A Good Home, Faith, Family, Family Moments, FEar, Life Challenges, Life in canada, Love, Words

NO WORDS

There are no words.

*

One speaks to God in frightened silence

Broken only by jagged breath.

One reaches for faith

And reaches again.

*

Before faith,  the lurch in the belly.

The gasp from the chest.

The hurt in the heart.

And sighs too deep for words.

*

Shock. Denial.  Floundering.

The waves of fear, threatening to drown.

We must not drown.

We search for a fixed point.

*

The heart glimpses the rock

Rising up from the water.

The rock shines with promise.

Strong, fixed and charcoal-dark.

*

The deep water swirls and obscures

So confident in its massive power.

It carries threats of death and echoes of loss.

And loud whispers of nevermore.

*

Quick now: shut it out.

Do not give it the power it craves.

Focus instead on the fixed point.

Look again and find the rock.

*

There are no words.

I speak to God in silence and jagged breath.

My arms thrash, thrash and thrash

And touch solid stone.

*

I hold on, hold on

Fight to hold on to its solid-ness

The waves of fear, and drowning waters

Are all around.

*

One thrashes and fights

And struggles with all one’s might.

And speaks to God, in silence and jagged breath:

Let my beloved live.

*

Let him live.

Let us get to the hospital in time.

Let the doctors and nurses know what to do.

Please let my beloved live.

**

A Good Home, APTN, Artist, Canada, Canadians, Country Living, Couples, Creative Writing, Docudrama, Flowers, Home, Home Decor, Homecoming, Interior Design, Joyful Moments, Life Challenges, Life in canada, Lifestyle, Maple Woods, Nature, Rex Deverell, Rita Deverell, Rita Shelton Deverell, Trees, Vision TV, Women leaders, Women's Studies, Writers

At Home with Rita Deverell

For many years, Rita Shelton Deverell wanted to produce a docudrama about a remarkable woman. But other careers got in the way. Blog Photo - Rita at PodiumThe actor, playwright and docudrama-maker has also worked as a TV presenter and head of current affairs for Vision TV, the Canadian network she co-founded; news director (mentoring her successor) at APTN, the Aboriginal People’s TV Network; professor of journalism and women’s studies in  two Canadian universities;

Her achievements earned her a place in the Order of Canada – Canada’s highest honour.

At last, Rita is writing the docudrama screenplay about Florence James.  She’s writing it at her country home in the ‘Sugar Bush’, outside Toronto.Blog Photo - Back Deck and Chairs “We bought the country place 22 years ago when our son graduated from high school. Thereafter we started to rent apartments in Toronto.  There have been five Toronto apartments in 22 years (plus two in Winnipeg, and one in Halifax where I worked three-year stints). The ‘Sugar Bush’ house remains home throughout these moves and always welcomes us.” Blog Photo - Rita Living Room closer Like Rita, Florence James found a productive life and award-winning career in Canada.  Rita came to Canada from Texas as a young woman, but Florence came here past age 60, after some terrible events.

“‘McCarthy and the Old Woman’ is about a feisty, resilient real-life heroine who lost everything because of the communist witch-hunts in the USA.  Florence James was blacklisted and bankrupted.  She survived the loss of her money, reputation, life’s work, her home and the death of her husband.”

The planning, creative thinking and writing for the docudrama are taking place here. Two writers live here. Rita’s husband Rex is a well-known playwright. Each has an office on the house’s lower level.Blog Photo - Rita Dining Room “Sometimes I write and plan in longhand at the drum table. But I have to get the feeling that I’m ‘going to work’. Rex has never gone to an office, so I have to keep his joke-telling self away from my work space.” Blog Photo - Desk Rita’s homes – country and city – are beautifully designed – by her.  They are bright, comfortable, unpretentious places, where history, art, houseplants and flowers mix. Many objects were passed down from Rex and Rita’s parents. Blog Photo - Rit's Small table “Every place in the large five-area living space is for my favourite leisure time activity, reading detective fiction. Blog Photo - Rita in CountryEntrance “We have lots of family pieces by now: the drum table was my mother’s. Blog Photo - Rita Drum Table in Sun Nook “The small desk and dining room table were Rex’s mother’s. The rocking chair was Rex’s grandfather’s, though not upholstered in leopard print. Blog Photo - Living room side shot “Outside, the yellow Muskoka chair is really the place I love to sit and dream and have nothing to do.” Blog Photo - Front Deck and Chair “I’m a home addict. The trivial side is I love to look at houses, read the real estate ads all the time, adore interior decorating, and can be cheered up by having a design idea.

“The important thing though is I’m an introvert, and actually draw my energy by starting each day from home base. That’s a place where my life is ordered, feels controllable, and beautiful. Then I can go out into the world and deal better with the dis-ordered, un-controllable, and sometimes ugly.”

Recently, another of Rita’s projects was launched to positive reviews.  It’s a multimedia, educational kit called ‘Women, Contemporary Aboriginal Issues and Resistance’. Free and downloadable, it includes a DVD:

http://www.msvu.ca/en/home/research/centresandinstitutes/IWGSJ/Events/ToolKit.aspx

Photos by Rex Deverell.

A Good Home, Firenze, Florence, FRa Angelico, Italy, La Primavera, Life Challenges, Lifestyle, Michelangelo's David, S. Africa, Travel Abroad

Days Off in Florence

At certain times of the year, my thoughts turn to Florence. Firenze, one of Italy’s most interesting cities.

In early June, the Florentine sunlight is clear gold,  intoxicatingly warm on the skin.

One wants to stay outdoors forever.

Image thanks to accessitaly.com
Image thanks to accessitaly.com

The first time I visited Florence in early June, I was shocked by the crowds on the streets, in the piazzas, in the galleries.

I’d repeatedly worked in Florence, but always in winter or autumn.  Without the crowds of tourists, I got to know the city in a more intimate way.

Days off in Florence were special, every errand an adventure.  Picking up supplies, posting letters, buying gifts for family at the open-air market,  sitting in a cafe, having a cappucino, or — depending on the hour — a Caprese salad at a favorite trattoria. All seemed to involve a conversation.

I loved visiting Florence’s galleries. The Academmia, where I’d stop and say hello to Michelangelo’s David again, and trying  — again — to not stare at his …. hand.

image via wikipedia
image via wikipedia

I’d go to see Fra Angelico’s exquisite paintings.  Every time I visited Florence, I spent time with the paintings of this Renaissance artist-friar (once described as “a rare and perfect talent”) and visited the San Marco priory where he’d lived.

Fra Angelico's "Annunciation"
Fra Angelico’s “Annunciation” – image via wiki paintings

I also loved sitting quietly in the Uffizi gallery…

Image via Uffizi.org
Image via Uffizi.org

…getting lost in La Primavera. And marveling at Boticelli’s talent and skill. His beautifully imagined rendition of Spring, the wealth of detail, and — unusual for the era — the way he managed to create the look of transparent clothing.

Boticelli's "La Primavera"
Boticelli’s “La Primavera” at the Uffizi

And always, I’d stroll over to my favorite dress shop, a short walk from Florence’s famous Il Duomo cathedral.

Going into that shop was a bit like coming home. The proprietor would recognize me immediately with warm kisses on both cheeks and loud cries of welcome.

“Come stai? she’d ask.

“Bene, grazie.” I’d reply, smiling. “Come stai?”

A smile, a “bene, bene”. Then an elegant shrug, and remarks about doing business in Italy these days, what with the state of the government.

And then came the really important stuff: swapping news about our families.

“And – you remember my niece?” I’d nod yes, though I’d only heard about this beloved niece, never met her.

“Did I tell you what happened to her?  No? Well….”  As if we had seen each other just yesterday, instead of months earlier.

Between my trying on different outfits, her serving other customers,  my looking at myself in the mirror and frowning, her saying: “No, no, that’s too big! Try this one instead!”

Or: “There, there... Bella! Molto bella….”

Around and between all that, the latest chapter of her family saga would unfold.

An hour later, I’d leave with my purchases and — always — a head full of family gossip.

And sometimes, the thought:

“Home” is also where they know you, where they’re glad to see you.

Dedicated to my favorite shopkeeper in Florence, with thanks for making me feel at home in a city not my own. Years later, I wonder if you’re still there, and I wonder how you and your family are doing.

 

A Good Home, Book Editor, Book lovers, Books, Canadians, CBC Television, Creative Writing, Life Challenges, Mentoring Writers, South Africa, South African Journalism Training, Tim KNight, Writers

A Terrific Writer-Editor

Tim Knight is a brilliant writer.  

Blog Photo - Tim Knight CU

He’s an Emmy-winning documentary-maker.

Ladeda
On location: “Inside Noah’s Ark”

And writing coach.

Luckily for me, he’s also an excellent editor.  

I know this because he taught me to write for television and edited many of my stories.

And because when I came up with the crazy idea of producing a book  — at the worst time in my life — Tim calmly agreed to be my editor.

It was not a job for the faint of heart.

I first met Tim just before my graduation from journalism school. Tim Knight, head of TV Journalism Training for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation was already a legend. He interviewed me for the best job a TV Journalism graduate could land: an apprenticeship with the CBC’s prestigious trainee reporter program.

Blog Photo - Tim when I first met him

Each year, CBC TV picked the top 6 students from journalism schools across Canada. That year, I became one of the six. But my journalism professor wasn’t pleased. I was a Canadian citizen, but one who’d come to Canada from Jamaica. He argued that the job should go to a real Canadian. 

Tim overrode his objections and I got the job.

Tim’s been looking out for me ever since.  Not that I gave him much choice.

I sought Tim’s advice before every career move. Producer-director. Executive producer. And when Tim decided to leave the CBC to write his first book,  he recommended that I replace him as head of CBC TV’s journalism training.  His word carried so much weight that the job was offered and I took it.

Blog Photo - Tim's book

We worked together to train South African journalists at the end of apartheid.  For us Canadians, this was a remarkably moving experience.

Blog Photo - Tim and S. African journalists

Blog Photo - Tim and Madiba

Years later, I had a car accident.

In ‘Type A’ style, I thought I could return to work soon.

Not so.

Something happened to Tim when he realized the full extent of my physical, intellectual and emotional states post-accident. His cool manner slipped: he was worried about me.

Tim became one of the few people who knew just how bad things were. He’d watched me struggle — to write, speak, think.

He must have been surprised when, years later, I said I was producing a book and wanted him to edit it. Not that he showed it.

“Send me the manuscript,” he said.

I did.

“This book could be great,” he replied. “Not just good, but great.  It needs more work.”

More work! I was already exhausted.  How much more work?

Some chapters were excellent, Tim said. Some would need substantial work. But he would help me.

It was not easy for anyone to help me back then. Blog Photo - Tim, wearing hat Sometimes, Tim had to stop our conversations abruptly. I’d start stuttering badly again, lose track of what was being said to me, but refuse to admit I was in trouble.  

His voice would become very firm.  “Cynthia, we’ll talk again later.” Tim never babied me, which was important. No matter how unwell I was, I always sensed when people were trying to baby me, and I didn’t like it.

Mostly, Tim said, I needed to make the music consistent throughout the book.

The music?

The music.  The storytelling.  The rhythm, the pace, the cadence of the writing. And so we went to work, to create the music in every chapter. agoodhome_cynthiareyes

**

Every good writer needs a good editor. Considering the shape I was in, I especially needed a good editor.

Tim not only edited my first book, he also edited my second.

What a blessing to work with such an excellent editor, trainer and communicator.

Thank you, Tim.