The End Is In Sight

by Janice Williamson

“It is never too late to be what you might have been.”

–George Eliot

I was writing so intensely I fell out of bed.

30 June 2019

When the sky is tangerine in your Edmonton garden and your daughter’s cityscape from Kuala Lumpur is clear, you know you have arrived in the present.

2 July 2019 – Retirement Renewal Day #2 Casting about for new volunteer opportunities. cooking, gardening, friends, politics, writing, reading, discarding a lifetime of paper, etc. – apparently this isn’t enough.

Spent the afternoon helping a new friend find a place to live in the city. Looking into the choreography of her arrival makes the city new again. And it reminded me of my own arrival 32 years ago – the fated day of the deadly tornado. I blew into town. Very Wizard of Oz-ish. “Big weather,” I said to strangers, not knowing in the early hours that we were experiencing such an extraordinary event. Looking at the city with a newcomer’s eyes, I recollect the chasm of decades of becoming. I remember when you could find croissant in only one French cafe. When the bridges hadn’t proliferated. When the culture was more monochromatic. And more xenophobic. When it was impossible to say you were from Toronto without a loud guffaw. Or worse. Meanwhile today, for the first time, the provincial government backtracks on lgbtq legislation – a sign of the repressive new government back in power.

3 July 2019 – Retirement Renewal Day #3 Plotting eavestroughs – the geometry of lines zig zagging across the 99 year old frame house.

4 July 2019 – Retirement Renewal Day #4 Having commiserated about fixing front stairs with my visitors who risk their lives in winter, a friend has built me wonderful cedar stairs that offer relief perched over the old stone stairs. Old stone steps are beautiful but uneven and treacherous in their irregular eccentricities. A fitting description of me from time to time….

5 July 2019 Retirement Renewal Day #5 – …

20 July 2019 A visit to the AGA with an artist friend to see the South African artist William Kentridge exhibition. Extraordinary. A pageant. A dirge. A revolution. In his words – “a raucous band of humanity storms across the world.” The last figure in the video installation is a black African woman with a red sash around her waist, poised on pointe, a rifle raised above her head, targeting you from time to time. 

[The exhibition from the National Gallery of Canada is open in Edmonton’s AGA until September. It was curated in 3 parts to include an earlier 2007 video installation piece constructed as a spinning carousel that investigated the Italo-Ethiopian war. This is fascinating visually and a powerful anti-war testimony. And in a third room, some of his small sculptural figures are posed high on a table the length of the room. Constructed out of metal espresso pots and scissors and other objects, the figures are mirrored in some of the video work. Standing on their own, in the company of this parade, you have a sense of the artist’s iconography frozen in time. How wonderful to see the grammar of his ideas in some many forms. A gift.]

22 July 2017 Brave Step. Politics and change. A summer day with writers. The flowers rescued from the deluge yesterday. #retiredthushostesswiththemostest

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