Wishing you all the very
happiest of New Years!!
Much love (and warm fuzzies) from CGF xoxo
Well, folks... it's official.
There's been a death confirmed here in our household, and it's a dirty situation, I'm afraid.
Yesterday, with the first batch of company having departed from this steaming heap my family and I call home, I settled in to some seriously heavy cleaning, before the second and third parties requiring High Entertainment arrived.
The kitchen required special attention, as you can imagine. Cupboards were swept out and reorganized, counters were wiped down, the oven was blasted with serious chemical warfare, the garbage was emptied, and all receptacles were thoroughly sterilized.
It was a Reformation, I tell you.
And, as with most efforts that are undertaken in this house, things looked a lot worse before they began to look better.
Whenever I clean like a demonically possessed whirling dervish, I actually DO have a strategy that I try to stick to: I start at the ceiling, and work my way down to the floor. Gravity is my friend, in this case (un-like the case of my developing facial jowls and droopy rear end. But I digress...)
Whatever filth that is swept, scraped, or blow-torched off of surfaces eventually lands on the floor, which is then vacuumed, and then duly scrubbed. In this way, I am fairly well assured of collapsing in exhaustion upon a relatively clean (albeit more than slightly damp) surface, once the ordeal is complete. This technique also puts me in a position to view the cats' feet, as they ick their way through the puddles, and then plop their dirty little botts down on a dry patch beside me.
All was going well, yesterday. So well, that the condition of the kitchen went from simply "horrible" to damn near "VILE". Crumbs and cobwebs were flying, not to mention smatterings of leftover currants and sugar sprinkles... All were duly swept "downwards".
And then, I climbed down off of my step stool, crunched over to the broom cupboard, and reached for my beloved and ancient vacuum cleaner. I plugged it into the kitchen outlet, but instead of the reassuring "SWOOSH" that usually greets my grateful ears, I heard... nothing.
I checked the power outlet, then the breaker switch. All in good order.
Panicking more than just a little, I cracked open my old friend's chest, so to speak, and began attempting emergency resuscitation: I cleaned the filter, and replaced the bag.
And definitely no "swoosh".
I then called in the paramedics, in the form of Sue down at the local VacMaster Centre. She rushed right over, as she always does.
But, sadly, this time, there was nothing she could do. She pronounced my beloved dead-on-arrival.
And, once she had recovered from the sight of the horror in my kitchen, she offered her deepest sympathy, in the form of a significant discount on a much newer, sleeker model.
My new Partner-In-Cleaning promises to be everything my old friend was, and MORE: never again will I have to make a late-night run to Sue's establishment, and pound on the door (having been locked-up only moments before) BEGGING for replacement bags. This baby's got serious cyclonic action, and a receptacle that requires nothing more than to be emptied into the trash after several months of use (or, more likely in our case, every week or so). It's even got a zippered "sleeping bag" type of sleeve that encases the hose, to protect my oh-so-delicate floors and the legs of various pieces of furniture (har-de-har... Well, at least it will no longer make that disgusting rrrrrrrriiiiiipppppp-ing noise every time I haul it around sharp corners).
Yes, there's been a death in the family, 'tis true. Our household is in serious disarray at the moment, but not for long. For tomorrow morning at nine o'clock, my shiny new friend will be ceremoniously installed, and the old corpse hauled away to the recycling depot.
I have to say:
This must be the only occasion upon which I've been truly happy to report that something in my life "really sucks".
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On Sunday afternoon, I had the great pleasure of being one of the members of the congregation for The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols at St. John's Church in Elora, Ontario: the home of one of the foremost choral ensembles in North America. The music was breathtaking, as was the atmosphere of the beautiful church, which is nestled in some of the most sacred farm country in our part of the world. As we exited the church, we were greeted by the Rector, who was standing in the doorway. Behind him, outside, twilight was fading and snow was falling... It was the perfect end to a most perfect afternoon.
One of the most moving pieces of music that I heard during the service was Eric Whitacre's "Lux Arumque: Light and Gold". The sound was haunting... and the words brought tears to my eyes. Whitacre's genius is found in the structure of the chords that he uses in his compositions. His signature "Whitacre Chords," or pan-diatonic clusters are usually arranged in successive increasing or decreasing density. Whitacre achieves this growth and decay by splitting voices divisi: in one case up to 18 parts. He is not only a prolific composer, he is a ferociously busy conductor, lecturer and teacher, as well.
In 2009, Mr. Whitacre embarked on a mammoth project, involving this particular choral piece. Using computer technology, he organized a "Virtual Choir": 185 voices, beamed in from 12 different countries around the world. He conducted the singers online, combined their efforts and recorded the result in a spectacular video, which he then published on Youtube. Within two months, the video had over one million "hits". Not only did this ground-breaking idea expose a whole new audience to this genre of music, it brought together musicians from around the world who otherwise might never have had the opportunity to collaborate on a musical project.
Watch, listen, and enjoy:
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Thomas Hardy includes the carol in his novel, although the words are slightly different than those found in Bob Chilcott's version. As with many of these ancient, "rustic" carols, the words set to the tune can be adapted for several different religious occasions. "Remember O Thou Man" is also suggested for use in Lenten services.
Thomas Ravenscroft (c. 1582 or 1592 until 1635) was an English composer, theorist and editor, notable as a composer of rounds and catches, and especially for compiling collections of British folk music. He 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.
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Be sure to watch this one right through to the end, folks... because this is the best final movement of a Beethoven symphony that I've ever seen.
When Child Number One was a tiny baby, my mother arranged for me to get out of the house for a few hours, and gave me the gift of a ticket to the theatre, and a BABYSITTER. Now, being a new mother, the very idea of leaving my firstborn in the care of anyone other than myself was enough to provoke paroxysms of guilt, and a panic attack so intense that it caused me to initially reject the offer. The babysitter wasn't even FAMILY, for crying out loud-- what on earth could possibly qualify her for the job?
I'll never forget my mother's response to my distress. She patted me down, and in her best psychiatric nurse's voice, soothed me with the assurance:
"It will be all right, dear. This teenage girl is perfect.
Not "Red Cross Certified". Not even Mary Poppins, herself. "SHE'S MUSICAL" was the highest recommendation that my mother could give to another human being.
So, I went to the play. (And Baby Number One survived the ordeal. Quite nicely.)
My mother sent me this little video to cheer me up last week, when I was down with bronchitis and a nasty ear infection. Obviously, because Beethoven has healing qualities, didn't you know that??
But, above all else, it was because of the child featured in the video. We have no idea who he is, but I've got a sneakin' suspicion he's been watching someone else conduct this piece... his "moves" are simply wonderful-- not so much for the fact that he manages to stay just a breath ahead of the music (even when he gets the sniffles, which I can relate to), or even the fact that he appears to "address" his entire imaginary orchestra, in the general direction where each of the instruments would have been seated.
Above all else, we love this video because this kid is
And what's more, he's got a sense of HUMOUR about it.
And that? Is probably the most important human quality of all.
Oh, little boy, whoever you are... your pure joy and laughter is the very best medicine.
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