happy spring


I’m not on a trip. I’m at home. I’m not cooking Easter dinner – well, just for Matt and me. You could say I’m not doing much of anything, but the fact is, I’m barely surviving. If can just get through the next two weeks - I’ll have a whole fresh set of obstacles.

     There are a number of people I want to reach out to at this thoughtful time of year, and there isn’t enough time to write you all, also, not enough strength or endurance in my sore wrist. Hence – a generic letter.

     It was a merciless winter. Toronto specialized in fractures, and Matt and I were two of them: his ankle, requiring two hours of surgery a couple of pins and a plate and six weeks in a wheel chair in a Reactivation Centre before he could put his foot down; my wrist, with twisted bones that had to be pulled straight a couple of times - fairly effective. It was the timing of our recovery that made it hard, with conflicting appointments and damaged skills. I realized how much he does for himself until he couldn’t. I had to take up the slack but it was hard getting a grip with only one hand. As for touch-typing, forget it. Even now without a cast, it hurts.

     John and his wife, Lesley, are very busy but they did a lot for us. Lesley’s position in the health hierarchy of Toronto enabled her to get Matt into Hillcrest Reactivation Centre and then into Toronto Rehab, and that was enormously helpful. As for the paperwork, mine and Matt’s, because his was a workplace injury and because he is assisted by ODSP (Ontario Disability), and because I had ongoing projects I was working on and because I had one functioning finger to write with, I was slow coping, not to say incompetent. Kate came up from Boston, arriving the day after my fall, staying for a week, and she was incredible, thinking of everything that had to be done and doing it before I could focus.

     Looking back, it’s hard to condense the pain, angst and dismay of the last 8 weeks – was it only 8 weeks?  It felt longer.  I learned a lot, mainly that I have been very lucky to survive so far and that I have been arrogant in my wellness. Oh, and then there’s the lesson I thought I had learned after Bill’s death: you find out who your friends are.

     That brings me to this Easter milestone. I do want to wish you a glorious, happy, thoughtful spring. Do not ever take it for granted.


hair today

I had my hair cut yesterday. I am a Sassoon product and I change with the times and the stylists. I look different today than I did last week, well, of course, than last week because my hair was too long and very messy, since I had not had time or energy or money to get it done after I broke my wrist. Unbeknownst to me, my customary cutter (for the last four years) quit last week, so I inherited his next-chair stylist - lovely woman with whom I’d exchanged a few nods and words. So I really look different today. Better, I think. Different hands, different cut.

Do you know what people say when they see a new hairstyle on you? You look younger. They don’t fool me. I have seen me in the salon’s mirrors and I know what I look like: Ryder Haggard’s She.

She, subtitled A History of Adventure, is a novel by English writer H. Rider Haggard, first serialised in The Graphic magazine from October 1886 to January 1887. She was extraordinarily popular upon its release and has never been out of print.” Wikipedia

She is described as “she-who-must-be-obeyed,” by Haggard. I quote this because people think John Mortimer (1923-2009) created that description, thinking it amusing. (His Horace Rumpole character refers to his wife as “she who must be obeyed”, in his Rumpole of the Bailey book series and DVDs, 1978-1992.) She was terrifying. But to explain: at the end she stepped into the flame that gave her immortality and disintegrated into a 2000-year-old creature (I refuse to use the word hag) - like the young woman who left Shangri-la ) In Lost Horizon (movie, 1937, based on the book by James Hilton, 1933.) and aged in hours. It’s enough to make you believe in face lifts.

My point is, and I do have one, mirrors in salons are unflattering but haircuts make me look younger for at least 24 hours. I really want to write about Sassoon’s. I used to have very long hair but when we put in a swimming pool at Stratford, I got tired of having mildewed hair so I had it cut - in New York, at Sassoon’s - very new then, not yet arrived in Toronto or Boston, where I welcomed them later.

In 2015 I went on a round-the-world-in-180 days cruise (truncated to 101 days by an accident before we sailed). It was very expensive and I was very frugal, even more than usual, to try to save money to help pay for it. That involved , among other things, letting my hair grow - long. When I finally decided to have it cut, before I embarked, I remembered that Sassoon’s had an apprentice course that charged very little for the heads they worked on. It took hours and the supervisor overseeing the apprentice spent a lot of time on all the hair Ii was offering them. He cut two hanks of hair I sent to the Cancer Society (untreated silver hair is rare) and they refused to charge me anything, including tip. So that’s how I got Paolo, who has just left, and graduated to Yaso, who looks like Emily Blunt and who cuts for the curl.

It still looks nice.