This songbird’s wings are clipped

It’s choir season again – yay!

For three years now I’ve been venting here about the spectacle I make of myself whenever our artistic director, in his ‘wisdom’, incorporates choreography into our repertoire. I mean, I’m not talking mild ineptitude, I’m talking about a horrifying lack of co-ordination; an inability to clap and sway at the same time; and a constant fear of crashing off the risers and taking the entire soprano section with me.

I can't work under these conditions!
I can’t work under these conditions!

Well it’s time to stop whingeing and do something about it. Our last show was a monstrous demonstration of badly executed movement, compounded by a ridiculous array of costumes, all of which detracted from the beautiful (if I say so myself!) sound we work so hard to make.

Enough already! I have found a choir which promises we can ‘make music without the use of jazz hands’ and where jeans and black tops count for costuming. Oh joy!

Sadly, I’m already missing my peeps at the other choir. Three years is a long time for me to stick at anything. In fact the only other thing I can think of is motherhood, and really what choice did I have?

So … this post is dedicated to all my dear songbird friends who I will sorely miss. May your wings carry you in a glorious display of rhythmic movement. As for me, I think I’ll keep both feet planted firmly on the ground, and my wings by my sides – because there’s no way you should expect me to stay upright while trying to remember the words, the tune and the steps all at the same time.

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A few of my favourite things

Sometimes you have to work very hard to be grateful for the little things.

It’s been a stressful summer, and let’s face it, I teeter on the edge of bat crap crazy at the best of times. Right now I’m vacillating between moderately unhinged and crying pitifully at ads for the local gym. It’s a roller coaster.

Thank goodness for acai berries covered in dark chocolate. Seriously! both those things are good for you, so it stands to reason that the more I eat the healthier I’ll become. Right now I’m doing everything I can to maximize my intake. For the sake of my health.

As for Terry Pratchett, he has no idea of the role he plays in getting me from one day to the next. He’s created a hilariously magical world based on everything that’s absurd or enchanting in this one. It’s where I escape to whenever I need a good laugh. On those occasions when the light at the end of the tunnel turns out to be an oncoming train, I thank him for providing me with that analogy, which never fails to raise my spirits.

Since I’m watching the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel as I write, I’m also inclined to feel grateful to the British film industry. It’s managed to avoid becoming the freakshow that is Hollywood, and it turn out gems like Judi Dench. Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy and so many others who never fail to be brilliant. There are few films I’m inclined to watch over and over again, and most of the them are British. If you haven’t yet seen Love Actually, what on earth are you waiting for?

Here in Calgary it’s snowing outside right now. Looking back I’m pretty sure we had three full calendar months clear of the white stuff, so I guess that’s another thing to be grateful for.

On that note, I think I’ll head off now and open a new packet of chocolate covered acai berries.

 

 

Be the solution

True to genetics and my heritage, I’m becoming a mad cat lady. Okay, it’s just two cats, and one is only visiting with Roxy while she’s home for the summer, but even the best eccentrics have to start somewhere.

Clearly I have a way to go, as my mother had more than 30 cats in her prime. I should probably explain: they were not technically her cats, they were fostered for a cat rescue society who blackmailed her into taking them…

Oh you’ve got all that land that would be perfect for cat pens“, they said…

We’ll have to put them all down if you won’t take them“, they said…

Do you want the deaths of all those innocent cats on your conscience?“, they said. (I may have made this last bit up, but it was certainly what they were thinking, and definitely what they implied.)

And that is how my parents found themsleves unexpectedly awash with cats – much to the dismay of my poor, patient, indulgent father.

But, to get back to my own cat situation, one of the most distressing parts of the feline presence is the hunting. I know, I know, it’s what cats are supposed to do … but as one of the cats is a tiny princess and the other is the size of a pony I honestly thought the small creatures of the neighbourhood could rest safe.

As it turns out, the local rodents actually are quite safe, because both cats are bringing a steady stream of live mice into the house and depositing them to frolic wherever they fancy. Apparently it’s a win-win; the cats get live-in playmates and the mice get nice cushy digs out of the elements. And we get to lie abed and listen to the joyful mews of cats shrieking “ready or not, here I come” (translated for you from the feline), and then enjoy a front row seat for the chase around our bedroom.

Now I may have this wrong, but I though cats were supposed to help solve a mouse problem, not create one.

My solution has been to lock the cats inside at suppertime. It’s a good system, because they’re not keen enough on their nightly jaunts to forego their dinner; but it does mean we have to endure them pacing like caged lions all evening, and throwing me filthy looks. Worth it in the balance, I think.

I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up!

I’m not much of a drinker. No, really! While I’m not above turning to the gin bottle in times of stress, I find that one glass is generally enough. Not because of any high moral ground, but because, even after all these years, my alcohol tolerance hasn’t recovered from 27 months of pregnancy (not consecutive) and about two years of breastfeeding (also not consecutive).

But yesterday, after a hard day’s gardening, I thought it would be nice to sit out on the front steps with a glass of wine. It’s worthy of explanation here that the front steps are made of stone and they meander in long, gentle strides up the three feet or so to the front door, with flower beds dotted along the way.

As I was sitting there nursing my wine, and babysitting the cat (another story), the phone rang. It was Roxy wanting to chat. With my very mild tendency towards both OCD and ADHD, I find it difficult to concentrate on a single task, so while I chatted and drank, I also inspected the flower beds, fiddling about with some light weeding and a little bit of pruning. I also noticed a small gaggle of neighbours congregated a couple of houses up the road.

Being the graceful creature I am, it’s probably inevitable that at some point I would lean too far, or trip on a stray pebble, and unfortunately when it did happen I couldn’t decide whether to save the wine or the phone, and chose instead to catch myself with my face.

So there I am, hurtling face first into a bush with a shriek and all the neighbours watching. It was a spectacle which ended with me sprawled on the ground, covered in wine, and giggling helplessly like a cheerful drunk.

Unfortunately not all those neighbours had the best opinion of me to start with. Well one of them anyway  – after a small contretemp over a parenting issue, which I have incidentally won, now that the child in question has grown up to be a stellar member of society, even though said neighbour might be unaware of that fact (but I digress)  – and I feel as though watching me fall arse over teakettle in a drunken stupour probably didn’t help much.

Now I can’t ever go outside again because I’m too embarrassed to be seen in public.

 

My Fearless Protector

I have written before about my rather pathetic, and completely fearful dog, but this week she has excelled herself.

Before going on, I should explain that she has a doggy door which leads out onto a platform in the side yard, from which she then has to jump down about 3 feet to the ground.

I have noticed in the last few days that she has been standing on this platform, barking like a mad thing, which is unusual. Normally she goes out into the back yard and tears up and down barking ferociously at passing dogs, secure in the knowledge that they are safely the other side of a dog-proof fence.

So why is she staying up in the side yard? It turns out a coyote has been frequenting the park just behind our house. Clearly this is not something that can be tolerated and she feels the need to deliver a loud and persistent warning. But, not wanting to get carried away by bravado, she apparently decided to deliver the warning from the safety of her platform. That way, if necessary, she can bid a hasty retreat to the safety of her mummy’s protection.

They say it’s good to get a big dog for protection. How’s that supposed to work, again?

When Good Kids Go Bad

As a parent you like to think you know your children; their strengths; their weaknesses; what they’re most likely to be arrested for.

Or at least we did. Until last night when I received a text from Roxy saying “I have 2 grams for $40”. Closely followed by another that said “Oh shit! Sorry not for you! Ignore that!”.

No! There must be some mistake. She’s probably selling stage make-up by weight, or maybe italian herbs for a special pasta sauce. Yeah that’ll be it. So there then ensued a back and forth via text during which I invited her to explain, while she, for her part, became increasingly evasive.

I finally phoned, half expecting her not to answer the phone. If she doesn’t, I thought, I’m on the next plane to Vancouver; I’ll drag her home by the ear and get her a nice little job at the library. Why, oh why, did we allow her to go there in the first place, to be surrounded by drug addicts and – perhaps even worse – musical theatre kids? Is that where we went wrong?

The helpless giggles that reverberated down the line (am I showing my age using the term phone line? Do we still have those?), when she answered the phone definitely reassured me somewhat.

So … what the heck?

It turns out she was participating in a twitter prank to see how crazy you can make your parents. Apparently we passed some kind of test by not immediately disowning her, swearing at her or professing not to have wanted her in the first place. Yay for our awesome parenting skills!

Thanks Nathan Fielder. Ha bloody ha!

The Dance Continues

Unbelieveable! I leave town for five minutes and everything goes all to hell.

On Friday it seemed like a good idea to go to the tree farm for the weekend, but now I’m not so sure I should have turned my back. We left Calgary basking in glorious autumnal sunshine; cool, but cheery as it reflected off the yellows, golds and reds of turning leaves. It really is a beautiful time of year. But overnight on Saturday, winter snuck in and stole about ten degrees from the thermometer, blanketing everything in 2″ of snow.

Larch in SnowIronically I was reading (re-reading, more accurately) Wintersmith at the time. It’s a book by Terry Pratchett (seriously – if you haven’t read any of his books and you like to laugh, read some) which deals, among other things, with the dance between Summer and Winter and the inevitable changing of the seasons. Personally I feel that, given how sluggish she was arriving this year, Summer could have held on a little longer. Just saying.

In another ironic twist, we had spent the weekend planning a family ski trip which I’m hoping might partly make up for the fact that we can’t go to England this Christmas.  Yes, we start talking about skiing, and hey presto, it snows! Very fitting you might think, except that, sadly, the trip’s not likely to happen if we don’t get in another few weeks of landscaping. So the more old man winter taunts us with the prospect of skiing, the less likely it is that we’ll go. Now that’s cold!