Siege Diaries 2/6/2022

It’s been a week embracing both the comfort of something approaching the old normal but yet fraught with its own new challenges.

On Wednesday, I attended the first TSO concert in over two years, purchased with money that had been on account since I purchased a 2020-2021 season package in early March of 2020. The first of my TSO concerts this year was to have been in January, a program of Bach with a smaller orchestra, but the semi-lockdown which closed all concert halls put an end to that. This concert, however, came two days after the reopening began again. It was limited to just 500 audience members (under 20% capacity at Roy Thompson Hall), and as it turned out, the weather probably kept the numbers even smaller.

Driving in, I allowed plenty of extra time. The transition from rain to snow had actually held off much later in the day than expected–still holding off while I drove downtown. It was by far the lightest rush hour I’d ever experienced. I stopped at LL Bean on the way in to pick up a sweater, but even so I had 45 minutes to kill before the doors opened at 7. So I did a loop of the PATH system, just to see what had changed, and to hopefully grab a kanel snegl at Danish Pastry House. There were definitely significant closures to note, although at least two of the spots were now occupied by new businesses. Pretty much everything was closed, however–it looks like the days of staying open beyond 6 pm were over. Union Station, however, looked largely intact (with signs advertising a Sephora “coming soon” in the new area in the east end of the station), and Danish Pastry House still had a few kanel snegls left. I looked longingly at Union Chicken, but I had already eaten. I’ll remember that next time.

The concert was excellent. There was Beethoven’s spectacularly short overture to Creatures of Prometheus, a trombone concerto by a contemporary composer with a climate change theme, and the piece I’d bought the ticket for, Schumann’s Symphony no. 1 (“Spring.”) I was sitting in the first occupied row, which meant I got a great view of the trombonist and could really separate out the first and second violins (who were seated, in the European fashion, to the right and left of the conductor). The playing was wonderful. I hadn’t really heard the Schumann in years, but it’s such a sprightly work, the spirit was infectious. The small audience was almost lost in the always-cavernous Roy Thompson Hall, but with no one within 10 feet of me, it felt fine.

The snow had definitely arrived by the trip home, but I’ve certainly driven in far worse. It was only when I got to the Red Hill when I encountered unplowed roads and had to slow down to 40 kph.

There were other good things in the past few days as well: a lovely meal with friends yesterday (the flowers above were an early birthday present for the hostess) and the first day back into Canadian Warplane Heritage today. We’ve also started buckling down on final edits for the CWH 50th anniversary book. No D&D today, but leveled up in the new Pathfinder campaign.

I’m also making progress on what I’m calling the Rose of Chernobyl (the design based on the radiation fallout map from the accident).

On the downside: The continuing occupation of Ottawa by angry truckers, led by leaders with clear ties to the far right. They’re still there, honking their horns and digging in, and the city has declared a state of emergency. And I just heard reports of a heavily armed police raid on the base supply camp for the protest which was supplying propane tanks and gasoline cans. Other cities are learning quickly, however–Toronto, for instance, has closed off streets around Queen’s Park, particularly the stretch of hospitals just to the south, and as a result experienced mostly just a loud, regular kind of demonstration. I haven’t heard whether it continued today. In Hamilton, there was a convoy parade of sorts, but it apparently largely kept moving.

Right now, I’m trying to figure out whether I want to go to Winter War, assuming it goes ahead as planned. It’s capped at 160. It also occurs on my actual birthday this time. From past experience it generally does not have a lot in terms of non-martial activities, but it would be nice to see people, and I might be able to make the traditional rum cake and distribute pre-wrapped slices. Hmmmm. I know at least one friend is going…