time time time

The internet is so alluring, so easy, so accessible, how can I resist it?  And how on earth (?) can people spare the time for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or whatever? The wonders and knowledge of the world are at one's fingertips, but oh, how time-consuming it all is.  Every day, but more on Sundays, I come across names, book titles, URLs, intriguing ideas I want to follow up on,  and I do. I have all these scraps of paper I scribble on  to lead me to clarification and enlightenment.  

Ai me.

I won't burden you with leads to knowledge you may not want. You have your own agenda and desires.  Go to it.  I do not mean to complain.  Like  you, all my life i have wondered about so many things, things peripheral to my life but that I wanted to know more about. And now it's possible. The trouble is that the things I want to know more about keep on increasing in number and complication.  I am happy but distracted. 

I'll let you know what I learn this week.

Oh, BTW...

Happy Labour Day.


I love paper.  I have always loved paper.  Among papers that I love are hasti-notes. That's a cute name that Hallmark or someone coined for cute little, quicky, short letters that brides (and others) used to say thank you.  They were cute, still are, even beautiful. I joined the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York not because I get to NY to see the exhibitions (they look lovely), but because I get catalogues online and a discount on purchases.  I have a friend who saves all my Met thank-you notes and pins them  on a bulletin board, not because I write great notes but because I write on great notepaper. I got carried away recently and bought more really pretty ones  and now I have a large collection that I must use soon.  I wish someone would have me for dinner, so I could thank her.

But I worry about the future of letters.  Wonderful collections of letters by famous people to other famous people are being published, dating from a time when people chose to write rather than twitter. Well, twitter didn't exist, of course. On the other hand, neither did blogs.  Maybe those who would have been letter-writers are communicating via blogs now. I can believe that. I'm having trouble keeping up with everything I have to write these days: my diary; my correspondence (with people my age who don't have commuters although they are catching up with iPads and beginning to write) ; notes for my mentee; regular generic letters (I wrote one in August, haven't mailed it yet, either e- or snail-); my blog and, of course, the book I am trying to finish.  

Anon, anon....


here I am...

 - again.

I have just finished yesterday's assignment and I must continue in a different vein for today's blog. What's new today?  I have already described my reaction to the chamber production of Dream, but there's more to it.  I took note of one particular phrase while I was listening and looked it up yesterday morning.  It's from Quince's Prologue. The entire speech is  profoundly funny with its lofty repetition.  The line is ..."a true beginning to our end."  I perked up first because my book Beginnings continues to influence my current writing.  I'm changing the working title of my book on aging to ENDING, but it may be more than the working, temporary handle. 

End, of course, has a double meaning.  End, not finish, but end as in goal.  Ay, there's the rub. Not finished yet. 

Have to work on that.


Q & A


Could you do a bit of a blog on what the writer does with her emotions when writing? I want to write about my two sets of grandparents and their very different circumstances, but as I examine the stark contrast, I begin to cry for my grandparents wbo were so very poor...am I not the one to write this story,.then?

I'll have to sleep on this....

- so it's actually the next day,and of course I have thoughts, not entirely charitable.  My first thoughts were about dealing with the problem at hand. Second thoughts were about my own artistic problems, always working on them.  Third thoughts were professional.  This question is like a writing assignment, the kind of work I did/do for a living., not that I make a living. But I am becoming less generous than I used to be, mainly because I get tired sooner.  I have to husband my energy, only so much per day, per task (love that word).  Having said that, I would offer a few ideas to help Commenter solve her problem.  Not solve - approach. 

1) Treat it like a fable. Aesop comes to mind. "Once upon a time" creates a distance between the narrator and the protagonists and their story can be told in the third person with time as a buffer between them and her emotions.  

2) Still in the third person, treat it like a case report, as if you were a social worker dealing with clients and maintaining a professional distance.  I said to my son's counsellor last week that I considered her a good friend and she said she wasn't allowed to do or say that to me.  

3) Tell it like a true confession in the first person.  It needn't be history; it could be present tense, from the POV of a child (adult child) in the house, or a neighbour, not necessarily a kind one.

4) Recall the details as they impinge on your own life and how they have affected you.  In other words, make it a memoir.

That's enough.  I am doing a lot of mentoring these days.

Have a good one.


Stratford and beyond

It was a very long day.  One of the people I went to Stratford with has a dog.  She doesn't hire a sitter to tend the dog, she takes Nathaniel with her.  Taking it means dropping it off with friends who live an hour PAST Stratford.  So we had to drive there first, then back to Stratford; then, when the show was over, drive back to get the dog.  We started for home at 11 p.m.  I got to bed at 1:30 a.m., so I slept in this morning, didn't swim until 8 a.m. So today will be  a short day, I guess.

Minor irritation.  

Bigger irritation was the pretentious director's notes in the program.  I went to the chamber production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, "Cosmos for a Quartet of Voices", performed by four actors, 2 male, 2 female, playing all the roles. The director, Peter Sellars, might have been a post-graduate student tap-dancing his way through a preliminary pitch of what a great thesis he's going to write.  Aaargh!  His notes are theatre-speak at the very worst.  He says, for example, that the ideal production would be by adolescents just discovering sex and other things. His actors were very touchy-feely, but they had the advantage over teen-agers in that they knew what they were talking about and they knew how to speak Shakespeare intelligently and movingly. They gave weight and emotion to beautiful lines so clearly that I felt as if I were hearing them for the first time. 

I do think, though, that Shakespeare would turn over in his grave if he heard the actors put too much weight and emphasis on the mechanicals' words.  The Bard knew how to write bad poetry, too, very bad, and he sent up the "tragic" play of Pyramus and Thisbe with very funny, bad verse.  The actors were too serious; you  had to listen very hard  for the humour in the words.  That's a small criticism.  The production was terrible, too noisy and messy, but it also was a small irritation.  

Put it this way, like a score:  Peter Sellars, Zero; Shakespeare, 100.  Also A-Plus.


I'm going to the chamber production of Midsummer Night's Dream, directed by Peter Sellars. I'm putting together a picnic, have to leave soon.  Isn't it terrible how one's personal life interferes with one's mental life?


Anon, anon.

a Stratford profile

Yesterday I  met a woman during the intermission of the play (Antony and Cleopatra) at the Tom Patterson Theatre in Stratford. She was eating a Haagen-Dasz ice cream bar, standing a little apart from the crowd.  I joined her because it seemed a little cooler where she stood , asking permission to join her, asking about a possible breeze.  It was much hotter outside the theatre than in.  She nodded and explained immediately that she was enjoying her once-a-summer treat of the ice cream bar, allowable only at a theatre matinee on a hot summer day.

"Me, too,"I said. "I've had mine for the summer."

She went on talking, casually enough, but filling me in on her life.  She'd been coming to Stratford since the tent days, when she was in Grade Eight, and I could tell,  looking at her, that it was before the school matinees had begun. She paused for me to fill in my information.  

I was born and bred in Winnipeg," I said. "I didn't get here for the first time until 1985."

"I've been coming ever since," she said. "I live in Orillia now. I would have been an actor, wanted to be. My parents said I should learn something else, to have something to fall back on. So I became a teacher and I acted for my students - the plays.  I still miss that. l've been retired for fifteen years now and every September I miss acting, miss the students. It's good to come here."

She had finished her ice-cream bar and wrapped the stick in a tissue, bending to pick up a bit of chocolate that had fallen on the concrete.  The crowd was starting to move back into the theatre.

"It was nice talking to you," she said.

Me too.


they will come

If you are waiting for someone to come, for sure they will come if you go to the bathroom. Or start a blog.  I am waiting for Gateway Grocery to come and I need them to come soon because I have to put away the groceries before I leave for the day for Stratford. I hate waiting. I get nervous when I wait.  I start thinking I made a mistake, got the time or date wrong, something. So now I am waiting. So I thought if I start a blog they will come.

They haven't come yet.  Oh dear.

Now I can't think of anything to say, just banal things like don't forget you need brown bread for a smoked salmon picnic later this week.  Not pumpernickel.  Check other supplies.

I'm going to start a new, huge list of things to do before I leave the country for six months. 

He called! He's coming! I don't have to wait any longer.



it's a diligently acquired skillI

I hate to say it, but I'm very skilled at procrastination.

I have a Paper Desk and a Computer Desk.  My Paper Desk is messier than my Computer Desk because I neglect it more and also  because it's so eclectic. I clip things from the New York Times every week: book reviews and theatre profiles for me; blog ideas for me (not blogs as such, but things that trigger blogs in me); medical mysteries for my granddaughter the doctor; art and design things for my granddaughter the artist; human interest things for my Boston-based daughter and son-in-law and their daughters; wedding accounts for a friend who is a wedding officiant; foodie news for a friend who is pathologically organic and health-food-oriented; math problems, reviews, conundrums and esoteric recipes for my son the genius. Then there are a few bills to pay that aren't online;  birthday cards to send; and notes to write to people who don't have a computer (they're old friends).  Like that.  The papers pile up and wait for me.  And I procrastinate, productively.  

This morning Paper Desk was at the top of my to-do list.  So - I finished Chapter Ten of my book, not finished, you know, but  I tweaked some more, downloaded and printed it.  I made a low-calorie dinner, as usual in a much larger quantity than required, for the freezer, for my son, for a neighbour (?), maybe even for a second shot for me. And of course I made Lists. 

Well, I did finally write some essential letters and mailed them on my way to get my third TwinRix shot. Only four months to go before I cruise around the world (southern hemisphere) so I have a lot to do.  Anywhere I choose to procrastinate, it will help.  

morning already?

Too soon, too soon.  I wrote late last night after a day in Hamilton celebrating a friend's birthday. I haven't even had my swim yet.  Slow start.  I'll check in later....don't hold your breath.

Here I am, end of another day. Today is Sunday New York Times Day.  Every week we are urged to read the most gripping novel(s) of the year, a book you can't put down, a revelation, something you never knew.  One has to read between the lines to decide.  I think I have to wait a little longer before I order things.  Well, some things I know I don't  need or want, but then, you never can tell.  All my life I have always thought there was something else I must know, must learn before I put it all together.  I have learned a little, but not enough, never enough. 

Oh, now, how about the fashion?  T-magazine came  this week, too, "Revisiting Spirit," with reports on cutting edge (?) arts, décor, fashion, and so on.   Well, the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) has helped me to a deeper understanding for and indifference to Fashion. I look at most of the creations and I wonder how one could get on the subway wearing any of them.  I do, however,  admire much of the fashion I see on my fellow passengers.  I like the long black skirts that some of the women wear.  I bought one for myself, actually, but I have never worn it on the subway.  I'm afraid of tripping.  I have enough trouble with escalators as it is. I worry about young women's feet. They wear flip-flops and I'm afraid they will stub their toes and ruin their arches. 

Ah, well, I do run on. And so does my battery.  Time to re-charge.  Anon, anon.


words words words

I'm tossing words around a lot lately as I write, choosing, shaping, alliterating, trying to be accurate as well as entertaining and informative.  There are some words I don't tend to use that I notice other people do and I admire them for it.  I have a friend who says "task".  That is so cool.  I say "job".  Think of Melanie Griffith in the movie WORKING GIRL who made herself say t.a.s.k. very clearly, emphasizing the k.  Canadian writer June Callwood (1924-2007 ) used to say "splendid".  I love that word and I don't use it.  I say great or lovely, not nearly as...splendid.  There was a fad  thirty or forty years ago - I'll check it soon- oh, it was 60 years ago!! - A discussion arose in academic circles about the differences between  U and non-U words.  U stood for Upper Class, non-U was not lower class, but Middle.  English author Nancy Mitford (1904-1973) published an essay, "The English Aristocracy" in 1954, and the debate went on.  If you look it up online you can find a whole list of U and non-U words. I can remember some of them. Curtains were U; drapes were non-U; writing paper was U; note-paper was non-U. Looking glass was U; mirror was non-U.  Rich was U; wealthy was non-U; die was U; pass on was non-U.    I have my own preferences along those lines.  I prefer to say tuxedo, not tux, invitation, not invite.  I hate the word "tasty" because of a commercial I heard on radio long ago:

"Ladies! Want to give your hubbies a tasty treat?"  No! I turned it off.  

The American poet John Ciardi (1916-1986 ) had a column in Saturday Review/World mainly  about words ("Manner of Speaking").  He was classified as an etymologist and later published two books, devoted to etymology, "The Browser's Dictionary"(1980) and The Second Browser's Dictionary"(1983).  These are still available online for too much money, more than I can spend. Fun, though.  I loved the way the poet played with words but held them in such respect and emphasized the need for accuracy in their use.    

We should all be so respectful.


cherish the moments

I am immersed in the re-write of my book, finally figured out what to do with it.  Spending too much time at the computer and I have the back and shoulders to prove it.  But my mind is also swimming around in blogland (something like wetland), so I have to clear it.  Well it's about mind, mindfulness.

Mindfulness: "a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique." I was surprised to find it in the online dictionary, because it's a hot word these days being tossed around by writers and thinkers. It makes me think of Henry James. He said "be one on whom nothing is wasted," reminding himself as a writer not to fritter away his time or his mind.  

I had a minister's wife, one of my best friends when I was a teenager, whom I admired very much because she was the first writer I knew, writing against all odds - the odds being a demanding husband and two scoffing sons who never took her seriously, even after she had published two books to their surprise. She sent me a collection of aphorisms and recipes after I was married and in honour of my first pregnancy.  Her advice was to "cherish the moments."

That's all-purpose. Bear it in mind.

grandchildren - ain't they grand?

You know that line from The Prophet (1923) by Kahlil Gibran (1883-1923) about children; it  goes something like: "your children are arrows shot from yourselves. Do not try to make them like you; try instead to be like them. Something like that.  Now I'll look it up....

You may strive to be like them, 
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.


Well, that's not great, but I had the right idea. Anyway, I'm talking about grandchildren. No way you can strive to make them like you (in both senses of the word).  There are so many more genes went into their DNA that you're lucky if  you see even a passing resemblance to you or your mate. But their achievements are a wholly gratuitous blessing.  You had nothing to do with their accomplishments but  you can be proud all the same.  And very grateful. 

a good day

Well, every day should be a good day. "Make it so," as Patrick Stewart used to say when he was doing his Star Trek turn, and I try.  But some good days are better than others. I went to the AGO this morning (Art Gallery of Ontario) to a preview of the new Alex Colville exhibition. 

It's said if you come away from any experience with one new idea, you're really doing well.  Maybe not an idea but something you didn't know before, oh, even a reinforcement of something you already knew but didn't remember you knew or didn't give it credit for its value...oh well, I'll just tell you.  I might have known at one time but didn't remember that the animals on the Canadian coins issued during our Centennial year (1967) were designed by Alex Colville. They are:

One dollar, the Canada Goose (superseded now by the loon)

50 cent, the wolf

25 cent, the wildcat, or bobcat

5 cent, the rabbit

one cent, the dove (rock dove) ---gone, gone, gone

I bet they are collectors' items now, if  you could put your hands on one.  

Anyway, Alex Colville did them.  

The other thing that made an impact on me was the love that Alex and his wife shared through their 70-year marriage.  In one of several little films running in the gallery about different aspects of Colville's work and life, his daughter remembered, toward the end of her parents' lives, her mother looking at her father and saying, "I love you," And he said, "I love you, too. You are the one enduring fact of my life." Or was it most important?   I don't think I got those words exactly, which is not like me.  I was overcome with emotion and listening to my late husband with my heart. 

It was a good day.

old is old is old

I don't pedal every day, but I try to, in the late afternoon, but there are gaps in my  fidelity. If I'm having guests for dinner, I spend prep time in the kitchen. If I've been out shopping, I'm too tired from all the walking.  ( I gave up my car several years ago. I have a cart instead.) This week I 've been very faithful. I set the time back a little and I have a new book that draws me down to the machine. It's a recumbent pedaller, no handle-bars, so I can lean back and pedal and hold a book with my free hands.  (The book I am reading is a mystery called Elizabeth Is Missing and the protagonist has Alzheimer's.)

So, different time, different people.  This week an old man has been in the exercise room, rowing and bicycling. We don't talk much because I'm reading and he's breathing hard, but I break after 15 minutes to do some stretches and then again after another 15 before I leave.  We have both been self-congratulatory about our exercise efforts despite our extreme age.  Yesterday I told him how old I am.  I'm 83, I said bravely. He said he was too. I would have thought he was older, but I didn't say so.  However, he said to me, "You don't look it." 

"Not a day over 82,"  I said and laughed.  At this age, it doesn't matter, does it, I mean, what you look like.  Well, I don't like to look frail, as I did a few years ago before I stepped up my efforts to be fit. The creators of all these stupid birthday cards with their condescension and stereotypical humour have no idea what they're talking about, with one exception.  Mostly they repeat bromides: 

You're only as old as you feel

Good wine and good cheese improve with age and so do you

Your head is a good landing place for flies (for bald men)

-all sorts of bad jokes about downward sliding breasts and bottoms (for women)

-all sorts of bad jokes about forgetting what your private parts are for

Well, you can go read a few yourself.  The exception was a card I gave my mother on one of her last birthdays.

"Some advice for your birthday: keep moving or they'll throw a tablecloth over you."

 I've never seen that card since but I use the advice for myself.  That's why I keep pedalling. 


The nicest thing about not writing a letter is not being disappointed when you don't get a reply because you didn't write in the first place and therefore didn't expect one.  Once you've written, all hope is gone and you are disappointed and disillusioned and frustrated every day, but not if you didn't write.

Why  don't people answer their mail? It doesn't have to be genuine mail with paper and an envelope and a stamp. People are very good at ignoring e-mail too.  Perhaps their fingers are weak from playing Angry Birds so they are incapable of pushing SEND. 

I get these great ideas for markets and contacts for my work and as long as they remain on my to-do lists, I live in hope.  I am not by nature cynical but little by little the acid is dropping into my soul and I am getting very bitter. 

Even my jaunty, friendly style becomes eroded into sarcastic, even nasty, comments.  My belief has been shattered and I am fighting back.  Not that it does much good.  They don't read hate mail either. 

retreat and conquer

Well, not really, not conquer, but retreat sounds like a strategic withdrawal from the battle.  So who is to be defeated? No one. But perhaps one can conquer one's self, with discipline and luck.

My first retreats were not strategic but desperate. I was trying to write with four kids at home. The oldest was just starting school; the youngest was challenged and needed a lot of time. So did I.  When my parents went away one winter, I used to get a baby sitter and take a cab to their place with my typewriter.  Not often because that was expensive.  I set up arts and crafts projects at the kitchen table for the kids and sat at my desk in the adjacent dining area, my writing space, and wrote short things not because I had a short attention span but because they did. My husband helped. One time we were going to Montreal to the wedding of one of his closest friends and Bill suggested I go by train so I could write.  So he put me in a roomette, or whatever they call those little private moving cells, and I wrote my way from Winnipeg and he met me in Montreal. 

By the time we moved to Stratford it was a habit, to take work with me when I travelled with Bill.  If it was in Ontario, to Toronto or Ottawa, I would take my own portable typewriter. If further than that, I rented a typewriter in whatever hotel we stayed in and wrote during the day while Bill worked. Yes, I worked at home, too, but not with the complete focus I had when alone in a room without interruption.

After Bill died, my writing moved up to to necessary top priority because I was trying to make a living with it. (No one told me it couldn't be done.)  I started going to stay at a friend's home in Bermuda.  It happened almost by accident but then one or the other of us would phone and ask for time. They had basset hounds they wanted me to look after and I wanted the uninterrupted time.  I wrote a number of books there.

Bill (W.O.) Mitchell helped me to the next phase.  He parachuted me in to the Writers' Retreat in  Banff: two, three weeks, I forget how long, and I wrote up a storm.  The last year that I lived in Toronto I spent more consecutive time in Banff than I did at home: at the Advanced Writers' Retreat; in a Leighton Artist's studio; in the Playwrights' Workshop;  and even once, not forgetting my day job, as a guest speaker at an insurance conference. (I was Canada's favourite widow by then.)  

My accountant suggested I get my own writer's retreat and spend less money on travel. That's when I moved into a winterized cottage on the shore of Bass Lake in Muskkoka.  When I moved in, the septic tank was on its last dregs so I kept moving until the weather was warm enough to install a new one  That's when I went to the MacDowell Retreat in New Hampshire where they bring you your lunch in a basket left on the doorstep of your own little cabin in the woods.  (Bliss!)  

Owning your retreat is not as good. Not only are you the one who supplies the basket but you also have to shovel the snow.  There's always something to do, to be done. Eventually I moved back to Toronto, though not for 16 years.

Last fall (October, 2013) I had two retreats. I applied for and was granted a month in Stegner House in Eastend, SK, to work on a project. (I wrote the first draft.) I also applied to Canada Council for travel assistance because Eastend is far away.  I took the train, two nights and two days in a "cabin" that served as a decompression chamber, allowing me to prepare to focus on the book I am still trying to complete at home.

 I have become very reclusive now, not as hard as it used to be because I have lost so many family and friends. I'm not careless, just old. 

I didn't intend this to be a blow-by-blow account of my retreat history, but I think it demonstrates how necessary it is to be absent.  The End of Absence (see yesterday's blog) is scary. I can't speak for everyone but I know that I absolutely need solitude, far from the madding internet. These days the crowd is closer than it was, and more threatening, and you have to work at conquering the constant assault on consciousness. 

the end of absence

No doubt you have seen the coverage being devoted this weekend to a new book by Michael Harris, The End of Absence (Harper & Collins, 2014), about the endless distractions of the internet age and how they have affected our mindset.  He thinks that we - those of us born before 1985, have the rare, never-to-be-repeated privilege of having experienced both worlds: BI- Before Internet and PI - Post Internet.

He relies on Thoreau as his mentor and guide to an inner life, if indeed an inner life is still possible. According to the review I read (I'm going to get the book), Harris wrote a chapter about a month he took off for an analog reprieve, something like that. Well, that's what retreats are all about, isn't it?  More of that anon.

I acquired my first home computer in 1985, the first in my block.  It was a Kaypro IV, a brand and model that most of the writers in Canada bought because they got a deal through the Writers' Union.  It was writer-friendly, that is, if one could touch type. I had gone to Business College to learn to type the summer before I entered university, so I adapted pretty fast. I remember thinking, as I hesitated to make the purchase, that after all, I'd owned two Mix-Masters (the old brand name for an electric beater) and three blenders, so I would probably own more than one computer before I was through.  Oh my, yes.  Even now I own a Big Mac, a Little Mac (Air), and a Minnie (iPad Mini), plus an old Dell laptop and an older Toshiba laptop, both still functioning, both repositories of some LWP (Lotus Word Processor) scripts I might still need. I finally sold my portable typewriter that I wrote all my college essays and my Master's thesis on,  and my old IBM Selectric that I wrote my first books on.  

What has this got to do with the internet and the end of absence? Just that Harris is right: I've had the experience of both worlds.  I used to do my research in the public library and borrowed books, interviewed people, and took copious notes. Now I google just about everything, always taking care to double-check my sources. One still must not trust all the shiny information handed to one in a gratuitous download.  There's still no such thing as a free lunch. But it is a different world.  Before computers and the net I couldn't have done everything I've done without at least one secretary - personal assistant - and several clones. (I still wish I had a clone.)

Michael Harris says that the kids today (anyone born after 1985) don't know much about the value of being alone.  Solitude is a scarce commodity.  I could have told him that, long before the electronic highway threatened to turn us all into roadkill. Wordsworth could have told him that.  Remember "The world is too much with us,/Getting and spending..." So of course I had to look it up, with information at my fingertips. Here it is:

THE world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!

Think about it.  I will too. Tomorrow I'll talk about retreats.


picking up where I left off...

I know I came across several blog ideas that I must deal with but I have to tell you something first.  I have been restored to my balcony!  Or rather, my balcony has been restored to me!!  The board has been taken off the door and I can go outside. No furniture, of course, but I have a light rattan sun lounge that wouldn't go anywhere so I've dragged it outside and when I finish with you, I am going to sit out there and possibly stay until dark. 

No plants, no candles, no amenities, but who cares? The sun and air are there and soon I will be, too. I suppose it's too late to do anything about plants.  I don't like fall mums. I lost my 4-year-old Virginia creeper; there was just no place to put it inside.  I wonder if it's possible to grow wiser on a balcony?  I love wisteria.   Oh, look at what spell-check did to me - wondering if it's possible to grow wiser, instead of wisteria.  I hope so.  Give me enough sun and air - and water? - something wet, anyway, and I will grow wiser by the minute. 

Anon, anon.

a little later

Now my predict-a-text is really second-guessing me. I wrote "a",  as I began my title and it leapt in with "-hunting we will go."  No, no, a little later, is all I meant.

I returned to yesterday's blog late in the day and now it's early the next day. That's what I get when I go to bed too early.  I sleep enough and then no more. I don't enjoy most of the thoughts that come unbidden, so I get up and bring tea back to bed. I do the weather, my diary, check Weight Watchers, read over the piece I've been working on, fine-tuning as I go, plan my  day and menus and here I am. It's too early to swim so you are stuck with me. 

I have a friend, younger than I - she won't be 80 until September - who is at a frightening crossroad of her life.  I woke thinking about her.  She has lived, as they say a rich, full, productive life, and she is wondering what to do now.  Her children are grown with families of their own, and they are good to her and she loves her grandchildren and sees them. Most of them live in the same city, a great blessing.  Her brilliant husband had an accident several years ago now and never recovered his full  competence. She has been his primary caregiver but the care has proven physically impossible for her to continue, dangerous for both of them. He has entered a long-term and very pleasant facility and she visits him regularly, like every day.  What now?

Certainly she has some welcome time to herself and she is very resourceful.  Sadly, one of her favourite resources is slipping away. She has macular degeneration and cannot see to read a book. Okay, she has an electronic reader with back light and big print and she's going to investigate audio books. But she's looking at ten to fifteen years of what? (Her mother died in her 90s.) She wants to redefine her purpose in the life she has left. She says it's all very well for me because I have my writing, I still have a goal.  

Yes, well, I said, all my life I've been trying to climb this ladder I set against a house and what if I've set it against the wrong house? Too late.  Don't look down! 

So we both must look ahead.  And here I am, writing a book about aging. I should have thought of this. Well, I have, in a way, but not so closely.  I'm still working on my own ladder and haven't given enough thought to other peoples'  rungs. What do I say?  Climb with me. The best is yet to be.  Well, maybe not the best. But it's pretty good when you consider the alternative.

Maurice Chevalier is supposed to have said that. I'm not sure; was his English that good?