Monday, August 30, 2010

Places that inspire: Cape Breton

Mr. Ringy and I decided to leave town to avoid the G20 Summit in June, and visit the Maritimes.

Our last leg of the trip took us to Cape Breton.

Other than the famous sights like the Cabot Trail and the Fortress at Louisbourg, we made a point of checking out the Mira River and crossing the Marion Bridge. Our choir had recently performed Song for the Mira in a concert, and we wanted to see this place that inspired the lovely tune.
The Mira River
The Marion Bridge (there probably used to be an older, prettier one)

We soon learned that the charming people of Cape Breton (which includes the Rankin Family, Natalie MacMaster, Ashley MacIsaac, and Rita MacNeill) sing about EVERYTHING. Literally. We attended a ceilidh (a community party with fiddle music and often dancing) at the Gaelic College in St. Ann's, where a local fiddler and singer were performing songs about inbred families, highways bypassing small towns, commuting to the Fort McMurray oil sand mines...
Rachel Davis & Buddy McDonald at Gaelic College

To borrow a popular ad campaign: There's a song for that.

We decided not to continue trying to visit everything for which a song had been written.

That being said, I can't blame them at all for being inspired by a place like this. Could you?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

It can only get better

I am a musician so I play for a handful of weddings at my church each year. I always enjoy hearing the priest's reflections to the couple because it seems like there is always something new to learn about love and marriage.

Today's homily was about how love can always continue to grow, even if you think you're already as much in love as you can possibly be.

It's a common sentiment at weddings, but I loved this line the most:

"If you live your lives as if the best to yet come... what a gift!"

Friday, August 27, 2010

Becoming like my mother

I know, it's every woman's worst fear.

Not me.

Every time I cook one of my mom's dishes for dinner, or wrap a little spoon in a paper towel and rubber-band it to my lunch box the way she did, or iron my shirts the way she taught me - I get the warm fuzzies thinking about everything she's done for me.

Nostalgia: Do the Word Thing

Popped up tonight on my Facebook newsfeed: the opening sequence of the show Ghostwriter.

In case you never watched it, Ghostwriter was a show that aired from 1992-1995 about a bunch of kids in New York who had a ghost friend that communicated by writing. They used his skills of whizzing through air and through words to solve mysteries like, "Who's behind the smear campaign in the school president election?"

Back in the day, I wish I had a ghost friend to keep me company. I wanted a lanyard pen. I had a desperate crush on Rob Baxter. [Sigh]

I immediately searched Youtube; lo and behold, entire episodes came up.

I've just spent the entire evening indulging in my childhood.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Sometimes, you just need some bubblegum pop

The first time I saw this video, I raised an eyebrow. (As best I could; my facial muscles don't actually allow me to raise one eyebrow without affecting the other.)

I consider myself a connoisseur of fine music. I play piano; I sing in choirs. I go to the symphony. My car radio is set to the classical station.

Mr. Ringy and I discussed the downfall of culture and art. I mean, really - whipped cream boob guns?

Yet, the other day, when I found myself deep in an irrationally cranky mood, this song was the only thing that got me smiling - nay, DANCING.

So, I guess it has some merit after all. Sometimes, you just need to rock out with Katy Perry.

Full video here.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Cat-related business: dinner

I have a cat. His name is Sherlock.

The only pets my husband and I ever owned growing up were fish. I was never much of an animal person. His parents didn't particularly cats; my mother downright hated them. We even surprised ourselves by deciding to get a cat. We decided it would be nice to have a companion but we never even imagined the endless smiles he'd give us.

I must say, for a creature with a walnut-sized brain, he sure is persistent. Particularly when it comes to dinner time.

Hi! Did I get your attention?
What if I sit over here, on this stool?
I'm reeeally hungry!
What if I sit here? I KNOW the food is in there!
Oh food bag, how I love you.
I just love you.
Why do you torture me??

Star Trek snuggles

I will be the first to admit that the hubby and I are geeks. We're both engineers, for goodness' sakes.

So, naturally, we decided that our anniversary gift to ourselves would be the complete set of Star Trek, The Next Generation on DVD.

It's brought us hours of quality time. I make us each a cup of tea and a snack like cookies or cake, we pop in the DVD and enjoy one of the episodes (which we've already seen a million times on TV). It's a ritual we've cornily affectionately named "Star Trek Snuggle Time."

Last night, we came to the end of the first season and found some of the features about the making of the series. So we watched them. In one interview, the amazingly talented Patrick Stewart said:

I first encountered Star Trek when I was working in Stratford. I'd come home to my wife after a matinee or something, and we'd have marmalade and toast and tea... and Star Trek.

Captain Picard himself has Star Trek Snuggle Time!

Friday, August 20, 2010


Let me start off by saying that I'm the most un-athletic person ever. I can't catch to save my life. You know that episode of Friends where they call Chandler a dropper? Yeah, that's me. Don't ever toss me anything that is remotely breakable.

I never played team sports in school. I took the absolute bare minimum amount of Phys Ed classes that I needed, and bolted out of the gym. Granted, I did join a swim team outside of school (my high school had no pool), but that's hardly a team sport. Sure, I trained with some great teammates, but in swimming, you usually don't need to directly depend on others to perform.

I only started my involvement in team sports two years ago, when - with my husband's encouragement - I decided to join his just-for-fun softball and volleyball teams.

What kept me from sports in the past was fear: fear of disappointing my teammates, fear of being looked down on, fear of failing. I've always had a fear of failing; I have little patience to learn things that I don't pick up quickly. I didn't want to face disapproving looks if I messed up a play. So I never let others would depend on me.

At first, I apologized every time I messed up a play. Everyone always said, "It's OK." Then I started noticing that they'd cheer especially loudly for me if I actually made a play. I thought they were patronizing me.

And then I realized something - it's really annoying when players apologize for missed plays. It's negative energy that the team doesn't need. Dwelling on a missed play won't get the point back, and brings everyone down. But encouraging your teammates to play on despite a lost point, and celebrating the victories, does so much to keep up the right attitude. Momentum is SO important in sports - figuratively, and literally.

One day, I will gladly become a soccer/hockey/baseball/your-favourite-sport mom if my future children can learn this lesson sooner than I did, at age 29.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Politics in the Gaybourhood

I live downtown Toronto, near the Church & Wellesley Village, also known as the "gaybourhood."

Every now and then, political candidates knock on my door to introduce themselves. Last night, we had a visit from Ken Chan, a candidate running for city councillor in the upcoming municipal election on October 25. I read his campaign flyer, as I usually do.

One of the points mentioned is that he is openly gay. It's no surprise, given that the gaybourhood is part of this district. In fact, many of our government representatives - including former MPP and current mayoral candidate George Smitherman, current MPP Glen Murray, and current city councillor Kyle Rae - are openly gay. And it's always pointed out in their campaign literature.

Hey, they represent their voters. That's great. If you're a cynic, you might find it a bit blatant.

But I also find it interesting - refreshing, in a way - to see it so heavily advertised as an asset, in light of things happening elsewhere in the world like Proposition 8. It's almost like it's a requirement for the job.

I'd love to live in a world where it doesn't matter at all. But for now, I'll settle for a world where it can be considered an asset, and not a shame.

I love my city.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

An anniversary moment

My husband and I got married on August 15, which in the Catholic church is the Feast of the Assumption. For a part of the ceremony, we chose the hymn Holy Is Your Name - a setting of the Magnificat to the tune of Wild Mountain Thyme, arranged by David Haas. It was appropriate for the feast day, and it's also a hymn we really love.

Fast forward, one year later: hubs and I have been responsible for providing the music at Sunday masses for most of the summer. August 15 fell on a Sunday this year and we sang Holy Is Your Name for the Feast of the Assumption. We privately enjoyed a lovely reminder of our wedding one year ago.

After mass, a woman came up to us and told us that she was completely moved by that hymn.

Hubs had been feeling a little under the weather that day, and was concerned the whole time about sounding raspy. But none of that mattered anymore. That woman made our whole day.

Happy anniversary, honey!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Hello, world

Hello there, and thanks for dropping by!

I am a 29-year old engineer, leading a busy life in the middle of a busy city. (Who isn't busy these days?) I am also a newlywed; yesterday, my husband and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary.

Somewhere over the course of our 3-1/2 year relationship, we started a little tradition of gifting ourselves a big box of Leonidas Chocolates for occasions like birthdays and Valentine's Day. Over the next few weeks, we'd sit down just for a moment and share a truffle or two.

We each take half a bite, and trade. In fact, we share almost everything we eat together.

I've really come to appreciate those moments. Something about those half bites of chocolate ground us and reconnect us. The chocolate is a luxury, but so is the quiet and calm. Amazing how half a bite of chocolate puts the whirl of the day into perspective.

This blog is inspired by those moments.