Wednesday, April 30, 2008

In which Chorus Talks Current Events

No Who's Up and Who's Down today; just a few idle thoughts about current events...
  • On this week's story out of Austria: It does seem that every time I open a newspaper, a new level of horror has been reached somewhere.
  • On the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints: It seems clear to me that there are things going on behind those gates that are not right. And the intervention of federal authorities last week may be the only way that appropriate action can be taken to stop those things from happening, and to take care of those who have been harmed. But I don't know how any community heals, or ever feels whole again, from having almost 500 children removed. I don't think that the anger from that ever goes away.
  • On the growing food crisis: I am almost continuously reminded of what an amazing thing it is to be able to go into a store (the store of my choice) and select what food I want to eat that day, and then to select what brand or size or variety of that food I want... and to be able to make these kinds of choices in a world in which so many have so very very little, if any at all. It is mind-boggling disparity.
  • On Miley Cyrus: I don't think the picture is that bad, and is, in fact, quite beautiful in a 15 year-old-girl kind of way. I would probably feel differently if it were my own daughter, however.
Hoping for you all, a peaceful day.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

In which Chorus and WH "Communicate" ... or not...

WH and I, as most (if not all) married couples do, have occasionally failed to communicate effectively. Superficially, these failures to communicate centre around one of us mishearing the other, and conversations disintegrating from there. This morning was a good example:

Chorus: Honey, would you like coffee?
WH: Do we have any spare travel mugs?
Chorus: Yes
WH: Then no.

These kinds of conversations are usually followed by a long pause, after which the confused party tracks the other down across the 3 or 4 rooms through which the conversation has been shouted, and clarifies.

It does bring to the mind the granddaddy of all miscommunications, which occured some months back while we were watching TV one evening.

Here's how the conversation went to my ears:

Chorus: Honey, do you like your new clothes?
WH: Yes, I do! Do you like your new clothes?
Chorus: I don't have any new clothes.

Here's how the conversation went to WH's ears:

Chorus: Honey, do you like your nipples?
WH: Yes, I do! Do you like your nipples?
Chorus: I don't have any nipples.


Monday, April 28, 2008

In which Chorus Has a Nightmare

Fuseli's The Nightmare 1781

On Saturday night, I had a nightmare, and it was a doozy. I often have very realistic dreams, and in the dreams themselves, I struggle to discern what is real and what isn't. In this particular case, I dreamt that I woke up, and I could hear somebody in the house. And as as the person walked through the house looking for me, the lights in each room were turned on, and then turned off, one at a time. That's all I remember, other than being completely paralyzed with fear.

Not. fun.

In other middle-of-the-night-related news, WH (he's back!!) and I were woken up last night by the soft, dulcid tones of Mama Cat playing the piano. (Pling! Plong! Meow!) I think that had I been by myself, it probably would have scared the pants off me, but as it was, it was very funny.

It is entirely delightful to have my husband home again!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

In which Chorus has a quiet day

It's a nice day today... The sun is shining, and the snow is melting, and none of it is running into our basement (touch wood) and that makes it a good day.

I rose up this morning and putzed around getting the upstairs of the house cleaned and the laundry pushed along and the garbage put out etc. One of the advantages of having a small house is that cleaning doesn't take very long. I'm waiting for the piano tuner to arrive, and once he's finished his good work, I plan to work on some of the music for Chamber Choir and then take a walk and then maybe settle down with a movie this evening.

Mama Cat and Baby Cat have been immensely helpful this morning, but have tuckered themselves right out and are now sawing logs in a big way on the couch. This will help them regain their energy in order to help the piano tuner when he arrives. Case in point:

Friday, April 25, 2008

An Old versus Modern (or Postmodern?) Friday Five

Today, from Singing Owl at the RevGals:

Yesterday I had two separate conversations in which people were musing about how much change is occurring. The WW II generation, of which my mom is a part, went from horse and buggy to automobiles, saw the lessening, or even the end of many diseases, went from widespread use of kerosene lamps and outhouses (in the country, and most folks were rural)) to a totally electrified and plumbed society. The fastest means of communication was a telegraph. The second conversation--gulp--was about MY generation and how much change occurred in the last half of the 20th century. The person said his 13 year old had not seen a vinyl record album until a few days before, couldn't remember a time without cell phones, and on and on.

As for the questions!

1. What modern convenience/invention could you absolutely, positively not live

I think I'll have to go with those who've already stated modern plumbing here. I know that some folks have done just fine with much less than modern flushing toilets, instant hot water, etc, but I'm not sure that I could.

2. What modern convenience/invention do you wish had never seen the light of day? Why?

Without a doubt, call waiting. I HATE CALL WAITING. I hate that moment when you're talking to someone, and all of a sudden there's a click or a buzz or a pop or a beep, and the other person says, "Oh, that's my call waiting; I should go." We reluctantly got call-waiting at home, because we needed three "features" and didn't want any of the others either, but I HATE IT.

3. Do you own a music-playing device older than a CD player? More than one? If so, do you use it (them)?

I have a portable stereo that I bought considerably more than 10 years ago that has a cassette player in it, but that's about it. Both my parents and WH's parents have wonderful collections of vinyl records that make me really want to get my hands on a record player. There's something so classic and wonderful about the hiss and crackle of the needle touching vinyl...

4. Do you find the rapid change in our world exciting, scary, a mix...or something else?

Oh, some combination of all of the above, I think. The potential to put technology to immeasurable good is very exciting, but I'm disheartened that that's not always the focus. In fact, how much bad we can (and do) put it towards is very frightening.

5. What did our forebears have that we have lost and you'd like to regain? Bonus points if you have a suggestion of how to begin that process.

You know what comes to mind first? And I think it's just because I had a conversation the other day about this very thing, but I don't think we do a very good job of building beautiful buildings. Our architectural style has changed so much and become so much less interesting, less artistic, less beautiful, and so much more industrial, square, bland... (with, obviously, some remarkable exceptions).

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Who's Up and Who's Down

Who's Up? :)

1. Game Seven Winners: The teams that brought their lunchboxes, gave 110%, just wanted it more, had their back agains the wall etc. in decisive games in the NHL playoffs' first round: The Montreal Canadians, Philadelphia Flyers and San Jose Sharks.

2. Danica Patrick: With her win this weekend in Japan, became the first woman to win an Indy Car Race, officially dissipating any comparisons anybody might have thought about making between Ms. Patrick and a certain Russian tennis player of old. And honorable mentions to all the women who came before her, in all racing leagues!

3. John Smoltz: Last night, became the latest to be added to a very short list of MLB pitchers to reach an impressive 3000 strikeouts in his career. The more sordid and ugly sports headlines are these days, the nicer it is to see a story about a hard-working guy just playing good baseball for a long, long time.

Who's Down? :(

1. Game Seven Losers: The teams that were out-played, out-matched, stunk up the joint, gave it away, beat themselves, lacked playoff experience, etc. in decisive games in the NHL playoffs' first round: The Boston Bruins, Washington Capitals and Calgary Flames.

2. Hank Steinbrenner is following closely in his father's footsteps by meddling in the day-to-day on-field operations of the New York Yankees, remarking this week that changes needed to be made in the starting rotation. He even made a veiled and distant reference to his new manager as an Idiot. Welcome to the Yanks, Joe Girardi! These kinds of incidents make those of who hate the Yankees laugh and laugh and laugh.

3. Frank Thomas gets my idiot of the week designation this week, although I'm reluctant about it. Look, I have a lot of respect for Frank and for the great things he has done in a long career in the majors. I hope he gets elected to the Hall of Fame. But last week, he got benched, and instead of remarking on his pallid .167 average, on the need to hit better with runners in scoring position, on any of the elements of his poor performance to that date, Frank immediately tore into the Blue Jays, accusing them of trying deliberately to keep him from getting the number of at-bats he needed this year to secure a $10M bonus next season. So the next day, the Jays released him. I just wish that he had kept his mouth shut, and recognized that he needed to play better, that maybe, just maybe, he needed to EARN the $10M, you know, by playing baseball well, and stuff.

4. Poor, poor, poor John Arne Riise.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

In which Chorus Skips Rehearsal

So, since last night, when I made it successfully to and from Chamber Choir rehearsal without undue difficulty on the roads, we have received another 4 or 5 inches of snow, and the wind has picked up still more, which has the effect of blowing the snow almost perfectly horizontally across the road. So I'm skipping Orchestral Choir rehearsal tonight; it's simply too stressful to drive through this stuff white-knuckling it the whole way, and that experience is not good for the spirits, I find. We are quite early in the rehearsal process for Orchestral Choir's next concert, so this is probably as good as it gets in terms of rehearsals to miss.

According to weather-related sources, this will be the worst of it (touch wood), and we should be seeing some respite, both in snow and in temperature, in the next 24 hours. I'm hoping that the major snowfall will have stopped by the time I get home tonight so that I can shovel without feeling as though I'll have to get up tomorrow morning and do it again. Maybe that's overly optimistic; I'm not sure.

Bad weather has this way of overtaking all other possible blog topics...

Monday, April 21, 2008

Monday Miscellaneous

  • I would like to announce that, as of about 8pm last night, WH and I officially no longer have any boxes full of crap left to be unpacked in the office. (Note: we moved in a year and a half ago.)
  • I would also like to announce that, as of about 10pm last night, all of our sheet music has been filed, with the exception of a small pile of music that needs to be re-stapled.
  • The picture sorting project is done.
  • There are about 6 piles of sorted crap on the floor of the basement (the result of the box-emptying) that will need to be put away, but I should be able to do most of that tonight before rehearsal.
  • Prairie City is in the middle of a winter storm warning. It has been snowing since Saturday, and the wind is fierce, and the roads are horrid, and it is awful, awful, awful. I am working on my new mantra, which is, "70 days to California... 70 days to California... 70 days to California..."
  • It is sunny and warm where WH is this week. We spoke on the phone yesterday and he remarked that the hotel in which he is staying had not yet turned on the air conditioner, so his room was hot. I tried really really REALLY hard to feel sympathy... I truly did.
  • The heat has been turned off in my office because it was warm a week ago. I'm freezing.
  • We are three weeks away from our next Chamber Choir Concert and I'm excited! The theme of this concert is Poetry in Music, and the music is lovely and moving and fun. Despite the weather, looking forward to rehearsal tonight!

Have a great day all, and I hope that it is warm where you are,,, but maybe don't tell me about it if it is!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The inevitable result...

... after I brought photo boxes home and began the long-awaited picture-sorting project:

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Friday, April 18, 2008

Friday Five: Just for 24 hours....

RevHRod at the RevGals gives us the following Friday Five about enjoying (or not) things that last for only a day!

Yesterday I had the 24 hour flu. I had been told by the people who had it first that it really was a twenty-four hour bug. And so while I dealt with all the blech of the flu, I kept reminding myself that morning would come and I would feel a lot better.

This is certainly a strange way to start out a Friday Five but it made me think about what I might like to do if I knew it would only last for 24 hours. There are no reality boundaries to these imaginings. So here are the five things for you to consider...

1. If you could dramatically change your physical appearance for 24 hours, what would you do?

As far as physical appearance goes, I really have nothing that I'd like to change, with the possible exception of going for one day with a long flowing head of curly red hair.

2. If you could live in another place for 24 hours where would you go?

Only 24 hours?? That hardly seems fair, but I think I would live at a Tuscan winery for a day, which would hopefully get extended to two or three days due to water buffalo on the train tracks, or something.

3. You get to do somebody else's job for a day...

I would choose to do the Queen's job for one day. Walk the corgis, wave a lot, wear nice pearls, attend lavish formal dinners, play hide and seek in the castle. Just for a day though. That would be enough.

4. Spend the day with another person from anywhere in time and space...

Oh, so many good options here. I think that I would spend one day with Michelangelo, on a day when he was visiting a marble quarry to pick a new block to carve into something amazing. For those who have read The Agony and the Ecstasy, there are these wonderful passages about looking for perfect pieces of marble that always captured my imagination.

5. A magical power is yours. Which one would you pick?

Well, to leap tall buildings in a single bound, of course!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

In which Chor-ZZzzzzzzzzz

I'm so tired this morning.

Last night, I worked a casino for Chamber Choir. (In Prairie Province, a portion of the revenue generated by casinos goes towards non-profit organizations, who come in and volunteer at the casino for two days once every couple of years.) I was working as the Banker, which means that I was responsible for ensuring that money and chips all reconciled at the end of the night. It's really a very low-stress position, because the casino advisor stands over you and tells you exactly what to do at every moment, so you're never without supervision.

The shift went well, though the casino was very quiet (Wednesday, apparently, is not a big gambling night). It was, however, 2:30am before I got home, and once home, it was 3:00am before I got the cats fed, and got myself washed and brushed and pj-ed and into bed. And then it was 6:15am when the alarm went off, and the cat-related bothering started. Cat-related bothering involves Baby Cat standing right next to my face, purring like a motor-boat, and picking at my pajamas with her front claws.

So it will be a long day.

That being said, tonight is World's Greatest Nephew's Grade Five musical, and I am going to go and grin at him in a Proud Auntie kind of way. That should end the day on a very cheerful note. I believe he is playing the very important role of third extra from the left. THAT'S MY BOY!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Who's Up and Who's Down

Who's Up! :)

1. The Canadian Women's Soccer Team, who last week qualified for their first Olympic Games. The team also came very close to winning the Olympic qualifying tournament, eventually losing to the US in a shootout in the final.

2. Trevor Immelman, who became only the second South African to win the Green Jacket at Augusta, following in the footsteps of his idol, Gary Player.

On this subject, just a quick word about Tiger Woods. There has been a lot of negative press about Tiger this week, about his inability to putt when it counted, about the seeming disappearance of the competitive spirit for which he's known, about his failure to dominate in his usual manner. Just a quick thought... HE CAME SECOND. Yes, he putted badly, and he didn't close the gap when he had the chance on Sunday, but he still. came. second. I appreciated so much the commentator who said that this is what makes Tiger special: when he is playing well, there is really a negligible difference between him and other top players who are playing well. But when he's playing poorly, he still grinds out 71s and 72s where other golfers log 75s and 76s (cough cough Phil cough cough). Just sayin'...

3. Frank Thomas and Ken Griffey Jr.: No really special accomplishment this week, but I wanted to draw attention to this article, which details how these two players have been successful big hitters in the major leagues for many years without a hint of drug-related suspicion.

4. Kevin Martin, who's Canadian rink won the Men's World Curling Championships last weekend!

Who's Down! :(

1. The Ottawa Senators: This team is really starting to get on my nerves. On the verge of being swept out of the NHL playoffs with a whimper, this team is full of rich guys with enormous talent, and they play like babies. BIG RICH BABIES.

2. Eating Competitions: Maybe this one is unfair because it's more based on personal dislike than on anything this "sport" or its competitors did, but I figure this is my list, and I can put who/what I want on it. Eating competitions are disgusting. And wasteful. And in a week when grain prices rose, worsening the already-horrid food crisis around the world, this guy put away THIRTY-FIVE DOZEN OYSTERS to win a stupid belt. Gross.

3. Sean Avery, our idiot of the week.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

In which Chorus Cleans

*Not actually Chorus

So I'm taking a new approach to cleaning this week while WH is away. WH and I do a really good job of keeping our house "clean" in the sense that our floors are swept or vacuumed regularly, the bathroom gets cleaned often (WH does this, bless him). we're relatively clutter free in most rooms, etc. But we have a hard time finding the time and the energy to tackle the cleaning projects that are more involved (eg. involve moving furniture) or that need doing less often, like vaccuming behind/under couches. Because so many of our evenings are taken up with rehearsals, we tend to resist the idea of taking up the hour and a half that we're home between work and singing with a cleaning project. We use that time for making dinner and watching TV and catching up on what each other has done that day. And so these projects pile up.

So the new approach, first attempted to great success last night, is not to worry too much about DECIDING to take on one particular project. Instead, I started at one part of the house and looked around and saw something that needed to be put away. So I put it away. Then, I looked around the room where I had put Item #1 away, and saw something that needed to be dusted. So I dusted it. Then I noticed that the baseboards needed vacuuming. So I vacuumed them. And by the time I was done vacuuming, I had moved into another room, where I noticed that a piece of furniture we never use was collecting a lot of dust. So I moved it into our storage room. And while I was in the storage room, I noticed that the litter box needed to be emptied. So I emptied it. And while I was throwing out the litter, I noticed that there was a collection of brooms on the back porch that needed to be brought downstairs with the other cleaning stuff. And while I was looking at the cleaning stuff, I saw some old cleaning tools that could be put in the rummage sale pile. So I took them to the rummage sale pile, which is currently in the spare bedroom. And while I was in the spare bedroom... well, you get the picture.

The result was that in only the 30 mintues that I had to work on house things, I did something impactful in about 4 different rooms of the house. And I didn't worry so much about COMPLETION. I just did stuff.

And felt pretty good about it!

Monday, April 14, 2008

In which Chorus kicks her blog

I am suffering from grumpiness, related to a kind of blogging block. It's not that I don't have anything to write about; there are dozens of potential posts dancing around in my brain at any given time. But when I've tried to write some of those posts, the words don't come in the way that I want them to.

BAD BLOG. (Kicks blog several times in the knee-cap.)

There now. Having failed at my attempt to write the post I wanted to, I instead present a list of things I'm hoping to get accomplished before WH gets home on the 27th
  1. Get our hockey pool money all paid out. (Progress report: email sent this morning to our winners; making arrangements for delivery of payments, hopefully sooner rather than later.)
  2. Arrange for piano delivery. (Progress report: DONE. The piano will be delivered on Friday.*)
  3. Spring cleaning. (Progress report: Thought about it a lot; haven't actually started yet. What I have thought about is my desire to spend significant time in every single room of the house at some point in the next two weeks, to the effect that when WH gets home, the house won't just look clean, but IMPROVED.)
  4. Deliver our donations to the church rummage sale. (Progress Report: I've set aside the clothes that we'll be donating, but I still need to have a look through our downstairs storage shelves to see what else might go. Have I mentioned on this blog before that I am clutter's worst nightmare?)
  5. Bake a pie. (Progress Report: Just thought of this one in the last few minutes because I saw a picture of a pie. And I've never baked one before. This may wait until late next week so that WH can help me eat the pie.)
  6. Put away dreaded pile of unsorted music at the church. (Progress report: I look at that pile with pure distaste every time I'm at the church. Hopefully one of these days, that distaste will turn to action.)
  7. Surprise for WH. I can't provide too much detail about this one, suffice to say that I've consulted with my expert, and I think I have an action plan. Tee hee hee...
* Friends of ours have asked us to babysit their piano while they rebuild their garage, in which the piano was being stored while its refurbishment was pending. It's a beautiful old piano, with great carvings - just very badly needs to be tuned!)

Sunday, April 13, 2008

In Which Chorus is Overcome by the Cuteness...

We have some dear friends, J and D, who have a truly precious little boy. Their boy has just turned two years old, so WH and I went out last week and bought him a Tonka drag-racing set, one of those ones where you push the little cars into their slots and press the buttons, which release the cars forward at a relatively impressive rate of speed.

So this afternoon the phone rang, and I picked up and J answered. She said, "Hi Chorus? Hang on one second." And a little tiny two-year old voice said, "Thank you for the race cars."

AWWWWWWWW.... Love him to bits, I really do.

Speaking of WH, he's off to Big City in the East to adjudicate their music festival there. So I'm on my own for two weeks... I handle it better than Bridget Jones though...

Friday, April 11, 2008

Friday Five: Moving!

Mother Laura from the RevGals gives us this wonderful Friday Five about moving!

We are right in the middle of a move--only twenty minutes away, but we're still a mix of busy, excited, nervous and surprisingly full of grief about what we're leaving, for me at least. So this week's Friday Five asks about your experience of the marvels and madness of moving...

1. How many times have you moved? When was the last time?

I've moved 3 and a half times, and I add the half because the last move was in two stages - we moved everything out of my apartment and into storage, and then a week later, we moved out of storage and into our wee house. That was in November of 2006.

2. What do you love and hate about moving?

Well, I suppose what I love about moving is the opportunity to start fresh, the opportunity to re-organize and de-clutter, but that's about it. I really hate the process. I hate the feeling of seeing everything I own in boxes. I hate packing. I hate unpacking. I hate cleaning the old place when all you really want to do is get out and move on.

3. Do you do it yourself or hire movers?

I have always moved myself, but when WH and I moved into our little house, we swore that the next time we would hire movers. We'll see how we feel when we get there, and we'll see what the finances are like, but I suspect we'll stick to our plan and bring in the professionals. I'd like my hide-a-bed lifting days to be over.

4. Advice for surviving and thriving during a move?

Well, my advice for anybody involved in a move with me is to take nothing I say to you personally. I apologize in advance for the epic bad mood and the potty mouth.

Also, frequent hugs are good.

5. Are you in the middle of any inner moves, if not outer ones?

I can't think of anything tangible at this point that will blog effectively!

Mother Laura provided a bonus question, but I'm going to create my own here and tell the story of my most memorable move. My first move "out" was into a two bedroom apartment with a dear girlfriend from University. We lived together for two years and had a wonderful time. Then she got married and moved into her new house with her new husband. There was absolutely no reason for me to stay in a two-bedroom apartment, so I asked the landlord if I could move into a one-bedroom suite in the same building. I was assured that one would be coming available at the end of the month because another tenant was being evicted. I wasn't able to get in to that suite to see it, but I was shown another identical suite and it looked perfect. (FIRST LESSON - Always press to see the exact suite you'll be moving in to.) As the month wore on, there was no sign that the tenant in the other suite was going to recognize the eviction notice, which foolishly had not had a firm exit date put on it, but rather, a "please leave as soon as possible" caveat. Chorus's stress level began to elevate. About two days before the end of the month, after much pestering of the other tenant by the landlord, the other tenant finally left. I was very glad, and asked to see the suite. I was told no, that I really didn't want to see it until they had a chance to get the cleaners in... Alarm bells started to go off. I put my foot down. And the landlord said, "Ok, you can see it, but don't worry." Alarm bells at a major high pitch by this point.

So we went over.

And the apartment was an absolute and complete disastrous mess. There were several contributing factors:
-the previous tenant had been evicted and so chose to take her furniture and leave all her trash
-the previous tenant appears to have lived in a big pile of garbage
-the previous tenant appears to have been some kind of wacko

There was garbage everywhere. The fridge and kitchen were full of rotting food and dirty dishes. There was food all over the walls, mostly ketchup by the look of it. The hardwood floors had been scarred beyond repair. The bathroom was... gross. She had drawn a picture of herself in permanent paint on the bathroom mirror. There were beer bottles everywhere.

I wept.

In all my years, I don't think I've ever been as grateful as I was to the women that came in to clean that apartment. In 12 hours, they turned what was essentially a one-bedroom landfill into a nice, clean space. We came in on their heels and painted every surface, and the apartment turned into a beautiful home for me for two years.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

In which Chorus Features Stan Rogers

I have really very little to blog about today that wouldn't involve whining, so I figured that rather than whine at you, I would quote Stan Rogers at you, and that at least would make me feel good.

Northwest Passage

Ah, for just one time I would take the Northwest Passage
To find the hand of Franklin reaching for the Beaufort Sea;
Tracing one warm line through a land so wild and savage
And make a Northwest Passage to the sea.

Westward from the Davis Strait 'tis there 'twas said to lie
The sea route to the Orient for which so many died;
Seeking gold and glory, leaving weathered, broken bones
And a long-forgotten lonely cairn of stones.

Three centuries thereafter, I take passage overland
In the footsteps of brave Kelso, where his "sea of flowers" began
Watching cities rise before me, then behind me sink again
This tardiest explorer, driving hard across the plain.

And through the night, behind the wheel, the mileage clicking west
I think upon Mackenzie, David Thompson and the rest
Who cracked the mountain ramparts and did show a path for me
To race the roaring Fraser to the sea.

How then am I so different from the first men through this way?
Like them, I left a settled life, I threw it all away.
To seek a Northwest Passage at the call of many men
To find there but the road back home again.

And here's a particularly moving rendition of it, sung by the Bard of Cornwall.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Who's Up and Who's Down

This may turn out to be a regular feature here in my little bloggy kingdom, and may take on a variety of subject matter, but for right now, here's my look at who's up and who's down this week in Sports.

Who's Up! :)

1. College Basketball: I hear that March Madness is over now for both men's and women's basketball, and that the games were very exciting, and the tournament is viewed as having been an exciting success.

I don't watch, follow, or care about college basketball, partly because I find basketball hard to sit through, but also because fundamentally, I think that March Madness places stress and attention on very young athletes, and it's pressure that they are often ill-equipped to handle. See the interesting story of Joakim Noah's first year in the NBA.

But I think I would be remiss in not recognizing what appears to have been a great tournament, on behalf of bloggy friends for whom I know that college basketball is a passion.

And by the way, I did fill out a bracket, but I did so by flipping a coin. My bracket said Duke would win. I gather that they didn't.

2. Lorena Ochoa: I believe that we are seeing only the very beginning of what should be the greatest career in the history of women's golf. Another major win for her last weekend.

3. Trevor Linden: All signs point to his retirement after a great 19-year career in the NHL. The fans in Vancouver, where he has arguably been the most popular hockey player in their history, gave him the kind of send-off a classy player like this deserves.

Who's Down! :(

1. The Detroit Tigers:
Bajillions of dollars spent in the offseason.
Two superstar players signed.
Oodles of optimism during the pre-season.
First week's record = no wins, 7 losses.

And yes, there are 162 games in the season, so in the grand scheme of things, 7 games shouldn't matter. But one of the interesting things about baseball is that 7 games do matter, very much so. I remember a couple of years ago that the Jays started the season with considerable optimism and were swept in their first series. Never recovered. Les Tigres are in trouble.

2. Jose Canseco: Idiot.

3. The American Women's 4x100 m relay team from the Sydney Olympic Games: All set to have their medals revoked because of Marion Jones' cheating. A difficult pill to swallow, I imagine, for those on the team who trained hard and ran clean.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

In which Chorus Memes

Is Meme a verb?? Oh well; it is now.

I've seen a few of these kinds of memes around and about in the last little while, so I thought I'd jump in and take part, tagging myself gracefully in the process. Check out I'm Still Me for a variation of this first one, but I got this version from Episcopollyana.

What I was doing 10 years ago:

In 1998, I finished up my gap year during which I worked full time in a coffee shop, and then started my first year of studies in English and Drama at Colourful University in the fall.

Five snacks I enjoy:

1. Bananas
2. Veggies and Dip
3. Chips and Dip
4. Popcorn
5. Cheese and Crackers

Five Things I would do if I were a billionaire:

1. Renovate the house.
2. Prepare for retirement.
3. Donate to Musical charities.
4. Pay some dues.
5. Travel, travel, travel.

Five jobs I've had:

1. Barista
2. Church Secretary
3. University Service Director
4. Financial Aid Advisor
5. Special Projects Manager

Three of my bad habits:

1. I eat too much candy.
2. I don't wash off my makeup at the end of the day.
3. I have a potty mouth.

Five places I've lived:

Prairie City has been my only home base, though I've lived in three different places inside the city.

And now, here are seven random facts about me!

1. My favourite artist is Michelangelo.
2. I have the same birthday as my husband.
3. I don't like bread.
4. I have one nephew and three nieces, whom I love to pieces.
5. I cry when I'm angry.
6. My fashion icons are Audrey Hepburn and Lauren Bacall.
7. I really like boats, but I really dislike swimming.

Tag yourself, if you like!

Monday, April 7, 2008

In which we walk!

WH and I are trying to do more walking both because it's good exercise and in preparation for our trek through Sonoma valley this summer. So last night after dinner, we decided to take a quick trot through the neighbourhood before turning in.

We live in one of Prairie City's older neighbourhoods (our house was built in 1923), so there are lots of beautiful homes to look at while we walk. We always find that our discussion turns to these houses, what we like about them, how big they seem to be, whether they have good yard space, whether they "need work," etc. These are very happy discussions, and we are almost always of one mind on what we'd be looking for if we were looking for a new house, and what we could live without. Our neighbourhood also has the requisite ugly houses that have been built through the decades, and we talk about those too. Why they're ugly, what we would do to fix them, what decade's taste they reveal...

We anticipate that within the next couple of years we will either need to move to a bigger house, or consider a major renovation to the home we live in now. In many ways, we are thinking that the renovation will be the way to go. Our house is only about 740 square feet above ground, but our lot is 7000 square feet, so we could quite conceivably make a major addition to the home and still maintain a sizable yard. If we did that, we would be looking to add at least one if not two more bedrooms, and at least one more bathroom. I have to admit that despite the disruption this renovation would create in our lives, I like the thought of staying where we are, in our little house with all its original architecture and original charm. At least, I like that thought until I see a bigger house that I like the look of, and then I like the thought of moving.

I'm fickle like that.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Blogging Baseball

Good morning all!! It's a quiet Saturday here at Chez Chorus, so I thought I would do something that I've wanted to do since I started this blog, and that is to blog through a Blue Jays game.

Today is the perfect day for this task because it is SNOWING outside, and that's kinda sad.

So, today's game features the Beloved Blue Jays against the Boston Red Sox at the Rogers Centre (formerly and affectionately SkyDome) in Toronto. Starting pitchers are, for the Jays, Jesse Litsch, who looks about twelve years old, and for the Bo-Sox, Clay Buchholz, pronounced LOO-ZER.

While we're waiting for the first pitch, a quick comment on last night's home opener, the first of what will be a weekly Flashback Friday game, at which the Jays will wear their old powder blue awesomeness, in the original polyester!! I think they look like PJs...

Jays won that game though, so whatever works! And inducted Roberto Alomar onto the level of excellence, which made it a feel-good happy evening for all Jays fans, new and old. Over 50,000 people in attendance too - let's hope that good will and good attendance sticks around!


Top of the first inning: First pitch... a ball to Julio Lugo. (And for any who might be panicking that I'm intending to blog every pitch... don't worry; I'm not.) Lugo strikes out swinging, and looks ridiculous in the process. The Boston Manager looks stern.

The Red Sox have travleled 24, 828 kms since the middle of March... wow... that's a long way. Fort Myers to Tokyo to Los Angeles to Oakland to Toronto.

The Blue Jays manager looks stern too. Maybe they learn that in manager school.Great catch by third baseman Marco Scutaro! You've earned your allowance today, Scoot. (I don't know if that's his actual nickname, but if not, it should be.) Blue Jays play the shift for David Ortiz, who is a big big big man. Probably explains why his nickname is Big Papi. Litsch walks him. This seems like a good idea to me. And speaking of looking ridiculous, it's Manny Ramirez! WH makes the obligatory, "he needs a hair cut," comment, with which I agree. Ramirez gets a double and drives in Papi, who runs very slowly and now looks like he needs some oxygen. Lowell grounds out, inning over. Boston gets one hit, one run, one runner left on base.

Bottom of the first: Itty bitty David Eckstein leads off the inning for the Jays, hits a harmless grounder and winds up safe on first on an error by the 2nd basement. Mama cat has joined us downstairs and his sitting on WH and purring like a motor. She likes David Eckstein. They weigh roughly the same. Matt Stairs strikes out. Alex Rios is up, a day after signing a 6 year 64 million dollar contract. I look at WH and wonder why he quit Little League so many years ago. He tells me that it was because he couldn't throw or catch. Or hit. Fair enough. Buchholz throws over to first for the 47th time, drawing boos from the crowd. Strike 'em out, throw 'em out double play. Jays get no hits, no runs, one runner lob.

Top of the Second: We are told that Litsch is struggling with his release point, leading to the dreaded inconsistency. We see a slow-motion shot of his motion, which causes me to ask the question I always ask, which is how on earth pitchers' arms don't come flying off more regularly. Strike out of J.D.Drew. Jason Varitek has a head like a potato, but he wears nice high socks, which I like. He walks. Double-play ends the inning. No hits, no runs, no lob.

Bottom of 2: Vernon Wells leads off. We would all like to see Vernon play better this year than he did last year. The commentator attributes the bad year to a "barking shoulder." Woof, woof! Wells walks. (ooh! alliteration!) Frank Thomas hits a bloop single, Wells runs like a speed-demon, all the way around to third. Single for Overbay, Wells scores, tie game. Frank Thomas somehow manages to get his gigantic frame around to third on the play. Aaron Hill strikes out. Scoot strikes out too. Zaun pops up and has a bat-throwing fuss about it. 2h, 1r, 2lob

Top 3: Coco Crisp leads off. Coco Crisp is a baseball player, and not a breakfast cereal. Ground out. Litsch hits Lugo in the tricep with his first pitch. OW. Pedroia gets a base hit, setting up the kind of scenario that Bo-Sox fans love - two on, one out, Big Papi at the plate. Jays shift again, which works delightfully, as Paps grounds out to first. Runners move up though. Intentional walk for Ramirez and his dreadlocks to set up a force at every base. Lowell is out on a good catch by the first baseman. 1h, 0r, 3 lob.

Bottom 3: Ecks out at first on a close play. The Rogers Centre has a comfort zone, featuring big couches right at field level. I think that's AWESOME. 40 year old Canadian Matt Stairs is up to bat. I don't think that he ever comes up to the plate without the commentators mentioning that he's 40 and/or Canadian. He strikes out. Must be his age. Or his Canadian-ness. Double into the corner for Rios. Both of today's pitchers seem to have a fondness for necklaces. Buchholz is wearing four of them. Wells out on a grounder. 1h, 0r, 1 lob.

Chorus rushes off to sort laundry.

T4: I'm back, and the Sox have a runner on third with one out. Sean Casey is up to bat, and was apparently voted Nicest Player in the Majors last year. I wonder if he got a plaque. He gets a single off the first baseman's glove, and drives in the run. I watch for signs of his niceness, and see none. Breakfast Cereal is safe at first on a fielder's choice; Mr. Nice Guy out at second. Lugo out pitcher to first base. 2h, 1r, 1lob

B4: Thomas flies out deep to right field. The ground shakes as he jogs back to the dugout. Lyle Overbay gets a single. Aaron Hill gets an absolutely perfectly surprising bunt down the third base line. Hill is WH's favourite player. A walk for Scoot; bases loaded! And the pitching coach comes out!! By reading lips, I can see the coach clearly telling the pitcher that four necklaces is too many. Shuffling in the Boston bullpen begins. Greg Zaun reaches base on an error by the first baseman; two runs score. Little Davey Eckstein comes up and hits a single, Scoot around to score. Crowd goes wild. The 40-year old Canadian strikes out again. Rios tagged out on his way to first to end the inning, but a good inning nonetheless for the Jays. Chorus does love some nice manufactured runs. 3h, 3r, 1lob

T5: Another good crowd at the game today. Not quite what they had last night, but entirely respectable. Great pitching match tomorrow for the last game of this series - Halladay vs. Beckett. Ground-out to start the inning. Shift on Ortiz works again, as he grounds out to second too. The shift involves moving the infielders over because a specific batter always hits the ball through one side of the infield. Papi always hits the ball through the right-side, so the Jays stack the infield there. So far, this has worked very well today. Manny flies out to Vernon Wells. 0h, 0r, 0lob.

B5: The commentators offer Happy 92nd Birthday wishes to a gentleman who has kept scoresheets of every Jays game since 1977. Impressive! Wells out on a grounder. Thomas out on a grounder. Overbay strikes out. 0h, 0r, 0lob

T6: Mike Lowell starts the inning off with a single and that will be all today for Mr. Litsch. He gets a nice ovation has he leave the field. Brian Tallet in to pitch. He is also wearing multiple necklaces. Mama Cat gets up, turns around three times, and lies back down again. Life is rough. Big fly ball safely caught by Rios. Varitek pops up to the first baseman, a good catch in foul territory for Overbay. Casey out on a little dribbler right in front of the plate called fair, a call with which he vehemently disagrees. Lots of jawing at the ump, followed by the manager coming out and jawing at the ump. 1h, 0r, 1lob

B6: New pitcher for the Bo-Sox, one Kyle Snyder. No necklaces for Kyle, thank goodness. He walks Aaron Hill on 4 pitches. Hill advances to 2nd base on a wild pitch. Maybe a necklace would have been a good idea after all. Snyder is 6'8" and weighs 230 lbs, so maybe they don't make necklaces in his size. Scoot walks too, which lights a fire under the bottom of the Boston pitching coach because he leaps out of the dugout very quickly. Greg Zaun lays down a beautiful sacrifice bunt to move the two runners up. Snyder's out of the game and Bryan Corey is in. No necklace. Eckstein drives in both runners on a single. Yay! Stairs flies out to center field. Alex Rios gets a double to left field and Eckstein alertly runs all the way home, sliding in just under the tag. Vernon Wells drives the ball up the middle, and Rios scores. If you've lost count, the Jays are now up 8-2. The fans begin the wave. Frank Thomas hits a massive home run to center field. 10-2. Overbay flies out off new pitcher Julian Tavarez to end the inning. 4h, 6r, 0lob

T7: Coco Pops grounds out to start the inning off of new pitcher Brian Wolf, who's necklace status is unclear. Lugo singles. Pedroia moves him over to third with a double. Big Papi strikes out. Ramirez grounds out to end the threat. 2h, 0r, 2 lob

And now, everybody SING!

B7: Hill flies out, Scoot grounds out, but Zaun moves his large catcher butt down the line in a good way and beats out a single. They show some footage of the new Jays clubhouse and it is STUNNING. Leather chairs, big-screen TVs... beautiful! Explains why all the Jays looks so happy and comfortable. Eckstein grounds out. 1h, 0r, 1 lob

Chorus rushes off to use the bathroom.

T8: New pitcher Jason Frasor for the Jays. 1 out already by the time I get back. Single for J.D. Drew. Kevin Cash strikes out. Baby Cat makes herself at home on my lap, making blogging much more difficult. Sportsnet is having some technical problems, but I gather that Sean Casey just threw his bat into the crowd and then he flied out to center field. 1h, 0r, 1 lob.

B8: This should be the last at-bat for the Jays, barring a disaster in the ninth inning. Coats flies out. Rios flies out too, and says "firetruck" loudly enough for the mics to pick it up. Vernon Wells walks. Thomas grounds out. 0h, 0r, 1lob

T9: The Jays will bring in Randy Wells now to pitch the ninth. This will mark Mr. Wells' first major league game, and he looks just a teeny tiny bit excited. And someone has given him a necklace, so that's good. Crisp grounds out. Julio flies out to right field. Pedrioa walks. Big Papi grounds out, so it's a pretty good first game for Randy Wells. Congrats to him!!

And that's the ball game!!

Have a great day everybody!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

In which Chorus has a Treat

So, in a couple of weeks, I'll be starting to take voice lessons with a very talented singer here in town, and I am very very excited. I think we're going to have a lot of fun together!

Yesterday, WH and I descended on our local music store to buy some new collections of music. I have one book of Italian love songs already, but I was hoping to have a little bit more variety of pieces to study. Like going to bookstores, or office supply stores, or CD stores, I love these kinds of shopping trips... It's all about the POTENTIAL. We had some good recommendations from my teacher and knew what we were looking for, so it didn't take long to find three good collections and spend a healthy sixty bucks!

So now, to go with the Italian love songs, I have a collection of English songs from the Renaissance through the Baroque period, a book of German art songs, and a good collection of sacred music that I can use for church. I'd like to add some French art songs as well, eventually, but this seems like a healthy start!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Being the Choir Wyf, Part 3

WH and I and Fantastic Accompanist were walking up to rehearsal last night when the following conversation took place with a chorister we'll call Edith.

Edith: Hellooooooo Fantastic Accompanist!
FA: Hello!
Edith: Hellooooooo WH!
WH: Hello!
Edith: Helloooooooooo... .... ... WH's wife!
FA: She has a name, you know....
Edith: Well, we'll just call her Mrs. WH.
Chorus: Awesome.

I find these interactions entirely hilarious, and in no way do I take them personally. There are considerably worse things in the world than being known as Mrs. WH. They could be calling me nasty names behind my back, for example, which I'm pretty sure has happened to the wives of conductors before.

It is my goal in all interactions with the choirs for which my husband works to be genial and smiley and good-humoured and gentle and positive. I do pretty well about 90% of the time. I work really hard at "gracious but firm." And when we are at events where WH is meeting other musicians, I want to be the best lookin', loveliest, most well-behaved adornment for his arm that I can be.

We have a good time together, him and I.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Miss Landmine Angola 2008

Hey folks ~ Once again, many thanks to all who have posted kind and thoughtful comments about Granddad. The comments are spirit-boosting, I assure you!!

I don't really have much to say, other than that this week feels a bit odd, and out of sync, but I did want to share this story that came my way via CNN this morning:

The story describes the Miss Landmine Angola 2008 competition, featuring contestants who are all missing limbs as a result of having stepped on landmines. While all the contestants receive government assistance for education or business ventures, the winner receives a prosthetic limb.

The pictures are an expression of profound dignity and respect, and are very, very beautiful.

The more I have thought about the competition and about these women, the more challenging I have found it to try and wrap my mind around all the pieces that are brought together by the event: the gruesome atrocity of landmine violence; the images of beautiful women in stereotypical "pageant" poses; social justice; feminism; etc. In short, I feel a wide variety of things when I look at the pictures.

I feel angry and sad and thrilled and excited and worried by these images.

Angry at the violence that lies behind them.
Sad at the struggles these women have endured and will continue to endure.
Thrilled that these women have this opportunity to express themselves and their stories.
Excited by the gifts that are given to the competitors and to the winner.

Worried that these woman do not represent the last generation of landmine victims in Angola.