Thursday, January 31, 2008

January Come and Gone, and a Meme

Hard to believe that January is over and done-with! I can't exactly say that I'm sad to see it go. I think that January and February are the two hardest months for me to get through each year (November too), but the nice thing about February this year is that we're going to the mountains! I'm looking forward to the break! Two more weeks before a blissful 10 days off.

I saw this meme at Crazy Cat Woman's blog yesterday. It's called "8 Things About Us" and consists of 8 things about WonderHubby and me that I haven't blogged before.

1. WH is eight years older than me, and I wouldn't have it any other way. I had dated a series of younger immature types in the years before, so it was such a joyful relief to find someone who was independent, mature and self-reliant.

2. When we eat out, we tend to eat at the same two or three restaurants, at which we always order the same thing. If we know we're going to enjoy it, why rock the boat?

3. WH = spender. Chorus = saver. LOTS of work on communication around this one.

4. If I had to identify one thing that has been hard for us, it would be the reconciliation of differing Christmas traditions. I know it sounds like a trivial thing, but as if the holidays aren't stressful enough, add competing expectations to the mix and you get yourself some grief. In our first Christmas in our little house, the day we put up our Christmas tree, there were tears, someone called someone else a jerk... neither of us really put our best selves forward. We laugh a lot about this now, and we did much better the second time around. I'm looking forward in the coming years to seeing what traditions we create that our OURS, and that we can pass on to our children.

5. I am grateful every single day that WH likes mowing the lawn. But it got to be a bit much when he suggested that we should come home early from the hotel the day after our wedding so that he could mow the lawn before family arrived for lunch.

6. WH has been like Superman in this week of miserable cold. Sidewalks have been shovelled, cars have been plugged in and started and brushed off and warmed up, and until this morning, he's done all the driving on the awful roads. Bless him for all of it!

7. My family very rarely barbecued when I was growing up. It is a syle of cooking that I am learning to LOVE from a man whose family's tradition is that everything, including breakfast, can (and probably should) come from the BBQ. I think that the ribs that he makes are better than those at Local Rib Restaurant. Yum.

8. One of my favourite pictures of the two of us was taken at Loch Lomond in Scotland last summer. I have my pants rolled up, my shoes under my arm and am walking in the water. WH is sensibly walking on the beach with his shoes on his feet. We are walking about 25 feet apart. And yet, despite the different approach and the distance between us, it is a picture of two people clearly connected.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

I've Decided that it's time....


I've been growing my hair for almost two years now, with only an occasional trim from time to time. It's time, amidst the snow and the cold and all the other reasons to feel frumpy, to cut it all off.

I'm thinking about something like this:

(let's say, for the sake of this discussion, that I look kind of like Keira Knightly... BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA... I can't even say that with a straight face.)
This is a silly post.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

My Grandfather

I was born in 1916 in Dawson City, Yukon. You've probably heard of it... the gold rush and all. I guess that will make me 92 this year, but that's not suprising, given our family's longevity. Nana, my mother, died at 107.

I grew up in the Yukon, before our family moved to Vancouver in the early 30s, where I went to University and studied to be an engineer. I met and married Alice. In 1943, I enlisted in the Air Force as an Aircraftsman Second Class, or an acey-deucy, as they used to call us. Eventually, I flew Coast Patrol in Cansos and the Catalinas on the west coast, and then I was sent East for further training in Arnprior before finishing the war flying coast patrols in Goose Bay, Newfoundland. I was tall and handsome; there are pictures that prove it.

In 1944, our daughter was born, and we named her after her mother and her aunt. I called her Baby. There were boys that came too, eventually three of them. And we lost babies along the way as well. It wasn't uncommon.

After the war, I worked in Vancouver for a few years before I got a job in 1948 as a mining engineer with United Keno Hill. We packed up and headed north, to Northern British Columbia and the Yukon. There was a lot of moving in those years, as mines opened and closed. At Spillamacheen, near Golden, you can still see the house that we lived in if you drive all the way up the mine road. It's the one in the middle, with the hexagonal window. I took the car over the side of that mine road once, and hit the only tree between the road and the Fraser river. Fortunately, the kids weren't in the car, just Alice and me, so we climbed out carefully and walked up to the house. Alice held it together until much later that evening; when she broke down, I picked her up and carried her to bed. There are other stories too; remind me to tell you about the train load of frozen turkeys sometime.

By the time Baby was in high school, we were in Ontario, in the Levack/Sudbury area. We've been in Ontario ever since. The kids are all married now, and there are grandchildren. Seven of them; six boys and a girl. Our three boys and their families stayed in Ontario; Baby and her family moved west many many years ago.
There's a great-grandson too.

Alice and I eventually had to sell the big house in Sudbury. The neighbour bought it, so it was nice to know that the old place would be taken care of. We built a house in Arnprior to be close to our eldest son and his wife. You'll remember that I trained in Arnprior during the war, so I guess I'd come full circle. We liked Arnprior, Alice and me. There were friends, and nice restaurants where we knew the waitresses by name, and we even took a yoga class. I could still drive our big old car around the town, and even in to Ottawa every so often.

There were signs of age. I didn't hear very well anymore, even with the hearing aids, and my memory wasn't great. Emotions seemed to appear more quickly and more uncontrollably than they ever had before. Alice and I celebrated our 50th anniversary, and then our 60th, and the family came to celebrate with us.

And still there were signs of age, more than there had been before.

And then Alice had a stroke. And then she died.

And the signs of age that had been creeping along in me so gradually, all of a sudden accelerated. Our eldest son and his family moved me out of the little house in Arnprior that Alice and I built and into a place where I'd have more help, but the dementia came on so strong and so fast that it was too much for that place to handle, so I was moved again, to the place where I live now. I think I get good care here; there are certainly lots of nurses.

I was born in 1916, so I guess that means I'll turn 92 this year. Ninety-two years of a very good life. I think that I've lived it well.

There's a picture of my grandfather taken when he was a much younger man, standing outside in his undershirt and slacks, with his hands on his hips, and his hat on his head. He was a tall and handsome young man. And another, of my grandparents walking in Toronto, taken by a street photographer. They were a very attractive couple, fashionably dressed. Those two pictures are the way that I always think of him.

Monday, January 28, 2008

How I know I'm meant to be a mother...

When I see the University students walking by outside, and they're poorly dressed for the cold, I have to fight the urge to yank open my window and scream, "WHERE ARE YOUR MITTENS?!"

Another post (at least partly) about the weather

That's the temperature this morning, with wind chill, in case you were wondering.
And do we shut down schools, stay home under warm blankets, keep off the roads?? Absolutely not. I'm at work, there are no closed schools in the city (though school buses may not run), and the roads are packed with the usual Morning rush-hour, moving at a much slower pace, but moving nonetheless. Such is life on the Prairies. We'll rely on WH's car this week, as it is better equipped with broad winter tires than Flora. The weather is expected to clear by the end of the day, so though it will stay cold, the snow will have stopped and the wind will (hopefully) have died down. Now, that's enough about the weather...

I went to two lovely concerts this weekend. This symphony on Saturday night, where we heard some really neat programming, featuring primarily Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique. I do love big orchestral works, with lots of stuff for cymbals and big drums and brass. The story behind the piece is a bit odd ~ you can read about it here ~ but the music is divine.

On Sunday afternoon, WH sang with the city's professional choir in a concert featuring works connected by the theme of Night, and its bookends of evening and morning. In one piece by Hungarian composer Ligeti, WH sang the Rooster solo - three bars of Hungarian crowing, to be precise. He did an excellent job, and got paid a soloist fee for it! I was proud. My husband, the Hungarian Rooster. "Kikeriki!"
Well, despite the cold, the work seems to keep rolling in, so I should get back to it!
Be WARM, everybody!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Prairie Winter

It is -40. No matter what side of the border you're on, or what temperature scale you use, it is -40 here this evening. It is going to be a very cold week.

And the snow, she has a fallen today too. Lots of snow, compounded by strong wind, meaning that our front walk has disappeared. The weather is miserable.

It is -40.

Update: A couple of hours later, and it's -43.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

A Rare Weekend Post

My office is bloggy-central, so I don't normally post on the weekends, but I'm sitting here quietly waiting to go to the symphony tonight with Visiting Friend, so a blog entry seemed like a nice way to pass the time.

I bought a new pair of running shoes this morning; a $75 investment in my goal to run 5km on June 1st. I think the shoes will be good; they're not too white, though they do make my feel look gigantic. WH will go to his chiropractor this week to ask advice about running shoes for his feet, and then we'll put together a plan and get started! We are both in agreement that this would be a pretty cool achievement for both of us, if we can both get it done!

I guess should think about putting something nicer than jeans on, and maybe some makeup on my face. Oh, and brush my hair. Low Maintenance, thy name is Chorus.

Hope all weekends everywhere are going well!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Today, in brief

  • Fairly significant meeting in about half an hour for which I believe I am prepared. Not a big deal, but a perspective-getting gathering on a new and complicated issue. New and Complicated Issues are my specialty, around here. Some days, I'd be happy with an Old and Straightforward Issue.
  • I lost track of time over my lunch break and ended up taking some extended time to finish my book. Water for Elephants by Sarah Gruen. Highly recommend it, and will write a review later on.
  • WH is on the road today, traveling an hour and a half to do a one hour job in a small city south of here. He'll be adjudicating some musicians at the college there. He phoned me to tell me that he'd arrived safely; I'm hoping for an equally uneventful trip home this evening.
  • Coffee with friend S- this afternoon, pending confirmation.
  • Annual bank appointment after coffee to make my RRSP contribution.
  • Church Choir Rehearsal post-bank appointment. A former choir member is visiting and will sing with us this Sunday, which is exciting. She is a dear friend, and bridesmaid, and I've missed her. She's studying at the Lutheran Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa.
  • Looking forward to FRIDAY tomorrow.
Some days just seem to go by in point form.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008



Planning and Goal-Setting

First, the planning. Vacation planning, to be exact! I have five vacation days that need to be used before the end of March, so WH and I had been thinking about the possibilities presented by Las Vegas. Unfortunately, we weren't able to find a good price for a 3 or 4 day trip, and weren't interested in spending a significant portion of our holiday budget on such a short trip. So we've revised that plan, and will spend three nights in the Canadian Rockies, hiking and walking in town and having a relaxing time. This break will fall right after the Handel/Bach concert, so the rest will have been well-earned.

Now, because we've chosen to do a relatively cheap little holiday in February, we are beginning some more significant plans for our summer holidays (all pending my permanent job status which is frustratingly still in the works). The preliminary plan is to fly to San Francisco and spend a couple of days there, and then drive to Sonoma for three or four days of wine-tasting and vineyard tours. We found a neat website that offers walking tours, including wine-tastings, so we might look at that. I think that walking through the Sonoma Valley with a glass of red wine in hand sounds like a pretty amazing way to spend the summer holidays. And the desired timing of the trip is early July, in line with our first anniversary. Tra la la...

Now, the goal-setting part. Colourful University sponsors a race on June 1st to benefit children's programming in Prairie City. Participants have the option of running or walking 5km or 10km. Now, I have done very little running since high school, and even less since my left lung collapsed about 5 years ago. But I think that with sufficient will power, I can train to run the 5km between now and then. WH is thinking about whether this is something he wants to tackle as well, and I think that it would be a pretty amazing accomplishment for both of us.

We shall see!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Thinking through challenge...

Isn't it interesting how often our struggles with the attitudes of others is a call to examine our own? Today I am thinking about my own ability to have a positive impact on a situation in which the attitudes of others is supremely frustrating to me. Sweet Lord, give me strength. I can handle this in a better, more positive way. I know I can. I just need to think a little bit more about how. While I'm thinking about that, I should also say that WonderHubby's positivity and good humour is like manna in the desert. He's a big part of the answer to the "how."

On an entirely unrelated note, I saw somebody comment somewhere that the current crop of Wannabe Presidents makes one pine for The West Wing. I dug up this video from the show, still one of its finest moments (among many!), in my opinion!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Cooking up a Storm

Absolutely. Lovely. Weekend.

Key elements of the aforementioned ALW:

1) Cooking. I have cooked and cooked and cooked this weekend, and it's been delightful. Saturday morning, I got up and made cheese biscuits for breakfast, baked two batches of cookies (Chocolate Chippers and Meringues, both from the Company's Coming Cookies Book), then made rack of lamb, mashed potatoes and broccoli for Saturday dinner, which we enjoyed with a nice Melbac-Shiraz blend. I didn't spend nearly as much time in the kitchen on Sunday, but I did make a big pot of chili in the slow cooker for lunches and easy dinners this week.

2) Cross-Stitch. A number of years ago, I started a very large cross-stitch project of a woman standing on a bridge in a forest, in a Monet-ish kind of style. I made reasonable progress, and then put it down, and haven't looked at it for a long time. Well, this weekend, I retrieved it, re-framed it, and got back to work! And got a large enough chunk stitched to convince myself that I'll get it finished someday soon! Mama Cat and Baby Cat helped A LOT by playing with the thread as it passed back and forth through the cloth.

3)Laundry. Ok, I know, laundry isn't really on the list of things that make up a great weekend, but I got 10 loads done on Saturday, including sheets and towels and place-mats, and that produced a gratifying sense of accomplishment.

4)Football. Two great conference games yesterday, despite the loss by my beloved Packers. I sat and watched football and cross-stitched and stirred the chili and had a peaceful time.

And now I'm back at work looking ahead to a long to-do list this week and lots of rehearsals (7 hours between now and Thursday), but I feel rested and cheerful. And you can't really ask for more than that on a Monday morning.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Week in Review

You know, it's been a darn good week!

A good week for friendships: A lovely dinner Wednesday night, reconnecting with a friend with whom I've had only very casual and rare contact in the last couple of years. And a phone call last night from a very dear friend who is on a four year adventure in Australia. A voice I've missed very much.

A good week for work: Some clarification of job responsibilities, strong feelings of confidence that I'm valued and valuable, and COMPETENT. And the moment when Boss described me as "senior" unit staff... Hurray!

A good week for rest and relaxation: Not a lot of rest and relaxation, mind you, but what we had was lovely. Last night was our "night at home" for the week, so we made a delicious salmon dinner, enjoyed one of our favourite bottles of wine, played cribbage, watched silly TV, teased the cats.

A good week.

I think it was Wednesday that I was flipping through the channels and came across the show Big Medicine, which focuses on the medical professionals who work with weight issues. They were featuring a woman who, though clearly overweight, was not excessively so, but had opted for surgery to help her handle her weight problems. I'm not sure if the surgery was gastric bypass or liposuction... I didn't stick around long enough to find out. But I was graced to catch the following quotation from her husband (no particular Adonis, I might add), when asked what he thought this surgery would mean for his wife: "I think that it will allow her to do more of the things she wants to do, like keep the house clean and organized, and it will allow her to be the kind of wife she wants to be for me."

Wha-? I beg your pardon?

Sir, I hope that what this surgery means for your wife is that she will feel beautiful, and confident, and accomplished, and meaningful, and relevant, and stylish, and independent. And I hope that it means she will be all those things enough to tell you where to stick your cleaning and organizing, and provide some pretty clear parameters around the kind of husband she needs you to be.


That felt good too... Enjoy the weekend everybody!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The last piece...

... of a renovated kitchen arrives today! We're in to the delivery window now for the new fridge, and that is the last thing we need to replace to have an entirely new kitchen. And we're home tonight to enjoy it! This kitchen renovation process has been so positive, and our real estate agent informs us that we've probably added about $30,000 to the value of our house as a result. Myabe I'll celebrate tonight by continuing my cookie project (see 'C' here!)

I was cleaning out the fridge last night, tossing ancient leftovers, and consolidating duplicate bottles of "stuff," when I opened the back door to empty the large garbage can we keep on the back porch. When I pulled the old bag out of the can, it revealed a wee tiny dead mouse at the bottom of the can. I am afraid of mice, and I had to go inside and shut the door before I could get my head straight to figure out what to do. Eventually, I did the logical thing, which was to dump the can in the snow. RIP Mousie. But despite the fear, and relief that I had not encountered him alive, I was sort of sad that he froze to death all by himself at the bottom of our garbage can. This is the part of the story where WH interjects and says, "Um, we're talking about rodents here, right?" Yes, yes we are.

Anyway, today is for waiting for the call that the fridge has arrived, and thinking about the little creature at the bottom of the garbage can.

And trying to reconcile myself to THIS!
You Belong in 1955

You're fun loving, romantic, and more than a little innocent. See you at the drive in!

UPDATE! Fridge has arrived, and they were able to get it in the door, and it fits the space between the cabinets, and all is good!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Craftiness, or lack thereof...

I am not crafty. It's a sad truth with which I need to come to terms. I AM NOT CRAFTY. For many years, I have WANTED to be crafty, but to little effect. I have a small collection of scrapbooking tools and papers, none of which have resulted in the scrapbooking genius I hoped they would. I have two or three started projects that I will never finish, one a scrapbook of little bits and pieces of things collected from my childhood, and one a scrapbook of the trip my mom and eldest brother and I took to Italy in 2005. I need to reprint the pictures that I cut up for the latter, and put the whole lot in an album, and walk away. Perhaps a little box for all the neat ticket stubs and pamphlets from Italian museums.

I suppose the one exception to my lack of skills is cross-stitching. I'm a good cross-stitcher, and I enjoy it; I just wish I had more time to do it.

I should also admit that I did make our wedding invitations, with great success, but I think that had something to do with the Bride Gene that takes over a woman's body when she's planning her wedding. Maybe it's more realistic to think that I could make little things like cards and notes, than full scrapbooks.

I think my doomed crafting career can be traced back to kindergarten. My very first craft project ever was to construct a paper bear, made out of pre-cut pieces that needed to be glued onto a single piece of paper to make the bear. I didn't glue them. I just lay them carefully on the paper, sans glue, and hoped nobody would notice. When my kindergarten teacher picked up my bear, all the pieces fell off the paper on to the floor. She made me stay after class and glue it together. WHO GETS DETENTION IN KINDERGARTEN?! AND FOR FAILURE TO GLUE?!


Anyway, I have subscribed to the blog by the editor of Style at Home magazine, and her perky posts provide all kinds of crafting and decorating ideas. Check it out, if that's your kind of thing. And if it is your kind of thing, I would love to hear what kinds of crafts you do, how you get inspired, and how you find the time!

Sunday, January 13, 2008


Hurray for this (relatively unimportant) bloggy milestone!

I'm grumpy this morning. Too much to do in to little time, etc. Seems like a good day to do a post about gratitude.

Today I am thankful for:

1) A nice evening last night with family - good food, LOTS of laughter, excellent company.
2) My wonderful sister-in-law, whose birthday is today.
3) A cancelled Church Choir practice this week, which means that WH and I will have at least one evening at home together.
4) A productive and effective weekend retreat for Chamber Choir, and my own considerable confidence that this concert is going to come together really well.
5) Hot chocolate.

There now. Back to it...

Friday, January 11, 2008

My favourite day of the week


A busy Friday, mind you, but Friday nonetheless. Tonight and tomorrow are full up with a Winter retreat for Chamber Choir, approximately eight hours total rehearsing Bach and Handel. There are much MUCH worse ways to spend weekends!

Tomorrow night is a birthday party for my dear friend S- who is also marking having filed for divorce this week, from the husband who left her suddenly in September. Despite having left her, he has not filed, because by not filing, he can both have initiated the separation and appear the victim of it. There are words for this, but I'm trying to keep my blog relatively vulgarity-free. S- is beautiful and amazing in every way and we are celebrating her tomorrow evening!

And then Sunday is pretty quiet, with regular church duties in the morning and family dinner celebrating recent birthdays in the evening. Fondu - yum. I need to concoct a salad between now and then, and am thinking that I will engage the local Italian Centre for some buffala, with which I can make a tomato salad. Yum. I sure do like food.

Working through lunch, in order to try and get a handle on the to do list before the weekend. But one last bloggy bit for today; the words to our Church Choir anthem in a couple of weeks. I think these words are beautiful.

King Jesus hath a garden, full of divers flowers,
Where I go culling posies gay, all times and hours.

The Lily, white in blossom there, is Chastity:
The Violet, with sweet perfume, Humanity.

The bonny Damask-rose is known as Patience:
The blithe and thrifty Marygold, Obedience.

The Crown Imperial bloometh too in yonder place,
'Tis Charity, of stock divine, the flower of grace.

Yet, 'mid the brave, the bravest prize of all may claim
The Star of Bethlem-Jesus-bless'd be his Name!

Ah! Jesu Lord, my heal and weal, my bliss complete,
Make thou my heart thy garden-plot, fair, trim and neat.

There naught is heard but Paradise bird,
Harp, dulcimer, lute,
With cymbal, trump and tymbal,
And the tender, soothing flute.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


There are days where I find that a whole list of little bloggable bits have crept in to my mind, none rising to the surface as sure-fire blog material for that day, but none receding into the territory of "Nah, I don't think I'll bother," either. So today, being one of those days, I present a Bloggable Alphabet, through which I hope some topics will felt DONE, and others will feel ready to tear into in more detail tomorrow.

A is for American Gladiators, and my guilty pleasure in its cheesiness.
B is for Britney, and how frightened I would be if I was so exposed and so totally bereft of coping skills.
C is for Cookies, and my ongoing project to take on every recipe in the Company's Coming Cookies Cookbook.
D is for Dogs, specifically my best friend's new chocolate lab puppy, who is learning to be a seeing-eye dog.
E is for Earrings, and my New Year's Resolution to put some on every day that I leave the house.
G is for Google Reader, and my new addiction to it.
H is for our House, and both the challenges and joy we are finding living in a house built in 1924.
I is for Imbeciles, and how there are so many of them, and how most of them drive the same route that I do to work in the morning.
J is for Juno, number 1 on my list of movies I want to see.
K is for my Knees, and how they will never forgive me for 14 years of ballet.
L is for Las Vegas, which WH and I are contemplating visiting in February.
M is for Music that I hope to sing someday, including Kodaly's Missa Brevis, and the Verdi Requiem.
N is for Nutrition, and my desire to pay more attention to the Canada Food Guide, and what I should be eating to be healthy.
O is for the Organ, and my life mission to learn to play one good hymn on the organ at our church, foot-pedals and all.
P is for Peace, increasingly the value that I feel strongest about.(More on this one another day, I'm sure).
Q is for Quinquennial, which is my word of the week.
R is for Roger Clemens, and how I am more and more convinced that he's not telling the truth. It's not the steroids that'll get ya, Rocket; it's the perjury.
S is for my friend S-, and her courage and grace in the face of a divorce she didn't choose.
T is for Thomas Tallis.
U is for the United States of America, and my new fascination with the American electoral process and the most interesting characters that want to be President.
V is for Voice Lessons, and my determination to put some real work into being a better singer this year.
W is for Wisdom, and how much I respect the wisdom of others, and how much I wish that I felt more wise.
X is for X-Rays, and my brother, whose doctor's recent look at a sore elbow revealed a long-ago broken arm.
Y is for ... Y is for.... Y is for.... oh well, 25 out of 26 ain't bad.
Z is for Zoos, and how I feel about animals in captivity, and why I feel more sorry for the tiger than I do for the people she bit.

Memorable Music

Chamber Choir is in the process of preparing a concert that I think will be one of the great highlights of my choral experience. After a very successful rehearsal last night, I got to thinking about the other concert experiences that had a profound and lasting impact on me, both as a performer and an audience member. They felt like blog-worthy material, so here we go...

Identifying two favourite performing experiences is easy. The first is Ein Deutches Requiem, or more commonly, the Brahms Requiem. This was my first concert with Orchestral Choir, and only my second concert ever with orchestra. The conductor was Montreal phenom Yannick Nezet-Seguin, who was able to glean such power and expression and subtlety from the choir that when the last notes of the final movement faded away at the end of the performance, none of the 1,500 people in the audience moved. There was a full 10 or 15 seconds of silence before anyone dared clap. It was an exhausting experience, but the concert is a highlight I will remember for the rest of my life.

The second was a performance of the Rachmaninoff All-Night Vigil last year with Chamber Choir. Several factors combined to make this project memorable. First, the All-Night Vigil has one of the greatest alto parts ever written in the choral repertoire. I would sing it again and again and again, if I could. Second, the choir was lucky to have a resident bass with a vast knowledge of both the Russian language and the Eastern Orthodox tradition, knowledge from which we benefitted greatly. It was also a treat to see his joy at being able to share so much of what was clearly so dear to him. Lastly, the choir really came together on performance day with an energy and a passion that we hadn't really seen in the rehearsal process. The result was astonishing, for all of us, and made us all so proud of the work we had done.

Others that have stuck in my mind include Messiah, both performing it for the first time, and being in the audience a year or two ago to see the whole thing (no cuts) conducted from the harpsichord, and my very first concert with orchestra, which was a performance of Dvorak's Te Deum.

And one particular concert of the many Chamber Choir performed on tour in England and Scotland this last summer. On our second full day on tour, we performed in Dunblane Cathedral in Scotland. Dunblane is a beautiful town, but you can feel the weight of devastating tragedy, and see the fragility in the faces of the people there, who were so kind and welcoming to us. In the Cathedral, there is a monument to the child victims of the shooting in 1996. One side of the memorial reads, "But still I dream that somewhere there must be the spirit of a child that waits for me." - from The Poet's Journal Third Evening by Bayard Taylor (1825-78).

I have so much to thank music for, not the least of which these few amazing experiences through which my world and perspective were permanently altered.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

A few short words...

Last night, WH and I were at the church for a concert, which WH was recording. Midway through the 2nd half of the concert, several breakers in the church blew. While the rest of us were madly running around trying to find breaker boxes so that power could be restored, somebody took advantage of the situation to remove $60 from my purse, which I'd (stupidly) left in the (open) choir office.

To that person, I say, "Bite me."

Friday, January 4, 2008

A Favourite Story

One of my favourite pictures taken at our wedding this summer was a candid shot taken during the first dance. But the figures of my new husband and I enjoying this peaceful moment (accompanied by Etta James) is not why I love the picture. The background features a very clear shot of my mother and father, heads bent towards one another, deep in conversation.

My parents have been divorced now for about 10 years, after almost 30 years of marriage. Their current relationship is a difficult one to characterize; I suppose I might say that they are not quite friends, but nor is there anything in the way of active animosity. They really just let each other be, and that seems to work just fine. We were careful at the wedding to ensure that each parent had their own space and responsibility. My mom, an Anglican priest, performed our wedding ceremony; my dad walked me down the aisle and welcomed WH to the family at the reception. It was all moving and lovely. I am eternally grateful that both my mom and my dad approached the event, which could have been so stressful for either of them, with such grace.

It wasn't until some time after the wedding day itself that I found out what was said in the conversation so beautifully captured on film. My father asked my mother to dance. And she declined, but asked if he would sit it out with her. So he sat. And my mother looked at him and said, "Tell me something. Have you ever in your life seen anything as beautiful as our daughter?"

And my father said, "No."

Thursday, January 3, 2008

But what about the gin?

The Recipe For Chorus

3 parts Charisma
2 parts Superiority
1 part Humor

Splash of Happiness

Finish off with a squeeze of lime juice

Excuse me, have you seen my brain?


My brain fell out.

Have you seen it?

I'm back at work today, facing an absolutely astonishing to-do list, and struggling entirely to develop some kind of action plan to deal with it all. Solution: bloggity bloggity blog blog.

My biggest brain fart moment thus far has been forgetting that I was supposed to sit in for my boss's executive assistant this week to ensure that phones get answered, schedules get adhered to, etc. It wasn't until I was sitting in a meeting with my boss that I realized where I was supposed to be. He was very gracious, and allowed as how there hadn't been much activity and I could stay at my own desk until needed. I have, however, remembered to print some agendas and related items for him, and as soon as I find the file in which those items are supposed to be placed, I'll be laughing.

WH is at home today spending some time with Handel and Bach. Not literally (that would be smelly), but musically. WH is preparing for a big Chamber Choir concert coming up in February: Handel's Dixit Dominus and Bach's cantata Christ lag in Todesbanden. These are both fantastic pieces of music, and will be immensely challenging for the choir. But with great challenge comes great reward, and the process of putting these pieces together will be rewarding, both for WH and for the singers. I am just as excited to see WH conduct the pieces as I am to sing them. Huzzah for Bach and Handel!

Alright... no choice but to attack the list with full force now. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Not the start we'd been hoping for...

...I seem to have the flu.

When I woke up yesterday morning, I didn't feel great, but that was not particularly surprising, given the New Years Eve excitement. About midday, I started to have flu-like symptoms (I'll spare you the details). I checked my temp, and it was up, and kept rising as the day went on, peaking at about 100.2 late in the day.

So I'm at home today, wrapped in blankets on the couch, with Mama Cat and Baby Cat providing excellent TLC. I slept almost a full 12 hours last night, and am pretty sure that I could do that again without much encouragement. At last check, the temperature is back close to normal, and a bowl of cereal has stayed down so far today. I am beginning to consider the possibilities of soup for lunch.

WH has been lovely, providing appropriate amounts of gentle soda, and crackers, and gentle words. He shall have stars in his crown.

Back to work tomorrow, I hope!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008


Happy New Year Everybody! We've arrived! And what an arrival...

Last night, WH and a group of long-time friends sang their annual New Year's Eve concert, and then everybody trouped back to our house to ring in 2008. It was an epic party. At the height of the celebration, there were probably 30 people here, wine glasses and finger food in hand, singing Barrett's Privateers at the top of their lungs. It was wild. Suffice to say that WH and I are having a very quiet day today, eating leftover party food and trying to talk Mama Cat and Baby Cat down out of the rafters.

Wishing you all a wonderful and happy 2008!