zingerella: Capital letter "Z" decorated with twining blue and purple vegetation (Default)
( Mar. 21st, 2012 04:40 pm)
And you can come hear me and about 140 other people! If you're in Toronto, that is, or willing to travel. Also, given the nature of this concert, if you won't burst into flames entering a Catholic basilica on a big Christian holiday.

What's That About Christian Holidays? The concert is called Sacred Music for a Sacred Space. It's on Good Friday, April 6, in St. Paul's Basilica. So basically, it's about getting your liturgical music groove on in a venue that really works for this sort of thing. If churchiness isn't your thing, then this probably isn't the concert for you. If, however, you really can't get enough of modern mass settings, then prepare to be delighted.

Church Music is a Wide Field. What, Exactly, Will You Be Singing? The big works are Vaughan Williams Mass in G minor, Martin's Mass for Double Choir (in a lot of different keys. The mass, that is. The choir sings in one key at a time.). We'll also be singing some Willan, Morales, and Nystedt. You can see the full programme here.

So When, Where, and How Much?

Friday, April 6, 7:30 p.m.
St. Paul's Basilica, 83 Power St., Toronto

General Admission $50
Senior $45
VoxTix (25 and under) $20

Wait, Who Are You Singing With, Again? I'm a second soprano in the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir and the Toronto Mendelssohn Singers.

So If I Even Wanted to Spend $50 on a Concert Ticket for Something Other Than, Oh, I Don't Know, Placido Domingo and a Huge Muckin' Orchestra Including a Cat Organ, How Would I Do That? You could follow this convenient link!

Dude, You Know I Like You and Support Your Artistic Endeavours, But That's a Lot of Money! Also, I Don't Live In or Near Toronto. Yeah, I totally hear you. It's okay! 

If you really want to support me, but you don't want to come to this concert, maybe you can come to another concert! Or ask me to sing you a song sometime, and I will. If $10 or $15 is burning a hole in your pocket, you could make a donation in my name to the TMC Conductor's Challenge, which will stop me from feeling guilty at every choir rehearsal when they ask us if we've raised any money yet. If you don't want to donate, you can still ask me to sing you a song. 

zingerella: Capital letter "Z" decorated with twining blue and purple vegetation (Default)
( Mar. 4th, 2012 10:28 pm)
 A little bit ago, [personal profile] commodorified  held a Food Security carnival, with lots of lovely posts on cooking, shopping, and eating. I've posted a lot about cooking in the past, but missed out on this one. Tonight, though, I tried a new recipe and I was pretty happy with the results. It occurred to me that being relatively simple, relatively inexpensive, filling, and yummy, it would be a good one to share.* 

Herewith, then, I present to you White Lady's Aloo Channa. It's based on this recipe,  but because I don't have a have a pressure cooker, and I was short some ingredients, I created a simplified version. This goes nicely over rice, so put a cup of rice on to cook when you start chopping, and it should be done by the time you're ready to eat. 

1 tbsp cooking oil, 1 tbsp butter
1 cooking onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp fresh ginger, chopped
2 heaping tablespoons prepared Indian curry paste (or follow the instructions in the linked recipe to make your own). I used Patak's mild, and it was fine, though next time I'll start with spices and work from there. 
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 – 1 tsp red pepper flakes. If you want it hotter, you can used chopped hot peppers of whatever variety you like, but I didn't have any to hand. 
1 tsp ground cumin
 2 potatoes (fist-sized, roughly)
1 large fresh tomato, chopped OR 1/2 can tomatoes
1 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed
Chopped cilantro (optional)

Chop the onion into roughly 1/4-inch pieces. Scrub and chop the potatoes into 1-inch cubes
Heat the oil and butter in a deep frying pan over medium heat.

1. Heat the oil and butter in a deep frying or medium-sized saucepan pan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, cumin seeds, curry paste, and mustard seeds, and cook until the onions are clear, about 10 minutes (but go by the clarity of the onions, not by the clock. If the onions start to brown, turn the heat down).
2. When the onions are clear, add the ground cumin, and cook for 30 seconds. 
3. Add the chopped potatoes, and stir to coat with all the fragrant curry goodness. Add the tomatoes. If you're using whole canned tomatoes, smoosh them with a wooden spoon to break them up. Add the chickpeas. 
4. Cover your frying pan, and let everything cook until the potatoes are tender, about 20–30 minutes. When it's ready, garnish with the chopped cilantro, if you're using it. 

This makes enough for two or three people, but it scales up quite easily. If you're being very economical, use a cup of dried chickpeas, soaked and cooked in place of the canned. It tasted pretty good this way, but I imagine it would be even better with turmeric, garam masala, and curry leaf, instead of prepared curry paste; I just didn't have the spices on hand, and I did have a jar of Patak's, so that's what I did this time.

I made my annual pilgrimage to the Dance Flurry this weekend, and, as usual, had a wonderful time. As often happens at large dance gatherings, I left with sore feet and a great many thoughts about comportment in crowds, particularly in crowds of enthusiastic, friendly, tired dancers and musicians. There being little I can do about the feet right now, I am recording the thoughts here, for the contemplation, and, I dare hope, enlightenment of others.

I love the Dance Flurry. I love the energy of the crowd. I love having the opportunity to try new dances, hear new music, and revisit dances I rarely get to do these days (Lindy hop and Scandinavian dances, I'm looking at you). I love walking down a hallway and finding three teenaged boys singing gospel tunes in three-part harmony, then, a few steps later, happening on a spontaneous jam session consisting of a flute player, a cellist, and a guitarist playing English country dance tunes. I love that the dance community consists of teenagers and octagenarians and people in between, and that they mostly find ways to dance together and socialize pleasantly. I love that, at least these days, I can say "No, thank you, I'm sitting this one out," when someone invites me to dance, and not have that person take it as an insult.

There are some things I really don't love, though.

Reflections on festival comportment, including the purpose of doorways, the non-sentient nature of luggage, the purpose of the dance floor, and the effects of vigorous physical activity on one's toilette )
Hereunder, my first new recipe in the new place:

Apple-Maple Pudding Cake

I combined a couple of different recipes to make this version, which I made for my first supper with Captain Mushroom and the Lad in the new place.* This version feeds four, with leftovers. When it was served warm with lightly sweetened vanilla whipped cream, CM thought this was sublime (and I thought it was pretty good).

It's really just a plain cake/quickbread recipe baked atop a really lovely mixture of apples sautéed in maple syrup, but the combination, fresh from the oven is the perfect thing for a snowy night. Almost as easy as apple crumble, and a nice change.

Vegans: I suspect you could veganize this easily, substituting Earth Balance for the butter, flax seed for the egg, and soured non-dairy milk of your choice for the milk; I'll try this another time and let you know how it works out.


The gooey apple-y bit
• 1/3 cup maple syrup (accept no substitutions)
• 1 tbsp butter
• 1 tbsp potato starch (you could use corn starch too, I just happened to have potato starch on hand)
• 1 tbsp water
• 2 tbsp sugar (brown or white)
• 2 medium-sized or 3 small baking apples (I used Macs; I reckon any reasonably tart apple would work just as well), peeled, cored, and sliced
• 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

The cake bit
• 1/4 cup butter
• 1/3 cup sugar
• 1 egg
• 1 tsp vanilla
• 3/4 cup flour
• 1/4 cup rolled oats
• 1/4 tsp cinnamon
• 1 scant tsp baking powder
• 1/4 tsp baking soda
• 1 dash salt
• 1/3 cup buttermilk or sour milk

Extra cinnamon sugar to sprinkle over the top


Preheat your oven to 350ºF.

First, prepare the apple-y bit:

In a small saucepan, combine the maple syrup, butter, and water. Whisk in the potato starch, and heat until it bubbles. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and add the apples and cinnamon. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the apples are tender. Pour into an oven-proof baking dish (I used one of my Mom's old Corningware casseroles-for-two; you could use individual ramekins, a small cake pan, or I guess even a bread pan.), and leave it to cool.

While the apple-bit is cooling, prepare the cake bit:

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until well combined and approaching fluffy. If you get all the way to fluffy so much the better, but I was creaming by hand, and hungry, so I stopped before I got to fluffy and it was fine. Add the egg and vanilla, and beat together.

In a separate bowl combine the dry ingredients. Add to the wet ingredients, alternating with the soured milk, and mix it all together to a fairly stiff batter. Pour the batter over the apple-y mixture, sprinkle the extra cinnamon sugar over the top, and bake for about half an hour (possibly 35 minutes).

* Not, I hasten to clarify my first supper in the new place: there had been rather a lot of pizza from the fantastic pizzeria down the street while Mom and I were painting the bathroom and the fireplace; and human_loser shared the first supper I cooked in the new place. This was the first time I'd cooked for CM and the WML, though.)
zingerella: Capital letter "Z" decorated with twining blue and purple vegetation (Default)
( Jan. 19th, 2012 11:52 am)
For the past several years, I have taught Editing 101 (formally known as "Principles and Practices of Editing") at City College. This is the first or second course that most students entering the editing program take, and it provides an overview of How Editing Works. The students that I or the grammar instructor don't scare away from the program have typically left my nest, to go on and take specialized courses in various editorial tasks, such as copy editing, substantive editing, or proofreading, and topics, such as editing children's literature. I rarely see them again, though a few become LinkedIn contacts or DW friends.

This semester, I was hired by Polygnostic University to teach proofreading. Since PU pays a lot more than City College, I relinquished my position as the 101 instructor with CC—these are evening courses, and I really didn't want to be teaching for two evenings a week. I found another instructor for City College, and thought all was well there.

Of course, Polygnostic got in touch with me in early January to tell me they'd cancelled my course, because not enough students had enrolled (I'm still teaching the online version of the same course, so that's something). At the same time, the coordinator of my program at CIty e-mailed me urgently looking for an instructor for their proofreading course. So, figuring that some paid in-class time was better than no paid in-class time, I offered to take on the course for one semester. 

The first class last night was really neat! It's all students I've taught before, from about the past 3 years. Most seemed happy to see me. But the best moment came as one student walked in.

"Oh great," she said, "Now I know this is going to be hard!"

Poor little duckling. 

(Heh, heh, heh.)
My new place has closets! Two of them. They're not very big though, and I have a lot of clothes, so for Christmas, my mom offered to go wardrobe/armoire shopping with me.* We found a suitable used wardrobe at a little second-hand furniture store, which I'll call Aba's**Furniture Grotto and Lampshade Emporium near the new place, and after some bargaining with the proprietor, arranged to have the piece delivered.

"The apartment is a second-floor walk-up, and it's just me there," I cautioned him. "You'll need two people."

"It's fine, it's fine!" he assured me.

Tuesday, we went to Aba's Furniture Grotto and Lampshade Emporium to arrange delivery, as we would be at the new place painting the bathroom. We also bought a tall dresser, so that I can use that instead of the two small dressers that I've had since I was a baby (and my mother had, as a teenager before me). Aba promised delivery. I reminded him about the stairs.

"It's fine!" he said "No problem!"

So off we went to the paint store and to the new place, to paint the bathroom, and other areas forgotten by the landlady's painter.***

My mom was back at the paint store, fetching more primer, when the doorbell rang. I went downstairs to find one guy on my doorstep.

"So, where's do you want this?" he asked me. I told him the apartment was upstairs, and asked where the second mover was. He said "Don't you have someone here?"

"I told Aba it was up on a second floor, and that it was just me," I said, "I warned him, and he said it was okay."

"Well," said the mover (I think his name was Frank, so we'll call him that for now.) "That's Aba. He's kind of shitty. Maybe your neighbour can help."

My neighbour was sitting on the porch of the house next door, enjoying his beer and cigarette. "Hey, man!" Frank said, "You wanna help me move this stuff up the stairs for your new neighbour? You, know, do a good deed for a nice lady?"

"I dunno," said the neighbour, "She pretty?"

"Yeah, man, she's actually quite attractive," Frank assured him.

At which point I said, "Dude, no. I'll move the damn' things myself, if I have to, but you are not having this conversation here, in front of me, and expecting me not to feel completely creeped out by this."

Frank just looked at me. "The dresser's really heavy," he said.

"Fine." I went out onto the porch, in my jeans and "5,000 Years of Patriarchy, and All I Got Was This Lousy T-shirt" t-shirt, hating myself, hating the furniture, hating Aba and Frank and as-yet-nameless neighbour dude. "Hi, I'm [[Zingerella]], your new neighbour. Am I pretty enough for you to help with this furniture? I could really use a hand."

The neighour's name is Ron. He allowed as how he could help, but made no further mention of my appearance. I don't think he read my t-shirt.

So Frank and Ron moved the dresser and the wardrobe up the stairs and into my bedroom. Frank, who seemed have brought his girlfriend or some female friend along with him in the truck, asked loudly if I was moving into the place on my own, then if I was single, or if I had a boyfriend. I wished I had a girlfriend, so that I could truthfully say that my girlfriend hadn't been available that night.

The wardrobe door swung open, hitting my nice brass candle-lantern thingy and breaking the shade off the arm (does anyone know how to braze brass? I think it can be put back together, but I don't know how to do it.), but without committing further damage. I asked Ron what kind of pie he likes, and promised him a pie in payment for his moving assistance, after I get moved in. For some reason, in my mind, if I give Ron a pie, we're quits, whereas if I just accept a favour from him, there's some sort of imbalance in our interaction, and he gets to expect that I'll be super-duper nice to him or something. I wouldn't feel that way if he hadn't asked if I were pretty, though. I mean, I'd still take him baked goods to thank him for the help, but it would feel pleasant and neighbourly, rather than transactional and necessary.

So now I have a wardrobe (which needs shimming), a dresser (whose handle needs re-applying), and a broken candle-holder which needs repairing. I also have an accent wall above my fireplace, a very bright green bathroom, a debt of one blueberry pie to my next door neighbour, and a set of complicated feelings about my furniture which mostly boil down to hating the patriarchy. I also have green paint in my hair, and, unaccountably, on my bra. 

* Note to online furniture vendors: Armour is something you put around something else (like your body) to protect it. An armoir is a free-standing cabinet in which you store things like clothing, linens, or televisions. Advertising an armour in which you can store things leads me to think that you're selling a pair of greaves stuffed full of socks, or some such. Amour is French for "love," and should not be used for storing socks at all. 

** Because that's the proprietor's name.

*** Who, unaccountably, left the area above the bedroom fireplace plain white, having painted the entire rest of the bedroom in the boring putty colour (I think it's called "Mountain Mist" or "Cloud Cover," or some such attempt to make light grey sound appealing) the landlady requested (after I thought we had agreed on sage green. Sigh.)

To bring everyone up to date:

I found a nice little second-floor walkup apartment in the Beaches. Moving day is Jan. 15. I have hired these guys to do the actual heavy lifting part of the move: I am too old for schlepping box springs, MDF desks, and tub chairs up the stairs; my friends are wonderful people, but they do not deserve to be asked to move me again. The movers come incredibly highly recommended on the Internet; the guy who called me to give me the quote had the most soothing phone manner I've ever encountered: I believe he must have trained in crisis prevention or on a suicide prevention hotline or something.

Yesterday was Pack All the Things day: a dedicated crew of volunteers including [personal profile] neeuqdrazil , [personal profile] just_jocelyne , [personal profile] dendritejungle , [personal profile] human_loser , and[livejournal.com profile] skaldkona packed most of my things, while Red and S. amused the children at the park. Musetta hid from all the hurlyburly, and at the end of the day, I had a lot fewer things out, and many more things in boxes.

Here's how it worked:

How to have a packing party ) came early to make fake-butter-fake-chicken to sustain the packers, and Red brought drinks and snacks.

I put boxes in all the rooms, Then, as people arrived, I set them to cupboards and shelving units with the instructions to pack all the things as labelled, and call me before taping a box closed. I provided packing tape and Sharpie markers for labelling. Then I ran around giving instructions and checking boxes, and my army of helpers packed things. We broke for lunch and tea as we needed to.

If you are blessed with wonderful friends like mine, I strongly recommend this approach to packing. A lot got done, and I feel like if I left everything else until the day before the move (which I will not do), it still would not be a disaster.

Another innovation I have employed for this move is to find a friend to act as my eBay and Craigslist agent: as I find things I no longer want, and do not want to move, my agent figures out how best to go about converting those assets to cash, does the listings, and manages the sales. For this, I pay the agent a commission. It's nice to be able to delegate this sort of thing, as it can be a timesink at a time when I have many other demands on my time.

To wit:To-do list cut, because it's of minimal interest to most people who are not me. )
So that's where things are at right now: mostly in boxes, and morI am really looking forward to the move being over and the getting-settled part beginning. Also, does anyone know anyone who can do minor repairs on an antique table for not more than I would spend on a new drop-leaf table? 

 Well, that's over. 

Jesus was born, there were angels and shepherds, then there were unbelievers and the kings conspired against him, and he was mocked and he died. Bummer. Then he rose again, to much rejoicing, with trumpets. All done for another year. 

Tonight's audience featured a passel of nuns and priests up in the top balcony opposite me. They caused a minor ruckus.

Note to fellow choir members: it is not polite to point at people. Ever. Even if they are nuns in blue habits. Sheesh!

Okay, it was a really minor ruckus: one of the priests was on crutches for some sort of leg injury, so the nun seated beside him offered him her seat so that he could put his leg up. She then perched on the steps in one of the aisles until an usher asked her not to. Eventually the usher found the nun a spot to perch for the duration of the performance. 

The rest of the audience was unremarkable, if tubercular. There was a dear old thing in a red sequinned hat in near the front of the orchestra. Her sequins kept catching the light. 

The maestro seemed happy. So that's good. Me, I'm about ready for a long winter's nap. 

 Audience completely normal, and less tubercular than usual.  Handsome dude in the balcony made eye contact with me, then took me out for dinner. 

I'm so tired. Also, I know how this story ends now. Can we have a different oratorio, please? 

One more Messiah. 

ETA: I keep meaning to post this, but forgetting: I cannot get behind the current trend among male orchestral conductors to wear Nehru jackets instead of the traditional evening coat with tails. The gentlemen of the orchestra wear tails. The gentlemen of the choir wear tails. The male soloists wear tails and the ladies wear evening gowns. Why is it then appropriate for conductors to dress as though they were headed to a loft party in SoHo? Also, I think tails look much more impressive than short jackets, from behind, which is the way the audience sees the condutor, mostly. 
 Last night's audience was less tubercular, for a mercy, but gracious me did they wander! I mean they got up and wandered around the concert hall, re-seating themselves periodically. It was like the musical chairs Messiah. Except that because Maestro Kramer is relentless, they never really had time to get seated before the music started again. 

Cut for wandering audiences (gone astraaaaaaaay), and thoughts on deportment )

Last night's Messiah was strangely uneventful. The audience produced its usual counterpoint of catarrhitic coughing during "I Know That My Redeemer Liveth," but was otherwise unafflicted with distracting bodily emanations, at least as far as I could tell from the chorus. 

I did, however, get clarification on the Wednesday night's Front-row Fracas, via the time-honoured expedient of pumping one of the ushers. Turns out there was no cell phone at all. According to my source, the tall woman was talking loudly and carrying on in the front row, and generally behaving in a manner distracting to both audience and performers. So the cellist leaned over to tell her to cease her distracting behaviour. The man who was with her was so embarrassed that he left the performance, leaving his date to fidget and fuss in the front row, until finally (midway through the first half of the performance) she decided that she'd had enough. So she made a show of putting on her coat, made a rude gesture at the cellist, declared loudly that this thing was "too fucking long," and stalked out. 

Upon leaving, she found that her date had left $20.00 with one of the ushers for her and that he was not coming back, and kicked up a ruckus in the lobby of the concert hall, and security had to be called.

So that's the skinny on that.

I do kind of want to know what series of events led up to the disastrous date. Was the man a businessman travelling in Toronto, who received the tickets from a client? Did he not know anyone else in the city who might enjoy the concert and was free that night? Was he just a terrible judge of character? What happened next? 

Incidentally, the reason I get snippy about coughing is that it's clear to me that the coughing is, in part, the result of suggestion: outbreaks of coughing come in waves in audiences, frequently during slow or quiet parts. One person will experience a terrible tickle, and be unable to refrain from coughing. Someone on the other side of the hall, hearing the cough, will subconsciously notice the tickle or dryness in their own throat, and cough. The music isn't loud enough to mask the sound, or lively enough to keep the subconscious from noticing "hey, it's very dry in here, and I have phlegm," so another person coughs. Most of the time I don't think that people do this on purpose (I still have my doubts about Wednesday night). I think they're bored and easily influenced. I just wish they were more aware and more prepared, is all. Because even if they're bored, I'm probably not, and I, or someone else, might really enjoy hearing the (admittedly very long, slow) aria without additional counterpoint. 

Seriously Worst. Audience. Ever. 

I know the Messiah is an entry-level oratorio: it attracts audience members who don't typically attend concerts of classical (or Baroque, if we're being persnickety) music. People who cough during the recitatives. People who don't know about wax-paper wrapped cough drops, and crinkle their wrappers. People who bring fidgety children. People who haven't really steeled themselves for three hours of sitting still just listening. 

I'm grateful that lots of different people come to hear this oratorio, even if, like twice-a-year churchgoers, they go just to complete their seasonal experience. They've paid for their seats, and they have a right to the best performance I and my fellow musicians can provide.

What I don't understand, though, is how an entire audience can contract catarrh at the same time, and how they can all be afflicted with uncontrollable coughing during the recitatives and the quiet parts of the arias. 

And that was the least of the problems posed by this audience.

It started with an ill-timed, extremely loud hiccup during one of the rests on "Comfort Ye"** (the opening aria). The tenor sang "Cooooooooooooooomfort yeee my people," and an audience member went "HIC!" 

Such things happen. The soprano beside me and I shared a wry grin. 

But, as it turned out, that was just the beginning. 

Honestly, if this were another age, I'd think someone with a lot of money and connections had some sort of vendetta against one of the performers, and had paid a claque of some sort. 

There was the person in the front row, centre, orchestra, whom the first cellist asked to leave. Turns out the individual was using a cell phone during the performance. The cellist, who is seated at the edge of the orchestra, left his seat, and had the man ejected. 

About three movements later, the man's tall, rather revealingly clad date got up and made an elaborate production of putting on her coat and stalking out. Rumour has it that she said something or possibly gestured rudely at the audience before she made her exit, but I witnessed only the departure. 

And that was still not the worst the night had to offer.

Sometime during one of the baritone's solos, in the second half, the condition of one of the afflicted audience members seems to have worsened: the individual made a loud retching sound, clearly audible to the choir, orchestra, and soloists. Being a pro, the gorgeous rich-voiced, Andrew Foster-Williams continued and seemed unfazed. In the choir loft, I wondered if maybe someone had it in for him. I have never heard such a noise come out of an audience member (or a performer, for that matter!), and that includes the time that a young lady directly behind me was taken quite ill quite suddenly, and had to be pretty much carried out of the performance by her chaperon. 

I continued to wonder about the possibility of ill will, as it happened again during Mr. Foster-Williams' performance of "The Trumpet Shall Sound." The heads of the entire audience swivelled to locate the noisemaker; however, I did not see who it was. 

Apparently neither did anyone who could help the distressed audience member to someplace where they might perhaps receive medical assistance. If indeed someone had it in for Mr. Foster-Williams, they must have also had an animus against Susie LeBlanc, as we were treated to the same horrible sound during one of her solos (I think it was "I Know that My Redeemer Liveth," but I couldn't swear to it). This time, the entire audience heard it too. I dunno: maybe someone came to last year's modernized performance with Andrew Davis and really, really liked it, and now really, really resents this year's much smaller, more intimate, Baroque-inspired performance, and was determined to sabotage opening night? Or maybe the audience member was quite ill, but really desperately wanted to hear "Worthy Is the Lamb"? I do know that the other audience members were not entirely pleased with the un-scored additions to the performance. 

Once we sang the final Amen, the rest of the audience seemed determined to make up for their more vocal members. They applauded. They stood up. And one member, somewhere above me in one of the balconies, howled like the ghost of a sad werewolf, for about five minutes. This was a novel expression of appreciation, but at least it was well timed.

So that was the first (or possibly the third, if you count rehearsals) Messiah. I'm not sure how the next ones are really going to compare with that one for memorability. 

* or Possibly Seven, Depending on How You Count

** Links for reference to performances other than ours 

Apartment 5
: Gerrard and Victoria Park. This area really doesn't have a name.
Level: Basement
Bike storage: Garage or basement storage room
Rent: $775 incl
Landlords: Seems pleasant and sane.
Number of rooms (excluding bathroom): 1
Verdict: Kitchen area tiny with less than a square foot of counter space. Current tenant says it's "freakishly quiet"; however, as I said to the very pleasant landlord, the kitchen would make me sad. Asked him to get in touch if the apartment upstairs comes available, because although the area's pretty remote, it's manageable, less expensive than this place, and has a fireplace. But probably nothing will come of that.

Onward, then.

One of the difficulties facing me, this time through, is the fact that I'm freelance, my income is sporadic and unpredictable, and the past year has been financially challenging—I've been late with rent several times, which has only not been a problem because my current landlord has been remarkably understanding. I can't really scrape together first and last. I'm sitting on $2600 in accounts receivable, which I will receive some fine day, I'm sure. I have work to carry me through to February, when my teaching gig at Ryerson starts. On paper, I'm a terrible risk as a tenant. I understand that, and I'm trying to lower my expectations accordingly. But I know that if I can get through the current financial setback, I'll be okay—the teaching gig will cover my rent, and freelance (or any steady work I find) can cover all my other expenses. I just need to get from here to there.

... and find an understanding landlord in Toronto. Other than the one I currently have. 

That's all. 

 Apartment-hunting record:

Apartment 1
Neighbourhood: "The pocket"—Jones and Gerrard-ish (nice and close!)
Level: Basement.
Bike storage: Backyard, probably 
Rent: $900 incl.
Landlords: Seemed sane and cool 
Number of rooms (excluding bathroom): 2 (Not ideal, as I'd prefer not to work in my living area, but manageable)
Verdict: Applied, haven't heard from landlords; they probably went with someone else. 

Apartment 2
Neighbourhood: Little India on a cul-de-sac
Level: Basement.
Bike storage: None
Rent: $750 incl.
Landlords: Seemed nice enough
Number of rooms (excluding bathroom): 2 
Verdict: AUGH. Filthy. Ceilings low. All chopped into weird-sized rooms. Kitchen tiny. NOT A CHANCE. Left quickly. 

Apartment 4
: If you're a developer or real-estate agent, this is "Upper Beaches North." If you're a normal person, this area north of Danforth between Woodbine and Main doesn't really have a name. 
Level: Basement
Bike storage: Landlord will build a wee enclosure by the entrance
Rent: $750 incl
Landlords: NICEST PEOPLE EVER. They made me tea! They promised to build me a bike enclosure. 
Number of rooms (excluding bathroom): 2 (kitchen and living area)
Verdict: Sigh. I wish I could be happy there, but I'm not tall and the ceiling height made me miserable. The kitchen was tiny with a foot of counter space. The entire apartment had three tiny windows. The landlords were super-nice, and I wish I could rent a different apartment from them, but this place would make me sad. 

So, unless I hear from the landlord of #1 or #3, I'm still looking for either an apartment or a roommate who can move into Dictionopolis. 

I purely hate this. I hate learning what some landlords consider fit for people to live in—I know people typically don't rent out apartments out of the goodness of their hearts, but I wouldn't let someone I despised live in the first place. I hate feeling like I'm being auditioned for a place to live and knowing that there are people with full-time jobs who want the same apartment that I want and look like better tenants on paper. I hate not knowing where I'm going to move to or when I'm going to move. And of course I hate the thought of packing everything, moving everything, and trying to make everything fit into a new place. 

Sigh. Okay. Tantrum over. 

Next step: 12-page co-op applications, plus continued phone tag with other landlords. Also, e-mail Landlords #4, and tell them I can't rent their place, even though I'd love to go cycling with them sometime. 

So last weekend really sucked.

I miss Luna, tiny bundle of fluff, nerves, and affection that she was. I miss the vocal demands for affection. I miss the morning cuddles, when she'd settle into the space beside me on the bed, not touching, but hanging out. I miss her amazing self-petting action: you'd put your hand out, and she'd rub back and forth under it. It's been completely weird going downstairs this week, and seeing Marinetti curled in the papasan chair, without Luna on the padded stool beside.

She lived with me for eight years, and there's now a Luna shaped hole in the world.

More practically, speaking, there's been room for another cat in this house. It's weird having just one cat here. And today, the Toronto Cat Rescue had an adopt-a-thon at a pet supplies store not far from here. So [livejournal.com profile] captain_mushroom, the increasingly-less-wee Mushroom Lad (who, ironically doesn't like mushrooms at all), and I went. Just to see. Maybe one of the cats there—not a black and white cat, not a skittish Ontario Barn Cat—needed to come home with me.

We saw a lovely black and white kitten named Lily, who played with everyone. She could have gone home with anyone, and eventually she did. But not with me. Captainmushroom fell in love with a spotty black and white girl, who snuggled into his arms (and into mine), but eventually went home with someone else. Two tiny black kittens—two months old, and all eyes, fluff, and little tails—entranced the WML, but we knew that tiny kittens would find a home. A dignified grey fellow looked lovely, and his fosterer assured us that he had the temperament to match, but he wouldn't give me the time of day. Ditto the trio of slightly older kittens: one mostly black, one black and white, and one calico. 

And then I opened the cage for this two-year-old beauty, and she wandered into my arms, and looked up at me, and purred quietly.
Fluffy orange cat, turning to look at the camera
So, despite some reservations about how she would get on with Marinetti, I went home to get the carrier and [personal profile] sabotabby  and I brought her home. 

So far, she's spent about an hour sitting on top of my shoes in the back of my closet, wandered out into my office to snurfle around and nibble some kibble, wandered out of the office and explored my room, exchanged some Language with Marinetti, and discovered the nice place to hang out on the chest under the window. Right now, she and Marinetti are staring at each other, but he's staying in the hallway and not making eye contact, and she's settled on the floor of my room. I expect a certain amount of discussion will ensue. 

I think her name is Musetta. 

She doesn't replace Luna, but she's a lovely girl who will, I expect, make her own place in this household. 
 Scene from today's voice lesson with the amazing [personal profile] sarcasma  (whom you can hear, incidentally, in this weekend's Essential Opera performance of Massenet's Chérubin. I highly recommend EO based on their last performance.):

We are working on "Why Do They Shut Me Out of Heaven?" which is one of Copland's settings of Dickenson. (Here's someone very competent singing it.) Sarcasma has been very patient while I grapple with the fact that Copland expected singers to just kind of pull notes out of chords that do not contain those notes and it's much more difficult than learning something by Mozart, darnit. 

Sarcasma: Now, because this is you, I don't have to worry about saying things like "What are these words about?" 

Me: Yeah. Patriarchy.

Sarcasma: *Sputter.* Yes. Okay, maybe I do have to worry. 

There ensued a fruitful discussion of the text and the interpretation thereof, during which we agreed that it really is about the patriarchy. So that is how I will sing it. 

Now, of course, I want to find more patriarchy-blaming soprano repertoire. Suggestions? 

zingerella: Capital letter "Z" decorated with twining blue and purple vegetation (Default)
( Aug. 17th, 2011 11:54 am)

More reporting from a Toronto High School: It's the 1950s now, so most of the "Baby Bags" have graduated. For context, I have just edited an entire page that lists all the citywide athletic championships that the Boys' athletic teams won.

Oh authors with your casual sexism! 

When the old auditorium was converted into the Boys’ Gym, the girls inherited the smaller upper gym. The gym rang with giggles and laughter at 3:30 most days while girls played whatever sport was scheduled. The girls’ teams also participated in Hi-Jinks, the Track and Field Days and Cadet Inspection Day. It was a huge honour to be chosen as a cheerleader.  It required stamina and quite a bit of athletic ability to do cartwheels and jumps in formation. The Drum Majorettes group was also always popular.  The 1952 squad was the largest in any school that year.  They performed at the annual Red Feather Tournament of Champions sponsored by the Community Chest (later the United Appeal). It had been organized to raise funds for needy Torontonians. The Majorettes also marched at Varsity Stadium at the City Football Championships and in the Santa Claus Parade.

N.B.: This is the pre-edited version. I'm fixing up the awkward phrasing.

Giggles and laughter! The Boys' teams won citywide championships. The girls giggled and laughed. 

Oh, 1950s. 

From a history of a local high school that I am editing:

During the war, the Girls' Club had become the War Services Club; the Girls’ Club was not reinstated after the war. However, a "Baby Bawl” was organized during the First Form initiation party in 1945. During the day, the girls went to class with their clothes on inside-out, wearing one long black stocking and odd shoes and sporting signs around their necks stating they were Baby Bags. At night, they returned, dressed as babies, to an auditorium bedecked with lines of baby clothes; the stage resembled a nursery. The poor Firsts were put through the horrors of a witches’ den, made to walk the plank and forced to endure other pranks.

I kind of love the matter-of-fact way that this is reported. The author maintains the same tone in discussing
  • the school's football victories,
  • the fact that while before WWII, the cheerleading squad consisted entirely of male cheerleaders, while the post-war cheerleading squad was co-educational, and
  • the arrival of a new music teacher and the growth of the school's music program.
zingerella: Capital letter "Z" decorated with twining blue and purple vegetation (Default)
( Jul. 26th, 2011 04:22 pm)
The latest in my gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free (also nut-free and vegan) desserts.


For the filling
- 3 cups assorted berries (I use blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries, depending on what's available)
- juice of half a lemon
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1 tbsp sugar (I generally use organic cane sugar; plain white sugar would probably work just as well)
- 1 tbsp Namaste baking mix (whatever your standard baking mix is would probably work just as well; avoid plain rice flour)

For the topping
- 1/2 cup quinoa flakes
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup Earth Balance soy-free margarine
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tbsp Namaste (or other) baking mix

Preheat oven to 350 ºF. Lightly grease a 4–5 cup baking dish with a bit of Earth Balance. In the dish, combine the ingredients for the filling, and toss or stir gently to coat the fruit. Set aside someplace safe while you prepare the topping.

In a mixing bowl, cream the Earth Balance and sugar. Mix in the quinoa flakes, cinnamon, and baking mix. Sprinkle this on top of your fruit (if it doesn't quite cover it, make more!)

Bake until it's done: the fruit will be bubbly and the topping golden, about 20 minutes.
Overhearing screaming fights through walls.

First it was shouty neighbour. Now it's the landlord and landlady, through the kitchen wall (the landlord's office is an extension on our house—with its own separate entrance and all, it's not like he walks through the kitchen on his way to work each day).

I went down to make a cup of tea, and she was shouting. She left and slammed the door, and he screamed out "FUUUCK YOOOU!" I ducked so she wouldn't see me through the kitchen window as she drove past. I don't know why I did that. I didn't want them knowing I'd witnessed their anger, which is kind of odd, because if they didn't want people to witness, maybe conducting their argument at top volume wasn't the best strategy. But I assumed they'd not thought of that, and thought their fight was some sort of private. Walls, even thin ones, do provide a sense of privacy, which is often incorrect, as anyone who's ever conducted private affairs in a tent has learned.

I do not like overhearing other people's personal business. I find arguments, especially heated ones, extremely uncomfortable (I guess most people do). I'm always waiting for the moment shouting turns to physical violence, ready to call 9-1-1. Then, when I encounter the people I've overheard, later, all I can think of is the things they said in the heat of anger. My view of them has changed, and it now includes this angry, shouty, not-very-rational person

It's weird. Prior to moving here, we lived in the Eyrie, and our downstairs neighbours, when they weren't smoking the foulest pot imaginable, had pretty regular screaming fights, at least one of which turned physical. Now shouty neighbour, and FUUUCKYOOOOU landlord. Perhaps this kind of noisy disagreement is actually common, and I'm just weird? (Of course, now that I've been all judgemental in this post, people aren't exactly going to cop to screaming at their partners or members of their household, or their dogs, I guess.) Still, I am wondering whether I am just really unfortunate in my neighbours.

It's puzzling.


zingerella: Capital letter "Z" decorated with twining blue and purple vegetation (Default)


RSS Atom
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags