Saturday, April 30, 2016

Elektra - The Afterward

Elecktra was everything it was built up to be, and more.

I am accustomed to have a couple of intermissions and seeing backstage as sets are being changed.  But this was an opera in one act.  The Met arranged for a short pre-recorded video with the conductor, Esa-Pekka Salonen, and Elektra, Nina Stemme.

Kelvin wondered who the man was who came on stage  after the performance and during the applause, for we hadn't seen him during the show.  Kelvin was right.  The conductor joined the singers on stage, but this was the first time we had seen him during the erformance.  No "Maestro to the pit", no cameras following him to the podium, no bowing to the audience from the pit, no cameras focusing on him as he conducted.

We only viewed the stage.  And there was no overture.  I take that back.  There was an overture.  What we saw was women preparing to clean the courtyard of the palace, one of the sweeping the steps on her knees.  What we heard was the scratching of the broom.  Scratch.  Scratch.  Scratch.

I began to wonder about the artistic merit of the sound which seem interminable.

Scratch.  Scratch.  Scratch.  No sound from the orchestra.  Many women entered the room, all throwing sand onto the cobble stones to be swept or mopped, though we couldn't yet tell which.

I was familiar with the characters, having done so much pre-viewing reading, and then watching a u-tube version of the opera last night helped as well.  In fact, I liked comparing that first madness scene in the courtyard with what I had seen the night before.  There was less physical violence in today's production.  And the costuming was more abstract.
Nina Stemme as Elektra

Kelvin said he wished that he had been more "up" on his Greek mythology.  I don't know if that would have helped.  The synopsis that was handed out at the door was about all a person would need.  However, getting that in hand as you turn in your ticket, doesn't give much time for reading, and then the theatre is darkened by the time Kelvin is settled in and ready to read.

What did I like about today's performance?

1. I always love the close up's on the singer's faces as they are forming the vowels that they will linger on, or watch them put the last consonant on a word.  I do not tired of that.

2. I want to clap at the end of a show.  I always want to, but that seems a little ridiculous, sitting in a theatre with the performers on the other side of the continent.  I did love the standing ovation from the crowd who was at the Met today. I imagined that some of that applause for them was mine.

3. There was a green necklace on Klytamnestra's neck that was to die for.  You would have to have been there to know what I mean. Where does the Met come up with a piece of jewellery like that?

See that necklace on Waltraud Meier, the middle figure?
... green gems, stunning ...

I thought only Wyona could find pieces like that in foreign markets.
4. The curtain call -- what would that have stood out?  Perhaps it was that the women involved in that first scene all had a chance to take their bow and the audience was loving them.  But it was more than that.  Each of the five singers took their own bow, with different gestures and were equally loved by the audience.

5. The producer of this version of Elektra does not have her die at the end.  After her triumphal dance she sit stone-like as the orchestra finishes the music.  That was nice. Better to see someone live than someone die.

6. There was a lot going on in in the orchestra.  The pit was packed with 20 more musicians than it normally holds.  Some of the instrumental runs just put shivers up my spine.  We only had one shot of the orchestra.  That was when the camera panned out and we could see them, applauding as though the performers on stage, as though they had been part of the audience.  Rehearsals must have been a joy.  Do you know it is legendary, that during the intermissions, the Met orchestra go out and have a game of poker?  No poker today.  Just one act.  One critique said he had no catharsis.  You be the judge.

7.  Eric Owens (Orest) had been interviewed last week during the intermission of Robert Devereaux  He had asked where he gets his energy to enter later in the opera.  He said something like it is easy for he just has to feed off of the energy of the singers who are already on stage in intense action.  I was thinking about that when he made his entrance.  Such power!

Well, that is it for April!

May is full of theatre and dance.

May 7 - Stratford Festival HD - The Adventures of Pericles
May 19 - In the Gallery - Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse
May 21 - Hangmen which got the Olivier Award for the Best New Play 2016
May 23 - BBC's Shakespeare Live, though I may have the date wrong there.
May 22 - Royal Ballet - Frankenstein

May is my birthday month.  I am going to try to do it all.


Richard Strauss

Richard Strauss, by Max Liebermann, 1918
What is Richard Strauss?

That is the question I woke up with this morning.

Tonia had picquet my interest in hearing a bit of Elektra before I went to see it this morning.

She had done this by saying she was going to go out and hear a bit of The Light in the Piazza, and I thought, why not.  Why not that and a bit of Elecktra.  But hearing a bit wasn't enough.  An hour later I thought, hey!  The opera is only a bit over two hours long and now I have listened to half.  And who is this composer?  Late romantic and early modern.  Not the Richardt Strauss of the waltzes I know.

Nice to have electronics that let me check out my misperceptions.

And I had my question answered and found out that I know his works, but I don't know who compoased those works.

And now I do.

Here is a partial list:
Der Rosencavalier,  and Salome for operas 
Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks for a tone poem
If I am ever in a contest that has "music" for a category, I should not pick it.


Friday, April 29, 2016

Hamlet, Review

"Alas, poor Yorick, I knew him well."
The BWW review uses the word electrifying when reviewing Stratford's Hamlet.

Kelvin and I saw the  HD Encore last night.

Kelvin said that he wished he had brushed up on the play.

I saw it twice last fall, the version with Benedict Cumberbatch.  Now Jonathan Goad, a Canadian actor, starred in the role of Hamlet.

There were highlights in the play.  One of them was the fushia tights and the heeled shoes of the play-within-the-play king.  I couldn't keep my eyes off of those legs.

Ophelia was lovely; Gertrude played with depth.

The solioquys seemed to be changed.  I think it is the body language that is added that brings a different meaning to the words.  Old, yet new.

I love the interaction with the audience.  And for the first time, while watching Hamlet, I found myself laughing with delight over how delicious some of the lines were.

When the play ended, I too was saying, "Goodnight, sweet Prince."


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Lebanese Coasters

 ... a set of coasters from Lebanon, a gift to Arta from Pouria ...
I was invited out for supper again, to the house next door.

I have no idea how many nights in a row this is.

I am just going to count my blessing and keep going and praying that this part of my life never ends. Pouria gave me a gift of coasters after his trip to Lebanon, so I took them over for part of the table decorating. I had forgotten how interesting it is to look into mirror encrusted coasters and see bits and pieces of one's face, until I saw Michael doing that.


Probably the most fun was carrying them from my house to his, seconded by the joy of passing one out to each person.  Would you believe we are a six person family when we eat:  2 parents, 3 children, one grandma (and two grandmas, if it is the night Joan comes over).  Real family time!

We also tried peeling kiwis for dessert, in the fashion that I had seen on utube last night.  What worked last night, wasn't working this evening.  The first kiwi was too green to let the skin slide on one side of the glass and the flesh on the other.  The second kiwi was ripe enough, but Michael was trying to do it, with my hand over his.  Not a big success in terms of slipping a nice piece of fruit out of its jacket.  A lot of juice in both of our hands.  And half of the skin still on the kiwi when we were finished. Only successful if one counts the fact the Michael gave it a try, given that the skin of a kiwi isn't the most pleasant fruit to palm.

If Michael takes a try, then Alice must.  Richard superintended her attempts.  A lot of juice in the cup and on their hands, but what is dessert for, if not for trying something new.

Miranda and I could both see that the width of the rim of the glass may have something to do with success.  She said she had a glass that might work -- now broken.  I am going to search my cupboards for a glass with sides that have a finer side measurement ... if there is a next time.


PS  One reason why I might loose my option of going to dinner every night:  I was tidying up the back yard and came across a large, black garbage container that had black earth about 1/5 of the way up the side of it.  "The kids have filled that with mud," I thought.  "I will empty it in the garden for Miranda."  I did.  And without looking I flipped the garbage can back against the wall.

"Did you know you just emptied out the potatoes Miranda had sprouting," Grandma Joan  came over said to me.  She had been playing with the kids on the grass.


At the very least, I owe Miranda one twenty pound bag of potatoes ... to be delivered next fall.

Karate Class Warm-Up

I took tai chi.
But seeing David doing karate?
Now maybe I think I took the wrong martial arts.

I know the ground is not flat.
How does he manage to stand on one foot on a slope?
Don't let me be on the receiving end of that punch.
The only person I ever knew who could do that was Uncle Greg.
He could break a 10 pound slab of chocolate with his fist!

Happy Martial Arts

And the pictures made me homesick.


It's all about method

I like a bargain.  Costco had a $1 saving on a 3 pound container of kiwis.

The package was in my cart before I really thought about how I was going to use them.

So here they are, now at home, and I have just been watching them on my counter.  I don't usually pick one up and peel it like I might an orange.  I had no imagination about what I was going to do.

I went to utube last night to see if there is a standard way to take the skin off.

Now I am armed with 3 ways to peel kiwi , since not only did I look at the videos, but I practised the methods.

The most interesting way was to cut the kiwi lengthwise and than to clasp the kiwi in my hand, run the kiwi down the glass so that the glass separated the skin from the meat, which just slipped down into the glass.  Though I am not comfortable with this method, it worked and given practise, it might be my preferred method when cutting kiwi up for a fruit salad.

Practising something like that is not my habit.  When teaching someone to crack eggs, a child for example, I will let them do a dozen for practise and then put the product into my bread or scramble eggs.  I can do the same.  It's not easy being green.

Kiwis are small.  I ate as I practised. Yum to 3 pounds of kiwi and only one person to eat it.


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Electra - Review

Nina Stemme as the title character in
Richard Strauss’s opera “Elektra,”
which opened at the Metropolitan 
on Thursday night. 
Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

Here is the New York Times review  of "Electra" which will be shown in movie houses this Saturday.

The review is long, and in fact riveting and well worth reading, whether opera is your thing or not.

A joy to live in a world where this is available.

I saw some other reviews, but you are on your own for I got a message that said I had already read my 10 free articles in the Times for the month.  Well, that makes me look forward to May which is right around the corner.


Monday, April 25, 2016

Faith in God, Part II

The lighting on the counter didn't do justice
to the lovely gold sheen still on the medal.

You can see the masking tap from the back,
curling around to the front.
Since Rebecca asked to see this medal, both the front and the back of it, I went to retrieve it from Richard.

For some reason he told me it would not be available to me to photograph.

"There is nothing much I can do about this, " I thought, though I pleaded with him, "I tried to find an image of it on the internet and could not.  This must be an old, a very old programme, as old as you, and there is no way to document it now."

I don't think this was a compelling argument at all, though later Richard  brought it over, slapped it on the kitchen counter and left without saying a word. I am going to believe he was just busy with child care, since Betty was strapped to him, and that he wasn't mad at me.

The next morning Michael came over, spotted the bag of medals on my counter, grabbed then and began to return home.  "I have to take these back.  They are my dad's."

"Faith in
Maybe but it
doesn't feel
like it.:"
There went my chance to photograph them again.

Getting good pictures for a blog is not as easy as it seems.

I ran after him saying, "Yes, yes, they are your dad's.  I am just going to take one picture and then return them."

So here it is for your viewing pleasure, Rebecca, even though this is a medal that you never won.

As I was putting everything back in the bag to return it to Richard I found a medal that says: First Place Winner of the Paterson Medal for Sonnet Sequence under 16.

Do you want to see that one Rebecca, or is the Faith in God Medal enough?


Loughheed House

Loughheed House
National Historic Site

the only piece of
Victorian Eclectic Style architecrtire
still standing in Western Canada
As a byproduct of seeing Kerri Singh's Urban Portraits Exhibition, Miranda and I took a look at the site of the exhibit: the Loughheed house.

Although this shouldn't be the first thing on the list of things to mention, I did say to her, "Don't tell Richard about all of the taxidermy here.  He would be in heaven to see it.  Somebody had to stay home with the kids. and he is the one who drew that straw.  Let us leave him ignorant that we have seen 3 elk heads, one massive moose head and an outstanding ram on the walls."

There were other features, less remarkable.

Real Limoge China that was used to entertain guests for one thing.

And the initials of Senator Lougheed had been etched in the glass doors -- each etching artistically different from the first.

The stained-glass windows of the house had the flora and fauna of Western Canada: birds, butterflies, a rabbit, maybe a fox.

Oak pillars were everywhere,in the front entrance and into the large receiving room, as was the ornate tapestry and moulding of that era.  Just everywhere.  I was straining my neck to look up at the cornices and crown moldings.

I tried to imagine myself holding a dinner party in the dining room of the house -- beautiful built-in cabinets and a long wide room.

The ballroom was downstairs.  Getting down was tricky.  In those days there wasn't railing everywhere.

Stunning Victorian carpets are on the floor where Kerri's exhibit is being shown.  An appropriate venue for a thought-provoking exhibition about urban Calgary.  The exhibit is on until May 1, 2016.


Urban Portraits

Urban Projects
can be viewed at the Loughheed House
Miranda and I went down to the Lougheed House to see Kerri Singh's Urban Projects display.

You can hear about it on this link to CBC's Homestretch, a lovely audio interview where Kerri explains what is behind some of the photos.

Miranda and I were charmed, looking at each picture alone and then joining each other to discuss what we were seeing in the images.

For a starter, we wanted to talk about the lines, the colour, the positioning of the subjects, the material objects, the family configurations, the light, the shadow, and the statement that accompanied each of the pictures.

We ended our viewing by going back for one final round, picking the picture that we would like to put up in our homes.  Miranda choose a woman who is standing by her bike.  Miranda likes the hues of brown and orange and red in the picture, how the woman's scarf ties the woman to the images in the background: the Cafe where we see its neon OPEN sign in the window, the woman's beige boots, the pole of the street light she is leaning against, even her stance is charming.

I am not sure which was the picture I wanted.  For sure the text above the "Shopping Cart Person" was imaginative and poetic. A beautiful read.

I like the abstractness of the surroundings in the artist's studio, the light on his model -- well, Kerri captured it all in more than one of the pictures.  But I kept going back to look at that one.

The more I read, the more I wanted to look back at the pictures,  I was finding a more complicated meaning in the pictures from the statements of the models.

I love reading images.  Having Miranda with me made it more fun, for she was seeing things that had passed me by.

We lingered over the picture of the woman who runs Twigs.  We read the text and then looked at the jewellery:  on her arms, her fingers, around her neck, and noticed how artfully it was placed both to the left and the right of the red-haired model.  I tried to figure out her age.  The text mentioned that she had lived through World War II, which was a good starter for my math.

Though I have lived in Calgary all of my life, I don't have a clear understanding of where the Beltline district is.  And the Beltline was mentioned often.

One of the attendants at the show brought me a map so that I could see the borders of the district to get a handle on who it was that Kerri was photographing.

On the drive home we talked about neighbourhoods, neighbours, parks, amenities and why a person might love living in the Beltline District.

A thumbs up to the Urban Portraits Project.

Thank you for letting us see the Downtown and Beltline District through your eyes, Kerri Singh.

We wanted to take some photos for the blog, but that was forbidden.  However, you can see two of the images on the blog.

Check it out.



From Moiya:

Three days ago I saw a hummingbird come up to our back patio, so quickly found my feeders and filled them with food.

Now we get to see them regularly.


The sweet peas on the west end of our front steps; the ones I soaked came up 3 days ago and are growing fast.

I must secure the netting for them to grasp on to.

The sweet peas that I froze overnight to aid in cracking open the skin on the seed so that they will germinate faster, are now poping out of the ground too.

The gardener lady at Walmart told me it was an alternate way instead of soaking them.

Both ways work equally well

Freezing them however, makes it easier to plant them.  No wet seeds sticking to your gloves or the earth.

The wild ferns stems are rolling up towards the sky and are getting about knee height. There will be lots of fern ground cover on Pillings Road this year.

The fishermen’s boats are making their way out on to the lake.

 I don’t know if the fish are biting yet though.

Hopefully we will get our vegetable garden planted this week sometime.

We live in a beautiful place and we are happy to be here.



Ryanair-Beware before you book

 We left amazing Barcelona to take a Ryanair Flight to Rome. Ryanairs moto is ‘point to point’, no frills cheapest fare. We paid $150.00 Canadian for 2 flights oneway. Good Deal!  Went online to checkin, one can do this 30 days before but you pay extra if you do that. So I went on again 7 days before to checkin online. We were travelling in low season so prices were less. 1 bag of 20 kilos= 30 euros, 1 bag of 15 kilos= 20 euros, to pick seat=4 euros, priority seating so you have a place for hand luggage=6 euros. I ended up paying more for luggage and seating than our seats originally cost but I did it for Greg’s peace of mind and mine but not so much mine. I just sucked it up and paid with my credit card online. Could not print out the boarding passes but I saw them.
Greg reading in our cruise room.

Greg studying the map in Rome in our hotel room.
And lunch in Rome consists of cheese, drink bread and homemade salad. 

Got to the line to drop off bags and because I did not print out the boarding passes, it was going to cost 15 euros each ($25Can) to have boarding passes printed out. I just kept refusing and finally when the third person came to tell me I had to do that, I stepped out of line, opened my ipad and started checking in again to find where I saw the boarding passes. (I had to sign in on Barcelona Airport wifi and needed to pay money so checked the free box and then somehow read I would get a free iphone in the mail. Knew something was wrong. What had I joined?) After half an hour or more, I got online and I found the boarding passes again. Showed them to the guy and he said OK. Hah!  I kept that 50 dollars in my pocket.

Then we had to show the boarding passes when checking in with security. I had kept my ipad open to the passes. However, one pass got read and then my ipad said I had to refresh it. So I stepped out of line again and searched again until I found the passes again. Got through security. Then I had to guard my ipad so I could get on the plane. I managed. Put the ipad in my bag. Then had to show the boarding passes again to get on the plane. Found the passes again.

Somewhere during all of this I read where one could download the Ryanair air app. But as Marcia knows, I could not find the app store. What a nightmare. Greg and I were so happy when we finally did get on the flight. Next time, I will think twice before I book Ryanair, the airline for cattle!

Ryanair/photos of Rio

Walking by a man selling nuts in Rio I could not resist. The peanuts are covered in crusty sweet coating and little pieces of coconut are covered in the same. So delicious.

 On returning to Rio we searched out the nut man and took a healthy supply back to the room for the trip. Here the nuts are mixed with a few other treasures. The cheesecake lollipops were a delight on the ship. We tried to eat some everyday.

Here the olympic stadium for the Olympics looks great but the rest of Rio is still under a lot of construction. How they can be ready in time, I don't know.

Our stop in Salvador Bahia had a huge elevator (279ft), dividing the lower town from the upper town.
Here is a street scene from the upper town. You see the old and the new.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Faith in God Award

While unpacking pictures I came across a photo of Richard in Grade IX receiving a trophy.  I just put it in the garbage, but while we were eating supper last night, I thought better of my choice to dispose of it, and retrieved it, taking it outside to the picnic table and showing the 4 year old and the 2 year old a picture of their daddy.

Michael wanted to know if Richard still had that prize.  Richard said yes and ran to his Box of Treasures, bringing out two zip lock bags:  one full of trophies; one full of medals.

The children touched them all, turning them over one by one.  I told Richard to save them even longer, and that perhaps when he dies, his daughters will take them and wear them as jewellry.  He rolled his eyes and continued to read from each of them, naming the tournament, the place and whether this was a first, second or third prize.

He pushed one across the table to me.  It was a gold medal and said "Faith in God".  I knew he must have received this one at church.  I turned it over and on the back was some masking tape.  Inked into the masking tape were these words: "perhaps, but it doesn't feel like it".

I have looked all over the internet for the image of the medal and finding none, and only by popular demand, if someone should ask, I will have him bring out his trophies and medals again.  Please say if you want to see the front or the back of the medal.


Monday, April 18, 2016

Hamlet - coming up

Stratford's Hamlet
J. Kelly Nestruck writes a review of Hamlet in The Globe and Mail that I used as my starter for getting ready to see this show.

I get so excited about these things, even though the reviewer wasn't that impressed.  I even went out and read the comments to see that some were for the production and others could have easily passed it by.

I can't see it on Saturday, but I am hoping to get to it on the 28th when there is an Encore.

I confess to having seen the production where Cumberbach was Hamlet -- in fact I saw it twice it was so good.  I am only expecting something different this time -- neither better nor worse.



Photo credit: Moiya Wood
Moiya's Flower Garden
My tulips are not like Moiya's.

Mine are a bust.

Though they were short stemmed, I was happy, thinking that at the very least I will get a bouquet of tulips out of them.

Yesterday morning I saw red blossoms spread like a carpet on the earth.  The tulip stems and leaves were in place, but the flowers were long gone.

I didn't know where to put the blame.

Photo credit: Moiya Wood
"The weather is 26 degrees celcius."
Hard not to jump to conclusions when there are tiny people playing in the yard.

Then a huge hare hopped through the yard and I could see that I should place the blame where it belongs.

Had I left open access to the compost, the rabbit would not have gone after my tulips.

Maybe next year.

Photo credit: Moiya Wood
"I am so glad I planted my bulbs last fall."
I really love cut flowers, the ones that can be grown in my yard.

Though I had previously decided not to do sweet peas this year, and it is late to be planting them, why not.

I will do better with them than with the tulips and the hare.


Lessons Learned on the Driveway

Catherine writes:

 My favourite part of the Sabbath was this picture Hebe drew for me after playing on the driveway with the Ruth and Avrums's grandchildren.

 I call it Important Life Lessons learned on the driveway on a Sunday afternoon, otherwise known as "Instructions for jumping on a pogo stick."

 My favourite part is about getting a jelly bean.


"Instructions for Jumping on a Pogo Stick" by Hebe
1. Be ready

2. Take a big breath

3. Jump on

4. Do your best

5. Do not quit

6. You will get a jelly bean

May your Sabbath Day be filled with a lot of great life lessons and plenty of Jelly Bellies.


Saturday, April 16, 2016

Roberto Devereux - Again

Sondra Radvanovsky as Elisabetta
and Matthew Polenzani as Roberto
Photo by Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera.
I met Kelvin at the opera this morning. Should there be an encore  of Roberto Devereux where you live, this is an opera not to be missed.

The singing by the four principals was exquisite.

 The costuming of the chorus was interesting, as was their placement on the sides of the action, as though they were an audience. The camera explored the orchestra pit in a new way. The imagery about time, life and death would have been a mystery to me if I had not read the reviews. Thank you New York Times, The Guardian and The Tribune.

There was assigned seating so I drove to the theatre yesterday, hoping to find some disabled seating.  There was none, so I selected a seat I thought would be comfortable for Kelvin.  When I went to pay for the tickets they were four dollars more than their regular price.  The ticket seller told me that the price of all of the other movies has gone down, but not the Met Series.  They have increased.

By the end of the performance I wasn't the least bit resentful of the extra money.

A joy to be able to go.

As we were waiting for the taxi to pick Kelvin up and take him back to Seton AgeCare, I asked him if he wanted to see Stratford's Hamlet next week.  He is all in.  Perhaps we will be sitting there with some of you, ie same performance, different cities.


Friday, April 15, 2016

Roberto Devereux Reviews

Since the Donizetti opera, Roberto Devereux, is tomorrow, I went out to read some reviews.  Below are three of them.  I couldn't stop at three but had to read and read and read even more.

Justin Davidson in The Vulture is enough of a good review that a person might want to see this opera.

Heidi Waleson in The Wall Street Journal gives another fine review.

I got stuck on Tommasini's New York Times review.  There was a slide show of 22 photos and a utube clip of a duet in Act I.  Lucky for me that I am retired and have the time to read through all of this.

I met a friend at the grocery store today and when she asked me how I was keeping busy.

I told her it was with all of the HD Live performances.

She said that if it were one of the Beatles, she would be interested, but no opera.

That made me laugh.

Yes, there is music for everyone.  I think saw the Beatles when I was 16 and I would probably go to a performance of that as well, especially if it were in the form of a musical.

Or even a Beatles opera would do.


P.S. If you have time, read this clip from the NewYorkTimesClassical Review:
" The eye for historical detail in McVicar’s staging is even keener than in his other productions of the cycle. Moritz Junge’s handsome costumes take their inspiration from Elizabethan-era portraiture; Essex’s first costume, a flashy black surcoat finished with silver threading over black plate armor (admittedly an odd choice for court dress) is lifted directly from a William Segar portrait. This is more heavily symbolic than the other productions have been, as well. Always looming behind the set (a clever, sliding black-and-gold room of state with an upper balcony) is an enormous reproduction of the Hampton Court astronomical clock. To the right and left of the main center-stage doors stand recessed statues of Death and Time, likely pulled from an anonymous “Allegorical Portrait” of Elizabeth. The mysterious funeral staged during the overture is only explained when its sarcophagus reappears in the final scene as Elizabeth proclaims her own end. Death, we are to understand, is everywhere, and the Queen is running out of time–a strong central idea, though one presented with a heavy hand. "

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Afterward - Leonardo

The Virgin and Child with St. Anne and St. John the Baptist
c. 1499–1500)‍—‌National Gallery, London

Image: Leonardo Da Vinci
Tonight’s Da Vinci film was subtitled in English.

Sub-titles keeps my eye busy, doing the sub-titles, then up to the images, then down to the sub-titles again.

That being said I don’t know when I have enjoyed one of the offerings from the Gallery Series as much.

There was a mix of biography, images, re-creation of words that have been attributed to Leonardo or his friends, pictures of Milan, the canals, and paintings of his contemporaries.

A slick hour and a half.

I came away with more questions than answers.

At home I found myself out on the internet, finding out more about the following since I knew next to nothing about any of them:

1. Bramante (known to Leonardo and the architect of St. Peter’s Basilica),
2. Catarina (Leonardo’s mother)
3. Salai (according to Da Vinci, “a thief, a liar, stubborn and a glutton” and in Da Vinci’s employ from the age of 10 until Da Vinci died decades later)
4. Isabella d’Este (for whom there is only a study for a portrait)
5. Count Melzi (the artist’s favourite student)
6. Le Belle Ferronniere’s eyes (In the show I thought, hey, wait a minute, the irises of those eyes look like mine. I know. I have been looking at them for years and years.)

Usually I come home from this series, beating myself up for having fallen asleep during the presentation.

Before I left for the show Richard told me just to listen to the rhythms of my body and sleep when I need to.

No sleep for me during this showing.


What's New at Arta's

Michael likes to come over and discover what is new. Everything is old that I am unpacking. It seems new because it has a different place in the house.

Boris Yeltsin, Mikhail Gorbachev, 
Leonid Brezhnev,
 Nikita Khruschev Josef Stalin, 
Vladimir Lenin
 Czar Nicholas II

He needed a space to play after working with the Matrushkas.

They are on an open low shelf now and for a while he opened and then closed the Russian set of dolls: consecutive political figures starting long ago and almost to the present. 

Next he lined all of the units up and had the African Jungle Matrushka put out a call to all of the others: “Who wants to be next to be taken apart and then put back together.” One of the smaller Russian sets responded after an “enny, meeny, miney mo” was used to help choose who should come forward.

painted to look like a traditional Russian woman
or "babushka," 
This time a set of familiar dolls, the last one so tiny his fingers could barely clasp it. I think there is more play to be had on that shelf – but I have to think up some rules and plant them in his head – next time maybe we will line them up from tallest to smallest and then back up again. Having them on an open shelf is much better than the old way: locked behind a glass door. 

When he was tired of opening and closing he asked if we couldn’t clear off some of the table to give him a larger place to play. 

 “Messy, we have to clean up this mess,” he said.

I consider every piece of paper, every bill, every jar of shelf clips or stapler to be well placed, but I could see his point. A four year old boy has to have a place to play. He wanted to give everything a soft shove.  I wanted to put away every piece where it should go -- but that is why it was out on the table.  I don't have places for everything yet.

He began more play with seeing how many staples would go in a piece of paper. 

We folded paper and made books, sometimes stapling far too many edges. 

Then the 3-hole punch was put to good use – almost enough small rounds of paper to have a bag of confetti.

 ... Blokus for four ...
The piece de resistance was the Blokus game. He has been asking to play that for days and days and I am always too busy. I caught on that play to him only means getting his own hands on those pieces: transparent yellow ones, flaming red, royal blue and his favourite, the greens. “Just like a jig saw puzzle,” I heard him talking to himself. 

Dinner interrupted us -- gourmet whole wheat pasta.  He ate four pieces.  Last night he didn't eat any of the taco pie.

Who can tell when a four year old's appetite is keen?  Sometimes I think his day has been so long and so hard that he is just too tired to eat.

His folks let him come back to close the game off for the evening. A perfect end to a perfect play date. 


Gallery Series: Leonardo da Vinci: The Genius in Milan

La Belle Ferroniere
Tonight is the Gallery Series at the theatre.

I couldn't find much on review of the Leonardo da Vinci: Genius in Milan. At least the following was helpful to me from the Flicks website:
Shot in 4K high definition, this filmed exhibition showcases the works of the great Leonardo da Vinci held in Milan during EXPO 2015. At the end of the fifteenth century, Leonardo da Vinci spent eighteen years in Milan – a period that would leave a lasting impression on the city. In Spring 2015, Milan paid tribute to Leonardo by holding a large exhibition at the Palazzo Reale. Based on this exhibition, The Genius in Milan uses a combination of documentary interviews and mise-en-scènes to tell the story of the artist’s world and the treasures he left us.

Actually, the Milan Museum Guide  gives more information.  I am going to be seeing "St. John the Baptist", the "Annunciation" and "La Belle Ferroniere" as well as the "Vitruvian Man" which shows the correlations of ideal human proportions with geometry, as described by the Roman architect Vitruvius.


Rio's favelas...neighborhoods going up mountains

In Rio, the rich people lived in the valleys. The poor people really owned no land so they built their homes going up the mountains. These neighbourhoods are called 'favelas' which used to mean slum. However, they are built well and are now part of the culture. Greg walked up the mountainside and took these photos. There are cement stairs all the way up to the top.

Here Greg is looking down at where he came from.

They decorate, paint and have art all over their walls and fences.

This is a picture taken from the highway. You can see the favela going up the mountain. It has taken me over 3 hours to load these photos. The ship was rocking around last night and all day today. Just hang on as you weave across the hall. Dinner is waiting. 

Rio de Janeiro - Sugar Loaf

From Wyona:

To answer Ivan's question,"How many fit inside"? This is a photo from inside. Greg thinks more than 30 people can go in one car.

And to answer Jamie's question, "How big is the landing"? This is a green walk on the middle landing. This is only the first level of the landing. There is a drinking/restaurant on each level, green trees, flowers, walkways. More room than it looks like.

And to Trent who believes that helicopters can fly past his bedroom window when he is dressing and see him, here is a helicopter just by the top of Sugar Loaf

And after a hot, hot day going up to Sugar Loaf, we sat down for a salad, the first green thing in five days. 

Monday, April 11, 2016

My Summer Plans

My major plan is just to get out to B.C.

If I could go today, then I would call that the start of my summer plans.

The last of my summer plans includes The Roots and Blues Festival in Salmon Arm which is  the 19th to 21st of August. People have been going for many years.  Rebecca buys all of the best CD’s and then we all put them on our laptops and listen to the music for the rest of the year.  

Duncan and Ben try to buy every kind of food that is offered at the kiosks there.  I like to sit by the CBC Blues Tent and just listen to the guitars for 2 days.

Will Rebecca be swept North and so be unable to come for the summer.  

Will her university get the bid for the new programme at Akitsiraq?  

If they do, will that change her summer plans?

Will she get any rest at the pottery wheel?  And is that the place for rest.  No.  That is the place people lug around clay, try different glazes, take care that the pots they have thrown don't crack.  Left alone with no responsibilities, potters will stay at the wheel from day break until long past sundown.  So don't come to the Shuswap for a rest if you are a potter.
... not exactly as illustrated ... this is only for 2 ...
 ... just to give you an idea of what summer can look like ...

I saw an 8 person tent for $169 at Costco, Rebecca.  I don’t think it would fit 8 people.  Just Rebecca. There was also a mat, easy blow-up and sides to contain you so that you don't roll off of the mat. 

That is all I looked at when I went to Costco today.  Oh yes, and the kayaks.  I will have to wait until all of my bills are paid before I look at them again. 

Maybe I will only have money left over for a lantern.

I would even like to buy that.


Sunday, April 10, 2016

Don Quixote - Ballet in 3 Acts and a Prologue

Kitri performed by Ekaterina Krysanova
Don Quixote: theBallet
Over the past few years, I may have been working too hard to like ballet. I am aware of a gap in my own life of dance, theoretically and practically.

If I had my life to do over again, maybe more dance.

But back to working too hard to like the ballet. Today I just sat back in my seat and relaxed, trading off between having my attention on the dancers and then putting my attention to Ludwig Minkus' music.

From my reading in the past few days I learned that this ballet is the Bolshoi's signature piece. And I refreshed my memory about Cervantes' novel, which is fully titled The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha.  I admit to have only read part of it.

There are some times in one's life that there is a moment that can be re-created.  One of mine was watching other people leave a cruise ship to go to the ballet and I was standing by a pillar wondering why I wasn't in that group.  That is when I made up my mind to always go to the Russian ballet if I ever had another chance or chances.

Now that chance comes often and I have seen other international companies as well, as a byproduct of watching for when the ballet is coming.

I love the view from the top of the Bolshoi, looking down through the chandelier and scanning the box seats on every level.

The lobby at the intermission is fascinating as well.  There are not many people in the foyer.  I always wonder why?

Today I watched a woman move across the carpet and into a position where she could be photographed by her companion.  I studied her black shoulderless dress, her shoulder length hair and her sequined handbag.  I wondered if she knew how many people and in how many nations, someone was watching this the same way I was.

The preshow and intermission interviews are always hosted by Katya Novikova who translates from from Russian into French and into English.  I listen to all three languages, know that I am hearing the same information many ways.

The dancers are behind her, warming up, doing leaps and stretches.  Today a man was wearing what I thought was an American brand of jogging pants to keep warm and a woman had on thick winter slippers, her feet still pointing  and then relaxing.  At the same time scene changes are going on, simple ones, not like the ones we see at the New York Met where unionized workers show precision and speed.

The audience has their preference for the best dancers.  They clap as the famous dancers come on. They give so many rounds of applause, their clapping all in unison.  The host reminded the audience that in today's show there are so many great dancers, that they may never see such an auspicious production ever again.  I hope that is not true.

This was my best day ever at the ballet.


When we're helping we're happy ...

Helping at Grandma's House
... first I will measure how long it it ...
Photos: Catherine Jarvis
I had breakfast, lunch and supper at the house next door, even though they were so busy that I don’t know when they ate.

For lunch, I took my own over there, only to find them gone.

Still, I sat there and ate for Kelve was just leaving so we chatted for a while. I can always find someone in that house, even when the family isn’t there.

The biking trio were off for a visit to one of their favourite playgrounds as soon as the crepes were finished. I can see them coming and going.

The bike tires roll by my basement window – first Michael’s tires.  He rides a customized two-wheeler, his mom having knit a tube for the handle bars and a colourful cushion for the seat of the bike.

Then wheels of Richard’s bike go by the window -- pulling a child carrier behind it.

 I can only see Alice’s helmet. They ride off into the day.
... cooperation is good ...

Coming back  from their trip Michael stops to knock at the window and do sign language asking me if I have any candy.

I sign language back to him. I tell him that all of my candy is at his dad’s house.

They had bicycled by the neighbour's house (Jan and Gino’s) and she had delivered a plastic bag to them.

They are too young to know that the 3 foil-wrapped bunnies in the bag are Lindt chocolate Easter rabbits.

 I am interested in the unwrapping of the gifts: take the bell off of the neck of the confection, put the red ribbon around a wrist and then to commence seeing if the bunny were a solid piece or moulded.

.... these scissors aren't working that well ...
Michael started with the ears. 

They are solid chocolate and he slows down after a few bites. 

There is only so much chocolate a person can eat without having some water nearby.

Biting into the body and finding it a hollow cavity was the second part of the adventure, dumping out chocolate shavings and then licking the chards from the palms of their hands.

 His hand is now faintly chocolate on top of the playground dirt.

The children popped back into the house to get their swimming suits for an hour in the Foothills Pool before setting out on the LRT for the Saddle Dome where Aggie days was running: bring the farm to the city.

... keeping the other hand a long ways away
from the head of the hammer ...
 Some of the animals could be touched, a rare joy for urban children who only read about farm animals in books. In the saddle dome there were sheep dogs, cutting sheep from a flock.

When the kids began to explain where they had gone, that it was up many steps and then down a few, I had my own memory of going to watch a North American contest between sheep dogs.

That was a day at the Stampede where I didn’t go anywhere else. The commentator is what made the performance so interesting.

In yesterday’s event the dog was not allowed to get any closer than three feet away from the sheep, and then the dog has to stare the sheep down, pretty difficult with experienced sheep who just aren’t going to be stared down by a dog like that.

... if one hammer is good, two is better ...
We ate risotto at night – creamy, cheesy, a new food that was impossible for Michael to eat. He was bribed to put less than ½ a teaspoon in his mouth: one bite and he would get one Swiss Delice chocolate. Even the chocolate with that creamy hazelnut taste didn’t make getting another ½ teaspoon worth the trouble for him.

He got the chocolate and a sticker for his valiant try. Last night I was wondering if it were the new food or if he was too bagged from a full family day and too tired to eat. Either way he is starting a new chart: 10 stickers and you get a prize. I hope the prize is a new transformer. The old one got put in the garbage for it kept hitting Betty.

Just hoping because that transformer had been a favourite toy.