Through the Liminal

The liminal period has passed, exciting as it was, and new rhythms emerging. The period of endings and beginnings now past, new habits are being formed and plans made for the future. The sense of exhaustion and dread is, I hope, a thing of the past, becoming something that I almost can’t quite conceive of tolerating as long as I did.

First, the new job. I am also nearly at the end of my fourth week, and I am loving my new company. I’ve already moderated two education sessions, helped out in editing/proofing a new version of the master deck for presentations, and am absorbing a lot of new information–which I love. Everyone I’ve met has been friendly and helpful. I’ve joined the Toastmasters club and just gave a speech today.. Last Thursday’s all-employee meeting was excellent. I was asked repeatedly for input even though I’ve only been there for three weeks, and as such, I felt encouraged to share ideas and opinions, and afterwards there was a pub night with tasty food and an excellent continued conversation. Apparently we’re all getting hockey jerseys at some point in the future. Today I started working on a presentation deck for our CEO to use. And it looks like next month I’ll start to transition into assisting with presentations. Gone is the procrastination over thankless tasks. I feel like I matter and am respected for who I am.

After the all-day session on Thursday, I stayed late to go to the ballet. Having purchased a ticket for The Nutcracker earlier in the week (trying once again after having last year’s performance cancelled), I received an offer from the National Ballet for rush seats for their opening mixed performance–and, since I discovered there was a piece, Concerto, choreographed to Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto no. 2, I said, “why not?” I’m really glad I did. Although I quite like more classical ballet, I tend to really enjoy these shorter pieces–and the other two on the program were very much contemporary works. It was definitely worth doing.

Queen’s Prize Tourney took place on November 5. I love this event and the chance to bask in the energy of newer artisans doing amazing things. One of my favourites was a new member who had put together a very detailed diorama of the Battle of Ryazan (Rus’ vs. Mongols). He clearly had experience with building these sorts of things for gaming, but it wasn’t just the actual diorama–it was some of the cool research behind it that stood out. The top prize went to a gentleman who had built horns out of clay. I gave my prize to an artisan who had done Japanese-style ink drawings of dragons (and very derpy looking ones).

It was also an event where I contributed two Laurel scrolls. One had been in the works for months, and the recipient had specifically requested naughty marginalia; the second was a surprise elevation and the recipient is known for her hounds. The thing that tied the two together was that both scrolls had (different) butt trumpets.

Saturday we went down to Niagara Falls for a dinner at Betty’s, followed by a look at their holiday lights and a visit to a Christmas market. Sunday we took the opportunity of cancellation of both RPGs to go to Battlefield House in Stoney Creek, which has been just down the road for us for nearly eight years but which we hadn’t visited since the 70s. Our tour guide, who has been working at the site in one role or another since she was a kid, was fabulous. No interior photos–light was a bit dim–but a few from outside

On Monday, I finally picked up the vintage ring I’d sent off for repairs–the shank had broken and I had it completely rebuilt. At the same time, I had it replated with rhodium. I hadn’t been aware what 10K white gold does over time (I’d actually been wondering whether the ring was actually gold or not). The results are stunning.

I also got the Christmas lights up on Monday. The three townhouses north of us already had theirs up, so I took the plunge. I invested in two new sets this year, having gotten rid of my blue sets (which were about 17 years old) last year when they kept tripping the breaker (not a new issue for them). I also bought a new strand of reds, given that the tree I put those on has gotten considerably bigger. It does help that we’ve been leaving up the set on the eaves all season long–they were put up in 2020 and have not been down since. Tree will not, of course, go up until after US Thanksgiving, but I do have a new star topper for it.

We also went to Niagara-on-the-Lake to the Irish store–my husband had had his eye on a duffle coat for some time, and we quickly learned that they’re not the easiest thing to find. I also picked up a new Aran sweater, which I am currently wearing (boy, is it warm!). I now know that I have to keep those packed away in airtight bags if I want to keep them from the moths. Annoying, but it does seem to work.

I’ve set up an eye appointment for next week. As my benefits are good immediately, I’m taking the opportunity to hopefully get at least one new set of glasses. I am currently down to essentially one pair, and that bothers me. Flu shot has also been acquired.

Yesterday was the Toronto Symphony’s 100th anniversary concert, featuring YoYo Ma. I learned along the way that YoYo Ma has a long connection with Toronto, and this was his 50th appearance with the TSO. I also found out a little more about his involvement with the Music Garden, one of my favourite hidden gems in the city. The concert was all I had hoped for, and more. It opened with Jeremy Dutcher singing what I think was a land acknowledgement, based on its placement at the beginning of the program, and the two words I understood–words related to the Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee peoples, who both are mentioned in the usual Toronto land acknowledgements. (It was later confirmed that my guess was correct.) As he sang, a woman dancer (identified later as Sarah Prosper) wearing a cloak bearing various symbols related to the stars and land swept down the aisle to my right, finally meeting him on the stage. It was incredibly powerful. This first performance was not on the program, and I had to wonder whether most of the audience knew what was going on (assuming my guess was correct); the one review I’ve found of the concert certainly did not. There was a rather generic overture by a Canadian composer, and then Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from West Side Story. How can you not love a score where the entire orchestra snaps their fingers in the first few bars? There is amazing percussion scoring, the first chair viola gets a solo, and the spicy harmonies and syncopation are lifted from jazz and Latin idioms.

Then, after the break, Dutcher was back to perform Honor Song with YoYo Ma and the entire orchestra (not the first time these two had worked together) before Ma went on to the evening’s main course, Dvořák’s B minor Cello Concerto. This regularly tops lists of “best cello concertos,” and it’s easy to see why–it’s gorgeously melodic and virtuosic without ever having the soloist overwhelm the orchestra; its moments of intensity require a knowledge of the quiet, of the strengths of the instrument. It’s kind of hard not to love YoYo Ma. During his performance, he perpetually seemed either lost in the music, completely overjoyed by it, or intimate dialogue with the orchestra. Fireworks are not his style; his playing seems to simply slip out of his fingers and body as easily as breathing. At the end of the concert, after the inevitable standing ovation, the house lights came up, but no one but a few in the cheap seats was buying it, and Ma returned, borrowed the first chair cello’s instrument, and played a Catalan lullabye while conductor Gustavo Gimeno sat on his podium and listened. It was as if Ma had cast a spell on the audience; there was nary a cough or rustle to disrupt the mood.

One interesting side note–I may be meh on the acoustics of Roy Thompson Hall, but I did note that my seat last night had a wonderful amount of leg room–no need to tuck my legs under my chair to avoid the stinkeye this time. I also noticed that the hall does better when there’s a full house.

I’m in a concert-a-week-or-so stretch again, with the Royal Conservatory Orchestra next week (Shostakovich 5), the Detroit Symphony on Dec. 3 (Shostakovich violin concerto no. 2, which is my final punch on my Shostakovich concertos card), and then the Nutcracker on December 13. There’s also a Toastmasters training session to wrangle on Saturday, followed by board games. The week after, we’ve planned a trip to St. Jacobs’ Market and a drop-in with friends. On December 2 I’m taking a half day off so we can go to the K-W Christkindlmarkt, and then the following day is Wassail and then on to Detroit.

And finally, I have begin a new embroidery that will acknowledge the Carnegie Hall concert, the climax of my period of change and transition. It’s not quite ready to share yet–but it’s progressing nicely.

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