what's the magic word?

I'm obsessing with  passwords.  I'm having a terrible time with them - with me.  I go blank a lot, forgetting my magic words or symbols that open my possibilities. There are certain connections I cannot seem to make.  When I started to write down a few passwords I thought a little notebook would be sufficient, but then I had to change or correct some and then some companies didn't remember when I changed or kept both of my identifiers and confused us both.  A dear friend gave me an address book and that helps, although my bank refused to remember my new password and kept making me change it, so there is a whole page of scribbled-out passwords until we both finally got one to stick.  Just last week I got so mad at one connection that either couldn't remember me or repeatedly refused me (my fault, I'm sure) that I finally wrote a password that stuck, for both of us: Feb83lardass.  It won't do you any good to try to access me with that; It got censored.  

I notice that Daytimer's that sell all the neat stuff for getting organized, has a new password notebook. Isn't it marvellous how designers keep up with the trends in peoples' needs? There are items that didn't exist a few years ago, like the clear plastic bags that hold your (small sizes)  toiletries now so that airline scanners will let you on the plane. I use a Ziplok sandwich bag. 

I'm not reconciled with passwords. It's a stand-off position.  There must be some other way and Im sure "they" are working on it. I rather like the idea of having my eyeballs scanned, something like that.  But then, with all the places we go now and the contacts we have to make,  it might be very hard on the eyes.  At one time I thought it would be a good idea to tattoo a password on a baby's heel to provide a lifetime identifier.  But then, some babies don't stay in the country they are born in, so they'd need an area code, and there are always new contacts that require more complicated sequences of numbers and letters .  I don't think anyone's heel is big enough to accommodate all that.  

I keep thinking of Ali Baba and how simple it was for him: all he had to remember was "Open Sesame" and the treasures were his.

Life just isn't like that any more, if it ever was. 


Well, we all love words, don't we?  More than food?  I was thinking as I swam this morning (so good to be back in the pool) of all the words we know that didn't even exist 10 or 15 years ago.  Cyberspace, for example, first coined by William Gibson (Necromancer, 1984), and defined by him as follows; 

"A consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators, in every nation, by children being taught mathematical concepts. … A graphic representation of data abstracted from banks of every computer in the human system. Unthinkable complexity. Lines of light ranged in the nonspace of the mind, clusters and constellations of data. Like city lights, receding. (Gibson 69) 

Well, here's one from the nonspace of my mind, conjured up daily: blog. I guess everyone knows it's short for weblog, and became blog for short.  That's why I first called my blog 'cobweb log', only stuck together.  There are so many words, ideas, concepts and tools that simply didn't exist before because today's technical world didn't exist.  On the other hand, there are words that have fallen into disuse and out of memory, concepts that I grew up with - and I still miss them and try to preserve them.  It's a losing battle.  What kind of words?

Well, words like responsibility, gratitude, grace, courtesy, honour, loyalty, fidelity, ideals and - yes- shame.  I meet very few people, children of the Boomers, especially, who have never heard of them, or if they have, do not pay them the respect they deserve. That's another one: respect.  

I have great respect for the skills of this latter generation, not to say AWE.  But they seem to have thrown the baby out with the bathwater. That expression is supposed to have come from the Saturday night bath ritual when everyone in the family washed, beginning with the father. Depending on the size of the family, by the time they got down to the baby, the water was so murky it was hard to see through it, hence the danger of throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

Quality of life.  That's another phrase not used in my time, much prized today, and rising frequently from discussions about the end of life, the argument being if there is no quality why settle for quantity?  Define quality. 

Oh, my, I have gone far astray from my swimming meditation. Don't tell me I'm all wet.


cook until done

I've spent some time cooking lately so I suppose I must include food as one of my preoccupations this week.  You should know that I am a leftover cook: I refuse to throw away food.  The first cookbook I published was about leftovers and one reviewer said you could save $1000 a year following my recipes and advice. My second cookbook (about cheese) had pen and ink illustrations and the illustrator made a special page of drawings for me - of rotting food with fumes coming off it, or cobwebs, or covered with mould.  Just so you know.

A few weeks ago a dear friend went to New Orleans and brought me a present of a Gumbo Mix.  I used it and made a gumbo with peas and okra and chicken (meant to add shrimp but forgot).  She was not free to come and share it so I put it in  the freezer.  This past week I thawed it when I had my talented grandson and his wife for dinner and I baked a double cornbread to go with it, double because in addition to cornmeal I mixed in corn niblets in maple syrup to cover (and used less sugar).  The next day I had a Devonshire cream tea birthday party for a friend.  I made the scones and another friend looked after the Melton Mowbray pie, the cucumber sandwiches, and devilled eggs - with a dollop of caviar (lumpfish).  I added sherry, three cheeses (Brie, Manchego, and Danish blue), green grapes, and of course - tea. Oh, and individual chocolate cream cheese cakes purchased for the birthday occasion. 

So the next day a friend who had intended to drive to the U.S.  was turned back by a blizzard and invited himself for dinner. I served gravlax (with red onion, gravelaxsass ((honey mustard with dill)), and buttered brown bread, with akvavit and beer. (He brought the akvavit.) Dinner was baked pork tenderloin in a garlic and honey marinade with roasted Honey Crisp apple slices on the side, mini-potatoes in butter and chives, brussel sprouts, a baby spinach and avocado salad and vinar terta for dessert. (My Icelandic tastes are showing.)  Today I made soup with enough chicken broth to thin a leftover casserole of cooked chicken, peas, carrots and couscous. Tomorrow I will serve lunch to my daughterin-law and son when they come to help me with some non-functioning machines (TV and Bose).  I'll make crab wraps and you already know the recipe for that because I published it a few weeks ago. 

This isn't really about leftovers and cooking, it's about trying not to gain weight, trying, in fact, to lose. 

you tell me your dream

I usually forget my REM the moment I open my eyes: CLICK, and the dream is gone  But this morning it lingered with me and I know enough about dream analysis to figure out what's going on. Years ago I took a couple of courses in Jungian dream analysis and joined a dream group (four people including me) for a while, to help me get on with my life after my husband's death.  My dreams at that time all boiled down to obstacle courses, presented in many different ways.  The mind is a basic punster. Yes, I know all about Nobel Laureate Crick (double helix) who denigrated dream analysis and stated the obvious fact that dreams are just a clearing out of the detritus of the day. But there's still something there that sometimes has to be dealt with or at least recognized. 

I dreamed I was taking care of a baby (lots of preamble, including a celebratory church (possibly ) service. I had to change it before a party after the ceremonies.  It had a full load and I had to get it cleaned up and back before the festivities started.  But I was in a hotel room and the toilet had stopped up- water all over the floor. I threw down towels to sop up the mess, but I had no water to clean the infant - and I had a plane to catch. I think the father was Tom Selleck or looked like him, possibly my lover, not sure of that.  Anyway, I left him at the party. I was about to call room service for a pail and more towels when I woke up and didn't click off.  I was a bit vague about what I was doing for a few minutes, looking for a pail.

Okay. I remember babies mean new work, a new project. That's my book.  The full load is my product, something I have to work on to clean up.  The plane to catch, of course, is not only the deadline for my book I must finish but also for the trip. And the difficulties are my activities right now. I'm doing too much other stuff.  I'm cooking for people (today, a high tea birthday party for a friend) and doing too many other things when I should be writing that new chapter. 

"Oh for a holiday in a complete vac-u- um!" Remember that line from The Lady's Not For Burning? Well, today will be no vacuum for me.  

How is your day?

another generation

My grandson and his wife are coming to dinner to give me some advice.  I am so blessed. They are both writers, but not like me.  If I were starting out today to hang my shingle as a "writer", I'm sure I wouldn't make it. I'd be selling craft jewellery and kitschy stuff at a gift shoppe. Even in my time, it was accepted wisdom not to attempt to make one's living as a writer. "Don't quit yer day job,"i was told. (I didn't have a day job.)  I began to realize I was setting a precedent when journalism students started calling me for my story and the Canadian Authors' Association asked me to speak, as the Canadian widow  tells all, and following that, McMillan Publishing offered me a contract to write a book on How to .Succeed as a Writer in Canada, when I hadn't even sent them a pitch. 

There are more outlets for one's writing today.  Free platforms abound, but the markets are tougher. I have lived so long that I have outlived, not only my doctors, but more importantly, my agents and my contacts in both the publishing and theatre fields. So, as I am finishing my new book, I'm looking around for a market, especially in e-books and self-published books.  Enter my talented grandson and grand-daughter-in-law. I have to find out how to establish an online presence so I can sell myself, and my book.  I've been writing my blog for about a year now and I have about three devoted readers.  I need more than that, no offence intended. 

Not that I want to go viral. That looks awful. I'm certainly not trying to compete with a Grumpy Cat or a homeless man playing the piano. (That's the extent of my knowledge of going viral.)  I just want to enlarge my audience and sell a few books. I'm hoping the next generation will tell me how to do it. 

I'm planning a nice dinner.

ég ætla að læra íslensku í dag

I'm going to learn Icelandic today. (I might have the wrong declension on the word Icelandic.)

All day.  

I have so many things going on, I have been neglecting  my homework. Yeah yeah I've been busy. That's everyone's excuse now and it's true and valid and justified - all that.  But it's also a matter of choice.  There are so many projects and commitments and pleasures vying for attention that it's all too easy to choose only one or two and let the others slide.  When guilt or shame outweighs pleasure, it's time to come to terms with one's commitment.  So today I choose Icelandic. 

I was talking to my granddaughters the other day, both gifted young women (I told you that already), and they were discussing their travel adventures and their efforts to learn other languages.  One of them, who spent a couple of summers in Africa setting up outpost clinics for children (as an undergrad medical student), learned Swahili. She climbed Mount Kilimanjaro before she went home one year and was so fluent that she managed to complain about her physical aches in Swahili.  She said to her guide that even her little finger was sore.   And the other one, the artist, a product of French immersion in  her Toronto schooling, and of a mother (my daughter) who spoke French to her at home and took her to Montreal to practice, described the day, after she had spent several months in Europe, when  "the veil dropped" and she was understanding and thinking in French. Wow. 

Well, I studied Latin and Classical Greek at university (so I have a very large vocabulary and a good grasp of grammar) and I took a double honours degree in French and English.  I was almost bilingual, though I never had a veil drop, maybe once when I'd had too much wine. So what am I doing, studying Icelandic?  I am so sorry I didn't learn it when I was a child, listening to but not understanding my mother and her mother and sisters gossiping over coffee.   It would be so easy now, I can tell, even from the few remnants that my grandmother taught me; i can pronounce the word for bread exquisitely. 

The trees outside my window are laden with snow. It's a lovely day to stay inside and study. So blessed!




I think I told you that I decided I have to write another, new chapter for my aging book. So I started to do some  peripheral reading to jog my anecdotal memory.  (My book is not a documentary, it's a collection of thoughts.)  Anyway, of course, and so....more thinking.

I am so arrogant, so blessed, so smug, so fortunate, so complacent, as if I had anything to do with my good genes and good health.  Yes, I try to take good care of myself, but I am not making a bid for immortality, I'm just trying to live well in whatever time ls granted to me. Anything can happen, and usually does.  Don't presume, don't assume.  

The "good death" is often attributed to  a good palliative care unit doing its job.  In the olden days a good death occurred at the bedside of the dying patriarch who asks if everyone is present and runs down the names of his family, being assured that they are all indeed, there. And he asks, "So who's minding the store?"  Another so-called good death, desired by men, is to be shot at the age of 92 by a jealous husband. A more peaceful end is envisaged by women: to die quietly on a birthday, again surrounded by the loving family.  I actually know someone who went that way, well, I didn't know her, I knew one of her sons who was present at her 97th birthday party  when she passed (as they say), surrounded, etc.  She was a living - dying - myth and all too rare.  Instead, we get the common, garden-variety, undignified , and very expensive fall into Alzheimer's and Parkinson's and other nasty failures. Who's to say who will be exempt? 

Not me.  All I can say is, "I'm still here."  

And may the Lord be thankit.  

Until tomorrow?


This past week was a doozy.  Today is all mine.  Anon, anon

time well spent

In fact, I enjoyed a delightful afternoon - yesterday - coffee and lots of talk with two beautiful, talented, charming young women. Like many others their age, they are very busy and involved with their work, which couldn't be more disparate. They are the same age,  just a month apart, and each a product (if you can call it that) of a divorced home, in their cases, three divorces each. I mean, the father of one and the mother of the other have been married three times.  Well, the third marriage of one of the parents has lasted.  I'm getting too involved here. The fact is, that after movable, unpredictable childhoods, these two young women are well-adjusted and centred.  Each of them has a fascinating career. 

The older one (by a month) is a medical doctor, building on her M.D. (after a BSc),  going on with further training as a pediatrician.  The other one couldn't be more different.  She followed up her bachelor's degree with an MFA and she is an artist, recently engaged? retained? taken on? - not sure of the word describing the relationship between her and a gallery in Montreal that will be showing (and selling, I hope) her work.  They had a lot to tell each other, and me, and they shared their enthusiasm with me.  Me, too.  I talk a lot, too, too much, I guess, but they are very tolerant even though I am so much older. What a privilege it is for a person my age to get a glimpse of the lives of women two generations younger.  

When I came away refreshed, relaxed, happy to have been in their company, I felt almost as If I had been in a time machine, loosed from earth, euphoric, in fact.  Isn't it reassuring to know that there are such vital people carrying on in this century, in our not-so-new, not-so-brave new world?  These two fabulous young women are in the vanguard and I am so grateful to know them. The fact that they are my granddaughters is irrelevant. I offer a completely unbiased assessment.  


In my attempts to prepare for a six-month absence from home and familiar amenities and services, I have been having check-ups - like getting a car ready for a long trip, or like getting married, that is, in the old days (my time) when a young woman was told she should get everything checked and have her appendix out, too, so as not to incur any unforeseen expenses after she was wed. So I'm having a lot of repair work done, teeth mainly. Even though I  have check-ups every six months, I've been blind-sided by a couple of biggies (read: expensive).  Ah well. At least, I'm not disposable, not yet.  

A few years ago I bought an e-reader because I was going to Johannesburg, flying time over 13 hours, and I couldn't carry that many books.  So I bought a Kobo.  Did you know that Kobo is an anagram for book?  It never occurred to me;  I just read that a few days ago.  Anyway, Book was useful for the trip.  I read several books, and kept on using it until it stopped working. After two or three trips to the store "experts", and several online attempts,  nothing seemed to help it recover.  Finally, the store guru asked me how old it was.  A year and a half. 

"Oh, well," she said,dismissing it.  That old!!

We live in a disposable society where it's easier to throw something away and get a new version.  So far, I am not disposable.  I still have some shelf life. But I'm  beginning to feel like the city of Toronto:  my infrastructure is crumbling.  

a lot of stones, one diamond, and some sparkly bits

Yesterday was a horrible, no-good, very hard, tiring, difficult day, full of stones but with one sparkling diamond. 

Diamond first: my older son dropped in with a  couple of things I needed and stayed for coffee and talked.  That was rare and delightful. (I looked up synonyms, but delightful is best, and accurate).  

The rest of the day went downhill from there.  But I talked to a number of people and that's always interesting. I love to know what people are reading, That's always good.  The events of the day elicit interesting attitudes, also prejudices.  I sat for some time, over an hour, needlessly.  (I could have been put in a different category.)  I noted, as usual, how patient and polite people are in - maybe especially in - flocks. I got lost, as usual, finding my way to a new destination, by subway.  Only one person snarled at me for sitting beside her and I apologized. On the other hand, another one shared her seat (I like to go forward), and we talked about what she was reading (Cormac McCarthy, "The Road".)  As usual, most people are very helpful.  I'm glad most of us speak the same language so I can communicate my bewilderment and receive some useful information.  And say thank you.

But I'm still tired.


I read that you use a different part of your brain when you learn a second (or third?) language later in life.  I wish I could access that part. I know it's there.  I just don't do enough homework. I want to learn Icelandic but I have other priorities, chief among them to "finish" my book.  So I go to my Icelandic class and flounder and flail - and fail.  

I did my homework yesterday, but I didn't learn much.  We had been given a recent copy of an Icelandic newspaper and told to pick an item and report on it.  We had to translate it, of course, but we could report in English.  I made pönnukökur - pancakes - not that I haven't made pancakes before, but Icelandic pancakes are different: thin, like crèpes, and rolled or folded around brown sugar or preserves, eaten at kaffitíma (coffee time), not breakfast.  I followed the recipe and had to learn the words for teaspoon, tablespoon, etc., and also to follow metric measurements for the flour and butter, etc. I am still an alien on this planet, have been ever since metric measurements were introduced in Canada.   Egg, I'm happy to say, is egg.  So I took pönnukökur to class.  Frábært!  (Great!)  But I still can't speak or understand Icelandic and I can't speak or understand metric, either. There must be something I can do. I keep trying every day. 


It worked. I showered and shampooed in the changing room, as if I had gone swimming. So the day has been working better.  Why do we have to keep learning the same lesson over and over again?  You'd think by my age I'd know enough to behave myself.   

St. Augustine said "We do not leave our sins; our sins leave us."  I guess.  So when you  finally resist temptation, it's not because you have developed the strength to resist, it's because the temptation doesn't tempt you any more.  

I am so grateful for things hat don't tempt me, as well as for things that have ceased to tempt me. I have never been tempted by cheesecake so it's very easy to resist.  I haven't had pie for years; it seems to have fallen off my goodies list.  (Actually, a neighbour gave me a piece of pumpkin pie a few weeks ago and I ate it because I don't like to throw things out, but I wasn't thrilled, didn't want to go out and buy a pie.) The trick with resisting the temptation of most things is to say NO once in the store. Once a goody is in the house it starts calling your name.  

You notice these temptations are all edible ones. I guess behavioural ones are harder to resist, and more insidious, like porn, I suppose.  Well, for me, porn is even less alluring than cheesecake. Come to that, are women generally tempted by porn?  Soft porn, I guess - the love scenes that go on for three or four pages, quite explicitly, in Harlequin Romances and their ilk. I actually went through a phase of gulping them, a few years after my husband died.  I picked up an HR in a place I was staying at, read it quickly, and cried.  My life wasn't like that, nor likely to be, ever.  For about a year I read three or four HRs a week, finding some authors I enjoyed - the rare ones with a sense of humour - and analyzed romance fiction.  It's harder to write than you'd think.  

How did I get to this?  Oh, temptation.  Oscar Wilde said, "I can resist anything except temptation".  Me too.

28 days

There is a saying that it takes 28 days to break a habit  Sandra Bullock starred in a film called "27 Days" playing an alcoholic who needed 27 days to wean her from the booze.  I haven't gone swimming now for 12 days and I'm going crazy.  Sure it's nice to sleep in - don't sleep but I read and write (and empty the dishwasher), but last night i stayed  up till 3 a.m. because I didn't have to get up to swim.  So today was (almost) shot.  Not quite, because today is New York Times day.  But I need my swimming schedule; it keeps me in line.  

I'm not disciplined.  I have to impose rules and regulations and rituals and routines so that I can get through the day.  I think I must get up tomorrow and go ahead and have a shower in the changing room as if I were going to swim. Maybe that will help.

I've had extra time to think - of course, that's not true, because I think while I swim.  Well, I'm still thinking about my Book.  And I think I need to write another chapter. Not such a bad idea, because as long as I keep writing I won't get too panicky about finding a publisher.  Or an agent. All my contacts have retired or died. 

Persistence will get you nowhere, not if people don't answer their mail. Not even in 28 days. I think they've broken the habit of letter-writing, not to say courtesy. 



"Perhaps the future of the travel book is the travel blog with al its elisions, colloquial tropes and chatty stream of consciousness...Anyone with a computer can be in touch."  Paul Theroux

I hadn't read this when I began my blog but it's what I had in mind.  I'm not sure about the colloquial tropes, but I can probably include them, when I understand what they are.

As most of you know by now, I'm going around the world in 2015 - not the world, but the southern hemisphere - by ship, and I plan to write a travelblog. So I've been trying to get accustomed to the discipline of a daily blog, that is, in addition to my daily diary and Day-Timer, my morning swim, and my chill-out with a murder mystery while pedalling on a recumbent bicycle at the end of the day.  Some days are harder than others, harder to fit everything else in because life with its tramlines goes on and on.

Losing my morning swim, by mandate, is both good and bad. Right now, at this moment, I could be writing my blog and that's what I'm doing, but in 20 minutes I would normally be in the pool. So I have 40 extra minutes coming up to do something different.  I could sleep, always a good  choice.  Empty the dishwasher. Plan my clothes - maybe even get dressed.   Look up trope.  

I know the word from its use in poetry or music, but Theroux applies it differently. A trope, according to my online dictionary is  "a figurative or metaphorical use of a word or expression; a significant or recurrent theme; a motif."  Well, I guess my swim is a metaphor; I call it my Wet Meditation, though my thoughts are dry.  Dry thoughts in a dry land?

So I looked up "Gerontion", of course, T.S.Eliot's poem that ends with this: "Tenants of the house/Thoughts of a dry brain in a dry season".  Well, I was close.  My swim is a trope, my inner dialogue the dry thoughts, no, the thoughts of my dry brain...in a dry season?  I guess that's me right now, going through a dry season (three weeks). I'm dry right now. High and dry?  Or all wet?

I could be swimming right now.  Sigh.

Is this a colloquial trope?



catch you later

Tonight came too soon. I'll get to it earlier tomorrow. I was a bit paralyzed today, which brings me to a bit.  Sort of. Kind of.  I read an item in the NYT last week commenting on this kind of waffling that's going on now.  Writers are hedging their bets or softening the blow or backing away from definitive statements.  

I sort of know what you mean.

It's kind of difficult.

Maybe  you're right.

Like that.

Well, I'm a mite tired so I'm going to bed.




on the whole...

On the whole, a good day, full and mixed.  The big news which I haven't absorbed yet: I have "pre-cancerous" bumps on my nose that a dermatologist treated with frozen nitrogen. My nose is  going to look worse before it gets better, but it doesn't hurt.  I also had a pink bump on my elbow. Pink is bad, according to the dermatologist.  So my elbow was frozen and she cut out a piece of it for biopsy and I CAN'T SWIM FOR THREE WEEKS!!!  Not even allowed to get wet for 48 hours. 

Well, now, the good news is I can go back go bed and do more work in bed in the morning, and heaven knows I have a lot to do.  I must pedal more to make up for no swimming. That means more mysteries and detective stories, thrillers, whatever.  And more walks - hope the weather holds.  That will be good.

But it was a nice day.  I felt quite buoyant and talked to everyone on the street and in the stores I went into and everyone was so friendly and responsive and interesting.  

Tonight I went to the Awards Night of the Writers' Trust. The awards are serious money: 20,000 dollars and 25,000 dollars, and I don't begrudge a cent of it because I know how hard writers work.  I'm not envious either, though I wish some of the recognition and success would trickle down to me.  Ah, well, I'm very good at being humble. 


you tell me your peeve I'll tell you mine

"It's not that big of a deal."

Have you noticed that one?  Why isn't it "it's not that big a deal"?  Where did the OF come from?

"It's a question for the both of you" Why isn't it just "a question for both of you"?  Where did THE come from? 

Extra words. Extra letters: you hear people speak of restauranteurs, sticking an N in where it doesn't belong.

Oh, and then, you hear people say "nucular" instead of nuclear. 

And "careen" instead of "career".  

oops - low battery....

Happy November Second

It never stops, the learning experience.  I went to "Helen Lawrence" this afternoon, a multi-media play cum film noir at the St.Lawrence Centre.  Wow. I was tired but I'm not now.  It was fine.  

I remember years ago for a play I was writing, wondering how to effect a close-up of one character on the stage the way lighting or an actual camera close-up can achieve the effect in a film.  Well, this production does it. It's a live-acted play and a live-action film at the same time.  You get to see the faces in the close-ups on film and the actions of the performers on the stage. Very effective.  The one flaw is that one can get distracted watching both actions. I would think that the technique could be made more selective so as not to cause a distraction when the focus should be specific.  But it was marvellous. 

I noticed that the audience was not graying.  Lots of younger patrons were in attendance, a very good sign for the future of the Bluma Appel theatre. As for me, I felt young and so stimulated and excited to encounter this effective new (to me) technique.  I've had inklings of some of it in my own work. I feel I could go ahead now and do more.  I feel so full of ideas and new projects. I'm going to have to be very choosy because I'm not going to live long enough to accomplish them all. Next time.

Not bloody likely.

Happy November First

Do you believe it?  So soon? As if I don't have enough lists to draw up, now there are Christmas lists to think about. I used to be very organized about Christmas but not any more . So busy . That's hard to believe, too.

I've said before, we take in more information and stimuli in a week than people used to consume/absorb/be exposed to - in a year. This weekend I'm going to "Carmen" (the live-from- the-Met production on TV) and "Helen Lawrence" at the Canadian Stage, a multi-media production. In my spare time I'll be reading the Sunday New York Times, and trying to catch up with other stuff, fiddlies, I call them, but if you don't keep ahead of the fiddlies, they'll drown you. I read an article recently decrying the pressure on older people to try to be 25, or 45 or even 60. 

Well, I'm not interested in skate-boarding or nuits blanches but there's still stuff I want to learn and know and yes, be dazzled by.  I have a few rules, well, not rules, exactly, but little measures of my progress, if any. When I was in school (university), I used to play a game with myself, naming the last three books I had read.  If the list didn't change every day or so, I wasn't reading enough.  I'm not competing with anyone or anything but it's still a good "game" to play, to check on your reading habits.

A friend who knew I was working on my book about aging suggested a while ago now to make a list of everything I had learned since I was 60. I mentioned this idea to someone else who answered promptly, "I've learned how to live alone."  I was astonished because I had learned that lesson a long time before I turned 60.  But I love it when people tell me something I didn't know. Not that I know everything and I am choosier now.  There are some things I'm too far along to take the time to learn, like the current popular songs.  I was amazed to hear some of my grandchildren singing along with what were to me incomprehensible lyrics. I'm not going to try. I'm never going to learn to play adequate bridge. It was agony to me when I tried and not necessary for me to know.

 So far I seem to be putting the emphasis on things I haven't and don't wish to learn, but  I always have an eye out for others' more practical solutions to simple activities, a neater way of cutting red peppers, for example (learned from watching cooks on the TV show, "Chopped").  I love to watch a friend cook, any friend, because everyone does things differently.  Have  you ever watched people tie their shoelaces?  Everyone does it differently, especially left-handers. Did you ever read "Management in the Home " by Lillian Gilbreth (1878-1972)? She and her husband were time-motion experts, engineers who were employed in industry. They had 12 children. I think it was 12 - yes, and a book written by two of them became a movie of the same name: "Cheaper by the Dozen".  Gilbreth ran her household like an efficient, small industry. Every kitchen I have ever set up I modelled on her time-motion expertise. "Point of first use" was her major rule.  

Early on in my marriage, not that early, but by the time I had 4 children under the age of 6, I really studied Gilbreth's book and tried to arrange my life so as to allow me some energy and time to write. I remember a friend dropping in when I was in the midst of my planning and re-arranging and she questioned me:

"Do you mean to tell me you are using your spare time in order to create some spare time for more work?" 


She thought I was nuts. I was. I still am, and grateful for it.   

 I have to go to the opera now.  À bientôt.