Saturday, November 10, 2018

staying local for Christmas

The Chief and I just decided that, given the schedule for all his medical stuff, we won't be traveling this Christmas.  I'm disappointed - I haven't been home since my aunt's funeral in February - but as I told the Chief, I want to celebrate Christmas with him.

Thursday, November 01, 2018

Hellish tech week

Here I am, doing hair & makeup on another community theater play; just 7 performers in this one.  It's been a tough tech week, though; here it is Wednesday, just one rehearsal left, and the cue-to-cue (usually the Sunday before opening) was tonight!  Worse, this was also the first night w/ costumes and only some hair & makeup for the cast.  Kinda hard to see what your makeup looks like under the lights if you aren't wearing any!  This ain't Broadway; you bring your own supplies, and if you forget 'em, well, that's on you.  The backstage masking is terrible, too; too many places where the audience can see backstage, leaving nowhere for cast or crew to hide.

Tomorrow night is our final rehearsal before they do this for an audience.  Here's hoping we can fix all the glitches...

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Yamachiche and Village des Caron

Yep, Village des Caron, no S on the end.  Nine sons of Michel Caron, son of pioneer Robert Caron, settled here, hence the name.  The Chemin des Caron, which runs right past where the Village des Caron used to be, is still there.  Now, though, it just runs past a string of small farms and ends in a cul de sac in the middle of a field (or maybe the line between 2 fields; hard to tell, and we didn't want to risk getting mired in mud to find out).

The (ghost) village is just north of Yamachiche, itself a very small town - one church, one school, no grocery store, and the only gas station is where the main street intersects the nearest highway, on the extreme western end of town.  The one sit-down restaurant is attached to a motel by that lone gas station, is open 24 hours, and is along the lines of Big Boy or Denny's. 

Low-end restaurants, in our limited experience, all seem to run to burgers, pizza, at least one or two pasta dishes, and poutine.  They all have poutine, often in different variations.  Even the Greek restaurant where we had dinner tonight had poutine on the menu.

Another thing we've noticed is that only about half the restaurants seem to be licensed to sell alcohol.  The rest all tell you to bring your own wine, which seems to mean there's at least one liquor store nearby where you can buy a bottle to take to dinner.   We haven't noticed anyone bringing beer; don't know whether that's a social custom, preference, or something else.  Makes me wonder how the liquor laws are written here, and whether we'll see many BYOB restaurants when we get to Quebec.

We attended the vigil mass at Notre-Dame-du-Cap, about 2 blocks from our hotel.  It's a basilica, so it's big, though not as big as other basilicas we've seen.  Which is fine; it means the back rows can still see the altar.  The order of service was a little different; for one thing, they only did two readings, not three.  The second half of the eucharistic prayer didn't match the first half in the missalette, many of the prayers weren't even printed in it, and the hymnals only had the lyrics, no musical notation.  They also recited the Apostle's rather than the Nicene creed, but that's a minor matter.  The Chief said he felt like he hadn't really been to mass because he couldn't follow things but also because it seemed like they skipped things.

The Greek restaurant where we ate tonight was not like the ones we're used to in the States.  Spanakopita was only available as an appetizer, the only lamb was chops, and they didn't offer many of the mains that are standard on Greek menus in the US (no pastitsio, moussaka, fish offerings, or roast lamb).  Our dinners were so filling - served on a bed of Greek salad and fries, with a side of garlic bread - we didn't even consider dessert.  This particular place was also very noisy - the Chief and I didn't bother trying to hold a conversation.  To their credit, though, they squeezed us in even though we didn't have a reservation.



Friday, September 28, 2018

More time in the Archives

We got to the Archives about 10:45 this morning and started right in on researching the Chief's family.  They kicked us out for an hour at noon because they close for lunch, so we ate in a nearby cafe.  Ciabatta sandwiches with ham, brie & apple were very good; only change I'd make would be the bread.  We also split a piece of carrot cake, which was nice and carrot-y and not overly sweet.  A man obviously down on his luck came in while we were eating and the Chief acted in typical fashion.  He went up to a cashier, gave her a $20 and told her to use it for whatever the man wanted to eat, then to give the man the change.

We went back to the Archives for another 2 1/2 hours before packing it in for the day.  We thanked the staff for their help, and Eric reminded us that we'll still have account access when we get to the Archives in Quebec.

We stopped at 2 different grocery stores to pick up things for dinner, then took our haul back to the hotel.  We started with happy hour:  wine (for me) and beer (for the Chief) and cheese & crackers on the balcony.  Beautiful day for it - nice and sunny, with a mild breeze.  Dinner was chicken legs and broccoli salad, followed by an oatmeal raisin cookie (with no detectable cinnamon).

Tomorrow we're off to Yamachiche to see if there's anything worth seeing there and to see a few places named for the Chief's ancestors.  Sure hope the weather holds...

Trois-Rivieres, Quebec

The Chief and I took two days to drive up here.  Ten hours on the road the first day, driving in rain pretty much the whole way.  We pushed all the way to Albany before stopping for lunch, by which time we were SO ready to get outta the car!  That was the worst of it, though; we got into Bennington, VT, around 4 for an overnight stop.  The Autumn Inn is an older, mom-and-pop motel.  Not very fancy, but clean and convenient, and they were very anxious to be sure they complied with our "no down bedding request."

Wednesday we left before breakfast at the motel, but we had some pretzel rolls to eat in the car.  We took our time, stopping briefly in Wilmington, VT (very pretty little town) to get some Dunkin coffee for the Chief and to stop into Our Lady of Fatima church because the architecture caught my eye.

More importantly, we stopped at King Arthur Flour in Norwich!  We got a nosh in the cafe, then went into the store.  The Chief opted for a mini-scone pan and scone mix, while I got a few ingredients and a flour-sack dishtowel.  We went into Norwich proper to top up the gas tank and drop a clothing return at the post office.  What a postcard-perfect little town - very New England.

Crossing the border into Canada was almost a non-event.  We gave the guard our passports & second ID, he asked us where we were going and how long we expected to be in Canada, asked if we had any weapons, and that was it. 

We stopped in Sherbrooke looking for the tourist info office.  It was further into town than we could have wished, and there seemed to be roadwork every other block, but we made it.  It's a tiny little building on the Magog River - lovely view.  We picked up a few brochures, then headed on to Trois-Rivieres.  Waze wasn't working - we learned the next day our phones didn't have connectivity in Canada. (My phone now does.) but Gladys got us to our hotel.

L'Auberge Familiale La Veranda is another older place, not a chain, but the woman who checked us in was very nice, gave us a bigger room than we'd booked, at the same price.  The sprinklers are apparently a retrofit - they only run around the perimeter of the room, so there's one in the shower and one above the upper kitchen cabinet in the kitchenette.  The room is a bit on the warm side, so we've been using the ceiling fans to make it more comfortable.  However, the mattress is nice and firm, and we have not just one, but two small fridges and ample storage.

Yesterday we ventured into downtown Trois-Rivieres.  We started at the tourist info office, got a nice lunch, then went to the Archives, the reason we added Trois-Rivieres to our itinerary.  Archivist Eric Lamothe-Cyrenne was very helpful - showed us how to use their database, got us guest accounts for it that are good until we leave Quebec, pulled out some old maps for us to examine, even helped me with a few French terms.  We finished up around 4, then walked around downtown for an hour or so.

We started at the quay, walking along the water and the waterfront park, then venturing into the neighborhoods, admiring the range of architecture and plantings.  Had the prettiest little orange-and-white cat come up to us while we were exploring the Anglican cemetery. For some reason, he decided *I* needed to give him scritches, not the Chief, the one who's not allergic to cats. I gave in - first time in ages I've dared to pet a cat. (Thanks to liberal application of hand sanitizer, I didn't have a reaction.)  Dinner at Moose Grill & Pub, then back to our hotel for the night.  (Where the Chief binge-watched news about the Kavanaugh hearing and I tried to ignore it.)

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Just got my first paid wedding gig!

I had auditioned for a temporary church job, didn't get it because the Chief & I will be on vacation for almost half the time they wanted to cover.  However, the email telling me that also asked if I'd be interested in cantoring a wedding next Saturday afternoon.  Sure thing!  Only cantoring, not soloing, but it pays.  Woo-hoo!  I'm gonna be a wedding singer! 😊

Friday, August 31, 2018

Another Sing-Out!

It's that time again!  Every 5 years, the theater company I keep coming back to hosts a marathon Gilbert & Sullivan sing-along over Labor Day weekend.  You sing through all the music (but none of the dialogue) of all 13 surviving G&S shows.  (Their first collaboration, Thespis, or the Gods Grown Old, survives only in fragments.) 

This will be the 3rd sing-out for which the host company will present one of those shows in a semi-staged, concert version, with a full orchestra on stage w/ the singers, and the principals in costume.  The company chose Utopia, Limited and The Grand Duke for these concerts because those two are rarely done.  When we presented Grand Duke for the first concert production 10 years ago, the response was so positive that we ended up staging it in 2010.  The response to Utopia 5 years ago was similarly positive and apparently the company did consider staging it, but Utopia is harder to cast because it requires so many strong male voices - eleven!

The standard format is to break the shows into blocks for which people can register as participants, or buy tickets as audience members.  Friday night opens with the singing of "Hail Poetry" from The Pirates of Penzance - sort of an unofficial G&S "national anthem," if you will.  Three shows follow.  Saturday is the one full day - a 3-show block in the morning, 2 in the afternoon, and the concert production and one other show after dinner.  Sunday wraps up with the remaining 3 shows, traditionally closing with The Gondoliers because the finale lyrics "leave you with feelings of pleasure."

Attendees come from up and down the eastern United States, the Midwest, the South, and sometimes even from Canada and the UK.  You get hardcore G&S scholars and fans, people who are completely new to G&S and the way the "veterans" quote from the shows, and everyone in between.  We have second-generation attendees, couples who met doing one G&S show or another, and people who've built long-distance friendships over Savoynet, the Gilbert & Sullivan Archive, or the International G&S Festival in England (first in Buxton, now in Harrogate).  Knowing a little G&S can serve as a connection when visiting or moving to new places (that's certainly been my experience), even if you've never had an opportunity to perform.  These sing-alongs are a sort of "family reunion" of G&S fans, of course, but also of opera and music lovers, fans of choral music (Sullivan wrote some rich, rewarding ensemble music for his performers), and those who enjoy wordplay of the sort Gilbert did so well.

I've already loaded my scores (including a few duplicates, just in case) into the cart I'll use for Saturday's marathon, got a hotel room booked near the theater, and am looking forward to singing my brains out this weekend! πŸ˜πŸ’“πŸŽ΅πŸŽΆπŸŽ΅

Instagram 001, anyone?

I created an Instagram account a few weeks ago so I could see the makeup creations of someone George Takei posted about, but didn't touch the account again until this morning.  To my surprise, I've got 15 followers!  They must be disappointed in me; I have no clue how to use Instagram and haven't posted a thing.  Guess I'll hafta do an online search to find an Instagram how-to, or reach out to one of those followers for some instruction. 😊

My Facebook friends are all over the map

While the bulk of my FB friends tend left and are anti-Trump, I also have some Trump supporters in the mix.  Many of my more liberal FB friends have been relishing the recent legal problems of so many of Trump's people (Manafort and Cohen being only the most recent), but one of my pro-Trump friends obviously sees it all as a witch hunt, because that person just shared this:

When I started reading, I thought it was going to be a joke; not so.  It'll be interesting to see how things play out as the Mueller probe continues.  What will we all be thinking a year from now - will we still see things so differently, or will conversations finally become more nuanced?

Saturday, August 25, 2018

A first - NOT cooking for a dinner party!

We had our annual July birthday party last month; we're now up to three honorees (the Chief and two clergy friends).  The Chief decided he wanted a larger group, of a dozen or so, and didn't want me killing myself in the kitchen.  As a result, we had an Italian restaurant cater the food.  We ordered 2 packages for 8, so we ended up with 2 kinds of salad, 2 pastas, 2 entrees, ciabatta bread, and a tray of single-serving desserts.

It felt so weird to do NO cooking AT ALL for a party.  We did still have dishes to do afterwards,  because sterling, crystal and good china DO NOT go in the dishwasher, but no dishes to do before guests arrived.  That meant we spent more time decluttering the house and generally getting it ready for company.

The woman who brought the food was very efficient in setting up, and easy to work with.  We're glad we have such a big kitchen island - plenty of room for 3 warming-pan racks, both salad varieties, and the tray of mini-desserts.  (The bread went on the table.)  Everyone loved the food, and the company was convivial as always, so the experiment was mostly a success.

I say "mostly" a success because the Chief & I decided that most of the food we ordered didn't keep too well in the warming pans; several things got dried out or rubbery (although the mushroom ravioli was very good).  We also weren't crazy about most of the desserts.  The chocolate things (chocolate-coated cake?) were popular, but I didn't love them; I liked the mini-cheesecakes and cremes brulees, but the Chief didn't; and the little apple pastries were better heated than room temperature.

The restaurant did a good job - had plenty of sturdy plasticware, deluxe paper napkins, at least 2 red-and-white-checked plastic tablecloths (which we declined), and the salads arrived in plastic bowls with fitted lids, not just plastic wrap.  However, because of the warming pan issue, we decided that next time we'd just make big pots of pasta and sauce and a big vat of salad; no need to have dozens of different offerings.