Category Archives: Art, Theatre, & Film

Weekend Roundup, Father’s Day Edition

Happy summer solstice!

I’m exhausted. I feel like a black hole; I keep absorbing energy, but it vanishes. It was a good weekend, with nothing specific or enormous that drained me. There were small annoyances and obstacles, though, and when I deal with those the energy tends to slip away like something appropriately metaphoric through a sieve.

Saturday morning we headed out to do groceries and our Father’s Day shopping, and the boy got his hair cut. Then we headed to Angrignon Park for a naming ceremony I was leading, but the people were an hour later than they said they’d be there to prepare, and then the guests showed up half an hour after the specified time, too. They were all wonderful people and the ceremony was lovely, but it reminded me of why I usually charge for these things: the money covers hiccoughs like these that end up forcing me to adjust the rest of my day’s schedule. While we were waiting for everyone to arrive our real estate agent called with yet more bad news (actually, this was a repeat of earlier bad news that had been potentially rescinded, but no, we got disappointed for the second time on the same property). We ended up having to leave pretty much right after things finished because of the late start; the boy was very upset because we’d promised him he could play in the playground for half an hour after the ceremony, but the adjusted schedule meant the time wasn’t there for it any more.

We went home and changed, and fed the boy a very late lunch, then we headed to to the library just as it began to rain. The boy and I kicked around there for the better part of an hour and then came home to watch the storms batter the backyard till our agent arrived and we did some more paperwork.

Sunday morning I made pie crust and then quiche, and the Preston-LeBlancs came over for a lovely sunny Father’s Day/ Solstice brunch. We had piles of delicious food and the kids played inside and outside, and we had a wonderfully relaxing time talking to old friends. When they left I called my mother for our weekly chat, and while we did that the sun vanished, the wind kicked up, and we had another bad storm roll through. When it cleared up we headed over to HRH’s parents’ house (where they hadn’t had a speck of rain!) for a Father’s Day dinner of ribs, chicken, and multiple salads. I’d reached my limit, though, so all I managed to do was sit and watch the boy play in the pool with his grandmother and knit a couple of rounds on the short-sleeve sweater that I started last year.

After we put the boy to bed, HRH and I finally got to watch the Robert Downey Jr Sherlock Holmes, which was fun and an interesting take on the characters, but somewhat annoying in that the foley and dialogue editors seemed to have fallen down on the job of making sure the lead character’s dialogue was clearly audible in the first third of the film.

I have so much to do in the next three days. I’ve already booked off my regular freelance thing because I have an interview to finish up, and we need to pack for our upcoming camping trip and do all the other stuff associated with it. I have tonnes of planning to do regarding shopping for food at the other end, plotting out the route, trying to pin down the budget… and mix CDs need to be made!

But first, I get to invoice. Hurrah!

Friday Activity Log

This is a bad fibro day. I didn’t sleep well for a variety of reasons (most of them being in the last two hours of the night, which ruins a whole night’s sleep for me), and I suspect cuddling a three-month-old yesterday, contorting my body to support him and be a comfy bed while in a waiting room chair, did nothing for my posture. I woke up super achy, and have become increasingly dizzy. So today’s work got rescheduled till Monday (the deadline’s next week, thank goodness), and I did fibro-friendlier stuff instead.

– answered e-mail
– finished polishing the baby naming ceremony I’m doing on Saturday
– final communication and details with the mum involved in the baby naming
– showered, washed hair (and, no surprise, wiped myself out)
– laundry
– yogaed
– wove on the baby blanket some more

The boys are due home in about forty-five minutes. We are going out to get ice cream, then off to a Surprise, AKA Toy Story 3 at the theatre. Let’s see if I can set the timer on the pizza dough properly today.

Weekend Roundup, Birthday and Recital Edition

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.

Thursday Activity Log

Today I:

– cleaned off my desk and filed stuff
– RSVPed to a wedding
– wrote a journal post about cello
– more househunting research
– baked cookies (there wasn’t enough flour to bake bread)
– made frosting and iced the cookies
– started the freelance thing (only one hour; my focus is non-existent)
– final edit on recital programme
– wove another foot of blanket
– watched the 1994 film version of Little Women
– glued the velvet into the cello stand that’s been just lying there for ages

Our agent asked for my househunt spreadsheet. I am amused by this, and kind of proud of myself for having it so we can all keep track of what’s come up, because wow, there have been a lot of properties flying around in this hunt for a house: properties we looked at online and ruled out because of no basement or not enough bedrooms on the same floor or some such thing, houses we asked to see but were already sold or in negotiation, houses we visited and crossed off the list for some reason, and places we visited and approved of. I knew it was time for a spreadsheet when houses started coming up again in searches and we couldn’t remember why they’d been ruled out. Apparently there is a rotten tactic on the part of some agents where they sell the house but don’t mark it as sold so they can net more queries and redirect interested parties to other houses in their portfolio, which explains the lack of ‘sold’ identifier on the listings and my frustration in trying to keep them straight. (Are they sold? Did the negotiations fall through and it’s still on the market? What?)

Weekend Roundup

Yet another insane weekend. Househunting is incredibly draining.

Friday afternoon the boy and I dropped HRH off to install gyproc while we ran errands, had ice cream, and visited our local LYS so I could spend my Mother’s Day gift certificate. I came home with a selection of some lovely fibre and a couple of little knitting tools (because you know I knit so much). Upon return I discovered that I’d mis-programmed the timer on the bread machine so the pizza dough was only just starting to mix, which meant that the dinner I’d planned was shot. I was about to defrost some hamburger meat and make spaghetti sauce when HRH suggested ordering pizza instead because we were pressed for time, and I gave in. As we were putting our shoes on to go to that night’s game HRH listened to the two message on the phone and we discovered that the game had been cancelled, which made both of us rather cranky. We ended up watching another three episodes of Chuck with Blade, who had come down stairs to be the Designated Responsible Adult On Site while we were out.

Saturday was a solid list of house viewings. Anyone who’s done this knows how exhausting it is. We got back around three-thirty and HRH did a whirlwind housecleaning while we waited for his parents to arrive, as they were babysitting the boy while we had an actual date night out. They arrived later than planned, so we pretty much ran out of the house. Dinner itself was lovely, delicious Italian eaten in the company of Ceri and Scott. The plan was to go see the new Prince of Persia film afterwards, but when we got to the theatre they were on the verge of selling out, so we all looked at one another and decided to go have dessert instead. We toyed with the idea of playing Rock Band, too, but we were pretty much all exhausted and went home.

Sunday morning the boy woke us up at five-fifteen for some reason. I left the house at 8:30 for a cello lesson at 9:00, followed by a two-hour group rehearsal at 10:00. I then raced home, picked up the boys, and we went househunting again. I ended up spending an awful lot of time outside in the cold rain, what with getting the boy to run around to keep him busy and working off steam and inspecting exteriors. It was longer than we expected, and on the way back into town we debated whether or not to attend the Preston-LeBlanc singalong that was about to begin. None of us were really in the mood: we were cold and wet, we weren’t dressed for it, I hadn’t had the time to buy the ingredients for the dish I had promised to bring let alone cook it, and we were all exhausted. But it was important that we at least make an appearance, empty-handed though it was, and I’m glad we did because a whole slew of other people cancelled. When we arrived I was wrapped in a warm pashmina and given hot tea to counter the cold chill I couldn’t shake, and after some nibblies we all felt much better, and we ended up staying two and a half hours instead of only half of one.

Both the boy and I had hot baths when we got home, and he fell asleep about five minutes after we tucked him in.

Weekend Roundup

Busy end to a busy week. Gah.

The kindergarten orientation went brilliantly on Friday; when the boy’s name was called he hopped up and trotted out of the library to get his nametag and wait in line without even looking back. There is another boy in his class with his full name, and one with his nickname, so things should be very interesting. (There are also two Scotts, a fact the boy finds very interesting. He thinks it’s fun that someone else shares his name(s), too). If the stars align he shall have one of his old preschool educators as his teacher, although the second kindergarten teacher is very nice as well.

We enjoyed our own school tour, and our orientation sessions about school life and rules and such. Looks like HRH may join the parent committee that handles things like planning events and upkeep and such things, and I will likely volunteer at the library one day a week. Every single teacher and administrator we met was cheerful and open, and the school had a wonderful vibe to it. We’ve made the right choice. We eventually met the boy in a kindergarten room where he showed us all sorts of things with great excitement, like building toys in bins and caterpillars in little containers that the current kindergarten kids were studying.

After that we walked the boy back to preschool and I went to run errands and set up in a coffee shop to handle the interview questions that I’d been poking at for a couple of weeks, and HRH went back to work. He picked me up a couple of hours later and we went back to preschool for the boy’s play, which was hilarious. The educators and kids did a fabulous job on the sets, the costumes (that parents helped with those), and their lines. The kids were all animals on a farm, and the boy was the billy goat. Then we all had a feast of classic summer backyard picnic foods, and I wish we could have stayed longer.

My cello lesson went really well, something that surprised me. Apparently the key is to be exhausted, because then you don’t overthink or tense up.

Saturday morning we went out and got the boy new sandals (these are size 11, his old ones from last year were size 7, what are we feeding him?) and shorts, picked up groceries, and hit the library for some books on trains — no, robots — no, spaceships! — and I collected the pile of reserves i had waiting for me. That afternoon I had a group cello rehearsal where everyone was finally in the same place and we played through pieces we’d never really rehearsed before. I wasn’t as on as I’d been the night before.

Going to see the weavers at the cultural rendez-vous in Pointe-Claire over the weekend did indeed get dropped, as did the boy’s monthly pagan playgroup meeting on Sunday morning because we were scheduled to go to another series of house viewings. The last one we saw was hard to pull ourselves away from: it was all polished glowing wood inside, just like an old cottage or farmhouse, with an exquisite new kitchen and bathroom, with two bedrooms upstairs under a peaked roof that had painted wooden floors, one of which could easily be split into two for two smaller bedrooms. But it just wasn’t big enough; we really need a basement and somewhere for my office, and this house had neither. Well, it had a basement, but I felt like I had to duck, and HRH could barely fit through the door to the very awkward stairs down. It would have been storage and nothing else. In fact, the last time HRH went down he cracked his head really badly. Later he joked that it was the house slapping him and saying, “I’m all wrong for you!” It’s sad when you really love a house but can’t do anything about it because you’d need to severely alter it just to live there.

When we got home I had to scurry off yet again for a cello rehearsal, this one a private accompaniment rehearsal. And while my first go was rocky in the intonation area, I adjusted my endpin, played through it twice more, and declared myself rather happy with things, somewhat to my and my teacher’s surprise. I think playing this piece with the piano accompaniment is easier, somehow; it gives me something on which to to hang the cello line.

HRH and I started watching the first season of Chuck this weekend, which we are enjoying immensely. I had no idea HRH had borrowed it, but I am hoping we can borrow more.

Monday I finished polishing the interview as I planned, even though I discovered to my chagrin that it had been due on the Friday, not the Monday as I’d plugged into my calendar and schedule. The interviewer sent a polite note asking if I wanted to reschedule as I was finishing up, and I felt like an idiot for my error. But It got done, and handed in, and I received another request for an interview that day for a different source, due in three weeks.

And finally, Monday late afternoon and evening I finished warping the loom that has been languishing in various in-between stages for the past few weeks. Hurrah!

Fifty-Nine Months Old!

One month till the boy turns five. Thirty-one days.

We have to remember to round his age up when people ask how old his is, now. And he’s measuring actions according to his age. He will sometimes politely refuse to try a new food. “No, Mama,” he’ll say, “that’s food for a five-year-old. I’m only four. But when I’m five I’ll like it.” He’ll do the same thing with toys or activities; he’s saving some of them for when he turns five. Mind you, the reverse is also operative: some things he tells me are okay for four-year-olds, but when he’s five he’ll stop.

One of the funniest things about this past month was his discovery of baked potatoes. That sounds odd, but it’s so much fun to see him get excited when I tell him that we’re having baked potatoes with dinner. He saw an illustration of one in a picture book and asked what it was. HRH explained it to him, and he said they sounded delicious. So I baked potatoes the next night to go with dinner, sliced it open, put a curl of butter on top, and he was thrilled. He asks for them all the time, now. It’s like he’s discovered the most exciting food ever. Baked potatoes. Really. I mean, there are other cool things associated with dinner, such as how he clears the table and puts the dishes in the dishwasher and such, and usually asks to be excused (every time he got up from the picnic at Tristan’s naming ceremony, for example, he asked to be excused, which amused me; he must be the only little boy in existence who asks to be excused from a picnic blanket, not once, but three times), but the baked potato thing is just so wacky.

He is fearless and so very confident in his inability to get hurt. He throws himself from a standing position off the top of the slide, and swings from the top bar of the swingset. He doesn’t watch where he’s going when he runs, hurls himself enthusiastically around corners, slips, bounces off walls. We are mostly sanguine about this now. We are less sanguine about his ability to selectively hear warnings and instructions, and listening actively is something we’re working on. So is following instruction immediately instead of saying “I’m just going to do this one thing first.”

His preschool is working on a play. He came home with a little script, very excited. They’re basing it on Leslie McGuire’s picture book This Farm is a Mess. The kids are all the different animals, and the educators are the narrator, the farmer, and the mama chicken (the baby chicks are being played by the three babies of the daycare). The boy has been cast as the goat, and said he needed a costume. So I, with my years of experience creating costumes out of nothing, pulled out a pair of black socks with holes in them, and cut off the toes. “What are you doing?” he asked. I slid them over his forearms and said, “These are your hooves and legs,” and I thought he was going to pop from excitement. I then pulled out an old grey t-shirt and cut out a tail and two floppy ears, tipping each with black marker. I sewed the ears to a black headband, put a big safety pin through the tail, gave him one of his grey shirts to wear, and voila, we had one little black and grey kid goat. He has been practising his “meh-eh-eh-eh” sound, and we sit down every day or so and go over his lines. The day he brought home the script he arranged HRH and I, and said, “We will do my play. Dada, you can be the farmer, and Mama, you can be the narrator; that means the person who tells the story,” he explained, patting my hand. I just about exploded with that indescribable feeling of pride mixed with joy and triumph. My son knows what a narrator is. I, of course, desperately want to be there to see this play be performed, but parents are almost certainly going to distract them (the average age here is two or three years, after all), so I think they’re planning on doing it in front of a video camera to make a movie instead, which we will all get on DVD. If they do this, I am praying that they do credits, because that will absolutely blow the boy’s mind.

Perhaps most poignant of all this month, however, was the morning that he asked for us to practise our cellos together before he went to school, and he played lovely open double stops while I played Twinkle over them. And we discovered that his own little cello, which is in truth a full-size viola, is now too small for him; he has undeniably outgrown it. If he’s going to play (and we mean seriously, not messing around with it as he’s been doing) then he’s going to need an actual 1/8 or 1/4 size cello, rented from the luthier. My teacher has a new student who is three years old, the younger sister of a seven or eight-year-old student, and so if he decides that this is something he really does want to pursue, then he has a classmate. We’ll talk about it seriously over the summer. I’ve already proposed the Suzuki week-long junior music daycamp for six-year-olds and under to him, and he’s responded enthusiastically to the idea, so we shall see. The last time he asked for music lessons I told him that if he really wanted to he could start once he was established in kindergarten, and that’s rapidly drawing nigh. The icon image is of a photo taken when he was two months shy of two years old. He is, to say the least, much larger than that now…