I couldn’t have made this better if I’d written the script.
My house just keeps getting worse. Summer is so chaotic . We just want to be OUT, but there’s still dishes and laundry piling up and toys always underfoot and half-finished colouring pages and used sleeping bags and half-empty bottles of sunscreen and that dead fly-covered vole Crook somehow caught despite being leashed in the backyard. Plus the actual work work that needs to be done. I’m running from one urgent must-do to another and never catching up.
I don’t mean to complain, but the truth is that the havoc wears on all of our nerves.
Today I have a rare break from the urgency — no gig coming right up that I need to write charts for, no emergency underwear situations, so I will wash a few dishes, haul out a few camping supplies to the shed… and get ready for my 3-day retreat.
I can’t remember if I’ve ever spent more than a few hours completely alone. Sunday, I’m packing up the car with food, some paper and pens, and a good book or two and I’m heading to a friend’s cabin for two nights all to myself. I’m not sure what it will be like. I can’t possibly imagine getting bored, but will I get lonely? I think I’ll be okay.
I envision some time just sitting in the woods (weather permitting) or by the lake, some serious reading time, maybe time to write down some thoughts, or even new song lyrics. I intend to do some meditation. I might even do some work… some enjoyable work that I can complete from start to finish without outside interruption.
Two nights. The possibilities seem limitless, don’t you think?
We had a lovely gathering at Lake Laberge, as is our tradition. The girls charmed everyone with their chatterbox ways and their “pretend” games. I marvelled at how much easier this Easter was, with Halia aged four and much more independent of me. Fire-roasted lamb and salmon, ham from the woodstove, and potluck side dishes made quite the feast indeed. I tried shooting a bow and arrow for the first time and have the proof in the form of a bruise on my arm.
It was a good time to recuperate from the marathon leading up to the release of my first album, to enjoy the company of my little family, and the the friends who make up our extended family, to soak up the sunshine.
In a word, delightful.
(Reblogged from http://fawnfritzen.com/a-landmark-day)
I’m exhausted, but I can’t go to bed yet. I’m ensconced in my home-away-from-home, Easter Seal House in Vancouver. In the morning, I’ll be taking my daughter for her regular neurology appointment. She hasn’t had a seizure in almost three years, but the fight against her epilepsy isn’t entirely over yet. In preparation for her EEG, she has to be sleep-deprived… which means Mama has to be sleep-deprived, too.
Ah well, no different from any other night, really.
And it was such a wonderful day. The sun was shining in a blue sky in Whitehorse. Jade was a delightful travel companion on our flight down to Vancouver; she charmed everyone around her with her happy chatter and questions.
And some other exciting things happened, too.
I got a message first thing this morning from a local woman who does a show on the local French CBC radio station; she wanted to play a song from my upcoming album and promote the release concert. I got another e-mail from a producer who broadcasts for CBC North out of Montreal and I will be doing an interview with her early next week.
So that was fun.
Then, while I was downtown running some super-quick errands in preparation for the trip, I decided to pick up a copy of our local entertainment magazine, What’s Up, Yukon. Turns out, this issue contains a review of my album. And I’m thrilled with the review. (I’ll put a link up here once it’s available.)
THEN! When Jade and I boarded our Air North flight, I pulled out the in-flight magazine, Yukon North of Ordinary. I’ve been so busy, I hadn’t had time to see if the Spring issue was out yet. So it was pretty thrilling to open up the magazine to page 79 and find this:
The article was written by local journalist / blogger / amazing mother of three (soon to be four!) Sarah Niman, and I can’t believe how much information she packed into two pages. (I’ll put an electronic copy of that up sometimes soon, too.)
I arrived at Easter Seal House and found that the four boxes I was expecting here had indeed been delivered. Here’s what’s inside those boxes:
Hot off the presses!
Just over a week left before the album release, and I have a gigantic to-do list to wrestle into submission. But it will happen. And, you know, that will be an amazing day, too.
Well, I meant to at least write a New Year’s post here in January because 2012 was an amazing year for me. But I didn’t do it.
I also meant to write a blog post about Jade turning 7, because she is a truly amazing kid. But I didn’t do that either.
But since the last post I wrote over here, I’ve written seven posts over on my other blog. (Sorry, guys. Not sure how that happened. Lots of them are just really status updates.)
And guess what else? I finished recording my very first album. This project I’ve been breathing and dreaming forever is actually wrapped up, and the actual honest-to-goodness CDs are being manufactured right now. The album is going to be released in less than a month.
Anyone else feel like squealing with me???
Back in real life, the laundry is overflowing (and I just discovered that the cat’s litter box has been tipped over, onto some of that there laundry on the laundry room floor…ugh) and the dirty dishes are propagating at an alarming rate. And my blog reader is into the hundreds of posts I haven’t read, too.
But, dammit, life is good right now.
How are you doing?
I am back amid fiery maples and scarlet sumac. It has been close to a decade since I experienced an Ottawa autumn, and I love it as much as I ever did. Fall was always my favourite season: not too hot, not too cold, and gloriously alive with colour.
(It’s no coincidence my wedding anniversary is in October, at the height of Ontario fall. This year — just how did this happen?! I’m not old enough for this! — we will be celebrating 10 years of marriage.)
A week ago today, I was leaving Ottawa. With Michael at my side, and the kids safely ensconced at his parents’ house, we boarded a First Air plane and flew to Iqaluit, Nunavut. Iqaluit is the capital of Canada’s newest territory (formed in 1999), and a vital part of my own history. I spent two years at Inuksuk High School in Iqaluit, graduating with the class of 1995. Those two years went by in a flash, but made a lasting impression on my life.
I haven’t been back since my sister’s graduation in 1996. I’ve always wanted to visit again, but flying to and from Nunavut is prohibitively expensive. For this trip, I was invited to perform at a conference, and I jumped at the opportunity.
It was an amazing trip, revisiting familiar haunts, reconnecting with friends, exploring all the new areas of the much-expanded city, and finding musical opportunities at every turn.
Thursday, it was karaoke at the Legion with some of my high school classmates. Friday, I gave my very first house concert (with Grant Simpson from Whitehorse!) at my former music teacher’s house. Sunday there was a musical coffeehouse at the Francophone Association in the afternoon and then the conference performance we were hired to do, a “mini Frantic Follies”to give conference delegates a taste of the other end of northern Canada.
Now we’re all back in Ottawa. Grant and I will be playing (four sets!) at the Options Jazz Lounge this Saturday evening, and then we’ll celebrate Thanksgiving with Michael’s family. This trip has been warm and wonderful makes me appreciate more than ever how much I have to be thankful for.
‘Tis autumn . . . and it’s still my favourite season.
The rest of our Norway/Finland trip was a whirlwind marathon of long driving days — sometimes 11 hours! — and short nights. There was amazing scenery, sumptuous food (also roadside gas station sandwiches), and many photos taken, and I do hope to get around to posting stories and pictures from it sometime soon.
Summer in the Yukon is a manic time — everyone wants to be out in the sunshine as much as humanly possible, and homes fall into disarray as household chores are abandoned. Well, maybe that’s just my house.
This week, there’s the added craziness stemming from the Yukon’s road access being cut off from the south. A couple of points of the Alaska Highway have been washed out, which means tourists and supply trucks can’t get in, and some are stranded in small communities between washouts. Check out that CBC newslink and you’ll see how dramatic it is. Fresh produce, milk, and fresh meat are all pretty much gone from the grocery store shelves. Michael decided to take a drive down to a grocery store this morning, just to check out what it looks like.
(Breaking news: apparently some parts of the Alaska Highway have been reopened. Check out the photo on the news story of the bare shelves at Extra Foods, though!)
In the meantime, I jumped into rehearsals for the Frantic Follies the day after I got home from Europe. This vaudeville show is now in its 43rd season, and one of the founders, Lyall Murdoch, is still running the show! The other guy running the Follies is Grant Simpson, who was the creative mind who instigated that Cole Porter show I did a month ago. (Incidentally, I put up a video clip from the show on my music blog. You can check out Miss Otis Regrets there!)
I had less than two weeks to learn my part, which includes five songs, plus the opening and finale group dance numbers, and some backstage techie work for another scene. It’s been quite intense, but lots of fun. I first saw the show in 2006, when Jade was just a baby. When the leading lady came onstage, I thought, “I could do that! I would love to do that!” …And now I get to do it! I feel very lucky to be part of such a fun cast.
The girls came and saw the show on Friday night. It starts at 8:30 p.m., which is an hour past their bedtime, and runs until 10. The show is full of glitter and colour and music and laughs. They were both fascinated the whole time and want to come again.
(And, pssst! If you’re in Whitehorse, you should come, too!)
Were we really still in Oslo just yesterday morning? We’ve had two sensational days of driving, along fjords and farmlands, up into snowy mountains, around dizzying switchbacks, on ferries, and through tunnels.
Ah, the tunnels. We always seem to associate trolls and gnomes with Scandinavia, but I swear there must be dwarves somewhere in its history, too. Dwarves, after all, are the ones who tunnel, and never before have I seen a land with such an abundance of tunnels.
But let me start with the light, to make a feeble attempt to describe it. The sunlight yesterday morning was spectacular. The sky was clear and blue, and sunshine poured over the horizon from a low angle, lighting up one side of the houses spilling down the hill.
As we drove into downtown Oslo, we could see a solid wall of cloud had built up over the fjord, with sunlight leaking out overtop. Utterly dramatic.
Then in the evening, too, we watched golden sunlight dissolve first into coral hues, tingeing the snow-capped mountains and few wispy clouds a rosy pink, then into violet, and finally into bluish grays.
It’s just after midnight now, and it still isn’t completely dark.
By the way, there are lights in the tunnels, too. It seems that you never know what you’re going to experience when you go into a tunnel in Norway. It might be wide, or it might be narrow. It may be well-lit, or you may find yourself wide-eyed and staring into dusty darkness, especially if your eyes were dazzled by sunlit snow moments before. Some tunnels are smooth-walled, and others seem to have been newly chewed through, with wet patches where spring melt is seeping through the rock. The rare tunnel is tiled in glazed panels that reflect the lights of oncoming vehicles. Sometimes the tunnel lights are white, and sometimes they’re orange. Once, while driving under a fjord, the lights at the shaft’s nadir were blue.
In this land of tunnels, you might be anywhere when you emerge. The country is built on bedrock, so many of the tunnels must be built by dynamite, eating through solid granite.
You never know where you’re going to be when you get out. You may go into one teetering along the edge of a precipice, and then emerge to find yourself in a green valley.
We remarked today that we should have kept track of how many tunnels we’ve traversed, and the distance we travelled through each one. I wouldn’t be surprised to find we’ve driven through 20 or 30 kilometres of tunnels on our trip so far.
It can be harrowing, and it can be exciting, but it’s certainly never boring.
Greetings from Oslo!
The trip from Vancouver to Oslo was fairly uneventful and, if not entirely comfortable, not entirely unbearable, either. There were 20 minutes of near-panic when I was hemmed in by my carry-on bag at my feet, the guy reclining in front of me, and the GIANT Croatian guy sitting next to me, whose legs spread into typical man-sitting position when he fell into a thunderous, snoring sleep. Fortunately, I was able to move my bag to another nearby seat and the fellow in front of me obliged me by raising his seat back a couple of inches, so I had a little room to breathe for the 9-hour-and-20 minute flight.
My parents and my Oma greeted me at the airport and we set off right away to see a few sights and find some supper. My dad had spotted a sign earlier in the day advertising a Norwegian whalemeat dinner, so we sought the place out. I tried muktuk (whale blubber) once in my high school days in Iqaluit, but had never actually tried whale meat. I can now say that I’ve tried it, but I don’t think I would jump to do it again. It’s really kind of a red meat and has quite a strong flavour that I wasn’t overly fond of.
The my dad took me for a quick jaunt over to the new Norwegian Opera House, opened just 4 years ago. It is designed to look like an iceberg and you can walk from street level right up to the roof! The inside is beautiful, too, although I can only attest to the lobby and the bathrooms.
After that, we drove to the B&B where I was able to shower off the travel grime and attempt to recover from jet-lag.
This morning, I looked out the window of my room and was greeted with a hazy mist, spring green, and colourful houses.
Driving into Oslo later in the morning, I was continually struck by the architecture: an interesting house here, a round building there, a slanted one over there. But driving along at high speed on narrow and windy roads is not conducive to great photos, especially when combined with a slow, jet-lagged, and head-cold-affected brain that registers a second too late that the camera must be switched on.
After breakfast, I made a quick stop at Oslo’s City Hall.
Next we jumped onto the “Jomfruen” for a little sailing tour of the Oslo Fjord, including a close-up of the Opera House and the floating sculpture that lies next to it. We jumped off on the opposite side of the Fjord so that we could visit a couple of amazing museums.
First there was the Fram Museum, which appears to have been built around the huge boat inside it, the Fram, used by Fridtjof Nansen for both polar expeditions at both ends of the earth.
The museum also covered information about Roald Amundsen’s expedition to the North Pole, and also a boat (called the Gjøa) that was taken to Gjoa Haven, Nunavut about a hundred years ago. Fascinating stuff! After that, we walked a kilometre or so to check out some Viking ships that had been excavated out of burial mounds.
It’s after midnight now, so I’ll gloss over the Nobel Peace Centre (amazing, too!) and the fantastic dinner we had. Tomorrow we’ll drop my Oma off at the airport so she can fly home to Germany. It’s been wonderful seeing her. Our friend Marina will also join us as we head for the first stop on our driving tour. We’ll be driving between 8 and 11 hours each day, so not sure how much blogging I’ll fit in.