Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Merry Widow

Renée Fleming as Hanna Glawari in Lehár's The Merry Widow Photo: Ken Howard / Metropolitan Opera
I made it to the encore of The Merry Widow today. The Chinook Cineplex was packed. What is it? The big mall? The big screen? The people on that side of town have more time for culture? When the ticket seller showed me the screen from which I was to choose my seat, only the front 3 rows were empty. A packed house.

To see the show is to know why -- an amazing operetta.  Lighter than full opera, lots of dialogue, in English, the musicians a mix of broadway and opera -- now that is a charm in itself.

On the way out I heard the man behind me tell his wife, we don't have to hurry.  I looked around and could see why.  In many cases one of the couples was helping pull the other of that couple up, helping them to get out of the seat.  Many needed to hang onto a bannister or onto the person next to them. If someone had yelled fire, the exit would still have been orderly, because the speed we were going at, while walking, is still our top speed.

The third act at Maxims was so much fun that I felt I could sing and dance when I left the theaytr.  I had to remind myself, not I can just watch people sing and dance.  From now on, my only participating will be the tapping of my toe, which was still a lot of fun.


There is an "offish" review in the Telegraph
Despite what they say, it was still worth every penny.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Man Equals Man by Bertolt Brecht

The transformation of the porter Galy Gay
in the military cantonment of Kilkoa
I couldn't have spent a more interesting evening.  Pouria invited me to join a group of students going to see Bertolt Brecht's Man Equals Man, presented by The School of Creative and Performing Arts.

While we were standing in the kitchen, he and I did some internet research, trying to find some snippets that would aid our viewing.

I am familiar with the phrase when someone identifies something "as Brechtian".

Knowing that the phrase is important, doesn't mean I know what the phrase means so we read a bit and talked a bit and went to see the play.

The programme notes were good but not enough:
Man Equals Man is about the transformation of a human being. Indeed, it is a play about how we as human animals are constantly disassembling and reassembling ourselves in order to suit a particular agenda: our own, or someone elses ....

... the year is 1925 ...
Whom I want to be is the student I over heard in the washroom speaking to her friend.  "This is the third time I have seen the play.  The essay I write is going to be so awesome." Now there is a woman who knows how to get the maximum value from her viewing and put it to good use.

As for me, I have to do some primary research to understand what I saw tonight.  Wondering why I have never seen Brecht before I went out to skim a list of his works.  I couldn't have been happier:  The Duchess of Malfi, The Three Penny Opera and Mother Courage and Her Children. I have seen at least those three -- and the latter, in Salmon Arm a few years ago, so it is not that the plays are inaccessible.

I seem to be better at remembering the names of plays, than remember the names of playrite.  Or at least being able to link him up with works I have seen.

The final performance is tomorrow night at 7:30 pm.


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

More tales of Japan

From Moiya:

Tomorrow is my day to shop and the first thing on my agenda is to go to the 100 yen store. That is like our dollar store but everything, almost, is 1 dollar.

sushi conveyor belt
They have Japan Rail replicas, and some tracks for them. I think I will go and get several of them and then buy a bunch of track and accessories as well. It is batter operated and the kids love them.

I will get lots of gems at the dollar store.

I am also going shopping at the mall.

Haven’t had any time to do that yet.

We went to the Sushi-Go Round tonight. Ashley and Adam, the Vaughn’s friends took care of the kids. It was awesome! We ate so many different kinds of sushi and just kept ordering and also taking random things that would come by on the special belt that ran right by our table.

I am ready to give sushi a try when I get home.

So much fun! …….to eat it anyway. The desserts were very good too!  I think we paid $60 in total for the four of us.

We also went to the BEST Science Center today and then over to (The Log Cabin).The children run around upstairs and downstairs and play games, going on slides and up and down ropes. There is also  a room for the babies with all kinds of toys. It was free.

Shinshu KitKat
Now I need to get shopping and spend all the rest of our yen that we have left.

Oh, by the way, this is the place where they have KitKat galore: Strawberry, Citrus Golden Blend, Pear, Shinshu Apple,Edamame Soybean, Purple Sweet Potato, Hot Japanese chill, Cinnamon Cookie, Strawberry Cheesecake, Blueberry Cheesecake, Matcha-Green Tea, Hojicha Roasted Tea, Brown Sugar Syrup, Red Bean Sandwich,  andWasabi.

I have tasted the Strawberry only.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

King Lear

Colm Feore as Lear
Bernard LaMarsh told Kelvin he would like to go see King Lear.

Bernard told Kelvin that he is not sure how accessible it would be to him, since he has never studied Shakespeare.

 I have been thinking about that dilemma off and on – how in the first 15 minutes of the play it is hard to throw myself back into the sixteenth century language.

I have usually done some homework and at least refreshed my memory with the plot – the names of the characters and the major families represented in the play. And I try to get the places in my mind where scenes might happen ie, the castle, the moor, the edge of a cliff.

But all of the above doesn’t seem to be enough in the initial scenes and I worry that this is all going to get by me and I won’t know what happened. And I won’t deny that I have to work the whole play – keeping myself on the edge of my seat, since there are no subtitles to help me along.

At any rate – the play? Exquisite. We had some technical difficulties in our theatre. The play didn’t start automatically as it was programmed to, so we were 20 minutes late – though it did start at the beginning. Then three other times the projection went down and we had a black screen. Don’t you just hate it when that happens at home. At the theatre we had all come too far, had set aside this time too many weeks ago, to get up and leave. But I was laughing at that tremendous amount of energy that gets let down, just as we are climbing to a high point in the play and then it is over. Or at least interrupted. And then interrupted again. Nothing like getting an audience coalesce over their collective desire to keep the action going.  I could feel an internal giggle when we had an interruption and I heard a male voice yell out, "Whose got the control?"

I have forgotten how much fun Shakespeare’s fool is. He just about out shone Lear. Well, I shouldn’t say that for not much can be better than watching a figure in a play get older and then make foolish mistakes. That is how I feel. Better to see someone else making those poor judgements on screen, than to have any eyes turned on me as I make my own.

I adored the play. The scene at the cliff is amazing. And having never been to Stratford for their Festival, it was a joy to see inside of the theatre and to get a tour backstage during the intermission.

As to the question, was the play being accessible? I was thinking that Bonnie could even take David. Kids get out of these performances what they can – so why deny them that. Yes. Young and old. There is a place for you at King Lear.

Watch for the Encore, March 7, 2015


My Moose Book

Photo: Bela Baliko
I get lots of invitations to go out for breakfast, lunch and supper.

The invitations come from Michael Johnson, who lives next door.

He sometimes calls on the phone and asks me over.

I like to go over with something we can play with or talk about.  I took my Moose Book over a few days ago.

Now it is not really a Moose Book.

I couldn’t throw away my 2014 Moose Calendar which is really a set of photographs by Bela Baliko.

Photo: Bela Baliko
I enjoyed every month last year.  Three sentences of text accompanied each picture.  For example, in January, the text read, Moose (Alex alces) are common in the northern portions of Europe and Asia.  The Europeans call this magnificent animal an “elk”.  But here in North America they are called “moose”, an Algonquin Indian word meaning “twig-eater.”  This is a very appropriate name, considering that their diet consists of mainly leaves and twigs.

Now that is about all of the information I could take care of in an early morning read.  By the time 12 months had gone by, I was getting to be quite the expert on moose. 

We ate breakfast and I held up my Moose Book for Michael and Alice, explaining details about each picture:  how the moose can hardly see, but has excellent hearing and scent; their enormous size (up to 1300 pounds); the bawling and thrashing in the brush during rutting season. 

Photo: Bela Baliko
Richard demonstrated the sound of bawling and thrashing in the bushes.  His arms and legs were flailing and his voice was deep and loud -- a frightening sound.

I demonstrated the cows’ bleating in the same manner.  We did our best replica of the animal's call and response.  We tried to get Michael to join in by throwing his voice down, way down in his throat and making a sound.  He just couldn’t do it, but 18 month old Alice joined the fun.


Those early Saturday morning breakfasts can be a lot of fun.


Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year has come and gone. Wyona gave me a box of decorations from her overflow of lanterns and hanging good-luck talismans. Now ... can I find them. The good thing about looking for these treasuires has been that I have found other things: mortgage papers I have mislaid; rice that I had stored under a desk and forgotten about; a box of unpacked documents, brought back from the lake so that I could take care of them.

Our house is going to celebrate the Year of the Sheep by having a pot luck on the 19th. I am bringing hot and sour soup and egg foo yung, but I could my mind any time between them for Cantonese noodles and sweet and sour pork have been on my mind lately.

And then I find out I can’t get to the party that we are having.  I have an appointment somewhere else.

Just goes to prove, all of the fun is in the planning.

My wish for everyone is ... lots of red paper money.


Rembrandt: His Later Period

Rembrandt: From the National Gallery, London and Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

The title of the In the Gallery Series says it all. Rembrandt, His Later Period, to be broadcast again, March 1st. The evening started perfectly with an LRT ride up to Crowfoot. The sun was just setting – at that point where the sky was crimson. The mountains were in silhouette. And I was looking west getting a breath-taking view.

 My heart sank to be at the theatre foyer and not be able to see Rembrandt advertised on the digital marque about the ticket seller’s head. “I guess I have come to the wrong theatre. I wanted to see Rembrandt.” She swung her head around and pointed to a line so tiny that I couldn’t even see it, so miniscule compared to the advertising for the other shows.

I like to count how many people are in the theatre. Tonight, the theatre was ¾ full. When the show started a hush fell on this group that lasted the whole evening. I don’t think I have heard that stillness before.

Here are my highlights, … for you can read the more learned reviews from the critics so there is not much use in my repeating what they say.

1. At one point, to carry the story line, there was animation. ie a small figure of Rembrandt as a child using a brush to paint on a canvass. What was charming is that the animation was in the same style as Rembrandt’s etchings that we were later to see.

2. This show partnered at the National Gallery in London and at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Transitioning between the two venues, there were scenes of the canals or scenes of those wonderful square houses along the canals – whatever we were seeing was perfectly mirrored in the water of the canal.

3. Rembrandt’s house is a museum – the one where he lived in his later life. The camera was sure to scan the tall walls full of paintings and the bed Rembrandt slept in. Everything was just as I remember seeing it live.

4. The painter did many self-portraits. One of the scenes showed self-portrait after self-portrait; from one of the initial paintings he did, then gradually showing him getting older and older.

5. I am not one to buy something from the gift shop after I see a show like this. But I could feel the urge to get a few 5 x 7 replica’s and put them on some small easels that Wyona gave me. Why not have a Rembrandt in every room house? Or at least a print.

6. The credits were incredible. If you go to the Encore on March 1 notice the number of museums or private collectors that loaned the works for this exhibit. Who would ever get a chance to see all of these works side by side, have it take only 1 ½ hours and be able to sleep in their own bed that night.

And now, tonight? King Lear from the Stratford Festival.


Monday, February 23, 2015

Today I ate a chicken bone

Oddly, my colleague had a few in her candy bowl.

When was the last time you ate a chicken bone?

I  mean the pink cinnamon flavored ones with chocolate in the middle.  Weird.  Only a Canadian could have come up with that!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

To Nagano

We went 306 km. to Nagano and beyond today and the same distance again on the way back.

The approx. 1 1/2 km. hike in and back was amazing.

The trail was small and many people were there.

Those monkeys come right up to you.

One of them jumped towards Celeste hissing at her.

Her mother jumped in between them and then the monkey tried to go around Desiree to see Celeste.

 Desiree just kept in between them and finally that monkey took a swipe at Desiree’s pant leg to show it’s displeasure at her interference.

There was so much snow.

This is the monkey that jumped at Celeste.
Nagano was a beautiful place to hold the Olympics I think in 1998, was it?

The morning comes early and again, remember how much walking we all did in England?

Well it is the same here.

Church is on three different floors of a high rise and it takes 30 minutes to walk there.


Friday, February 20, 2015

The 100 Yen Store

Hello from Japan,

We are putting kids to bed and then getting ready to go see the Snow Monkeys. It will be a long day. The children are usually asleep when we arrive home, the two oldest in the strollers and Parker in the carrier on Desiree’s chest.

 I love pushing one of the strollers. It is my walker!

The Japanese people are so kind and many of them offer us help when they see our confused looks.

Yeah for us.

We are enjoying Japan and thank goodness we have two strollers to carry all of our things.

The 100 yen store is totally awesome. The largest dollar store I have ever seen.

I was hoping to get some of those most delicious real Japanese oranges but they are not as inexpensive here as I thought they would be.



Tuesday, February 17, 2015


From Bonnie:

Yes, my life resembles the chaos of the universe.

David and I used our mantra tonight - "aesthetic and ritual".

We put the groceries away together.

We did the evening snack dishes together.

We did the loading of the laundry machine together.

The house looks great. David concurs - "I do think it looks better".

"getting a bead on a marble I want to win"
We also studied the lunch options for tomorrow together: salami sausage sticks, cheese sticks, yogurt, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, apples.

He was given the task at the store to choose things he would be sure to eat in his lunch.

I tried not to blink at the things out of season, the 30 salami sticks he may not eat.

Now, he is putting away his iPad and we are going to have a game of marbles to wind down.

Today was filled with Karate, Nerf Guns Wars, Hot Pools ... oh, he has changed his mind to a Labyrinth board game.

Could life be better?

Monday, February 16, 2015

The White Rabbit

Richard and I continue to walk in the early morning. There is much to attend to. He is super vigilant about walking in the crosswalks. He wants cars to be absolutely stopped before we venture off of the sidewalk and pass in front of them. Today there was only a skiff of snow on the sidewalks. He stopped along the pavement in the park on the brow of the hill to point out tracks – coyotes he said, giving it the Western Canadian pronunciation of coyote without the long e at the end of the word. 

On this morning's walk, when I hadn’t finished one of my stories and we are close to our respective sidewalks to our homes, we walk a few more lengths. He stopped to show me the rabbit that sleeps on my front lawn, just below the cement pieces that encircle the birch tree.

 On being startled the rabbit hopped over a few yards and stopped at my porch.

“See, there it is,” he pointed to a small nest in the snow. “The rabbit has been staying in that spot all winter.”

Alice thinks the rabbit belongs to her. Even though she is barely tall enough to see over the bottom ledge of their front window, she will go there and look for the rabbit, sometimes seeing it hop across the lawn and calling to her parents in her baby language to come and look.  Nothing she calls would alert anyone else to go, but you know something is happening outside the window by the way she is anxiously calling them.

Near the King was the White Rabbit, with a trumpet in one hand, 
and a scroll of parchment in the other. 

Illustration from John Tenniel, published in 1865.

I don’t disbelieve that the rabbit sleeps there, for I have seen it. Still I went out to Wikipedia to check.  I learned that rabbits sleep in burrows or hutches or nests.

There is nothing about cuddling up to a bunch of stones on a front lawn, or huddling up against the back of the house, which I where I see them.

In the past the only rabbits I have known were Br'er Rabbit, Peter Rabbit, the White Rabbit, the March Hare and Bugs Bunny.

On my early morning walks I have become acquainted with real rabbits who have a charm of their own.


Sunday, February 15, 2015

James Despot

From Janet:

a cliff, a bay of water and
there could be a fish
right around the next corner.
Shuswap's best friend and neighbor passed away yesterday.

James Despot had heart surgery last summer and he never really recovered.

He fought a strong battle.

He had a couple of heart attacks that we knew of over the years.

Doral enjoyed fishing with Ray and James and they would often get together and discuss their catches and tactics. James was a great school teacher, administrator and  Superintendent of the Board in Ashcroft.

He was a great counsellor. James had a very soothing fatherly/big brother manner. He would speak his mind, though, and let you know if he thought you were in the wrong. People gravitated to James. If there is one person that all of the Annis Bay residents/part-time residents knew, it was James.

Ashcroft, Annis Bay and I suspect Kamloops (where he and Yvonne were living) will miss him.

For Glen and I as well as our children, I have to say it is like losing a family member. For me personally, since I was 19, the Roger’s have always been there. Even with only getting together on an average of twice a year – they are always supposed to be there. Caring and fun to be around – great hosts – knew how to have a good time.

Easter as well as New Year are always set aside and worked into our calendar to get together and catch up. Never enough time but enough time to affirm the tie between us. I will not forget him and in fact I now add him to my thoughts on Valentine’s Day along with my Mom and Dad’s wedding anniversary.

To you, my family, I leave you with a couple of thoughts from James. He and Yvonne would often talk to us about the past, the present and the future at the lovely Shuswap. Those visits with him were always rewarding and comforting.

In our Annis Bay Community we take efforts to hold strong for each other and to do what needs to be done for the good of all. I guess we can add all of Annis Bay will feel the loss of James.    

Glen commented this morning that our every day problems seem small compared to health and wellbeing.

Eat your veggies please.

Love Janet and Glen

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Valentines Day to you

LtoR: Amy Duong, Arta Johnson, unknown , Chris

When I opened the door to go into the TD Canada Trust Bank this morning I noticed a cupid motif on the door and hanging garlands of hearts.

"Who did all of this decorating?"

"Me," said Amy Duong, "and since you are the first customer this morning you have a chance to have your picture taken with all of the staff."

So here we are -- Happy Valentines Day from me and the 8 o'clock am staff at TD.

I couldn't have started the day in a better way.

Last night Kelvin bought home orchids for me.

This morning Michael delivered a valentine to me -- the print of his 3 year old left hand in red and then shaped into a flower.

This day has already delivered in spades ... but that would that be "delivered in hearts".

Then Richard brought out his morning shooting targets for me to see.  Instead of our 6 am early morning walk, he went out to do some practise shooting.  I tried to get one of the target practise sheets off of him to put up on the wall beside Michael's valentine to me.  I couldn't get it off of Richard.  Too valuable.  It was going in his target practise binder.

Had I thought ahead, I might have gone with him to see what the experience is that makes it so valuable that he wouldn't even give me just that one piece of paper.

Love to all,


The Valentine

"The valentines ... that opened into perfect symmetry."
I loved 
The valentines we made in school.
I never cut the hearts out flat—
The two sides would never match for me.
I always folded and centered
And scissored out a half a heart
That opened into perfect symmetry.
So they never had a side that was fat
And a side that was skinny.
I loved them for that.

The day we saw the shape of our being one—
As if it had opened from some good design
That made two matching halves,
Yours and mine.
But I find we don’t stay put like paper.
We are not comfortable with glue.
Your edges have shifted, stretched,
And mine have too—
But not to a pattern.
If we folded our halves up today
They would not fit.
Occasionally I itch for the scissors,
I will admit.
Ah, well.
I will put away childish things—
Cut them off like braids.
We are no valentine, you and I.
We are something so alive, so moving,
So growing, I cannot yet
Put a name to the shape.
I only know it goes on and on and on,
Pressing toward whatever border
There may somewhere be.
"occasionally I itch for the scissors [but]... I will let the edges go."
Your center and mine are one,
And between the halves there is flow.
That is much.
I will let the edges go.

by Carol Lynn Pearson

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Fear of Friday, the 13th

From Wickapedia:

Triskaidekaphobia (from Greek tris meaning "3", kai meaning "and", deka meaning "10" and phobos meaning "fear" or "morbid fear") is fear of the number 13 and avoidance to use it; it is a superstition and related to the specific fear of the 13th person at the Last Supper being Judas, who was said to have stabbed Jesus Christ in the back (metaphorically). It is also a reason for the fear of Friday the 13th, called paraskevidekatriaphobia (from Παρασκευή Paraskevi, Greek for Friday) orfriggatriskaidekaphobia (after Frigg, the Norse goddess after whom Friday is named in English).

I couldn't help but put this explanation up on the blog.  I didn't know the real name of fear of Friday the 13th when I went to check this morning.  I could only remember the name of the fear of the number 13.  I have a black candle holder that circles in a spiral and holds 13 black candles.  I went to find it today and couldn't put my hands on it.  Could I have given it away?  Now there is a fear for you -- that I might have given something away.  

I have no fear of Friday the 13th.  I was going to mock the universe by lighting the candles today.  I guess I will have to wait until next time.


Reviews of Bluebeard's Castle and Iolanta

Anna Netrebko in Iolanta
Saturday is Bluebeard's Castle and Iolanta at the movie theatres that carry the New York Met HD Live.

I hope there is an event like this in your city.

In the January 30, 2015  New York Times review of theses operas,  there is a 1 1/2 minute video of Anna Netrebko singing Iolanta.  Just listening to 90 seconds of this, I could feel the chills going up and down my arms.

I must be susceptible to sudden musical pleasure, having seen Bluebeard's Castle in London when I was there with Wyona and Greg.  In fact I can bring back to my mind exactly where we were sitting and who was sitting beside whom.

Yesterday in my film class on the Western we were talking about the implcations of genre mixing.( ie  a musical western or a romantic comedy).

When I was looking at pictures about Bluebeard's Castle the subtitle was "psychological thriller". Yes.  That genre mixing doesn't just happen in the movies.  I am going to enjoy it in the opera, too.

Here are some other reviews of this production:

The New York Times, Jan 21, 2015

The New York Times also publishes this short synopsis:

★ ‘Iolanta’ and ‘Bluebeard’s Castle’ Anna Netrebko brings Tchaikovsky’s lush fairy tale “Iolanta” to the Metropolitan Opera for the first time, singing the title role of a princess whose blindness is cured by love. The slightly surreal production is directed by Mariusz Trelinski with references to film noir, and as in “Eugene Onegin,” Ms. Netrebko is conducted by the Russian master Valery Gergiev. He also leads the second half of the evening, Bartok’s “Bluebeard’s Castle,” whose mysterious central couple (sung by Nadja Michael and Mikhail Petrenko) arrive at a less happy ending. 
I still can't believe that for $25, I can go to the opera -- as though I were in New York and sitting in one of the best seats in the house.



Monday, February 9, 2015

Playing at Grandma's

We have really beat winter this year.

 A few really cold days, but this morning it was -15 C. and no wind, which seems almost like a summer day to Albertans.

 Richard asked me what was new this morning as we walked in the dark, watching the sidewalks for places covered with ice.

What’s new for me is what happens when Richard brings Michael to my house for a play date with Grandma. I thought we would keep on our coats and hats -- go for a walk to and then a ride on the C-Train. That kid had his coat and boots whipped off and was telling me that we were playing at home. He was going to find his battery operated fire engine which he was sure is at my house. He looked in all of the rooms and found nothing. I am pretty sure that the fire engine is at his own house and that his mother has disabled the mechanical part of it for her own sanity.

Not being able to find it in my house, he played with other toys, staying our of my kitchen because he saw Derek in there who has grown a beard since Christmas. That beard was too frightening for Michael. He played with his toys down on the landing at the back stairs.

“Is he gone yet?” Michael called up to me.

“Yes. It is safe to enter the kitchen now,” I replied. “Derek’s breakfast is over. He is gone.”

And so we sat at the table having our snack – an apple and an orange. Michael wanted to re-cut the apple slices with the dull paring knife that I had been using to core the apple.

 I sat and supervised.  He practised cutting those slices into the smallest of pieces.

“I did it. I did it,” he would shout at each cut.

So? What is new at our house?

A lot of fun with the simplest of tasks.


HD Live Update

Rebecca told me that it is my job to keep her up to date on what is happening in the HD Live word at the theatres.

So here goes for what I am hoping on seeing in Calgary from now until June.

The Met Opera Live in HD:

Iolanta/ Blue Beard's Castle (LIVE)
Saturday February 14/15 at 10:25AM 

The Merry Widow (ENCORE)
Saturday February 28/15 at 9:55am 

La Donna del Lago (The Lady Of The Lake) 
Saturday March 14/15 at 10:55am 

National Theatre Live:

Behind the Beautiful Forevers (LIVE)
Thursday March 12/15 at 7:00pm 
Saturday April 18/15 at 12:55pm 

A View from the Bridge
Thursday March 26/15 at 7:00pm (LIVE)
Saturday May 2/15 at 12:55pm 

The Hard Problem 
The Hard Problem play by Tom Stoppard ...
Thursday April 16/15 at 7:00pm (LIVE)
Saturday May 16/15 at 12:55pm 

Man and Superman
Thursday May 14/15 at 7:00pm (LIVE)
Saturday June 13/15 at 12:30pm 

Thursday July 16/16 at 7:00pm (LIVE)
Saturday September 19/15 at 12:55pm 

Dance Series:

Royal Winnipeg Ballet's
Moulin Rouge
Sunday February 22/15 at 12:55pm SHARP! (LIVE)
Wednesday February 25/15 at 7:00pm SHARP!

In The Gallery:

Rembrandt, London’s National Gallery and Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum
Wednesday February 18/14 at 7:30pm 
Sunday March 1/15 at 12:55pm 

Stratford Festival HD

Stratford's King Lear
King Lear
Thursday February 19/15 at 7:00PM 
Saturday March 7/17 at 12:55pm 


Saturday, February 7, 2015

Only for Train Lovers

From Mary 

Ok, I sort of hate to admit how nerdy I am when it comes to transportation infrastructure, but I just really am.

This video is so cool.  It is called "Trains and the Great Canadian Winter".

Watch to the end of minute one -- unless you want to count each car on the train (which is hard not to do when watching a train pass in person.

Friday, February 6, 2015


"I will now begin to get your attention."
"Do you mind what the kids call you?"

I thought that was a strange question from Richard.

"No.  I am fine with whatever you want your kids to call me."

"Oh, it is not that.  They already have a name for you.  They call Miranda's mother, Grandma Joan.  But lately they have been calling your Erta.  Miranda just wondered how you are going to feel about that."

I began to listen to the kids.

It was Alice who started the new pronunciation of my name.

Not just saying it once, but many times.

Over and over, again and again, Erta, Erta, Erta, Erta ... maybe 15 times -- just calling and calling, not even breathing in between iterations of the word.  She is so loud that no one else in the room can see or think.

"Got it!"
She stops when I give her eye contact.

She has nothing more to say.

I get a huge smile.

Why would I want to change a one-time chance to get a new name, said a zillion times?


Thursday, February 5, 2015

Traveling from one mealtime to another

The sky was this kind of blue when I was in B.C. last week.

... looking west from my porch while shoveling snow ...
The road out to Bernie Road was clean enough to walk on. Bonnie and walked in the early morning twilight.  A railroad vehicle lumbered along the path -- too wide for any car to pass it as it made its way down to the tracks.  Bonnie and I stood off to the side, our feet pushing into the snowbank as we watched the driver who acknowledged us buy only slightly lifting four of his fingers off of the steering wheel.

We knew we had been invited down to Janet and Glen's for supper that night.  Wyona was master-minding the project with frozen food from the summer that she was using while it was still good.  But that doesn't mean that Janet and Glen, or Moiya and Dave, or even the two of us didn't bring food, enough so that twenty people could have eaten -- not just the six of us who gathered around the Pilling's new oak dining room table, now expanded with extra leaves.  The chairs had been brought to the west end of the table so that those who came early could enjoy the BBQ-ed chicken wings and the greek cream cheese that was covered with Roasted Pineapple and Hananero Sauce.

I only mention this because I decided -- no more eating with these people.  I can't push myself back from the table until I am too, too full.  They are interesting conversationalist and reveal in the joy of shared conversations

But I couldn't keep that memory of hoping not to eat any more, long enough to turn down the Chinese food and the warm apple pie served the next day when I happened to dropped in at Wyona's for lunch.

I was trying to get home after my morning walk, but I wandered down to Glen's with him, still talking to him before he began work. He had come to my house to fix a wonky tap and spotted the two of us walking on the road.

What was there to do but let Bonnie go off to work and let me stop in at Moiya's on my way back home -- she being my target for early morning visiting since she gets up earlier than Wyona.  Moiya had taken me to the local fresh fruit and vegetable outlet the day before.

"No better prices than these: $6 for a 40 pound box of Macs; $8 for the Spartans and Golden Delicious."

I only bought one box.  Moiya bought two and between the time she dropped me off at night and noon the next day, she had peeled all eighty pounds of the apples and now they were sitting on her cupboard, bagged as dried apple crescents or rolled in wax paper as fruit leather.

Her kitchen was clean again.  I grabbed her hand to look at her thumbs which was the only place where there was evidence of all of the work she had done.  Dirt was deep into the cracks of the skin on her thumbs.  When I do that kind of work and it takes a few days of scrubbing with soap and water to get rid of that evidence.  But my hands were clean.  We are just going to eat all forty pounds of apples out of hand.

Sirloin steak was sizzling on the grill when I arrived for the third meal -- three days in a row and we still hadn't turned on the oven at our place.  There were friend mushrooms and baked potatoes and a beautiful salad.   I am reminded often of the articulation of wonderful moments in 2014.  Someone said, "Leisurely dinners set at long tables with loved ones.  That was my 2014 joy."

Yes to that person hitting moments of happines right on the head:  leisurely dinners, blue skies, short walks from the doors of one set of loved ones to the next set.Treasured moments.


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

A New Life Plan

In hopes of living to be 100 (or at the very least, to be 99 years old), I made a 25 year plan for myself in the fall.

The first five years of my plan was pretty easy -- one of the items being that I want to take a couple of film classes every semester at the university.  I couldn't be sure if I was doing this because I really wanted to, or because I want to torture Rebecca, who would like to spend the rest of her life taking film courses.

At any rate, I signed up for a class called Terrence Malik as Auteur.

image from  Terrence Malik's The New World
Sad to say, I didn't even know this director nor had I seen any of the five films he has done:  The Tree of Life (2011), Badlands, The New World (2005), Days of Heaven (1978) and The Thin Red Line.

And even worse, I didn't even find one minute to taunt Rebecca with all of the joy I was finding in the lectures and viewings.

I guess I will have to call that class a bust, though I wouldn't have missed it for anything.


Fox And Geese

First of all, I have never had a blogging month as bad as January 2015.  Thirteen posts!  I hang my head in shame.  I tried to figure out what is keeping me from typing

I blame Richard and his early morning walks with me.  We walk.  I do most of the talking.  By the time I get home, I think I have nothing left to say, which is pretty well true, having just talked my heart out for 55 minutes, got my pulse up to 140 and  and kept my face buried in my scarf at the same time.

There are lots of things I want to tell.   For example, that on a day when the snowfall had been heavy his little family joined me in our common back yard for a game of Fox And Geese.  Richard didn't know the game.  I remember it from the school play ground of my youth.  Here is a u-tube of how the Slentz Family plays the game if you want to know how to set it up yourselves.

We weren't quite as careful about getting the circle round.  We just got an outer border going with some cross paths and then invited Michael and Alice to play with us.

Too frightening, since Richard was the goose and had tucked both of his hands into his armpits and was waving his make-believe wings up and down and honking as he ran from the fox.

I was the fox and could only think of howling at the moon as I chased goose.

Michael wanted to sit on the steps.  Too much terror in joining in.

Alice tried her best but at 18 months old there is not much a little person can do in the way of running in the deep snow when they have been zipped into an airtight snow suit.

It seemed only right to switch to toboganning in the backyard since Fox and Geese wasn't a big hit. Richard grabbed the plastic top of a large square container, tied a rope to one end of it, and then put Michael on the make-believe sleigh and pulled him around the fox and geese track.

Alice waited for her turn and so the winter morning went -- Richard and I getting a lot of exercise. The kids merely watching or getting rides.

What is wrong with this picture?