Monday, May 21, 2018

"She Loves You" at Miles Nadal Thursday May 24

Reminder: my talk is this week! There will be music and video and me yammering about being there at the beginning and loving right through to now. Paul McCartney and peanut butter - outside of my family, the two great longterm loves of my life.

the sweetness of the garden and yet another T@#$#mp rant

Body aches, top to toe, but especially the legs, after two solid days of gardening. My haunches, knees, arms - all hurt. It's delicious. All in aid of the miracle called the garden.

Where I am right now, drinking a cold beer and meaning to read - am plowing through Leslie Jamison's book of essays "The Empathy Exams," and what a powerful, interesting writer she is. But I keep getting up to go check on things, clip a little more here and there, despite my aches and pains.

Yesterday, John and I staked the raspberries and I gave them a talking-to: if they don't produce substantial fruit this year, they're outta here. Hours of pruning and staking the whole garden, filling two garbage cans with clippings.

Today, I planted the deck boxes: two types of lettuce, two types of basil and chives, some parsley and dill, and fertilized the gardenia which is ready to bloom, the jasmine, diplodenia, geraniums - all spent the winter in my office and are glad to be released. My new garden helper Richard did the veg garden: eggplant, kale, cukes, cherry tomatoes. Beans and maybe spinach to follow. And then two planter boxes of impatiens, for colour in dark corners.

I do not think of myself as a gardener. I don't know theory - as I don't know music theory either, come to think of it. But somehow, this nourishing, heavenly place keeps going, year after year. A young man from the Kim's plant store on the corner helped me home with heavy bags of fertilizer the other day. We walked through the condo courtyard and up the stairs to the garden door. When he stepped inside, he stopped and blinked. "Wow," he said. "Wow."

It's just not what you expect in the inner city - the length of it, the quiet, the greenness.

Wayson did come yesterday, and so did Sam; he grilled us a meal on the barbie, salmon, many veggies, and pears - he said grilled pears go well with salmon, and we happily took his word for it. Then we watched the end of the "Little Women" series, where I got to weep at the death of Beth all over again - first did so in 1960. Unlike every one of my artsy friends, I did not want to be Jo, the rebel who grew up to be a writer. I wanted to be sweet, loving, self-sacrificial, beautifully dead, and much missed Beth.

Today I took my aching bod to the Y, to sit in the hot tub and the sauna. On the way, I noticed how rude people are, even on a blissfully tranquil national holiday - horns honking, people swearing, not the staid Toronto we used to know. And as ever, I blame Trump for the increasingly rude nastiness of the entire planet. Imagine - people see that you can be an unabashed crook, a despicable human being without a shred of decency or honesty or even sense, and yet not only wheel and deal successfully but assume the most powerful office on earth. Why should we continue to obey social rules, when he has flaunted them all and been rewarded for it?

More beer.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

the man with the bag of books

It's the middle of a long quiet Victoria Day weekend - drizzly yesterday, mild and sunny today. Just spent an hour pruning, then I'll do the soil, and then, today or tomorrow, planting. My new basement tenant, a young man from Quebec, moved in yesterday, and there were visitors. My doorbell rang; a big man, a stranger, was at the door. When I opened it, I saw he had a big bag of books. I assumed they were his and started thanking him.
"I'm a garbageman," he said, "an industrial garbageman, and I found these. I think it's criminal to throw books away, so I brought them to you."

I have renewed faith in humanity. Thanks to this kind man, the Little Free Library is full of nearly new books. Can you imagine the person who threw them away? It's just unthinkable. The activity at the library is ceaseless - including at least one person who, I suspect, regularly takes out every book., who knows why? But then it gradually - or quickly, as yesterday - fills again.

I was in an emotional wedding fog much of the day, reading news reports, pleased that the bride switched to a Stella McCartney gown in the evening. Because I spent the evening working on my next week's talk about her father, the McCartneys were on my mind. And then Jean-Marc and Richard came by for a glass of wine. Richard, a protocol expert who runs every special event at City Hall, is now famous for his CTV appearances any time there's a royal event; he'd had an exhausting weekend of nearly non-stop commentary. I'm always fascinated to know what he thinks. He is fiercely defensive of the royal family, some of whom he knows well, and the most savvy man I know politically, constantly attuned to his Twitter feed. He thought Minister Curry's speech was too long and rambling, and that it was not the young couple but Prince Charles who chose most of the music. And if Richard says it, it must - almost all the time - be true.

Today, planting, sitting, reading, cooking perhaps for Wayson, perhaps my son might drop by, perhaps not. Nothing, nothing on the agenda. The air is still because the city has stopped.

Love is all you need.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

okay, yes, I watched it

By complete chance, I woke at 6.45 a.m. and at 7.15 was in the kitchen drinking coffee. And I thought, oh well, I guess I'll find out about the wedding. I thought it would be over. So I checked the computer and THERE IT WAS, still going on. I came in just as Reverend Curry was finishing his sermon, and I thought, I'm in the wrong place, what is this?? It was amazing, shockingly direct and casual in such a formal place. And then after the vows, a black choir sang a beautiful rendition of Stand by Me, a black cellist played, and it was not at all what I - the world - was expecting.

I turned on the TV and watched till they drove out of sight in their landau, the horses freaking out at the noise, that gorgeous young woman with her bright natural smile that did not fade, that nice young man who looks not unlike another nice young reddish-haired man the same age and closely related to me. Despite my complete indifference to this occasion, I fell under the spell. They do these things well, the Brits, up to and including the weather, the perfect day. The absurd hats, the stuffy royals, and there, with tears in her eyes, was a divorced African-American woman of great dignity, the bride's mother. They all won me over.

The only negative, for me, was that the camera angle kept showing the bride's friends, foremost among them Ben Mulroney, son of an unfortunate Canadian prime minister. Otherwise, it was beautiful to watch, an absurd fairytale brought to theatrical life. Call me a sucker, but there was a tear or two, remembering my own wedding day. Which was in the Vancouver registry office two weeks after the birth of our daughter, attended by the sleeping baby in a borrowed christening robe along with my mother and a dear friend, and that's all. So - not quite the same. But the love and the hope were the same.

This morning, to the plant store on the corner, usually extremely crowded on the May 24 weekend - today, in the rain, empty. I bought basil, lettuce, cherry tomatoes, chives (mine died this winter), parsley, eggplant (trying again), cukes and more. TO LIFE!

'I'm ready for a drink now': What Harry said to Meghan (according to a lip reader). As the carriage pulled away from the crowds into the gated grounds of Windsor Castle, Ms Markle seemed to be in awe of the scenes, lifting her hand to her chest and saying "wow". Harry also seemed to need some help... according to lip reader Tina Lannin, he said to his bride: "I'm ready for a drink now."

My kind of guy.

"Dr. King was right. We must discover love. The redemptive power of love and when we do that, we will make of this old world a new world. My brother, my sister, god love you, god bless you, and may god hold us all in those almighty hands of love."

Friday, May 18, 2018

Now we are six

Often, to get to my daughter's across town, I cycle south to King Street, lock up the bike, and get the King streetcar. I did that this morning at 11.30, on my way to help her prepare for Eli's sixth birthday party. At 7.45 p.m., as I hauled my bones off the streetcar and unlocked my bike, I was about to moan about how tiring it is to go all that way. And then I thought of my friends Lynn and Denis, who recently were needed to babysit three of their grandchildren for a week, and to do so, they had to fly to Nairobi.

A long streetcar ride I can take.

Anna the event producer, as usual, whipped up a phenomenal extravaganza for a ridiculous number of children - maybe 15, ranging from about 9 to Ben at 2. She had huge plates of snacks ready, and, most importantly, buckets of water and sponges to wash the car, their favourite pastime, and chalk paint to paint the pavement and then each other. There was mud and so much noise, it was beyond deafening. Then they found Eli's extensive gun collection and there was war, racing about shooting, pew pew! And spying and rushing up and down the slide and jumping in the mud (Ben). There was teasing about Eli's "girlfriend" Stacey, who is lovely and who scolds him in a voice just like his mother's - "Elijah!" I thought, it's a good sign he's choosing so well, at just six. I heard another girl, when asked if she had a boyfriend, say, "It's not legal for me to have a boyfriend. I'm only eight."

Right on, sister.

At one point, one muddy savage with a huge green and red water gun rushed by shouting, "Let's kill the pig!" At least, I think that's what he said, and I thought, It's getting a little too Lord of the Flies out here. But no, the most amazingly good time was had by all. The downstairs neighbour appeared with superhero capes and ninja headbands he had made out of old t-shirts. After the snacks Thomas grilled piles of hot dogs and hamburgers, and then, best of all, CAKE. The only time they were still - five minutes of devouring cake. And then on their feet and all over the place.

In the midst of this, my daughter finds time to help a small person find something she's lost, help another choose something to eat when he doesn't like what he sees - I don't know how she keeps her calm, but she sails serenely through. The adults were provided with a crockpot of delicious pulled pork and a mere six salads.

I am in awe.


I abandoned ship and rode home, exhausted, on the streetcar, looking out at my city on a Friday night, marvelling at the cultures on display - people from every country on earth strolling the downtown streets. Especially thrilling, the mixed couples producing the cappucino babies who will save the world. Hurry!

On Wednesday, after teaching, I went to a neighbourhood party featuring oysters from the MW fish shop on Parliament Street. Mark the owner was there to shuck and give us much oyster lore. There was also lobster and other goodness from the sea. So, with 3 classes and beginning to get the garden underway, it's been a busy week. I'm bushed.

But at least it didn't require flying to Nairobi.

PS. Thank God, that @#$#@ wedding will soon be over. Let's talk about something else, for God's sake.