Monday, February 28, 2011
Sunday, February 27, 2011
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
The film builds to the king's famous speech as the country launches itself into war; my mother heard that speech on the radio, sitting at home, in the thatched cottage in the village of Potterspury, with her mother and father. "It's the only time I ever saw my mother cry," she said.
"Did you know he had a stammer?" I asked.
"Oh yes," said Do. "Every speech was slow, with long pauses. But we didn't know anything about Lionel Logue."
I loved seeing the film again, the marvellous music, the beautifully wrought interior and exterior shots, and especially, once again, the rapport between the two men, those sublime performances. Oscars all round, say I.
The following day I took my mother shopping for shoes, which is a major excursion as she takes a size 13 and there's only one shop that stocks them, Tall Girls, which has changed its name, not surprisingly. It's now Long Tall Sally. It was amazing to be in a shop where my mother, who used to be six feet tall, looks petite; there were amazons and giantesses in there. But none, I noticed, with size 13 feet. We bought Mum something she has never had - a pair of ballerina flats. I can tell you that not often has the word "ballerina" been used in a sentence about my mother. She's not clumsy or ungainly, not at all - just very tall, with big hands and feet. But now she has some pretty ballerina flats.
I went for a walk in the freezing cold and hot bright blinding sun - the snow is white out here, and it's a beautiful, Cornelius Krieghof scene. Punishingly cold though.
The next day we cooked a large meal for the family - it was Family Day, so our timing was good. My brother came over with his partner and their 3-year old, who is so delicious, you just want to gobble him up. He's a great dancer, so the two of us did some dancing together, which often involved being on all fours, not the easiest position. I invited him to come to Toronto in 15 years and we'll go clubbing. Jakie and Auntie Beth, on all fours in a club.
We'd had a family meeting earlier in the day, and for those of you who've been following here, I am happy to report that it was an exceptionally good meeting. I relaxed into the punches, so to speak, and in any case, there really weren't any. It was the best family meeting we've ever had, also on Family Day. We resolved some issues and no one got up and walked out in a huff. Followed by a giant meal and dancing. Do arrived with dessert - a big fruit salad and a freshly baked walnut banana cake. May I have half her energy at 91.
But today a walker arrived for my mother, delivered by the government of Ontario, which will let her try it for a month; if she likes it, she'll buy her own. What a great system. They are taking extremely good care of her, with nutritionists, social workers, physiotherapists all making sure she's well. Thank you, taxpayers. Because she is frail. I am worried, just as most of my friends are worried about their aging parents. So we do what we can.
There was a book about the childrearing years, called "Looking back on a decade of walking slowly." And as we tottered around the grocery store today, I thought, that's what we could call a book about this time of life too. I'm leaving tonight; the larder is stocked, and the wine cellar, and the fridge, and there is much love in the air. I could not be more grateful for this precious time.
PS And just picked up my messages from Toronto - MacZine is repaired and ready for pick up. Life begins again.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
But my office is spiffy, all cleaned up, I'm getting filing done, lots of reading and sorting. So there is an up side.
Did you see the picture of Bev Oda, sneaking a smoke behind the Parliament buildings? This is a cabinet minister?! Do what depths have we fallen?
And now, after this searing bit of prose, back to my lonely house.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Anyway, some filament that lights her screen is missing, the part needs to be ordered, and it may be a WEEK before I get her back. If I do - if there's more wrong, we will have to have a diagnostic consultation. She is five years old, after all - very old, in her world.
What will I do with my fingers for a week? Eat more chocolate. Luckily, I just got two delicious books from the library - "Proust and the squid," which is about how we read, and - I think it's called "On silence," I'm at a neighbour's and can't check, a memoir about a woman's search for quiet. And that is what I will have until MacZine or her replacement returns - mental quiet. Just me and the books.
And the fair trade chocolate. And the wine.
Oh - and I found out on Valentine's day that Marni Jackson, Karen Connelly, Joe Kertes and I are among the 25 writers, out of over 800 who entered, shortlisted for the CBC Literary Award in Creative Non-fiction. There's another round of elimination in 2 weeks. I'm honoured just to be here, with those wonderful writers and all the others. My story is one I've written about here in the blog, about my penpal Barbara who died in 1966, and the on-going story with her sister Penny. As Penny wrote when I told her the news, we've won already.
Monday, February 14, 2011
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Dear Professor Kaplan,
Many thanks for your email—it would be a great opportunity to be able to think of doing a paperback version of your book! Not only was the scholarship superb but there are great reviews we could put on the new back cover.
I wish to be addressed as Professor Kaplan from now on, please. They haven't actually said they will, but it looks good. I sent this note to my new Yiddishist friend Ruth, in Texas, and she wrote back asking if she should post a review on Amazon. I said sure, if you'd like to, and this is what she wrote:
Friday, February 11, 2011
One of the insidious and misunderstood aspects of depression is that it should not happen to people for whom all is going well.
Well it shouldn’t but it does. Although triggers can come from external factors, the source of depression is internal. The notion that one needs to be somehow downtrodden and beaten up by life to be prone to this disease leads to the type of stigmatization that marginalizes its sufferers, and makes us feel – in that Protestant way - that we should be counting our blessings instead of whining about our woes.