What a wonderful weekend.
Friday I did over half of the freelance thing in four hours, had a catnap, wrote the boy’s five-year-old celebratory post, did more househunting research, and started the laundry. We let the boy stay up an hour past his usual bedtime to finish building his Lego Atlantis sub, and HRH went out to the party store just before it closed to get helium balloons with which to surprise him the next morning.
Saturday morning the boy woke us up at 5:15, and while HRH got back to sleep I did not, so I gave up around 6:00 and got up with the boy. He was not impressed that the World Cup coverage was on instead of his cartoons. The morning felt rushed for some reason, and I headed out for our recital dress rehearsal just before nine-thirty, which was fifteen minutes later than I wanted to be out the door; as a result, instead of taking the detour and time to treat myself to a breakfast sandwich as I’d originally planned, I hit the local depanneur to pick up an orange juice and a huge granola bar. I’d expected the rehearsal to be as stressful as home had been, but it wasn’t; it was relaxed and went very well, and was very enjoyable.
After lunch I made the boy’s birthday cake while HRH did the final tidying up (who knew the front window could be that clean?). My parents had arrived in town the night before, and they came over around one-thirty. The overcast skies and drizzle cleared up enough for us to sit outside, which was lovely. Mum brought fresh peas (both the kind to be shelled as well as sugar snaps) and Niagara cherries, both of which the boy was into as soon as he saw them (he won’t eat tomato sauce, but will eat sugar snap peas by the handful, and asks for them as a treat; go figure). And he got cherry juice on a brand new button-down shirt, of course, but at least the juice kind of matches the shirt’s colour scheme.
HRH’s parents joined us around three, and the boy asked when we would be able to open birthday presents, so when everyone had settled down with a drink we let him go to town. He was perfectly thrilled with all the Playmobil and Lego (“Oh, this is what I wanted! Thank you!”), and while he didn’t seem as enthusiastic about the clothes, he has chosen to wear three new shirts from the pile of birthday clothes already, so while they were not immediately gratifying they did make an impression. He finagled various adults into helping him build the new sets of things until dinner, and had HRH fill his pool so he could play in it and take the Playmobil seaplane in. He was in and out of that for the rest of the afternoon while the adults snacked on crackers alternately piled with Brie and my mother-in-law’s wonderful seafood dip.
We had flank steak and herbed sausages for supper, and while the sausages were dry (partially a result of their composition and partially to miscalculating the cooking time) the flank steak was really quite excellent. We put out a pile of fresh raw veggies and made dip to serve with it, and a potato salad. Dessert was the cake the boy had requested, vanilla with maple frosting. The recipe for the cake is a definite keeper, though I used four whole eggs instead of eight yolks. I’m not sure why I continue to use new recipes for special occasions because so much can go wrong, although it didn’t in this instance: it was lovely and moist, although the frosting I made was essentially my regular frosting with about a half-cup of maple syrup added to it for flavour, and since maple syrup is sweeter than sugar it was a bit cloying. Now I understand why people use maple extract.
Sunday morning we introduced the boy to The Rocketeer, one of our favourite films, and it was a hit, as we’d expected: it has racing planes, a dirigible, and a rocket backpack. After lunch we got tidied up and headed out for my spring recital at the seniors’ residence, meeting my parents there. The last time my parents saw me in recital was at my first and only big public one about twelve years ago, where I played the full Breval Sonata in C (my mother tells me I have definitely improved, which is a relief). We had a really big crowd in attendance this time; either the seniors were more active, or our fame has spread. (I doubt it’s the latter.) We had two more cellists, and three violinists, so there was an increase in attendant families as well. There was a bit of oddness during setup when we discovered that the piano was tuned to A443, which meant we had to crank our cellos up three notches above the 440 we’re used to, translating to about a quarter-tone on my instrument in yesterday’s weather. You get used to A440 sounding one way, and when you adjust the tuning across the instrument it sounds really wrong to your ear for a bit even though it’s in tune with itself. The opening ensemble piece felt unsettled to me and a couple of other cellists as a result, but the audience probably didn’t notice a thing. Apart from that, I think that this is the recital I have enjoyed the most so far. Everyone did a wonderful job with their solos, and the ensemble pieces were great. I was comfortable both physically and mentally, I aced my trouble spots in my Lully Gavotte, and we delivered lovely versions of The Entertainer (all of it, no shortcuts; it’s a longer piece than people expect in its proper form) and Ashokan Farewell. All the ensemble pieces were good, but those two really stand out in my mind. Our final piece was a unison performance of the traditional fiddle tune Soldier’s Joy, and we had four violinists, a pianist, and twelve cellists playing it. We did it three times, each time a little faster, and at the dress yesterday our teacher reminded us not to speed up during each repetition because then the final set would be too fast for precision. Well, of course that’s exactly what happened, but everyone hung on and made terrific noise. My parents told me that the little kids had a blast barrelling along at the end, and it was a great way to finish the programme. I’ve never left a recital feeling that good about myself and the class. I felt like I looked good, I sounded good, and I felt really secure about everything. So secure, in fact, that when HRH complimented me repeatedly on the way home about my sound and delivery he didn’t make me feel awkward or self-conscious. I got some very nice comments from my classmates about my sound at the dress rehearsal, too, which was nice, detailed comments that went beyond the basic encouraging sorts of remarks, too.
My parents came back with us and we sat in the yard talking while the boy splashed about in his pool again, and then we went out to dinner, which was fun and pretty good. I can’t believe the amount of food the boy ate over the weekend. HRH and I wonder if he’s on the verge of another growth spurt, which would be just crazy. We parted ways in the restaurant parking lot, and after putting the boy to bed HRH and I sat down and seriously went through the latest list of houses our agent sent us for review. I think we’re ready to start this again after a few days off to heal.
It was a lovely weekend. We had lovely weather, we enjoyed great food and great family time, and the boy had a blast doing what the boy does.