Journey to 100

I recently had the opportunity to design a book for a fascinating individual. A good friend asked me if I would consider designing a book for her friend who was interested in self-publishing her book. I was resistant initially due to other commitments and a general wariness of people not familiar with the publishing process.

Then I met Beth Pierce Robinson.

Beth, age 101

Beth is 101 years old and has had an extraordinary life. Loving wife and mother of three, occupational therapist, poet, board director, art therapist, culture maven, Governor Generals Award winner, and intimately familiar with all aspects of publishing. Her father – Lorne Pierce – was the founding editor of Ryerson Press for forty years! Their home in Toronto featured a revolving door of Canada’s most important writers, poets, artists, musicians… every artistic form imaginable.

Two year old Beth, serving tea.

I’ve never worked on a book design with someone as organised and capable as Beth. At our first (masked) meeting, she handed me an envelope with around 30 tightly edited chapters, each one printed and carefully organised in sequence. Digital files were promptly sent and required no alterations. The ‘editing’ process turned into lively discussions about parts of her life, but never in a wistful or nostalgic way: it was more about the wonderful (and at times tragic) sequence of events that comprise a life lived to the fullest.

Beth delighted in offering me tea and cookies, then showing me selections from her collection of first-rate Canadian art. She demonstrated her technique for doing laps around her kitchen / dining room in a peppy side-stepping shuffle (for days when it’s a hazard to walk outside). Up until Covid-19, she travelled annually on her own to Ireland to go on lengthy walking tours.

I can’t begin to express how deeply moving it was to open the first box of her printed books, and hand her the very first copy. We both shared tears of joy.

Another Type of Book

I’ve been working on a photo book to celebrate the birthday a dear friend. I combed through 10’s of thousands of photos in my archives looking for interesting images of Sarah. She’s been our very closest friend for so many decades now – she and Lori met when they were both 12 and they’ve been joined at the hip ever since. It was brutal going through so many images – both analogue and digital – cursing my organising skills the whole time.

I ended up printing around 100 images then gluing each one into a large blank book, and writing something witty on each one. Projects like this are truly a ‘labour of love‘ and once again… there were tears of joy all around.

Manual text-terity
Taking the plunge on a sailing trip in the British Virgin Islands.

Taco Time!

Gotta love a good taco. We were getting a bit tired of some of the meals we’d been preparing and ventured into the world of taco’s. I made a crema from my Josh Weissman book (check out his version of a street taco here) and it was fantastic. Tacos are now in regular rotation in our household, and I love how they can accommodate pretty much anything that’s in the fridge. All good.

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