Archive for the ‘Ramblings’ Category


Working vs. Pretending to work

Note to self: these are not the same thing.


Insight into the self vs. Showing off

a) “Wow, I have deeper feelings about zoos than I thought I did” or b) “Destroying capitalism is an integral part of my sexuality”**


WordPress vs. Blogger

I actually don’t have any opinions on this anymore. I’m pretty firm in hating on Disqus, though. I mainly browse the Internet on crappy out-of-date devices and Disqus DOES NOT WORK on a 5-year-old Ipod Touch, OK?


Beer vs. Wine



Poetry vs. Prose

Well, what is this?


Classic Doctor Who vs. New Doctor Who

DIFFICULT QUESTION. There are more like 5-7 distinct periods of Doctor Who – maybe someday I’ll go back to school and write a PHD thesis on it!*** Short wishy-washy answer: there are great episodes/story arcs in both, as well as some real stinkers and missteps. You know how I feel about Moffat, but then again I’ve been watching the 6th Doctor episodes lately and if the show can come back from that it can come back from ANYTHING.


 Rob Ford did crack vs. It’s a left-wing conspiracy!

a) Rob Ford smoked SOMETHING from a pipe; he clearly is not a crack addict, but he might have done it once then gone back to hash or lines or whatever else it is he normally does. b) Why would you conspire to make Rob Ford look stupid when he’s so good at doing it on his own?


Twitter vs. Snapchat

I am too old to use Snapchat. Get off my lawn!



  • I seem to be incapable of making anything fermented (yogurt, tempeh, etc)
  • I do the crosswords and Sudoku in the free papers on the subway and leave the paper on the seat
  • I also put my feet up on seats in transit (if there’s a free one)
  • I will totally judge you if you carry your dog in a purse


Awkward moments

  • When someone you know writes about a social event you were both at on their blog and you’re like “OMG that’s what you were feeling like? D:”
  • Trying to navigate the sidewalk while pushing a stroller on garbage day, running into like 8 seniors in those motorized scooters
  • When the cashier at the drugstore says “Would you like to buy a heart for two dollars? The money is for heart transplants for babies” and you say no and everyone in line looks at you like you’re literally Hitler
  • When you run into someone you know, realize you’re going the same way on the subway but don’t really want to talk to them for 8-10 stops, so invent an errand to get out of it and have to hang around somewhere random for 10 minutes to avoid running into them on the platform

Maybe someday I will write real blog posts again. This is not that day.

I did write a poem a few days ago, so maybe I’ll look at it again, totally rewrite it, and post it.

Until then…

*Literally the thought that went through my head before I opened a Word document and started typing

**I didn’t make that up! I ran across someone on Twitter who put it in their bio. More power to them, but WTF?


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OK. So where do I start?

In the middle of December Gus stopped eating. He simply refused his dinner one day. After giving him a few days to get over it in case it was just stomach upset (Doctor Google informing me that a loss of appetite in a dog isn’t a cause for alarm unless it lasts more than 2 days), I spent pretty much an entire week with him at the vet (first our own, then a specialist) as they ruled out one diagnosis after another and he got sicker and weaker. His gums were practically white, he had no energy, and he moved like he was a hundred years old. As I was getting him down the stairs onto the subway platform to go to the specialist, a guy waiting for the train said to his friend “Wow, look at that old dog! He’s got to be like 15!”

Gus is 5.

Anyway, as I said, the easy and inexpensive conditions got ruled out one by one.

Worms? No.
Had he eaten a foreign object? No.
Had he gotten into some kind of poison? No.

Eventually it got down to ulcers vs cancer. And it didn’t look good. An ultrasound showed a mass on his spleen which we were told was 80% likely to be cancer and even if it wasn’t would eventually burst and kill him anyway. He had a biopsy for the spleen mass and an endoscopy for the gut bleeding and…

…he didn’t have cancer.

The spleen mass wasn’t even a tumour, just a nodule of spleen tissue and not a danger to him, at least right now. What he does have is inflammatory bowel disease, which can be really serious, but not as bad as cancer. “Change his diet to something he’s never had before,” the vet said. “Bring him back next week and we’ll see if he needs medication.”

We changed his diet, and I think Gus must have had this for a couple of years, because he is not only fully recovered, he is back to the energy and activity level he had when he was about 2 1/2. He played with toys the other day. He has not shown interest in toys in YEARS. Yesterday he happily spent about 20 minutes in the back yard sniffing around in the snow. He is scent vocalizing on walks again. He is all sleek and bright-eyed and happy. I mean, he is still Gus, so he’s still an abnormally lazy dog, but he is so much better it is amazing.

So that was my Christmas! For about a week we thought Gus was going to die, then he got miraculously better. It took all the money we had saved and then some, but he is going to be OK.

Because we didn’t want to travel with a very sick dog, we hosted Christmas here instead of visiting our families. My mother insisted on bringing Christmas dinner already cooked, because you will pry cooking for the holidays out of her cold dead hands, and Cecil got so many presents I think we will have to buy another house to put them in. Ben’s parents came a few days later and Cecil got even more presents, including a little hockey jersey with “Lil C” on the back.

Anyway. It was lovely to have Christmas in my own home, though I could have done without having Gus visit death’s door to make it happen.

Merry Gusmas!

Merry Gusmas!

Right after Christmas Ben came down with a terrible cold, which I came down with a few days later (right after visiting Ben’s grandmother, thereby probably taking out half a wing of the the seniors’ home) and Cecil a day or two after that. So this is basically a plague house. I feel a lot better, though fairly zombie-like (zombesque?) after a few nights of terrible baby sleep.

But hey, it’s the new year, when people decide to better themselves in spite of knowing they will fail utterly in two or three months! So what am I going to do to make myself a better excuse for a human being?

I really only have two things:
1. Learn how to be more productive with my time while looking after Cecil
2. Get some kind of non-music part-time job.

The key to 1 is, I think, limiting my time on Twitter, the major time-suck in my life, and the key to 2 is probably divine intervention because I have no non-music resume or skills, but you know, you gotta give it a try. I just want to diversify where my income comes from and make a bit of extra money in a somewhat more low-stress way. I love teaching but I can’t handle more than about 15 hours/week. It is too energy-consuming. So if you are looking to hire someone to work for you for about 12-15 hours a week doing something relatively mindless for a decent cause, I am your lady.

I’m giving myself a lot of time on that one, because as I said I have no resume to speak of and the job market is in the shitter, so I’ll be really impressed with myself if I can make that happen by the summer.

And to round out my “What I did on my blogging vacation” essay, a really simple recipe!

Cinnamon syrup

I made some peppermint syrup for Christmas lattes (just simple syrup + flavour extract) and it was such a hit I made syrups with all the extracts I have, including anise (which turned out awesome, BTW – it tastes exactly like those candies you get after dinner at Italian restaurants). Here is my first attempt without using an extract.

1/3 C sugar and
1/3 C water.

Stir to dissolve. Add:

Around 2 tablespoons cinnamon bark

and bring to a boil on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. Simmer for 2 minutes. Don’t let it really boil or you’ll make some really disgusting candy. Remove from heat and let stand for at least an hour or, if you’re me, forget about it entirely for an afternoon while you do other stuff. Strain into a glass container – those little baby juice bottles are perfect. Just label it so you don’t accidentally give your baby a whack of cinnamon-flavoured sugar instead of apple juice. About 2 teaspoons sweetens your coffee and gives it a nice cinnamon flavour.
You will notice I didn’t resolve to blog more often or bring back the podcast or anything, though I do want to; I can’t promise that 2013 will see more than a handful of blog posts either. But hey, if you made it all the way through this, at least I gave you a little sweetness for your morning brew.

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My computer is preventing me from watching Murder, She Wrote. It starts loading it, pauses, then I get a Netflix error message. It is doing me a favour, I KNOW. It is a terrible show. I found it kind of dumb when it originally aired (when I was a small child). But this is the speed I am at now. I can do the things I need to do. Very occasionally I can do something more. The rest of the time, I can watch bad 80s television.


It’s a weird thing to say, but I feel like I’ve forgotten how to live. Like, if there isn’t something I need to be doing or that I’ve planned ahead of time to do, I don’t know what to do with myself. I think, “I have this whole day – I should practice. I should write. I should blog. I should make something.” But most of the time I don’t. And it’s not that I can’t, exactly. When I’m with Cecil he doesn’t need 100% of my attention 100% of the time. I could practice or write or make something while he crawls on his belly on the floor and it would totally be fine, as long as there were no swallowable objects on the floor. But I don’t. If I’m not playing with him or tending to his needs or doing housework I am probably reading a public domain mystery novel or wasting time on Twitter. I don’t mind being interrupted doing either of those things, you see. I do mind being interrupted when I’m actually doing something. When he’s napping I will sometimes plan to do something productive, and occasionally I succeed. But more often I sit down and I stay there, because I am tired and I need some space where no one is making any demands of me, even myself.

In a way I feel much like I did the year after I finished school. 2004 was the first September in 20 years which didn’t mark the beginning of a new school year for me. I felt so lost, the rest of my life yawning open before me. What was I supposed to do? How would I ever accomplish anything without someone structuring my time and giving me milestones to achieve? How could I go on knowing that I could fall off the face of the earth and die and no one beyond my immediate circle would care?

Eventually I figured out how to structure my time for myself. I even made myself little schedules – yoga at 10, practice at 11, write at 1, leave for work at 3:30, etc. I mostly didn’t really follow them, but at least they gave me a broad outline of what a day meant. I still am not really happy about the fact that maybe 50 people in the world give a shit about my existence, but I am getting over that. Sure, work would go up and down, and I’d have periods where I felt blah and unmotivated…but at least I knew HOW to do stuff when I had the will to do it.

Well, I can’t apply that now, because looking after babies does not lend itself well to that kind of scheduling. I do not know if it will take me 10 minutes or an hour to get Cecil down for a nap. Mostly it’s 10 minutes, but randomly – generally when he’s teething badly like he is now – it will take a really long time, and there’s nothing you can do about it. When I go to bed I do not know if I’ll get to sleep 7 or so hours with only one interruption or if I’ll be awakened 3 or 4 times. (Side note: if you feel the need to comment to tell me that your baby slept 14 hours in a row every night of its life because you did cry-it-out/you co-sleep/your midwife was also a witch and gave you a magic wand, just don’t, because I DO NOT WANT TO HEAR IT.) Also, since my time is generally not under my control, I don’t want it to be under my super-ego’s control either, if that makes any sense. I can say “OK, if Cecil has a good night and you don’t need to nap at the same time as he does to remain functional, then you will practice for half an hour”, but when it comes time to do it, my brain will say “Time to practice!” and I will say “Brain, DIAF” and start Instagramming pictures of plush gnomes.

It’s a long story.

Anyway. I assume I will figure this out eventually, just like I did when no longer having a course calendar tell me what to do was a daunting new reality. And Cecil will get all of his teeth (he’s working on number 8! Yes, he is 8 months old! I KNOW) and start sleeping through the night, and I’ll look back on all those sweet snuggles we had in the middle of the night and totally forget the time he woke up at 12:30 and didn’t go back to sleep until after 4 (that was last Sunday). And then suddenly he’ll be 12 years old and riding a skateboard and being embarrassed of me, then 19 and insufferable and correcting every other thing I say, then an adult finding his own path in life, starting a career and a family, and I’ll think “aw, why did he have to grow up?”

And I’ll accomplish many more awesome things in my life, even if none of them happen this year.

So now that my computer has finished loading this episode, I am going to go watch it. Make hay while the sun shines and all that.

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I was in Old Navy the other day in the extremely tiny Maternity and Baby section (because who doesn’t have enough maternity pants? I didn’t buy anything though) when I noticed the what was possibly the cutest and the saddest thing ever.

The cutest: A tiny Superman onesie.

The cutest thing ever, also the tiniest image ever - sorry

The saddest: An identical pink version of the same onesie, only for girls.


(BTW, I know these are not identical. Also that the first is a onesie and the second is a shirt. It was surprisingly difficult to find pictures of the ones I saw in the store online and this was the closest I could get. Trust me, they were identical in every respect, only one was pink. And sparkly.)

You know, it is pretty much impossible to tell if a baby is a boy or a girl without checking what’s in its diaper. And babies themselves could not care less about gender, since they have trouble with understanding such basic concepts as “hungry”, “tired”, and “the difference between self and not-self”. The only reason that baby clothes are so absurdly gendered – and they are, they really are – is that a lot of adults have a hard time relating to anyone whose gender is unclear. (If you don’t believe me, talk to the transgender people discriminated against by a farmer’s market in London, Ontario. Hometown pride!) So boy babies have to wear blue and girl babies have to wear pink and little useless headbands (they don’t have hair, people) and get their ears pierced, just so your casual passerby will know that you’re carrying around a little Supergirl and not a Superboy.

And for the record I like cute things, and I don’t mind pink or anything, though I don’t wear it often as it doesn’t go with my colouring, and if I have a girl she will certainly have little pink outfits. There’s nothing wrong with cuteness or girliness or pinkness. But I don’t see why an already unbelievably adorable object needs to be girlified and sparklified, if not to pander to adult gender anxieties. And I think it’s kind of sad that we as a culture have a hard time just dressing up our little girls like superheros, instead of sparkly pink superheros, or that we can’t dream of putting our boys in sparkly pink. Because I can’t think of a single good reason why this should be, but enough people must have thought of at least one for Old Navy to have come up with gendered superhero onesies for newborns.

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I can’t believe that I haven’t written since Giorgio Mammoliti called me a communist.

Nothing bad has happened, and I haven’t even been all that busy, so I don’t really have an excuse. I’ve just been sitting around the house, being pregnant, putting up a few posters, arguing with people on Manboobz, making more diapers, same old same old. I just keep forgetting to write.

The same thing that made my poetry output fall drastically has happened with my blogging. I don’t know if I ever wrote about it here, but around the time I turned 27 or 28 it became much harder for me to write poems. You see, when I was younger and a good phrase would pop into my head I would think “That’s a great opening/ending/middle line of a poem”, file it for later use, and write the poem whenever I had time. When I hit my late twenties, my memory degraded slightly – not a lot, but enough that when I archived those little phrases and whatever I thought they’d be good for, I would just forget them unless I wrote them down instantly.

And now the same thing with the blogging. I used to get ideas for posts, think “That’s a good idea for a post!”, then write it later. Now I think “That’s a good idea for a post!” and not only forget what it is, I forget to post anything at all. I am hoping this is just pregnancy-brain and will go away eventually, but it may just be the inevitable degeneration of Old Age.

Anyway. No excuses, right? I’m going to challenge myself to post something here every day for the next two weeks. I promise there will be no more than 25% dog and/or baby-related material. Maybe I need to find a routine for blogging like I do for practicing (which I haven’t been doing much of either, since it’s effing ragweed season and they’ve never tested Aerius on pregnant ladies).

So! Since you’ve missed out on over a month of minutiae of my daily life, some things I have done/experienced since mid-August!

– I watched all of Leverage. It is not a good show, but it is entertaining in a wildly improbable way. And it’s on Netflix!
– Have graduated entirely into maternity clothes, except for one or two stretchy skirts and my longer tops. Having an extremely limited wardrobe is sort of freeing, in the same way having to wear a uniform to school is; yeah, you don’t have to think too hard about what to put on in the morning, but you feel like people are constantly misjudging you, since you can’t make the fashion statement you want. In fact I can’t make much of a fashion statement at all other than “I am pregnant” or “Yes, I am pregnant and on a bicycle” or “All those times you thought how young I looked for my age, well, it was just the clothes”. I shouldn’t complain, as maternity clothes are apparently much more stylish than they used to be. I got some stuff from Thyme Maternity, which is pretty much Suzy Shier with elastic waistbands.
– My sister gave me a book of knitting patterns entitled Knit your own dog. So far I have made the dachshund, basset hound, corgi, pug, and scottie. I plan on making a mobile of knitted dogs for the baby’s crib. I figure that since I won’t be indoctrinating my children into any religion, it’s OK if I indoctrinate them into loving dogs.
– Hilariously, a large percentage of people who bought Knit your own dog from Amazon also bought Knit your own Royal Wedding. I want to know if anyone has ever actually done this, and what they intended to do with the final product. Set up a little Royal Wedding shrine, like a nativity set, only with the House of Windsor? Give them to their children to play with? Give them as an undoubtedly awesome but very labour-intensive gag gift?
– It’s actually cold here. As in, I closed the windows today and considered turning the heat on.
– Gus has a mysterious wound on his neck. I can only think of two ways he could have gotten it: he might have scraped it against something in the yard, though I don’t know what; or a squirrel might have jumped on his back and bitten him in the neck. It’s probably the former, though the latter would make a really cute cartoon short.
– I seem to be in the “nesting” phase of pregnancy and am starting to clean everything in sight.
– In sadder news, my mother broke her ankle last weekend. Gus was involved but not entirely responsible. She’s doing OK, considering, but it’s still a major bummer to be stuck on the couch for 6 weeks (at least). So if a lot of my posts start/end with “Just going to/just back from London”, you’ll know why.

I think that’s all. I have been planning on bringing back the podcast, BTW – I’m going to try to make an episode this Monday.

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In – I think – 2006, before I really started doing coloratura rep, I sang Mozart’s “Exsultate, Jubilate” at a concert on Manitoulin Island with the Silverbirch String Quartet.  This being my first real foray into singing things originally written for castrati (no, really!), I had a really hard time learning it.  Now, of course, it seems almost too easy.  (What do you mean, it only goes up to C?)  But at the time I was absolutely banging my head against the wall trying to learn it.

About 10 days before the show I freaked out. “I’m never going to get it!” I said to Ben.  “I suck!  I should just quit!”

“Kristin, you do this before every show,” Ben said.

Of course I was highly offended.  I was certain I had never felt that way before.  So I called my friend Wendy to complain, and her response was:

“Well, you *do* do that every time.”

And, on further reflection, I realized that I did.  That I do. And it always feels like the first time.

So what’s the point? Why am I writing about this?

I have lots to do and no desire to do anything. I feel confused and directionless and unsure of what I’m doing. I also feel a strong desire to sit around watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer (but I can’t because it’s not on Netflix). Does this happen to me every year around now, when my season is pretty much over and I have only long-term projects to prepare for?

Apparently yes.

Oh well.

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– Buy brake pads and install them
– Take newly stoppable bike to Chinatown, buy vegetables
– Get some flowers, plant them in front planter
– Wash sheets
– Clean the dogs’ ears (this has to be done bi-weekly or so to all long-eared dogs, a bit more frequently for Gus. Yes, it’s kind of gross. No, they don’t like it.)
– Try to figure out what the other opera companies are doing next January to pick new date for Call of Cthulhu
– Podcast
– Plug mousehole (again)
– Buy mousetraps

I know, I know, I’m aware of the irony of being a vegan and killing mice, but dammit I have to deal with this kitchen for another month or so and I can’t properly repair the mousehole until all the cabinets are ripped out and I just can’t take the furry little disease-spreading bastards anymore.

BTW, is there some kind of mouse population explosion going on? I had to go to three stores to find mousetraps, and even then I got the last package.

Anyway. I’m about 1/4 of the way through.

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