blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit

blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit
By Alison Hobbs, blending a mixture of thoughts and experiences for friends, relations and kindred spirits.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

River blog?

A few years ago I started to keep a sort of diary about the day-to-day life of the Rideau River that flows its final few hundred metres through the park adjacent to our street, and I think it would make a good blog. However, somebody else has come up with the idea before me (not that the writer has updated it since last June). Maybe I should have a go in any case, for the river's character, like the sky's, changes every day, and I can't help thinking it's healthier for me to dwell on natural phenomena than on the ups and downs of the stockmarket or party politics or whatever latest news crops up about Nortel or whatever.

More rain has been coming down this month than for the last seventeen Julys, and Chris and I got drenched from head to toe during our late evening walk over the bridges last night. We might as well have gone swimming in our clothes. A vagrant on a park bench near our house was trying to sleep in the series of downpours, cocooned in plastic bags like an Egyptian mummy, with a cardboard box over his head. I doubt if he kept dry, but perhaps he prefered this to a bed at one of the usual shelters. I thought of the storm scene in King Lear.

...Thou think'st 'tis much that this contentious storm
Invades us to the skin: so 'tis to thee;
But where the greater malady is fix'd,
The lesser is scarce felt. Thou'ldst shun a bear;
But if thy flight lay toward the raging sea,
Thou'ldst meet the bear i' the mouth. When the
mind's free,
The body's delicate: the tempest in my mind
Doth from my senses take all feeling else
Save what beats there...

This afternoon I walked home along the river banks from Carol's house fascinated by the unusually British-looking colour of the river water. It's not quite the great grey-green greasy Limpopo, but much browner than usual. A mother duck was leading half a dozen ducklings through the flowering rushes and in Stanley Park two black belt judo instructors were teaching some lesser belts to do somersaults on the grass.

Talking of water, I've been dreaming of buying a tug like the one in my last blogpost. I've found a website.

Well, it's no good my starting a river blog if I'm going to keep wandering off the subject as I've done here; come to think of it though, Jerome K Jerome did exactly that in his classic Three Men in a Boat.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A note about Picton

Picton in Prince Edward County where John and Jill persuaded us to fly to on Sunday is worth a visit, one of seven townships established in the 18th-19th century in this Loyalist part of North America, three of them named after King George III's daughters (Ameliasburgh, Sophiesburgh, Marysburgh). Picton itself was named in honour of General Sir Thomas Picton who had just been killed in the Battle of Waterloo.

Today it has a neat little marina for the boating fraternity; we lunched down there at the Funky Carp and coveted the tug called Rosebud (shades of Citizen Kane!) moored by the landing stage.

Picton also has an often deserted airport, overrun with wild flowers, that used to be a training camp for the air force in World War II. There's a spooky air about the abandoned huts and watchtowers reminiscent of The Great Escape and such. In fact I think some war movies have been filmed there (not that one).

Modern Technology

It's been a while since my pilot husband looked at an old-style navigation chart. I still prefer to have one of these on my lap while we're flying, because I like to daydream about the details, but he fixes his attention on his GPS. Both kinds of maps looked good on Sunday when we flew PTN to Picton with John and Jill following in their Comanche, C-FOIB.

The outward flight was up through holes in the cloud then down again when the cloud became too thick, up again as it thinned out towards Lake Ontario. Coming home again in the late afternoon was more on the level with a few showers to penetrate but nothing worth worrying about; between Smiths Falls and Ottawa we saw rainbows which, thanks to modern technology, I was able to capture and and am able to share here.

Yesterday I captured another transient moment when my daughter and grandson were linked to me from over three thousand miles away.

Of course it takes effort to get used to what computers can do for you, but isn't it worth it? Helped by Chris, I also spent a great deal of time last week (wearing my recently donned Canadian Membership Liaison's hat) setting up a database of the 120+ members' details for our Diplomatic Hospitality group, especially when it occurred to me that I could store pictures of them too (to remind me who was who). And the other thing on which I'm spending much time and effort is the transcription of my father's musical compositions into a legible, computer generated format, so that they can be distributed among the family in book form. I can remember when the only way of making copies of his music was for him to scratch the notes onto on a wax stencil pad by hand and have them cyclostyled. The printing process is somewhat easier nowadays. Only I have just realised that having got four sample books printed and bound I have made a mistake with a key signature on the front page ...aargh!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Singing to friends

This morning, accompanied by Melita, I had the chance to sing another solo to our German speaking group in the German Ambassador's reception room which has super acoustics. Nineteen people were there. I sang Franz Schubert's An die Musik, a setting of words by another Franz, his aristocratic friend Franz von Schober, amateur poet, lithograph and actor, who was only a year younger than the composer but who lived more than half a century longer than he. It's touching to think that nearly two hundred years ago in Vienna those two young men shared the same music with their own friends. We tried it a second time in a lower key, encouraging the others to join in; it works quite well as a unison piece and I think everyone appreciated the words:

Du holde Kunst, in wieviel grauen Stunden,
Wo mich des Lebens wilder Kreis umstrickt,
Hast du mein Herz zu warmer Lieb entzunden,
Hast mich in eine beßre Welt entrückt!
Oft hat ein Seufzer, deiner Harf' entflossen,
Ein süßer, heiliger Akkord von dir,
Den Himmel beßrer Zeiten mir erschlossen,
Du holde Kunst, ich danke dir dafür!

Then I taught them this round in three parts ("Heaven and earth must pass away; music remains."):

We sang Die Loreley as well (not the same calibre of music as the Schubert but maybe easier to learn) and stayed for a scrumptious lunch outside on the patio, after which I cycled home through Rockcliffe, mostly freewheeling, a lovely downhill ride.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Wedding on the grass

Andrew, the son of our friends Carol and Don, got married to Lillian yesterday, and Chris and I, with our friends Elva, Laurie, Francine and Roger, were among the guests at this lovely wedding which took place under maple trees in the open air, at Temple's sugar bush in Lanark County.

One of the young men from Lillian's family played Don's electronic piano as we arrived to take our seats on the lawn between the trees. Andrew, looking appropriately handsome, with James, his best man, stood in front of us waiting for the bridal party to arrive. How similar weddings all are; people love traditions. However, Chris and I hadn't come across the ceremony where the mother of the bride and the mother of the groom (Anita and Carol) carry lit candles to the front table, where a central, taller candle stands waiting to be ignited by the young couple from these two family flames. Another nice touch was the procession of little children, the "flower girl"and the "ring bearers", before the bride arrived.

Lillian walked down the steps, across the wooden bridge and across the grass on her father's arm. The ceremony was a religious one, incorporating an "Invocation" and an "Exhortation" from Rev. Russell and a Bible reading. The exchange of Marriage Vows and Ring Ceremony, based on the Solemnization of Matrimony in the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, was approximately as remembered by Chris and me, but the four hundred year old phrases—"With this Ring I thee wed, with my body I thee worship..."—have been down-graded these days to something less than the original poetry and because they have lost that old resonance I'm afraid they're therefore less memorable. Why was it thought necessary to alter "...till death us do part"? wondered Chris, as he drove me home at midnight. Oh well, at least the word committees have thought fit to keep the phrase "foresaking all others"; that's something.

A grey cloud blew over but no rain fell to blot the Registry during the solemn signing and witnessing of signatures (click on my photos to enlarge them). Lillian and Andrew were triumphantly man and wife and could go indoors to celebrate.

After the solemnities and the photo shoot, Lillian's little nephews stopped behaving like miniature adults and started to let off steam. Later, while the grown-ups were making speeches or sitting round tables to eat salads downstairs in the timbered reception room, the children, dressed in aprons with their names on, were upstairs, busy decorating cupcakes. What a great idea.