Monthly Archives: March 2009

Weekend Roundup

Busy, busy, busy.

Friday morning was sunny but cold for our outing to the Biodome with Curtana and Arthur. The fun began before we got there, because we took the Metro. The boy has no memory of being on the subway, which isn’t surprising because he was very tiny and in a stroller the last time we rode it with him. He was very excited, because hey, it’s a train! Naturally there was a unexplained slowdown, turning a half-hour trip into a forty-five minute trip. He entertained himself by identifying the letters in the graffiti on the windows. The Biodome was a very exciting destination because there is a rainforest pavilion, and the boy’s Nana has recently come back from Costa Rica where she visited the rainforest herself. Also, the boy was hoping there would be jaguars, even though I told him there were none. Hope springs eternal when you are a very earnest almost-four.

We met Curtana and Arthur at the station at the other end and there was a joyful shout from the boy and a running forward from Arthur, and it looked all the world like a slow-motion reunion on a film screen, missing only a swelling of music to cap it all off. And the running didn’t really stop: they were so excited about the Biodome that they ran through it once, then ran through it again. We saw crocodiles (caimans, actually), lots of tropical birds, very big fish, tiny monkeys, bats, otters, beavers, ducks and waterfowl of all kinds, puffins, and penguins. I don’t know what they enjoyed most, but the kid slide next to the otter slide was certainly up there, as was the big screen before the penguin exhibit upon which was projected Arctic footage. They were particularly tickled by the fact that the penguins on the screen were as tall as they were, and cavorted around with them.

We had a snack, and visited the boutique (where we bought some tiny toy turtles, to go with the larger turtles the boy plays with in his bath, and a lovely bone china mug with barn owls on it for me), and spent some time in the hands-on educational room before we all took the Metro back to our respective stops. And we made a date for Arthur to come play on Sunday morning. Lunch and nap were very late after so much excitement but he did finally take an hour and a bit of sleep.

Saturday was our all-day spiritual workshop retreat day, missing some people but still fabulous! It was a really great day with wonderful food, interesting workshops and discussions, fun activities and insightful ritual. I’m so glad we’ve decided to do this twice a year. It gets us together and talking about great topics, doing more ritual, and having fun. Carving out time here and there for these things is difficult; setting one whole day to focus on this kind of thing is easier and very rewarding. (Not that we don’t do it at other times, too! The two workshop days don’t replace the regular ongoing work, but supplement it.)

Sunday morning Arthur and his dad Forthright came over for a couple of hours of train and Lego play. I made some quite nice scones (adding extra brown sugar and underbaking them just a tad to produce a very sweet and moist result, nom nom nom) which both boys wolfed down (Liam was actually keeping track of how many he ate and proudly held up five fingers when I asked him what number he was on near the end of the playdate). There were tears at the end when the boys had to part, but reassurances that lunch was coming for one and that they’d see one another again for the other seemed to soothe them. After a lunch of pancakes and a nap, we were off to Ceri and Scott’s house for a movie and dinner, a treat rescheduled from last week when the boy had been very, very ill in the car. I got another three rows knitted on the damn ribbing of the mitts I’m working on thanks to Ceri’s presence, and the boys played downstairs. And I got a belated Yuletide gift from Ceri, a lovely set of fingerless gloves crocheted in the Phoenix Gloves pattern by Julia Vaconsin in a beautiful Lorna’s Laces colourway with soft greens and reds and pinks (Gold Hill, perhaps?). They’re exquisite and I adore them. I wanted to wear them for the rest of the day but I couldn’t handle the DPNs I was knitting with properly, as they kept catching in the gloves, and I didn’t want them to get spattered with tomato sauce from dinner, so off they came when they finally had to.

And to my surprise there was decent sleep each night as well. Wonders will never cease.

Now it’s headfirst into the anthology. Today and the rest of this week will see me tidying up last-minute loose ends or edits from the final contributors, scanning the original material for final comments and errors, and then playing with the order of the essays. It all takes a lot of brain power, more than it seems that it ought to.

On The Other Hand…

The Beethoven symphony, the Vivaldi, and Scheherazade are going to sound great. The concertmaster’s rendition of the Scheherazade/storyteller theme is magical.

And the conductor has said that she will make a final decision on concert tempo for the Hebrides next week. So there is hope!

In Which She Grumbles About Cello

Here’s the thing.

I have lost pretty much any joy in playing and practising, because it’s all about L’Arlesienne and the Hebrides, and I hate them. I am better than I was when we started working on these, yes. But no matter how much I drill them, I’m getting them wrong, and there is no sense of satisfaction or progress. In fact, all there is is frustration. If I can play them at ridiculously slow speeds, that doesn’t help me in top-speed concert situations.

We had a strings-only rehearsal on Saturday, and the Vivaldi was great. The four young soloists are terrific. But then we finished by playing the Hebrides at concert speed, and it’s a train wreck. I suspect that this guest conductor has set us more than we can carry off, which she couldn’t really know when she decided on the programme. And I hate saying that because I don’t like to suggest that a concert is going to be less than good. But when the entire section of celli shakes its head at a piece, and there’s someone saying she’s not going to play in the concert because she doesn’t like how the music is sounding, it’s not an ideal situation. There’s doing my best and being proud of it, and then there’s the sense of hopelessness and resentment. (Mendelssohn, I hope you’re happy, you section-wrecker, you.) And it’s not just our section with the Mendelssohn problem, either.

So every time I sit down to play I want to play anything except Mendelssohn and Bizet, and I know that I need to practise them more than anything else. And I get cranky. I know that I am light-years beyond where I was seven years ago when I played L’Arlesienne the first time. It doesn’t make a difference. What does make a difference is that fact that I’ve improved in general, so now the bits I get wrong sound really awful instead of blending into the general not-very-goodness of my playing.

This 7/8 sounds slightly choked in fourth position and above. I suspect it has something to do with me getting used to the touch up there and figuring out the proper angle of string-stopping. Still, I find myself thinking of how clearly my 4/4 sang in fourth and up. I plan to take the 4/4 out of its case next week and try to play all this stuff I’ve been working on on it, just to see if the 7/8 is making a difference. My first two months of rental are up at the beginning of April. I do like the sound of the 7/8, and it handles nicely in respect to size and proportion. I just have no clue if it’s made a positive difference or not.

So yeah. I’m kind of looking forward to the post-concert break, and to different music.

Mailbox Joy!

The next best thing to getting money in the mail is getting books in the mail.

The Game (Diana Wynne Jones)
Pride and Prescience (Carrie Bebris)
Good Enough (Paula Yoo)
The Tower Room (Adele Geras)
Pictures Of The Night (Adele Geras)
A Companion to Wolves (Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear)
Old Man’s War (John Scalzi)
The Ghost Brigades (John Scalzi)
The Last Colony (John Scalzi)
The Android’s Dream (John Scalzi)

I recently read Old Man’s War and The Ghost Brigades and had to own them, along with the other two available from the place I bought them, because I anticipate rereading them often. But everything else will be a first-time read, and I’ve been waiting for some of them for a while. They’re mostly hardcover, too. I love is the first non-necessity I’ve bought for myself in a while, and certainly the first set of books that wasn’t purchased with a gift certificate in months.

Back to work.

In Which She Drags Herself To The Computer

Not dead. I wish I was (or rather, I have wished I was for a variety of reasons over the past five days but not at this precise moment), but no, I am not actually dead. I’m in a lot of pain, which is annoying and has been wearing down my patience and ability to deal with basic everyday things; I haven’t been sleeping; and the boy and I have had gastro. But today is a new day and we sent him off to preschool, and our fingers are crossed that everything goes well. Yesterday was an excellent day in which there were no bodily upsets and he ate and slept well, but you never know. And I only found out this morning when I called to let the director know he was on his way that there’s a kid waiting for surgery who can’t come into contact with any possible illness or the surgery has to be rescheduled. That would have been a good thing to know before we sent him in; I might have kept him home an extra day just to be positive. Except not knowing this plus my climbing the walls and increasing pile of backed-up work meant I really needed him to go in today.


Today is St Patrick’s Day, and the boy is dressed in a new green t-shirt we picked up for him on Saturday and he looks great. They will be talking about Ireland at school today, and the boy has been reminded that he can tell them about the goddess Brigid, whom he learned all about at the little witchling circle (as one of the leaders calls it), as they probably don’t know about her. He was reviewing what he knew while he got ready to go: “She lives in water ( “And fire,” I interjected) and we throw pennies to her (they’d been told throwing pennies into water and making a wish was a form of communicating with the goddess, so now he tosses pennies into the mall fountains and shouts, “Thank you Brigid!”), and she has white skin and red hair, and she takes care of us when we’re sick and helps us get better.” I can only imagine how garbled that will come out at the other end, and how politely confused the teachers will be.

What lovely sun out there.

Evidently even when I am ill I can still make a kick-ass onion soup and chicken pot pie. The secret? Christmas dinner, and the absolutely fabulous turkey soup it made. I used a small container of the frozen turkey-heavy soup as the base for the cream sauce over the chopped chicken, and wow, it was spectacular. I’m still very confused as to why I wanted to make them when the idea of food had been turning my stomach all day, but they were delicious even in the tiny quantity I ate.

You know, the front staircase is like the bathroom: It doesn’t matter how often I sweep it, it’s dirty again immediately afterwards. On the bright side, the snow’s almost all gone in the front yard, and there’s only a thin layer left in the back. No snow and less mud can only make things better.

I read the entire stack of library books I brought home last Thursday by Sunday night. I resorted to rereading Anne of Avonlea yesterday while the boy napped.

Today: Yoga, then reviewing the final submissions for the anthology (yay!), reviewing edits/rewrites of the first round of essays, sending contracts for the ones that are done, and then I get to start playing with a new order of the fifty stories. And work some more on a scintillating, insightful, poignant introduction. I would love to hand this in early.