Siege Diaries 8/1/2020 – 8/7/2020


This will be a rather long post, as I started writing in fully six days ago, and kept getting distracted by more pressing matters.

8/1: Another long weekend.  No longer unlike any other long weekend.  Perhaps–most likely–like others to come.  Life, as it is, 141 days in.

Friday night, mini-golf.  The Adventure Village course has a spacious layout based around local history and geologic features, and some devilishly tricky holes.  It was popular, but not packed, and everyone was wearing masks.  It cost just $12 to play, which was a bargain.

Saturday, a hike out to Albion Falls, the first time we’d been this year.  The trails were popular, but not overcrowded.  The day was gorgeous, and at one point we heard the engines of the Lancaster in the distance.  There’s a cop with a bullhorn at the falls, in case anyone tries to jump the fence.  People are behaving, so he’s mostly just giving directions to visitors.  It’s a two-hour hike, about 10 km total.  But I am out of shape for hill climbing, and needed to take the last one slowly on a hot day in order to avoid dizziness.


Later, we go for a drive in the Porsche.  Still later, we get in the other car and drive to Chippewa, where one of our favourite comfort food restaurants, Betty’s, has reopened.  We get takeout–turkey dinners, with pie for dessert, and extra dinner rolls.

I watch the final Stratford Festival video production — The Taming of the Shrew.  It’s an odd play for me–by far the most misogynistic of Shakespeare’s works, taken at face value, but I have such fond memories of a BBC production I saw in high school featuring John Cleese that really played up the slapstick and physical comedy.  And that, I think is the key.  This production included the usually-not-performed framing device (in which a drunken tinker is knocked out, only to be revived and convinced he is a lord seeing a play) updated very effectively for a modern audience–and that device made a great deal of difference, creating almost a pact between the actors and the audience that they were performing something not quite real, but exaggerated for comedic effect.  The actor playing Katherina (Deborah Hay_ was over-the-top angry throughout the first half of the play, and even when she is “tamed” it is very, very clear that she is not at all broken–but has entered a knowing alliance with Petrucchio, acknowledging him as an equal (and he, her.)  The production reminded me a lot of some of the improvised commedia dell’arte productions I’ve seen within the SCA, and while it will likely never be my favourite play, the performances were all spectacular.

8/2: Sunday, my morning shift at Canadian Warplane Heritage.  I get an unexpected surprise–I’ve won the monthly volunteer draw for a $10 gift certificate.  In the afternoon, I attend an online party “in honour of Sts. Marg N Rita.”  On the way back from the museum, I’d stopped to pick up some premixed margaritas in order to properly participate.  This was a yearly party at Pennsic hosted by Feet of Clay Pottery, always held on Sunday afternoon, so unlike many other parties, I almost always could make it.  It was also always close by to the Pennsic Independent trailer.  I’m not much of a drinker, but margaritas on a hot day are lovely, and I usually got rather tipsy.  This time, I enjoy seeing some friends via Zoom and drink one margarita from my Foote mug, as one does.  Then it’s off to hear John Cleese for an hour, presenting a lecture entitled “Why There Is No Hope.”  It’s mostly about how you’ll be much happier if you just acknowledge the current lack of reason in the world.  He’s lecturing from an empty hall somewhere in England–apparently, right up almost to the day of presentation, the intent was to have an actual audience in place, but lockdown measures have been tightened up again.  I think the presentation suffers a bit from the lack of an audience to play off of, but it’s still worth the $20 I paid to see it.


8/3 –  Civic holiday.  In the morning, I get a massage. It’s lovely.

I decide to re-read Brian Moynihan’s Leningrad: Siege and Symphony. We are approaching August 9, which will be the 78th anniversary of the performance of Shostakovich’s 7th Symphony within the besieged city.  It will also be the 45th anniversary of Shostakovich’s death.  The plan will be to finish the book next Sunday, along with listening to the symphony.  I’ll also listen to Shostakovich’s final work, the Viola Sonata.  And I make plans to listen to a number of his later works as that anniversary approaches. Call it a pilgrimage of sound and words.

My husband and I play a rather exciting game of Pandemic: Fall of Rome. This is a cooperative game, fast becoming one of my favourites, where Rome attempts to fend off invading Germanic tribes, using the same mechanism the Pandemic game uses.  (For obvious reasons, I’m not really down with playing the original Pandemic right now, even though it’s a fun game).  There’s a fair bit of accuracy in the routes the invading tribes take, and there are options to both befriend and defeat them in order to win.  We win on literally the very last play of the game.

8/4 – The townhouse next door is for sale.  Asking price is close to twice what we paid for our townhouse.

I spend an hour listening to a webinar to earn me the very last PDU I need to renew my PMP certification.  I also send off my Trillium Exchange gift–a smocked apron with blackwork bees–which I had been working on, off and on, for about six weeks as I slowly have regained some of my creative spark.

8/5 – Half day off.  We spend an hour at the driving range, then walk by the lake for two hours.  In the evening, I brave the mall for the first time in order to pick up Extreme Pita chicken and goat cheese wraps, the first we’ve had since March.

I also start work on a style guide for the DSCH Journal.  I recently became a proofreader for this publication, a task I actually really enjoy doing.  (If I were at Pennsic this week like I would have in many previous years, I would be getting plenty of that kind of work).  After a couple of sessions of furious proofreading on a tight deadline, I was asked by the journal’s editor whether I could help them put together a comprehensive style guide, and that’s a rabbit hole I was completely happy to go down (having done such guides a few times before).  My copy of the Chicago Manual of Style, which I hadn’t cracked in over a decade, is pressed into service to complete the task.  I’ve always been amused at how loyal writers and editors are to a particular style, and Chicago is mine, being the standard for historians.  I first learned this style as an undergraduate, using Kate Turabian’s A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, ad Dissertations, which is based on Chicago.  The DSCH Journal also uses Chicago, and I spent some time during the proofreading phase knocking the rust off of my Chicago chops.

8/6 – I have a half hour 1-1 with our new department head at work.  It seems to go well.  I put up my hand to help continue to review our departmental mandatory project management documents, as I had with my direct manager.  I attend both of my Thursday Toastmasters meetings.

The townhouse next door sells. Given how quickly it goes, we expect it went for at least asking price, if not more.

8/7 – A gorgeous day for a morning walk–sunny, and not too hot. In the afternoon, I receive an archery bracer I had commissioned back in January in the mail, and it’s perfect, and we’re now going to the public archery range in Toronto on a regular basis to shoot, so it’ll get used almost immediately.  I also find out the Trillium Exchange gift was received and appreciated.  I update spreadsheets and listen to the Fitzwilliam Quartet’s recent recording of the final three of Shostakovich’s string quartets, including the Thirteenth–which remains my favourite. In the evening, I finish up the style guide draft and send it off. I’m now writing this and listen to the Leafs-Blue Jackets game, which is currently 1-0 for the Jackets.

Tomorrow:  I’ll go downtown to my office for the first time since March.  They’re letting us in to pick up any personal effects we left in our desks.  I had to fish out my security pass, which has sat untouched in my bag since March 12.  I expect it’ll be a bit of a strange experience.  We still have no idea when the office will reopen, although we’re pretty sure my department won’t be going back any time soon.  My office is also adjacent to Scotiabank Arena.  Wonder if I will see signs of the NHL bubble?  Then it will be another day spent with our own bubble friends.

I keep going through all of this by keeping my head up just enough to check the latest daily case stats for Ontario (under 100 all five days this week so far), but it was hard to miss the Halifax Explosion-sized disaster in Beirut earlier this week, where a warehouse full of over 2700 tons of ammonium nitrate exploded, leaving an immense crater and widespread damage.

I worry about the school reopening plan, especially for my teacher friends. I decide to book my next massage before that date.  Who knows what the outcome will look like?  We could very well move back into a tighter lockdown.  It’s happened in Australia and Vietnam.

It’s hard to read about the US right now.  I can’t even.


And the Jackets go up 2-0.