Siege Diaries 12/20/2021

Eighteen days, and so much has changed. I suspected it was coming when I made my last post, but the coming wave of omicron has hit with an intensity that reminds me of that week in March 2020 when we went from fully open to completely locked down in a matter of a week.

That being said, it’s not the same. Stuff is still open, even gyms and theatres (albeit with reduced capacities). Malls are still full of holiday shoppers. Booster shots are happening–I had mine five days ago, and the deluge of the opening of bookings to anyone over 18 happened this morning. I managed to get to an orchestra concert on Saturday night, which was in a small venue, well ventilated, with no one within several feet of me. But my Nutcracker performance–after I managed to retain a ticket even after the change to 50% capacity–was cancelled due to positive tests in the ballet corps. We’re five days out from Christmas, and we do have plans with friends for that day, but between now and then there will be nothing indoors for any length of time with people.

I feel as if the past four months have been a bit of a mental health inoculation against whatever is coming. I’ve been to SCA events and concerts, eaten in restaurants, done a bit of travel. I finally got to play Isle of Cats. We even got out to some holiday-themed things–an evening tour of Dundurn Castle (including a sample of their wonderful shortbread) and a first visit to Castle Kilbride. We had the customary Eoforwic holiday thing at Free Times Cafe, where I got my latke itch scratched. There was a virtual holiday cookie tray exchange as well–although picking up my tray was an adventure; I had called ahead to order turkey dinners from Betty’s, only to find that their power had been knocked out by a windstorm. While coming back to my car after checking the door, the windstorm blew my glasses right off my face and I spent a frenzied few minutes in a blackened parking lot desperately searching with the flashlight on my phone. Luckily the glasses were found undamaged. I got the turkey dinner in the following Wednesday, and also picked up some tubs of Graeters’ Black Raspberry Chocolate Chunk that a friend had obtained for me in Buffalo. (As I write, there are yet more tubs waiting for me!)

Work had an online holiday gathering, where I won two of the contests, resulting in two Amazon gift cards, which I just spent on a new clock radio. For some reason mine has lost two hours, which resulted in getting up at 7:45 instead of 6:55 this morning. My internal clock had awakened me at around the right time, but I’d believed the clock and gone back to sleep for another hour. I tried to reset the clock to no avail. This particular clock has been a bit of a pain for years, having to be reset periodically because it runs fast, but I liked the dual alarm feature.

Virtual roleplaying has continued. We’re up to level 20 in our Pathfinder adventure path, heading towards our final confrontation with the big bad, and getting close to leveling up in D&D.

The one concert I got to was on Saturday night–the Kindred Spirits Orchestra performing (among other things) the Shostakovich 15th Symphony. This performance was much more uneven than their performance of his 14th Symphony, but I highly suspect something went wrong that accounted for missing trombone parts that were apparent starting about halfway through the second movement–I was unable to see from my seat (which was in the second row) but I suspect there was either a technical glitch or that one of the trombonists took ill. The percussion bits at the end were a little sloppy, and the final note was oddly slightly out of tune, suggesting to me that either something was not allowed to resound properly because those instruments were triangle, glockenspiel, and celesta, none of which is an instrument that should require tuning. That said, this orchestra generally punches above its weight, and this symphony contains a lot of exposed passages for only three or four instruments; there’s really nowhere to hide, and many of the soloists were more than up to the task. The cellist in particular gets a long solo at the beginning of the second movement and she was absolutely spectacular. Seeing this performance both revealed to me how wonderful the one in Montreal had been and how ambitious this one was for a community orchestra to play. Late Shostakovich is no joke.

The two performance of Symphony no. 15 bracketed the twelfth of my Shostakovich embroideries: I started the stitching in Montreal and finished it on the day of the second concert.

The new thing I tried with this one was painting the background. Turned out OK, I think. I also finished two other projects: a Christmas ornament (from a kit given as a free gift at Gitta’s) and a necklace of garnet stars and pearls.

And this arrived today. I’m still working on finding the right shade for it, but this is a style known as Hollywood Regency. My parents owned a very similar lamp growing up. I’d seen a couple of these at the Hamilton Antique Mall and hoped to pick one up while I was shopping for Christmas gifts there a couple of weeks ago. The ones there had sold, unfortunately, but I found this one on eBay.

This was not my only indulgence of childhood nostalgia. I bought a pair of these UnCandles for my mom one Christmas, and they came out at every holiday season. I found these on eBay.

While at the Antique Mall, I saw this rain lamp. I’ve written about these before, and if I had $500 to blow, I might have come home with it.

Tomorrow I’m going to pick up a very special jewellery commission, and I’m hugely excited. We’re not going to Ottawa as originally planned due to the surging virus cases, so instead I have a variety of projects to work on. First up will be my friend’s Laurel scroll, but I also have a piece of garb to finish and possibly a 30s suit, some cookies to bake, a little house cleaning, a Lego New York City architecture kit to build, possibly some other scrolls to start, a Pathfinder one-off adventure to play.

It won’t be a “normal” Christmas, but we’ve had at least a partially normal run, with some bits of fun. Fingers crossed for the future.