happy thanksgiving

Milestone celebrations are hard. Like a lot of women I'm a this-time-last-year kind of person. Men aren't and this difference is the source of friction between the sexes, as I'm sure you know. So here we are at another milestone: Thanksgiving in Canada. In the States it's Columbus Day, when credit is given to Christopher Columbus for discovering the new world two centuries after Leif the Lucky.  See, I go further than this time last year.

I digress, deliberately. I always get a bit depressed at any milestone event, remembering better times and feeling a little self-pity, so it's good to have a distraction.  But this one is different.  Long ago, a Thanksgiving event was so difficult that I had trouble being thankful.  My son Matthew, challenged from birth (my obstetrician had me on amphetamines during my pregnancy which damaged the placenta, and the baby), was in a special residential school being looked after, I thought,  by responsible, caring people.  They wouldn't let Matt come home for Thanksgiving, saying he was too upset to leave. At that time his siblings were at schools too far-flung to get home; my late husband had been gone for over six years; my widowed mother was still in Winnipeg.   So I drove to Matt's school and was allowed to take him out for T-dinner, which turned out to be a bucket for two from KFC. Neither of us ate much. Matt dozed in the back set and I worried in the front seat, missing the driver. 

I didn't know at the time that they (the good, kind director of the school and his resident physician) had Matt on a tonne of Valium to keep him tamped down and behaving - conforming. He developed a drug-induced psychosis. A week later they checked him into the Clarke (Psychiatric) Institute with the recommendation that I lock his door and throw away the room. Well, his recovery is another story.  (The Book of Matthew, Key Porter Books, 1984) and I am pleased to say Matt is alive and well and independent and he's coming for dinner tomorrow.

I am fortunate, I know it. I am truly blessed, that, too. And I  am thankful, every day. 




grey thoughts on a sunny day

I'm back, and almost upright.  Not full of energy, exactly, but full of resolve and sometimes that can be almost as good. Just to show you: I tackled the Paper Desk this morning. This is when, you already know, procrastination pays off.  I uncover things with past due dates that I don't have to do anything about. Not so good for overdue bills, but that doesn't happen so often these days with automatic online payments. Still, I managed to fill a waste-paper basket with brochures and notes and clippings and papers that I can ignore. From a two-foot-high pile stretching across the desk I now have three or four disparate, two-to-three inch piles which, unfortunately, demand quite a lot of attention, the sooner the better, but some are quite meaty and interesting.  I found, for example,  three or four notes on which I had scribbled BLOG!  They take time to deal with..

Okay, here's something I liked, written by a critic for the Manchester Guardian, Jonathan Jones: 

"When the shock of the new becomes a stale charade, the only art that still makes it is the timeless and compassionate."

That's a blunt but diplomatic  way of dismissing some current artists who are more dazzle than depth and a comforting thought to old farts like me whose only advantage  is time and whose only strength is compassion. Not many people see that, of course, because audiences are young, too. 

This new crop is myriad and mystifying. Start with the names, not only  the unfamiliar names I never encountered when I was young, names I can't spell or pronounce, but also the proliferation of the whole lot.  It's as if they're beginning to run a marathon: they're all in a heap as they set out, a bundle of hopeful, struggling bodies no one can single out or identify.  But gradually and not so slowly at that, some of them pop out from the crowd and begin to make their way forward to the head of the line, attracting attention as they emerge. I still don't remember their names, not many.  Well, that's what makes horse races.  And other contests. 

They have to be careful, though, not to toss out tradition and old values and respect and love. It says more for the old codgers at the play openings and the gallery shows than it does for the young 'uns who attend. Each group is there for different reasons.  The kids, a lot of them, are there to get laid, not to assess or learn, just to be seen.  The grey ones are trying to understand what and how everything has changed and whether it's still worth while. Time will tell.

And I have miles to go before I sleep.