Saturday, May 31, 2008

Playing in the Dirt

Yesterday was delivery day for the topsoil that will help us re-grade the north side of our house, level off some divots throughout the yard, top up our gardens and fill our planters. We weren't given a delivery window, just told that it would be delivered some time during the day. We waited and waited and waited... Finally, at about 5:30, WH called the store and was told that it had already been delivered. Now, we had never seen 12 cubic yards of top soil before, but I'm pretty sure that we would have noticed had it been dropped in our yard. When WH relayed our fair certainty that, in fact, no top soil had been delivered, the company discovered that their relatively new driver had dropped the soil off at the wrong address. (Can you imagine being THAT homeowner??)

Eventually, a very large dumptruck pulled into the back alley and delivered a very large pile of top soil, and did so in plenty of time for us to be able to get the first layer down on the north patch, and to fill the flower beds, before the sun went down.

This morning, we went to the hardware store and bought grass seed, and some planters, and then to the farmer's market to buy some herbs for the planters. I think that tomorrow will be flower-purchasing day. This is the kind of work that we enjoy doing, and look forward to the day when the new soil is sprouting good grass.

Oh, and because the soil was late, the delivery company threw in an extra four yards... Anybody got planters they need filled??

Friday, May 30, 2008

Friday Five: Garage Sale!

From Revgals Songbird and will smama, we get a Friday Five about garage sales!
1) Are you a garage saler?

Not really ~ I am allergic to clutter, and going to garage sales causes my symptoms to flare up. I don't mind browsing just to see what's there, but I very rarely buy anything. We have a very large rummage sale at our church every year, and on occasion I'll pick up a cross-stitch pattern or piece of jewelry there.

2) If so, are you an immediate buyer or a risk taker who comes back later when prices are lower?

For the little buying that I do, I'm probably an immediate buyer. If I want it enough to buy it at all, I'm not likely to wait around for it.

3) Seriously, if you're not a garage saler, you are probably not going to want to play this one.
(That wasn't really #3.)
3) This is the real #3: What's the best treasure you've found at a yard or garage sale?

Maternal Unit and I found a watch at a garage sale when I was quite young, and the person running the garage sale did not feel comfortable selling it because she had found it, so she was just giving it away. It was solid gold, with real diamonds on the face.

4)If you've done one yourself, at church or at home, was it worth the effort?

I've never held one of my own, but I've helped out on occasion with the church rummage sale. I think it's worth the effort; the church makes reasonably good money off the sale, and the preparation is a good chance for the volunteers to spend time together and build community.

5) Can you bring yourself to haggle?

Meh... I suppose I would if I really felt strongly enough about something, but I'm more likely to just walk away if I don't want to pay the listed price.

BONUS: For the true aficionado: Please discuss the impact of Ebay, Craig's List, Freecycle, etc... on the church or home yard/garage sale.

I haven't actually ever thought about this until just now, but I suppose that these websites have changed the face of garage sales, both for the sellers, who may be more inclined to sell items of value online than out of their garage, and for the buyers, who might be cruising for things they themselves can sell online. How interesting...

Saturday, May 24, 2008

And now we're back!

Sorry about the bloggy break - I traveled with Maternal Unit to Big City in the East to bury my granfather's ashes and hob-nob with the family. We had a lovely time, enjoyed wonderful conversation with all kinds of family, ate and drank until we were well past full, and enjoyed a peaceful close to Granddad's life.

Not much to say today, while I'm working on getting the suitcase unpacked and the laundry done, so I thought I'd post this very short video. Hopefully it makes you laugh as hard as it does me.

Saturday, May 17, 2008


Diane at Faith in Community has tagged me for a fun meme. My husband is upstairs cooking dinner, which gives me the perfect opportunity to complete it! We've had a very satisfying day here - worked in the garden, took the storm windows down and got them washed, drank some beer... it's all good!

The rules of the game get posted at the beginning.
Each player answers the questions about himself or herself.
At the end of the post, the player then tags five people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

Ten years ago:
Ten years ago, I was just wrapping up my "gap year" after finishing high school the year before. I had been working in a coffee shop for the year, and was rapidly growing very sick of making lattes. I was preparing to enter Colourful University in the fall, as a Drama major. Eventually, I would change to an English major, a move I never regretted.

Five things on today's "to do" list:
Finish filling out a financial questionnaire for our financial analyst so that we can set about making a long-term financial plan. Woohoo!
Get the laundry done.
Watch Pan's Labyrinth.
Finish my beer.
Maybe do some ironing, though this is low on the priority list.

Things I'd do if I was a billionaire:
Do major renovations to our wee house.
Donate to charities that provide musical education for children in need.
Purchase the Toronto Blue Jays.
Buy fantastic shoes.

Three bad habits:
I spoil the cats.
I don't wash my makeup off at the end of the day.
I eat a lot of potato chips.

Five places I've lived:
I've only ever lived in Prairie City, but I've lived in three different places within the city.

Five jobs I've had:
Special Projects Manager
Student Service Manager
Bookstore Clerk
Administrative Assistant

Five People I'm Tagging
Crimson Rambler
I'm Still Me
De Koboldorum Rebus
Towanda's Window
Mine Unbelief

Friday, May 16, 2008

Friday Five: Grand Tour

Name five places that fall into the following categories:

1) Favorite Destination -- someplace you've visited once or often and would gladly go again

Italy! And I would gladly go again and again and again... There are so many things to see and so many wonderful things to EAT!

2) Unfavorite Destination -- someplace you wish you had never been (and why)

My husband and I were driving back from a weekend trip to another city in this province and we decided to stop for lunch at a town with a beautiful picturesque name... a name which unfortunately bore absolutely no resemblance to the town itself. The town should have been more accurately named Hole. And it didn't help that I eventually threw up the lunch we ate there.

3) Fantasy Destination -- someplace to visit if cost and/or time did not matter

I think that I would really love to do a tour of Africa.

4) Fictional Destination -- someplace from a book or movie or other art or media form you would love to visit, although it exists only in imagination

Middle-Earth, I think!

5) Funny Destination -- the funniest place name you've ever visited or want to visit.

This isn't so much funny as it is quaint, but there's a valley in Scotland called Rest and Be Thankful, and I always smile when I think of our stop there, because... well... we did, and we were!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Coffee Update

Just a quick update on how I'm doing in this first week of progress on my goal to cut down my coffee consumption.

Thus far this week, I've had one cup of coffee, after dinner on Monday. It was soooooo good. There seems to be something so comforting after a big and hearty meal about a soothing cup of hot coffee (or tea, for that matter...).

But that's all! So I'm doing pretty well!!

I haven't, however, been particularly happy with the replacement. The tea that I have is not as comforting a morning drink as I hoped it would be. I had some hot chocolate on Monday and that was very nice, but I'm not sure I'd want that every day.

Any suggestions for a nice hot drink to enjoy in the mornings that isn't coffee but has an equal comfort factor? Or a brand of tea you really enjoy?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Weary, by Sue McNiel Jacobsen

Monday, May 12, 2008

This 'n' That

  • I'm trying to cut down on my coffee consumption, mostly because I'm not sure it does anything good for the way that I FEEL. I don't drink very much of it anyway, and am pretty convinced that what I'm attached to is a warm drink first thing in the morning, more than I am to the coffee itself. Trying tea for a while...
  • Great last concert of the season on Saturday night for Chamber Choir. The rehearsal process for this concert was sometimes frustrating because of some attendance inconsistencies, and because we were all tired after the big Bach and Handel concert in February. But it all came together eventually and was a very successful offering, in the end. Wonderful comments from the audience afterwards! That's one choir down for the summer, two more to go!
  • Yesterday, WH and I sang in the choir for the Ordination and Installation of our diocese's new bishop. It was a really lovely service and extremely well-attended (about 800, I think?), but by the time we were finished (almost three hours after the service began), we were exhausted. We hit the local BPs on the way home for a dinner and beer (Rickards White - highly recommend it!), and then crashed on the couch to watch the end of the hockey game and The Simpsons.
  • Because of all of the various kinds of excitement this weekend, I reeeeally wish I had one more weekend day to actually rest and get ready for the week. But I don't... sigh. And this week is going to be a doozy.

What's up for you this week?

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Singing Lessons, Part 1

Last night, I had my first voice lesson with my new teacher, J.

First, let me tell you about J. J has been WH's friend for a long time. She is a very fine soprano and early music specialist. She's also 8 months pregnant, so we will have a few lessons now before the baby is born, and then perhaps a few lessons through the summer when we're both in town, and then we might continue with lessons regularly in the Fall, as our schedules allow. She is an excellent teacher, and to say that I'm excited to study with her would be an understatement.

I was nervous yesterday, mostly because one never knows what to expect from a new experience, and because it's intimidating to sing alone in front of a new person, no matter who that person is.

The lesson went very, very well. We worked a lot on technique, and identified that effective breathing and tension are probable the two areas in which I'll need to put in the most conscious work. Then we chose some repertoire to work on this week - a German piece by Brahms and the Mendelssohn "O For the Wings of a Dove" from Hear My Prayer, which is beautiful!

When I got home and told WH what I was going to be working on for the week, he remarked that the Mendelssohn was always hot property for the boy soprano soloists when he sang in the Cathedral boys choir as a child. So I asked him if he had ever sung it, and he replied, "Oh, I didn't just sing that solo; I OWNED that solo." And then he rushed downstairs to find the cassette on which his performance had been recorded.

And own it, he did indeed!!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Who's Up and Who's Down

After a one-week hiatus, we're back with more ups and downs in the world of sports.
Who's Up? :)

1. Dany Heatley, who is playing great hockey for Team Canada at the World Hockey Championships in Halifax. Through three games in the first round, Heatley has 6 goals and 4 assists, and scored a crucial last-minute goal yesterday afternoon to defeat the team from the United States. That all being well and good, if I was Brian Murray, coach and general manager of the Ottawa Senators, I would be wondering what changed between the end of the NHL season, for which the Sens offense disappeared, and this tournament?

2. Marty Turco and Evgeni Nabokov, the goalies for the Dallas Stars and San Jose Sharks, respectively, who combined for an unbelievable pair of performances in Dallas's quadruple overtime win in game 6 of the 2nd round of the NHL Playoffs. Hunt the highlights down on YouTube if you can; they are worth seeing.

3. Sportsmanship, which was in ample display at a women's softball game between Central Washington and Western Oregon last week. You can read about it here, and thanks to Towanda for drawing my attention to this fantastic story.

Who's Down? :(

1. The Chicago White Sox: Swept by the Blue Jays to extend a dreadful losing streak. A profanity-laced tirade from the manager, whining about lack of respect. A clubhouse display built of blow-up dolls and questionably placed... um... bats. I COULD NOT MAKE THIS STUFF UP IF I TRIED!!

2. Hot off the presses, Paul Maurice, who has been fired by the Toronto Maple Leafs. I've always liked Maurice, and I've always thought that he was doing the best he could with what he had, but realistically, the team is a mess, and needs a fresh approach. I would be surprised if he doesn't get picked up by someone else soon though.

3. Roger Clemens. I just wish he would shut up and go away.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

In which Chorus looks at Houses

I went for a walk today at lunch through the neighbourhood directly to the west of Colourful University. It's a very pleasant neighbourhood, and if you walk far enough, and make the appropriate left and right turns at the correct moments, you wind up connecting to a long winding road that comes back east towards the campus and is lined on one side by the river valley, and on the other by some fantastic houses.

Looking at houses is one of my favourite pastimes; it's always interesting to look at homes and think about what kinds of people must live there, to look at the things in other people's homes that you wish you had in your own, and alternatively, to look at homes that you are very glad you don't own. There are very few of the latter on my walk; these homes are beautiful. And many of them are very large, but not all. I think that the original neighbourhood was built some time before the real estate market realized that the combination of gigantic homes and a view of the river would equal big bucks. Over time, many of the original homes have been torn down, but there are still a few charming little houses tucked in between the mammoth ones.

The neighbourhood is interesting too because it does not have a consistent design from house to house, so there is pleasing variety, entirely unlike the new neighbourhoods being built on the edges of our city. No, this neighbourhood hasArts and Crafts homes, which I ADORE; beautiful big brick and stone homes built to look like English cottages onlymoreso, which I ADORE; interesting modern homes built on funny angles to maximize the size of the lots and the view of the river, which I don't ADORE, but wouldn't turn away if someone offered me one for free; and big imposing grey stone houses built like plantation mansions, which I think are cold and ... well, ugly. There are also about 6 houses built in a Frank Lloyd Wrightish kind of square boxes-piled-on-top-of-each-other style, which I think are fascinating, but I can't imagine how they don't have major roof problems, considering how much snow we get. There's a certain smug self-satisfaction in looking at a giant home you'll never be able to afford, and thinking that you wouldn't buy it, even if you could, because it wouldn't be a rational decision given the climate.

I think this fascination with looking at houses began at a very young age for me; my mom and I would drive around the old neighbourhoods of Prairie City and look at homes, and we were always especially on the lookout for little tiny charming houses, the more tilty and quaint the better. With big gardens. And folk art in the yard, if possible.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Weekend Miscellaneous...

  • We ate really well this weekend... tacos on Friday night, a nice breakfast out on Saturday morning (mmmmm.... eggs benedict), steak on Saturday night, homemade macaroni and cheese on Sunday night... yum, yum, yum.
  • I had a really nice visit with my friend S yesterday afternoon. S's moronic husband left her in September, and I have been so awed by her poise and grace through the grief. And now, she is very much flourishing. She has recently received word that both the sale of her house and the purchase of her condo have been finalized, so she is moving forward with great success. Plus, she has the greatest dog in the world.
  • I have very fond memories of going to the horse races with my Mom when I was little, and standing right up against the fence to watch (and listen to!) the horses go by on the home stretch. But I just can't bring myself to watch anymore, even on television. And this weekend's tragedy at the Kentucky Derby is a vivid example of why. The thought of that poor horse dying on the track makes me physically ill.
  • And last but not least, we finally bought the TV that we've been saving up for for so long. It's a 46-inch LCD television made by Sony, and it's beautiful!! Baseball looks AMAZING in high definition!! The shopping experience was, for the most part, positive. We asked lots of good questions of our salesman, until we had a really good understanding of what we wanted to buy. And in the end, I actually suggested the model we finally decided on. We got the whole thing installed and set up on Saturday evening, though WH tells me that there are still some finicky things to play with. He's been busy reading instruction manuals and telling me the parts that I need to know. We had to move some furniture around in the basement to make everything fit, but the end result actually looks bigger and more spacious than what we had before. I think that we will get a lot of enjoyment out of this purchase!!

Have a great day folks! If you're lurking out there, drop me a comment and let me know you're around!

Friday, May 2, 2008

In which Chorus Golfs

Not actually Chorus.
LPGA Tour Pro Paula Creamer.

Unabashedly, unashamedly, undeniably... I love golf.

Let me go back about three years, before WH and I were dating, but after I started thinking that I might like to be. This was around the time he first suggested that I should come out to the course one day and he would give me golf lessons. Being that I thought he was pretty nifty, I let him talk me into it. We got to the driving range, he handed me a club and a ball and said, "Here. Hit the ball with the club. That's your lesson."

From that date until last summer, I accompanied him to the course a few times, played horribly, swore a lot, whined like a baby, cried at least twice, and hit maybe 3 good shots. What I was playing was quite a lot more like glorified croquet than golf.

Then last summer, things changed. But this requires some background. WH and I had originally booked our wedding reception at the golf course at which WH is a member. Six months after we had made the booking and paid our deposit, we received word that the golf course had double booked the space, and we were second in line. It was horrible news, and we had a very difficult time finding a new place to host our reception on such short notice. Fortunately, we did find another (and better and cheaper and altogether fantastic) location, so it all worked out in the end. But as you can imagine, the first course was eager to make amends, so they gave both of us free golf memberships for the year. So I got a chance to play much more often than I had been.

The week after our wedding, we had contemplated sneaking away to the mountains for a little mini-honeymoon, but decided instead to stay home, relax, put our house back in order, and just be peaceful. Oh, and play a lot of golf. The week after our wedding, we played 72 holes of golf. I think it was our second day on the course, on about the 12th hole, that things changed. WH had already hit his drive. I teed mine up, set my club, relaxed, and swung. Ka-BOOM. It was an absolutely beautiful drive, and as the ball bounced well past WH's on the fairway*, I could hear him laughing from the cart behind me. And I managed to hit really well off the tee for the rest of the week! My game improved steadily from there... my putting got better, I hit more good drives than I did bad ones, and I came close to getting par on a couple of holes. I was officially hooked.

Don't get me wrong, there was still a lot of swearing, and I know that when I step back on the course this year, there will still be regular and frequent moments of frustration. But the knowledge that I can do well, and that I'll only get better, is incredibly motivating.

WH is heading out to the course to play his first round of the year today. I can't wait to play mine.

To be fair, I was tee-ing up off the women's tees, so I had several yards' advantage.... but still.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

A Special Evening

I was very lucky to get a chance to witness a very special thing the other day.

Every two years, the CBC hosts a national choral competition for amateur choirs across the country. There are a variety of catagories for children's choirs, youth choirs, adult choirs, equal voices (male and female), mixed voices, chamber choirs etc. It's always a very interesting and exciting event. While I was not singing in any participating choirs, a number of WH's colleagues (and our friends) had choirs that made the final round of competition.

One such choir, a women's choir, is conducted by a woman, M, who has a very long and accomplished resume of musical accomplishments in this city. She has been an educator and a clinician and an adjudicator, and of course, a conductor. In the process, she has raised two beautiful daughters who are very fine singers, and M is now enjoying two grandsons as well. The whole family is very dear to us.

In her retirement, M has continued to conduct her women's choir. They have competed in the choral competition many times, and have placed 2nd many times. They were performing on Tuesday night in the final round, so WH and I went to listen to their broadcast. They sang very very well. The results came in, and M and her choir were finally able to celebrate a first place prize. There were many, many tears of joy for a family that has waited a long time, and worked very hard to be recognized in this way. It was such a special occasion, and a real pleasure to be a part of.

In rejoicing for them, I was able to reflect once again how happy I am to be a part of the choral community, and to know so many wonderful people as a result.