Friday, November 20, 2020

Life goes on

On Beth in her last days: "The feeble fingers were never idle, and one of her pleasures was to make little things for the schoolchildren daily passing to and fro--to drop a pair of mittens from her window for a pair of purple hands, a needlebook for some small mother of many dolls, penwipers for young penmen toiling through forests of pothooks, scrapbooks for picture-loving eyes, and all manner of pleasant devices, till the reluctant climbers up the ladder of learning found their way strewn with flowers, as it were, and came to regard the gentle giver as a sort of fairy godmother, who sat above there, and showered down gifts miraculously suited to their tastes and needs"--Little Women

The other day I got my hair cut again.  I told Margo, my Hungarian barber that Father had passed on, and she said she'd really liked him. "I'll light a candle for him." I hope he can hear her.

John fell and hurt his leg a few weeks ago so he hasn't been coming around as much.  I was in an accident of my own--the wheelbarrow tipped over and one of the handles caught me in the chest--and I think maybe I broke a rib.  He was here on Wednesday and we had something to talk about: I've started watching the Ennies Lobby storyline of One Piece, which he also loves.

I'm now up to Level 8 in the Royal Conservatory's music theory series!  Just the other day I learned about the alto and tenor clefs.

I finished Little Women and the Russian Revolution history, and now I'm reading John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress (for the second time) and an entertaining history of Indonesia.

The History Meetup on the Russian Revolution was a zoo, despite the much-appreciated assistance of Maria and Sergey.  But the second book club discussion of Little Women was successful.  I'm pleased that Farshad has restarted his Short Story Meetup:  on Monday we discussed some famous Gogol stories. (A fortnight ago our subject was Tolstoy's "The Forged Coupon," a revelation for me.)

I'm really appalled about Keir Starmer's witch-hunt attempts to purge Jeremy Corbyn from Britain's Labour Party! First he got him suspended for making comments on that EHRC report which the report itself says he's allowed to say.  Then, when the National Executive Committee reinstated Corbyn anyway, Starmer improperly denied him the caucus whip.  All this is arbitrary and heavy-handed, and may backfire badly. (I recall someone saying last spring when Starmer got elected leader that in one year he'd end up getting removed...)

I've bought enough Ebooks from Kobo to qualify for a free one, so I got a graphic-novel treatment of Mata Hari.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Short Story Meetup

"Mr. Tudor's uncle had married an English lady who was third cousin to a living lord, and Amy regarded the whole family with great respect, for in spite of her American birth and breeding, she possessed that reverence for titles which haunts the best of us--that unacknowledged loyalty to the early faith in kings which set the most democratic nation under the sun in a ferment at the coming of a royal yellow-haired laddie, some years ago, and which still has something to do with the love the young country bears the old, like that of a big son for an imperious little mother, who held him while she could, and let him go with a farewell scolding when he rebelled"--Little Women

Last Thursday I braved the rain and the virus and went out to Remenyi's music store.  I bought Book 5 (and 6 and 7) of the Celebrate Theory series so Carolyn wouldn't have to do it for me.  I had to get out of the house for a little while, to be honest.

Saturday afternoon I started a Classic Book Club Meetup event for reading Jane Austen's Persuasion.  We're going to read four chapters every Saturday for six weeks.

Monday night Farshad resumed his Short Story Meetup online.  Remember last March when I read Tolstoy's "The Death of Ivan Ilyich" in a single day for his Meetup that night but it was cancelled because of the virus? (Of course you don't, unless you're a rare regular reader!) Yesterday I again read it in a single day beforehand, though that's a bit less of a challenge the second time.  I couldn't help being reminded of my father's death last month.

A couple of weeks ago I went to a Buy & Sell place north of St. Clair Avenue run by an Iranian-Canadian Father was friendly with, told him of Father's death and mentioned that he talked about the Iranian a lot.  I was there because my neighbour Emma tipped me off that he had a huge Dictionary of Canadian Music for sale.  I paid $20 for it--I might have haggled the price down but it felt like a shame to pay less for such a handsome volume!

Moira and I usually watch an episode of One Piece around 6:00, but I cancelled that night to make sure I'd have time to finish the novella.  We're getting really close to the end of the exciting Alabasta story, which will also be the end of the episodes on Netflix.  To see more, we'll have to go elsewhere online.

I'm also watching subtitled episodes further on, and just got into the Water 7 story, which is already getting good. (In one scene an enemy gang attacks the crew with The Everything Cannon!)

Today I washed the windows.

Saturday, October 03, 2020

Last post

This'll be the last post on this blog for a while.

Monday, September 28, 2020

Fall cleaning

"Then it was that Jo, living in the darkened room, with that suffering little sister always before her eyes and that pathetic voice sounding in her ears, learned to see the beauty and the sweetness of Beth's nature, to feel how deep and tender a place she filled in all hearts, and to acknowledge the worth of Beth's unselfish ambition to live for others, and make home happy by the exercise of those simple virtues which all may possess, and which all should love and value more than talent, wealth, or beauty"--Little Women

Chichi (on her son Gohan): "Even if he saves the earth, he won't get into a good school!"--Dragon Ball Z

This weekend we've been setting the house in order.  We dismantled Father's old bed, moved it upstairs and reassembled it.  Now our dining table and old buffet are back in their old room.  I've been uprooting the grass just next to the house in case mice nest there. And John finally managed to split apart this huge rock in his basement digging and we moved the pieces outdoors together.

Unfortunately, I got so caught up in the home improvement that I completely forgot that I'd scheduled Fire Over England for my watch party screening that night! (My name is mud.) I'll just have to reschedule it for November.

Saturday morning my new History Meetup group was discussing China in the early 20th century, a discussion of great interest to me.  But right when it finished was the start of the Meetup where we're reading What Maisie Knew aloud, so I didn't have time for lunch!

I've been watching the Cell Games story of Dragon Ball Z online.  I think my new favourite character is Goku's wife Chichi, who's taken over the diva role from Bulma in the first series. (You have to feel sorry for her--she just wanted a normal family...)

The weather got warm again, so I've been able to open my windows some more!

Monday, September 21, 2020

More home improvement

"There are many Beths in the world, shy and quiet, sitting in corners till needed, and living for others so cheerfully that no one sees the sacrifices till the little cricket on the hearth stops chirping, and the sweet, sunshiny presence vanishes, leaving silence and shadow behind"--Little Women

Friday I saw the Declaration of Independence musical 1776 (for maybe the third time) in the History Meetup watch party.  Back in 1972 a movie with the Founding Fathers singing didn't "play in Peoria," but it's pretty intelligent overall.

I'm glad John's home improvement project still brings him to our house.  Now he's been doing more basement work to prepare for a new sump pump.  On the weekend we were toting more earth up to the back yard.  Today we were mixing concrete again, but we didn't do enough to get bored with it.

This evening Sergey and Maria had me over for dinner, which they say they've never done before with any friends! Afterward we got dessert at an East Asian shop called HK Sweets.  Then we played that card game like Scrabble whose name I can never remember (Quidditch or something) across the street in front of the building that was originally Montgomery's Tavern. Unfortunately, it got too cool for me. (Should have worn a sweater!)

Got my new credit card today.  I've started writing down my everyday expenditures as an experiment, but there isn't much to worry about:  my bank account has gone from some $3000 to some $5000 in recent months, what with not going out much to buy stuff.

I really like the book version of Little Women.  The chapter where Jo wouldn't forgive Amy for burning her book of stories Jo had written hit home with me, as I have a tendency to hold grudges.  Jo and her mother had a wonderful "heart to heart" conversation where the latter confessed that she'd once had her own anger problems.

Saturday, September 12, 2020


"Down they went, feeling a trifle timid, for they seldom went down to parties, and, informal as this little gathering was, it was an event to them.  Mrs. Gardiner, a stately old lady, greeted them kindly and handed them over to the eldest of her six daughters.  Meg knew Sallie and was at her ease very soon, but Jo, who didn't care much for girls or girlish gossip, stood about, with her back carefully against the wall, and felt as much out of place as a colt in a flower garden.  Half a dozen jovial lads were talking about skates in another part of the room, and she longed to go and join them, for skating was one of the joys of her life.  She telegraphed her wish to Meg, but the eyebrows went up so alarmingly that she dared not stir.  No one came to talk to her, and one by one the group near her dwindled away till she was left alone.  She could not roam about and amuse herself, for the burned breadth [on her dress] would show, so she stared at people rather forlornly till the dancing began.  Meg was asked at once, and the tight slippers tripped about so briskly that none would have guessed the pain their wearer suffered smilingly.  Jo saw a big redheaded youth approaching her corner, and fearing he meant to engage her, she slipped into a curtained recess, intending to peep and enjoy herself in peace. Unfortunately, another bashful person had chosen the same refuge, for, as the curtain fell behind her, she found herself face to face with the 'Laurence boy'"--Little Women

Ward Bond: "I say we do it my way!  That's an order!"
John Wayne: "Yes, sir.  But if you're wrong don't ever give me another!"--The Searchers

A lot happening for a single paragraph in that first quote, isn't there?

A few days ago I went to Shoppers Drug Mart to refill my Cipralex prescription. There was a 20-minute wait, so I went to the park and read Little Women for a while.  As I went back to the drugstore I realized I'd lost my face mask, so I had to hold my hat in front of my face when I went back in. (I felt like a felon!)

Thursday night my History Meetup discussed the First Nations.  In connection with that theme, our watch party showed John Ford's The Searchers last night.  I'd seen it several times before, but it's as powerful as ever!

Tuesday I went to the optometrist and chose the frames for my new glasses. (They'll be ready in a week or two.)

Moira and I went shopping for food together the other day.  I want us to do more stuff together now that we're alone.

My credit card expires at the end of this month.  They sent me a replacement, I think, but I can't find it so I called their hotline and they're sending me a new one soon.  In the meanwhile I'll have to rely on my debit card.

Tuesday, September 08, 2020

The last anchor

"Our ancestors planted trees;

We sit in the shade"

--Chinese proverb

My father passed away Sunday morning at age 90.  His death was fairy peaceful, and not connected to COVID-19.

When your parents die, you feel a bit like a boat that used to have two anchors: you lost the first one, and now you've lost the last, and all you can do is sail forth and steer as best you can.  Your parents are your strongest connection to that vast era before you were born, and without them it seems even more remote.

Yesterday my friends Maria and Sergey came to visit and we had lunch at the Aviv restaurant.  It's good to have friends at times like this!  And John and Kathrine brought over falafel wraps.

Our house feels big with only Moira and I living there. (It reminds me of the time when we first came there as house-buyers 27 years ago and I thought, "This place is huge--we'll never be able to afford it!") John was building a new room for Father, complete with a shower, and he was almost finished!  Maybe we'll take in a lodger or two in the future.  I went food shopping with Moira today, because it seems more important to do these things together now.

Remember that song "Ol' Rockin' Chair's Got Me"? Last week I joked about Father, "Ol' rockin' chair's got him!" but now I feel bad about it a little.