Category Archives: Diversions

Thank you to the Met Opera

My folks love opera – I am clearly the black sheep in this family. I can’t stand it. It’s always in another language and I know enough to know that I’m missing the nuances and double entendres (I mean, it’s opera, there’s ALWAYS double entendres. And lots of deaths.)

Okay, it’s not that I can’t stand it, I actually quite like the music sometimes. But I feel like I only really “get” the English ones, and sometimes the French.

But the Met is amazing – they’ve opened up their archives and are posting an opera each evening for free. My folks used to go to the Cineplex showing of the Met Operas and now they are enjoying watching them in the living room. I have to say it’s kinda nice to have as background noise to my reading Divisional Court decisions or drafting adjudicator education materials.

But I still think of Bugs Bunny when I hear the opening strains of Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia (Barber of Seville).

Fair use,

I searched for it on YouTube and found the LA Philharmonic playing it – complete with Bugs on screen! – at the Hollywood Bowl!

So two vaguely-related-to-opera stories from me:

My dad went to the eye doctor. He was having a hard time seeing things far away. The eye doc put him through the usual tests and said nothing really seemed wrong (at the time; turns out that doc was wrong but I digress).

My dad: “But I am having a hard time seeing the surtitles at the opera!

Eye Doc: “Buy better seats

The other vaguely opera related memory involves my parents and Easter. They always hosted family and close friends at Easter time. My dad and I would label 100s of pieces of chocolate – you had to find not only 14 (kids) or 7 (adults) pieces of chocolate but YOUR 14 or 7 pieces. Mom would be busy making food for a hundred and twenty people; but hey, we complained about labelling the chocolate 😉

So anyway, when a very young Maltese tenor arrived in Toronto one year to perform, it turns out his flight home was late in the evening on Easter Sunday. And his hotel made him leave early Sunday morning. No one else was around and he happened to call my father. And my folks did what they always did – they invited him over.

So this darling, charming young man (I say young, he’s only 4 years younger than me but I’ve always been old) arrived at our house, looked for chocolate labelled at the last minute with dozens of other people who had no idea that 15 or 20 years later Joseph Calleja would be singing at the Met. And we got to watch him this week AND he played one of my favourites from Shakespeare – Macduff!

The Metopera website wrote:

The great René Pape is Banquo and Joseph Calleja gives a moving performance as Macduff. Adrian Noble’s powerful production provides an ideal setting for this dark drama, which is masterfully presided over by Met Principal Conductor Fabio Luisi.

So thank you Met Opera. One day I may move beyond Bugs but honesty I hope not!

A week of mugs

I was trying to think of how to separate the days – if you don’t know we’re not only not going into the office but we’re also not at home. The bathrooms in our house are being renovated and it’s basically impossible to live there so we’re all (two adults, one 9-year-old and two cats) living with my parents in a 2-bedroom condo. Toby, Q and I moved out of our house on January 5. We were in a rental for 9 or 10 weeks, then we moved in here.

Then Covid-19 hit.

So I wanted a fun way to separate the days. So I started sharing my mom’s ginormous collection of mugs on FB and instagram 🙂 So here’s the first week of photos:

Do you remember Dominions? Now they’re all called Metro. They started in Toronto in 1919 and were bought and sold a bunch of times it seems. Anyway, this mug was made for Dominions.

Sweet bunny!

The mug on the left reminds me so much of my dad – it’s silly and actually looks a little like him. And comes with a mustache protector. The one on the right is creepy I think. My folks got it in PEI – I think it was meant to look like my dad too but I don’t think so lol

My mom and dad used to give out “loot bags” after their big parties – this would have been filled with chocolate and candy canes and I am sure I tied metres and metres of ribbon around them at the time. (my mom’s name is kinda blacked out – it’s a long-standing joke between her and I; she’s fine, still my mom, still married to my dad, since 1968!)

Just a lovely music mug

A souvenir mug from the PanAm games – when 10s of 1,000s of visitors came to Toronto. Sigh.

Tourist in my home town – Grange Park

NOTE: I took these pictures in October 2019. I thought they would be good to share now during physical distancing so we can remember what’s waiting for us all when we’re done.

Tucked away behind the Art Gallery of Ontario and OCAD University is the most lovely little oasis.

At one time it was basically the back yard for The Grange (which was the original home of the AGO and has it’s own long history) and now it’s a lovely spot to wander, listen to kids playing on the playground, or water gurgling through the splash pad (in summer) or from the fountain:

(there was a person who was obviously quite fond of the fountain hanging around it and every time I went to take a picture would try and move into the shot. I’m not sure if they wanted to be in the picture or just stop me from taking it but I eventually got this photo)

I really love the way Toronto can pull off nature in the middle of the city!

And of course, the love affair with Henry Moore continues:

Large Two Forms - Henry Moore
Large Two Forms – Henry Moore

The Henry Moore Sculpture Centre in the AGO is the largest public collection of Henry Moore’s work – and he gave most of it to the gallery.

Trying to focus

How do you pick what you want to focus on? I mean, seriously – there are so many things I want to do, and help Q with, and I have no idea how to fit it all in.

Right now I’m trying to fit in – in addition to working-from-home-mostly-full-time:

  1. improving my French – mostly this involves the Duolingo app. My French is pretty abysmal for someone who took it for 13 or so years through elementary and high school;
  2. reading more – like actual books. I’m doing the Toronto Public Library’s reading challenge again this year and while I’m doing okay, I’d like to be more consistent with it. For example, I haven’t read anything not work related in the last two weeks. I’d like to work it in;
  3. cross-stitching – it’s fun and calming. Mostly it’s calming. I found an awesome group on facebook to stitch with and they have little games and competitions and while that helps me stitch more it also sometimes ups my anxiety. Thankfully they’re pretty laid back and chill and if I have to drop out of something there is no problem. I’m also VERY careful to follow through on the ones that actually require preparation and participation though;
  4. helping Q learn Morse Code – I’m not sure how much he wants to do this but we’ve worked our way up to E (and also SOS and the letter T);
  5. 2 x 10 minutes of my mindfulness app a day – why twice a day? The app is Calm and it has a “daily calm” of about 10 minutes on a different topic each day. Then it has different series that you can work through – right now I’m listening to a series called “relationship with self.”
  6. moving more – hard to do when we’re in a state of emergency I think; but we’ll try.

One of the benefits of not being at home right now is I can at least ignore most of the “housekeeping” stuff – no cleaning, no yard work etc. I am still doing laundry but less really. Also no piano to make me feel guilty for not practising!

So let’s see:

  • 10-20 minutes for Duolingo;
  • 20-30 minutes for Calm;
  • 30-60 minutes for reading;
  • 30-60 minutes of cross-stitching;
  • 30-60 minutes of moving more;
  • 30-60 minutes of helping Q with school, games, Morse Code etc
  • 6.5 hours of work (M – F)
  • 7 hours of sleep (ideally)

At the high end of everything and assuming some buffer for changing activities and that equals 19 hours. Plus eating and showering. I’m gonna try this schedule for this week or two. It has the decided benefit of being easily marked down as “yes or no” – isn’t that the hallmark of a “SMART” goal?

  • Specific – yes
  • Measurable – yes  
  • Attainable – not sure
  • Relevant – well, relevant to me
  • Time-bound – trying for a week, hopefully two and then I’ll see how I’m feeling about it all.

Wish me luck!

What are you choosing to focus on? One or two things or 50bazillion like I’m trying to do?