Life continues tumbling pell-mell along.
The concert was lovely. It went better than it should have for me, considering that I have zero time in which to practice. We had a huge house, probably due to the fact that our conductor was our oboe soloist for the opening concerto, and we also played one of his original compositions that hasn’t been played locally (either ever, or in a long time). Lots of friends showed up to share the evening, which was lovely, too. I do wish that my intonation wouldn’t go out the window after intermission, though. I sit on the outside of our section, which means right next to the audience, and I hate that those people can hear precisely how off I get in the second half.
Our accountant handled our tax returns with grace and aplomb again this year, and we filed electronically for the first time. As a result, we got our refunds (substantial!) within two weeks. We are paying bills madly and loving it. It’s a huge relief to hack away at debt.
Both HRH and I went for annual checkups with our new family doctor, who noted some oddities in my exam and sent me for an appointment with a specialist. I was fine about it until the night before, when the potential repercussions finally sank in. Fortunately, the specialist checked me out, and said, “Um, I’m not seeing what your GP saw at all. You look perfectly healthy to me. We’ll wait for results of this test, but I’m pretty sure you’re clear.” So more relief!
I ordered books when my last freelance cheque arrived. So far I have torn through Without a Summer by Mary Robinette Kowal and Incarnate by Jodi Meadows in less than a week. I have Elizabeth Bear’s and Seanan McGuire’s new books waiting to be read next, and the new Guy Gavriel Kay on reserve at the library, too.
We picked up our free tree for the city this weekend, and got a bonus little white lilac. All the trees have leaves starting to bud, and the birds are very happy indeed. HRH has doubled the size of the vegetable garden, and is starting to draw up plans for the new fence he’ll be building this summer. Owlet is thrilled to be playing “osside,” and keeps herself very busy carrying pieces of gravel all over the place and squirrelling them away. HRH found a handful in the watering can this morning, and I found about half a cup in Sparky’s butterfly net. She’d have slept with a rock last night if we’d let her; it was very difficult getting it out of her grubby little fist.
Work is all-consuming, and while going well, it’s draining. The lack of down time in which my brain can relax is really having a negative impact on my quality of life in general. I got a raise a couple of weeks ago in recognition of the “consistently thorough and thoughtful work I do,” which was absolutely lovely to hear. Also wonderful is the confirmation that Owlet is registered for three days a week of daycare in Sparky’s old centre starting at the end of summer, so all I have to do is get through the next three months of working during naps and evenings, and then I will have three workdays a week. No more working nights and naps, and not getting enough sleep! (There was stress and angst surrounding the whole daycare thing, because we’d been on a waiting list and due to start this fall after Owlet turned two, and then suddenly a bunch of the kids who were going to leave were staying on, and the daycare director’s schedules and plans were all thrown up in the air. She worked it all out, bless her, by opening a second private daycare.)
I registered Sparky for summer camp this past week. He had so much fun last year for the two-week session he did that thanks to Nana’s help again, he’s doing two sessions this summer. He’s started doing provincial testing at school, and thank goodness he’s not of an age where that means stress yet. He keeps coming home and casually saying things like, “We did exam stuff in math today, and I got it all right.” His cello bow snapped about a month ago (we theorize that there was an existing fracture, because the way it broke was at odds with how it fell) and his replacement arrived two weeks ago. We’ve had a recent breakthrough with reading sheet music, hand placement, and bow management, so he’s suddenly sounding much better than he was at the beginning of the year. He’s chosen piano for his music class at camp, so we shall see how that goes.
There’s been a bunch of knitting and spinning, but I don’t have time to post that. Sometime this week, maybe. After I hand my latest project in, that is.
In recognition of the fact that I have been terrible at posting information about upcoming concerts in decent time to allow people to make plans…
Hey, everyone! Our summer concert happens on July 1! Mark your calendars now! Unless things have changed drastically, it start either at 19h30 or 20h00 and take place at St-Joachim church in Pointe-Claire Village, located right on the waterfront at 2 Ste-Anne Street, a block and a half south of Lakeshore Road.
We will be presenting a programme with a dance theme. I know there is a Tchaikovsky waltz, some Strauss, some Dvorak, the Capriol suite by Peter Warlock (yay!), and there will be more.
So there you have it. No one can say I didn’t give them enough lead time on this one.
Apparently, my fracturing time sense has affected my perception of the timing of journal entries, as well as my sense of when the next concert is actually taking place. I mentioned my next orchestra concert in passing here a week and a half ago, and then was convinced that I had ages of time in which to post a dedicated entry with more details. And yeah, that hasn’t happened. (People with a better grip on time may also have noticed that I am five days late on Owlet’s 20-month update, too. Allow me to say: Zero spare time, workingworkingworking, it will be up soon and backdated for your reading and viewing pleasure.)
So yeah, orchestra. Hey, there’s a spring concert! And it’s, um, this Saturday!
Take a look at this lovely evening of a Serenade to Spring:
Albinoni: Oboe Concerto, op. 7 no 3 (soloist: Stewart Grant)
Elgar: Serenade for string orchestra
Elgar: Chanson du Matin
Beethoven: Symphony. no. 2
Sparky is absolutely fascinated that our conductor is going to be the oboe soloist for the first piece. How is he going to conduct and play, he wants to know? (I have told him that it is a mystery, and he will just have to wait and see.) We are also playing a piece composed by our conductor, his Sinfonietta co-commissioned by the Oakville and Brampton Chamber Orchestras. It is a very bright piece, with great rhythm and movement in the melodic lines
The concert is taking place at 7:30 PM on Saturday April 13 2013 at Valois United, our orchestra’s home, which is at 70 Belmont Ave (corner King) in Pointe-Claire. Admission is $10, free for children 18 and under. The concerts usually last just about two hours, including the refreshment break. There are driving directions and public transport info on the church website. Children of all ages are very welcome.
When cello started again after the Christmas break, we reviewed my Christmas recital performance (which confirmed that yes, I’d been pretty darn good, better than all of us expected considering where I was at my piano rehearsal the week before performance, frankly), and my teacher and I decided to work on my bow hand and arm. So we began Chanson Triste, the last piece in Book 4, and I’ve been really enjoying that for the past three months. It’s done me a lot of good. It sounds beautiful, I’ve been able to focus on what my bow hand is doing, and jumping from the first to the final piece in the book has done wonders for my self-esteem. We’ll go back, of course, but this was something positive I could cling to these past few months, and I really needed that.
Orchestra, on the other hand, has been suffering really badly. I have had zero time to practice at home (something I admitted to my teacher, who understood—she was probably not happy about it, but she understood) and it’s really reflected in how behind I am in the orchestra music. We have a concert in two and a half weeks, and I have lost three months of practice time. I am so thankful to be sitting at the back of my section.
This seems a decent place to say: Hey, locals! Spring concert on April 13! Valois United, 7:30pm! Beethoven 2nd symphony, an Elgar string serenade, Grant’s Sinfonietta (yes, that would be our conductor), an Albinoni oboe concerto (soloist: our conductor!), and a couple of other smallish things.
The boy has been working diligently on his cello, however. He is just about there when it comes to reading music, something we have been working very hard on, and something he has been very frustrated with. He is playing a couple of really fun group things in the upcoming recital, has pretty much learned an impressive arrangement of the Angry Birds theme by heart since January (his teacher was hoping he would play it as his recital piece, I think, but he insists on playing Song of the Wind, with me accompanying him), and is zooming through his pitch and rhythm book. When he is frustrated, he tells me how much he hates cello and how he wishes he’d never chosen to play it, but when it’s going well he is very cheerful and says how much he loves it.
Speaking of going well, he finished up his second school term halfway through February. Two weeks ago, he brought home his second term report card. He got 40 in French communication last term. (That was the number grade his teacher told us not to worry about, as it reflected his English stream background.) He has a 91 in it this term, and 92 in producing oral and written French.
He more than doubled his grade. We were completely blown away. I cried, I was so proud of him. “Mama,” he said, “is my report card good enough for you to buy the Hoth level in Angry Birds Star Wars, like we talked about?” “Good grief, yes,” I said, scrubbing at my eyes. “Go get me the iPad and I will do it right now.” And then I took him and his sister to McDonalds for lunch as a surprise the next day, too. (Or rather, we went through the drive-through, since Owlet was fussy. Still, as we go to McDonalds maybe once a year, on the drive to or home from his grandparents, this was a Big Thing.)
In general, every single grade went up a percentage point or two, except gym, again. He’s a bit of a klutz, yes, but he has fun, and that’s what’s important. And we are so very, very proud of how hard he has worked, and continues to work.
In the car today on the way to school I had the local classical station on the radio. They started slipping the occasional Christmas song into rotation on Dec 1, every five pieces or so. It was a string arrangement of a carol, and I started singing along. Sparky said, “I don’t know this one. I don’t know a lot of Christmas songs, Mama.” And he’s right. Mainly because I worked in retail for about fifteen years and developed a violent aversion to Christmas music that way, but also because I’m an admitted music snob and I dislike most “popular” versions of carols, preferring instrumental arrangements.
Now, every year we get together with a family of dear friends (we’re godparents to their girls, they’re Sparky’s godparents) and we have an intimate Yule singalong. I play the cello, Jeff plays guitar, the kids play bells or bodhrans, and if we’re lucky Pasley plays one of her recorders for a song or two (and I wish she’d play it more often, because it’s a beautiful sound, and yes Paze, I am talking to YOU) and we sing all sorts of stuff, from really old ones to some popular Christmas songs the kids know well, like Frosty and so forth. But every year, Sparky’s stumped by the more classic ones I used to sing in church as a kid.
So today, I find myself in the slightly odd position of developing a Christmas music playlist so he can hear the songs and learn them. I don’t have many recordings (see above about my snobby tastes and violent dislikes), so I’m digging through what I do have to find what I can put together. I may have to record myself singing some to fill out the playlist, which is a frightening thought.
And as every year, I find myself wanting to do something to decorate the house for the season, but coming up with a blank. Pinterest has me wanting to string pine cones on red ribbon and hanging them from found branches above the windows — so simple! — but really? And where would I find the time? And can you even get pine cones that aren’t drenched in cinnamon oil? (Hmm, this would be the perfect excuse to finally check out the new Michaels.) Candles we do all year round, so adding more seems pointless. HRH hung the Christmas lights along the peak and eaves of the house this past weekend, and they look wonderful, but that’s a night-time thing (and even that has me uncomfortable because it’s so early in December and there’s no snow again). And we don’t buy the tree and decorate it till Solstice, so that we can enjoy it during Christmas week without it drying out and having to be taken down right after the 25th. The boughs and swag for the front door don’t happen till the week before Christmas, because they’re fresh, too. I need to think some more about what we can do that is baby-friendly, works with our decor and layout, and isn’t expensive or overly time-consuming.
Part of the problem, I think, is that we have one box of Christmas stuff in the shed, and we take it out when the tree arrives, so I don’t have lead time on the non-tree decorations. Maybe we should separate them into two boxes, one marked ‘early Christmas’ and one marked ‘immediate Christmas.’ Because, you know, that would be intelligent and foresighted, two things that do not characterize my state of mind when we pack everything away in early January.