Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Let's Sing!

Florence Foster Jenkins lived in New York and in the 1940's, when she herself was well into her 70's, decided to rent Carnegie Hall and perform opera to rally the troops. There is a great documentary, A World of Her Own, on You Tube about the rich socialite with dreams exceeding her talent. Stephen Frears directs Meryl Streep in the recently released version of the Hollywood film. There is a line in the movie that I love, "They can say that I can't sing, but they can't say that I didn't sing."

I saw the film the night before attending my first singing lesson. I showed up to the night class along with the other forty hopefuls. Many seniors, several middle-aged workers, and ten or so young adults. During introductions we heard from people who had been told they couldn't sing in grade school, and now, here they were in their sixties and seventies, figuring, why not? There were others who already sang in church choirs and were looking for some professional voice coaching. When it was my turn to introduce myself, I shared the Florence Foster Jenkins line above.

Going to the Scarborough Uke Jam is fun, and partly because we sing our hearts out as we play. None of the players in the BPYC Uke band, Lost at C, are exceptional singers, but we sing (and beg our audience to sing along with us).

So far I've been to two night classes and there has been some of what I expected... vocal exercises and funny faces and deconstructing songs to look at phrasing (where to take a breath). Also a bit of the unexpected... stretching exercises and yoga to help free the chest, diaphragm, jaw and neck.

I'm not ready to rent Carnegie Hall by any stretch, but then, neither was Florence.

For now I will stick to the shower, uke jam, and strumming with 'Lost at C'.

October 1 is International Music Day.  I think I'll celebrate with a few stretches and singing in the shower!

Thursday, September 22, 2016


Rob and I booked our tickets to Hawaii on September 10, for travel in Jan/Feb.

We looked at a cruise but decided on island-hopping with an itinerary we'd set for ourselves. So it is flying into Kaui, heading to Maui, and then on to Big Island.

As it gets colder and frostier it will be fun to plan our days. Definitely will include:  whale-watching, star-gazing, checking out a coffee plantation, going for a sail, seeing the live volcanoes, swimming in the Pacific....

I was saving this for my 60th, but Rob said, why wait? He proposed the trip for my birthday this year, and we agreed on a combination Christmas and 30th anniversary present.

Maybe we booked the tickets a bit early for cost savings. The research I did said the ideal is 100 days before departure, but we both had to book work far enough in advance for a three week holiday.

So the countdown begins!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Out and About

I tend to avoid reading reviews before seeing the shows, so I'm not overly influenced, but it is always fun to compare notes afterward. Maybe I am getting more discerning, or maybe just more cynical, but the rave reviews weren't always jiving with my experience. There is also the opposite experience, with poor reviews of productions I've really enjoyed. 

**Matilda:  A fun night of musical theatre, based on  Dahl’s novel first published in 1988. The play has been winning accolades in NYC, with Time magazine billing it the “show of the year.” We attended mid- August and although the show was thoroughly entertaining, it didn't charm me enough to renew for another season of song and dance. 

*****Hamlet: . Rob and I had a backstage tour at Shakespeare in the Park this year and learned the show is produced on a shoestring budget, with actors laundering their own costumes and making the stage blood on the cheap (apparently insects love the recipe!). At 4,000 lines, Hamlet is Shakespeare’s longest play and takes 4 hours to perform, but the director took some liberties with this version and edited scenes down to 90 
minutes. Events take place in modern times, and a funereal touch at the end was including a projection of the characters filmed in happier times.. The ampitheatre was crowded with an audience comprised of a great mix of ages and races, as diverse as the cast itself. When the play ended and people were leaving the park, I was listening to some of the teenagers' animated conversations about charactersplot twists, and the blood-bath-ending. We saw this at the end of August and I didn't read any of the reviews until we were actually sitting down, waiting for the show to begin. (mostly positive)

***Come What Mahem: The latest edition of sketch comedy at Second City was predictably hilarious, providing a couple of stand-out bits and  good belly laughs. Saw this the day after opening night (August 31), but I didn't check out the reviews until just now. The Sun was disparaging, the Star and Globe both positive recounts of the irreverent and satirical sketches.

*The Plough and the Stars:  Ireland’s national Abbey Theatre brought this production to Toronto for a limited run to commemorate the Easter Rising of 1916. The play is a classic and highly regarded, but unfortunately between the strong accents and the poor sound quality I couldn’t understand more than half the dialogue. This is the first time I ever left a play at intermission, thinking I would do better to read it or see the movie if I wanted to understand the original. A strong review in the Star the next day made me wonder if we had seen the same performance. 

Sunday, September 18, 2016

September garden

Mid-September and cooler mornings have arrived. 

I love the combination of the hydrangea, dahlia, sedum and thyme that greets me by the front doorstep. 

Tomatoes planted this year didn't ripen on the vine - too much shade - so we picked some and left them to ripen in the sun, but it was a wasted effort. They are still hard. Fried green tomatoes?

There is a cluster of leaves in the backyard maple blushing at the coming autumn. 

Friday, September 16, 2016

Full Harvest Moon - September

"Let's go dancin' in the light."

photo: Road to Nowhere by Aaron J. Groen

Neil Young playing Harvest Moon in Austin Texas:

The moon is full September 16 at 9:45 a.m. Although not visible in Toronto, Australia and other parts of the world will be able to see the penumbral lunar eclipse.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Happy Birthday!


Another year older and wiser. My birthdays seem to be coming faster and closer together. Rob and I spent the past weekend at Toronto Island. It was very crowded, what with it being the last long weekend of the summer + the airshow + a dance party event. Lots of people, lots of boats. On the Monday we anchored just off Wards beach, along with 30 other boats. Tuesday when we went back, we were the the first of three visiting boats. Fantastic swimming.

Then it was back to work on my actual birthday. My brother, who works nearby, treated me to lunch. 

When I got home I went to do a quick internet search and was both a bit impressed and freaked out when I realized that Google had sent me birthday greetings .

Rob and I celebrated in the evening by going to Canoe, with its spectacular view from the 54th floor of the Toronto islands, planes flying past, and the CN Tower and other skyscrapers twinkling nearby. We arrived just before twilight, and as the evening wore on, a storm came in and lightning flashed in the sky behind Rob. Very dramatic! We enjoyed the tasting menu, a seven course feast inspired by the route to the Rockies. An incredible and memorable dining experience.

We'd never been to Canoe. In fact, we don't get out to fine dining restaurants, preferring to create our own "foodie feasts" with friends. However, Alex went recently and raved about it, and my birthday seemed a good excuse. 

Speaking of good excuses..... I had been planning to head to Hawaii for my 60th birthday, but Rob and I figured we'd do it this coming year. Why wait? 


Forecast for September 2016 to September 2017

If You Were Born Today, September 7:
You have very strong values, and others know it. Your persistence is the major key to your success, but good money management is also a big contributor. Extremely sensitive to your surroundings, you pick up signals that fly over others’ heads. You are generally quite organized. You are competent, hard-working, and very proud of the work you do. Some may find you critical and tough-minded. On the inside, however, you are passionate and emotionally sensitive, and you don’t always show your more vulnerable side. You tend to attract relationships in which there is an imbalance of power – either you are controlling or dominating, or your partner is. Power struggles may be a theme or pattern in your love life until you learn to demand equality. Famous people born today: Grandma Moses, Buddy Holly, Chrissie Hynde, Shannon Elizabeth, Michael Emerson, Evan Rachel Wood.
Your Birthday Year Forecast:
The Sun in a waxing sextile to the Moon in your Solar Return chart has a fortunate influence on your year ahead. You can be especially productive this year, as in many ways you are starting fresh, but you have a rather clear vision of what you want to accomplish. Your inner needs tend to be mirrored by external events, and vice versa, which helps to boost your confidence and happiness levels. You more readily accept that challenges are part of the natural cycle in life, which in turn helps you to meet them with confidence and to worry less. You are likely to be on top of your game this year for the most part, and positive connections with others can be made fairly easily. A comfortable level of personal popularity helps keep conflict to a minimum. With the ability to handle your emotions successfully, there will be less stress on both your mind and body.
Your attitude towards life evolves and transforms in significant ways with transiting Pluto trine your Sun this year. What used to satisfy you may not continue to do so, particularly if your goals have been superficial or a poor reflection of your inner desires. You are no longer willing to make compromises in the important areas of your life, particularly with regards to career and your life path. You are more determined this year, and it’s an excellent time for getting rid of bad habits. This is a year in which to get your life back on track, as you have the willpower to do so. Others are bound to recognize your leadership skills and talents, or, at the very least, your potential. You want your life path and your objectives to reflect what you’re really about. You benefit from being more decisive than usual, and your ability to concentrate and focus help you to achieve what you set out to do. A new project or goal begun this year has a good chance of being successful and long-lasting.
With Venus sextile Saturn in your Solar Return chart, certain elements of your social life and financial life are stabilized, secured, and more reliable this year. You may solidify a romantic relationship under this influence, or become involved with a mature partner. Circumstances may be such that you need to handle money more carefully this year, or this may simply come naturally to you now. Support from older people or authority figures may come by way of solid advice or more tangible help. Renewed ties to old friends are possible, or a new sense of responsibility in existing friendships, are also highly likely.
Saturn’s transiting square to your Sun, active since February 2016, ends in November. This can feel as if weights are lifted off your shoulders and you feel considerably freer.
You may assume a leadership role this year. You are likely to establish connections and/or relationships with people that help forward your personal growth. Teamwork and camaraderie, as well as meaningful connections, are themes. You feel your life has a definite purpose this year. Through your contacts with others, you are encouraged to grow.
You have a stronger focus on, and dedication to, work in the period ahead, sometimes taking it a little too far. Taking the time to pull yourself away from your pet projects or work will help bring more balance to your life, and will ensure that you don’t neglect other important areas of life. However, you can make significant headway in specific areas this year.
You have a strong desire to share your joy or good fortune with others. You can be very skillful when expressing your beliefs and ideas this year. You can be a persuasive salesperson, guide, teacher, or advocate. You have excellent artistic sensitivity this year, and you are especially candid and enthusiastic, which endears you to others. You have added charm and graciousness during this period. Your taste is on the more lavish side this year.
Your ability to express yourself and to solve problems is enhanced. You may have opportunities to travel this year, and matters related to publishing, teaching, and writing should go especially well. You may find that you have the right information at the right time this year. You could also have big ideas and plans. Work, especially in communications, goes well. You can visualize in broader terms and see the “big picture” now. Your optimism can help you to attract positive circumstances into your life. You are especially enthusiastic about your ideas, and expressing yourself comes easily. Public relations and negotiations tend to run exceptionally smoothly. This is a time for making long-range plans, seeing the big picture, and thinking about what is really important to you in the long run.
This can be a year of making important lifestyle changes. You are likely to attract growth-oriented relationships into your life in the period ahead, and you may be strengthening ties with important people in your life. Your powers of negotiation are very strong, and learning, teaching, and writing are highly favored. You are better able to come to a good balance in attitude this year, and many life departments can benefit. You’re in an exceptionally strong position for taking advantage of new opportunities. You are willing to put in the effort for the projects that matter, but you are also giving your social life and leisure time a lot of attention.

 is a Number Seven year for you. Ruled by Neptune. This is a year of preparation, chance, and refinement. It is not a time of dramatic changes. Instead, it’s a year when reflection on the past is helpful, and when refinements to your life path should be made. It’s a good year to study and analyze. Unexpected twists to your life story and “chance” meetings are probable. Advice – take stock of your life in order to prepare for more exciting years to come, examine the past and plan for the future, get in touch with your deepest needs and uncover your personal power, don’t strain yourself or actively try to expand.
2017 will be a Number Eight year for you. Ruled by Saturn. This is a year of power and accomplishment. Actively seeking to expand, taking educated risks, and moving forward are highlighted. This is a year of opportunity, particularly in the material and business world, and opportunities need to be seized. It’s generally not a year to find a new love partner, simply because the focus is on the material world and your place in the world. This is a problem-solving year in which you can expect real, tangible results. Advice – take action, plan ahead, seize opportunities.