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.

Ballet

The fall season of extracurricular activities has just begun. Sparky casually mentioned he’d like to maybe try guitar, so we looked into that, but we just couldn’t afford it right now. He’s happy to continue with his art classes.

Owlet has been waiting to turn five, because now she is old enough to register for ballet at the arts centre where she previously did art and intro to music. She and her friend Audrey have both registered, and we took them to buy their ballet shoes a week and a half ago. Owlet is extremely thrilled with them and wears them any time she remembers they exist… like when it’s time to climb into bed for bedtime stories.

The first day was exciting. She naturally wanted to wear a dress, but I managed to get her to agree to wear black leggings and a tunic shirt instead. There are fifteen kids in the class (fifteen!) and the teacher is terrific with them. Her choice of music is admirable, too; the way to get me to appreciate your commitment to teaching is to have both a track from Michael Nyman’s score for The Piano and a prelude from a Bach solo cello suite playing in the first ten minutes. (Also, wow; you can make a playlist on a phone or mp3 player and just plug it into an amplifier in this day and age. When I took ballet classes, there was a live accompanist, because it was that or a portable record player.)

So far, so good. There was a hesitation halfway through the class when she didn’t want to keep going, but after watching the other girls learn how to do “cat jumps” she threw herself back in with enthusiasm, because who doesn’t want to learn how to jump like a cat, right? And we committed the faux pas of not bringing water bottles with which the girls could hydrate at half time, the way all the other girls (who had obviously all done this before) had done. A note has been made for next time.

Sparky came home from his first art class that afternoon with spots of paint all over him, so that’s going as well as it usually does!

Cottaging

Things have been pretty stressful around here for a variety of reasons. So when our friends Megan and Jason invited us to spend a day at their family cottage an hour north of the city, we said yes.

It was one of those transitional days we get at the end of summer, where the sun is shining but there’s a breeze and a chill to the air, especially outside the city. It was the kind of weather where you’re happy to be able to pull out a sweater.

I got about an inch knit on my sweater for Rhinebeck. The kids tromped around and found sticks, poked them into the water, pretended to fish, and played happily in the sand pit. The adults managed to play a game of Settlers of Catan without being significantly interrupted, which was a major achievement. And at the end of the day, a small fire was built and we taught the kids how to roast marshmallows.

It was a wonderful day, and we all really needed it.