Monday, February 26, 2018

La Boheme - a lovely Saturday morning

To begin with, yesterday Richard said over and over and over how grateful he is for the health care system.  Michael got a scratch on his cornea that needed attention over at the Children's Hospital.  With no thought of cost, Miranda bundled him up and took him on a short 10 minutes ride to get there.  Richard was home with the girls blessing the taxing system, the roads, the health care that is so close to us.  Nobody sent up more prayers of gratitude than he did yesterday.

(Credit: Marty Sohl / Ken Howard / Met Opera)

I am doing the same thing when I attend social events that have to do with HD Live.

The latest one was La Boheme.

Not being able to find anyone to go with me I went on the LRT and had a seat alone.

That was good for no one was beside me to measure the tears of gratitude that rolled down my cheeks and onto my neck during all four acts of the show.

The singing was everything a person could ever imagine.  That added bonus of taking us back stage during the intermissions was so curious.  This time we got to hear small interviews with the stills.  They are people who have no singing parts in the opera.  There was a painter, a waiter and a courtesan who just held the arm of one of the singers.  The painter was chosen by Zefferrelli himself.  The waiter did a humorous pratfall during one of the sections.  The woman was beautiful as she should have been.  One of the stills was asked if he had ever been a dead person on stage.  Yes, and he had also been "the nose" in one of the productions.

Look to the OperaWire for more on this production.

In the interviews, Kelli O'Hara kept asking the conductor and the performers, what is your favourite Puccini opera.  They couldn't really answer, but I can.  I love La Boheme.  Maybe it is not as sophisticated as some of the other operas.  And having just seen Tocsca there are incredible arias there.  Still, I am stay with Saturday's opera.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Drawing Out Law - a Review

I have been trying to do for myself what I want my church to do for its leaders: “… teach the leaders (and me) to respect Indigenous spirituality in its own right” (Call to Action #60).

Well, that is the shortened version of the call. I will type in the longer version of the call at some other point.

 All of this is just to say that in order to continue my own education, I went to the public library and borrowed books on indigeneity, so that I could have some reading material.

 Last night, I finished John Borrows’ book called Drawing Out Law: A Spirit’s Guide.

 The book made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me feel like giving up, it made me feel like continuing on, it made me heartsick, it made me hopeful. The book is divided into four parts, each of which holds some chapters (scrolls). A line drawling accompanies each scroll and the drawing look like a petroglyph. After a few chapters I took out a piece of paper and began to copy the figures, making my own petroglyphs about what I had read. I was surprised that I needed to do this. I think taking the pen in hand was all to figure out what his pictograph was saying. Annoying, really that Borrows doesn’t give me the answer in words. I know, part of his pedagogy, but still I am a receiver of knowledge, not someone who likes to create it. Oh yes, I have forgotten the best part of the book. On reading the first paragraph of the preface, Borrows suggests that the reader skip the preface and go right into the book. That made me laugh for I am a big reader of prefaces. I took him at his word and for the first time ever went directly to the book. Now as I am writing this wholly unworthy review, I remember that I missed the preface and must now go back and see if it was worth missing. An added hope for all is that at some moment you may go to church and meet John Borrows sitting on the same pew as you.

And now I wish I had purchased the book instead of just borrowing it from the library.

I am feeling the same way about the new book of his that I have started:  Freedom and Indigenous Constitutionalism.  

Review to come later.


Thursday, February 22, 2018

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof - review

Jack O’Connell and Sienna Miller in
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Photograph: Johan Persson

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is tonight.

Hoping I can make it there and of course am pulling out all of the stops to get there.

Even going for acupuncture in the afternoon so I will be all relaxed and ready to enjoy the show at night.
Review by Michael Billington here.
I noticed in the side link in the review, that when this play originally came to the stage some of the themes were forbidden to the general public and a person had to join a private club to see the show.  Nothing like finding something fascinating in the past!


Saturday, February 17, 2018

Tosca - the Encore

Puccini's Tosca practising her final leap

Todd Heisler/The New York Times 

Today was the encore of Tosca, coming to us via HD Live.

I think the set designer said it best when he mentioned that HD live was a godsend to him.

The camera comes so close that you can even read the message on the notes that Scarpia is making.

So set designer's (John McFarlane) penchant for detail was rewarded in that every detail has to be clear since the viewers can now see it with the camera.

I had a wonderful time.

No need for candy to keep me awake, nor for that little extra bit of alertness that can come from a can of Coke.

The theatre was full of old people -- like us.  Many had brought their picnic lunches since the opera is over three hours long.  I will bet that there were more celiacs, people with diabetes, hearing problems, balance problems or bladder problems than in all of the other theatres in the complex combined.  A mistake to have the show in a theatre that has no bannisters or handrails.

And people don't get out often enough.  Many women had trouble in the rest rooms getting the water in the sinks to run, so there they were with soap all over their hands.  I have to admit that it took me a while to find just the right place for the sensor myself.

If you read the review below, and see that messiness is not just something that plagues ordinary lives, you will miss the wonderful point of this day at the theatre.  I told Wyona I felt as though I had been in Rome.  Just a wonderful day filled with intrigue, beauty, musicality and a thrill for a prairie girl who had no idea she would see such spectacles as can be seen with HD Live.  Just wonderful!

And now for the gossipiest article about backstage troubles which were not reflected at all in the performances.

Michael Cooper fills in the details with a headline of Behind the Scenes of ‘Tosca,’ the Messiest Production in Met History

A great article for behind the scences at the Met.


Sunday, February 11, 2018

The Two Day Storm

I think all of us were amazed during this winter's worst snowfall.  

Mostly at the fact that the snow just kept falling.

I was taken with the opaque colour of the world.

Being used to looking west and seeing the mountains, there was something eerie about only having opaque and sepia tones in the views around me...and no mountains to see.

This is a picture from the third floor office of my eye doctor.  You are looking at the Bow River, covered now with snow.  At the base of the leafless tree is a small bench where runners can sit and get back their breath.  

No runners on this day.  Everyone still shovelling snow.


Bubble Gum Contests

The colour of the wrappers is overwhelming!
Tonight was the first in what might be daily experiments with our Double Bubble Gum. 

Michael, Alice, Betty and I can rip off the plastic wrapper and undo  difficult comics. 

Even the next step of getting it into our mouths can be a problem, especially for Michael whose front two teeth are now loose and unable to chomp down on the pink cubes of gum. 

“What is a wad of gum?”, Michael asked when I was telling him now to smooth the bubble gum out and get it wrapped around his tongue so that he can start to make a bubble. 

Ha ha.

I had forgotten what a talent I have with gum. I can do single bubbles, double bubbles and make my bubbles pop. 

All of that is pretty impressive.

Warming the gum up is more difficult and takes me a bit of time.

I told Michael that I couldn’t perform many more spectacular bubble tricks, my jaw was aching.

“What is a jaw?”

So much to learn!

I told Richard that my Aunt Mary once sent a box of Double Bubble Gum to our house as a gift. We thought she must be rich. Richard shook his head, not being able to grasp how people could have so little money that having bubble gum was an unheard of luxury.

Richard made a rule before we were allowed to open the gum. No stretching of the gum, out and in, folding, double folding, putting it back in our mouths, pulling it out again. That was forbidden.

So hard to remember that.

As well, no gum was to be touched by our hands, which is very difficult in the early stages of practise. Sometimes we have to get that gum flattened out and then inspect it before trying to blow it into bubbles.

Well, I was surprised myself, how, after a few warm-ups, I could bring back a high level of skill.

Michael and Alice were interested when I showed them that the bigger the bubble, the more likely it is to pop and splat against my face and be glued there until I could wipe the wad across my cheek, picking up most of the gum.

So little time.

So much to learn.


The Lady of the Camellias - at a local theatre

The woman who sat behind me in the ballet today kept taking the words out of my mouth: wow.

I don’t know how many times she said it, but I agreed each time. I think it was more of a gasp than a wow.

Just that first view of 6 balconies taken from the top of the Bolshoi’s home in Moscow was breathtaking.

Katya Novikova kept the interviews going during both intermissions.

Svetlana Zakharova
Edvin Revazov
So sweet.

We heard about the exquisite costuming.

We had a chance to listen to people who had worked with the choreographer, John Neumeier.

The joy of having the pianist right on stage and doing such wonderful Chopin was a thrilled.

And then the painist moved to the pit, or perhaps it was someone else there, but the piano alone and then in concert with the Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra was just overpowering.

And this was the first time I have seen modern ballet, since this ballet was only conceived in the early 1970’s. Even watching the prĂ©cis of what was happening in each act, and seeing it come in six different languages was a thrill. I was overwhelmed. Richard had offered to send Michael along with me today. I should have taken him up on the deal. Knowing it was 3 hours of ballet and then an hour on the LRT both ways, I thought he might not make it through. On the other hand, what else is a person to do with their Sunday. Next time, perhaps a little boy will come along with me. Complete with enough treats to last for the afternoon.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Splendor – with Michael

I played Splendor with Michael tonight.

The game started out with Betty and Alice playing along as well, but the practicality of that soon broke down.

Betty was put at the other end of the table with the Nobles whom we didn’t need to have come and visit us.

Those nobles were shuffled interminably by her and they hit the floor many times. Still she thought she was playing Spendor.

And Alice only last a couple of rounds. Soon the cards were gummy from Double Bubble Gum goop on her hands so while Richard washed her hands,  I cleaned the stickiness off of the cards. And then Alice wanted to get out of there and go drive the cat crazy which she is not allowed to do as well.

That left Michael and me fighting to get the first 15 points in the game. When Michael’s dad came by and said when the game ended, Michael would be going to bed, that is when Michael’s game strategy ended. He no longer wanted to get his 15 points. Now the aim of the game was to get as few points as possible, to put off what was the inevitable – hitting the bed at some point.

I had to double my own game plan. Usually I hold back, letting the younger players win. Now I had to put on some speed so that the game would end before midnight. I was one point away from winning when Michael finally reached for a card that would give him the point advantage. I called him on his subterfuge and told him that next game – I am out there to win!


Double Bubble Gum - so many chews

 ... one side larger than ours ...
I can’t remember why the kids next door wanted bubble gum.

They already had some one day when I went over there, but they don’t have the bubble technique yet, that gift of flattening the gum in one’s mouth and then sticking one’s tongue through it, all of the time gently blowing.

What is a grandmother for, if not to practise technique with.

At Costco I bought the 1 kilogram bucket of Double Bubble Gum. 

Each piece is theoretically to be sold for 10 cent.

There are 175 pieces in the bucket. I take out 2 pieces per person each time we practise. Getting three of those little oblongs of pink gum into one’s mouth is just a little too much. In fact, even two is too much for Betty. I think a large portion gets swallowed before it is even softened. I saw her gagging at one point. She does open her mouth and show me that she keeps some of it to the side to chew. The comics which still come wrapped in the gum are a high point of opening each piece. The name of the protagonist in the comic strip is still Pud. I get to read each comic strip and then keep them in my comic strip collection. Tonight Michael asked why so many of the comic strips are the same. I had to tell him that the manufacturer doesn’t expect the same family to be chewing all of the gum. I am taking the gum over morning and night but my bucket doesn’t seem to be going down very fast.


Young Marx -- Again

I enjoyed this show so much that I tried to get other people to come along with me for its Encore.

Unable to convince anyone to try the show, I went alone.

I knew to take some good snacks, an extra scarf to keep my legs warm, a couple of cans of Coke and a nice fuzzy coat to warm myself in.

The show was just as good the second time as the first – maybe even better for I caught some detail I had missed the first time.

I especially noted information in the Entre Act about London’s Soho as often being a place where important ideas are radicalized. A wonderful evening,


Black Gloves

In the autumn when the leaves were golden and it seems as though time will drift along from one Indian summer to the next, that is the time when Wyona and I ran across winter gloves at Costco – black, one-thumbed, the main body of the glove black and gathered into a pouch for maximum warmth. Ugly.

I don’t like gloves like these – they are hard to drive a car in, and hard to warm around a snow shovel. In fact, I had forgotten that I had purchased them until this week’s storm of the year: cold and snow falling for 2 days. There was no choice but to shovel every 3 or 4 hours. And the gloves now became my first choice of wearing apparel when I went outside.

We have a neighbour who not only shovels his walk, but he sweeps it as well. That is just one more step than I want to do. Richard feels the same way. But I noticed today that a big half ton truck had parked close to my curb and pushed snow back onto the sidewalk that had been so difficult to clear. That is the point when I knew why the guy who sweeps the sidewalk is sometimes irritated when people drive over the walk in front of his house.

I didn’t drive one of the snow days. I took the bus. On the way home from the ophthalmologist the bus got stuck. The driver wasn’t even at a bus stop. At the light he had just come too close to the four foot bank of snow at the side of the road, and when he went to start the bus, it wouldn’t move. “That is the first time I have ever been on a bus that was stuck in the snow,” one of the passengers said on alighting and heading off to the next bus stop. “Same for me,” said the driver.

Buses nowadays can go down to the sidewalk to pick up people who can’t make the big steps onto the bus. The driver had to help me off into three feet of snow. No use letting the bus down. That would be no help for me. Hard for me not to be entertained.

Glad I had my ugly gloves with me.


L’ Elisir d” Amore - Saturday morning's fun

I love these operas from the past. This morning the show at my local theatre was from the bel canto repertory at the Met – Donizetti’s “The Elixir of Love”. For me it was just a 10 minute LRT ride and then a ten minute walk to the theatre. I was not the first there – another woman at the door told me we would have to wait an hour to get in. I knew the show was to start in 45 minutes so I surmised the doors would be opening sooner than she thought.

I choose a seat at the back of the theatre, right next to the disabled spot which another woman had already claimed as well as the next two seat in a row. That was fine with me. I just sat on the next seat in and then walked the halls until it was time for the show to start. Even though the seats had been claimed, no one sat in them. I did remark to the man on the other side of me that it was a pleasure to be there. He said, yes, better than being at the Met. The price here is just right. And the close-ups I thought.

Half way through the first act, in came the lady to the left of me with her friends. At the half they wanted to talk about the show. “Too bad that you missed the first part of it,” I said. “Oh, we got busy talking out in the hall and just forgot to come in.” I hope I never get that old.

The principal singers were Pretty Yende, Matthew Polenzani, Davide Luciano and Ildebrando D’ Arcangelo. I had to practise the name of the fourth person, the Dulcamara a number of times. Perhaps we will hear him sing again. Everyone got interviewed at the half, even the conductor, Domingo Hindoyan, who as at the podium for the first time.

Last night, I went out to listen to Nemorino’s famous aria in the second act a couple of times. Once by Pacido Domingo. Oh, the internet is a wonderful place for finding other examples of famous songs.

Bouquets of flowers were thrown on the stage at the curtain call. A shower of glitter rained down from the ceiling. The crowd was on their feet clapping. I was glad I braved the slick sidewalks and the icy intersections, which were the worst ever.

But who wouldn’t. As the man on the back row said, “A fantastic experience for the right price: $27.00.


Friday, February 9, 2018

Donizetti -- L'Elsir d'Amore

Sgt. Belcore doesn't get the girl in Donizetti's "L'Elisir d'Amore"
("The Elixir of Love"), but Davide Luciano is OK with that.
I am going to try my best to get to L'Ilisir d' Amore tomorrow at the Cineplex.

I know it will be sold out on the other side of the city.  But no harm in trying to see it up at the Crowfoot Crossing Cineplex.

It will be a privilege to listen to Donizetti.

I am going to take a minute to listen to the famous tenor aria before I go to bed.

Why not?

I am not familiar with it and I don't want to miss it when it occurs.


Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Perfect Stuffing

This is late to be talking about this. But since it has been on my mind, I shall just type a few words about a larger Christmas dinner than the one that the Jarvis family had. When I was a guest at their home, one of the rituals was sitting down on Sunday night and figuring out the calendar for the week – who needs to go where, and when, and could the family every get together at a certain time, and how would this be possible. A couple of times in the planning Catie said that she would be helping to make the stuffing at an Inter-Faith event to be held at a Catholic church. This was to be done on December 24th, since the dinner was being served on Christmas day: dinner for 1,000 or more. All you could eat, and no questions asked about who could come to the dinner.  Just come and enjoy.  Bring the whole family if you won't be having your own dinner at home.

Catie asked a number of times if I would come along to help do the stuffing.

Could I say no?

The dinner was held in the large auditorium of a Catholic Church. When Catie and I got there four people were standing at a butcher block in the centre of the large kitchen. Four people were carving turkeys as the meat was being brought in by people who had purchased the turkeys and then cooked them at home. There was a list on the wall – some people were bringing 2 turkeys. As people brought the roasted birds the names of the families supplying them was checked off of the list.

The people in the middle of the kitchen were carefully carving the meat and then the carcasses were put in large pots and being boiled so that the stock could be used later for gravy and for liquid in the dressing.  Large pots. Deeper than the length of my arm.

Many over-sized tubs of cubed bread were on one counter. Catie was to add the spices, the liquid, and the celery and onions which were being cooked by a chef at a stove dedicated to him for that purpose. She had to go down on her knees to get her arms to the bottom of these big tubs and to mix the spices, onions and celery around.

As well, there was no real formula for the spices. There had to be sage, salt and pepper and oregano, if I remember correctly.  I can remember that we were to add twice the amount of basil as we did the other seasonings. Many large plastic containers of spices were used as the day went on. I have to say there might have been some melted butter in there as well. Catie had to keep tasting until the dressing was just right. The question she had to ask was “Does this taste like bread?” If so, Catie had to go back to adding more spices. And tasting. And re-tasting. And she was on her knees blending everything together for the whole afternoon.  At one point I remember her saying, I don't think I can put one more bite of this into my mouth, Grandma.  Will you give it a try?

The man who takes care of this operation, or at least the food part of it, knows Catie from other events where she has volunteered for him. He knows her name. He knows she is a good worker. At some times in the day,  I saw him write down messages to himself in a small book so that he could remember points he wanted to change for the next time.

Another crew had set the tables in the auditorium. This operation which is really a community venture has been going on for a number of years. They have outgrown other venues. The priest of this church was open to having his facility be the home for Christmas Dinner.

Perhaps the highlight of the day for me was watching the interactions of the volunteers. The wonderful people bringing in the food. The four people at the table cutting the meat, two on each side, silently slicing the breasts, taking the dark meat and putting it aside, hour after hour, occasionally thanking someone who brought a perfectly cooked bird. And quietly taking turkeys that needed more heat and putting them in one of the church ovens to finish them off a little more.

At one point a deep-seated resentment between two of the workers surfaced. All of us watch its resolution. That complicated public exposure and how it was deflected for the greater good might have been a moment when I felt the true spirit of Christmas in action.

Well, I hope this hasn’t been too much, nor too late.

It comes with no pictures except the one I have tried to paint for you.


The Lady of the Camellias - First Try

I was so excited to see this ballet I had my Coke packed in my purse, and some fruit filled candies to suck on in case I started to get tired, since I know it is 3 hours and 3 minutes long. As well, I planned to leave Relief Society early, take the LRT since the weather is magnificent, but hard to navigate through all of the snow. It was not until I was at the ticket counter speaking to the agent there that I figured out the ballet is next week. I had a slight moment where I had to change gears and figure out a different show to see. I had gone to too much work to get there to turn around and go home.

I have been wanting to see The Post (Speilberg 2017) with Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks for some time so I purchased a ticket and then waited for the movie to begin. I was 40 minutes early. I walked the promenade: past Tim Hortons, past meal deal ($22.95 for a hot dog, a drink, some chips and popcorn that overfloweth), and into the video games, a place I never go. I thought of Tom and Eric who would be playing the games if they had extra time on their hands. The lights were flashing and the music was blaring. I walked through the isles, mostly wondering why anyone would want to play a game named Crazy Chicken, for I think most of the entertainment was in the audio and visual pyro techniques. The allure of even more fun must pay off for there were many machines so I had plenty of space to wind my way through them and add steps to the Fitbit.

The movie was smashing. I noticed tears running down my checks at one point. Why would a government lie to its people?

I usually sit in my seat watching the credits when a movie is over. This time I noticed that the music is by John Williams which is probably reason to go to the movie alone. Some of the best music was while the credits rolled.

A privilege to have done steps, seen the movie and still be able to look forward to the ballet this Sunday.Arta

More Scarves

Shopping starts with a list of items that need to be purchased. I develop the list over a number of days. At least that is how my shopping begins. As well, it is late January and I know that most stores have a few isles of winter clearance items with final-sale tickets.

To look outside, I am well aware that winter is still here, and I know that it will still be here during April and maybe into May. But the goods that are sold for winter are gone, mostly. I wondered if any of the scarves that I wanted to buy in Montreal at Catherine’s Provigo (a rebrand of Loblaws Stores in Quebec) would be featured at my local Superstore, and now on the clearance rack.

I was right to check the store out. I found some that I had longed for in Montreal and even some more scarves that were new to me: one is extra-long and has pointed ends which are mirror images of one another and is 3 yards long; a second scarf is a black and white check with lovely braided fringe at the bottom; as well, I fell in love with the Scottish green plaid that was in another isle.

The trip to the store was early on Monday morning. The shoppers were few and those who were in the store were hurrying through the vegetable sections, or lazily looking at fruit, smelling the pineapples, turning the berries over to check for mould on the bottom of the trays.

I, on the other hand, was pulling out scarves, exulting when I found a scarf at 70% off of its original price, touching each scarf and then its clearance tag. I could see that everyone of the scarves I touched was going in my cart – but what was I to do? They were all beautiful. Now they are sitting on one of the stools at my counter. I am wearing them one by one, some out to markets, to my doctor’s appointments, to church, to visit Zoe. If I have done wrong by buying so many (13), I am going to pay for it by getting them on my back during every waking moment.


Sunday, February 4, 2018

Go Phoenix

Zack Treleaven participated in the Run for the Hills 2018 Basketball Tournament this weekend.

There were 6 schools participating and 2 school buildings being used, his school called Captain Nichola Goddard School and Valley Creek School.

With 2 wins and 2 losses, CNG didn’t advance to the finals but they had a great time.

It was wonderful start to the basketball season.

He was glad only his mom was on the sidelines shouting needless instruction.

When his mom and grandma are there shouting in concert, he really does want to run for the hills.

Go Phoenix!


Saturday, February 3, 2018

The Lady of the Camelias - a preview

Svetlana Zakharova,
Foto: Mikhail Logvinov
There were a piece of me deciding that this was the ballet that I was going to miss.

That is, until I read the review by Lucie Dercsenyiova.

This seems like it will be an outstanding modern ballet.

I am truly looking forward to it.  I did refresh my mind about the main story.  And in the article above there is a lovely paragraph about the prima ballerina:
Svetlana Zakharova is a unique dancer. Incredibly talented prima ballerina, endowed with the sense of expression not only in the face but in the whole body. Even in the most difficult passages she acted so spontaneously and confidently that you believed everything she was experiencing, without pathos but with intense inner empathy – Zakharova herself admitted that Marguerite is not a dancing role but rather a “dancing being”.
See you at the ballet.


Friday, February 2, 2018


From Wyona

I bought so many scarves here that I need to buy another suitcase. This will be a suitcase for Zoe to take to Nova Scotia. We only brought one suitcase over to London and our Carry-0ns. So we are good to take another suitcase back. The scarves here are different than London, cheaper, some warmer. 

I bought them at the market for 2 euro instead of 5 euro near Grand Place. I saw a silk one yesterday, well more than one that cost 40 euros but so silk and lovely. Do you want one Arta? I know Marcia does not want one. Tonia is  not spending her newfound cash from the sale of her house.

It is rainy and perhaps snowy today. Greg and I shall still brave the rain for Chez Antoine, Leonidas, the bead store, and more scarves.


Hello from Brussels

From Wyona
Feb. 01, 2018

 I forgot how many cobblestones there are in Brussels. I forgot that my feet do not bend very well. Yesterday when we were out I saw a few loose cobblestones, wanted to stop and pick one up for Teague since he lost the one he took from the Grande Place in 1983, but I was in the middle of the intersection with cars coming from 6 ways and I was hanging onto Greg because he is my ‘walker’ here so I just moved on and left the loose cobblestones loose on the street. You will have to come and pick them up yourself Teague. There is a chance I may still get one.

At night we plan our excursions for the next day. We look at the tram and bus lines, co-ordinate where we might want to go to see another part of Brussels, go from bus to tram to bus, stopping at markets, holding up an umbrella to keep dry, stopping at Leonidas and ending up at Chez Antoine’s at Place Jordan.

Glen,Janet and Arta know Chez Antoine. I am amazed at the number of circles with statues, parks, and swans, etc. Then I ask myself why did I not see all these things when I lived here for four years. What happened to my life?

Then I remember! I lived in Brussels but it could have been Regina, Cleveland, Ottawa, Calgary, Austin, Medicine Hat, or Kuala Lumper. I did all of the things you are all doing now with your young families. Have a good life while you are there doing what you do. So many memories here!

Tonia and Marcia going to the Grand Place and Rue Neuve or City 2 every weekend. Tonia, her third weekend in Cleveland going down to a square in Cleveland with her friend and coming back so disheartened because she was expecting the Grande Place.

Marcia, Teague, Tonia attending Le Verseau and then one by one they left for ISB. Marcia objecting because she spent one year more at Le Verseau than Tonia. How many trips did I take to ISB? And today I could not drive there because I do not know the way.

I remember Marcia begging to us to send her to boarding school, more than once.

Lurene wanting to go to Paris so one day when I took Billy to the Grande Place and Lurene and Charise were with me. We stopped for coffee for Billy; Lurene asked if this was Paris and I answered ‘yes’. That satisfied Lurene’s need for Paris. Tonia being sad because the farthest south she had been was the south of France and Rebecca and Bonnie were touring Europe with their Eurail pass.

I remember going to Stockell (Place du Monde) to get fries and buy fresh food at the market. Trent always wanted a BBQ’d chicken from the market and I never would buy one (too expensive). So he went one day and bought his own whole BBQ’d chicken. And then he shared it with all of us.

I remember Trent being sad because he only lived in half a house in Brussels and in Regina he lived in a whole house. His siblings chastising him because half a big house is better than a small whole house. I remember putting on the music and dancing with Charise as Thriller was playing. Then Lurene dancing for ‘muny’ on the fence post.

I remember being pregnant in Brussels and coming home with Charise and then Zoe, the two babies that enriched all of our lives with their smiles and charm. And Teague saying in Ottawa that we would not be a family without Charise and Zoe.

I remember buying a bicycle built for two, my dream come true! Then Teague and his friend rode it to Stockell, tied it to a pole, went to Rue Neuve with his friend, left the bike for a number of days tied up. When he went back to get it, it was gone.

Oh well! Dreams are just that. Dreams are goals, sometimes realized and sometimes we must update the fairy tale or dream and live happily or unhappily in our present state of circumstances. Your choice!

So many memories, too many to write. Our four years in London with so many lovely visits with family. I am still asking myself why I did not take more advantage of living abroad, and then I remember, oh yes! Every day life goes on.

Enough for today!

Trip planned for trams, buses, frites, chocolates and some shopping. No markets because it is raining and raining.

Greg needs the computer now to finish planning our excursion for today. Yesterday we got on a tram and after a few stops Greg decreed that we were going the wrong way. Off that tram, across the tracks and off we went. I don't really care where the tram goes. I am along for the ride.

Love always,


Thursday, February 1, 2018

The Gift of Gaming

Spendor is a game of chip collecting
and card development.
I have been thinking for a while of playing Spendor with Zoe.

Having lost the instructions that go with my game, I went to the internet, the source of most of my information these days.

And yes, there were instructions on how many tokens to use if in a two player game.

So ready to show her how to play this game I put the tokens on the board and began to show her how to collect chips, then mines, and then showed her the nobles who might come to visit us. Zoe doesn’t usually say much but she turned to me and said with distain, “I know the rules”.

 Alright. A slapdown.  I could tell I had been talking to much.

 I asked her how she knew the rules and she told me, “Brandy”. I love one word answers from Zoe.  I know to fill in the thousands of words that go with what she says.

What can I say. One thousand nods of appreciation to Brandy who must have taughter her the game. We began to play Splendour, me trying to keep up with Zoe’s speed.

I am not ready for the expansion to this game. Maybe later when I can keep up to that girl.


Cubism and the Colours of Industry

Landscape with Posters

National Museum of Art. Osaka

Image retrieved from
A presentation called “Cubism and the Colours of Industry ” is not for everyone.

And especially not for anyone who isn’t willing to walk over to the Nickle Art Galleries when the weather is 20 below.

Of course, that person was me, though I waffled, thinking of the shortcuts I was probably going to take through the alley or around trees in the public spaces that would let me access the university quickly.

Still, I couldn’t help myself and away I went, taking care to double layer and put on my warmest boots.

Trevor Stark lectured from Chapter 2 of a book he is writing that isn’t to be published for a couple of years. He is an Assistant Professor of Art History in the Department of Art, a recent graduate of Harvard. He said in the lecture that he would answer the questions “Why do certain artists use language ….? As you can see, I couldn’t write fast enough to get down the whole question which made me wonder if I would understand anything that came afterwards.  I did listen intently for 45 minutes, watching slide after slide pass by, and hearing about Picasso’s work in the 1912’s, long before he became famous.

Perhaps the after-the-lecture questions were the most fascinating. One member of the audience asked that the lights be turned off so that we were in total darkness and able to observe the images of the slides more closely. Then questions peppered the professor, thoughtful questions, getting at the heart of the lecture.

In the image that was first presented to us is the word, Leon, referring to a hat manufacturer. The bottle represents absinthe, the popular recreational drug in those times, and the cube represents outside packaging of products. And that was only the beginning of the help I had to understand the year of cubism undertaking by Georges Braque and Picasso.

As you can tell, not a lecture for everyone. But one for me.

I did have some scraps of paper with me though I thought I wouldn’t use them. But I found myself wildly writing notes, using my knee as the hard surface that I needed to write on. If the speaker uses the phrase “the gap between the meaning of colour and the meaning of sign” I can make a leap to what some of these terms have meant in other courses. And when the artists in the audience talk about tonal value and hue as opposed to the pure red and blue that could be commercially produced in Ripolin, just for an instand,  I could get what Picasso was doing.

Why is this the first time, in a lecgure, that I caught on to cubism? It is only a diagram of something that can be reassembled.  How could I have missed something that simple.

I do get lost when the speaker tells me that colour is a dialectical force. That is not to say that in a few days the penny might drop for me.

What surprises me is that when I was thinking about what has happened to me today, I absolutely forgot about my lunch hour at the museum.

Hard to believe all of that brilliance can happen, and then fade as other events happen in the same day that seem equally interesting.


Alice Want to Learn to Read

Betty wants to come over and read as well.
I told her that 2 /12 is not old enough to learn to read.
She must wait until she is 5, I tell her.

Alice wants to learn to read.

She told her mother she wanra to read.

She told me.

She told Michael.

She told her father.

She wants the books, the snack time, and the after-the-reading-event reward. She wants it all. I slipped up to Chapters and then went over to Costco, buying all of the Pre-K books available. I also brought out the first series of Grade One Readers and we have been going at this for two days now. So far she has read “Big and Little”, and “Are you big?”. Of course this is all making me laugh – so sweet for she gets out the small folding table and a small blue chair that fits under it so that we can begin our work together.

Alice reminds me so much of Catherine. It is not just that she wants to do things. It is that if I try to help, she pushes my hands away. I am not used to having someone shove me around as Catherine used to, so I really notice when Alice not only gets in there to do jobs, but that she holds me back at the same time. She is tall. She looks as though she should be in Grade I. But she is only 4 ½. Who am I to tell someone who is 4 ½ that she can’t learn to read if she wants to.