Monday, September 29, 2008

One year older...

Today is my birthday, and also my lovely husband's birthday. We were both born on September 29th, he in 1971 and I eight years later.

I'm twenty-nine this year. TWENTY-NINE! Twenty-eight was a lovely year, but I'm looking forward to twenty-nine as well, and all the things that will come with it!

We went out last night and had a nice birthday dinner at our favourite restaurant. Today is pretty much business as usual... work for me, teaching for him, Chamber Choir for us both tonight.

But everything is just a little bit nicer for it being our birthday!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Hockey Pool Day

I hadn't perfectly realized how much I wrote yesterday about the kittehs... clearly I was in the mood to write a lot, though perhaps not much of any substance.

Anyhoo, today is Hockey Pool Day. WH has run a hockey pool for a number of years, and when he and I started hangin' out together, I naturally became a part of the annual hockey pool organization and administration team. There are normally anywhere between 10 and 15 players who descend on our home one afternoon in September to pick teams, eat chili and have a good time. Each player picks two full lines - six forwards, four defensemen, two goalies - plus one enforcer.

So right now, WH is at rehearsal, the chili is in the crock pot getting hot, and the house is the most peaceful and quiet it will be until much later this evening. All the stuff is printed out that needs to be printed out. I still need to grate cheese for the chili...

What are you up to today?

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Feline Schedule

I'm in a kind of bloggy funk this week... not enough time to think clearly about what I want to say, and too tired to blog even about what is making me tired. But that's ok. The thought of writing a little bit more about the kittehs seems like a peaceful kind of idea...

Our cats are on a schedule. Make no mistake, it is not a schedule of our making. They took care of it all on their own. We would make adjustments to the schedule, if we could. We push it sometimes, on occasion, but as time goes by, the schedule stays the same.

Mama Cat sleeps on our bed with us every night, for the whole night. She will begin the night curled up by my belly or under the covers behind my knees. When she sleeps under the covers, she kneads my rear-end. She moves a number of times through the night, positioning herself in places that inevitably result in my having lower back pain in the morning.

Baby Cat spends most of the night elsewhere in the house, either on top of the piano or on the guest bed curled up on clothes we haven't put away. At about 5am, she will ARRIVE in the bedroom, situate herself between our heads and let loose an earth-shattering purr. When she is confident that she has our attention, she will either curl up by my face and lie down, or climb under the covers to cuddle with WH.

Sometimes, they wait for the alarm to go off before they commence OPERATION ANNOYANCE, but not always. OPERATION ANNOYANCE involves walking around on the bed with their pointy feet, scratching at the bed skirt, meowing, biting, and generally being a nuisance. OPERATION ANNOYANCE is their first tactic for reminding us that they are due a meal.

I am usually the first one out of bed and into the shower. Mama Cat comes into the bathroom with me and sits on the back of the toilet while I shower. This is so that she is the first thing I see when I get out, so that I am reminded that she is due a meal. While I'm drying off, Baby Cat usually makes an appearance in the bathroom too, just to remind me that she is due a meal.

Both cats sit in the dining room while I get dressed, positioned so that they can keep an eye on me and an eye on the passageway to their food dishes. When I head to the kitchen to make my breakfast and lunch, both cats make a mad and loud dash down the stairs to the basement for their breakfast. Breakfast is warmly received... lots of mewing.

After breakfast two things happen, though not necessarily in the same order. There is running around, usually out of excitement that WH is now up and about, and that they've been fed, and that sometimes one just has to run around a little bit. There is also washing, both of themselves and of each other. Sometimes this leads to wrestling and further running around.

Then, it's time for the morning nap. Acceptable places for the morning nap include, but are not limited to, the top of the piano, the couch, the bed, the guest bed, the dining room chairs, and WH. WH is often home for some portion of the day, and there is nothing he can possibly be doing at home that is more important than acting as a reservoir for sleeping cats. If WH is working on the computer, then the computer will do just fine for a napping place. If WH is working on score-study, then the scores will also work just fine.

The morning nap bleeds seamlessly into the afternoon nap, though there might be brief interludes of washing, running around or simply moving napping locations.

At 2:45, both cats rise up and commence OPERATION REMINDER which involves sitting where we cannot possibly ignore them, and serves to remind whoever is home that they are due a meal. We are reasonably certain that when neither of us is home, Mama Cat simply sits in the living room and meows at the top of her lungs until we get home. She is often hoarse when we get back from an afternoon away.

Lunch is served at 3pm. If not, OPERATION REMINDER reverts to OPERATION ANNOYANCE.

After lunch, the run around and bathing rituals repeat themselves, followed by the late afternoon nap. The late afternoon nap is sometimes interrupted if we are cooking something that involves cheese, because it's very important for the cats to be present in the kitchen lest cheese fall on the floor.

While WH and I eat dinner, Mama Cat and Baby Cat are in a state of heightened vigilance for food dropped on the floor or left on the kitchen counter, or for glasses of milk that are left momentarily unattended. When dinner is over, it is time for the evening nap. Now they sometimes have a choice about which human receptacle they will sit upon. Sometimes they both choose the same human, which makes it very hard for that human to get anything done in the evening.

At 9:45, we commence a renewed iteration of OPERATION REMINDER, followed, if necessary, by OPERATION ANNOYANCE. Dinner is served at 10. WH and I get ready for bed while they're eating, and then the four of us commence the night-time routine once again.

Note: Mama Cat will not graze; she eats everything that is in front of her all the time. So if it seems as though we feed them quite often, it's because we give them little portions of food each time. We think that Baby Cat would graze, except that Mama Cat inevitably eats whatever is left over if Baby Cat walks away.

Note2: Weekends are a bit different and involve helping me with the laundry by sitting in the dryer, helping me change the sheets by lying on them, and by an occasional change to the morning schedule which involves my getting up to feed them and going back to bed, which means that they come back to bed for extra cuddling after their breakfast.


Clearly they are leading a very difficult and trying existence.

That's Mama Cat on the top of the couch, and Baby Cat on the seat. Doesn't that look harsh?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Trader Tuesdays

So this is my recipe for mashed potatoes, which I've been led to believe makes very good mashed potatoes. WH LOVES them, which is gratifying.

Note that this recipe is based on the ancient art of eyeballing measurements.

So, you need:
Howevermany Potatoes, peeled and quartered
Sour cream
Cheese, grated (whatever kind you like... the more interesting the cheese, the more interesting the potatoes)
Garlic Powder
1 large egg (or two, if you're making lots of mashed potatoes, or three, if you're feeding the whole town)

Boil potatoes until soft. It's ok to over soften the potatoes a little bit to allow for easier mashing. I am notorious for taking the potatoes off too early, but a lump or two just makes them more interesting.

Mash the potatoes well with your potato masher. Add salt and pepper and garlic powder to taste, sour cream (this is where the eyeballing comes in... sour cream is more forgiving than milk though... I'd say somewhere around half a cup, depending on how many potatoes you have), the egg, and the grated cheese. Beat the mixture with your mixer until combined and smooth. Spoon potatoes into an oven-proof casserole dish, sprinkle with paprika, and bake at 350F for anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes. I often leave them in the oven until dinner is ready, which means the potatoes are always piping hot to serve.

Instead of cheese and the garlic powder, add roasted garlic. (DO NOT ADD RAW GARLIC. YOU WILL REGRET IT.)
Instead of cheese, (or with the cheese... whatever) add any kind of fresh green herb... rosemary is especially lovely.
Instead of paprika, sprinkle the potatoes with Parmesan cheese or bread crumbs to make a crust.
You can control the fattiness in this recipe by using low fat or fat free sour cream or fat free plain yogurt, and leaving out the cheese.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

WordTwist Adventures, Part II

(You'll recall that Part I involved the infamous Bumbag.)

So the other day I was playing Word Twist and I got the following set of letters:


So, lots of good words in there, and I'm typing away and typing away and I enter the word P-E-N-1-S.

And the following message pops up: "The word PEN1S is not in the dictionary."

So I spent the next half an hour trying to figure out why, on earth, the word pen1s would be considered too risque for Word Twist.

How was YOUR weekend?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Friday Five: Fall Equinox

This morning, we have an Autumn Friday Five from Songbird at the Revgals:

As this vivid season begins, tell us five favorite things about fall:

1) A fragrance

I've always liked the smell of autumn rain, just after it's fallen. There's a freshness to it that is invigorating. Of course, give it 24 hours and it smells like rotting leaves, but the initial fragrance is lovely!

2) A color

We don't get many leaves turning red where we are, but I love the combination of yellow and orange that pops up in our river valley about this time of year.

3) An item of clothing

I loves me a turtle-neck sweater.

4) An activity

I do love walking on crunchy leaves. This is such a wonderful time of year to take nice long walks - the air is fresh and the temperature is just right.

5) A special day

Both WH and I have autumn birthdays. On the same day!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

In which Chorus rages...

It seems to me that we are inundated, daily, by stories that are horrifying, jarring, nasty and nauseating. Stories of war and the victims of it, stories of homes and lives destroyed by hurricanes, stories of desperation in the face of a crumbling economy.... there is no shortage. Somehow, in the face of them all, we manage to get up every morning and go on with our lives, living them as fruitfully and as productively and as happily as we can manage. We have an incredible capacity to manage this great quantity of sadness and soldier on.

But every now and again, a story comes along that I find much more difficult to digest. I'm not sure exactly why, but stories like this one will weigh on my mind for hours. And maybe that's because I struggle to comprehend how anybody finds this kind of thing amusing or entertaining or acceptable. It is so simply unnecessary and cruel... so clearly avoidable, so inexplicably nasty.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Things that make me happy...

Today, it's this: The Sarah Palin Baby Name Generator, passed on to me by Chunklets at De Koboldorum Rebus.

My name would have been Mullet Troll Palin.

I love it.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Church Choir Protocol

We have some new members of Church Choir this year, and even some long-standing members had some questions about how we should be doing things, so I drafted the following procedures and handed them out to choir members this week.

Church Choir Protocol
(or, The List of Things that Some of Us Do, So the Rest Should Probably Do Too)

1. Processional and Recessional Hymns are always sung in unison. Gradual and Offertory Hymns are sung in unison on first and last verses, and in harmony for middle verses. Communion Hymns are sung in harmony, all verses.
2. Note that sometimes this changes, depending on the hymns themselves, so it's wise to come to rehearsal so that you are not the sole choir member singing harmony when the rest are singing in unison, singing loudly when the rest are singing softly, clapping when the rest are swaying, etc. Rehearsals = Good.

Processional and Recessional:
1. When processing and recessing, walk about 2 pew widths behind the choristers walking in front of you, at a comfortable, saunter-ish pace. While you may walk to the rhythm of the hymn, this does not work so well for waltzes. If the pair in front of you are walking too slowly, carefully jab the corner of your hymn book into their ribs.
2. When you and your partner reach the front of the chancel, bow to the altar and then proceed in to your pews. For the recession, turn to face the altar as the crucifer retrieves the cross. When the crucifer turns to the congregation, bow (all together now), and then proceed out two at a time.
3. Sopranos and Altos should pair up for procession/recession, as should Tenors and Basses. When there is an uneven number of one section, the person left over should walk solo down the centre of the aisle. For example, three sopranos and four altos, three tenors and four basses would walk SA, SA, SA, A, TB, TB, TB, B. If someone attempts to walk with you where he/she shouldn't, fee free to push that person.

1. Rush towards the communion rail as fast as you can. Last one there is a rotten egg.

Cassocks and Surplices (not surpluses)
1. Your cassock should be buttoned all the way to the collar button. Your surplice should hang evenly across both shoulders, and evenly from front to back.
2. Feel free to remove any clothing underneath your cassock to better your comfort, warmth, etc., but please remember that you've done so before removing your cassock after the service. Nobody wants to be THAT chorister.

1. All your music will have your number on it, and will be in your cubbie for you before rehearsals and services. You are welcome to take your music home with you, but please do bring it back.
2. Public spectacle will be made of those whose music is missing.
3. If your hymn book, anthem book or folder are missing, it probably means that someone stole them. Accuse your fellow choristers liberally.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Friday Five: Back to School

Courtesy of Mother Laura at the RevGals, it's time for a Back-To-School Friday Five!

1. Is anyone going back to school, as a student or teacher, at your house? How's it going so far?

WH is back in front of the classroom this fall, teaching two sections of Music History to first year students. There are 120 students in one of his classes, and 13 in the other. It's going well, and it's a syllabus that he loves to teach, but his voice is tired! We have both been hit by the first colds of the year.

2. Were you glad or sad when back-to-school time came as a kid?

Usually glad... I always liked having new school supplies; it always felt like POTENTIAL.

3. Did your family of origin have any rituals to mark this time of year? How about now?

We used to go to Prairie City's Folk Festival every year in early August as a kind of last hurray before the wind-up for school began. WH are always trying to cram in as much BBQ-ing as we can in the last weeks of August. Sigh.

4. Favorite memories of back-to-school outfits, lunchboxes, etc?

My only memory of lunchboxes is how many of them I lost, or left in my desk for disgustingly long periods of time. I think that it was much less stressful for us all when I started getting lunches in brown paper bags.

5. What was your best year of school?

First year university. I knew that the world had to be bigger and more interesting than high school had been, and first year of university proved me right. I liked being able to choose my own social group, I liked being able to come and go at my own speed, and I liked being so much more in control of my own learning.

I am so distracted this morning by the forecasters reports of Ike, and the ominous warning of "certain death" for people who remain in the hurricane's path. What a horrible and frightening thing to be facing...

Almighty and merciful God, throught the intercession of the holy Mother of God, Mary, and of the holy angels, patriarchs, propets, apostles, martyrs, confessiors, virgins, widows, and all saints, extend to us we implore you your continual protection; make the storm to cease and the angry elements to give forth a blessing from heaven upon us unworthy; preserve from all the dangers with which their destroying power threatens us, our dwellings, and the fruits of the earth; Through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


I saw this on The Ice Floe, and thought it looked like fun.

1. My aunt once rescued me from a swimming pool.

2. Never in my life have I, or will I, go bungee jumping.

3. When I was five we had pictures taken of me to mirror pictures taken of my mother at that age.

4. High school was not a particularly enjoyable experience, and I walked away from it after graduation and never looked back.

5. I will never forget my wedding day.

6. Once I met Karen Kain.

7. There’s this boy I know who's magnificently full of sass.

8. Once, at a bar, I realized how much I don't like bars.

9. By noon, I have to get a huge amount of work done.

10. Last night I made my first-ever quiche.

11. If only I had a very large shoe budget.

12. Next time I go to church will be tonight for choir practice.

13. What worries me most... I have to identify just one thing?

14. When I turn my head left I see a blue jay in a sombrero.

15. When I turn my head right I see a picture of my husband in Prairie City's river valley.

16. You know I’m lying if my nose grows.

17. What I miss most about the Eighties is mismatched neon socks.

18. If I were a character in Shakespeare I’d be Virgilia.

19. By this time next year I hope that we live in a bigger house.

20. A better name for me would be the ANTI-CLUTTER!

21. I have a hard time understanding the difference between baroque style and renaissance style.

22. If I ever go back to school, I’ll do a Masters in Post-Secondary education.

23. You know I like you if if I invite you over for wine.

24. If I ever won an award, the first person I would thank would be my husband.

25. Take my advice, never wear silver earrings in -40 degree weather.

26. My ideal breakfast is Eggs Benedict.

27. A song I love but do not have is the ukulele version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow from the movie 50 First Dates.

28. If you visit my hometown, I suggest going to the Farmer's Market.

29. Why won’t people SIGNAL, for crying out loud.

30. If you spend a night at my house, you might have feline visitors in the middle of the night.

31. I’d stop my wedding for a family member in need.

32. The world could do without campaign ads.

33. I’d rather lick the belly of a cockroach than ... I'm not sure there's anything that qualifies. Cockroaches are gross.

34. My favorite blondie is WonderHubby!

35. Paper clips are more useful than a punch in the nose.

36. If I do anything well it’s write lists and organize things.

37. I can’t help but eat candy.

38. I usually cry when I'm angry.

39. My advice to my nephew/niece is to look for opportunities to be happy, rather than opportunities to be unhappy.

40. And by the way the key question is, "Is this doing any real harm?" If not, then maybe it's not worth fussing about. Let it go.


There is a direct connection between the duet from the Pearl Fishers and my tear ducts.... I just can't help it.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Cold Sore Update and a Recipe

Cold sore update... doesn't that sound appetizing? Anyway, the cold sore is healing, but of course, tailing behind it is the inevitable cold itself. Nuts. So far, I'm not feeling too bad, though my throat is sore and my nose is running. I'm hoping to be able to hold it off for at least a couple of days until Thursday, when I don't have any meetings and could take the day off if I needed to. The sore throat was one of a number of factors, another being a four-legged feline with sharp teeth, that conspired to keep me from sleeping well last night, which probably won't help.

Anyway, on to more interesting topics, there are a number of bloggers out there who take advantage of Tuesdays to share recipes on their blogs (Trader Tuesdays). I have read many of these recipes with great interest, and thought that perhaps I should step up with the "sharing" part of the game, and provide some of my own too!

This is the recipe I use for Rack of Lamb, and I got it and adapted it from
WH and I make this when we feel like we have something to celebrate; it's lovely with a nice glass (or bottle) of red wine, and I usually make it with mashed potatoes and whatever vegetable I have on hand.

Roasted Rack of Lamb

1/2 cup of fresh bread crumbs
Garlic Powder to taste (or fresh, if you prefer... I just tend to be lazy)
Rosemary to taste
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
2 Tbsp Olive Oil

1 (7 bone) rack of lamb, trimmed and frenched
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard

Preheat oven to 450F. (This is not a great recipe to make in the summer, as the kitchen gets hot!) In a bowl, mix bread crumbs, garlic powder, rosemary, salt and pepper. Toss in 2 Tbsp of olive oil to moisten and set aside.

Season the rack all over with salt and pepper. (It is possible to over-salt this dish, given the salt in the breadcrumb mixture too, so go easy!) Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in an oven-proof cast iron skillet over high heat. Sear the rack of lamb for 1 to 2 minutes on each side. Remove from heat, and set aside for a few minutes. Brush rack of lamb with mustard, and roll it in the bread crumb mixture. Cover the ends of the bones with foil to prevent charring.

Lay the rack bone-side down in the skillet and roast it in the preheated oven for 12-18 minutes (I usually do about 15 or 16 minutes for medium rare.) Let it rest for 5 minutes before carving between the ribs. Enjoy with mint jelly!

Monday, September 8, 2008

An Update

Not much to report, really, but I thought I should throw something on the blog so that nobody would think that I'd disappeared entirely....
  • I have a cold sore on my bottom lip. It is gross, and it hurts.
  • Ever since CBC Radio 2 took all their good programming and threw it in the garbage in favour of... well... garbage, I've been listening to Concerts on Demand via the internet. Found a lovely Tafelmusik concert this morning!
  • My new iPod Touch has introduced me to the wonderful world of baseball podcasts....
  • Speaking of, how about the Jays, winners of 8 in a row!
  • Chamber Choir starts tonight, and Orchestral Choir starts tomorrow. And then Pro Choir starts on Wednesday for WH. The only thing left to get going is curling for WH, which doesn't start until later in the fall.
  • I am so happy to be singing again. It fills my heart and soul with joy.
  • I have been hired to sing Ave Maria (Schubert) at a wedding in a couple of weeks. Yay!
  • Considering how busy it is already, and how much busier it is going to get, I feel GREAT!
How are you doing?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Oh Dear...

So this was the scene on my way to work this morning at Very Busy Intersection on my route. I witnessed the scene unfold, but was not part of it, which I'm grateful for.

So, Car A is heading west straight through the intersection, Car B is turning left from the other direction to go north. I'm not sure how late Car A was, whether the light was yellow or red or what, but Car A and Car B ran into each other. The accident was not serious, as they made contact right on their respective noses, but enough to scratch. The driver of Car B, who was HUGE, screamed at the driver of Car A to back up, because both cars were now blocking oncoming traffic heading north. So Car A backed up, at which point Car B took off. (Bastard)

Car A was able to back up enough to let the oncoming traffic past her, which was good, but as we've all experienced, it's never a good feeling to have your nose even slightly protruding into a busy intersection. So understandably, when her light turned green, the driver of Car A put the gas pedal right down to the floor.

Except she was still in reverse.

So she charged backwards at a high rate of speed, right into the car behind her. SMASH.

This, I think, is a clear sign that once the situation is resolved, you should just go home and go back to bed.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

A Letter

Dear Mom and Dad,

Thank you for not naming me Bristol.



Farewell, Summer!!

The long days of summer have (un)officially passed...

WH teaches his first class this morning, a first-year survey course in Music History. Church Choir rehearsals start tomorrow evening (with two new members, and one returning after a year-long absence!), and Chamber Choir and Orchestral Choir will have their first rehearsals next week. WH also has rehearsals for Professional Choir starting next week. Before long, we'll be going full-tilt.