Friday, February 29, 2008

Look Before You Leap: It's the Friday Five!

Borrowed from the RevGals:

Hello from your Fifth Friday Five team, will smama and Songbird~

It's Leap Day!! Whether you're one of the special few who have a birthday only once every four years, or simply confused by the extra day on the calendar, everyone is welcome to join in and play our Leap Year Friday Five.

Tell us about a time you:

1. Leapt before looked

I think that every ridiculously ambitious crafting project that I've ever "leapt" into and not finished would fall neatly into this category. Eventually, I came to these sad realizations.

2. Leapt to a conclusion

In 2003, while cleaning up a baseball diamond after umpiring an intramural game at Colourful U., I got a searing pain on the left side of my chest and it became very very difficult to breathe. I immediately leapt to the conclusion that I was FINE, JUST FINE, THANK YOU VERY MUCH. Despite being exactly a half-block from the hospital, I turned in the other direction and WALKED HOME. BECAUSE I WAS FINE. By the time I got home, I could barely breathe at all, and was in tears. I had to revise my previous conclusion and thanks to the Greatest Roommate Ever, the decision was shortly thereafter taken out of my hands, and an ambulance (and mom) were called. I had suffered an almost complete collapse of my left lung... Spontaneous Pneumothorax, they call that.

My mom still maintains that the fact that I so easily allowed myself to convince myself that I was FINE, was the first indication that I really was in dire need of help.

3. Took a Leap of Faith

In 2004, our church's music director put on a performance of Bach's St. John Passion as a part of his requirements for his doctoral program in choral conducting. I thought the music director was quite nifty, so in celebration, I bought him a really REALLY nice bottle of red wine. Clearly, this was not a gift that he expected to receive at all, but he gave me a huge hug as a thank you, and I remember thinking at the time, "Oooooh... good hugger... duly noted." It only took me (us?) another 8 months to hold hands. What can I say... some leaps of faith are littler than others.

4. Took a literal Leap

I was planning on competing in high jump and the 1500m in our junior high track meet, and at the last minute, added long jump too, just to see if I could. By some complete fluke, my first jump (4.0m - not impressive by Olympic standards, but pretty good for 12 year old girl standards, I thought!) was enough to win the gold, and unseat the Girl Who Always Won Long Jump. GWAWLJ was not impressed. Especially because she probably had a reasonable chance to do well at the City level meet that followed, where I flaked out completed and couldn't manage one clean jump.

5. And finally, what might you be faced with leaping in the coming year?

I think that there will lots of decisions that WH and I will have to leap through in the next year: decisions about career, and family and home... they are exciting decisions, but intimidating ones at the same time.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A Middle Name Meme

I've been tagged by Crimson Rambler to do this fun meme on my middle name.

1. You have to post the rules before you give your answers.
2. You must list one fact about yourself beginning with each letter of your middle name. (If you don't have a middle name, use your maiden name or your mother's maiden name).
3. At the end of your blog post, you need to tag one person for each letter of your middle name. (Be sure to leave them a comment telling them they've been tagged.)
Ok, here we go!

E-- Elgar, whose music I enjoy singing very much!
L-- Lauren Bacall, my fashion icon.
I-- Ice Cream, Cherry Cherry, to be precise.
Z-- Zoology - the field I think I would have entered had I been a scientist.
A-- Altos rule the world!
B-- Baking, which I find an immensely satisfying and rewarding task. Tonight, it's Banana Bread!
E-- Eggs. I like them over-easy.
T-- Tim Horton's and other bits of Canadiana that I love.
H-- Henry V, my favourite Shakespeare play.

I'm going to beg off on tagging, as many folks I read have already done this one. But if you haven't, and would like to, go right ahead!

In which Chorus Muses on a Variety of Topics


1. I don't think that Skinny Jeans look good on ANYBODY, with the possible exception of Audrey Hepburn in her prime. If you are wearing Skinny Jeans, and are not Audrey Hepburn in her prime, you might look a little silly.

2. I wonder why it is that the person who wins the Oscar for Best Costume Design always seems to be wearing the ugliest outfit.

3. The response to my hair cut from 6 or 8 people has been along the lines of, "Well it makes sense, now that you're married." I don't know what that means.

4. I am contemplating pursuing more formal training in conflict management. They just seem like they would be useful skills if I'm going to pursue a career in policy development at a high level.

5. Baseball starts soon. This is a very exciting prospect. Barry Bonds seems to be surprised that nobody has phoned his agent begging for the slugger's services in the coming season. Are you kidding me?!

6. The Ottawa Senators are, without question, the strangest hockey team in history. I don't understand how a team that was unbeatable at the beginning of the season has completely fallen apart, losing the last two games by a combined score of 9-0. Call in the sports psychologist!

7. I have twenty minutes to decide if I'm going to postpone my ten o'clock meeting with the person who took over for me at my former job, or just get it over with. She's a very sweet person, but I haven't worked there for two years now, so I'm not sure how much I'll be able to help her. It feels a bit like a waste of time, for both of us.

8. I think I'll just get it over with.

9. I'm wearing pink today - a pink floral skirt, pink t-shirt and a white sweater - because I am sick of the winter and can't wait for spring.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I dislike mail.

Actually, it's less a dislike, and more a kind of resentment.

And the resentment doesn't come from the stereotypical "all we ever get is bills" angle, and it doesn't mean that I don't enjoy receiving correspondance from friends and family who are far afield. Quite the contrary; I love getting notes and cards from people.

No, the automatic narrowing of eyes and curling of lips that inevitably cross my face when I spy the pile of letters, flyers, magazines, etc. on our front porch comes from a more complicated place. It comes from the place deep inside me that is engaged in what I expect will be a life-long battle against piles of paper in my house.

Paper is the number-one enemy in my fight against clutter. And the mail is the worst offender.

We've introduced a couple of methods by which we can control the mail-related paper coming in to the house, most notably by putting a recycling bin on the front porch so that most flyers, junk mail etc. don't come in to the house at all, but go straight into the can. In addition, I am determined to get the upper hand on the stacks of paper that have accumulated in our office since we moved in, so am trying to dedicate some time every evening to sorting and throwing things out. I have found that the problem is not just about quantity; it's also about order. We haven't yet found a good system for handling incoming paper and getting it put in its rightful place as soon as possible, so bits and pieces of paper lie around on the coffee table, for example, untended, which makes me nuts.

So you've been warned, paper. It's ON. And I will take. you. down.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

And now we're back!!

Well, we had a pretty wonderful and relaxing time! Among the highlights:
-swimming in the warm outdoor pool
-skating on the outdoor rink (on which I took two pretty spectacular spills)
-eating FANTASTIC food
-playing dozens of games of cribbage while sitting in the lounge drinking hot chocolate and Bailey's
-driving through our province's beautiful mountain range
-resting, resting, resting

And now we're home, watching the Oscars and looking ahead to this week. The cats seem to be happy to see us, and are ingratiating themselves by sitting in laps, licking fingers and purring.

This afternoon after we got home, we watched The Departed, the movie starring Jack Nicholson, Leo DiCaprio, and Matt Damon, about the mob mole in the Police Force and the undercover cop in the mob. I don't want to spoil endings for anybody who hasn't seen it, but suffice to say that it was very entertaining and very clever. If you don't mind swearing and violence, check it out!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

We'll be Comin' 'Round the Mountains...

... 'bout tomorrow mid-afternoon, I figure!

WH and I are taking off tomorrow to spend three nights at a nice luxury hotel in the mountains of Prairie Province. WH has some coupons he earned from a previous stay at this chain of hotels, so our third night is free, and we get a free upgrade to a bigger room. We are looking forward to resting a lot, doing some skating, swimming, walking, and eating nice food together. My brother and sister-in-law will feed Mama Cat and Baby Cat and make sure that their ears are scratched in our absence.

See you all on Sunday! Hope your weekends are restful too.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Book Meme

I've been tagged to do the book meme by I'm still Me. This one's lots of fun!!

Pick up the nearest book of 123 pages or more.

The book is Coffee with Michelangelo by James Hall.

Find page 123.

Ok, did that.

Find the first 5 sentences. Post the next three sentences.

But Bramante, who wanted Pope Julius' last ducat to be spent on the new St. Peter's, scuppered the project, and since then various popes have monopolized my time, ensuring that in each revised contract the tomb shrunk in size.

The final version in San Pietro in Vincoli is dominated by the statue of Moses, which I finished painstakingly. There would have been many more statues like it, were it not for the impossible pressures.

Tag folks. Well, as many people have already done this meme, I'll leave it to you to tag yourself if you're interested. This was really neat!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Being the Choir Wyf, Part 2

What a joy, to be able to look in front of me to the conductor, this person who is passionate and talented and expressive and clearly overjoyed by the musical experience, and to know that I am married to him. To know that at the end of the concert, when the audience is gone, and the music stands are folded up, and the instruments put away, I get to go home with him and sit in the lovely home that we have made, and think about how blessed we are to be able to experience these musical highs together. What a gift. I am so grateful.

The concert today was very very well received. I am so excited and glad that everything went so well. The choir did a fantastic job, and all the singers were so pleased and proud of themselves. The soloists, all long-time friends of WH's, were memorable, and we had the pleasure of being able to go out for dinner afterwards and enjoy their company and celebrate this successful endeavor. Hallelujah.

And now we rest.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Looking forward to the Weekend!

Lots of reasons to expect that this weekend will be highly enjoyable!
  • The weather is beautiful. The temperature has actually come up above freezing today and the air feels warm. Other than the ice that was encasing my car this morning (we had freezing rain yesterday), this weather is welcome and spirit-lifting.
  • Vacation! Today is my last day at work for 10 days! WH and I will be heading off to the mountains starting next Thursday, and in the interim, I'm going to relax, and get some projects around the house done. It's a much needed respite!
  • The big concert is finally here. WH is rehearsing this morning with orchestra and soloists, and I'm just sitting here waiting to hear how it went. Tonight is the orchestra and choir rehearsal, and then we have dress rehearsal tomorrow afternoon. The concert is Sunday at 3! WH is ready, the choir is as ready as they will ever be... I think that this will be a highlight of my choral experience!

The only downside is that my health is still not 100%. My speaking voice is back close to normal, but I lose about every third note when I try to sing anything. I should be fine for Sunday, but getting there will require good vocal warm-ups for the rehearsals between now and then, and good rest in the downtime.

What's up for you this weekend?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A Marriage Meme for Valentine's Day

I saw this over at Faith in Community, and took the liberty of tagging myself, 'cause it looked like fun!

1. Where / how did you meet?
WH is the music director at the church where Maternal Unit is the Rector. When I was first introduced to WH, I told him that I would be staying at the church we had previously attended, because "I was very attached to the choir director there." Ha! If only I'd know...
2. How long have you known each other?
I think since about the year 2000. That's when we first met, anyway. I joined the church choir in December 2003.
3. How long after you met did you start dating?About five years. We started dating in January of 2005.
4. How long did you date before you were engaged?A year and a half.
5. How long was your engagement?Just about a year.
6. How long have you been married?
7 months.
7. When is your anniversary?
July 7th
8. How many people came to your wedding reception?We had two receptions: At the church reception, there were probably 250 people and at the dinner reception, we had 130.
9. What kind of cake did you serve?The members of our congregation all brought cakes to the church reception, so there were many different kinds. At the dinner reception, we served vanilla and chocolate cake with meringue layers and butter-cream icing.
10. Where was your wedding?
At the church where Maternal Unit is the Rector. She actually performed the ceremony for us, one of the things that I think make our wedding so special.
11. What did you serve for the meal?
We had cakes and bits and bites at the church reception, and then served prime rib at the dinner reception.
12. How many people were in your bridal party?We had three bridesmaids and three groomsmen, and no children attendants. We had our nieces and nephews do things like read and bring up the bread and wine instead.
13. Are you still friends with them all?Absolutely!
14. Did your spouse cry during the ceremony?
We both had our moments. He cried during the procession, and I cried during a particularly poignant moment of the sermon.
15. Most special moment of your wedding day?
There were so so many. I think that if I had to identify one, it would be walking down the aisle with Paternal Unit, to the fifth verse of Praise my Soul the King of Heaven, with the choir lettin' 'er rip on the soprano descant.
16. Any funny moments?
At the reception, WH's choir friends sang their own version of Barrett's Privateers, with words changed to be specific to WH and me. It was hilarious.
17. Any big disasters?
Not a one!
18. Where did you go on your honeymoon?
We went on a choir tour with Chamber Choir a couple of weeks after the wedding to England and Scotland, so the joke is that we went on our honeymoon and took a choir with us. Somebody said that the mental picture of that made him wish he was a cartoonist. We're taking what we consider to be our "real" honeymoon this summer for our first anniversary, when we go to Sonoma Valley in California.
19. How long were you gone?
About two weeks.
20. If you were to do your wedding over, what would you change?
I don't think we would have changed a thing.
21. What side of the bed do you sleep on?Right side.
22. What size is your bed?
23. Greatest strength as a couple?
I think that we have the same rhythm, so we've always moved in sync with each other very easily.
24. Who literally pays the bills?
WH does; he's our budget keeper.
25. What is your song?We don't really have one, other than our first dance song.
26. What did you dance your first dance to?
At Last, by Etta James.
27. Describe your wedding dress.
It was sort of Jane Austen-ish, with an empire waist, boat neck, chiffon layered skirt and train. No poof at all.
28. What kind of flowers did you have at your wedding?Roses, lilies, gerbers, all in cream and white and light pink.
29. Are your wedding bands engraved?
No. We may get WH's engraved in the future, but we haven't done it yet.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Blessed Beagle

I confess. I LOVE the Westminster Dog Show. All those beautiful dogs, who always look to me as if there was absolutely nothing in the world they would rather be doing than showing off their perfect dog-ness to the world. All those beautiful doggy facial expressions that say to me, "Didja see me? Didja? Didja? Wasn't I good??"

And what a satisfying conclusion to this year's competition. Uno, a perfect little beagle, became the first of that breed to take the Best in Show Ribbon in the history of the Westminster. And look at his cheerful face. How could you not give him the prize?

It makes me want to go home tonight and watch Best in Show again, the absolutely hilarious mock-umentary about dog shows. And while I'm watching it, Mama Cat and Baby Cat will inevitably crawl into my lap and give me that look that says, "Don't even think about it."

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

All is Peace and Quiet

I'm at home today, still trying to get ahead of this miserably cold. My work is actually quite portable, so I should still be able to have a productive day from the dining room table.

Sitting here watching the day break through the front windows, with the cats asleep on the couch and WH working close by, I feel wonderful peace. It's the kind of peace that makes me wish that I worked from home everyday. Everything is calm.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Oh Blech.

So, here we are, 6 days before the big Handel and Bach concert with Chamber Choir... and I am sick. I think that I would best characterize it as a cold, with the unfortuante side effect of a lost voice. The voice is not completely gone, and I'm hoping that it doesn't get any worse. I'm taking all measures I can think of to make this go away: Cold FX, Vitamin C, Hot Water, Ricola, Robitussin (gag), and vocal rest.

I think that I should be good to sing by the orchestra rehearsal on Friday, and I'm trying not to think about the possibility that I won't be. All positive energies are being focused on getting better!! Also on keeping WH healthy between now and then.

We did manage this weekend, amidst the sick and the Lent 1 Morning Prayer service and the local Lutheran hymn festival yesterday afternoon (for which WH played the organ), to get our house cleaned, which feels so good. It's so nice to start a concert week with a minimum of clutter and mess and dust about the place. It sets me up nicely to do some more organizing in our office space in my week off - next week already! HUZZAH!

And so the week begins!

Friday, February 8, 2008

A Long Week

It's so lovely to see this long week come, finally, to an end. I've been more tired this week than normal, and more cranky, so it's a pleasant thought to look ahead to renewed positive energy next week.

And next week is going to be a GREAT WEEK because at the end of it comes the Bach and Handel concert into which we've been putting so much work. I'm so excited for Chamber Choir and for WH as we bring this massive project to a close.

Sunday morning, we celebrate Lent 1 with our once-a-year service of Morning Prayer, complete with sung Litany and Procession. It is such a beautiful liturgical celebration, and there is A TON to be sung! We start with the Preces (precented by me!), then chant the Venite and the Psalm, then we get a break for a reading. Then we do the Benedicite (a beautiful arrangement by Godfrey Hewitt) and the Benedictus, and then the Litany, led by WH, during which we process around the church, an act that so beautifully represents wrapping the church in prayer. And then we finish it all up with an Anthem! It's not a very long service, but a choir member definitely feels as though she has acquired her daily vocal workout, that's for sure!

Oh Lord, open Thou our lips;
And our mouths shall show forth Thy praise.

Oh God, make speed to save us;
Oh Lord, make haste to help us.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit;
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen

Praise ye the Lord!
The Lord's name be praised!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Being the Choir Wyf, Part 1

Singing in choirs conducted by my husband is a wonderful gift, one for which I am thankful everyday. I would not trade sharing these unique musical experiences with him for ANYTHING.

At the same time, there are challenges. Note that these are not challenges in my relationship with him, but rather, challenges that... um... how shall I put this? Well, let's just say that I am sometimes challenged not to get up and smack other people in the choir in the mouth when they act like dingbats. That is my challenge.

This is a particularly great challenge because I know, and fully appreciate, that my chief contribution to our choral communities is to smile, and participate in a positive manner, and be a totally cheerful soul. To be anything else in these circumstances is unforgivable, chiefly because it would make WH's job so much harder. And really, being that positive influence is pretty easy 95% of the time. I'm a naturally positive person, I LOVE singing, and there are some terrific people with whom I am blessed to sing.

So I am working hard this Lent to acknowledge the behaviour that gets under my skin and to find a more positive way to deal with it. So, to the woman who interrupted WH's rehearsal last night to say something like, "I have absolutely no business saying this, but [insert patronizing and stupid criticism of WH's rehearsal style here]," I would like to say that I am impressed by your dedication to this choir and your clear passion for the quality of our work. Thank you so much for your comment. I am amazed at how much confidence it must have taken to speak out in that blatantly condescending and insulting tone of voice, to make a comment that was both rude and incorrect. You are a dingbat. [smack]

Oh. I seem to have gotten derailed there. Good thing there are 40 days in Lent.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


There is an election upcoming and today is a very important day in that election.

What? Oh no, not THAT election.

I am talking about an election in the province of Canada in which I live. I'll call it Prairie Province. And to give you a sense of one (OF MANY) of the differences between our wee election and THAT election, our election was called yesterday, and the vote will be held on March 3rd. A little less than a month, start to finish.

The big issues are health care, affordable housing, the environment, etc.

We have been a Conservative province for many many years, and despite a recent change in the leadership of that party that many perceive to have been a mistake, I believe that we will continue to be a Conservative province in a month's time. Our Conservative voters have not been inclined in recent years to waffling back and forth. For the record, I am not a Conservative, and I have been embarassed in recent years by our province's neglect of the environment and vehement opposition to same-sex marriage, especially.

But the thing that bothers me most of all about our provincial politics is that we have lots and lots of money. LOTS of money. We are a debt-free province, and in the last few years, we have budgeted surpluses in the billions of dollars. BILLIONS of dollars.

(Do you remember the scene in the Simpsons where the reporter asks the actor, "How do you sleep at night?" And the actor says, "On top of a big pile of money, with many beautiful women." It's sort of feels like that...)

Now, I am not so naive as to think that there are easy solutions to societal issues like homelessness and health care shortages - I know that you can't just throw money at the problems and hope they'll go away - but I'd like to think that billions of dollars of extra money each year would, at least, lead to SOME solutions? Even little ones? Three weeks ago, a homeless man froze to death in a back alley in a city suburb. I want to know why, with our billions of dollars, he had no place warm to go to spend a freezing cold night. Our homeless shelters are full. Our emergency rooms are full. Our nurses are few. Our poor are many.

Why, with the health of our economy, does this never seem to change?

Monday, February 4, 2008

Oh what fun...

Well, for anybody who cheers for the underdog every time, yesterday was a pretty good day, eh?! Despite three slooooooooow quarters of football, the fourth sure made watching the whole game worthwhile! And I confess to enjoying every single time that Tom Brady wound up on his back on the grass, with a member of the Giants defense plastered all over him.

Speaking of Mr. Brady, he said something in his post-game interview that I thought was funny. Something like, "Well, losing this game doesn't make the other 18 wins any less meaningful." Um.... actually, yeah it does, Tom. That's pretty much exactly what it does.

The Giants' win makes me wonder what dinner at the Manning household will be like next Sunday. I bet there will be lots of grinning.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Frumps Begone!

Well, I had my hair appointment, and the result is really fun! He ended up cutting off about 10 inches of hair; it's amazing how good it feels. Very fresh and new. It looks a little bit like the picture here, but it's shorter and more choppy in the front, and a little bit shorter in the back. I love it. WH loves it. Life is good.

We are going to Colourful University tonight to watch varsity volleyball. I've always enjoyed volleyball, and never thought that it gets as much attention as it deserves, so I'm looking forward to tonight's games. The weather is downright mild compared to what it's been, so it's a nice evening to be out and about.

And then the Super Bowl tomorrow, for which we are going to visit some dear friends and their absolutely adorable little boy.

Friday, February 1, 2008

I'd like to thank the Academy...

Earlier this week, Episcopollyana was kind enough to nominate me for the Excellent Blog Award. Thank you!!

The rules: By accepting this Excellent Blog Award, you have to award it to 10 more people whose blogs you find Excellent Award worthy. You can give it to as many people as you want but please award at least 10. You deserve this! Feel free to award people who have already been awarded…

Thanks so much to the following (who are a few among many) for giving me lots to think and laugh about every day!

Podium Speak

Crazy Cat Woman


Towanda's Window

Identity Mixed

Crimson Rambler

The Clutter Museum

The Ice Floe

Set Free

Yeah, but Houdini Didn't Have These Hips

Have a good weekend everybody!