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.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

This week

After my all-day boat trip on Opinicon Lake and Sand Lake (see my previous post), the rest of the week wasn't exactly humdrum, either.

On Monday evening Nancy (Jingnan Xue), my latest Mandarin teacher, came to introduce Erika and me to some Chinese words for flowers and stayed a while for tea afterwards, which we drank from my little Chinese cuplets. We learned about the importance of peonies, chrysanthemums (júhuā 菊花) and osmanthus (guìhuā 桂花) in Chinese culture, where people say that the shadows on the face of the moon are osmanthus bushes. The "Four Gentlemen" (sì jūnzǐ 四君子) of China are the chrysanthemum, plum blossom, orchid, and bamboo. Lotus flowers on their straight stems represent people of strong will and integrity. A rose (méiguī) represents a temperamental lady, whereas a waterlily would stand for a fragile, southern beauty. The Chinese word for narcissus (shuǐxiān) means water fairy. I learned that it is bad manners to bring a potted plant as a gift to someone in hospital because the implication would be that they'd be staying there for a long time, although potted plants as a New Year's gift are far more acceptable.

On Tuesday I attended a Garden Party –– the 4th annual recurrence of UWHAW's Voices for Afghan Women –– a posh event for 120 people, where I was busy taking photos and taking notes on the speeches. I'll write a separate post about this.

On Wednesday I cycled along the banks of the canal on a warm and sunny day to witness a remarkable midday concert given by Tone Cluster, aka Quite A Queer Choir. That too deserves a separate blogpost. 

Thursday was the day of the lunch party for my German friends at Dagmar's cottage by the Gatineau River where we gave leaving gifts to two diplomat friends who by the end of the summer will be living in Hamburg (Ulli) and Almaty, Kazakhstan (Uschi); we lingered beside the river sitting in Dagmar's colourful Muskoka chairs and admiring the sparkle of mica in the rocks in her steeply sloping garden. 
Annika on a Steinway grand

Then in the evening I accompanied Chris on a Steinway piano at the local "Steinway Piano Gallery" during another concert, this one organised by his singing teacher, Christine. Chris sang Schubert's Der Wegweiser and Heidenröslein and the other male student, Brendan, sang Elton John's Rocket Man and Let Her Go by someone called Rosenberg. What a contrast. Everyone performed with serious commitment anyhow, and the children had made progress since this time last year. A young woman called Anna who was an ex-student of the studio performed pop duets (by Glen Hansard and The Tenors) with Brendan and with Christine. The "recital" was followed by fruit and cookies.


Yesterday morning, Friday I took part in an AGM presenting two reports and joining in the sometimes rather heated discussions. We had our usual friends to supper at our house yesterday evening as well, which was mostly soothing, although we did have a discussion about the relative merits of Elton John and Schubert which stirred me up, rather (Chris too). L'esprit de l'escalier ... in retrospect, what I should have said is that it's like asking how the Laurentian hills compare with the Himalayas. To illustrate their points, Laurie and Don played us recordings of Candle in the Wind by Elton John and songs from Lloyd Webber musicals on their smart phones and Chris countered with the Liebestod from Wagner's Tristan und Isolde, after which there wasn't a lot more to say, really.

Today, Saturday, I went swimming before lunch. Afterwards Chris flew me from Rockcliffe to the other side of the city, to Carp, where we met a very recently arrived, Canadian government sponsored, Syrian refugee couple, for the sake of taking them and their interpreters for a ride in the 'plane. We were introduced to everybody by Chris' friend and colleague, Patrick. The little girl, Chahed, was three years old (she sat with her mother in the 'plane) and Achmad, her brother, was one-and-a-half. None of the family has come to grips with English, yet, but Chahed could say "Bye bye" when we left, and her brother was grabbing the airport's petunias and trying to say "Flower."

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