Monthly Archives: June 2012

Canada Day Concert Reminder!

What? Canada Day approacheth? Why then, the Lakeshore Chamber Orchestra Canada Day concert must be nigh!

On Sunday July 1 the Lakeshore Chamber Orchestra will be giving a free (yes, free!) concert as part of the overall Canada Day celebrations in conjunction with Pointe-Claire Village. We do this every year, and it’s always terrific fun. Our conductor is the justly famed Stewart Grant, who is phenomenal.

This year’s programme has a Northern theme and features music from Scandinavian, Russian, and Canadian composers:

    Glinka: Russlan & Ludmilla overture
    Borodin: Symphony no. 3
    Grant: Chaconne
    Grieg: Peer Gynt
    Sibelius: Finlandia

The concert begins at 20h00. As always, this Canada Day concert is being presented 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. The 211 bus from Lionel-Groulx metro drops you right at the corner of Sainte-Anne and Lakeshore. Here’s a map to give you a general idea. I usually encourage those facing public transport to get together and coax a vehicle-enabled friend along by offering to buy them an ice cream or something. It works nicely, and it’s fun to go with a group. And hey, you can’t beat the price. Be aware that if you’re driving, parking will be at a premium because of the whole Canada Day festivities thing going on. Give yourself extra time to find a parking place and walk to the church, which will be packed with people.

As it’s a holiday, the village will be full of various celebrations, booths, food stalls, and the like. You might want to come early and enjoy what’s going on.

Free classical music! Soul-enriching culture! And as an enticing bonus, the fireworks are scheduled for ten PM, right after we finish, and the church steps are a glorious spot from which to watch them. Write it on your calendar, tell all your friends and family members! The more the merrier!

(If you need more enticement, there will be a certain little girl in attendance. It will be her first concert. That means we won’t be staying for the fireworks this year, though; we’re going to need to leave ASAP, as it will be way, way past her bedtime and we have a forty-five minute drive home.)

Yesterday, Things Went Wrong

It could have been worse, of course, but:

1. The phone line, which was supposedly fixed, went dead again yesterday. And then came back this morning. Then it was dead again. And now it’s back up again, but for how long?

2. My printer is officially also dead, which means I need to buy another new one. I’ve tried everything I can to get it back on its feet. Although this one lasted me two years and worked wonderfully when it was operational, so I shouldn’t grumble too much. I seem to replace them every two to five years, and while that seems horribly wasteful to me, it’s probably the lifespan of what’s made these days. (Which disappoints me on a whole other level. I don’t like thinking of small appliances and electronics as disposable.)

3. The new umbrella stroller I bought yesterday at half price to replace our old tatty one (a canopy! reclinable!) was missing two wheels, and I didn’t discover it until I unpacked it after dragging it and the baby in our other stroller home. So I have to take it back again today.

4. My rickety Windows laptop finally bit the dust. It won’t even boot up now.

So I baked chocolate shortbread bunnies. They were very good. And I made veggie-cheese nuggets and froze them for quick Owlet meals, but it took great strength on my part not to eat them all myself.


1. We have an operational phone again! After the spectacular failure with the last live chat thing with Bell, yesterday’s session went off without a hitch, and an hour later the phone rang. It was Bell, telling me they’d fixed things from their end. I was staggered. I’d expected it to be a song and dance and entail a tech here on site being annoyed, and having to argue with head office… but no. So it was a thing on their end and not our wiring, and they fixed it, and it’s all good now.

2. No word from the magazine position I applied for… but the work gods gifted me with my first freelance editing project from the publisher in almost exactly twelve months this week. I am so incredibly relieved. My professional self-esteem was taking a really bad hit, as was my sense of financial responsibility regarding being able to handle my bills and the household bills I used to cover, too. Unexpectedly being a one-income family for a year really hurt us a lot. I’m always going to be bitter about being denied maternity benefits. (The kicker is that if Owlet had been born a year earlier or later, I’d have made more than enough to qualify for the benefit program.)

3. Two days left of school, including today. While I am excited for Sparky, I am also realizing that this means he will be home 24/7 until camp begins, and I get exhausted with both kids home in just an hour after school. I have also realized that unless we build a daily schedule, he is going to want to drift all day from playing Pokemon on the DS to watching videos and playing games on the computer, to watching movies downstairs, all things he does once his homework is done after school and he is free to relax. And while that keeps him out of my hair, it also is way, way, way too much screen time. We need to schedule cello, and perhaps an hour-long block of quiet reading time (possibly concurrent with Owlet’s afternoon nap), and I have a French workbook that we’ll do two pages of each day. We may schedule a walk, too, so we all get out.

4. Owlet has figured out how to sit up on her own (finally — it came very soon after she figured out Real Crawling), is cruising around the house at an alarming rate, and is practising crouching down and standing up again without holding on to anything. Eek.

General PSAs

1. Our phone voice line is officially on the fritz after being dicky for the past two weeks, and Bell can’t open a help ticket because they’re experiencing technical difficulties. (Fills me with confidence, that does.) Our internet is still functional. If you need to get hold of us, please use e-mail (or a Twitter DM or Facebook message if you’re on either of those, since notifications for those go to my e-mail as well).

2. The Canada Day concert is rapidly approaching: July 1 at 8:00 PM, in St-Joachim church in Pointe-Claire village. It’s free! It’s fun! Come early and enjoy the festivities in the village, and stay for the fireworks after the show!

3. One week left of school. Gods help us.

4. No reply yet from the magazine to whom I submitted an application for the position of part-time editor last Friday. I am totally not stressing. Totally not.

5. Happy Father’s Day weekend to all the dads out there!

Recital Post-Mortem

That went well!

When we last left our cellists, we were prepping for the end of year recital, and I was feeling neutral about my piece, which was about as good as I could feel when I’d been working on it with no guidance for four or five months. The last two lessons were full of things going wrong (everything falling apart is an important part of the constructive process, I know, but it’s no fun when it happens and certainly not seven to ten days before a performance, because reconstruction and mental rewiring usually takes longer than that), and my rehearsal with the accompanist was mostly a disaster with a couple of acceptable patches. By that point I had pretty much accepted that whatever happened happened, and as long as I muddled through it and came out somewhat alive then I’d be okay with it. Now, that’s a huge step forward for me, because usually I worry and worry and worry. This time, I knew that I’d had months off, and if my performance reflected that, well then, that was fair. I was also more concerned about Sparky, who was being more sensitive than usual about performing his piece. (If such a thing is possible, because he angsts about it every time.)

Sparky played second, and he did very well indeed, keeping a steady rhythm and remembering to keep a high third and fourth finger so that his F# and G were in tune, and to reach back to get his E in tune as well. He played a pre-Twinkle piece called “The Little Mouse,” which ends in a squeaky bit played on the string between the bridge and the tailpiece that he just loves to do. I was near the end, and I went in with pretty much zero expectations. I wasn’t entirely happy with how thin the sound was at the beginning, but around the third line of the first page things kind of clicked and I sailed through all the trouble spots and even sounded good. If I ever see the video I’m sure I’ll be embarrassed at how incredulously thrilled I looked at the end when I’d done and I looked at both my teacher and my accompanist.

So that’s the end of Suzuki book 3. Due to both my and my teacher’s schedules we can’t fit in another lesson this month, and we’re both taking the summer off, so that’s it till September. Now I get to start working on book 4 and the Breval sonata, which I played in its entirety with my first teacher; it was my first public recital piece, in fact. And I get to do some swotting up on the orchestra pieces, since the Canada Day concert is in only two weeks.

Sparky: Seven Years Old!

Is anyone else in denial about Sparky being seven? Because HRH and I are having weird time-fluctuating flashes where he cannot possibly be seven, because we remember what it was like when he was born so very clearly. And yet, at the same time, we are very aware of how much he’s grown up, and that takes a lot of time… so is he only seven? Really?

Seven years ago today, during a humid heatwave, we unexpectedly found ourselves with someone who wasn’t scheduled to arrive till after the Wicca book proofs were handed in um till after the first draft of the green witch book had been handed in er till the nursery was ready well till we were fully unpacked from the move for another nine weeks.








Seven years ago he was born nine weeks early, and we’ve been trying to keep up with him ever since. (That thing about preemies sometimes being slower at milestones and having to adjust gestational/chronological age expectations? Totally untrue in our case.)

I love his sense of humour. His jokes are starting to make more sense, thank goodness; he no longer comes out with non sequiturs then laughs like crazy. We’ve had to dissect his punchlines and explain why they’re not funny, then offer an alternate and point out why it is. Reading lots of jokes in kids’ magazines and joke books has helped, too.

I am so very proud of how he’s worked on cello. Most of the time he whines and drags his feet, and getting him to actually start practice is like herding something worse than cats, but when he steps up, he steps up, and he mostly enjoys it while he’s actually doing it. HRH tells me every once in a while that he wouldn’t be able to handle managing the practices, that he’s impressed we keep on, but I know what it’s like to practice because you Have To, and there’s a natural resistance to doing it even if you like playing. He did brilliantly in his little piece at our recital yesterday, remembering to reach for his F sharp and his G, and reach back so his E was in tune.

He is reading at an early grade six level, according to the final reader assigned to him by his language arts teacher this year. That means he can read just about anything. There are hilarious mispronunciations sometimes, because he does sound a lot of stuff out and doesn’t know where to put the emphasis, or sounds the whole word out all at once as a unit instead of doing it slowly, and so misses some sounds or jumbles them up. It’s hard to choose books for him now, because his reading level is above his level of comfort or interest with the potential subject matter. We have this problem with Lego, too. He’s gotten to the point with Lego that because he’s seven, he loves the superhero sets and the police sets and that sort of thing. However, he whips the sets for 7-14 year olds together and it’s over in five minutes, while the 14+ stuff is too complicated for him and really can’t be played with once it’s built. He can play with the 7-14 year sets afterwards, but since the main fun is in the building… well, we’re looking for something a bit different. Maybe some Knex, or Meccano.

He’s wearing size 6-7 shirts, size 6 pants for length (we cinch the waists; in fact, he’s wearing a lot of his size 4 shorts this summer, because they fit the waist and the length doesn’t matter the way it does with pants). He’s in size 13 shoes. His appetite is finally slowing down. In fact, Owlet often eats more than he does at a meal. We need to remember to adjust our servings sizes and our expectations regarding how much he’ll consume.

His imagination runs non-stop. He is constantly pretending to be something or someone, and narrating a story, like he’s a living storyboard artist. Fortunately our lines are handed to us, which eliminates the need to keep up with him by thinking on our feet. He does exhaust us physically and runs us to the edge of our patience, though, with constant repeated requests for things which have already been denied and a reason provided, or by ignoring us when we call or give him instructions because he’d rather be doing whatever he’s doing at the time. But that’s a general kid thing.

He’s got a lot of challenges ahead of him this year. He’s going to an arts-focused day camp for the first time; he starts at a new school this fall, in French. His reading skills and strategies are already helping him, though: I brought home a couple of easy French picture books from the library last week and he either outright read some pages, or sounded words out and puzzled out the meaning from the context of the words around them that he knew and the accompanying pictures. It’s going to be hard for the first month, and the trick will be keeping him optimistic and his outlook positive when he feels like he’s behind instead of leading the class, like he’s used to doing. Then everything will fall into place. He’s a bright kid. It won’t take long at all.

The State Of Cello

I see that all I’m managing is a blog post every couple of weeks, which is not so great for my record keeping. I’m going to try to blog more often. (That makes it sound like I haven’t been trying. I pecked this out last night on my iPhone during break at orchestra using Evernote, then synced it up this morning, copied it to the blogging software, and edited it. Whatever works. It’s not something I can do for anything large and writing-related, though I have been using the same process to make notes for the basis of the kids’ posts.)

Let’s start with a cello post.

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to schedule a couple of lessons leading up to the summer recital. I’d been going to the group lessons and working on the group pieces, but I dropped private lessons entirely in February. When my teacher asked if I was doing something for the recital I wibbled. I hadn’t planned on it, as I hadn’t been really working on anything properly, although I’d been playing Allegro Moderato, the last assigned Suzuki piece now and then. She said she’d like me to, but if I didn’t feel comfortable doing the Allegro I’d started in January (and had all of two lessons on) then I could pull out something old and brush up on it. I agreed, because it would feel odd to play in the group pieces but not a solo, and it would be the first recital I didn’t play in since I started lessons again three years ago. (Is this really going to be my sixth recital with this teacher? Wow.) So for my first lesson in months, I brought in a pile of things I’d played sixteen years ago and had read through at home as potential back-up, but I set Allegro Moderato on the stand and played it for her first. She said, “Oh, this will be fine; we just need to polish it a bit here and there.” That made me feel remarkably good. I was relieved to know I hadn’t broken it irreparably over my months of practicing alone. Now, I’m not entirely happy with it; I’d like another two weeks of working on the targeted areas. I’m playing it at a slower speed than I’d been practicing it at home, because I couldn’t get it to hang together smoothly enough the other way. (It’s, um, very Moderato.) But I won’t crash and burn. (I hope?)

Orchestra is fun. We’re working on the Canada Day concert, which has a Northern theme, Russian and Scandinavian music… and one Canadian piece, too! We’re preparing Glinka’s Ruslan & Ludmilla overture (which we’re taking at a sane seed, so my initial conniption has been assuaged), both Peer Gynt suites, Finlandia, Borodin’s wonderful Third Symphony, and a piece by our conductor, Stewart Grant. I’m still sitting last chair, and that’s just fine and relaxed for me. It’s not like I have lots of time to work on my stuff at home, though it’s not a very challenging programme cellistically. I’m really enjoying this programme a lot. I won’t lie; it’s probably a wee bit due to the less challenging skill level required to pull it off as compared to our last couple of concerts, but also it’s also because I’ve loved most of this music for ages.

My A string is starting to feel rough. I may have to replace it. In fact, I haven’t taken my cello for a tuneup since I bought it two years ago; I can’t afford it. But it seems to be carrying on quite well, and if it’s taken two years for the A string to reach this point, then I’m pretty impressed, frankly. And the sound just keeps getting better. The 7/8 was a good investment: it still sounds fabulous, and much better than an entry-level student model is expected to sound.