Friday, September 21, 2018

Macca forever!

A quick update from the Monteal bus station. Here's what's happening: I am sick, my phone isn't charging properly, and the bus to Ottawa I came to get is full, there's another in an hour and a half. My aunt fell out of bed last night, went to hospital by ambulance for the third time in the last week, and has been sent back. My brother and I have found out there's no DNR, so the poor soul will keep being brought back from the brink. There's a torrential downpour outside here, and probably in Ottawa too.

Otherwise, everything's hunky dory.

The weather changed the moment I got on the plane from Toronto to Montreal. It was hot when I packed, and the report said it'd be about 20 and up in Montreal except for rain on Friday, so I brought sleeveless dresses, short sleeved t-shirts, one pair of light pants and a sweater for the hell of it. By the time the plane landed, it was freezing, and it has not warmed up. So first, I got sick - which Lynn thought was also perhaps the stress of my aunt's disintegration and the beginning of teaching - who knows? In any case, suddenly my throat was raw, my head ached, my nose was running, it was a nightmare - I wasn't sick once all winter, and now this.

Luckily Lynn and I had some shopping to do, so I bought long warm socks, a hoodie, a pair of warm pants, all useful for winter but needed right now. It is so much fun to shop with as savvy a shopper as my friend, who's had a lifetime of shopping in France; she's extremely thrifty and has a fierce and trained eye for exactly the right thing at the right price. Usually I dither, but not with her.

We had two meetings with old friends - a visit with Sherry, a university professor and translator who's interested in Lynn's work as Lynn is in hers, and the next day, with Michael Climan, who was the best friend and roommate of our beloved friend and mentor Bob Handforth in the late sixties. We hadn't seen Michael since then, at least as I recall. He is unchanged, a bit greyer, but as funny, sweet, and lively as ever, a wonderful person, long married and a father of two. We got caught up on the last decades of our lives, but we talked a lot about Bob, who was brilliant and creative and prescient. He died of AIDS in 1987 or 88 and haunts many of those who knew him. Robert Handforth has a Facebook page.

But I spent a lot of time in bed at our lovely auberge b and b, trying to get better before the Macca concert, filling myself with Advil and throat lozenges. I'd rented the place because it was only 5 minutes from the Bell Centre, where the concert took place. Lynn liked the Beatles but is sane, not a madwoman about Paul like I am, so she was lukewarm about going to this concert. First, the number of people floored her - the place was packed, perhaps 20,000, and such a diversity, all ages, two, three generations there together, many young people. We were at the back, and behind us, a row of people in wheelchairs. The excitement building, and then the roof-raising roar when he came out - unforgettable. And there he is, slender and handsome and 76 years old, rocking like no one can rock with his incredible band, lots of film and amazing lights and of course the flashpots during Live and Let Die - he never stops, doesn't even take a drink of water, going from screaming rock to tender ballads and the song he wrote with Kanye West, old Beatles, Wings stuff, and everything in between, for three hours. Just extraordinary.

This was the ninth time I've seen him, the sixth time for him solo, and it was the best show yet. But the extra-special treat was seeing my friend singing at the top of her lungs, beaming, laughing, swaying - it did, of course, make me cry. She said it was the best show she's ever seen.

Or maybe my tears were just my raw throat. It's the first time I didn't make a sound during his concert - could not sing or shout, just appreciated silently. Adored from afar, as always. Along with 20,000 or so others.

So - sitting here in the Montreal bus station, coughing, watching the rain outside, on my way to visit my aunt who is dying but not letting go. I am sucking a lozenge and have water and made myself a peanut butter sandwich at breakfast at the b and b this morning, so I'll be fine. I'd rather be home in bed, yes. But - onward.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

notes about Macca and the Little Free Library

I wrote to Liel Leibovitz, the author of the McCartney article I posted yesterday, to tell him how much I liked his piece and my own bond with Macca. He wrote back today, thanking me and telling me he had ordered my book to keep him company until Macca plays next in New York. How nice is that?

And another nice note: a woman in a power wheelchair got a friend to put a note through my front door today. I saw her and spoke to her on the street later. Her letter was on paper ripped from a day-timer, and this is what it said:
Sept. 18, 2018
Dear Little Library:
Wanted to thank you and yours a big greatful thanks for the efforts and energy that you all put into providing this beautiful community assest. When you shut down for a few weeks I was very sad because we thought your frustration level was growing. Do not allow this to happen. If a person steals book - pray they get money to buy what they need or want. It may save houses from break ins or avoid a senior from having their purse being snatched so that the thief can get food and drugs.

From a further prism - lots of poorer people access the books - like me and my grown family and grandsons. They love the books. We "loan" the books to others and it is like a mini book club. Wow the big treat for me is the occasional New York Times especially Sunday.

So thanks for re-opening and keep the free library going. The community loves it and feels darn lucky.
With sincerity, 
Penny

Now that keeps a woman going, for sure. The vanishing books are not from an addict who sells them for food or drugs, however; it's a hoarder. I confronted him again yesterday, as he stood in front of my library with a full backpack and large satchel, I'm sure bulging with the contents of all the local libraries that he pillages daily. But yes, I've decided we have to put up with him because even so, people still put books in and take them out. As, in fact, do I.

Thank you, Penny.

First class of the Ryerson term last night - the class limit is 18, and there were 17. A very full class but wonderful, interesting faces and stories, one back from many years ago and two from last term, who feel like old friends.

Packing for Montreal - more time with Lynn and then the two of us seeing Macca on Thursday night, how exciting is that? Staying at an auberge b and b downtown. And then on to Ottawa to visit my aunt, who is not in good shape. Nicole will be staying here to keep the house going. When I get back fall begins for real - courses running, work, putting away the tank tops and getting out the sweaters, piling on more clothing, closing down the garden; the new season will start.

But in the meantime - roses and cucumbers, endless piles of tomatoes and cucumbers, and so - more gazpacho.

Monday, September 17, 2018

The Gospel of Saint Paul

At last, the world is waking up to a powerful truth I have known for decades but others have been slow to acknowledge - that John Lennon, though a musical genius, in no way compares, in accomplishments, skill, and heart, to his bandmate and fellow genius, Paul, aka Macca.

Cool people - guys especially - seem to think it's wimpy to love Paul, because he unselfconsciously sings adoring love ballads as well as screaming rockers, because he loves women and children and doesn't eat or wear animals, because he has tried out just about every musical genre and not succeeded at all of them.

This writer gets it, at last. A terrific article, except for what he says about the left at the beginning, which nearly destroyed the whole thing for me but couldn't.
I must send the author my book, so he can read about a lifelong fan, not a Johnny-come-lately. Am leaving for Montreal this week, for the great thrill of going with Lynn to see Macca at Montreal's Bell Centre. Scream.

Here's today's joy, in the absence of my friend, who's back in Montreal: the north side of the garden this morning.
The fall-blooming clematis on the fence gets me every year, with its swath of scented white stars. Am about to go and pick the season's umpteenth fat cucumber.

Teaching starts tonight, the Ryerson class nearly full. Back in harness. Onward.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

"Let it go" dance party, Eli's protest signs

Sitting with my dear friend on a very hot day, as she wrestles with her brand new if refurbished iPhone (much less expensive than in France) - she has been online solving problems with various experts most of the day but is getting there. I in the meantime went to recuperate from last night's dance party in the hot tub at the Y, and then on to Queen's Park for what was not a demonstration against our hideous premier, but a picnic, a peaceful gathering on the grounds, just to remind them we're out here and not going away. Anna was there of course with her boys, and I was proud to see that Eli had written his first protest signs. His education in democracy begins. Meanwhile, Ben was kicking a soccer ball and trying to squash the bubbles a young woman nearby was blowing for him. Our people.


"I HOPE NEXT ELECTION DOUG FORD LOSES." He told me what he wanted to write and I helped him spell it. We all agree with you, sweetheart.

On Thursday, a thrilling event - former student and editing client Rollande Ruston launched her book "If the Rocks Could Talk" at a gorgeous house on Admiral Road. We worked for several years, going back and forth, and she produced a beautiful book about her childhood in the Gaspé, not just a personal tale but an important piece of social history - she has traced her family back to the 1700's. She was kind enough to speak at length about my class and help in getting her book out, and I spoke of how much hard work and dedication she put into it and how proud I was of her and the book.
https://www.google.ca/search?q=if+the+rocks+could+talk&oq=If+the+Rocks+could+talk&aqs=chrome.0.0l6.3030j1j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8
And then leapt onto my bicycle and tore home for my 6.30 home class, just made it in time. The term begins, and how glad I was to see those faces and to hear their words.

Last night's Let It Go dance party was a triumph of one kind if not of another. There weren't enough people for me to break even - in fact, I lost $150 on the venture. And I discovered that not everyone enjoys dancing to even one Glenn Miller piece or to an obscure but terrific African musician, whom I'd gone to considerable lengths to discover and include. By night's end there were about 25 people, 10 or 15 fewer than I'd hoped; they were dancing madly, which was a joy to see, but periodically something would come on and clear the dance floor. Except for me, Lynn, and Jean-Marc, who danced to everything. My people. Old friends came, friends from the Y and from the neighbourhood, but I had done too little to promote it. Lesson: I am good at ideas and producing and lousy at marketing. I knew this but didn't fix it.

However, very early, a middle-aged woman came alone, very shy, didn't speak to anyone, but she danced and danced. And she is exactly the person this was for. So I hope it happens again, only next time, the playlist should be by someone younger, and someone else should promote it.
Madame and me getting ready to dance.

This morning, my body ached from head to foot - three solid hours of dancing plus a little bit of worrying about venue, attendance, money, music. A soak at the Y helped, and a kindly protest. Soon Lynn and I will go out to meet our good friend Eleanor Wachtel, who is fitting us into her very busy schedule, and then we'll celebrate our last night together (at least in Toronto - she goes to Montreal tomorrow and I go there Wednesday) with take out fish and chips accompanied by a good Chablis and Randy Bachman on the radio, followed by HBO. And talking. Talking talking talking. She leaves tomorrow. I am already bereft.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

our dictator

The beautiful weather has returned, blessedly. I was sitting here after lunch with the back door wide open when I heard a strange splashing noise and finally located it - a plant saucer left on the railing had filled with rainwater, and now it's full of sparrows, waggling, splashing, drinking. The fat pink roses are back for a second glorious round, everything else still in full bloom - no sense of an ending. Not yet.

Last night was democracy in action - ten people of the thirty or so I'd invited actually came to meet Megann and talk about local issues: the many safe injection sites nearby, transit, affordable housing, bike lanes, and much more - all the stuff city hall should be dealing with instead of fighting this cretinous premier and his bullying ways. Once again, heartbreak. Though I had to laugh this morning - writing to an American friend, I complained about "our dictator" and she wrote back, "Our dictator is worse than your dictator!" This is a contest I'm happy to lose.

Lynn is away visiting a high school friend, so I've been alone yesterday and today, getting back to the memoir, making some of the edits suggested by the most recent editor - honing, cutting, getting the damn thing in shape. In the meantime, I myself am feeling completely OUT of shape. A roll of four or five pounds more than I'm used to sitting around my waist, making every waistband uncomfortable, slower than ever in Carole's class. Is this inevitable aging or is it just my own personal disintegration?

My friend Linda is a brand new grandmother, her first grandson named after her husband's twin brother who died twenty years ago. So pleased to see her beaming face, to hear her sound just like every other grandmother: "I had no idea! I mean, I love my kids, but I've never felt anything like this!" Yes indeed.