Monday, December 28, 2009

Freedom!! (Sort of.)


The cast is off my poor, sore right arm.

Freedom!!

(Sort of.)

The elbow joint is very stiff, and my mobility is quite limited. Maybe I should have taken this for a sign BEFORE I tried to clean up the Christmas rubble in my house, do the shopping, or drive a car.

Never mind.

I'm teaching myself to write again, with the vain hope of being able to complete a major art project for the university in two weeks... I'm typing-- and doing fairly well-- in order to get caught up on many, many emails. I can't take a steady photograph to save my LIFE, with these shaky hands of mine, and so all the Christmas photos will be quirkily blurred this year.

Most of all, I can't wait to KNIT.

For dear Father Christmas brought me exactly what I wanted, in the form of a delicious, new Noro yarn, and a beautiful book of patterns.

Is this the stuff of dreams, or what???!

The needles?

They are CALLING ME, people, after too, too many months of neglect.

I can't wait.

Now. All I need is a physiotherapist who will work during the holidays...

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Heart-in-Waiting

"Madonna and Child" by Wee Three, 2009

The Heart-in-Waiting

Jesus walked through whispering wood:
‘I am pale blossom, I am blood berry,
I am rough bark, I am sharp thorn.
This is the place where you will be born.’

Jesus went down to the skirl of the sea:
‘I am long reach, I am fierce comber,
I am keen saltspray, I am spring tide.’
He pushed the cup of the sea aside

And heard the sky which breathed-and-blew:
‘I am the firmament, I am shape-changer,
I cradle and carry and kiss and roar,
I am infinite roof and floor.’

All day he walked, he walked all night,
Then Jesus came to the heart at dawn.
‘Here and now,’ said the heart-in-waiting,
‘This is the place where you must be born.’

-KEVIN CROSSLEY-HOLLAND
from Selected Poems
Enitharmon Press 2001

A Happy Christmas to you all!


"The Candlelight Carol"
by John Rutter
and performed by The Cambridge Singers

How do you capture the wind on the water?
How do you count all the stars in the sky?
How can you measure the love of a mother,
Or how can your write down a baby's first cry?

Candlelight, angel light, firelight and star glow
Shine on his cradle till breaking of dawn,
Gloria, gloria in excelsis Deo!
Angels are singing; the Christ Child is born.

Shepherds and wise men will kneel and adore him,
Seraphim round him their vigil will keep;
Nations proclaim him their Lord and their Savior,
But Mary will hold him and sing him to sleep.

Candlelight, angel light, firelight and star glow,
Shine on his cradle till breaking of dawn,
Gloria, gloria in excelsis Deo!
Angels are singing; the Christ Child is born.

Find Him at Bethlehem laid in a manger:
Christ our Redeemer asleep in the hay.
Godhead incarnate and hope for salvation:
A child with his mother that first Christmas Day.

Candlelight, angel light, firelight and star glow,
Shine on his cradle till breaking of dawn,
Gloria, gloria in excelsis Deo!
Angels are singing; the Christ Child is born!

Wishing you and your loved ones a very happy Christmas.
Thank you for reading, thank you for listening.

With much love from, CGF xoxo

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Joyous and Blessed Christmas Eve...


Lo, how a Rose e'er blooming
performed live by the Choir of King's College, Cambridge
at the 2009 Carol Service, earlier this evening

DET är en ros utsprungen av Jesse rotoch stam.
Av fädren ren besjungen den står i tiden fram,
En blomma skär och blid,
Mitt i den kalla vinter i midnatts mörka tid.

Lo, how a Rose e’er blooming from tender stem hath sprung!
Of Jesse’s lineage coming, as men of old have sung.
It came a floweret bright amid the cold of winter,
When half spent was the night.

GERMAN TRADITIONAL
Swedish translation, THEKLA KNÖS
English translation, THEODORE BAKER
Music, MICHAEL PRAETORIUS
Arrangement, JAN SANDSTRÖM
Gerhmans Musikförlag

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

December 24

"The Huron Carol"
performed by The Elora Festival Singers

'Twas in the moon of wintertime
when all the birds had fled
That mighty Gitchi Manitou
sent angel choirs instead;
Before their light the stars grew dim
and wondering hunters heard the hymn:
"Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born:
In excelsis gloria!"

Within a lodge of broken bark
the tender babe was found;
A ragged robe of rabbit skin
enwrapped his beauty round
But as the hunter braves drew nigh
the angel song rang loud and high:
"Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born:
In excelsis gloria!"

The earliest moon of wintertime
is not so round and fair
As was the ring of glory on
the helpless infant there.
The chiefs from far before him knelt
with gifts of fox and beaver pelt:
"Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born:
In excelsis gloria!"

O children of the forest free,
O seed of Manitou
The holy Child of earth and heaven
is born today for you.
Come kneel before the radiant boy
who brings you beauty peace and joy:
"Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born:
In excelsis gloria!"

The words of this Christmas hymn were written in 1643, by Jean de Brébeuf, who was a Jesuit missionary at Sainte-Marie among the Hurons, near Midland, Ontario, Canada. Brébeuf wanted to tell the Christmas story in a way the Hurons could understand, so he composed this Christmas carol, using the native language of the Huron/Wendat people. The song's original Huron title is "Jesous Ahatonhia" ("Jesus, he is born"). The melody is a traditional French folk song, "Une Jeune Pucelle" ("A Young Maid"). The essential message - of the miracle and promise of new life and new hope in the midst of dark and bitter winter - was very "acceptable" to the Huron people, and is one we can all share today.

Even after Jean de Brebeuf's death in 1649 at the hands of the rival Iroquois, the destruction of the Sainte-Marie settlement, and the dispersal of the remaining Huron people, the survivors of the brutal attack still celebrated the nativity each winter and kept the carol alive through the oral tradition. Almost 100 years later, another Jesuit priest heard the carol and wrote it down. It was translated into French under the title "Jesus est ne". In 1926, poet J.E. Middleton wrote an English interpretation that is widely known today.

I highly recommend the spectacular book, "The Huron Carol", which is beautifully illustrated by Frances Tyrrell. It includes the music for The Huron Carol, the only surviving verse in the old Huron language, and two verses from the eighteenth century French translation.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

December 23


"The Holy Boy"
by John Ireland
and performed by
The Cambridge Singers

Monday, December 21, 2009

December 22


"River"
by Joni Mitchell
and performed by Dianne Reeves

Because I owe you one...


"I've Lost My Mummy"
performed by Rolf Harris
(who else??? Sorry, I just can't get enough...)


Thanks to my wonderful, generous, endlessly patient brother-in-law...

I FINISHED MY CHRISTMAS SHOPPING TODAY.

All is right with the world.

Well... with my arm in this cast, all is LEFT with the world.

But it turns out, that's good enough for me.


Thanks, bro.

Best. Christmas. Gift. EVER.

xoxo

December 21


"The First Nowell"
performed by The Elora Festival Singers

Sunday, December 20, 2009

December 20


"The Twelve Days of Christmas"
sung by Dame Kiri te Kanawa

Confession?

I have always HATED this song.

It's redundant, redundant, redundant. To make matters even worse, it's one of the most frequently recorded carols, and seriously overplayed.

Listening to this song in all of its nauseating varieties, in every major shopping centre from Wal Mart to Holt Renfrew, makes me feel as though my brain is going to rupture and leak out of my ears.

So imagine my shock and surprise when I discovered this particular recording, featuring the sublime New Zealand opera star, Dame Kiri te Kanawa.

This recording? Takes my breath away.

Dame Kiri is clearly in her element, and her soaring, lilting voice is full of all of the good humour required to make this song successfully engaging for the listener. Even more brilliantly, each verse has its own little musical theme which is carried along through each successive verse, and culminates into a wonderfully inspiring finale.

"The Twelve Days of Christmas" originated as a children's rhyme that was published in a book called "Mirth without Mischief " in about 1780. It was used as a memory and forfeit game, wherein each player took it in turns to say the rhyme, and more lines were added with every round. It is also rumoured to have been written as a "catechism song" to help young Catholics learn their faith. However, this would have been at a time when practicing Catholicism was discouraged in England, and there is apparently no substantive primary evidence that supports this claim.

The date of the song's first performance is not known, though it was used in European and Scandinavian traditions as early as the sixteenth century. Frederic Austin wrote an arrangement in the early twentieth century, which can be found in The New Oxford Book of Carols. He added his own melody from the verse "Five gold(en) rings" onwards, which is why the latter part of the song sounds quite different from the beginning.

The Twelve Days of Christmas, and the evenings of those twelve days ("Twelve-tide"), are the festive days beginning the evening of Christmas Day, through the morning of Epiphany (January 6). This period of time is also known as "Christmastide".

Saturday, December 19, 2009

December 19


"Gabriel's Message"
performed by The Choir of King's College, Cambridge


"Enjoy your break!"

Ironically, these were the last words my professor called after me as I was leaving her class on Wednesday, having just handed in my final 75 page paper of 2009.

Little did I know that less than an hour later, I would be lying inert and stunned, flat on my back on my icy driveway. I dislocated my right elbow so completely that the medical team looking after me in Emergency obeyed my request to be knocked out, while they assessed the damage and attempted to put me back together again.

I will be spending this Christmas, and probably well into the New Year, encased in a cast from my shoulder to my wrist... no driving, no writing, no cooking, no shopping or wrapping, and most certainly NO KNITTING, for at least the next few weeks.

I am miserable, to be sure. But pain relief is abundantly available, thanks to my merciful doctors, and the comfort of family and friends means the world to me.

I am doing my best, and am making the most of the situation I have found myself in. We mothers do not have much choice, at times like these. We can choose to fight against the forces that are beyond our control... Or, we can yield: Surrender our own agenda for the time being, and trust that in time, all will work out as it should.

I have faith.

All will be well.

In time.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

December 17

CGF will return tomorrow. She has had a fall on the ice, and will learn to type 1 handed asap.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

December 16


Remember, O Thou Man

by Thomas Ravenscroft (1592 -1635)
arranged by Bob Chilcott,
and performed by The Elora Festival Singers

Remember, O thou man,
O thou man, O thou man,
Remember O thou man,
Thy time is spent.

Remember, O thou man,
How thou cams't to me then,
And I did what I can,
Therefore repent.

Remember Adam's fall,
O thou man, O thou man!
Remember Adam's fall
From heaven to hell!

Remember Adam's fall,
How we were condemned all
To hell perpetual,
There for to dwell.

Remember God's goodness,
O thou man, O thou man!
Remember God's goodness,
And promise made!

Remember God's goodness,
How His only Son He sent
Our sins for to redress,
Be not afraid.

The angels all did sing,
O thou man, O thou man!
The angels all did sing,
On Sion hill.

The angels all did sing,
Praises to our glorious King,
And peace to man living,
With a good will!

The Shepherds amazed was,
O thou man, O thou man!
The Shepherds amazed was,
To hear the angels sing.

The Shepherds amazed was
How it should come to pass
That Christ our Messiah
Should be our King!

To Bethlehem did they go,
O thou man, O thou man!
The shepherds three;
O thou man, O thou man!

To Bethlehem did they go,
To see whether it were so,
Whether Christ were borne or no
To set man free.

As the Angels before did say,
O thou man, O thou man!
As the Angels before did say,
So it came to pass;

As the Angels before did say,
They found him wrapt in hay
In a manger, where he lay
So poor he was.

In Bethlehem he was born,
O thou man, O thou man!
In Bethlehem he was born,
For mankind's sake;

In Bethlehem he was born,
For us that were forlorn,
And therefore took no scorn
Our sins to bear.

In a manger laid he was,
O thou Man, O thou Man,
In a manger laid he was
At this time present.

In a manger laid he was,
Between an ox and an ass,
And all for our trespass,
Therefore repent.

Give thanks to God always,
O thou man, O thou man!
Give thanks to God always,
With heart most joyfully

Give thanks to God always,
Upon this blessed day,
Let all men sing and say:
'Holy, holy!'


Thomas Ravenscroft started his career as a chorister at Chichester Cathedral and then moved to London to serve in St. Paul’s Cathedral. It was an exciting time in London as the Theatres were hugely popular, showing plays by such noted playwrights as William Shakespeare. Ravenscroft grew to know many of the actors and writers of this era, and wrote music to accompany some of the plays that were produced at the Globe Theatre. Ravenscroft was also responsible for the preservation of the largest collection of popular vocal music which were published in Pammelia(1609), Deuteromalia(1609), and Melismata(1611). These songs had massive popular appeal and, as with the plays of the era, proved profitable for the Publishers. These works became some of the longest surviving collections of traditional English popular songs.

My brother was recently at the Advent Carol Service at St. John's Church in Elora, where he heard this beautiful, "blues-y" version of the carol, arranged by Bob Chilcott. I agree with him wholeheartedly that it is nothing short of spectacular. Many thanks, DLB, this carol is the star of the season!

Monday, December 14, 2009

December 15


"The Nativity Carol"

by John Rutter, and performed by
The Cambridge Singers

Sunday, December 13, 2009

December 14


"Six White Boomers: Santa's Australian Run"
performed by the one and only Rolf Harris

Right, dear Aussie readers... please do not inundate me with hate-mail, because I love Rolf Harris... I am told by my cousins in Australia that this song is the next thing to blasphemy, but let me say this in my defence: this is PAY BACK for all the many, many years that Certain Relatives have telephoned me on Christmas Day from the beach, where they have been sunning and surfing and throwing something juicy on the barbie for their dinner, whilst the REST of us have been freezing our Canuck Arses off in about thirty squillion feet of snow.

Gotcha.

Merry Christmas, you Guffs.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

December 13

Madonna and Child circa 1827-30, by William Dyce


"A Maiden Most Gentle"
trad. French, arranged by Andrew Carter
performed by The Choir of King's College, Cambridge

A maiden most gentle and tender we sing,
Of Mary the mother of Jesus our King.
Ave Maria

How bless’d is the birth of her heavenly child,
Who came to redeem us in Mary so mild.
Ave Maria

The archangel Gabriel foretold by his call,
The Lord of creation and Saviour of all.
Ave Maria

Three kings came to worship with gifts rich and rare,
And marvelled in awe at the babe in her care.
Ave Maria

Rejoice and be glad at this Christmas we pray,
Sing praise to the Saviour sing end-less.
Ave Maria

Friday, December 11, 2009

December 12


"He'll Be Comin' Down the Chimney"
performed by The Guy Lombardo Trio

I've just come through one of the toughest weeks of the whole school year... and I'm more than a little bit worse for wear, I'm afraid. I need this term to be over, so that I can return to the waiting arms of my three girls, hearth and home. That said... I am woefully behind on Christmas preparations, and it's going to be a real scramble to get ready for the arrival of the Jolly Old Elf, Himself!! Part of me is teetering on the brink of full-on PANIC...

But the other part of me CAN'T. WAIT.

Hurry up, Christmas.

We Need You.

Only twelve more days to go...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

December 11


"Count Your Blessings"

from the movie "White Christmas"
and sung by Bing Crosby, to Rosemary Clooney

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

December 10


"White Christmas"

performed by Louis Armstrong
(who else??!?)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

December 9

Virgin and Child under an Apple Tree 1525-30
by Lucas Cranach, the Elder

The Child Christ helds bread and apple in his hands. The apple is the symbol of the original sin, the bread (the body of Christ) of the redemption. The Virgin is considered to be the second Eve redeeming the sin of the first.

Jesus Christ the Apple Tree
performed by The Choir of Westminster Abbey

From Divine Hymns or Spiritual Songs,
compiled by Joshua Smith, New Hampshire, 1784
Poem by an unknown New Englander
Tune by Elizabeth Poston, 1905-1987

The tree of life my soul hath seen,
Laden with fruit and always green:
The tree of life my soul hath seen,
Laden with fruit and always green:
The trees of nature fruitless be
Compared with Christ the apple tree.

His beauty doth all things excel:
By faith I know, but ne’er can tell,
His beauty doth all things excel:
By faith I know, but ne'er can tell
The glory which I now can see
In Jesus Christ the apple tree.

For happiness I long have sought,
And pleasure dearly I have bought:
For happiness I long have sought,
And pleasure dearly I have bought:
I missed of all; but now I see
'Tis found in Christ the apple tree.

I'm weary with my former toil,
Here I will sit and rest a while:
I'm weary with my former toil,
Here I will sit and rest a while:
Under the shadow I will be,
Of Jesus Christ the apple tree.

This fruit doth make my soul to thrive,
It keeps my dying faith alive:
This fruit doth make my soul to thrive,
It keeps my dying faith alive:
Which makes my soul in haste to be
With Jesus Christ the apple tree.

Monday, December 7, 2009

December 8


"The Fayrfax Carol"

A Tudor manuscript, set to music for
the 1997 "Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols"
by Thomas Adès, and performed by
The Choir of King's College, Cambridge.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

December 7


It's Monday, people, and for those of you familiar with the
Musical Advent Calendar here at "I Can Fly, Just Not Up",
you will remember that the first day of the week means that
some Serious Silliness is in order... Enjoy!!

"Elf's Lament"
written and performed by
The Barenaked Ladies

Saturday, December 5, 2009

December 6

"Madonna and Sleeping Child"
by Andrea Mantegna, 1465-70


"What Child is This?"
performed by The Choir of St John's Church,
Elora, Ontario, Canada.

What Child is this who, laid to rest
On Mary's lap is sleeping?
Whom Angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?

This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and Angels sing;
Haste, haste, to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

Why lies He in such mean estate,
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christians, fear, for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.

Nails, spear shall pierce Him through,
The cross be borne for me, for you.
Hail, hail the Word made flesh,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

So bring Him incense, gold and myrrh,
Come peasant, king to own Him;
The King of kings salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.

Raise, raise a song on high,
The virgin sings her lullaby.
Joy, joy for Christ is born,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

"What Child Is This" was written by English poet and lay theologian William Chatterton Dix as a poem entitled "The Manger Throne". It was first used as a hymn text in Sir John Stainer's Christmas Carols New and Old, 1871. It's well-known tune, "Greensleeves", is a traditional English ballad with an interesting history. The earliest known publication of this tune is in two books of 1580. One is by Richard Jones, entitled "A new Northerne Dittye of the Lady Greene Sleeves", and the other is by Edward White: "A ballad, being the Ladie Greene Sleeves Answere to Donkyn his frende".

William Shakespeare mentions it twice in "The Merry Wives of Windsor":

I would have sworn his disposition would have gone to the truth of his words; but they do no more adhere and keep place together than the Hundredth Psalm to the tune of 'Green Sleeves.'
(Act II, Scene one)

Let the sky rain potatoes; let it thunder to the tune of 'Green Sleeves.'
(Act V, Scene five)

Another one of its early appearances as a hymn tune was as the setting for “Carol for New Year’s Day, to the tune of Green Sleeves". "The old year now is fled" is from a black-letter collection printed in 1642, and can be found in the Ashmoleon Library in Oxford.

Friday, December 4, 2009

December 5


I Wonder As I Wander
performed by The Cambridge Singers

I wonder as I wander out under the sky,
How Jesus the Savior did come for to die,
For poor orn'ry people like you and like I,
I wonder as I wander, ... out under the sky;

When Mary birthed Jesus 'twas in a cow's stall,
With wise men and farmers and shepherds and all,
And high from God's heaven a star's light did fall,
And the promise of the ages, ... they then did recall;

If Jesus had wanted for any wee thing,
A star in the sky or a bird on the wing,
Or all of God's angels in heaven to sing,
He surely could've had it... 'cause he was the King.

This carol is attributed to American folk singer John Jacob Niles. In his words:

" 'I Wonder As I Wander' grew out of three lines of music sung to me by a girl who called herself Annie Morgan. The Place was Murphy, North Carolina, and the time was July, 1933. The Morgan family, revivalists all, were about to be ejected by the police, having camped in the town square for some little time, cooking, washing, hanging their wash from the Confederate monument, and generally conducting themselves in such a way as to be considered a public nuisance. Preacher Morgan and his wife pled poverty; they had to hold one more meeting in order to buy enough gas to get out of town.
It was then that Annie Morgan came out-- a tousled, unwashed blonde, and very lovely. She sang the first three lines of the verse of 'I Wonder As I Wander'. At twenty-five cents a performance, I tried to get her to sing all the song. After eight tries, all of which are carefully recorded in my notes, I had only three lines of verse, a garbled fragment of melodic material-- and a magnificent idea. With the writing of additional verses and the development of of the original melodic material, 'I Wonder As I Wander' came into being. I sang it for five years in my concerts before it caught on. Since then it has been sung by soloists and choral groups, wherever the English language is spoken or sung."

Thursday, December 3, 2009

December 4


"Christmas Time is Here"
sung by Sarah McLaghlan

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

December 3

"The Shepherd's Carol"
by Bob Chilcott, and performed by
The Choir of St John's Church, Elora, Ontario.

Oh, my friends...

It has been an agonizing several days, as my brother and I struggle with the music players on this website. Please accept my sincerest apologies for the numerous failures and malfunctions over the past several days... I have put aside essays and lesson plans in order to try and solve this problem. Please, do keep me posted as to whether or not you are able to enjoy the music I have chosen for tonight. The player will display the Quicktime logo for a moment or two as it loads, so be patient... I am PRAYING that all will be well at your end.

We'll make this work.

Somehow.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

December 2

"... now, this is SERIOUS!"

"Santa Claus is Comin' to Town"
performed by the completely irresistible
(Sweet Baby) James Taylor

Monday, November 30, 2009

December 1

"The Best Time of Year"
by John Rutter, and performed by The Cambridge Singers


Welcome to the Musical Advent Calendar!

For those of you new to the blog, every Christmas for the past several years, I have marked the days up to December 25th with some of the loveliest carols I have in my music collection. Tune in each day for a special gift, to you from me! It's a perfect opportunity to sit and relax for a few moments, and enjoy some holiday cheer.

It's the very best time of year, after all.

xoxo CGF

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Christmastime's A-comin'!!


... and in spite of the manic schedule of my academic career (we are coming up on end-of-term, report cards, and parent-teacher interviews... Pray for me!!), I wouldn't miss spending December with all of you for the world.

Starting Tuesday, December 1, the Musical Advent Calendar will be in full swing! Drop by every day 'till Christmas for a little holiday cheer, and some wonderful, inspirational music. There will be favourites from years past, as well as a few new selections that I have found, and particularly enjoy.

The tree is up, the fire is lit, and there's a place waiting here for you.

xoxo CGF

Monday, November 16, 2009

Monday "Ain't It The Truth"...


'nuff said.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Today.


It's business as usual around here.
*SIGH*

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Two for tea...


Wee Three: (jostling my elbow whilst that particular arm is holding up a cup of steaming hot liquid) MAMA! How much cups of tea am I allowed to dwink every day?

Wee Three is just barely five years old, but in the somewhat strange,English tradition of my family, she has already developed a fondness for what we used to call "cambric" tea. There is a bit of tea in the mug... just enough for warmth and flavour, but the rest of the drink is supposed to be composed of milk... and usually sports waaaaay too many spoonfuls of sugar.

While my eldest child has turned into a "Tea-Granny" at the ripe old age of thirteen, Child Number Two remains completely revolted by the taste (which is fine by me, because of all my kids, she's the one who needs that extra kick of caffeine the LEAST...)

Wee Three's little habit seems to have developed somewhat earlier than what I remember of myself, my siblings or my other offspring. Indeed, I am finding it somewhat alarming when she bounces into the kitchen at 5.32 AM each day, allowing me just two short minutes of solitude and peace after being catapulted out of bed by my alarm clock.

And then, the BEGGING begins.

"Cuppa TEA?" she inquires, racing towards the kettle...

I've created a monster, here, clearly, and I am becoming increasingly fearful of the day when she will suffer withdrawal symptoms, should we accidentally run out of our ever-present tin of Typhoo.

And so, the "limitations":

Tea ONLY in the mornings or early afternoons. And NONE after four o'clock.

Wee Three: (jostling me AGAIN, and succeeding in slorping hot tea onto my pant leg-- just enough to necessitate dry cleaning) MAMA!! I SAID... HOW MUCH CUPS OF TEA AM I 'LOWD EVERY DAY?

Mother: (cursing fluently under her breath, and leaping out of the chair) OW!! One, sweetie. Only one. One cup, filled halfway to the top. That's all.

There, I thought (foolishly). That should take care of it. A little truth-bending for the Wee One in the house... but it's for the sake of her health.

And my sanity.

Wee Three: (thoughtfully, with an angelic look on her face) So, you mean TWO cups. Right?

Mother: (sensing that the child is not as innocent as she looks. Not by a long shot.) Nope. Not two. ONE. One cup, half-way filled. No more.

Wee Three: (on to me) But I could have two cups of half, right? Two halves. Got one half. Got 'nuther half. Half isn't one. So, TWO. Two cups of tea for me, right? Two.

Mother: (acknowledging defeat. Again.) Right, sweetie. Ok. But NO MORE THAN THAT.

Got to put my foot down sometime, people.

Because you KNOW she'll be raiding my liquor cabinet next.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

It's aaaaallllll about me(me).


As you can tell, I've been at a loss for words for the past few weeks... All too much energy is being expended upon my work-- it is INTENSE, and I never seem to stop talking!! By the time I get finished doing all the things I need to do in a day, I am SPENT, people. And I can't seem to muster the energy to put words down in this space, on a regular enough basis.

And so, imagine my RELIEF to run across good ol' James Lipton (and his blinding, bald pate) on television this afternoon, as I was flipping through channels during one of my breaks. James is annoying, there's no denying that-- but he also asks great questions.

Questions like THESE, which he uses regularly on one of my favourite tv programs, “Inside the Actors Studio”. Since I will NEVER be invited to respond to these questions at any other point in my life, I figured that this would be as good as an excuse as any!!

Forgive me, dear readers... Ok, James, let 'er rip:

1. What is your favorite word?

Oh, I've got a million of 'em... Most of them made up by my kids.

"Squibbet" is a food measurement, as in, "Just eat one more tiny squibbet, and then you may be excused".

"Bralella" is what we call umbrellas around here, and originates from Child Number One's babyhood. I just think it sounds better.

One of my favourite words of all time is "jolly". Not used nearly enough any more, but used liberally by my English Granny, who personified the word during her prime.

One of my favourite not-so-nice words is actually a medical term. "Petechiae" (pet-eek-ee-eye) are pinpoint flat round red spots under the skin surface caused by intradermal hemorrhage (bleeding into the skin). Ew. But, you can't deny it-- if you didn't know what it meant, the word would sound... well, JOLLY, don't you think???!

(Rats. That was more than one word. But I'm an English Specialist, so sue me...)

2. What is your least favorite word?

"LIKE". This word is sprinkled into people's dialogue, as one would sprinkle far too much salt onto food. Both can be fatal. Too much salt will cause kidney failure. And if you utter the word "like" in my presence more than twice in a sentence, I will kill you. "Like" is overused, INCORRECTLY, and carries absolutely no meaning whatsoever.

3. What turns you on?

I am turned on by people who exhibit a sense of what others need, and then do their utmost to provide it. I am impressed, not with martyr-like selflessness, but with people who have an intuitive sense of caring. Of thoughtfulness. Of generosity-of-spirit.

Why is it that it feels like those people are becoming more and more hard to find?

4. What turns you off?

I am turned off by disrespect. By people who think they are too "good", or too "fine". By show-offs. By selfishness. By mean-spiritedness.

5. What sound do you love?

A lawnmower humming in the distance.

6. What sound do you hate?

I hate it when more than one piece of electrical equipment is squawking away in my home at the same time. If one person has the radio going, and another person has the television on, the resulting cacophony is enough to drive me to drink.

7. What is your favorite curse word?

Ooooh. WAY too hard a question. I curse like a stevedore, loudly and fluently. I am a master orator of all blasphemy, and have been known to let fly in several different languages.

To give the shortest (and safest) answer, let's just say that I really enjoy listening to George Carlin's "Words You Can't Say on Television" skit, and leave it at that, shall we?

8. What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?

I would love to be a family lawyer, and fight for the rights of children in difficult divorce cases. All too often, divorcing spouses use children as pawns, or get so wound up in their own emotional angst, they don't allow their children to have a "voice" in the proceedings. To my mind, there is nothing more important in a divorce situation than to put the children FIRST. I would like to help parents and children to make this possible.

9. What profession would you not like to do?

I would not like to work in the financial industry. Ever. Again.

10. If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?

"FINALLY!! Everybody's been waiting for you."

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Thankful.


"Happiness", from the Broadway musical,
"You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown"

A Happy Thanksgiving to all.
xo CGF

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

If only...

Need I say more?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

File this under "Ab-so-lute-ly TYPICAL".

This? Is the divine Hugh Jackman, during a performance of his Broadway show, "A Steady Rain" last week. A cellphone went off in the audience, and Jackman responded to the unpardonable interruption, IN CHARACTER, by stopping the performance, and requesting the audience member to either answer the call, or turn the ringer off.

Bravo, I say.

Wonder if he could take care of the people who open loud candy wrappers, and engage in idle chit-chat with their elbow-partners, as well...

People??!

THERE'S A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE THEATRE, AND YOUR LIVING ROOM.

If this comes as news to you, then please... stay home.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Soundtrack of My Weekend...




We spent a wonderful three days in Stratford with my long-suffering parents this past weekend. Especially long-suffering, since my father has just undergone surgery this week, and so was in a considerably weakened state. For the first time in my life, I EASILY won the battle for the title of "MC" (Master of the Clicker... Dad has always been EXTREMELY possessive about the television remote control. Ab-so-lute-ly TYPICAL.)

It was the perfect opportunity, therefore, to subject him to just THIS sort of High Silliness on television... even though what he claimed to REALLY want to watch was the new BBC production of "Little Dorrit".

Tough, I told him.

Because laughter is the BEST medicine, after all.

CHOPIN!!!!!

Dignity.

Not very cultural, guys... Not very cultural. Thank God.

"That WAS awful."

-- My Father

Saturday, September 26, 2009

No, really...


No, not really.

When you are a mother who has resumed life as a full-time student, and also attempting to begin working at a new job, there is no such thing as being "in control".

I know that, now.

But it doesn't make "letting go" any easier, let me tell you.

A few "bullets" from the trenches:

--Going back to university has, so far, been a wonderful experience. I certainly didn't expect it to feel like this at all. After having done my undergrad at the largest and snootiest university in this country, I fully EXPECTED the workload to be completely unmanageable, the other students borderline-suicidal, campus atmosphere dismal, and the professors out-to-kill-me. In fact, in this particular post-graduate program, the workload IS ridiculously heavy, but fascinating. The other students are friendly, and happy to be a part of it all. I have had nothing but positive interactions with people of authority on campus. And my professors? Are nothing short of spectacular. They actually treat me like an intelligent human being-- a human being with a valuable life experience BEYOND academia. It's marvellous. It's incredible. Going back to school has turned out to be one of the most intense, challenging experiences of my life... but it's worth it.

--I am teaching. Grade THREE! Until Christmas. And I love it more than I can say.

--My girlies are undergoing some very difficult adjustments this fall. It's been very, very hard on all of us. But, they're coping beautifully. And I'm so proud of them, so grateful for their love and support and willingness to make these changes for me. Everything I'm doing, I'm doing for THEM, after all. They deserve a stable, secure, happy environment, and I'm determined to provide exactly that.

--Our care-giver, Mary, makes all of this possible. Without her, we are nothing. She has jumped right in, and taken over the household exactly where I had to leave off. There is nothing she won't do for us, it would seem. I am the envy of the entire village, having a woman like her helping us. In just the past few weeks, she has made herself an indispensable part of our community, and has been helping out friends, hosting little get-togethers, and putting in long hours volunteering at the girlies' school. Everyone loves her-- but nowhere near as much as we do.

--It's autumn. Already. The leaves are turning the most spectacular shades of red, orange and yellow... and overnight, my garden seems dried-out and rope-y, and ready for the big pre-winter tidy up. When did this all happen?? How did I manage to miss so many of those "golden days" of summer?? And what the HELL am I going to do with all those tiny millions of tomatoes, and gargantuan zucchinis that have appeared seemingly out of NOWHERE??

--I am slowly learning how to manage this juggling act... which is no small feat for a classic Type-AAA control-freak like me. I hate having to "let go". I hate the people who tell me I HAVE to "let go", or part with what's left of my sanity. Needless to say, I'm not sleeping much.

--It's hard. But I'm counting my blessings. I may not be "in control", but... I'm getting there, and that's a pretty damn good start.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

School starts in two weeks... FOR ME.


H.e.l.p.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Update from The Funny Farm...

Forgive me, dear readers... for I have been Busy...



- The best news?! WE HAVE FOUND MARY POPPINS. I cannot believe it myself. She and I actually "met" on a nanny website (and, for the record, I HATE THE WORD "NANNY". To me, it sounds like a goat. Or something terribly chi-chi-poo-poo, non? Most of the people I hear dropping the words "my nanny" are those who spend entirely too much time getting their nails done and flirting with their tennis pro at "the club"). We were fortunate enough to run across one anothers' advertisements on the same day we both posted, and I could almost tell from the tone of her emails-- not to mention her spectacular resume and references-- that she was the one for us. My girlies adore her-- and so do I. She is everything I had hoped she would be, and more: intelligent, responsible, kind, affectionate, with a wonderful sense of humour... As I told her, so long as she and the girlies are happy, I can do anything. ANYTHING. Including acing this university degree in only eight months. Happiness at home is the key. And I am pretty sure that this delightful young woman is The Key.

- Just two short weeks ago, I turned forty. Yep, FORTY. And you know what?? NO BIG DEAL. I feel great, I look pretty damn good for a woman who has had three kids, and I am finally beginning to feel as though I'm getting my life on the right track. The thirties were hard years. Bring on the forties, I say-- I'm determined to make them some of the happiest, most productive and fulfilling years of my life.

- The garden is going CRAZY this year. I'm actually scrambling to try and keep up with it. The summer here has been cooler and damper than ones in past years-- we are so used to everything being scorched flat by this time in the season, from all the HEAT... But this summer, not so much, mercifully. Temperatures haven't cracked up past about twenty-six degrees Celsius, and that, plus all the torrential rain that seems to pass over us in fits and spurts, has caused my garden to grow like gangbusters. The new front beds are lush and green, and our vegetables are going to be positively prize-winning. The guinea pigs have been feasting for "free" on all the kale and chicory dandelion leaves we planted for them, and actually race for the doors of their hutches when they hear us coming with their dinners. The excited squeaking is positively deafening... I hope the girlies are that enthusiastic when the first harvest of tomatoes, cucumbers, beans and peas appear on our table in a few more weeks...

- And here, you see one of my proudest accomplishments of this summer. This? Is a home-made rain barrel. For months I scoured hardware stores and warehouses, searching for large barrels to catch rain water with which to water my plants... And sickeningly, like so many of the rest of the earth-saving enterprises out there these days, the average price of a rain barrel around here is between seventy and a hundred bucks. I sh*t you not. It's outrageous. It is SO outrageous that I finally jumped in my car and headed for the farm country where I was born, and marched straight into our neighbourhood Co-op.

The gentleman who works behind the counter has known my family for years. My father, one of the local doctors, delivered all of his children (he's actually delivered a good chunk of the population in my home town, interestingly... and has even delivered the babies of some of the babies he once delivered. If you get my drift.) He welcomed me through the door, and shared my dismay when I told him about my cost dilemma.

"So...." he said, as he eyed me sideways and grinned a lopsided smile. "You've come back home from the Big City for a little REALITY, have ya?"

Preferably CHEAP reality, I replied. Because I happen to know that enormous plastic barrels of the right size are plentiful on the local farms near where I was born. All kinds of strange concoctions are stored within them. Cow teat dip, for example. (Ew. And Ow, too, for that matter.)

The gentleman made a few phonecalls, rounded up a few pieces of plumbing hardware that cost me about two dollars and fifty cents, and sent me on my way. A half an hour later, my father and I arrived at an ancient general store in Winthrop, Ontario. And outside that general store were five or six huge, hideously-coloured plastic barrels... barrels that whiffed gently of garlic and pimento. OLIVE BARRELS. From Greece. This tiny little general store sells some pretty delectable foods, and the owner was only too delighted to let us take a couple of the storage barrels off of his hands. He even let us borrow a power drill and round, saw-toothed bit with which to cut the holes for the two faucets: one down near the bottom for filling watering cans, and one up above to expel any overflow.

I love my rain barrels. They are not sleek or decorator models. But they're practical, useful, and until that boston ivy creeps over them, they'll make great conversation pieces.

- We have been Cleaning again. This time, carpets. I rented one of those gigantic, growling red machines from our local grocery store, and did the top two floors of our house last weekend. The thick, black-ish brown substance that I was constantly emptying from the "used water" tank was more than slightly alarming... but I just kept going over and over each room, until it finally ran clear. Everything looks-- and smells-- lovely and fresh and clean... Now we just have to keep it that way, which is no small feat in the summertime, due to all the small feet we have running around here.

I'll give you my secret to soft, fresh clean carpets that turn out far better than if you were to hire a professional to do it for you: distilled water (which we collect from our dehumidifier), heated to almost-boiling on the stove, with only about a tablespoon of detergent, and a cup of white vinegar per two gallons of water. Yes, it is time-consuming work. It's hot, sweaty, dirty, and I think I strained my everything hauling all that machinery and buckets of hot water up and down the stairs... But oh, my, it's worth it. Next job? The basement carpets. Bring. It. On.

- We've been knitting! I have finished a gorgeous little hoodie sweater for Child Number Two, and she is loving the soft, cuddly yarn so much, she even wears it over her pyjamas in the evenings. I've also completed a beautiful cotton shawl for myself, and added a mother-of-pearl button to keep it in place around my shoulders. My last unfinished project is yet another afghan (this is the last one for awhile! I promise!! Oh, I'm such a sucker for a cosy blanket...), which I've done in a basket-weave stitch. I can't wait to get started on the NEW projects I've already lined up to clad my little family in the fall: a soft, blue alpaca shrug for Child Number One, two little tulip-shaped ponchos for Child Number Two and Wee Three... and a thick, warm sweater-coat for my mother, which I'll fasten with an antique Celtic pin, which was bequeathed to us by my very Scottish grandmother. I can't wait to see it on her...


- We are "into" tie-dying... Child Number Two came home from her horseback riding camp this summer with the most gorgeous tee shirt she had made... And the rest of us were wildly jealous. So, we sneaked out to the summer sale at "Old Navy", bought up vast quantities of white cotton apparel, and scampered home. I just hope all my knowledge of dying fabric from my olden days of costume-making comes back to me in time... I've been secretly sneaking peeks at Youtube videos, which give remarkably good instructions on how to tie up various garments, to produce different colour patterns. If I get good at this, I fear my entire wardrobe will soon look hippie-inspired. NOT GOOD. A little tie-dye goes a loooooong way. Remind me of this fact when my obsessive-compulsive urge kicks in.

- My title of "Dragon Lady" has taken on new meaning. This summer, the son of one of my dearest friends has entrusted me with the care and keeping of his Bearded Dragon Lizard, Fandango. It would be an understatement to say that I was slightly freaked out when my friend announced that Santa Claus was bringing them a reptile for Christmas last year. Indeed, for several weeks, I took it upon myself to try and talk her out of allowing the event-- I was deeply afraid that the presence of a bearded dragon in her house would prevent me from being able to visit her. Yep, you guessed it, I am NOT a snake person. Neither am I a snake-with-LEGS person, which is essentially what I deem lizards to BE.

However, to my surprise and delight, when Fandango made his appearance last December, my attitude towards creepy-crawly-slithery things changed dramatically. For Fandango turned out to be quite a little character. He blinked blearily up at me from under his heat lamp, and his eyes drifted shut as I gently scratched him on the head with one finger. The perma-smile on his face seemed to widen ever so slightly, and his soft little beard bristled.

Fandango and I have an understanding, it would seem. So much so that I don't even mind purchasing vast quantities of crickets for his dining enjoyment. The "super worms" creep me out a bit-- who knew there were actually worms that could JUMP? Gaaaa. But, Fandango only eats worms on weekends, according to the menu that his owner kindly emailed me several weeks ago. And so, I've got five days during which I can psyche myself up to handle them... and during those five days, Fandango seems very content to munch on calcium-powder-coated crickets and a leaf or two of fresh kale from my garden.

Yep, I've officially become a Dragon Lady.

And it suits me to a tie-dyed "tee".

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Amen.

video

video

Friday, June 26, 2009

Today... I feel... old.





And yet.... Perhaps... not soon enough for him.

Thank you for the dancing, the music, and the fun.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Children's Literature 101


Well, she's at it again, folks...

Wee Three had out the ol' nursery rhyme book, and was doing her best to read "Baa, Baa, Black Sheep" (which is one of our favourites, being knitterly, after all):

Wee Three: Baa, baa, black sheep! Have you any wool?
Yes, sir, yes, sir! Three bags full!
ONE for the master, and ONE for the dame,
(dramatic pause, accompanied by a deep scowl)
And one for the little boy WHO IS SUCH A PAIN...

I swear, people, she didn't get this from me. (Although I THINK I know the little guy she's talking about, from her Junior Kindergarten class...)




Wee Three: (in her very best choral hooligan holler)
TAKE ME OUT TO THE BAAAAAALLGAME!
Take me out with the crooooooowd!
Buy me some peanuts and AP-PLE JUICE...








See what I mean?

If she were being fed these lines by me, she would definitely have ordered a beer.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Ahem.


Enough said.

 
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