Farewell Santa

We will not be doing a Santa picture this year, because Owlet is dead set against it. Sparky is old enough to not need one, and I suspect he was humouring his sister these past couple of years. We were going to take this kids this morning and bring them to school afterward, but Owlet freaked out. It took a lot of negotiating, and even then she was trying to get us to agree to just have Sparky in the photo. We said we’d revisit it in the morning… and when we woke up it was -23 C before windchill, and the Santa we visit has an outdoor waiting line.

So executive decision: no, we were not going to wait outside with a whiny child who wanted to be anywhere but with Santa, because we are working really hard to limit stress for everybody. And then Owlet moped around the house, because she said she wanted to see Santa.

ANYWAY.

So that’s that. It looks like the Santa pictures are done for our family. In retrospect, I shouldn’t be surprised; last year she only agreed to do the photo if she could sit on a stool at Santa’s feet (which we were fine with, and offered this as an option this year as well), and in 2014 she said she didn’t want to see Santa, she wanted to just go have tea at DavidsTea, which was the treat I’d promised them for after we’d seen Santa.

Owlet told us last night that the boys in her class said Santa wasn’t real. Of course he is, we said. But he’s real in the way that he symbolizes the spirit of generosity, love, and sharing. That’s why there are so many Santas out there and they all look different. Her eyes got very round as she processed this. We’ve never tried to perpetuate the ‘Santa is a real person at the North Pole’ story, but we do have to address it every year. Which isn’t surprising; eleven and a half months is a long time to go between encountering the concept again.

So in place of a new photo of Santa with the kids, please enjoy this revisiting of pictures from the past five Christmases.

Christmas Recital 2016

Our studio recital went blazingly well yesterday. I sat and knitted for the entire first forty minutes during everyone else’s soli, and you know, I think I may take a break from doing a solo every couple of years or so. It was so relaxing. I got to really appreciate everyone’s pieces more than I usually do because I wasn’t stressing, keeping feverish track of who was playing so as to ready myself to move up and take my place, or running fingering patterns on my right forearm. The four group pieces all went brilliantly. It’s such a joy to watch everyone get better and better, and to welcome new cellists.

Speaking thereof… guess who said he’d like to try cello again? I suspect watching the three other eleven-year-olds who joined right around the time he quit two years ago may have something to do with it. He’s older now, and I pointed out twenty minutes of practice a day would be his responsibility — I’m not going to argue with him about it — and he agreed. We’re working on autonomy, self organization, and socialization with other kids outside school, so this may slot in nicely. I get to tell my teacher this week at my next lesson.

The New Adventure

Last week, HRH had the honour of being sworn into the Royal Canadian Naval Reserves at HMCS Donnacona. He has been working toward this for almost an entire year, and we are all very, very proud of him.

 

We couldn’t be there; the timing was awful for kids and bedtimes, but Jason, our friend in the RCAF, attended and took photos and video for us. (And this would have probably been impossible without Jason’s support throughout the process, so thank you, Jason!)

 

HRH went through a mind-numbing number of tests, evaluations, more tests, had paperwork returned because a letter I wasn’t dotted correctly, and made several trips to our family doctor for information, attestations, and referrals. He starts his training to be a Marine Engineering System Operator at the beginning of January. Parade night is on Thursday evenings, plus they put in one weekend day a month. So he’ll have mentally and physically stimulating time out of the house at least once a week, the way I do for music. He gets to study something he finds really interesting, and get paid to do it. As a part-time job to complement his full-time one… it’s pretty ideal. He gets to combine his desire to learn and study something new with his desire to pay down some debt, and it appeals deeply to his huge patriotic streak.

He has had nothing but support from his supervisors and the administration of the college he works at; they’re all enthusiastic about it, which makes life easier. During the recruitment process one of his supervisors was contacted for a phone interview, and he spoke to them at length about how great HRH was and what a good fit he’d be.

Next summer will be basic training, so plans for summer break are on hold at the moment until we know what the dates will be. We’ll roll with it!

Did we mention we are proud of him? We are. We’ve encouraged him every step of the way, and are looking forward to this new adventure in the family.

The State of Cello

I’ve had a kind of horrible fall, in retrospect. There were bright moments (RHINEBECK!), but I’ve been worn down by various things we’ve been juggling. We’ve had to limit a lot because I was fighting for the final payment for the project I did this past spring, and one of the things I had to drop was cello. I just couldn’t afford it. And with the level of work required for the fall orchestra programme, plus the demands of the group pieces for our Christmas recital… I didn’t have enough energy left over to work on my personal stuff anyway. So no lessons, and no working on something to play at the recital. This is the first time in eight years — sixteen recitals — that I haven’t had a solo piece. And I was fine with that.

I started lessons again mid-November, focusing on the orchestra music and recital group pieces. The chamber orchestra concert has come and gone (it was lovely, thank you for asking; my highlights were Delius’ A Song before Sunrise and Butterworth’s Banks of Green Willow), and so at this week’s lesson, after reviewing the group pieces for recital, I pulled out my Suzuki book and said, “Well, you told me to look at the Squire piece when we broke for the summer. I haven’t touched it in about four months, though.” “Let’s play through it and see what happens,” my teacher said.

Well. It turns out that the work I did on it myself at the beginning of the summer was so good that in her estimation, it is currently at almost a playable level. Which means if I had pulled it out three weeks ago, I might have actually been playing a solo in this recital after all.

I’m still okay with not having the stress of a solo piece, although solo playing is much less anxiety-inducing than it used to be. But I’m a teensy bit regretful. And also kind of impressed with myself for having done such a good job on it alone so far, and months ago at that. It makes me wonder what I could actually do if I took this whole thing a lot more seriously rather than managing to get maybe a max of ninety minutes of playing in each week.

Spinning October 2016

While I was at Rhinebeck (there’s a post I still need to write; the good thing is I have notes) I picked up a couple of braids of fibre from Spunky Eclectic, a dyer I’ve heard a lot about but haven’t had the chance to try. This is the one I chose to spin first.

The blend is called Panda; it’s 60% superwash Merino, 30% bamboo, and 10% nylon. This colour way is called ‘No Pimiento’ and is a gorgeous blend of pale and spring greens. The braid looked almost golden in places, but that was the reflection of the bamboo.

Spunky Eclectic Panada blend in 'No Pimiento'

Spunky Eclectic Panda blend in ‘No Pimiento’

I spun it on the Symphony in double drive at the 16:1 ratio for a 32 wpi single, and plied it in scotch tension. I ended up with 36 yards of traditional three-ply yarn at about 20 wpi.

'No Pimiento' yarn

‘No Pimiento’ yarn

I’m really happy with it. It reminds me of the colours of the green curtains my grandfather wove, which are currently packed away because all our windows are too big for them.

Welcome Winter

Well, no. It’s not exactly welcome. But it’s here and we might as well make the best of it.

(I admit that I am posting this (a) to get back into posting — which has been made easier by adding a plugin that fixes my photos so that they post the right way up when I update from a mobile device, and (b) to make my parents feel terribly smug about being somewhere warm and sandy while the rest of us are shivering.)

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The lilac tree across the street after an evening and morning of snow.