Saturday, August 20, 2016

celebrating Gord and the Hip

It's 9 p.m. Saturday night and I am, of course, along with much of the rest of this country, watching the last concert of the Tragically Hip on CBC TV. What a profoundly moving experience, to watch a man dying of brain cancer singing his heart out, with his band, to enraptured fans who have come to celebrate his life and say goodbye.

Here's a most beautiful article about the man, the band, the music, and this beloved country of ours:

http://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/watching-canadas-biggest-rock-band-say-a-dramatic-goodbye

P.S. I admit, I was not a fan, didn't know their music and even now, listening, it's not quite my thing, though I love that their hit song features Bobcaygeon - who else could say that? But I admire the courage and artistry of the man and am thrilled to be part of something that means so much to so many of my countrymen.

Friday, August 19, 2016

praise for "All My Loving"

Received this wonderful note from a former student and friend, a very accomplished woman who took my class at least ten years ago, and would like to share it with you. Does a writer's heart good. I wrote back to thank her and to ask her to pass the book or her recommendation of it on to anyone she thinks might be interested. I've had a bunch of notes like this, people who really enjoy the book - but so few people know it exists.

I just got back from a couple of weeks away at a cottage in Temagami where I read your book! All My Loving had me hooked from start to finish...It also brought back all your coaching - cutting to the chase, telling your own story, writing the truth, sharing your pain, mining the journal! 

What a terrific read. I can't believe you were so mature as a young teen that you travelled via Paris metro to the box office, bought tickets for TWO shows, AND went by yourself! As a crazy Beatles fan myself I could feel the electricity of how excited you were.  

I still want to write. The answer, I know, is write. There is some discipline in my life but it doesn't include writing at the moment, even though I know that the hardest, but really the easiest part is to just start.  

I know I'm late to the game on your book, but congratulations. I loved it.

home three days early

Hello internet, glad to have you back in my life! Hello garden, hello house, hello major modern metropolis. Happy to be with you once more.

Home three days early. Perhaps that tells you all you need to know, considering the time and expense it took to organize this trek north. Basically - the cottage is the friend of a friend's, in a good location, and, as we'd been told, on a big shallow lake with a shady beach for small people. Amenities - toys on site, grass, gorgeous sunsets, hammock, paddleboat, call of the loon. Lovely.
But there were problems, some with the cottage and some with us. To be brief, the place was not well maintained. In the sun, not a problem, but in bad weather, when you're stuck inside with two incredibly energetic children, it was. Our arrival day, Sunday, and Monday were wonderful - Lani and Maurice arrived for a visit and had supper with us, Lani doing puzzles and playing a game of catch the bubbles with Eli, and then it was painting time.

On Tuesday, the heavens opened - not just rain, but a biblical downpour. Anna located a wolf sanctuary on her phone and off we went, to spend $25 to look through windows at some empty woods - the wolves very sensibly opting not to get drenched - and see a documentary. The visit was great for Ben, though - he spent an hour going up and down the stairs to the bathroom. All Ben wants to do is climb - he is, at one, a fearless Cirque du Soleil gymnast. After our rather dispirited non-sighting of wolves, along with other desperate families of small kids, we drove to Haliburton and found a restaurant for lunch, where the waitress forgot our order so by the time it arrived, the kids were going insane, Eli especially disputatious and Ben emitting the ear-piercing scream that gives him so much pleasure. On the way back, the rain was so heavy, I had the wipers on as fast as they would go and still could hardly see.

The next two days were variable tho' we could mostly go outside - but thunderstorms were predicted for the whole weekend. No way. Anna and the kids were supposed to get the bus back Friday night and I to stay with a friend or alone for the weekend. No way. Between the musty smell and the weather, we decided to pack up early.

But also - I know there are people who have quiet grandchildren who sit and look sweetly at picture books. I am not one of them. Eli is a dervish - constant activity and noise from the moment he awakes, much too early, to when he blessedly drops off to sleep at 7 or so. He's bright, contrary, wilful and stubborn - as his mother says, he's her karma, because that was her young personality too, except that he's also bouncing off the walls. No problem when we could get him in the water and burn off some of that energy. And Ben was in the meantime trying to climb everything in sight, including the steep fence and steps of the deck, and when not climbing, he was gnawing on his brother's Crocs, my rubber boots, gravel, sticks and dirt. And paintbrushes.
Still we had a wonderful time, truly we did. It was a joy to watch them paddling, splashing and digging in the sand, these hilarious and marvellous children - discussing Eli's family of dragons, watching him carefully set the table for them so they could eat their soup. He sent them home before us. "Perhaps," I said, as we drove, "they're talking to your dad now." "Glamma," he said scornfully, "dragons don't talk."
And their mother is, as I've said before, a force of nature, the best mother in the world, dealing with the kids and producing one beautiful meal after another in a kitchen with no counter space - for Eli who's very picky and tiny Ben who eats a small amount and then throws the rest on the floor. And Glamma, who eats everything with gusto but was a tiny bit overwhelmed by it all. What an enormous amount of energy it takes to parent effectively, especially to children as forceful as these. It's relentless, like being in the eye of a hurricane. My daughter does not quail. But still, we were both very happy about the decision to go home Thursday night - she to her bed, her home set up for kids and cleaned to her exacting specifications - and I to the internet and PEACE AND QUIET. She organized the trip back to perfection - we wore them out during the day and left at 4, so they both slept for nearly the whole blessedly peaceful 3 hour trip to civilization.

But today, as I came home from taking the car back - glad to be rid of that behemoth - I passed the fire station on Dundas. They had the ladder out and a fireman was climbing it, and I so missed being able to show it to Eli, who would have been enthralled. I miss the feeling of a wriggling baby in my arms. Never mind - I took a picture of the fire engine and sent it to Anna, and I'll see them all again soon enough.

In the meantime, a mountain of laundry and piles of stuff to put away. No loon. But the cicadas, the little woodpecker hammering at the dead ivy, the sirens, the distant roar of the Don Valley Parkway - music to my ears.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

up and away

Did a solid two hours work last night in the lovely office - so there. Everything I need right in front of me - it boggles the mind. I began the hard work of renovating Act One. More drama, conflict, struggle needed. So difficult, when it's the story of my own serene and flawless life.

It's the first fresh morning we've had in a week, the garden wet and happy. I got a $30 parking ticket for parking on my own street last night, but that's life in the beeg ceety.

Now - north. See you in a week or so.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Once more to the lake

There's a honkin' great SUV outside, a Jeep Cherokee that yours truly will be driving tomorrow, filled with family and mountains of stuff, to cottage country. It is one of my great regrets that we didn't have a cottage when my kids were growing up. We didn't have one during my own childhood because we travelled in the summer, and then with our kids - well, my husband was always very busy, and a cottage was just not my tradition, and certainly not his. But I've heard over and over about people's wonderful summer memories, family gatherings, board games, camp fires, water skiing, and I am sorry we did not provide that for our kids.

So - I've rented a cottage for the first time from the friend of a friend, to see if this is a tradition I can provide for my grandchildren. It's apparently on a shallow lake, and I imagine the screen door banging, watching the kids splash, sitting by the lake with a glass of something as the sun sets. Anna and I have been texting back and forth all day - I needed to go pick up the car seats, did you pack the bandaids, should I bring the bug spray and pb or will you? We have enough equipment for a month.

Today is not an auspicious start - after a week of the most gruelling heat, today is still very hot but very wet, major downpours all day long. Please, God, do not rain on our week at the cottage. Being inside with two small energetic boys - well no, we'll just go and swim in the rain. But better not, if that's okay with You. Clouds are predicted. We'll take clouds. Pouring right now; good for the garden, not so much for small boys.

Sam will be here, and John, seeing to the house and the watering, especially the veggies. This year I am the queen of cucumbers. I am proud of my magnificent cukes.

Otherwise - my new office is terrific but I've done very little work in it. Had a drink with a student, who asked wistfully about my writing discipline - and I had to laugh. If I'd had a writing discipline, there would be more books. But I'll get back to the memoir when things settle. Yes I will. In the meantime - northward. To make memories.