You don't know how lovely you are

I heard Willie Nelson playing this song today, and he couldn't spoil it for me. One of the most liberating feelings in the world is loving people without fears and doubts and hope of reciprocity. Love is lawless and faithful and is returned in the most unlikely ways sometimes. The act of giving love is a leap, a show of vulnerability that makes you stronger. I have foolishly put conditions and demands on love and been crushed by the weight of disappointment, when I should have let the joy of the giving itself lift me up and teach me something. We do not realise how selfish we are so much of the time. I wish that I could live outside of myself for just one day and see how my actions, and inactions, effect the world and the people around me, strangers and people I love included. I know I would have a lot to learn from that day. And I would want to start again, do things a little differently, be truer to who I want to be, to who I am becoming.

Come up to meet you, tell you I'm sorry
You don't know how lovely you are
I had to find you, tell you I need you
Tell you I set you apart
Tell me your secrets and ask me your questions
Oh, let's go back to the start
Running in circles, coming up tails
Heads on a science apart
Nobody said it was easy
It's such a shame for us to part
Nobody said it was easy
No one ever said it would be this hard
Oh, take me back to the start

The Scientist by Coldplay on Grooveshark

The Scientist by Willie Nelson on Grooveshark

Meaning

One of my girlfriends shared an article with me from The Atlantic entitled, There's More to Life Than Being Happy (http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/01/theres-more-to-life-than-being-happy/266805/). It is one of the things that I have been pondering off and on for the past year. I keep talking about being happy and trying to figure out how to be happy, but after reading the article, I realise that what I was calling happy is actually having meaning and purpose in my life, and not the actual goal of happiness. My brain shouted, "Yes! THAT'S what I meant!", and a peace settled down on me, and then an excitement because I really want to think about this some more.

Allow me to recap the article without repeating, because it is well worth reading: Viktor Frankl was a Jewish psychiatrist who survived the Nazi concentration camps (most of his family perished) and wrote a book about it and his theories on what makes people resilient - Meaning. Meaning and purpose give us a reason to exist, a responsibility to something outside of ourselves, a task that is uniquely ours which makes us indepensible. Suffering may be involved in that purpose, and so might happiness, but these are merely moments of time experienced with no real importance. And yet, we make happiness important - endless books and articles on how to be happy and achieve happiness, but happiness without meaning "characterizes a relatively shallow, self-absorbed or even selfish life". Living a meaningful life involves giving rather than taking, and leads to more satisfaction and fulfillment down the road.

This year I have been taking my life apart and examining the little bits and pieces from all sides. After considering this article, I realise that I have been asking myself the wrong question, or at least I was not wording it correctly. I want a life with meaning, so how am I creating that now and how can I continue to do so? The biggest meaning right now is my children, but that cannot be my only responsibility. There must also be what I contribute to others through my photos, my words, my actions - they contribute to a purpose that will be with me long after my children are grown.

I'm not done thinking about this, I feel there is so much shifting for me at the moment. Seriously, read the article if you didn't - hopefully you'll be as excited as I am about it :-)

Snowballs

IMG_5916.jpg

The first week of the new year is over and what have I learned? Let's see:I saw Lincoln and learned a bit more about Amendment 13 and the politics of the American civil war. And also that I should brush up on my American history. I learned a little bit about Japanese pub food and sake beer bombs. Once again, further investigation is required. I thought a lot about loving what I do, what I want to be doing, and what I am doing to be able to love where I am right now. I started looking at my financial life and really thinking about making some changes rather than pretending what I am doing is good for me. And I have learned that substituting green tea for coffee for a week has not been difficult at all.

Resolve

IMG_5988-4.jpg

It's the beginning of the new year, so it's time for resolutions and reflections. When I woke up this morning, I thought the following: I am happy to be waking up in a warm bed, in a cozy dwelling. I am not hungry, I am not sick, I am alive and I can see the sunlight on the trees and the snow outside, making them sparkle. I have two beautiful children who dazzle me with their growing and person-ness. I have family who loves me and tries to take care of me. I have a few friends, just enough, who support me and love me in everything I do. I have a mind that thinks and creates and dreams and loves impossibly beautiful things.

Everything that I need or I want in this world is possible for me to grasp.

I am so very fortunate.

I just need to remember, and truly believe that. That is my resolution for this year. I will believe that I am fortunate, that I am beautiful just the way that I am. I will do the things that make me happy, and work from a sense of purpose rather than a sense of duty. I will believe in my friends' dreams and cheer them on as they climb. I will listen more. I will encourage my children and try to be the example. I will be my heart, I will listen to it and appreciate that it is unique and crazy and marvelous.

And I will try to ignore the parts of me, and the parts of others, who tell me different.

All the best for 2013. It will be a good year :-)

Seven

My little girl, today you are 7. Seven, what a year it's been! A year of kindergarten where you took over the class and were commended for helping other students; a year of Irish dancing which, well, you seemed to have fun with; a year of creating, and learning, and laughing, and make believe. You are still your brother's very best friend, and the two of you make worlds of fictional characters come alive. You live in a land of super heroes and Lego and barbies and stuffed hippos, each new story and game coming out of your mind in a flurry of rampant imagination. You point out the beauty of the moon, bright and still under the clouds, you laugh at Picasso and tell me he doesn't know how to draw a face properly, you sing along to Bob Marley in the back of the car, and dance to a beat that is yours and yours alone. You make friends without fear or judgement and have a way of making even the toughest playmates comply and you fill the world with the joy and wonder that you find all around you.

I love listening to your insights on life as we walk to the park, drive through the country, cruise the grocery store, and hike through the woods. There may be one too many fart jokes now, and the "Muthurrrrr" refrain has already begun, but I find your humour and silliness charming when paired with your mischievous grin and the twinkle in your eyes.

You are in a hurry to grow up, wanting to imitate the older girls, make yourself exotic, be the dramatic centre of attention - but when you and I are alone, and it's quiet, you lay down next to me and hold my hand and we talk and all the personas fall away and you are just you, and you are so damn beautiful that I want to gather you up and hold you forever. Never stop being you my little Noo, because I love the person you are and all the things you want to be and cannot wait to see where tomorrow brings you.

You are a fantastic, amazing girl and you make me proud to be your mom, you always will.

Happy Birthday

 

All my love, Momma

Daughters, some thoughts

IMG_3493.jpg

I've been thinking about Amanda Todd. Not about the tragedy of a young girl taking her life, and not about the outpouring of support and rage on all social media networks and across schools and communities, although the idea of a story this sad going viral because of a YouTube video and perhaps encouraging similar events because of the mass response scares me. I'm thinking about Amanda Todd because I have a daughter, and I want to understand what brought this ordinary girl to such a drastic decision. The media is talking about bullying. Bullying is bad, and I commend the seriousness with which this issue is now treated in most schools across the country. Bullying creates an endless cycle of mistreatment and abuse that effects everyone. But from what I understand, this girl's bullying problems started from some bad choices she made while communicating with cretins on the Internet (who take advantage of young girls on a regular basis and should be prosecuted). So maybe parents should be more careful about what their children do on the Internet, but the deeper issue is why girls go seeking attention online in the first place.

My first thought is lack of self esteem. We blame society and ourselves for not having enough self esteem. There are articles all over the Internet, Dove campaigns, and tons of self analysis and criticism of media, the modelling industry, advertising companies, and everyone else who tells us what a perfect woman should be.

So what is self esteem? As I type this I realise that I equate the lack of it with pictures of thin models and I couldn't be more wrong. Self esteem is knowing who you are, it's liking the great things about you and improving the things that are not so good. It's about being a good person and pursuing your dreams and living a life that you are proud of. It is being happy to be you.

We are born without any preconceptions of what we should be, but as we become aware of the world and ourselves we start to think about how we are viewed. This isn't a bad thing, but if we also start to compare ourselves to others when we do not know who we are, what we like, where we are going, then we latch on to an ideal created by someone else and compare ourselves to a figment of the imagination, that's when the issues start.

I was reading an article in Psychology Today about the myth of girls losing their self esteem in adolescence (http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-power-women/201001/the-truth-about-women-and-self-esteem). According to the study, there is no significant change in adoloescence, and girls although more "anxious about their appearance" are more confident than boys in terms of academic achievement. What seems to make a difference is support, "For both girls and boys, those who felt supported by parents, teachers, and friends in expressing their points of view felt they had a stronger voice".

Adolescence is such a fragile time because we emerge from that bubble of being completely unaware to the question, "who am I?". It is important to have people in our lives who help us become who we are and not tell us who we should be.

I want to build a relationship with my daughter that allows her to share doubts and problems, and I want to help her to understand that she is beautiful and if people tell her she isn't she just won't believe them. But most importantly, I want her to know who she is so that she can make her own choices and be a happy person.

My goals for my children are countless, but I want them to understand that they are loved and that they have people in their lives who think they are wonderful, can listen without judgement, and will provide help when they need it. I think I'm on the right track, I'll read some more and get back to you.

Blue skies

IMG_1160.jpg

I took the day off today to get some things done, run on one of the last warm sunny days of the year, have a long lunch with a friend, and to pick up my kids early and go and do something fun. This time last year I was telling myself to enjoy my free days as much as I have enjoyed this one, but only a few weeks after being layed off, it was a much different world. I felt dejected, rejected, used, and a lot of other negative things that no longer matter. I look at all the things that have happened over the year, and I am wondering why I am even thinking about it at all. When I try to be retrospective I realise that there's nothing to see back there, everything's ahead of me or standing right in front of me. Hang on to the sweet memories and the love and the smiles and let the earth swallow up everything else. The memory of bad things may be good to prevent future wars or mass tragedies, but have no place in an individual life. Holding on to the pain, bitterness, and anger only weaken you further and steal your future happiness. When they happen, let them come, but when they are gone, let them go. Enjoy the sunny days, make time for the things that matter and feel how amazing most days can be.

Readin'

IMG_2284-2.jpg

New York was wonderful! The energy of the city makes me spastic and I want to rush all over and stand in one place simultaneously. I could have spent a few days in the subway stations capturing images like this one. The subway even provides the framing, how thoughtful! I really enjoy Humans of New York and I am so intensely jealous of the people who are allowed to roam the streets with cameras at hand every day there - what a tremendous group of opinionated, open people, they really are a breed apart. Every place I looked I saw images that I wanted to take home with me, so many stories to tell.It has been an exhausting couple of weeks, but pretty eventful - I won some awards for my photography, spent some time in New York with my friends, hiked and biked in the beautiful autumn sunshine, and accepted a job. I don't want to get ahead of myself, but I feel pretty good right now. What I am missing right now is some time to be perfectly still and think while someone tells me a good story. Volunteers?

rain

We are having a huge storm here - thunder shaking the house and lightning illuminating the night. When I was a kid we had a screened sun porch with a tin roof and my dad and I used to sit out there during storms. There was nothing he liked better, he used to say, than the sound of the rain hitting that tin roof and I could understand why - it created a sound that was enveloping and loud, filling your ears, yet gentle when mixed with the wind in the branches. I can still feel the cool air on my cheeks, swirling and gusting through the screens. Sometimes we'd get quite wet out there, sitting in chairs with our feet up on the cooler we used as a coffee table, watching the lightning flash and outline the trees and the distant mountains. My dad gave me a great love of storms, and when there's no threat of being struck down by an act of a god, I like nothing better than to be out walking in them on a hot summer night and feeling the rain fall on my face, my neck, my shoulders, and feel the shivers of delight when the breeze creates goosebumps along my skin. I feel so much more alive and life seems more clear, as if the water is washing away the dust that's accumulated in my brain and from my senses.

IMG_0827.jpg

I wonder if my dad remembers telling me about his love of rain on the roof, or if he remembers sitting with me on the porch. Perhaps it's a silly thing to wish, but I hope that he does. It is so strange to have a person sitting in front of you, seemingly as he's always been physically, yet knowing that he may not remember all of the things that he's told you, all of the stories he has filled your mind and heart with your entire life. The loss is felt so much deeper when there's a blankness in the eyes of someone you love so completely.

I know they cannot disappear and yet the memories are so fragile, clinging to the thin threads of love spinning out in all directions and at the mercy of elements we cannot control. Someday I will only be able to remind my kids about how Poppy loved the sound of the raindrops on the roof, in much the same way as they will remember how I used to walk in summer storms and smile.

Nine

Oh Ben, you are nine, where does the time go? I have blinked and another year has zoomed by and you are bigger and still so very beautiful.You continue to spread love and joy where ever you go, touching people and making the world kinder and sunnier. Your ability to notice and understand the feelings of others borders on telepathy and is a rare gift, rarer still considering who you are. You always have a kind encouraging word for friends, and you would share anything with your sister to make her happy, and you still walk up to my bed every morning and ask "for a cuddle please momma". Your selflessness continues to inspire me and proves to me that a gentle heart can have a much greater impact than cautious one.

Grade three was so much better than two: an enthusiastic teacher and two lovely helpers who appreciated your gifts all gave you room to be yourself and encouraged you to believe in yourself and now you are a confident and enthusiastic reader and a creative writer. You made up your own poem on a walk home one evening and everytime I look at it framed on my wall I burst with pride.

You can converse about Spiderman, story plots, and The Magic Flute. In addition to being a scientist and inventor, you have recently added Lego master builder to your c.v., and I believe you are on the right track about that, the bricks dance between your fingers and become worlds that I marvel at. In addition to your academic and creative achievements, you also managed to complete a 10k run for charity and have started karate which you are patiently teaching your sister at home.

With every accomplishment you are becoming more mature, more aware, and more able to perceive and challenge things in your life that you feel are unfair or wrong. You can stand up for yourself and are a loyal friend and these traits will protect you when you need it most.

You are everything you should be and so much more, your light and sweetness are unique in this world.

I love you more than ever, Momma

Moms in the jungle - work in progress

I'm sitting in the dank kitchen in a church basement waiting for my daughter's latest class to finish. Irish dancing. It seemed like a good idea, good for her coordination, great excercise, lively music,and none of the weight issues and structure of ballet.

My daughter started with the rest of the class of absolute beginners, none of them knew a single step in September. Now most of the girls are picking it up very well and a few are exceptional. My daughter is not one of them; she's been at it for six months now, and she's still stumbling over basic steps and waving her arms around like windmills which is the biggest sin an Irish dancer can commit other than dissing Michael Flatley.

I get up and take a peek into the main room. She's been shuffled into remedial jig with four other girls so they can catch up with the rest of the class. She's pulling at her underwear and staring at herself in the mirror instead of paying attention. Sigh.

I am caught in the stage of "before it's too late", the world of "if they start young it's easy", the window of opportunity that allows your child to become a talented, successful adult rather than an ordinary drudge. Every world-renowned dancer, singer, musician, nobel winner, and elite athlete started, it seems, before age 2 and practised every day for 50 hours. And as adults they love what they do and make the world a better place and they thank their mothers every day for the sacrifice and encouragement (nagging) they received in their childhood to keep going. Their success, they say in interviews, was largely the result of their moms guidance (pushing).

I live in the age of the Tiger Mother, and I am a Tabby Cat. I want my children to find passions, but I want them to have fun and enjoy their childhoods. And I agonize over this every second of every day.

How is a Tabby mom to compete? How can I ensure that my children excel in this world of overachievers? I look around at the rest of the moms in the kitchen: some checking their email on their phones, some chatting about learning activities, some helping their other kids with their homework or feeding them something organic. We are all living with the pressure of parenting and wanting to do the best job that we can to raise our children, knowing that if it goes badly, it is all our fault. And that every other mom in the room is doing a better job than we are.

We find activities, pay the registration fees, buy the shoes (leotard, stick, racket, trampoline, chainsaw), and then throw them in and hope something talented happens. If it doesn't, we think, as moms, that it must be our fault, so we put in more effort.

I have encouraged and asked and drilled and praised and pleaded and scolded, but nothing I have done has made my wonderful child turn into the diligent girls dancing near the front of the class, bouncing gracefully and practising their steps over and over to get them perfect.

It didn't make her a great ryhthmic gymnast either, laying on the mats looking up at the ceiling of the auditorium while the other girls did effortless cartwheels and twirled without falling over.

We worry about wasting the limited time available and then worry that we haven't given our kids a long enough time in an activity to truly develop. My limit is two sememsters before we move on, watching for signs that she's still keen about the old activity. Did she just twirl without falling over? Did she just perform a flawless reel? No, probably not.

And in the midst of all of this, our children skip around in a fairy circle oblivious to talent and judgement and I envy them and realise that I am insane. And I smile and enjoy the dance.

Let's try karate next.

Stockholm, I love you

 IMG_7927

IMG_7927

 Gamla Stan

Gamla Stan

For most people, a week's vacation in January involves sand and sun and heat, a reprieve from the cold grey winter and coats and boots.I went to Sweden. Why, you may ask, would I chose Scandinavia in winter over a sunny beach in Jamaica? For starters, no one was offering me a ticket to Jamaica, but more important, I have been having a love affair with Stockholm for several years now. It's true, we met on a business trip and I just cannot get the city out of my head. I love strolling the streets of the old city, amusing myself watching the people while riding the metro, feeling the wind in my face as I travel across the water by ferry, exploring the shops, and talking to everyone, naturally. Stockholm holds my hand, tells me jokes, kisses me in public, discovers with me, and shares its life. I am happy to see it and always sad to part from it. I did not have a lot of time this trip, a flight cancellation made it even shorter. My friends organized themselves so I could see most of them. I've missed them all and marvel at how we can always pick up where we left off as if I'd never left. I crammed in as much city wandering as I could manage, deciding that sleep could wait until I was back on a plane. The result is a group of beautiful photos, and many disappointing ones. I learned a lot on this trip about photographing while sleep deprived and I am making a list of things to remember for my next journey. For more a complete portfolio of my work from the Venice of the North, please view the Stockholm section in my gallery.

Montreal love letter

I have discovered that the things that I love are the things that I never grow tired of looking at: my kids, a long stretch of road not yet run, an orchestra playing, a stack of unread books, a blank page and a good pen, the faces of my friends when they laugh, and a city that never fails to make my heart leap.Driving back into Montreal, 40 kilometres out and I catch my first glimpse of the city, lights off in the distance and the beacon beaming out into the night sky, lighting up the clouds. You are tantalizingly close. As I travel closer my anticipation to see you grows, my heart starts to flutter and become lighter, forgetting things that weigh on me. I cannot wait to see you again. Finally through the South Shore and up onto the Champlain Bridge approach and then the view that leaves me breathless every single time and replaces everything in my body with a momentary heady joy. Lit up and strong, you are so smart and clear and you shine and shimmer into the river and my head chants, "home, home". I feel so proud that you are mine, I cannot believe I live here.

Life Lesson: Don't be a grown up

I am interested in what everyone else is doing and thinking about life and personal happiness. I like reading other peoples' life lessons, secondhand self help. I don't always agree with them, but I am fascinated and curious to learn others' observations and often I learn something that I can apply to myself (or remember when I do something disastrous) and my little meander. In the spirit of this, even though I don't think that I have any new insights to pass on, I'm going to start writing down my own life lessons. Don't expect any brilliant novel thoughts here, it could be that the only thing they accomplish is to get me thinking more coherently. I have no idea how many lessons I have in me, and the order has no importance, just have to start somewhere.

 

Life Lesson: Don't be a grown up.

In general, I think that acting like an adult, conforming to social rules, caring about what others think, and being so preoccupied with all the serious grown up problems to the point that we cannot be in the moment (generally because we are busy staring at our smart phones, oh I'm so guilty of that) crushes our creativity, strangles our belief in our deepest desires, and limits our thoughts and our ability to notice all of the beautiful, interesting things happening around us.

I have two beautiful, interesting, creative children. They whine about my rule of not watching tv during the week, but when I leave them alone for a few minutes, the complaining stops and they invent and act out stories and dialog and immerse themselves in make believe, and they love it.

The more I watch my kids, the more I realise that yes, they are woefully unprepared for retirement and they are a bit too obsessed with Spongebob Squarepants, but they also have a natural desire to imagine themselves in the things they enjoy the most, and they have a clear and certain sense of self. As they get older, that will deteriorate, but right now all doors are open to them, every dream is possible, every aspiration is a reality. My daughter told me at the table yesterday that she is going to be a dentist, a dancer, a teacher, and a singer, then threw in scientist when she heard her brother say that's what he is going to be. Why not?

When I was a kid, my belief in my talents was infinite just like my kids - what happened? I was going to be an Egyptologist and a musician and have adventures and travel and play piano and discover new mummies. When did I start being "realistic" about my abilities and goals and limiting myself? Why can't I take the advice I give the kids about believing in yourself and doing the things you love even if you are not the best at them? It is harder to define yourself as your knowledge of choices and options expands, but at some point I let myself settle for something that was less than my dream. It's so easy to just keep plodding when you have bills and debt and people to support and a future to plan ahead for, but where is the joy?

I think of all the people in my life who I admire, and one of the things that most of them seem to have done was given themselves permission to believe in their dreams. It doesn't mean that they are super confident people, but more that they know their hopes and desires and know that they can pursue them. I'm trying to learn that.

When I think about how my kids answer the what do you want to be question, I also realise that their decisions, while based on movies or maybe characters in books, are chosen out of enthusiasm and excitement and passion. It doesn't matter whether the decisions don't take into account all the hard work and effort it takes to get there, it's important that they get excited about the non-monetary result of the job - helping people, teaching people, making an audience cheer, doing something that gives them joy.

So, what do I do with this lesson? Well, I didn't quit my job and move to Egypt. So far, I have started taking piano lessons, I try to write a lot more and seek out the things I love, I let myself believe in my secret hopes and desires for myself, and yes, I go to my less-than-perfect job, but I try to be more creative there as well.

And I get excited and jump up and down about the things that make me happy because life is too short to be grown up.

A night at the opera: La Boheme - we laughed, and laughed some more.....

Last week I went to my first live, full-length opera. Up until a few years ago, I was not an opera fan, although my exposure had only been the Bugs Bunny versions from Saturday mornings. I liked the music, but it just wasn't something that I was interested in going to watch-a bunch of people singing in languages I didn't know being overly dramatic all over the stage, visions of fat ladies in viking helmets, it just didn't appeal.

Then Ben took an interest in opera and things changed. He was three or four when I picked him up from daycare and he was humming an aria from Carmen. We encourage every interest, so I dived into the internet and started reading all the opera stories (frick most of them are sad) and we got opera cds and listened to them. I talked to my friends who were opera fans and got them to tell me about performers and the background of the operas and the history. I went to a couple of Live at the Met performances at the movie theatre, and took Ben to see the Carmen Met show a couple of years ago which we both enjoyed, although Ben might still have fonder memories of the licorice and the announcer for the evening, Rene Flemming.

So I've been meaning to go to the opera for a while, but haven't gotten around to it, when suddenly it all came together- Guislaine and Adriana were both available and the opera was a classic - La Boheme. Can't go wrong with that, really. We got our tickets in the nosebleeds (or as Adriana pointed out, the hip and young section) and on Wednesday night we met outside the entrance. We dressed for the occasion, really, what's the fun in not making it an occasion considering the price of the tickets, and went in and climbed stairs, and stairs, and more stairs. We actually had good seats near the middle and an excellent view of the stage. Guislaine and Adriana told stories of previous opera shows (the one about opera at the Big O was hilarious) and finally the lights dimmed. Show time!

La Boheme is supposed to be pretty sad, but it starts relatively happy - starving artists joking around, deciding to go out, a romance between Rodolfo and Mimi (they call me Mimi, I don't know why) that is engineered by the guy pretending he can't find her key and blowing out his candle to make it darker - sly devil, and then a big scene at the Cafe Momus with the introduction of Musetta and the strange appearance of a toy maker, Parpignol, for really no reason. They make a big deal about it though. When the scene ended, the lights came up and we talked about it. First, the translations, in French and English which sometimes didn't match and Adriana said didn't always convey the Italian. Sometimes they were downright funny. Then we joked about the romantic scene and how fast that moved along and then the mysterious toy maker. What was the deal with him? Guislaine suggested we should write a sequel just about him, perhaps with his toys coming to life and going on a rampage through the rest of the opera, and thus © La Boheme 2 - Parpignol's Revenge was born. Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the opera...... Honestly, he doesn't appear in the rest of the opera, what is the big deal with him?

Great fun, then the next act starts at the gates and Marcello talking to Mimi and Mimi telling him how jealous and awful Rodolfo is being. Then she hides and listens when Rodolfo and Marcello are talking and finds out he feels bad about making her stay at his cold flat and that she's dying, which surprisingly she doesn't realise, which was kind of funny. Then she's discovered because of all that coughing (amazing that she can sing), she tells him she's going back to her place (the translation here is "goodbye, no hard feelings" which has now become a catch phrase for the three of us) and they confusingly agree to stay together until the Spring. I've heard all of the music in the past, but this was the first time I was reading a translation as it was going along. Mimi's "Donde lieta uscì" is beautiful to hear, but I was amused to find out that she is basically singing about her hat.

More discussion during the set change: what the hell was the whole staying together until Spring about? And seriously, how is she surprised when Rodolfo says that she's dying?

Final act- The guys are both missing their ladies and singing about it, then they all start horsing around which was really well done and nice and light. Then Musetta rushes in with Mimi who is on her last legs and the whole thing gets pretty sad from there. Colline's song about his coat is a bit odd, but I guess he needed something to sing about. Her death is sort of subtle, she doesn't die while singing, she just quietly passes while the other characters are mourning her imminent demise and praying. While it was sad, it didn't really bring out a lot of emotion in me. This could be the young age of the cast or the direction, but for someone who cries at dog food commercials, I was shockingly tearless at the end. Still, it was a wonderful night, with beautiful music, good friends, lots of laughing, and ended with burgers and fries in our fancy clothes at midnight.

I'm doing that again!

Mahler's 2nd, Resurrection - Orchestre Montreal, Yannick Nezet-Seguin

It was beautiful. My crush conducted marvelously ;-) I set off through town, 30 minutes before the show (friend got stuck in traffic), only to find myself stuck in even more traffic. I finally managed to find a spot on Rene Levesque and ran up the street in the rain, in heels, umbrella being blown inside out, dodging puddles and feeling the damp chill on my legs. Worked through the maze of construction to get to the ticket counter and waited my turn. Mezzanine, G, but centre.

Ran upstairs, sat, waited. Speech about 30th anniversary of OM, short video, speech from YNS, what a sweetie. Then, MUSIC!

You know that you can expect good noise when there are six percussionists, two sets of kettle drums, that HUGE drum, and three other sets of clangy things, eight bass (basses?), two harps, obviously the rest of the instruments, and a choir behind it all.

Close my eyes, it starts, beautiful noise, then a part with strings where I started crying because it was so lovely. Dry my tears, flowing along with the big music, the quiet areas, the gentle, soft plucking, tinging, light, then heavy and dramatic.

The horns kept leaving then coming back, at some point I realised that they were playing in the wings. Three quarters through, three of the percussionists left, and the guy leading the way was trying to push open the wrong door without success before being redirected by the guy behind him.

The man sitting next to me had his elbow well into my side and possessed a muscle tic and kept jabbing me in the ribs. This grew worse once he fell asleep.

The mezzo soprano was rich and I could understand what she was singing, the soprano, as with most sopranos, I can rarely make out every word, but I actually made out even fewer, sounded nice though. She was on the "stick side" of Yannick and I swear he was close to poking her eye out a few times. Must have been farther away though because she didn't flinch.

The percussion was incredible, in a few places it came out like shimmering waves over the rest of the music and I was delighted at the joy I felt. The end was big and dramatic and clashy banging strings sawing, my crush in a frenzy of arms.

Back out into the cold and rain and home. Overjoyed that I went.

She's not from Maine - Day 3

Grafton NotchDecided on a hike up Table Rock in Grafton Notch. Drove there, parked, looked at the sign pointing out the trails, and crossed the road. Heading off I passed a guy coming out. That was the last person I saw on my hike. There were signs for a number of trails, I took the Table Rock trail and followed it up. Once again, it seemed harmless.

 

Grafton Notch

 

 

 

 

It got steep rather quickly and turned into an antediluvian riverbed, boulders instead of a path, winding up 900 feet. I followed the markers of red spray paint, a bit incredulous, at times completely winded. A couple of times I thought the top was near, I was so wrong, the trail deked me out, ran me through some woods, then up up up again. At one point I got to this huge boulder under a cliff and stood there flummoxed until I realised there was a spray painted arrow on one side indicating a narrow space to squeeze yourself between the rock and a cave under the cliff. I suppose if you had managed to make it up that far, they assumed you were thin enough to fit. Finally clambered up a muddy last hill and reached the Table, a flat bit of rock with an enormous view of the surrounding mountains.

Grafton NotchThe sun came out, but it was quite cool and windy. Still, nothing was going to deter me from sitting and enjoying the view for a while and drinking some water and eating a granola bar while I was doing it.

I wasn't looking forward to the descent very much, but realised as I was climbing down that the markers were blue now, then realised that the trail was quite a bit easier. The significance of the red and blue suddenly sank in.

Duh.

I was so happy about the fact I didn't have to climb down through boulders that I started singing selections from Carmen at the top of my lungs. I was hoping I really was alone because a) I'm not an opera singer and b) I don't know the words. Still, happy as can be tripping down the trail, torturing the wildlife, passing streams, slipping occasionally on moss and muddy areas from all the rain we've had lately. The markers turned white, but I was still heading down, and eventually got to the point where the trails separated and I was indeed coming down the opposite fork from where I started. Got to the car, now kind of frozen and enjoyed the heater immensely.

Screw Auger FallsStopped on my way out of the park at a place called Screw Auger Falls, where the water has eaten round pools out of the rock, it's marvelous.

 

covered bridge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the way home also stopped at a covered bridge and then at the local grocery store. No tahini (what was I thinking?), but found hummus, which was just as good when combined with lemon juice for the sauce for the chickpea/squash thingie.

 

Skyped my kids, miss 'em.....then read, wrote, drank, and slept.