Category Archives: Diary

Meet Ginny

While Ginny was introduced on other social media, I should really include it here.

Hey world, meet Ginny… who weasled her way into our hearts and became a major foster fail. She’s about a year old and terribly sweet. I’ll be volunteering with the rescue organization in other ways, mostly chauffeuring and transporting stuff when I can.

Ginny, early March 2018

When she arrived in late February, named Bo Peep, she was our first foster cat. Fostering was a new endeavor for us, a form of community service where we chose to support those people who made rescuing, sterilizing, and rehoming cats their mission. HRH was off on a training exercise the day Jessica dropped her off. While we stood and chatted, Jiji spied the tiny cat in the carrier and fled. Owlet tried to carry him over to say hi, and he fled again. Jiji was afraid of the wee foster cat, which wickedly delighted me. After all, one of the reasons we had decided to foster was because Jiji was picking on Minerva and evidently needed distraction, someone to play with.

Bo was delightfully social after a couple of quiet hours in the master bedroom. The kids took turns to creep in and say hi, and she was very friendly with both of them. Everybody was getting snuggles and bumps and flops. And the purrs, oh my, the purrs.

The next evening HRH was home. When he went to bed, the little cat climbed onto his chest and fell asleep there. That was when I was pretty sure this was going to be a foster fail; this cat would never leave the house. It took a total of four days to confirm that yes, this was too good to destabilize. Bo was officially a foster fail. Then the game of trying to come up with a fitting name, taken from literature or a film as we always do, began.

Liam and Ginny, mid-March 2018

Seriously, I have never had a cat who acclimated to a household this quickly, and vice versa. During the first week, after she was introduced to the rest of the house, Jiji and Minerva were seen casually playing with her without looking like they were fully committing to the activity. This was obviously not the way fostering was supposed to go, but it’s how it played out. There are other reasons why we can’t foster again, mainly that the one room we can close off happens to be the master bedroom, where all the household cats come to sleep at night, and it’s unfair to them. But it will be good to be able to help in other ways.

Owlet Discovers Beethoven


Owlet started learning about Beethoven in music class at school just before March break. She ran to meet me at the school gate and this is the conversation we had:

OWLET: Mummy, do you know Beethoven?
ME: Not personally, but I know his music.
OWLET: Why not?
ME: Well, honey, he’s dead.
OWLET: WHAT. He can’t write any more music!?
ME: Trust me, we have LOTS of his music to listen to.

At home she shared the Beethoven’s Wig video with us, which led us to discover Beep Beep Beep and My Little Chicken. (Click on those links at your own risk; they are earworms. Hilarious and brilliantly done, but earworms.)

Her list of facts that she likes to share:
-Beethoven is famous because people like his music.
-His father taught him music.
-He was grumpy because he couldn’t hear his music very well.
-He was very messy.

I showed her the Beethoven Google Doodle game, and found the first track from Beethoven Lives Upstairs online for her to listen to, then we borrowed the whole CD from the library.

So next it was, “Mummy, can we listen to the Beethoven’s Wig music in the car?” Of course, my child. I own three different recordings of Beethoven’s fifth symphony that I know of. And this is a synthesis of the conversations we have about it, because now we listen to it daily with occasional breaks for Hamilton or Moana:

OWLET: Mummy, it started again!
ME: No, this is the repeat. In this kind of music, like I play at orchestra, the first part is usually repeated before playing the next section.
OWLET: Mummy, this part sounds like Beethoven’s Wig, but it’s different. Did Beethoven write this part, too?
ME: Yes, he did. It’s called the development section, which makes variations and new music based on the themes introduced in the first part.
OWLET: Beethoven wrote a lot! (And this is only the first movement of a Beethoven symphony she’s heard.) And he’s very good! I like this part!

Then this morning:

OWLET: Mummy, are there any pictures of Beethoven?
ME: Not photos, because there weren’t any cameras when he was alive, but there are paintings.
OWLET: Can I have one in my room? One of his head? And then another one of him writing his music. In a frame? Like a real painting?

Yes, my child. You may have a framed portrait of Beethoven, your first musical crush.

General Music Roundup, December 2017 Edition

Sparky and I had our cello recital this past Sunday, and that went very well. It was a terrific programme. Sparky played a Bach minuet (which he crushed, a triumph after some rocky patches this fall) and I played a Kreisler Rondino that presented some stupid challenges that shouldn’t have been challenges, except my brain and fingers decided they were brick walls. But we each pulled it off. Our group pieces were lovely, too, and our studio mates all had excellent performances as well.

After an amazing fall concert with the Lakeshore Chamber Orchestra, I’ve had to decide to take the next concert off because of low energy levels, high workload, and insanely circuitous traffic rerouting while the Turcot interchange is being rebuilt. I can’t face a commute over ninety minutes long each way at the end of the day, plus a two-hour rehearsal in between; not in deep winter. This will be the first concert I have planned to miss since I started playing with the orchestra in the fall of 2001. (Dear gods, I have been playing with them for sixteen years. I had no idea till I did the math.) (Planned to miss is critical, here; I didn’t plan to miss the concert three weeks after Sparky was born, I just… had to.) (Third parenthetical interjection: That’s forty-seven orchestral concerts I have played!!! Not including the three I did with the Cantabile orchestra.)

I bought a new bow this fall, a high-end octagonal Brazilwood Knoll through The Sound Post in Toronto, because I could finally afford it (thank you, ridiculously busy freelance life). This bow has been overdue for about seven years; my previous wood bow had a cracked frog due to a toddler-related incident and had started to warp, so I was playing with the heavy German fibreglass bow that came with my new 7/8 in 2009. The Knoll is glorious. I have no idea how I played with the fibreglass for so long. It’s bouncy but strong, flexible but sturdy. I love it. And for something purchased online, with just the help from one of the specialists at the Sound Post… I feel so incredibly fortunate. They were technically out of stock, but he pulled this in from the Ottawa store where they weren’t using it and had it rehaired for me at no extra cost. He offered me the next level of bow at a price midway between this one and that (a very generous offer), but I wanted this specific bow for the faux whalebone wrapping; my fingers have been reacting badly to wire wrapping. So he made it happen.

Owlet began piano this fall, and is zooming along. It’s her thing, and I’m glad we encouraged her to do this instead of violin; the piano avoids frustrating intonation problems as long as you’re hitting the correct key. She’ll do her first recital in the spring, and is looking forward to it. Right now she can play a four-page version of Jingle Bells with relatively decent rhythm, and her teacher is delighted (and somewhat dazed, I think?) at how well she absorbs information and how quickly she’s progressing. It’s not from excess of practice, that’s for sure; we think she just has good musical memory. She’s the first non-Suzuki musician in the house, and as much as I like the Suzuki philosophy I think this teacher and this programme suit Owlet just fine.

Fall Concert Announcement

Hey, it’s going to snow and be miserable. Distract yourself with lovely music!

The Lakeshore Chamber Orchestra’s 2017 fall concert will be presented at 7:30 PM Saturday 25 November, at our home base of Valois United Church (70 Belmont Ave. Pointe-Claire, between King and Queen). The theme of this concert is the 3Bs: Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms.

Beethoven: ‘Prometheus’ overture
Beethoven: ‘Coriolan’ overture
JS Bach: Piano Concerto in D major, with soloist
Brahms: Serenade no. 1

Our young keyboard soloist is the winner of a local competition, as usual. He’s brilliant. And I’m not going to tell you what kind of keyboard he’ll be playing, because the surprise will be fun.

Admission is $10, free for children 18 and under. The concerts usually last around two hours, including the refreshment break. The address and map are on the church website. Children of all ages are very welcome.

I hope we’ll see you there!

Adjusting

Sparky’s beginner watercraft course is from 10 to 12 every weekday in Lachine. This means I don’t have time to come home again after dropping him
off. Well, I could, I suppose, but then I’d have to turn around and drive back. (Why Lachine when we live on the South Shore? Because they were the cheapest and have a terrific reputation.)

Yesterday I tried to set up in a cafe with my laptop to work. I had great hopes for this. People seem to have excellent success with this sort of thing, and it was my fervent hope that I could get work done while I had to be out there.

Reader, it did not go well.

I’d forgotten that standard chairs are all wrong for me. They’re terrible for my back, and cafe tables are all the wrong heights for typing. My energy was taken up feeling that my feet weren’t flat on the ground like they’re supposed to be for stability, my lower back was tipped backward and stressed the exact way every osteopath has told me *not* to do, the table was too high, my wrists were super awkwardly angled over the uncomfortably high keyboard. More energy was used trying to ignore the music being piped in despite having earphones and my own music, the unfamiliar food smells, the *people* all around… it was kind of nightmarish. I was very glad Sparky had an amazing morning. But if I kept doing this, I would accomplish nada this week because I would be coming home exhausted. I got next to nothing done in the cafe, and was so drained when I got home that I couldn’t work then either, let alone after picking Owlet up from camp. It was, in short, a disaster, and not sustainable.

I decided that today would be different. Last night I pulled out and prepped some SweetGeorgia BFL (Songbird! I’m planning a two-ply: one ply spun end to end, the other ply a four-repeat fractal!) and packed my spinning box. I would bring my small spinning wheel and sit by the water, spinning and listening to an audiobook.

My view across to the canoe club.

Finn! One of my comfort fibres to spin.

And that is exactly what I did. Apart from a tiny bit of social anxiety about spinning in public and possibly having to field people, it was lovely. I sat on a park bench that was the perfect height, right by the water next to an oak tree that gave me dappled shade. There was a perfect breeze. I listened to Pride & Prejudice. I finished the Finn I was spinning to make up the missing yardage for a cardigan (it’s only two or three years after I spun all the rest of the yarn; maybe I’ll even knit the sweater someday) then started the Songbird after sampling to see what whorl and drive and braking methods I wanted to use. I have come home relaxed, and psyched to attack the project I’m working on that’s due by the end of the week.

It’s such a major shift from yesterday that I’m really excited about this plan, and I intend to do this every day that it’s nice enough to be outside. Adjusting my expectations of when to sink energy into working for the maximum output has made an enormous difference.

I had forgotten how much I love the sound of water against jetties, buoys, and the sides of boats, and the smell of the lake, too. Part of me is already hoping Sparky will do this again next year.

Lammas Report

We are halfway through summer!

1. The Tour de Fleece happened. I co-captained the Clan Kromski team again, and while I feel I was not as engaged as in previous years thanks to work and kids, I got some nice spinning done.

TdF 2017 yarns!

2. HRH came home from basic training, and everyone was very happy. He did excellently, of course. Now he’s full-time at the unit for three weeks to finish up the last block of training, and if that goes well, he’ll graduate to being an official qualified naval reservist. Next up will be his ship training, which will probably be next summer, although there’s plenty of theory and study to be done along the way.

Dad’s home!

3. The kids have completed two two-week sessions of day camp. Sparky did guitar for the first session, including a lovely improv with the teacher at the open house, and violin for the second session, with a lovely solo performance with that teacher as well. Owlet is loving it, hugging every counsellor she passes there while protesting at home that she hates camp. Uh-huh.

4. Owlet is back at day camp for one extra week, while Sparky has started a two-week session of mornings doing an Intro to Canoe & Kayak course at the Lachine Canoe Club. He kayaked for the first time at the grade six sleepaway camp long weekend he did in mid-June, and raved about it, asking if there was some way he could do it again. He is wildly loving it. He’s never expressed interest in any sport before; he may have found his thing.

5. I was asked back for Part 2/the expansion of the scriptwriting project I handled this past spring. That was terribly nice. Although the can-you-do-this-by-the-end-of-the-week deadline wasn’t as enjoyable. I hit it, though, because I am awesome. And then had to rush to handle the stuff that had to be displaced on the schedule because of it. Sigh. My other ongoing contract carries on apace as well.

6. I now have green hair. Part of it is green, anyway. I did it for my birthday, and I love it.

Green!

La!

Halfway

HRH left for his three-week basic training course on 1 July, a week and a half ago. How are we doing?

1. I unstuck the basement windows, scraped down the paint and caulking clogging them, and waxed the moving parts so I can open and close them with no trouble.

2. Owlet has started to learn to read, thanks to the magical tutoring of Megan.

3. I took Sparky to Montreal ComicCon, and we had a lot of fun.

4. I’m about to replace our doorbell… once I have support from someone who can help me get the cover for the breaker switchboard off to enable me to turn off the circuit the doorbell’s wired to. (It’s too big for me to maneuver on my own without dropping it onto a bunch of expensive electronic equipment.) (Related: Who keeps smashing and breaking our doorbell?)

5. The cats are waking me up five to ten minutes earlier every morning for what is supposed to be their 5:00 breakfast. I am not amused. This morning it was 4:10; I refused to get up till 5:00. They were unimpressed.

6. It is perhaps not such a coincidence that I accidentally had a two-hour nap yesterday after I brought the kids home from camp. Or that I slept through my alarm this morning.

7. The Canada Day concert went brilliantly.

8. I am washing dishes a heck of a lot.

9. I can use the new vacuum I bought last spring when we thought HRH was going away for basic last summer! It is not a ridiculously heavy monster!

10. I am a few inches too short to use the reel mower properly; I just don’t have the right angle to push it effectively. I hacked at half the backyard despite this, then Jason kindly finished it. (And redid the half I massacred.)

11. The second week of day camp is about to wrap up. I have to figure out a way to see both kids do their guitar/piano things at the same time in different rooms on open house day. My current plan is to hand my mother-in-law an iPhone and teach her how to video one of them.

12. I am into the second season of Brooklyn Nine Nine, which I am watching while I spin at night after the kids are in bed.

That’s about it for now. So far, so good. Another week and a half to go!