Monthly Archives: June 2014

Canada Day Concert Reminder!

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

On Tuesday 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 features music from operas:

    Mozart – Overture from Die Entführung aus dem Serail
    Mozart – “March of the Priests” from The Magic Flute
    Wagner – Act III Prelude from Lohengrin
    Verdi – Act III Prelude from La Traviata
    Ponchielli – “Dance of the Hours” from La Gioconda
    Tchaikovsky – Waltz from Eugene Onegin
    Borodin – “Polovtsian Dances” from Prince Igor

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 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 10 PM, right after we finish, and the church steps are a glorious spot from which to watch them. (Alas, they will be cancelled in the event of rain… which may happen, since the long-range forecast says thunderstorms.) Write it on your calendar, tell all your friends and family members! The more the merrier!

On The Bobbin: “Maid in Bedlam” Merino/Silk

Yes, after all those plans to write more often, I fell down a work-related hole and lost any time to do anything not work or childcare/house-running related.

Because I didn’t have spare time, my creative output has suffered, too. I’ve knocked out a couple of deadline blanket squares for baby blankets, but I haven’t progressed on my Old Shale Shawl, either.

Therefore, here’s a spinning update, because this is my self-imposed day off after a crazy, demanding work project that I worked overtime all weekend to get done, and before an enormous three-week project that I will start tomorrow. Turns out I don’t remember how to relax, and I’ve been pretty restless.

So I decided to really put a dent in this spinning project that has been languishing on my wheel. This is the “Maid in Bedlam” limited-edition colourway from the Sip’n’Spin tea and fibre ‘un-club’ event hosted by Daybreak Dyeworks, who created three subscriber colourways and paired specific teas with them. The parcel arrived in May and contained the tea, the fibre, and a cute little teacup charm that is now hanging from my control card on my wheel. (Seriously, tea and spinning. How could I pass it up?)

Maid in Bedlam colourway from Daybreak Dyeworks, May 2014

I split the fibre halfway down the length, and spun the first half worsted short draw. It insisted on being spun super finely; it measures about 32 wraps per inch. So that already meant it was going to go slowly. And then work hit, and end of school, and recitals and concerts and end of school stuff. I finished spinning the first half this morning.

Maid in Bedlam merino/silk from Daybreak Dyeworks, June 2014

Maid in Bedlam merino/silk from Daybreak Dyeworks, June 2014

I’ve just begun the second half, and because I’m bored of spinning it worsted from end to end, I’ve decided to spin the second half from the fold, tearing off chunks and wrapping them over my the index finger of my right hand, which means it will be a semi-woollen single, as I’m spinning it woollen from a worsted prep. Are you supposed to do this? Not really, in that singles spun in different ways means the resulting two-ply yarn won’t behave like a woollen or worsted yarn. But then again, it’s my yarn and I’ll do what I want, because I am the boss of it, and can make my own artistic decisions, so there. I’m doing a light worsted smoothing-down with my left fingers as I let the single wind on, so in effect the from-the-fold bit lets me spin a bit faster and may blend the colours a teensy bit more. That’s all.

It’s a lovely colourway, and I’m enjoying working with it a lot. It looks like the final yarn will be laceweight.

I’d love to have it finished by the Tour de Fleece that starts on 5 July, because I am weird about wanting my wheel and bobbins clear for my TdF project. That will involve a trip to Colette’s spinning studio for base fibre, then some dyeing, and beads. That’s all I’m going to say right now…

LATER: Well, drat. The semi-woollen isn’t going to work; I can’t spin as finely as I do with straight worsted, and I want the two singles to be at least mostly even in grist. Fine. Back to short backward draw worsted it is.

Cello Thoughts

It’s recital day. I’ve had a rocky season with lots of downs and not very many ups.

At a lesson in early May I got not one, but two bad pieces of cello news. As if cello hadn’t been hard enough for me (I’m having a really difficult time understanding and settling into musical lines lately, and it’s driving me up the wall), it suddenly got way worse: our principal cellist and section leader (who also happens to be my teacher) had been invited to teach at CAMMAC summer camp, and so she couldn’t play in our annual Canada Day concert. She would be replaced by a guest principal… who also happens to be the conductor’s wife. She is a lovely person, and a terrific cellist whom we’ve worked with before, but all of a sudden I felt like I had to work even harder on pieces that were already somewhat challenging, because there would be someone judging me (I know, I know, it’s a community orchestra, this doesn’t actually happen, everyone plays to the best of their ability, except argh). My confidence relies on my teacher’s presence a lot. And even worse, as there are only four celli in the section now, I am the second cello playing the upper line when it’s divisi, which means I’m playing a line with the principal cellist. Just her and me. And the top line is traditionally the crazier, more difficult one. No pressure.

The second bit of bad news I got that day was my teacher suggesting that maybe my piece wasn’t in good enough shape this close to the recital, and perhaps we should pull something else out and dust it off. We hadn’t worked on it for a couple of lessons, focusing on the group pieces and orchestra music instead, and since I only have biweekly lessons, that means a month. But I didn’t have anything else, because I don’t work through the Suzuki books the way others do. Every piece I work on is my next recital piece. I have orchestra and Sparky’s lessons and group pieces for both the younger and the older groups, and so my efforts are spread over a broader field. I don’t measure my progress by how quickly I move through the Suzuki repertoire. (And a good thing, too, because I don’t need any more stress.) So I came perilously close to tears, and we worked through the rest of the lesson. I got home and tried to be objective, going through the few collections of music I have, and found a transcription of Wagner’s “Song to the Evening Star” from Tannhäuser. I didn’t have the piano accompaniment, though, so I did a bit of sleuthing online and tracked down an even better, more faithful transcription of the song on IMSLP. I sent it to my teacher as an alternate suggestion.

She liked it, and we have it lined up for my Christmas recital piece. She apologized for making the suggestion at the time she did in the lesson, and said that by the end of the lesson my piece had already improved to the point that we didn’t need to substitute anything new. It was a hiccough along the road, that’s all, but it was hard while it was happening.

Orchestra is… well. It’s feeling like a triage every week: What am I worst at that I need to beat into some kind of acceptable shape before next rehearsal? It doesn’t help that I don’t enjoy playing two of the pieces because I don’t like the music very much. Sometimes I grow to enjoy pieces I’m not fond of because playing them provides a whole different kind of appreciation, but not this time. On the other hand, we’re playing the very first piece of Tchaikovsky music I fell in love with as a young teenager, the waltz from Eugene Onegin, and the third act prelude from Lohengrin, which are lovely. But everything else I am either ‘meh’ about or actively disliking, which is a very odd place for me to be in. I’m not particularly looking forward to this concert.

Sparky has been growingly sulky and whiny about cello. Part of this is nine-year-old self-expression, I know, and part of it is a general ‘I’ve had it’ with school and lessons; it’s that time of year. But he has asked to stop, has flat out said “I’m not doing cello any more after this recital,” and I’m of two minds. I would really like my cello time back to myself, to stop wasting money and energy on something that isn’t appreciated. (I could enjoy lessons and group class again! I could afford to have my own lesson every week!) But he does enjoy it when it’s going well, and he’s good at it. He’s at a point where things are improving rapidly, and dropping it now means that he won’t really see all the work he’s put in reaching a rewarding fulfillment for him. And yes, there’s also the fact that if we let him stop, he has gotten what he wants by whining and being disagreeable enough that I don’t want to deal with it any more. If he drops cello, he wins, and that’s the part I don’t like, because I don’t want to reinforce whining = getting what he wants. It just grates on me, especially since I’m with him every second of his cello life. In the end it’s the behaviour that’s unacceptable, and that’s what I’m struggling with. I am never going to force a child to go to music lessons if he actively dislikes them, but that’s not the case. He’s trying to avoid the work and focus, and the tactics he’s using irritate me a lot. If he presented me calmly with valid reasons for stopping, I’d be more okay with it.

At the moment, I’ve said we’ll talk about it during the summer. Time off should help. We’ll see. If he decides he wants to stop, then he’ll be the one who tells his teacher, and presents his reasons. I’d be fine with him taking a season off, too, going back after Christmas. But if he decides to drop it completely, then he has to choose another extra-curricular activity, preferably one HRH could do with him. There’s a great karate school near us, and he’s always been interested in that; maybe he could try a session of it.

Anyway, we just need to get through the day. And last lesson, my teacher suggested that we play through what I’ll be working on this summer…

The last time I worked on these with a teacher was about seventeen years ago. (Hey, did you know that as of this summer, I will have been playing the cello for twenty years? That’s pretty awesome.) The Bach solo suites. It’s like being handed the key to the inner sanctum of cellists.

Owlet: Thirty-Four Months Old!

There’s lots of fun stuff going on. Owlet’s play has become increasingly imaginative, and her language skills have ratcheted up another couple of notches. She uses “I” and “me” correctly, and rarely refers to herself in the third person by her name anymore.

Zippers are big right now. If her jacket or sweater has a zipper, it has to be done up, and done up all the way to her chin. She gets fixated on some things, like wearing rainboots instead of shoes, and can’t get past them. Most of the time she’s such a cheerful little thing that the issues she gets fixated about seem much worse in comparison. Sometimes she just gets stuck in a crying jag, and if you ask her why she’s crying, she says, “I — don’t — know,” with big huffs and gulps of breath. It’s a way of decompressing about all the little things that have been piling up; a quick burst of crying and everything’s okay again.

Two of her schoolmates have recently acquired baby brothers, and there is a lot of play centering around caring for baby dolls going on at daycare. It’s happening at home, too. “I carry Hop-Hop like a baby. Baby’s crying. Baby Zack can’t ask for milk, so he cries.” Baby Zack, who made a kind of show-and-tell appearance at daycare, has very small toes on very small feets, I am told. And sometimes she likes to pretend she’s a baby, too. “Carry me like a baby!” Well, kiddo, that’s a lovely thought, but you’re over 36 pounds and a metre tall, and that makes for a lot of baby. Particularly when you’re trying to maneuver your way through a doorway on the way to bed.

Chocolate frappés are her newest snacktime obsession. We call them chocolate milkshakes because it’s easier, and make them by blending ice cubes, milk, and a spoonful of cocoa powder and a bit of sugar. They are terrific treats because (a) they come with straws, and (b) you can dip cookies into them.

With the change in weather, we are spending lots more time outside, which she’s thrilled about. She can putter around as much as she likes, watering all the rocks she can find. Yes, she’s still fascinated by rocks. She picks up ones that are warm from the sun and waters them with her little watering can, then sets them along the edge of the steps to the back deck or next to plants. She trundles back and forth from the window wells along the side of the house, picking up the river stones that fill them, and carrying them out to her playhouse in the back garden. She had a whole collection on the back windowsill, and has started a rock garden beside the door.

She has also been working hard to master the slide of the play structure in the backyard. The one at daycare has a gentler angle. Ours has a more vertical grade, so she flies down it and usually shoots off the end and lands on her bottom with a thud, which results in crying and frustration. Someone had to hold her hand for a few days while she worked on it, and now she’s just about able to get her legs in the right position to turn the finish into a jump, and then land on her feet. She’s using a regular swing at daycare, too, which means we need to replace her wooden baby-seat swing with a new big-kid one. (Actually, we need two new big-kid ones, because the one we took off to make room for the wooden baby swing is broken, and the one Sparky uses is also cracking.) She got her own little pool this past weekend, too, because the big one HRH’s parents bought for the kids is too deep for her. “I getting my own pool,” she said, looking at the big one, “because this one too enormous.” So we set them up side by side, and each of them is perfectly happy to run around and splash in their own pool, tossing balls back and forth between them.

Choosing music in the car in the morning (for the five-minute drive) is very important to her. “I choose… owls!” she’ll say with excitement, wanting to hear the score from Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’hoole. “I choose Merida! Frozen! Flufflies! (That would be “Fireflys” by Owl City.) She loves the idea of playlists. “I love playlist!” she exclaims happily when we put one on and she recognizes all the songs in it. (Remember when she used to say “Thank you!” every time the next song in the playlist I’d made for her came on, like I’d just that moment looked through my music for a song because she liked it?) The kids are working out turns. Even if Sparky doesn’t want to listen to anything in particular, if it’s his turn, he insists on not letting Owlet choose.

One day last week I was sitting in the living room with my tea. Most of the time I have a granola bar for breakfast, but I’ve stopped doing it before I take the kids to school, because they pester me for bites and I end up eating less than half of it. On this particular day Owlet noticed that all I had in my hands was my cup of tea. “Mummy!” she said brightly. “Mummy, I get a granola bar for you!” Off she trotted to the pantry, looking over her shoulder, saying, “Okay, Mummy? Granola bar? For you?” I had to laugh. It was so clearly a ploy to get herself half of the granola bar, disguised as concern and care for my morning snack. We saw right through it, but it was such an amusing example of toddler cunning. She tucks me into her bed after I’ve read her bedtime stories, too, nestling Hop-Hop into the crook of my arm, pulling the covers up to our chins, and kissing us both. “Close your eyes,” she orders, then slips off the bed and goes to get HRH. “Mummy’s sleeping,” she says, “not wake her up.” Again, it’s adorable toddler cunning – if Mummy’s sleeping there, then I can’t go to bed! – but really, I just enjoy the minute of lying quietly while they say goodnight to Sparky and the cats.

She’s working hard on the concept of fear. “Hop-Hop is scared,” she says sometimes. Sometimes it’s because she’s displacing, sometimes it’s because she’s pretending the bunny is afraid of whatever they’re watching or reading together. She has a sudden terror of ants, for some reason; she calls them spiders and panics, despite no one modeling panicked behaviour about either ants or spiders, at home or daycare. And yet she turns over rocks with her brother and looks at the millipedes and roly-polys. There was a poor bumblebee on the unistone path last week, its wings shredded; I have no idea what had happened, but it was in bad shape. The kids crouched next to it, fascinated, for ages. I had to drag them into the house.

These days she’s very into Peter Rabbit (finally, after refusing to read Beatrix Potter books forever) and Paddington Bear. She got her first library card last weekend and was a blur when she got to her section. She ended up bringing home two Henry and Mudge books, which is awesome because we have a pile of books in that series, but not the two she chose. We moved that pile to her room from Sparky’s, to her excitement and Sparky’s begrudgment. (Never mind that he hasn’t read them in years; it’s the principle of the thing.)

At the house next to the home daycare we go to, there’s a concrete lion at the end of the driveway and a big rock in front of the garden. Every morning, Owlet stops and says hello to each them. We have been working very hard on not walking onto the lawn to give them hugs and kisses. Winter helped, because they were covered in snow, but now the temptation is again there. So she carefully lines the toes of her rainboots up along the edge of the sidewalk, getting as close as she can, leans over and talks to the lion, then moves over and does the same to the rock. The rock is about two feet tall and maybe eighteen inches wide. The other morning, she said there was a baby chicken inside. It took me a minute or two before I understood that she meant it was vaguely egg-shaped. Then no, she said; there was a dragon inside. Okay, so now it’s a dragon egg; sure, why not? That’s a great pretend. Then: “No. Issa rabbit. There’s a baby rabbit inside. Bye, rock and baby rabbit! See you this afternoon!”

So now you know where baby rabbits come from. They hatch from huge rocks. Or they do in our bright and beautiful little girl’s imagination, at least.

In Which She Creates Her First PowerPoint Project

(Or whatever the Google Drive equivalent is…)

Sparky’s class is doing a Careers module. As part of this research unit, parents go in and do a 30 min presentation on their jobs. I volunteered, and then wondered what on earth I’d do to make my job sound interesting. I mean, I love it, but I’m sure “looking at text for mistakes” sounds like a prison sentence for nine-year-olds. Especially when they’ve had a jeweller come in — “I wore a titanium ring!” — and a firefighter — “He showed us how he kicks in a door!” His best friend’s mom showed them how to make a website. I will be so boring to them. I will be all, “Words and sentences are cool! Be responsible for your writing!” Yawn.

So I suggested to Sparky that maybe I could do a PowerPoint presentation along with my talk, since he learned how to do them earlier this year, and he was very enthusiastic. I have never done a PowerPoint presentation before. It didn’t exist when I was in school. (Remember, dear readers, critical analyses of works that were the focus of my thesis were researched in actual printed books of Arts indices and physical copies of periodicals. The Internet was only a few tubes with a couple of cats in them at that time.) These grade 3 kids use a SMART board daily, though, so I need to be up to their speed.

So as of early this afternoon, I am ten slides into creating my first PowerPoint presentation ever. It’s entitled “What Does a Copyeditor Do?” and covers where the copyeditor fits into the publishing process, why copyediting is important, what tools I use, and that kind of thing. I am probably not allowed to say stuff like “My superpower is saving the world from plagiarism, typos, and incorrect facts.” I bet the phrase “Sometimes I edit using the Force” slips out during the presentation, though.

I’m hoping the coolness of meeting someone who is part of the process of making books carries a lot of it, honestly. And I’ll be emphasizing the importance of taking responsibility for your writing, why plagiarism is bad, and why your writing needs to be as polished as possible, so your information gets across clearly and concisely. Also because it is often the first thing associated with you that people encounter, so it’s an important part of how people form their first impressions of you and the information you’re presenting. It’s to your advantage to make it as error-free, clear, and accessible as possible.

I may not have titanium rings to show off or an impressive uniform complete with axe, but I’m hoping the Chicago Manual of Style and snapshots of a stylesheet and an edited paragraph, complete in all its Track Changes glory, will be at least somewhat interesting.


Thank you, everyone, for your cheerful support. My dermatologist couldn’t even find one of the moles he’d said he wanted to remove this morning. Not that it wasn’t there, just that he kept looking at the few in that area and said, “Well, I’m not sure which one I was worried about; all these look just fine. So we can cross one off our list today.”

As some of you told me, the worst part was the waiting (we were half an hour early, and he was running forty-five minutes late; I finished reading the last half of the book I’d brought with me and the nurse called me just after I’d closed the cover) and the injection of anaesthetic. You weren’t kidding when you reassured me that the area went totally dead. The only way I knew something was happening was because I could feel the skin around the deadened area moving a bit. This stuff was so much better than the dental anaesthetic that was used on me in the past! The numbness started wearing off on the highway home, though. I just need to be aware of how I hold my arm when reaching for things.

I was amused by the waiver they had me sign before it all. Yes, I agree to have the doctor cut these off; and yes, I agree to a biopsy; and yes, I acknowledge that I may have a scar. I laughed out loud at that last one. Seriously? I have scars from cat scratches that are probably worse than this one will be.

So that’s done, and I’ll just call in six weeks to make sure the results are in, then I’m good for another year.