of ours! 

I sent this info to my friend R.H. Thomson, who was my classmate at LAMDA. He laughed and sent back a wonderful pic of us in "The Recruiting Officer," me in what's called a trousers role, a woman dressed as a man. Spring, 1972. 

Just watched a doc called "The Book Makers," about craftspeople who make handmade books, artists, paper makers - and the huge Codex Book Fair in San Francisco, where they all gather. My people. Crazy and wonderful.
Won't mention Doug Ford and what he has done to Ontario. But if you want to know, look at the front page of the Toronto Star today. Howls of outrage. Well deserved.

Like Doug Ford, I'm in the doghouse today. I can't really talk about it, except to say that yesterday I hit "reply all" by mistake and should not have. Beware "reply all"! Someone may be on the feed who should not see what you've written to the others. That's what happened. I'm sorry for my carelessness, but also that the person I offended was unable to see that an honest and not very serious mistake was made. 


It happened partly because I've spent two days doing nothing but sit in my kitchen chair tapping on this machine, banging out quick replies. I'm dealing with various issues, including a request from a Washington theatre to see the play I wrote years ago about my great-grandfather, so was re-reading and doing rewrites of that, got it out today. The emails keep coming in. Sometimes I feel the process is like pingpong or tennis - the ball comes at you and you have to hit it back. Requests come in, or notes that need replies, one thing after another. Tap tap tap - hit that ball back. 

But do not hit "reply all." 

Funny that weeks, even months go by when I hardly write, and then the floodgates open. I've been working on an essay to send out soon, plus the play, plus other things. Plus income tax and life. Busy. The bum is numb. But how I enjoy this, when it's flowing, when there's too much rather than too little.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

showing a slick chick how to eat watermelon, 1944

On another gloomy day, thought I'd share with you a bit from one of the letters I've just transcribed. This is from my mother's then-fiancĂ© Len, who spent 1944 in Florida training to be a pilot for the British navy - how to land planes on aircraft carriers, among other things. He includes a sketch of a piece of watermelon and another showing how to eat it. Learning the ways of the natives, including the lingo. 

School House is my mother's home in the village, where obviously she liked to escape chores by playing the piano. 


Wednesday, April 14, 2021

beautiful things

My friend Chris, in his blog to the left, posts a series of pictures of beautiful things nearly every day. So here, on this lovely Tuesday morning, are a few random beautiful things from me:

One of the best men ever - generous, loving, talented, gorgeous. Did you know he was half-Jewish, like a close acquaintance of mine? 
Yesterday at the Kim's garden centre just down the street - ranunculus, one of the best flowers ever.

Another of the best men - on the right, my ex, who with the artistic director beside him, turned the vast Arena Stage theatre complex he runs in Washington D.C., closed for a year and into the foreseeable future, into a vaccination centre. They will help vaccinate many thousands. I wrote to him, It's called turning on a dime, which is his family's specialty. Bravo. 

The sun is shining. I just went to the Y, which also will not open in the foreseeable future, to rescue my good running shoes from my locker. Will she actually use them, readers? Stay tuned.